• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 curator, Colin Woodward, about how you can contribute to this historic project.




                                                                                                                                          February 8, 1862


I wrote to you, dear Mary, the day I left Coosawhatchie for this place. I have been here ever since, endeavouring to push forward the works for the defence of the city, which has lagged terribly & which ought to have been finished. But it is difficult to arouse ourselves from ease & comfort to labour & self denial. Guns are scarce, as well as ammunition, & I shall have to break up batteries on the coast to provide, I fear, for this city. Our enemies are endeavouring to work their way through the creeks that traverse the impassable & soft marshes stretching along the interior of the coast & communicating with the sounds & sea, through which Savannah flows, & thus avoid the entrance of the river commanded by Fort Pulaski. Their boats only require 7 feet water to float them & the tide rises 7 feet, so that on high water they can work their way & rest on the mud at low. They are also provided with dredges & appliances for removing obstructions through the creeks in question, which cannot be guarded by batteries. I hope, however, we shall be able to stop them, & daily pray to the giver of all victory to enable us to do so. I suppose if you have written, your letter is at Coosawhatchie & I therefore have not heard from any one. I trust you are all well & doing well, & wish I could do anything to promote either. I have more here than I can do, & more, I fear, than I can well accomplish. It is so very hard to get anything done, & while all wish well & mean well, it is so difficult to get them to act energetically & promptly.

Mrs. Lowe is here with her grandmother. She brought her little daughter Kate down who is very much like her & full of motion & activity. Mrs. L[owe], herself, is much more quiet & sedate & perhaps more pleasing though not so youthful in appearance. I have only seen her for a short time in the evening, when her fingers have been more busy with her knitting than her tongue in conversation. I see Mrs. Gilmer occasionally who remains here while her husband is in Kentucky. Yesterday there was a report that he was captured on the Tennessee River, but it was subsequently contradicted. The news from Kentucky & Tennessee is not favourable, but we must make up our minds to meet with reverses & to overcome them. I hope God will at last crown our efforts with success. But the consent must be long & severe, the whole country has to go through much suffering. It is necessary we should be humbled & taught to be less boastful, less selfish, & more devoted to right & justice to all the world. Give much love to every body—Charlotte & the girls & Custis, Fitzhugh & Robert when you write. Take good care of yourself & be resigned to what God ordains for us. I left Meredith at Coosawhatchie & have Perry with me. God bless you all & believe me always yours.




                                                                                  R E Lee






Source: The Wartime Papers of R. E. Lee, edited by Clifford Dowdey and Louis Manarin, pp. 11-112.




Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 February 8

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