West Point 5 Decr 1854
My dear Mr Bonaparte
I have been expecting since the reception of your kind note of the 10— the visit you then led us to hope for. The Fall having passed into the Winter, & all the delights of our first permanent Snow Storm being now upon us, leads to despair of its realization; & I fear our only Communication will be through the pen. I hope Mrs B. has recovered from the effects of the Summer. Tell her I attributed her drooping to your absence & not the heat, & that consequently your return would have made all things right. I have not heard whether she got on to Miss Ella’s wedding, or whether you were present on the occasion. I am told she looked very beautifully, no uncommon thing for her to do, but could not get to see her, even on her passage through New York. What will Charly do for his lady-love Emmy. I fear some Don will retain her in Spain. I never saw her till this Fall. She & Ella spent a week here in Sept. It was before Mrs Lees return, but they spent every evg I believe at our house & I thus saw much of them. She is very sweet & ladylike but not as beautiful as her sister. I have looked anxiously at every account from the Seat of War for a notice of Jeromes arrival, & I presume the mention of Prince Napoleon being at Constantinople was intended for him, as the same accounts stated that Prince N. was to lead the 4000 Stormers that had been selected to assault the breach. Sebastopol holds out manfully, & the Russians are making a better defense than I anticipated. But the fact is the Allies are outnumbered by too large odds for their work. Their available strength I expect has always been overstated. It is one thing to send a certain number of men into a distant Country, & another to have them actually for duty, in the trenches & batteries. Disease, Constant labour, Exposure & battle thin the ranks amazingly. I know in Mexico Genl Scotts army in the field was about one third of the number which the official report of the Adjt Genl at Washington stated he must have, & which was based upon the number ordered & embarked. So I suppose it is there. Disease in the Camp has been more fatal to them than death in the field. Still it seems to me, that such indomitable Courage as they have shewn, if properly directed, must prevail; & notwithstanding the unfavourable accounts by the Baltic, I think S— will yet fall. I can heartily sympathize in their position, labours & anxiety, but while their Courage is so fine & brilliant there is no room to fear. I confess however their position appears to be critical. I have had the Map of the Gulf of Finland nicely mounted. That of Wallachia, Bulgaria & Roumilia was so, you may recollect. But there are several sheets wanting of that of the Country around the Black Sea, Caspien Red &c. Those sheets you sent here probably belong to the sett you retained for yourself, & if so I will return them, as they are necessary to make your map complete, & without the others are of little or no use here. The other maps are very complete & excellent, & the best we have of the Countries represented; & the acady is extremely obliged to you for them.
We are all well. Marys foot is slowly improving. She can step a little in it now & previous to this Snow storm rode every day on horseback 6 or 8 miles without inconvenience—That reminds me, you have not seen a horse in B— to ride & drive with Grace? I have written to several of my friends in this part of the Country but can hear of nothing. Mrs Lee & the girls join me in much love to Mrs B— Remember us kindly to Mrs W & believe me very truly yours
R E Lee
Lawrence W. is here, waiting to hear from the Qr Mr Genl in reference to his transportation in advance. Capt. & Mrs G. W. Smith have broken up their house preparatory to his departure to Pensacola, where he is ordered & only waits the arrival of Lt Newlon of the Engrs to relieve him. In the meantime they are staying with us. Miss Helen Peters is also paying us a visit. The Officers & Cadets are all well & I hope the latter are doing so—
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), pp. 567–68.
Uploaded by Colin woodward, 2015 December 28