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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Fort Brown, Texas, 9 Jany 1857


On the 7th dearest Mary by the steamer from the Brazos to New Orleans, I acknowledged the reception of nine letters from you, embracing dates from 21 Sept to 7 Decr inclusive. As they arrived in company with over 20 others from different individuals, I could give them but a brief perusal & reply, before the departure of the steamers mail. I have since read them more carefully. The subject which gives me most anxiety is the condition of your health. I feel it the more in consequence of my separation from you, & my inability personally to administer to your comfort, or do aught for your recovery. I can propose nothing better than what I submitted in my former letter, viz: that you procure a good regular nurse, & as soon as it is proper in the spring, that you repair to such of the mineral springs as the Drs may think most suitable for your disease, & make your arrangements to pass the whole summer in trying the virtues of their waters. You might take such of the children, as you pleased, & I have already written to Custis to ascertain the prospect of his being able to join you a portion of the Summer at least. You will have plenty of funds, & must not mind the expense. It will require but $500. to make the Feby payments for the girls & Robs schooling, & to add to Marshalls note to purchase the state bond I desired, which after getting your necessary summer equipment for self & children will leave over $1,000. for your expenses. Fitzhugh has already recd his 1st 2nd & 3rd qrs allowance, & I will send him his 4th. The July dividends will pay all school arrearages for the year. Custis expenses for the trip must be paid also. I was much pleased & comforted to find in all your letters, that your good sense & pure piety enabled you to bear with patience & resignation this painful affliction & I feel that we must bow with humble resignation to all the chastisements of our heavenly father & submit ourselves entirely to his will. I only wish to obey his commandments, to neglect nothing on our part for the accomplishment of that which is plainly our duty, & with earnest prayers for his mercy & deliverance, to leave the result in his hands. The best course for the recovery of your health, ought therefore to be systematically tried, fairly & patiently. When it is found to fail, try some other, till all reasonable means are exhausted. Then, & not till then, we must be resigned to our fate. There are several matters to which you referred in your letters, which I will answer in order. If all the money has been drawn from the Farmers bank Alexa, due on last July dividends, for which I sent you several checks, & those checks are no longer wanted, destroy them, as they may fall in other hands. You have my check for all the Jany dividends, & can draw it as wanted. I had hoped you had had the furnace repaired last Fall. The pipes will rust out every summer, unless cleaned with black lead &c after the fires cease. It requires proper management, or it is a nuisance. Mr Vail the Cashr of the bank of Commerce N. Y. is not your acquaintance. Not Aaron Vail, formerly in Washington & subsequently charge abroad. I only mention it to correct your error. I do not believe that he is related to that family. I suppose everything has been done that can be done in reference to the change of managers at the White House. As soon as I hear that Mr Winston has taken charge I will write to him. At the time you last wrote he had not accepted. I do not know what Fitzhugh means by my discouraging him. I cannot commend his errors, but endeavour to point them out to him. I try to stimulate him to caution & to shew him the consequence of idleness. I was much pleased at the good report of dear little Rob & the girls. Give much love to all—your father, Mary & Markie & the rest. Truly & affly your husband

R E Lee






Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 184, Section 10, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 November 2


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