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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Nov. 27, 1821

From H. Lee to Dr Mayo (fr: original)

Dear Sir,

            Mrs. R. refused to receive your letter and in terms so unfavorable as to inflict pain upon the innocent and injured person who offered it. Hoping that you may come over, I retain it here to await the destiny you may assign to it. Your conduct in this affair I must be allowed to say has excited my warmest respect. That it has led to such a strange and unpleasant conclusion, is I fear to be mainly attributed to your having been since my disgrace in my company, & to their immoveable suspicion that I was the ruling demon of what they therefore consider a hellish plot. Whenever Dr Mayo is suggested their affrighted imaginations think of Major Lee. Versatur [mihi] ante oculos aspectus Cethegi, & furor in vestra caede bacchantis.1 I supposed I was giving the best proof that fate could enable me to do of my repentance and of my anxiety to repair the injury I had madly, barbarously inflicted. & I hoped too I should secure in you an indulgent and a lasting friend. Strange reverse! I have so far from achieving  this result been the occasion of increased uneasiness and rivetted upon myself additional indignation & disrespute. Cant you rescue me from this. Cant you reveal to Bishop Moore the affair and get him to represent your character & my conduct properly to Mrs. R? Perhaps it might produce a complete revolution.

Yr. sincere & unfortunate friend,

H. Lee



Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 7, M2009.152

Transcribed by Caitlin Connelly

1. “I see before my eyes the sight of Cethegus and his madness revels in your death.” – Cicero, Oration in L. Catilinam Quarta

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