• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.


 

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Lexington Va: 18 May 1869

 

My dear Mr Tagart

 

I have desired every day since my arrival to write to you, to inform you of my safe arrival & of the welbeing of my family & neighbors; but when I began to reflect upon you & Mrs Tagart & the Kind friends I left in Baltimore my thoughts went so far that I could not get them back & even at this late day it is difficult for me to bring them down to this narrow sheet of paper. Tell Mrs. Tagart that I fared badly after she left me & was so fearful of falling into the hands of the Philistines that I soon took refuge in Alexandria. There I met many of my old friends & neighbors who seemed glad to see me alive, of which when they looked at my blanched head they appeared to be in doubt, & in whose company I derived great pleasure. My brother, his wife & son, whom I had not seen since we parted in Richmond after the cessation of hostilities, came there to meet me, which added to my gratification. On arriving at Staunton friday evg, I found that the Stage agent had made arrangements to send me to Lexington Saturday mng instead of that night, so that with my daughter Agnes & her friend Miss Peyton in a new stage I had a very pleasant trip. After leaving the first station from Staunton I discovered a stranger on the seat with the driver who kept up with him a friendly chat the whole way. I was a little surprised the next mng when he called on me to find that he was a reporter of the Herald who had hauled in the same train with me from Alexa but without my meeting him. I suppose he made a good [litter?]. That reminds me of my having felt obliged when in Georgetown to ask you to have corrected an erroneous dispatch that appeared in the Baltimore Sun, purporting to narrate an account given by myself to the writer, of my interview with President Grant. I would not have cared had it concerned only myself, or if the account had been reported on the authority of the writer, but when I was made to tell a falsehood, I felt much ashamed. Tell Mrs. Tagart that Mrs. Lee says I have been much spirited by my luxurious living in Baltimore & that I cannot get back to our limestone water & mountain fare. You were right as you always are in saying that I had better pay for the marsala after its arrival for I find that the cask contained 13 gallons & the cost was $39.00 so I enclose $3 to make up the amount; not that I expect to make good my obligations to you even in a pecuniary point of view, but that I wish to make every effort. The carriage has also arrived safely & I hope will be a comfort to Mrs Lee. She is in her usual condition & sends much love to Mrs. L & yourself, in which my daughters join. Please give my love to Mrs. Tagart & say that I hope to see her & you this summer. My son Custis is better than when I left him. His kindness in exercising my horse during my absence has benefited him. But now that I have returned I cannot get him to mount him. Capt White[1] & family are all well & he has not yet ceased to give an account of his journey. Good bye my dear Mr Tagart. Remember me to Sam Smith & all friends. With my best wishes I am most truly

Yours

R E Lee

 

Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 4, M2009.373, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall

 

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 October 1

 



[1] James J. White was the son-in-law of Colonel S. McD. Reid, the eldest member of the board of trustees at Washington and Lee. White was also a professor and captain in the Confederate army. Lee and White became close friends.

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