Camp Fredg 25 Decr ’62
I will Commence this Holy day dearest Mary by writing to you. My heart is filled with gratitude to Almighty God for his unspeakable mercies with which he has blessed us in this day, for those he has granted us from the beginning of life, & particularly for those for those he has vouchsafed us during the past year. What should have become of us without his crowning help & protection? I have seen his hand in all the events of the war. Oh if our people would only recognize it & cease from their vain self boasting & adulation, how strong would be my belief in final success & happiness to our Country. For in him alone I know is our trust & safety. Cut off from all Communications with you & my children, my greatest pleasure is to write to you & them. Yet I have no time to indulge in it. You must tell them so, & say that I Constantly think of them & love them fervently with all my heart. They must write to me without waiting for replies. I shall endeavour to write to Mildred from whom I have not heard for a long time. Tell dear Charlotte I have recd her letter & feel greatly for her. I saw her Fitzhugh this morg, with his young aid, riding at the head of his brigade on his way up the Rappk. I regret so he could not get to see her. He only got her letter I enclosed him last evg. She ought not to have married a young soldier, but an old “exempt” like her Papa who would have loved her as much as he does. F[itzhugh] & R[obert] were very well. But what a cruel thing is war. To separate & separate & destroy families & friends & mar the purest joys & happiness God has granted us in this world. To fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our nieghbours & to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world. I pray that on this day when “peace & good will” are preached to all mankind, that better thoughts will fill the hearts of our enemies & turn them to peace. The Confusion that now exists in their Counsels will thus result in good. Our Army was never in such good health & Condition since I have been attached to it & I believe they share with me my disappt, that the enemy did not renew the combat of the 13th. I was holding back all that day, & husbanding our strength & ammunition for the great struggle for which I thought he was preparing. Had I devined that was to have been his only effort, he would have had more of it. But I am content. We might have gained more but we would have lost more, & perhaps our relative condition would not have been improved. My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men. Give much love to every one. Kiss Chass & Agnes for me, & believe me with true affection.
R E Lee
I send a note that has reached me from a Mrs. Cook. You had better not respond. I do not wish your letters to get into the papers, any more than mine. I heard from Col Wickham yesterday. He was well.
Source: Photocopy of photocopied handwritten original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 421, Section 20, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 December 15