West Point 28 Feby 1855
My dear Mr Bonaparte
I recd by Casy the large Military map of Europe; & found the spare sheets previously mentioned formed a part of it, & added a broad strip of Country to the East & South. I have caused them to be attached, with a new roller & stretcher, & though it does not look so well, as if they had all been lined together, it makes a very complete & valuable map from the Atlantic on the West, to the Caspian Sea on the East, & embracing Norway & Finland to the North & the Southern shore of the Mediterranean on the South. I have presented the three maps to the Library in your name, & now in behalf of the Acady express our thanks for your valuable present. They will be a great addition to the Library & advantage to the Officers & Cadets.
I hope you continue to get satisfactory accounts from Jerome, & I am very glad to hear that he is comfortable & well. I have not yet seen the arrival of his Regt from Adrianople & presume he is still on the staff of Genl Morris. Mr Childe writes that he frequently hears of him through letters of Genl M. to his wife, & that he always speaks in high terms of him. There is so marked a difference between the Condition of the French & English troops, that it is calculated to allay much anxiety that might otherwise be felt, & shews conclusively the superiority of the organization of the one over the other. Fighting is the easiest part of a soldiers duty. It is the watching, waiting, labouring, starving, freezing, wilting, exposure & privation, that is so wearing to the body & trying to the mind. It is in this state that discipline tells; & attention night & day on the part of the offr so necessary. His eye & thoughts must be continually on his men. Their wants anticipated & their comforts provided. The English offrs untaught by instruction have to learn by terrible experience the necessity of these things. I know you will rejoice with me in the tardy Compliment paid to Genl Scott. I have had nothing to give me so much pleasure since the Capture of Mexico. The Genl has returned to New York. But I am never able to see him. I was very glad to hear from Roony that Mrs B. & Charly were so well. Tell her I want to see her very much & the more as I fear my eyes will not hold out much longer. The short comings [&] necessities of my young friends are wearing them out fast, & I have to aid them with glasses, which pain me terribly. I think a sight of her would do me great good. Roony left us yesterday with a heavy heart, poor fellow, for Cambridge. He said no one knew how sorry he was to leave W.P. & all hope of becoming a Cadet. I am very sorry, on his account, that he could not get an appointment. But I had no hope of it myself & endeavoured from the beginning to prepare him for it. I hope he will now be content & that it may turn out for the best. He enjoyed his visit to Baltimore very much, & descanted on the pleasure of the many rides he had with you; & the beauty & performance of Cooper, Nutter, Pepin & Jinny. Custis is still in Washington, about completing the drawings of the Fort at Cumberland Sound, on which he is to be engaged, & which have occupied him all the Winter. He expects to leave Washington next week. I should have much preferred, could it have been so arranged, that his duty had been at the South in the Winter, & at the North in the Summer. But he must take things as they come. The Officers & Cadets are all well, & the latter more attentive to their studies & duties, than they were before Jany—You may have seen in the papers an account of an accident that befell Cadet Gay. It was bad as it was, but I am happy to say was much exaggerated. As soon as I saw it, I wrote to his father, but before the arrival of my letter, his mother had left a sick bed & was on her way to him. His horse refused the leap, when Gay spurred through the Squad to the other side of the course, & instead of turning in the direction of the regular circuit, he forced his horse in the contrary direction, & met his rear rank file who had made the leap, & the shoulder of whose horse struck him on the leg midway between the knee & ankle & broke the bone. It is a simple fracture. He suffers no pain, is comfortable, & there is no reason now to apprehend any unfavourable result. He says it was his own fault, but I am sorry he will have a tedious time, & be kept from his studies. He is a smart young man, & before Jany was 2nd in his class in Engg—He seems to have at times an uncontroulable temper, which has previously got him in difficulty. I hope in time he will subject it at least to command, if he cannot subdue it—
The Court that was ordered on him for an attempted assault on the 1st Capt in the M.H. has been ordered to reconvine & revise their finding & action, & has again adjourned. Mrs Lee unites with me in kindest regards to Mrs B. Mrs W. & Charly—Mary’s foot is improvg slowly I think, & she walks about the house now, but cannot yet wear her shoe. I remain as every truly yours
R E Lee
P.S. This is muster day & usual I have written amid many interruptions
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), 568–70.
Uploaded by Colin Woodward, 2015 December 28