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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Camp 24 Jany ’64


I have recd two letters from you dear Mary since I last wrote. That of the 16th accompanying the bag of gloves & socks, & one without date enclosing Martha’s letter. The likeness you mentioned did not come & according to your desire I return her letter. I also send one from the Quartermaster of a Louisiana brigade to whom some of your socks were given. The socks I think are more useful than the gloves, though all are appreciated. The latter after the next month will not be of much advantage. I also received the pair of socks from Mrs. Radford. They are very nice, but I have not yet worn them. As regards the people at Romancoke, I much prefer their receiving their free papers & seeking their fortune. It has got to be done & it was in accordance with your father’s will. I am unable to attend to them & I am afraid they will suffer or come to some harm. I do not see why they can not be freed & hire themselves out as others do, & think it might be accomplished. I am afraid there is some desire on the part of the community to continue them in slavery, which I must resist. I wish you would talk to Mr. Caskie on the subject & Mr. Frank Smith, whom I see is in Richmond. Mr. Collins can hire some of them out at any rate. It will diminish the number to clothe & feed. How are clothes & shoes to be obtained for them? I wish I could hear of your being benefited by your new doctor. It is pleasing at least to learn that his medicines are agreeable & that he holds out hopes. Tell Mildrid I am glad to hear that she has taken the socks in hand. I shall expect great numbers now. I have given out that my daughter just from a celebrated school is at work & the expectations of the soldiers are raised. I have read Fitzhugh’s letter with much interest. Poor fellow he has nothing to draw his thoughts from his deep sorrow & I fear it will wear him down. You must not trouble yourself to send me anything. I want nothing but a little bread & meat, & that thank God I yet awhile get. Try & take care of yourself & get well. That is the greatest benefit you can do me. I have endeavoured to get to Beverly Turner his shirts & have had them put up & properly directed for some days, but as yet have not found an opportunity. I have had to disperse the cavalry as much as possible to obtain forage for their horses, & it is that which causes the trouble. Provisions for the men too are very scarce, & what with light diet & light clothing I fear they suffer. But still they are cheerful & uncomplaining. I received a report from one division the other day, in which it was stated that over 400 men were barefoot & over 1000 without blankets. Give much love to the girls & Custis. I received yesterday a letter from Rob. He was well.


Very truly & affly yours


R E Lee



P.S. Since writing, a courier to the cavalry camp has taken Beverly’s jackets to him.




Source: Photocopy of photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 500, Section 25, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 January 23


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