July 31, 1864
I have received your letter of the 27th dear Mary, & am glad you are recovering from your fall. It must have been a great shock to you, & I fear injury in your condition. I commend you greatly for adhering to the prescription & regulations of your physician & I would not have you to depart from them. In your letter written just before leaving Richmond you stated he directed that you should lie on your back for the following three weeks & keep quiet, doing nothing. How came you to be walking about on polished floors & making me drawers? I am much obliged to you for the latter, but I should greatly have preferred them to have been made by other hands than yours. Your daughters you know have very nimble fingers & my Agnes considers herself a great cutter & fitter. Why did you not let her try her hand upon some masculine garments? It is time she was learning, for my hopes in a certain quarter are not yet relinquished. There is Precious Life too, can sew beautifully. The drawers have come since I commenced writing. I have not had an opportunity yet of trying them on, nor do I expect to require them before the weather gets cooler. I hope my present garments will carry me through the summer. You can therefore have a third pair made as suits your convenience. I am charmed with your description of the family at Bremo. I have always heard their hospitality & charity extolled. Genl Cocke has been proverbial for it all his life. What a pity it would be for our enemies to get within reach of it. How many happy homes have they destroyed, & turned the occupants adrift in the world with nothing. From how many hearts have they expelled all hopes of happiness forever. Planting darkness & despair where flourished love & happiness before. Yesterday morning they sprung a mine under one of our batteries on the line , & got possession of a portion of our entrenchments. It was the part defended by Genl Beauregard’s troops. I sent Genl Mahone with two brigades of Hill’s corps, who charged into them handsomely, recapturing the entrenchments, the guns, 12 stand of colours, 73 officers including Genl Bartlett, his staff & three cols & 855 enlisted men. There were upwards of 500 of his dead unburied in the trenches, among them many officers & blacks. He suffered severely. He has withdrawn his troops from the north side of the James. I do not know what he will attempt next. He is mining at other points along our line. I trust he will succeed no better in his next than his last attempt. Give my love to Miss Silia & kind regards to Genl Cocke, the Dr., Mrs. C & all the family. You must also give much love to Markie & Kate & great sympathy for the latter. Kiss my dear daughters for me & believe me always yours
R. E. Lee
Source: The Wartime Papers of R. E. Lee, edited by Clifford Dowdey and Louis Manarin, pp. 827-828.
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 July 25