Fort Brown, Texas 16 Feby 1857
This is probably the last letter dearest Mary that I will write to you from Fort Brown. On Saturday Major Porter read to the Court his defense, which occupied all the morg. Today the Judge Advocate is to make his reply, when the Court I presume will proceed to make up its finding & sentence. Should a boat offer, I hope by the last of the week to reach Ringgold, & to commence my long march to Camp Cooper. I shall not therefore be here at the departure of the next mail for the States, nor do I Know that I shall have another opportunity of writing before my arrival at San Antonio. I hope there to receive letters from you, & pray that they may bring me the pleasing intelligence of your recovery from you distressing malady, or at least of its amelioration. I trust also I may learn of the good health & welfare of your father, the children & all the household. I have nothing more to relate. Everything has progressed as usual. I scarcely see anyone but the members of the Garrison of all of whom I have frequently spoken. Mrs. Wait the wife of Col Waite has appeared to me all the winter to be declining in health. You may recollect my account of her when at Ringgold. I was told she was afflicted with asthma. But I rather think it pulmonary consumption. She has been looking forward with pleasing anticipations to her arrival in Florida, where she has always enjoyed better health than elsewhere. But the winter has passed, & here she is still, & I have thought more than once when I have seen her, that unless she got away from here soon, she would never leave alive. She is quite sick now, but preparing to take the next steamer to New Orleans, whence she will embark for Florida. Col & Mrs Ruggles & Capt & Mrs Sibley go with her. Tell your father she has a fine large cat which she takes with her everywhere. He is her companion by day & sleeps in her bed at night. In public Conveyances she leads him in a leash, & carries along a bottle of milk for his use. In her own carriage he sits in her lap. He is one of these dark brindled cats. I have been trying to persuade her to let me take him up to Camp Cooper, but she Says she cannot part with him & he must go to Florida. I have seen some fine Cats in Brownsville, in the stores kept by frenchmen, of whom there are a goodly number, but no yellow ones. The dark brindle are the favourites on the frontier. On my walk the other evg I met a Mexican with a wild kitten in his arms, enveloped in his blanket. It was a noble specimen of the Rio Grande Wild Cat. Spotted all over with large spots like the Leopard. I tried very hard to buy him, but he said he was already sold to a Mr Stittman in Brownsville. He had procured him in the River alive. His Companion had escaped, but he promised to try & get me a kitten. I should prefer one of those at Camp Cooper. I fear though I should have to keep him chained, for they are very wild & Savage. Mrs Morris, wife of Lt Morris, seems to be a very nice lady. She was from Albany, & her family acquainted or Connected with that of Mrs Secy Marcy. The Taylors are well & seem to be quite cheerful again. I see them quite often. Miss Sallie thinks she is gaining strength, but her eyes are no stronger. She rides every day with her father on horseback. There has lately been a Fair in Brownsville for the benefit of the Presbyterian Church, which like the others here are somewhat embarrassed in its finances. I am told it procured for the church about $600. I did not attend, preferring to bestow my mite outright, rather than exchange it in the way of trade, & as I had no acquaintances with the ladies, I thought I should derive little pleasure from visiting it. A few days since a paper was circulated in the Court room, for the purpose of raising funds to liquidate some debt incurred for repairing the Episcopal Church, & which I was glad to see resulted in obtaining about $60.
Mr Passmore yesterday took his text from the two last verses of the last Chapter of St Matthew “Go ye therefore & preach to all nations &c &c.” & though he announced whence he derived his mission, I was glad he did not deny the right to others engaged in that holy work.
You must give much love to your father, Markie, Mary & all the children when you write. I hope you & they are well & happy, & that our merciful father in heaven may guard & preserve you.
Yours as ever
R E Lee
Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 188, Section 10, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 November 7