Fort Hamilton, N.Y.
14 Decr 1844
My dearest Markie
Although I expect to see you very Soon I cannot refrain from thanking you for your charming long letter, which I have been enjoying ever since its arrival. I intended to have written to you by John Mackay & warned him not to go without my letter, but he got up early one morg & wished to make the most of it, so he turned his face south & trusted to the cabman. I suppose you have seen him. Dry toast & a rocking chair have made a man of him & he feels strong enough to be married which I suppose will be his next adventure. Mary had written to tell you of her having ordered your bonnet but her letter did not get up in time (in consequence of his early rising) so she says she will bring it on herself as she does not think it is worth the postage. She also desires me to tell you that your last letter arrived too late, as your bonnet was finished & in the House & will not change its beautiful drab complexion for the spotless satin of your taste, nor can she prevail upon the drooping plume to give place to the bursting rosebuds. I am afraid Markie that your present associations have put these bridal notions in your head, as no young ladies in N. York display such colours in broadway until they can shew the paper to entitle them to hoist them. Drab or some grave coleur are the only colours worn by the young. Yours is of drab lined with a delicate couleur de rose & a weeping willow plume of a cherubina air. You will look charming in it Markie & be entirely to Neddy Townsend’s Bunny’s taste.
I have been to Govrs Isd since I last wrote & have seen all the natives. Miss Nora is as charming as ever & Miss Lizzy quite as fair. Mrs. Chapman is fixed there for the Winter & Mrs. Pratt was so busily engaged in her preparations for the same object that I could not see her. I presented your salutations to all the ladies who returned them in kind with great empressment. Mr Allen is pining to return to W. P. & his cara sposa. Mr Daniels is wrapped up in his blushes & philosophy, but Neddy Townsend tell Bunny is glorious. Oh if he could but see him marching over the plain in his bright uniform he would think it was Love turned into a young Lt of Artillery. The waving of his burning red plume is a guide for the marching Soldiers & the flash of his eye is more bright than the glittering of his sword blade in the sun beams. He will see him as he passes through Washington to Texas on his flaxen charger, just the colour of his eyebrows, when he will galop up to Tudor place & hand him another letter & a picture of himself.
Major Smith has gone to Key West, accompanied by Captains Brewerton & Dutton to make examinations for a fortification in the Gulf. I have been ordered to Washn as Asst to the Chief Engr & we will leave here as soon as I can close the works for the winter & expect to reach Arlington by Monday week 23rd. We shall have a great deal to tell you when we meet. Your father came down to see us on his return to Buffalo. I presented your note to Miss Nora. The Stantons are all well. The Colonel has arrived to spend the holydays. Mr Macomb has been releived from duty on board the N.C. & is attached to the recruiting Rendezvous in N.Y. His duty is much lighter. He goes up every day, from 10 to 2, for a week & then is off duty for a week & can stay at home & wait upon his dame. She is even more flourishing than usual & moves along like a ship in full sail. Quite nautical in her character & appearance. Miss Julia is the same good creature she always is. She is here now helping your cousin M. in her patching & preparations for her journey. She thanks you for your note & will respond in time. The Barrys are as usual. I drove Mr & Mrs Wm Barry up to the Italian Opera the other night & heard Pico & Borghese. I saw there Miss Nora & Lizzy. The Dr has come out in a new wig & is more captivating than ever. He goes even as far as Brooklyn to the parties. He is rather incredulous on the subject of your walk to Arlington. The Misses E. are well – Mr Loeser has paid one visit to his adored S. since his removal to N.L. His visits resemble Angels in more way than one. Their enchantment. The Arnolds & Lowds are well. The least Genl is growing finely. But what shall I say of our brave disciples of Mars, our heroes the 2nd, Young Duncan, Rowland, the Gibsons &c. I fail in expressions to describe them. They must be seen. They are famous – trencherman, & with Sancho, bless the man that first invented sleep – We have recd lately a long letter from little Sally. She has been up to Charleston on a visit to the Middletons & Mrs White (the Wife Mr E. White formerly of the Army & whom you have no doubt seen in Wash: A man with a small person but big soul) she sees the Hugers occasionally & is enjoying herself very much. Your Cousin M. & Miss Jule complain of my silence & say that their needles do not fly half as fast since I have ceased reading. I must therefore return to my book. Every one sends a great deal of love to you. Mary joins me in much love to your GrdMother, Aunt Brit, Sisters & Bunny. Roony speaks of you very often & always at the sight of the “Queen of Heaven” the “Sentinels of Night” & dry toast.
You are always remembered by
R E Lee
Source: Letters of Robert E. Lee to Martha Custis Williams, Huntington Library, San Marino, California
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 August 22