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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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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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[ca. 1863 June 17]

My very dear cousin:

 

            I received your letter of the 16th last night & hasten to reply to it. Indeed I thought of writing you an account of the cruel capture of our dear Gen: when it happened. It was so fully discussed in the papers immediately, that I thought it unnecessary. He had been with us from the day after he was wounded (Charlotte being with us at the Time) His mother & sisters Agnes & Mildred had joined him here, Robbie coming with him. We were such a happy family party! We females secretly rejoicing in the wound which kept him away from the dreadful battles going on. Corse’s Brigade close to us, with a promise to give us timely notice of any advance from the White House. We had no fear or thought of danger, when the alarm was given by a breathless boy “The Yankees are in the Lane.” Robbie was ordered to save himself & Moses to save the Gens horses in ten minutes the barbarians were galloping across the lawn. Still I was not alarmed I was used to such things. They would surely parole him. Entirely helpless from his wound, it is impossible such an outrage can be committed as the taking him off will be! But ah! That Lieutenant & that Surgeons wicked monsters so elated at the prize they had in their power. The son of Gen: R. E. Lee nothing could soften or turn them from their savage purposed & three or four of them tore him from his bed to the carriage. Many of the men when they saw he had to be brought out in that way expressed their disapprobation aloud. Fitzhugh went through the whole with perfect calmness & dignity, & dear Charlotte, poor dear child, she bore up wonderfully, collecting & packing up such things as he required, looking deathly pale. When it was all over & he was gone, she gave way in a burst of feeling that must have softened the hearts even of there [sic] two dreadful officers had they witnessed it. You may imagine how sad & cast down our household was. It was painful to see dear Charlotte’s grief & her anxiety about Fitzhugh’s suffering[1]. She was cheered very much by hearing favorable accounts from time to time. Her health is exceedingly delicate. She left us yesterday morning for the Rockbridge Alum. Dear cousin Mary & daughters left us two days before for the Hot Springs. Poor cousin Mary is a great sufferer from rheumatism. She can scarcely move & has to be lifted about. Her spirits are excellent & she is a most delightful companion.  We miss the whole party greatly & shall be most happy to see them back. Mildred returns to Raleigh to school. Mary recently arrived from King George in fine health & spirits Margaret Stuart came with her has been to see us & we are much pleased with her. Having accomplished the great object of their visit here, the Yankees were so well satisfied, that we are astonished at their moderation in the damage done ourselves, knowing that they “fear not God nor regard man” & that we were completely in their power for Mr. Wickham was in Richmond. But our Heavenly Father watched over & protected us. They broke open the Smoke House, but helped themselves very moderately. Two of them made me give them brandy by threatening to get it themselves. It was on another visit that they went into the Wine cellar & helped themselves very freely to Brandy & moderately to wines being satisfied with two or three bottles apiece. They took the carriage horses, the buggy horse, Mr. W.s & Mr. Priddys riding horses & two beautiful brown mares. But there are all trifles for the girls had more fun in a few wagon rides, than a year’s use of a carriage could have afforded them. Between 30 & 40 of our people have gone, our most efficient hand, young man mostly, I was right brave in the day, but the constant apprehension of an alarm in the night, & ones we were around a little after daybreak by the most violent knocking at my chamber entry, the tramp of horses & clanking of swords, the memory of those, sounds make me tremble still. Dear Uncle, they dealt hardly with him, taking all his spirit & wine, breaking open his locks & searching his house & threatening to strike him if he attempted to withhold the meats more than twenty mules they stole from him. I am not able to give you any information from Horn Quarter having heard only that very few people were remaining there. Remember Luce & myself most affectionately to your Lucy, Mrs. Taylor Nannie & Bettie. We wish we could have the pleasure of seeing them again. Dear Carter, I am almost ashamed to send you this long letter which perhaps you may find difficult to decypher.  Always remember that,

I am your devoted cousin

Anne Wickham

 

 

 

Source: Photostat of original letter, Yale University Special Collections, New Haven, Connecticut

Transcribed by Nicholas Tarchis, 2017 June 1


[1] William Henry Fitzhugh Lee was wounded at the Battle of Brandy Station  and went to Hickory Hill in Ashland, Virginia, to recover, where was captured by Union forces.

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