14 March 1862
My dear Mary
I have been trying all the week to write to you, but have not been able. I have been placed on duty here to Conduct operations under the directions of the Pres: It will give me great pleasure to do everything I Can to relieve him & serve the Country, but I do not see either advantage or pleasure in my duties. But I will not Complain, but do my best. I do not see at present either that it will enable me to see much more of you. In the present Condition of affairs no one can foresee what may happen, nor in my judgement is it advisable for any one to make any arrangements with a view to permanency or pleasure. We must all do what promises the most usefulness. The presence of some one at the W. H.1 is necessary as long as practicable. How long it will be practicable for you & C. [Charlotte] to remain there I Cannot say. The enemy is pushing us back in all directions & how far he will be successful depends much upon our efforts & the mercy of Providence. I shall in all human probability soon have to take the field so for the present I think things had better remain as they are, write me your views. If you think it best for you to Come to Richmond. I can soon make arrangements for your Comfort & shall be very glad of your Compy & presence. We have experienced a great affliction, both in in [sic] our private & public relations.
Our good and noble Bishop Meade2 died last night. He was very anxious to see you. Sent you his love & kindest remembrances, & had I known in time yesterday I would have sent expressly for you to Come up. But I did not Know of his wish or condition till after the departure of the Cars yesterday. Between 6 & 7 P.M. yesterday he sent for me said he wished to bid me goodbye & to give me his blessing, which he did in the most affecting manner. Called me Robert & reverted to the time I used to say the cathechism to him invoked the blessing of God upon me & the Country. He spoke with difficulty & pain, but perfectly calm & clear. His hand was then Cold & pulseless yet he shook mine warmly. I ne’er shall look upon his like again. He died during the night. I presume the papers of tomorrow will tell you all. Mary is still sick & confined to her room, but better, your basket of eggs arrived safely. You had better if possible repeat it. Annie & Agnes are well & enjoying themselves. Mr Warwicks. We were all invited last night to Mrs. Lyons. I Could not go & Agnes was the only one of the family that went. Tell Robert the Secy of War has exempted from Mil: Service the Profrs & students of the University. But as he has now left he must judge whether it would be well for him to return, Charlotte did not go to F[itzhugh]. He telegraphed for her not to Come, she is at Mrs. Lyons’. I send a letter recd. from Mrs. R_ very truly & sincerely R E Lee
Source: Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 346, Section 16, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 March 6
1. White House plantation in New Kent County, Virginia.
2. William Meade (1789-1862) was the third Episcopal bishop of Virginia. He died on 1862 March 14 in Richmond.