Camp at Valley Mt
9 Sept 1861
I recd last night dearest Mary your letter of 30 Aug: forwed by Custis. I hope from the tone of your letter that you feel better & wish I Could see you & be with you. I trust we may meet this Fall somewhere if only for a little time. I have written to Robert telling him if after considering what I had previously said to him on the subject of his joining the Compy he desires under Major Ross, he still thinks it best for him to do so. I will not withhold my Consent. It seems he will be 18 (I thought 17). I am unable to judge for him, & he must decide for himself. In a reply to a recent letter from him to me on the Same subject, I said to him all I could. I pray God to bring him to a correct conclusion!
As to the reports which you say are afloat about our separation I know nothing. Any one that Can reason must see its necessity under present circumstances. They Can only exist in the imaginations of a few so give them no heed. We both know it Cannot be otherwise, & must, therefore be Content. As to the vile slanders too with which you say the papers abound, why Concern ourselves. I do not see them & would not mind them. They are inserted for no good intention you may be sure. The papers that publish them would not put in the refutation so what good would be accomplished. I do not recollect the letter to you or even the part, that you wish to publish. I only know I never write private letters for the public eye, & suppose what I said was for your own perusal. I am content to take no notice of the slanders you speak of but to let them die out.
Everybody is slandered even the good. How should I escape?
You must do as you think best about Mildred. I am unable to help you, even about your own movements. All my time & attention is absorbed in my imperative duties, which are not Confined to this division of the army, but extend to others in the State. What to advise you I really am at a loss. You must establish yourself somewhere this winter, & what place to propose I now do not know. Perhaps you had better make up your mind to board somewhere & let the girls do the Same, & then you can move according to circumstances. Everything within the seat of war must be uncertain. Select some place, therefore that will be agreable to you & where the expense will come within our means. Very little is necessary for me & you can have all the rest. Fitzhugh is quite well. Charlotte poor child has had to return to Richmond the baby grew worse at the [Hot] Springs. She is going to Shirley. The baby has become better since she got back.
Custis is in R[ichmond] & I have heard has been appd aid to the Pres: (not however from him). The girls were in R. when I last heard & going up with their Uncle Carter to Windsor.
For mil: news I must refer you to the papers. You will see there more than ever occur, & what does occur, the relation must be taken with much allowance. Do not believe anything you see about me. There has been no battle, only skirmishing with the outposts, & nothing done any moment. The weather is still unfavourable to us. The roads or rather tracks of mud almost impassable, & the number of sick large. Forgot to say that I have sent R $100 to get his equipment if he joins the army. Give much love to daughter. I wrote to her the other day. Kiss Life for me too & remembrances to all friends
truly & devotedly your husband
R E Lee
Source: Photocopy of photocopy of letter handwritten by Lee, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 313, Section 16, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 December 28