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The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.


 

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Cock-Spur Island

Nov. 11th 1830

 

 

We got into Cock Spur Roads last night about nine o’clock, and the Pilot thinking it too dark to attempt to carry the vessel up to town, there I lay till daylight within gunshot of this my delightful home. What a shouting and clapping of hands there was this morning among these poor creatures; and indeed I believe they were very glad to see me, considering I make them work so hard, and the more so as the late gales have made breaches in several parts of the embankments, some of which have been entirely washed away, and now they are at the mercy of every high tide. Great many of the drain ditches have been filled, some of the sluices washed out, and others choked &c. but our greatest calamity is, that the wharf which cost us so much labour and money, has been injured I fear beyond repair. The houses are all standing and the health of the Island good, so at least among all these vexations, we have some thing to be thankful for. I have been all day out in the mud and water, examining the injuries done, and making out the repairs to be made, and am at this present time of writing as genteel a little fellow as even you would wish me to be, so much for Engineering. But Oh! Cousin you don’t know how much I have thought of you within the last four days; so much that at times I was entirely unconscious of the tossing of the little vessel; and thoughless [sic] as to its consequences. And indeed you must forgive me, but the very book you gave me to read, and which I promised so fairly to do, especially on the Sabbath, yet for my life I could not, and I found that my eyes were running over verse after verse, while my mind was far otherwise engaged. I hope I will get over this soon, for indeed I am now very wretched. And would you think that I was selfish enough to wish you to be with me in that dark, confined and crowded little cabin? And would even now give the world if you were here, on this desolate and comfortless Island. Yes My dear, dear, Cousin it is even so, and as far as I was concerned, I believe would be perfectly happy. I had intended to have come on in one of the Packet ships, which the Captain gave me to understand was to have sailed on Saturday (the 6th) But going to the wharf that day, and finding that she would not sail till the following monday or tuesday, having no time to lose, and taking small pleasure in being disappointed even in little things, I took my passage in a little Schooner, that would be off in a few hours. And though very uncomfortable while aboard, owing to its size, and a parcel of low & disagreeab[le] passengers, I am very glad I did so, as it so happened I had an uncommonly quick passage. The wind was very high, and the sea very rough, and you may judge of the strength of the former, when though deeply laden, and driven out of our course, we were only three days and eighteen hours in reaching this place.

            Maj. Babcock has not yet arrived, nor did the packet from Philadelphia, which got in two days ago, bring any intelligence of his movements. One of the Passengers reported (so our clerk tells me) that he was at New Castle almost stupefied with drink, that Mrs B. had separated from him, carrying off her child, and that neither himself, nor her friends knew what had become of her, and it was feared she had killed herself. I hope and believe that this is mere report, or perhaps slander, and therefore wish you would not mention it unless otherwise confirmed. How disagreeable it is to have anything to do with such a man, and the more so, as I am confident the system he has pursued of carrying into effect the proposed operation here, is entirely wrong. You may not be aware that it is not quite decorous to speak thus of one’s commanding Officer, & that I mention to you what I would not wish others to hear.

            If I have time I shall go up to Savannah to morrow, where I hope to find a letter from you. And will have the additional pleasure of seeing the Miss Mackays and the rest of the ladies. Give my love to dear Cousin Molly, Cousins Anna, Mary, Eleanor, Your Aunt Lewis, Mrs B. Mrs W. &C. &c &c Your Father & Old Smith and ask the last if he cannot screw his courage up to write to me, only two times will satisfy me, that if he cannot I must. That is all. Has your Father heard of Montgomerie? Good night my Sweetest Cousin

Yours ever

           R E Lee  

 

 

Source: Robert E. E. deButts, Jr., “Lee in Love: Courtship and Correspondence in Antebellum Virginia,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 115, No. 4 (2007), pp. 519-521.

 

 

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 February 22

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