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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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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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Lee Family Digital Archive

 

 

Fort Brown, Texas Jan 9, 1857

 

           

I sent you a short letter my dear brother Childe on the 7th Inst: by a Steamer from the Brazos to New Orleans; acknowledging the reception of your letters of the 2nd & 4th Decr. I was unable to say much that I desired. Further reflection has confirmed & established the comfort & consolation I then stated I had derived from their perusal.  Though my grief is unabated, & day & night I mourn the Sad event; I must bow with resignation to the will of the great God, who too wise to err, & too merciful to be unkind, knows not only what is for our good, but the best time for its accomplishment.  It is necessary that our hearts be withdrawn from this world, & our treasures be transferred to that, where they may shine forever, & we be more forcibly attracted. As one by one precede us, our bonds to earth are loosened, & we are taught by tearful experience that we can only look for happiness & a lasting union beyond the grave.  May we all so live that we too can with joy yield up our lives as a sacrifice of obedience to the will of our creator & say his “will be done.” I have read with satisfaction the tribute of Count de Salvandy[1] to the worth & merit of her we mourn [Lee’s sister Mildred], & recognize its force & truth I am glad she was rightly appreciated by all who knew her, & that the grief & regrets of the good are mingled with our own.  I was also much pleased to find by your article for the “Courier” that you were not entirely absorbed by your own affliction, but could rightly feel & forcibly expose the threatened evils to your Country. That your Country was the whole Country. That its limits contained no North, no South, no East, no West, but embraced the broad Union, in all its might & strength; present & future. On that subject my resolution is taken, & my mind fixed. I know no other Country, no other Government, than the United States & their Constitution.

            I am very Sorry that I am so far from you & that I now see no prospect of that distance being materially lessened.  It is seldom that one can exercise his free will in this world. There is always some Controuling influence which to the Conscientious mind is imperative. All has his work to do, & mine is so multifarious & diffused that its execution is necessarily unsatisfactory. There may be something I have to perform in reference to yourself, or children. You know the Virginia Bank stock stands in my name as trustee, & a different disposition may be necessary. You must let me know when anything is required of me & what it is. I feel also very anxious about the condition of my dear Mary [Lee’s wife]. I fear from her letters now before me, that she is no better, & can scarcely hope for any amelioration of her painful attack this winter. I am unable to attend to her personally, or do anything for her. I have therefore written to beg her to make her arrangements to procure a regular & proper nurse, & as early in the spring as suitable, to go to such of the mineral springs as may be considered most advantageous for her disease: & to take with her such of the children as may be most useful to her, & remain the whole summer. If I cannot, I hope Custis may be able to be with her a portion of the Summer at least. It is very grevious to me to be so far separated from her, my children & all I love. I fear it will eventually, compel my separation from the Army, Unless I can get some position nearer home, or upon the general staff. I have been detained on the Rio Grande much longer than I anticipated, & do not now know how much longer I may have to wait, as it depends upon others. Had it depended only on me, I should have been back on the Brazos river before this. I think now I cannot get away from here before Feby. Letters directed to me at “San Antonio, Texas” will be forwarded to me wherever I am, for indeed I have no fixed abode, but in my boots. They make a pleasant domicil for an old soldier tell Marie. I want to see her very much. I wonder who she is like & whether she will let me kiss her sweet eyes. I am afraid she will be frightened at my appearance, for I doubt now whether my own children would recognize me.

            Give much love to her, & Edward, & believe me my dear brother

Faithfully, affectionately, yours,

R. E. Lee

 

Edward Vernon Childe

 

 

 

 

Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, M2009.233, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall

 

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 August 26

 

[1] Narcisse-Achille de Salvandy was a French politician born in 1795. He died on 1856 December 16.

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