18 Jany 1862
On my return day before yesterday from Florida, dear Mary, I recd your letter of the 1st. I am very glad to find that you had a pleasant family meeting Xmas & that it was so large. I am truly grateful for all the mercies we enjoy notwithstanding the miseries of war, & join heartily in the wish that the next year may find us at peace with all the world. I am delighted to hear that our little Grdson is improving so fast & is becoming such a perfect gentleman. May his path be strewn with flowers & his life with happiness. I am very glad to hear also that his dear Papa is promoted. It will be gratifying to him & increase I hope his means of usefulness. Robert wrote he saw him on his way through Charlottesville with his squadron, & that he was well. While at Fernandina I went over to Cumberland Isd: & walked up to Dungeness, the former residence of Genl Green. It was my first visit to the house & I had the gratification at length of visiting my father’s grave. He died there you may recollect on his way from the W. Indies & was interred in one corner of the family cemetery. The spot is marked by a plain marble slab, with his name, age, & date of his death. Mrs. Green is also buried there, & her daughter Mrs. Shaw & her husband. The place is at present owned by Mr. Nightingale, nephew of Mrs. Shaw, who married a daughter of Mr. Jas: King. The family have moved into the interior of Georgia, leaving only a few servants & a white Gardener on the place. The garden was beautiful, enclosed by the finest hedge I have ever seen. It was of the wild olive. The orange trees were small & the orange grove which in Mrs. Shaw’s lifetime, my tour of duty in Savannah in early life, was so productive, had been destroyed by an insect that has proved fatal to the orange on the coast of Georgia & Fla: There was a fine grove of olives from which I learn, Mr. N[ightingale] procures oil. The garden was filled with roses & beautiful vines, the names of which I do not know. Among them was the tomato vines in full bearing with ripe fruit on it. There has as yet been no frost in that region of Country this winter. I went in the dining room & parlour, in which the furniture still remained. In the latter room hung the portraits of Mr. John & Jas: King, father & uncle of Mrs. N___ rabid abolitionists, with a bad likeness of Genl Green, & a handsome print of Florence Nightingale & some landscapes. There also hung over the mantle a representation of Genl Green & Mrs. Slute, presenting him the purse. The house has never been finished, but is a fine, large one & beautifully located. A magnificent grove of live oaks envelops the road from the landing to the house. I saw in Savannah good old Mrs. Mackay with her two daughters Misses Kate & Sarah, Mr. Wm H. Stiles, now Lt Col & his sons Henry & Robert. Mrs. Stiles was in Cass with Henrys wife & Mrs. Lowes children. Robert is married also & he & his wife seem to live with their Grdmother Mackay. I heard that Miss Sidney Stiles, Annie’s friend, was engaged to her cousin, Dr. Elliott, son of Mrs. Margaret Elliott, formerly Miss Mackay. Kitty, the elder sister, takes care of her mother &c., as Phebe, eldest daughter of Mrs. Margaret Elliott, takes care of that family. The three younger daughters of Mrs. Elliott are married & their husbands are in the Army. Mrs. Lowe, you may have heard is in Baltimore with the Glens. Her husband a prisoner at Fort Warren. I grieve over our dear Aunt Maria. How she can exist I do not know. Rob says he has seen a Lt [Chiswell] Dabney in Charlottesville, aid to Genl Stuart, who has recently been at Ravensworth, who says the place looks lovely & has been undisturbed save by carrying off the people &c. that is some comfort. I am glad also to hear that dear Arlington is Extant. In return for Aunt M[aria]’s letter I send you one from Mrs. Dr. Kyh whom you will see, like every body else, overestimates my ability & services. She sent me a beautiful pair of socks. I do not know her, or how to thank her. I also enclose a letter from a daughter of Mrs. Post as you like to hear from your relatives. Thank Agnes for her letter. I forgot to mention I saw in S[avannah] Hugh Mercers children. My Godson Robert is a handsome little boy & miss Mary a young lady with her beaux around her. Love to everybody & God bless you all.
Truly & faithfully yours
R E Lee
Source: Photocopy of photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 339, Section 17, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 January 25