• The Lees of Virginia
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  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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

Cock Spur Island

May 8th 1830

My dearest Brother

 

Although one letter in my debt, it has been so long since I have heard from you or of you, or indeed from any one in that section of Country, that I can no longer refrain from begging you to write, & that quickly. The expectation of seeing you all, this summer; which I have had constantly before me, has heretofore rendered any inconvenience I may have met with, so trifling; any hardship I may have incused, is slight; my entire solitude, so full of anticipated pleasure and delight that really now that it is taken away from me. I feel, and doubly feel, a hundred times more wretched than the day we parted. For then I thought it was for a few months, but now it may be for as many years. I have been, since my first arrival on the Island, labouring hard (having never gone off but eleven times by actual computation) in raising embankments, cutting ditches, mowing down & burning up suds1, &c. building houses of all kinds & descriptions for all concerned. Exactly this day week Maj. Babcock  took up his residence here, and finding every thing hard & dry, the Island covered with green grass, the men in comfortable quarters, satisfied & healthy, when he concludes, which was plain enough two months ago, that it would be as healthy here as on the top of the Alleghany Mountains. The conclusion then was natural enough, that the works will not be suspended, & here we are all to stay. A very comfortable reflection surely. I had at first thought of applying for a furlough, but as I have only been on duty seven months, previous to which I had a furlough for five, & could give no reason which would be deemed sufficient to entitle me to claim that indulgence so soon. It would not only be useless, but might give the Department so light an opinion of my capacity for business, as to prevent them from granting the favour at a more distant time. Do you see that I can do anything else than stay here? For if you do write: & as I said before, quickly. And there is that vile Smith (as I am in a bad humour, he shall not escape) when he comes ashore I can’t see, and if I write to him he’ll not answer. Tell him that I see no good he does in the U. S. he had better go to sea again, that no body wants him here. What is he doing now? Have you given up your plan of going to New York? Or have you already gone? For I know nothing of what you are doing. Tell Cousin Mary Custis, that if she thinks that I am going to stay here, after you go away, without hearing any thing of her, or Cousin Molly, or Cousins Anna & William she is very much mistaken. So that she must write to me, & if she does not I’ll tell her mother. Or if she will say that I may write to her, she will have to answer me through common politeness. Walkers foot broke out in a fresh place? Or what has got into her for Gracious sake? I am in a bad humour tonight with every body & every thing, & perhaps I had better stop. There is nothing new in Savannah that I know of, or wish to know of. Oh yes, I forgot, I believe I mentioned to ~ to you before that I had seen two of your classmates at Cambridge, Mr Elliot [letter stained] Thomas Clay, of S. C. The former [stained] they now call Doctor, has been courting Miss Mackay for some time (years for what I know) past. And a report came down last week that she was rather kinder than formerly. I don’t know how true it is, but I believe I’ll go up next Saturday to see. Thank Gracious when she has gone, there will be two others left, for since then her brother has been ordered up among the Indians, they are the only comfort I have in Georgia. Remember me to every body, Cousins Anna, William, Molly, Mary, &c

& write soon to your

Afft. Brother R. E. Lee

 

To CC Lee in New York City

 

 

 

Source: Robert E. Lee Papers, 1830-1870, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville

 

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 August 2

 

   

1. Lee is perhaps referring to a sudd, a mass of vegetation that can obstruct a waterway.

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