July 25 1862
My dearest Cousin Mary
I hope this letter will be more fortunate than those that I wrote you last summer in arriving at its destination & bringing a speedy reply.
I have come to Georgetown within the last few weeks & am staying with Aunt R whom I am most glad to see after so long an absence & dear Lum too is with us; but she leaves in a short time to visit Kate,1 who is at housekeeping & is at present rejoicing in the presence of her husband.
Day before yesterday, I went over to a[rlington]. to endeavor to get from there my pictures & all of your things that I could take a way.
I took a furnature wagon for the purpose & Aunt R accompanied me in a hack. The visit had for some time been a subject of sad contemplation & I had written a note to the wife of the officer in command to say that we were coming. She did not receive it however & the Gen. was absent, so that I could not take anything. I saw what was there, however, & made an inventory of the things as well as I could – Oh! What a sad, sad visit it was – so changed, so changed & yet so like itself, is the dear place where once, peace & love dwelt, now, all the insignia of war is arrayed. Mrs. Whipple occupies your room, down stairs, as the parlor. In it, is all the parlor furnature & all the pictures in the house, save those in the Hall. The wardrobe is still there, also. It presents a strange appearance & yet the surroundings are so familiar. The large parlor is empty unless the piano be there. I was so overcome when I passed through that I did not observe anything but the empty frames. The carpets wh Mrs [J?] had removed to her house I have had shaken & packed away & I am in hopes I shall yet get the furnature brought over here. The garden is enclosed with a white washed fence & the roses & white jasmine were blooming as they used to do in the happy days gone bye. Our old Ephraim who tells me he has had “typer” fever (wh probably accounts for the story I heard of his being out of his mind) looks, I think remarkably well & I never saw him more in his mind. He seemed delighted to see me & escorted us around the garden with the flower sissors. He observed that nobody was allowed to have any flowers (a sentinel was walking, before the gate) out of the garden but remarked “if you hasn’t a claim to [here?] Miss M I don’t know who has.” I ignored the soldiers altogether, leaving uncle E to settle our claims, wh he appeared to be doing, I walked in & with tearful eyes, gatherered a bouquet. Aunt R was stopped she told me, but Uncle E got her a pass. The small flowers in the garden are of course overgrown with weeds, but, the larger ones look pretty much the same & considering the immence number of troops that have been there & that it is still a midclass depot, the preservation is wonderful. Poor old Daniel is very ill. I went up into his room to see him. He spoke with much emotion about you all. Said he had advised you not to go away - if you had only taken his advice, you had been here now.” I tried to explain to him how it would not have been very agreeable for you to have been there now & he at last, much to my astonishment yielded his opinion & said he supposed I knew. He sent much love to you & said he was very desolate now. Selina & Cassy who was in her house, were well & also sent much love. So did the little children at Salinas’ who all came up & put out there little hands to give me a welcome. Nurse looked very well, although complaining as usual. They all said with an aristocratic air, that they knew nothing of the people that lived in the house. That they never went there now & never saw them Uncle E. seems to be the only conservative. He vouchsafes to mingle a little, I suppose, as Mrs. W__ spoke of him to aunt R_ as her “pet.” When we came out of the garden, & were about getting in to the carriage wh was standing near the store room door, soldiers around & a sentinel walking up & down, Uncle Ephraim said in an unusually loud tone “Miss Martha, when you write to Miss Mary please give my best love to her & all the family & tell her we miss them all very much indeed – these people does the best they can for us, but it aint like those we an been raised with.”
I saw the sentinel smile, but the tears rolled down my cheeks as I bid the poor old man goodbye.
We have heard with the greatest pleasure of dear Cousin R’s success & of the general appreciation in wh he is held.
I had a letter from the Adams’ the other day. They send you & Agnes much love. Lum is waiting to take my letters to W. She & aunt R_ send much love. God bless & keep you all Give dear Cousin R, C & all send much love
ever yr attached
This little leaf came from the garden at a[rlington]
1. Columia (or "Lum") and Katy were Markie's sisters.
Source: Lee Family Papers, Section 19, Mss1 L51c 370, , Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 September 30