• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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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San Antonio, Texas 27 Aug 1860

 

My precious Annie

I was very glad to receive your letter of the 12 Inst: though it did commence by scolding me for directing my letters to your brother. I did so, supposing that his letters would be forwd to him, & thus some intercourse would be kept up between me & the travellers, for they did not tell me where to direct, & indeed I did not feel certain that he would be able to accompany them. But now I will direct to you, so you may read without any compunctions of conscience, & may open my letters to Custis too, as I do not think I disclosed any of his secrets, & there is nothing that I have to conceal from any one. But how did I know that you had not accompd your mother, till you told me dear Annie? I wished you to go with her, hoping it might give you health & strength, & that the sight of Niagra with the rush of its mighty waters, might give you pleasure, & more impress you with the might & sublimity of the great creator, & fill your heart with deeper gratitude for all his benefits. Rob & life could have taken care of themselves till their sister returned, & you could have sympathized with Agnes in the pleasure of promiscuous bathing. I am glad she finds something to give her pleasures, but hope above all things that she may be cured of her sufferings. Perhaps your brother did not coincide with Agnes in her ideas of the pleasure of bathing & it was that which sent him so quickly to Sharon.1 I have heard from your mother since her arrival & sincerely hope that the waters may benefit all the party. Should that be the case, they can well afford to dispense with the social pleasures they seem to miss. I have also recd a letter from Fitzhugh (15 Aug). Uncle Wms health had much improved since his arrival at the W. Sulphur. Charlotte was pretty well & the difficulty was to procure sufficient milk for my grd son. F[itzhugh] was very well but very lonesome & did not know that he should be able to join C. I hope he will, & that his good health will continue. I am very glad to hear that the health at Arlington continues good, & pray that you all may be well & happy. I hope daughter has been invigorated by her salt bathing, & that she will become strong and fat. Be careful that you do not expose yourself to chills. Eat plentifully of raw tomatoes & buttermilk, if you find they agree with you, & in your diet consult your health rather than your appetite. I hope my precious life will incur no maladies. I do not know why the rest of you are so much afflicted. The young by nature are blessed with health.

As for myself I am well Annie. My attack was a slight one, though you know a little in that way goes hard with me. I had repetition of it about the date of your letter, but I snipped it in the bud & hope that will be the end of it. Our excessive hot weather I think has passed. We have in the last three weeks, had some refreshing rains, that have ameliorated the atmosphere, refreshed the parched earth, & revived the grass. How good is God! Nature is smiling again, & man encouraged. Forgetful I fear of the Giver of all good, & thankless for his benifits. But man cannot bear unmitigated good. Our flies & musquitoes are reanimated too. They could not endure the heat meted out to the Shadracks, Meshaks & abednigos of this Country & had entirely disappeared. But last night I heard of a heavy calamity resulting from the rains. The young wife of a merchant of this place, with her only child a boy of four years old, left here last thursday to visit her brothers, residing some 350 miles distant on the route I travel to Camp Cooper. There was a young lady in the carriage with her. In crossing the Guadaloupe, a rapid stream swolen [sic] by the recent rain, the carriage was upset near the opposite shore & the mother & child were born off by the current & drownd. The young lady was saved by the driver. Their cries attracted the brothers, not more than 400 yds distant, who reached the spot in time to witness but not prevent the catastrophe, nor had the bodies of their sister and nephew been recovered, when the courier left with the sad news for the husband & father. They have but recently returned from a visit to the Eastern states. A large party & dance had been given by one of their friends to welcome their return, which was attended by nearly all the officers on the station & I heard the beauty & amiability of the lady much commended. None could then imagine her sad & speedy fate. The husband started last night for the scene of the disaster.     

I am much gratified dear Annie that you think of me often & earnestly. God knows how often I think of you & long to see you. If you wish to see me you will have to come out here, for I do not know when I will be able to go in there. It is better too I hope for all that I am here. You know I was much in the way of every body, & my tastes & pursuits did not coincide with the rest of the household. Now I hope everybody is happier. If you will come out here I will endeavour to make you as comfortable as possible. I have a nice little pony on which you can accompany me in my evg rides, & a commodious travelling wagon that can carry you wherever I go, & furnish you a convenient sleeping apartment at night. In the Fall I presume I shall go up to my former station & enjoy a life on the prairie & solitude again. I am sorry, very sorry, you have been sick. What can you do to make you well? Tell your Pa’a & he will endeavour to accomplish it. Give much love to dear daughter, Rob & Mildred. Also to your Mother. I do not write to her, as I do not know where my letters would find her. Tell Aunt Maria she ought to have gone to Capon last summer when I was there, that I might have enjoyed her company. I have recd her message about the repair of the church & send her a check for $25.00 to aid in its repairs. I wish I could send more. The church here is in great need & I have had to help it all I could, & that was small for its necessities & lack of friends & only to the amount of $150.00 But I hope my contribution added to your mothers will make up my quota for the repairs of Christ Church. Enclosed is my check of this date No. 143 on the Br Farmers Bank of Virga at Alexa for $25 in favor of “Christ Church Alex” I have no news. Capt Clintz is still here looking very handsome. His compy has not yet arrived from New Mexico. Fitzhugh is out on a scout in the head waters of the Concho. He will be in about the first of Sept. & I suppose will then prepare to visit the states. I have not heard of their finding any indians. Everything is quiet in the Dept. No indian or Cortinas depredations. I am glad you like Custis horse. Tell Rob to ride him carefully, cultivate his docility & good temper. I must now tell you good bye dear Annie. May God guard & protect you always is the prayer of your affectionate father

 

R E Lee

 

Remember [me] to Nurse, Daniel, Ephraim, Charles, George, Selina & all the servants

 

 

 

Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 260, Section 14, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

 

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 April 27

 

 

1. Likely Sharon Springs, New York, roughly fifty miles west of Albany.

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