Rappk River 19th Oct ’63
I have recd. dear Mary your letter of the 10th. I am very glad to hear that you are better, though your improvement may be slight, if progressive, your Comfort & mine may be materially benefited. I hope it may be & that our merciful father in heaven may grant us yet, the days he has allotted us on earth, much health & peace. I am glad to hear that you have had so pleasant a visit at liberty though you did not state who were the friends that Caused it. I hope you will find your house in Richmond Comfortable & your sojourn pleasant. As regards your obtaining supplies from the Commy. I presume that will be impracticable. If the arrangement you speak of is extended to the families of officers, it must be to those who are on duty there. I am not & have no ground for having my family there, except their Convenience. Everything abstracted from the Commy. diminishes the supply for the army, which I endeavour to increase as much as possible. I hope though you will be able to buy enough for your Comfortable maintenance. As soon as I learn of your arrival in R[ichmond]. I will send you a check for some money which in spite of Capt Buford’s generosity you must stand in need of. I am sorry that he would not accept Compensation, for though I feel very grateful for his Kindness, I do not wish to burden my friends. I am sorry I have no nice silk handkerchiefs, all that I have are in use, & have not been improved by Perrys washing. A year ago I Could have given him three beautiful ones that I purchased in New York some years since. See if you cannot buy him a dozen beauties. I have recd. a letter from Mildred, who was well & studying hard. When is her term up? I have returned to the Rappk. I did not pursue with the main Army behind Bristoe or Broad run. Our advance went as far as Bull run, where the enemy was entrenching, extending his right as far as Chantilly, in the yard of which he was building a redoubt. I Could have thrown him further back, but I saw no Chance of bringing him to battle, & it would have only served to fatigue our troops by advancing farther. If they had have been properly provided with clothes I would certainly have endeavoured to have thrown them north of the Potomac. But thousands were barefooted, thousands with fragments of shoes, & all without overcoats, blankets or warm Clothing. I Could not bear to expose them to certain suffering, on an uncertain issue. We Could only Come up with their rear, punished them a little & Captured altogether over 1700 prisoners. Give much love to the girls & all friends. I have no time for more. I think my rheumatism is a little better. Yet I still suffer. The first two days of our march I had to be hauled in a wagon. I can now ride.
Truly & affly
R E Lee
Source: Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 481, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 May 11