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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Lexington, Va: 20 Nov 1868

My dear Mr. Tagart[1]

Your kind letter of the 13th has been recd, & has caused quite a contest in the minds of certain gentlemen in Lexington between duty & pleasure. You will however expect their actions to be governed by reasons that hold sway upon mature reflection. Genl Custis & Col: Massie say, that the examination of their respective classes commence on the 1st of Jany, & that they must arrange & prepare for the same, so that it will be impossible for them to accept your invitation. Major White & myself besides our official duties, are fathers of families, & their claims upon us are entitled to great Consideration. My son Robert is coming up to make his annual visit; the only time he allows himself for the purpose, & it would not be a proper return for me to go away. 

In addition I will say that there is only one day’s cessation of studies at the College, so that we should set a bad example to others by absenting ourselves, & we have therefore concluded that we cannot visit you on Xmas. All the gentlemen whom I have named, have earnestly requested me to thank you most sincerely for your cordial invitation, & to express their regrets at their inability to accept it. I must add my special thanks & particular regrets to theirs on my own behalf, & must ask you to give my grateful thanks to Mrs. Tagart for her remembrance. I want very much to visit Baltimore, & hope to do so soon, & will then if you will allow me see you in a quiet way as you propose. Besides my admiration of the Baltimoreans which I have long felt, I have for them & their city a great affection, & can never forget the kind sympathy & material aid they bestowed upon the South. I assure you it is with great reluctance that I feel compelled to postpone my visit.

Mrs. Lee & my daughters unite with me in kindest regards to yourself & Mrs. Tagart.

& I am most truly yours

R E Lee


Mr. S.H. Tagart

Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 4, M2009.369, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 September 30



[1] Samuel H. Tagart was a Baltimore lawyer, who founded the McDonogh School, a preparatory school in Owning Mills, Maryland. The school was founded in 1873. Lee’s last known letter was sent to Tagart in September of 1870.

Reference Shelf

Data Collections

About the Project

Website by Fresh Look Web Design
Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved