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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



20 April ’61

My dear Sister,

I am grieved at my inability to see you, & abhor myself more than ever for not having visited you all the time. I have been waiting “for a more convenient season” which has brought to many before me deep & lasting regret. Now we are in a state of war which will yield to nothing. The whole South is in a state of revolution, into which Virginia after a long struggle has been drawn, & though I recognize no necessity for this state of things, & would have forborne & pleaded to the end for redress of grievances, real or supposed, yet in my own person I had to meet the question whether I should take part against my native state. With all my devotion to the Union & the feeling of loyalty & duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have therefore resigned my Commission in the army, & save in defense of my native State, with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed, I hope I may never be called on to draw my sword. I know you will blame me, but you must think as Kindly of me as you can, & believe that I have endeavoured to do what I thought right. To shew you the feeling & struggle it has cost me I send a copy of my letter to Genl Scott, which accmpd. my letter of resignation. I have no time for me. I shall love you till death & you will be as dear to me as ever. May God guard & protect you & yours & shower upon you every blessing is the prayer of your devoted brother

R E Lee

Source: Handwritten copy, Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 3, M2012.010, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 August 29  

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