February 8, 1862
I wrote to you, dear Mary, the day I left Coosawhatchie for this place. I have been here ever since, endeavouring to push forward the works for the defence of the city, which has lagged terribly & which ought to have been finished. But it is difficult to arouse ourselves from ease & comfort to labour & self denial. Guns are scarce, as well as ammunition, & I shall have to break up batteries on the coast to provide, I fear, for this city. Our enemies are endeavouring to work their way through the creeks that traverse the impassable & soft marshes stretching along the interior of the coast & communicating with the sounds & sea, through which Savannah flows, & thus avoid the entrance of the river commanded by Fort Pulaski. Their boats only require 7 feet water to float them & the tide rises 7 feet, so that on high water they can work their way & rest on the mud at low. They are also provided with dredges & appliances for removing obstructions through the creeks in question, which cannot be guarded by batteries. I hope, however, we shall be able to stop them, & daily pray to the giver of all victory to enable us to do so. I suppose if you have written, your letter is at Coosawhatchie & I therefore have not heard from any one. I trust you are all well & doing well, & wish I could do anything to promote either. I have more here than I can do, & more, I fear, than I can well accomplish. It is so very hard to get anything done, & while all wish well & mean well, it is so difficult to get them to act energetically & promptly.
Mrs. Lowe is here with her grandmother. She brought her little daughter Kate down who is very much like her & full of motion & activity. Mrs. L[owe], herself, is much more quiet & sedate & perhaps more pleasing though not so youthful in appearance. I have only seen her for a short time in the evening, when her fingers have been more busy with her knitting than her tongue in conversation. I see Mrs. Gilmer occasionally who remains here while her husband is in Kentucky. Yesterday there was a report that he was captured on the Tennessee River, but it was subsequently contradicted. The news from Kentucky & Tennessee is not favourable, but we must make up our minds to meet with reverses & to overcome them. I hope God will at last crown our efforts with success. But the consent must be long & severe, the whole country has to go through much suffering. It is necessary we should be humbled & taught to be less boastful, less selfish, & more devoted to right & justice to all the world. Give much love to every body—Charlotte & the girls & Custis, Fitzhugh & Robert when you write. Take good care of yourself & be resigned to what God ordains for us. I left Meredith at Coosawhatchie & have Perry with me. God bless you all & believe me always yours.
R E Lee
Source: The Wartime Papers of R. E. Lee, edited by Clifford Dowdey and Louis Manarin, pp. 11-112.
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 February 8