Fort Hamilton, N.Y.
17 Sept 1845
Your good long letter My dearest Markie gave me infinite pleasure. I have thought upon it, Slept upon it, dwelt upon it, (pretty long you will say) & have not done with it yet. I only wish you had brought it on yourself, for we should then have had the pleasure of your company, which is even better than your letters & we could have seen as well as heard from you. Your Cousin Eleanor Rogers has been the occupant of your little room this Summer, but she has now left it & Rooney has appd. it to his study. It may therefore be considered vacant, so little time is he engaged in the most abstruse exercise. Boating swimming fishing & riding occupy all his energies & in comparison with these the duties of the closet sink into insignificance & contempt. The tranquility of the sciences are therefore undisturbed by him. But Markie is it study that has made you so pale & thin, & of what Subject? Perhaps it is the “honors of war” that exe[r]cise you so severely? Cheer up Markie, your favourite 2nd will return loaded with honors; nor is there any danger of their exchanging the laurels of the North for the willows of the South. Arnolds Compy, or rather the skeleton of it, is our only guard for the Narrows. Capt Lowds & Duncans have gone from here & Capt McKenzies & Smiths from Govrs. Isd. Capt Swartouts has also been sent to New Port, & the garrison of the Isd been reduced to 2 Compys. But tell Bunnie that God of War, Neddie Townsend, Adjt of the 2nd Regt of Arty &c &c is still there watching over our security, & in his keeping we all feel safe. Oh he is a glorious fellow & his whiskers encompasseth his face as the burning bush of yore encompassed Moses. But few of your friends are now there. Mr Chapman has lately returned from a long leave of Absence. Mr Allen (Bob) is there with his Compy. Mr Brooks with his, Sedgwick in charge of the drummer boys, & Anderson of Miss H. T. Mrs Bankhead & daughters spent a long time in New Port. Mr Wright (Poke) who was here yesterday, said Miss Nora was full of enthusia[s]m, I presume not for him. Major Levi Whiting who was prevented accompg his Regt to Texas by indisposition, is staying with Major Smith, & the Major (Smith) grows handsomer & handsomer every year & his heart expands more & more to the ladies. We have one of his sweethearts down here this Summer. A lady of your Corps, & well calculated to grace it, Miss Mary Swift. Her eyes are as ‘dusk as India’s sun & just as warm’. She is staying with Mrs McQuorkadale, with whom her Aunt, Miss Stuart, is on a visit. But Markie we feel as if the North Carolina was just opposite to us, so vivid is our imagination made by Association, for her 1st Lt. Mr Gordon, wife & daughter, have been the whole summer at Mrs Beriers. Our intelligence from the Ship has been therefore direct & nearly daily, & we have lived over again the sweet days of Chandler, the beacon & the rock. “Sea-Sons may roll,” but landsmen, & women too, should remain stedfast & firm. Say so to his fickle lady-love. The Gordons are so pleased with the Narrows, that they have purchased a lot next to Mrs Berriers & are building themselves a residence. Mrs McQuorkadale has also purchased one & will build this Fall. The Hamilton House has been very full all the summer & quite gay. Balls, fireworks, & tableaux have been frequent. The Polka has been a favourite dance & Miss Matilda Church a great belle. You are aware that Mrs Stanton is in Wash___ Stephen has returned. Mr & Mrs Macomb, Miss Julia & Sarah are well. The former goes up every day to the Rendezvous. The latter accompd Miss Marianne Meade yesterday to N.Y. & expects to return to day. Miss M. has been on a visit to them but expects to join her Mother in Phila. in a day or two. They have also had Miss Rykeman with them a great portion of the summer & other friends. Little Sally is as gay as ever & no member of her body, or any two of them, can keep pace with her tongue. But Markie think what you miss by being away. John Mackay has just arrived from Savannah. He is in N.Y. quite feeble poor fellow so the rocking chair & toast will have to suffer. The grapes however are ripening fast, & the prospects of a bountiful crop favourable. I am in hopes therefore that we shall soon patch him up, for I have announced to Sally that the wedding must come this Fall. I go up for him to day. Our dear Mother, Custis & Mary leave us this morg. It is a sad parting & we have enjoyed their Compy a long time. I believe it makes us more unwilling to give them up. They go on with Mr Dana. Tell Miss Mary Shaaff the rumour of his marriage is all flam. He is reserved to her yet, & can explain to her better than I can how the mistake arose. Remember us to Mr & Mrs Barbarin. I am glad you see so much of them & like them so well. Mrs Erving will remain here till next month I believe, & will then go to N.Y. Mrs Lowd is still over at Lafayette. The Dr is not yet married & as great a beau as ever. His shrubbery & daughters are in the meantime growing apace & Miss Sarah seems unwilling to deprive them of her care & example. I hope she will have Loeser at last. The Barrys & Arnolds are as as usual. Col: Fanning’s sister & niece are on a visit to him & the Colonel has just been called to Fort Mifflin to sit on the Court Martial on Capt Drane, upon charges preferred by your friend Mr Blair & his brother Lt. Give much love from us all to your Gdmother, Cousin Brit, Sisters & Bunnie, in which I am joined by the whole household & believe me
very truly your Cousin
R E Lee
Source: Letters of Robert E. Lee to Martha Custis Williams, Huntington Library, San Marino, California
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 September 1