• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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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My dear /miss M.


    Your friend from King George’s brought in a letter for your brother this morning, which he allowed me the pleasure of perusing, and I was very much gratified to see that neither your spirits nor wit had become dull during your exile from the C. S. lines. The messenger says that a note for you must be sent to him this evening, and as it is now nearly four o’clock, I have but just time, before the office closes, to fill a very small sheet.
    Poor General Jones, as I suppose you have heard, died about a week ago.2 His wife is at the Presidents, and I understand is soon going South. I had supposed she would return to her family, but am glad she does not do so. Major Whiting also died very suddenly the other day, leaving his little wife, Miss Ingraham, you know, almost heart broken.1 She has gone back to her family. On the other hand, our old friend Miss Henrietta M. now the widow H. has been here, bearing the loss of her spouse with the most beautiful resignation. She was really bewitching, with her hair frizzed up in the latest style of the art, her dress making all the Richmond ladies frantic, and her complexion the most gorgeous carmine you ever saw. It was really refreshing, in these solemn times, to see any one look as happy as she did before her departure for Yankee land.
    The heir of Brandon was married day before yesterday in Savannah to the beautiful Miss Gordon,3 and Colonel W. starts in a day or two to go through a similar performance with her rival beauty Miss Mercer. Both bridal parties come on together. The first pair will live with Mrs H. in Linden Row,4 the second have the house that General Cooper5 is now occupying, or rather has been till within a day or two.
    There are three deaths and two marriages for you, which is all that I know about. No one can go about to pick up any news, for it has rained every day for a fortnight, and the mud is eleven feet deep.

    As for public matters, with the exception of the slight set back in Arkansas, we are having fine times, and are going, in a few days, to have still finer. If Burnside tries to advance again, as he says he means to, General Lee will not leave him his boots to stand in. In North Carolina, we have driven them back to their gunboats like sheep. Rosencranz’s Army is in a very bad way, almost as bad as McClellan’s used to be after he had won a “brilliant and decisive victory.” At Vicksburg I would not be surprised if they made a grand attack again, and if they do, it will inevitably prove a grand failure. If we can keep the scoundrels at bay till next June or July, I think the war will be virtually over.
    General Lee was here the other day for a few days, looking heartier, handsomer, and in finer spirits than I have seen him in a long time. Mrs L is at Mr C’s, and is expecting her daughter daily from Hickory Hill. Both are in very good health. Your friend Major C. came in a short time ago, benign and smiling as usual. I should make a miserable failure were I to try and give you his numerous messages. They were a combination of grace and intensity of feeling.
    Your brother is seated near, looking red, robust, and as I inform him, particularly ugly. He has had his hair cut close in the Hunan style, and resembles a Baltimore “Plug.” He says that as I am writing, he will defer his letter, but will send it in a few days, unless he goes with Colonel W. to see him married, which he has nearly made up his mind to do.
    Mrs. R. is as charming as ever. She gave a delightful little party on Christmas night, which you ought to have been here to attend. I hear of very little gaiety this winter. The Friedlands are again in mourning, another child died of dyptheria, of which, as well as scarlet fever, typhoid do.5 and small pox, there is a considerable sprinkling in this city of varieties. Vaccination parties are all the fashion. The ladies wear polkas with loose sleeves, and those that have pretty arms and can squeal musically are the most in demand. Riding is also very much in vogue, but the ladies of Richmond, I am sorry to say, ride more like sacks of meal, than like beings with souls.
    I wish I had seen more of your friends lately, that I might give you intelligence of those you are interested in, but C. will supply everything of that kind, I hope, when he writes.
    My time is up, Good bye
    Very sincerely Yr. friend
    J7  

 

 

Source: Photocopy of original letter, Mary Cutis Lee Papers, Mss1 L5144 a 6386, Section 63, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 August 31

 

 

 

1. Major Jasper Strong Whiting (1827-1862), who was born in Louisiana, died on 1862 December 25 of scarlet fever. He served as a staff officer during the Civil War is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. He was married to Louisa Ingraham Whiting (1834-1885). She was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and is buried in Baltimore.  

2. David Rumph Jones, died in January of 1863 (some sources put his death on January 15, but his tombstone says he died on January 20). He was born in South Carolina and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. His wife was Sarah Rebecca Taylor Jones (1831-1917). She is buried in Winchester, Virginia.

3. Brandon was a plantation in Prince George County, Virginia, owned by the Harrison family. George Evelyn Harrison (1837-1880) married Gulielma Clifford Gordon (1840-1911).

4. Row of houses located on Franklin Street in downtown Richmond. Robert E. Lee's family would eventually rent a house on Franklin Street, where Lee would stay until a few months after the war ended.

5. General Samuel Cooper, the highest ranking general in the Confederacy, who worked in Richmond during the war in an administrative capacity.

6. Ives apparently is using the abbreviation for "ditto."

7. Joseph Christmas Ives (1829-1868) was an author, explorer, and soldier. He was born on Christmas day in 1829. A native of New York, he was educated at the United States Military Academy. He explored the western territories before the war and wrote about his adventures there. Despite his northern upbringing, he served in the Confederate army and was close to Jefferson Davis. His wife was Cora Semmes Ives. 

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