You are a prompt man my dear Genl & a wonderful one. I am sure with all the care of planning battles among a host of other things with which your hands are filled, to find time to answer a womans letter I was rejoiced to hear from you but really did not expect it, & I write now not to be answered but to congratulate you on your splendid successes & to say how gratified we all are to know that you planned the whole campaign (which is perhaps not the right expression) & that by the blessing of our good Lord you have been so successful. I was grieved indeed to see that the enemy had destroyed the White House. They are so wicked & diabolical & this is very hard to be borne. And for Rooney & his young wife to lose their little boy & their house too is a great trial, & for Mrs Lee I feel deeply knowing well how wrapt up she was in her grandson. It is one link more broken in the chain that binds her here, & it is another bright angel in Heaven. I have heard nothing of your Robert since he joined Jackson’s army. I see mention of Rooney in the papers & am proud of him, but I hope you are all to have a little rest unless the Col can annoy the enemy in their gun boats as he has been doing, & if you could keep them from landing stores & troops I suppose McClellan would leave his position & if they do as they have done before they will take a very long time before they are ready again to attack Richmond.

I begin now to believe you were right when you said in Savannah this was to be a long war. I am very sorry Mr Stiles is to go on with Stonewall Jackson. They will have hard times. I don’t mind it for young men, but Mr. Stiles is too old to begin such a life now.1

beg Mrs Lee to write to me & tell me where she is living now. to be driven from two houses by the enemy is [a] very hard measure. I wish she would bring the girls & come & stay with us. My sisters are coming up from Savannah in a few days, that we four who are left of my mothers children may all be together at least for a time. I hope Custis is quite well again. please give our love to him & to all the family & our sympathy to Mrs Lee & to Rooney from Mary & myself. I have not seen Carry for a day or two so she does not know I am writing or she would surely send some messages. goodbye my friend May God continue to bless you in all your undertakings & preserve us all from enemies

being sincerely yours


E A Stiles2

Etowah Cliffs3

July 22nd 1862



1. Politician, lawyer, and Savannah native William Henry Stiles (1808-1865) was a one-term Congressman educated at Yale. He worked in the Polk administration and was active in politics leading up to the war. He served as a colonel in the 60th Georgia regiment. He died in Savannah, where he is buried.   

2. Elizabeth Ann Mackay Stiles (1810-1867) was the daughter of Robert Mackay (1772-1816) and Eliza Anne McQueen Mackay (1778-1862). She was married to William Henry Stiles. She is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah.

3. The Stiles family home in Bartow County in upstate Georgia, northwest of Atlanta along the Etowah River. The place was built by Congressman William Henry Stiles. It was destroyed by fire in 1971.  



Source: Transcribed from original letter, Mary Custis Lee Papers, Mss1 L5144 a, Section 14, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2021 November 12