West Point [New York] 4 Nov 1854
My dear Mr Bonaparte
I was much gratified at the reception of your letter from Paris, & should have acknowledged it at once; but there was not time for my answer to reach you before the day appointed for your return to this Country. I watched for the arrival of the Indiana & Baltic, but happened not to see the list of Passengers in the Africa, & it was not till several days after her arrival, that I learned you were among them. I then sat down to congratulate you on your safe return, but was called off, & put off, by divers matters, visits from various great Military Commanders of the Country &c, & finally by the Secy of War & Adjt Genl, & my paper is still lying before me, as I left it.
Yesterday’s mail brought your very acceptable package of Maps of the Seat of War, which increased my mortification at not having acknowledged your kind letter or welcomed you back, & determined me amidst the Comparison of Muster Rolls, forwarding accounts &c not to let this mail pass without my doing so. I must first express my great pleasure at your safe return, & the hope you fround Mrs B— & Charlie well. I know it made them happy. My feelings were so harrowed at the terrible Catastrophe of the Arctic, that I became anxious about all friends on the Water, & was sadly disappd at not seeing your arrival in the Indiana or Baltic, as I would then have felt assured of your safety. I am also very glad at the pleasant & satisfactory visit you had in France & the kindness of your reception by the Emperor & Country. I hope Jerome will never have cause to regret his leaving us, & feel sure, of his adding to the lustre of his name & distinction of his family. Now that he is recognized as one of the Princes of the Empire & placed in his proper position, our regrets at his leaving us ought to be diminished, though we see the probability of our also losing the father & Mother—I am very much obliged to you for the Maps & shall examine them with much interest. I have only had time as yet to glance at the several sheets & enjoy their perusal in anticipation. I only fear you have deprived yourself of them, in which case you must let me know.
The Secy left us yesterday after a three days visit. He went through the Several Sections of each Class, Barrack, Academies, Stables &c & seemed to take much interest in the condition of things. Whether he will be able to improve them I know not. There is but little doubt, but that the Admn will be in a minority the coming Cong—& the oppn in the following will be overwhelming—We are all well & all unite in much love & every kind wish for Mrs B— & yourself—Tell her I want to see her now more than ever & regret very much that I cannot get to Baltimore the purpose. The Cadets get on as usual—nothing turns them from their labours or aspirations. Their World is in themselves, & they care not how the outside wags—We expect Custis this Evg & hope to learn much about you, Mrs B— & Charlie, to whom I again send kindest regards—Believe me very truly & sincy Yours
R E Lee
Source: Bonaparte Papers Maryland Historical Society, printed, William D. Hoyt, Jr., ed., “Some Personal Letters of Robert E. Lee, 1850–1858,” Journal of Southern History, 12 (November 1946), 566–67.
Uploaded by Colin Woodward, 2015 December 28