Mt: Valley 1 Sept 1861
I have recd dearest Mary your letter of 18th Aug: from Audley & am very glad to get news of your whereabouts. I wrote to you not long since & have but little to add to what I then related. I am very glad you are enabled to see so many of your friends & to enjoy the cheering interchange of friendly association. I hope you have found all well in your tour & I am very glad that our cousin Esther bears the separation from all her sons so bravely. I have no doubt they will do good service in our Southern cause, & wish they Could be placed according to their fancies. I recd a letter from Danger the other day, desiring the appt of drill master to his regt: an appt I am not aware of & cannot attend to till I return to Richmond. I mentioned to the President shortly after his arrival in Richmond the desire of Edwd Butler to serve the Southern Cause, but the difficulty is to find places for all applicants unless they possess military knowledge & instruction. At this time our diplomatic relations require but few to look after them.
I fear you have postponed your visit to the Hot [Springs] too late. It must be quite Cold there now, judging from the temperature here, & it has been raining in these mts: since the 24 July. I heard from the girls in Richmond. They were meditating a visit to their Uncle Carter & to the Stuarts. I do not know when you will all get together again or where. Charlotte you will have heard has gone to the Montgomery White. Custis took her up. Fitzhugh has recd: a letter from her since her arrival, saying the Baby was better. I hope both will be benefited. I see F quite often, though he is encamped 4 miles from me. He is very well & not at all harmed by the Campaign.
We have had a great deal of sickness among the soldiers, & now those on the sick list would form an Army. The measles is still among them though I hope is dying out. But it is a disease which though light in childhood is severe in manhood, & prepares the system for other attacks. The Constant cold rains, mud, &c &c with no shelter but tents, have aggravated it. All these drawbacks, with impassable roads, have paralyzed our efforts. Still I think you will be safe at the Hot, for the present. We are right up to the enemy on the three lines, & in the Kanawha he has been pushed beyond the Gauley.
I had intended to write to Daughter by this opportunity, but have had so many letters & papers to dispatch that I shall not be able. Tell her I was very glad to hear from her & hope to answer her letter soon. Custis is still in R[ichmond] or was on the 27th Aug when he wrote. He said nothing of his health so I hope he is well. My poor little Rob I never hear from scarcely. He is busy, I suppose, & knows not where to direct. Give much love to “Precious Life” & all with you & accept for yourself my love & prayers.
With much affection
R E Lee
Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 312, Section 16, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 December 5