Camp Fredg 26 Decr ’62
My precious little Agnes
I have not heard of you for a long time. I do not know where you are, or to how to address you. I hope you are well & enjoying the happiness of doing all the good you can. I wish you were with me, for always solitary, I am sometimes weary, & long for the reunion of my family once again. But I will not speak of myself but of you. I hope your old enemy, neuralgia, has left you at peace this winter, & that you take a great deal of exercise in the open air. I have a fine trotting horse that would agitate you much in a small space, that delights in a lofty head, & would feel proud to bear your gossamer weight. Come up & try him & tell Miss Sallie I have a smooth ambler for her. But I shall not let the young men look at her. I have only seen the ladies in this vicinity when flying from the enemy, & it caused me acute grief to witness their exposure & suffering. But a more noble spirit was never displayed anywhere. The faces of old & young were wreathed with smiles & glowed with happiness at their sacrifice for the good of their country. Many have lost every thing. What the fire & shells of the enemy spared, their pillagers destroyed. But a kind Providence will shelter them I know. So much virtue will not be unregarded. I can only hold oral communication with your sister [Mary]. I have recd one letter from her, but have forbidden the scouts to bring any writing, & have taken back some that I had given them for her. If caught, it would compromise them. They only convey messages. I learn in that way she is well & is profuse in speech. All the family are likewise reported in good condition, & Carrie as being uncommonly pretty. I fear she caused the capture of a tall youth a week or two since. He left with such a heavy heart that on being discovered by the enemys patrols, he could not keep up with his party & was overtaken. I have therefore forbidden them going to the house.
I must stop now. You always have my prayers for your health & happiness my dear daughter, & I now wish you many returns of the New Year, each more freighted with happiness than the other. With kind regards to all friends.
I remain always your father
R E Lee
Source: Photocopy of photocopied handwritten original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 422, Section 20, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 December 16