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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Indianola, Texas, 22 March 1857


How can you say my Precious life, that I have not answered your letters? I cannot answer them before I receive them, but always do, after. I was much gratified at finding on my arrival at San Antonio your two of the 4th Jan & 13 Feb. They were very nice letters too, particularly the last. Well written & all the words correctly spelled. I think in time you will write beautiful letters. You must continue therefore to try & take pains. It has been said that our letters are good representatives of our minds. If fair, correct, sensible & clear; so may you expect to find the writers. They certainly present a good criterion for judging of the character of the individual. You must be careful that yours make a favourable impression of you, as I hope you will deserve. I am truly sorry for the destruction of the long bridge. It will be an inquiry to the business of many, & an inconvenience to you in taking your music lessons. I am very glad to hear of your interest & progress in music, & hope your proficiency will keep pace with your labour. You must be a very great personage right now. Sixty pounds! Enormous. I wish I had you here in all your ponderosity. I want to see you so much. Can not you & dear Mary Childe pack yourselves up in a carpet bag & come to the Comanche country? I wish you would. I would get you a fine cat, you would. I would get you a fine cat, you would never look at Tom tita1 again. Did I tell you Jim Nooks, Mrs Waits cat, was dead? Died of apoplexy. I fortold his end. Coffee & cream for breakfast. Pound cake for lunch. Turtle & oysters for dinner. Buttered toast for tea, & Mexican rats, taken raw, for supper! Cat nature could not stand so much luxury. He grew enormously & ended in a spasm. His beauty could not save him. I saw in San Antonio a cat dressed up for Compy. He had two holes bored in each ear, & in each were two bows of pink & blue ribbon. His round face set in pink & blue looked like a big owl in a full blooming ivy bush. He was snow white, & wore the golden fetters of his inamorata around his neck, in the form of a collar. His tail & feet were tipped with black. And his eyes of green & stealthy face, were truly cat like! But I saw “cats as is cats” in Lavacca. While the stage was changing mules, I stepped around to see Mr & Mrs Monod, a french Couple, with whom I had passed a night, when I landed in Texas in 1846, to join Genl Wools army. Mr M received me with all the shrugs & grimaces of his nation, & the entrance of Madame was foreshadowed by her stately cats, with visage grave & tails erect, who preceded, surrounded, & followed in her wake. Her present favourite Lodoiska, a large mottled grey, was a magnificent creature, & in her train she pointed out Aglai, her favourite eleven years ago, when I first visited her! They are of french breed & education & when the claret & water was poured out for my refreshment, they jumped on the table for a sip too. If I can persuade the mail stage to give a place to one of that distinguished family, I will take one to Camp Cooper, provided Madame can trust her pet into such a barbarous country, & Indian society. I left that wild cat on the Rio Grande. He was too savage. Had grown as large as a small sized dog. Had to be caged, & would strike at everything that came within his reach. His cage had to be strong & consequently heavy, & I could not bring it. He would pounce upon a kid as tomtita would on a mouse, & would whistle like a tiger when you approached him. Give much love to Mary Childe when she comes & tell her I love her dearly. Be a good childe & think always of your devoted father.

R E Lee




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 194, Section 10, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 November 7



1. A large yellow cat that lived at Arlington. See Mary Lynn Williamson, Life of Robert E. Lee, p. 36.

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