• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



City of Mexico 12 Febr 1848


My dear Little Agnes

            I was delighted to receive your letter & to find that you could write So well. But how could you say that I had not written to you? Did I not write to you & Annie? I Suppose you want a letter all to yourself. So here is one. I am very anxious to See you again & to know how you progress in your Studies. You must be quite learned, Studying So many branches. I Suppose [you] are becoming quite a Philosopher. There is a nice little girl here, rather Smaller than you were when I parted from you, named Charlollita which means little Charlotte, who is a great favourite of mine. Her mother is a french lady & her father an Englishman. She is quite fair, with blue eyes & long dark lashes & has her hair plaited down the back. She can not Speak English, but has a very nimble little tongue & jabbers french at me. Last Sunday She & her elder Sister Came to the palace to See me & I Carried them into the garden I told you of & got them Some flowers. Afterwards I took them to See the Governor, Genl [Persifor F.] Smith & Showed them the rooms in the palace, Some of which are very large, with pictures, Screens, Chandeliers. One room, Called the reception room is richly furnished. The Curtains are of Crimson velvet, with gilt mountings, & the walls are covered with crimson tapestry. The ceiling is ornamented with gilt figures & the chairs are covered with crimson velvet. At one end of the room there is a kind of throne, with a crimson velvet canopy Suspended from a gilt Coronet, on which is perched the Mexican Eagle on a gilt cactus, holding a Snake in his mouth. It was on this dias & under this canopy that President [Antonio Lopez de] Santa Anna used to receive his  Company on great occasions. Church is held in this room now every Sunday. Santa Annas large Arm Chair is brought forward to the front of the dais, before which is placed a Small desk where Rev McCarty our Chaplain[1] reads the Episcopal Service & preaches a Sermon. Genl [Winfield] Scott & the Officers & those Soldiers that wish to attend Sitting below him. After Showing Charlollita & her Sister Isabel all these things, She Said She wanted to go to her Mamacita, which means little Mama, So I Carried her out of the Palace & she gave me Some big Sweet Kisses & bade me adieu. She is always dressed very nicely when I See her & keeps her clothes very clean. I hope my little girls keep theirs just as nice for you know I cannot bear dirty Children. You must therefore Study hard & be a very nice girl & do not forget your Papa, who thinks Constantly of you & longs to be [with] you more than he Can Confess. Take good care of Mildred & tell her how much her papa wants to See her. I do not See Any little children here like her. Write to me Soon & believe me always your Affectionate father RE Lee




Source: DeButts-Ely Collection of Lee Family Papers, Library of Congress

Transcribed by Allen Guelzo, 2017 July 28



[1] Rev’d John McCarty (1798-1881), ordained Protestant Episcopal Church (deacon 1825, priest 1827), chaplain on board USS Constitution (1825-6) rector, Christ Church, Oswego, NY, 1826-1835, Zion Church, Fulton, NY, 1835-46; brigade chaplain, 2nd Brigade, 1st Division; distinguished for service under fire at Churubusco and made honorary member of the Aztec Club; chaplain, Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, MO (1848-52); rector, Trinity Church, Portland, OR (1853-60), St. Luke’s Church, Vancouver, WA (1860-68).

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