• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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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Hdqrs: 14 June 1863

 

Though I wrote to you a few days since my dear Mary, as I have a little leisure this holy day when my thoughts are always turned to you. I must write you a few lines if only to say that my fervent prayers are offered at the throne of mercy for your Comfort & restoration. Of that they were worthy to be heard that I might hope they would be answered. My heart is also tortured by the condition of my poor Fitzhugh, from whom I have not heard since his departure from Culpepper. I have heard that he had gone on to Richmond but do not know whether it is so. I hope he will not neglect himself, but will go where he can get good medical attendance & escape the infected air of cities. I attended service this morg at the church of the Revd Mr Cole[1] the Episcopal Minister at this place. He has remained here though all the occupations of the enemy & ourselves tending the sick & wounded doing all the good he can. He married a Miss Thompson, niece I believe to Mr Champe Carter of Farley.[2] She died since my last visit here the past Fall leaving 5 little children. Genl Pendleton preached to day, on the greatness & goodness of God to a mixed Congregation of citizens & soldiers in his church. I send you a letter from Revd Mr Bolles,[3] from which you will see that the good people in Georgia again been subscribing in my behalf, & this time have made me a life director of the Bible Society of the C. S. I wish I Could feel worthy of these attentions, or do anything for the glory of God, or the diffusion of his holy word. I also send you a letter recd some time since from Mrs. Pickett. I have not been able to write to Beverly yet, nor have I seen any way of providing him with occupation near me to his advantage. I should like though to know what he is doing, what place he holds & how satisfied. I might get him a place in the Signal Corps, if he liked it & thus give him occupation in the field. He has shown great fortitude in our Cause & Hallie seems to be the only one of the girls here to us not with standing her misfortunes. I read in the papers yester[day] an account of the death of Orton Williams,[4] which I can hardly believe; & yet it is given with such circumstanceality, & is in such accordance with the spirit of our enemies that I fear it is. If he did not go into Franklin as is stated his life was forfeited under the laws of war, & yet even under those Circumstances I see no necessity for his death except to gratify the evil passions of those of whom he offended by leaving Genl Scott. I have a lingering hope that it is a story got up to gratify their revengeful feelings & to torture the feelings of his friends. I send you a pincushion of pins. You are so careful of your pins that I shall expect to see some of them at the close of the war. They will not wear out & you will never lose them. Give much love to my children. Remember me to all friends & believe me always yours most affy & truly

R E Lee

 

 

 

Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 459, Section 22, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 June 12   

 

[1] John Cole (1803-1868) was born in Wilmington, Delaware, but he is buried in Culpeper, Virginia. He was married to Fanny Eleanor Thompson Cole (1826-1862). She died on 1862 December 23. Rev. Cole was minister at St. James Episcopal Church in Culpeper before the Civil War. The church was the scene of fighting in 1863 during the clash at Brandy Station. The church was destroyed in 1863 but rebuilt a few years later. The reverend and Mrs. Cole’s son, John Thompson Cole (1857-1917), also became a minister.

[2] “Farley” was formerly known as Sans Souci plantation. It was bought in 1801 by William Champe Carter (1773-1834). Dr. William Wellford of Fredericksburg bought the house in the 1840s and lived there before the Civil War. “Farley” became the scene of fighting during the Gettysburg campaign, being as it was not far north of Brandy Station.   

[3] Revered Edwin Abiel Bolles (1812-1893), a native of Charleston, South Carolina, who was in charge of the Bible Society of the Confederate States.

[4] William Orton Williams/Lawrence Williams Orton (1839-1863) was hanged by Union forces in Tennessee on suspicion of being a spy. He was executed on 1863 June 9.

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