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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Old Point 26th May 1831    


     Your last letter, my dear Carter found me under orders for this place.  And as I was obliged to finish some drawings before I left Cockspur, I had not time to answer it. I came across from savannah by land & a dreary solitary ride I had of it, through Pine Barrens & swamps. However this was more than compensated by the opportunity it afforded me of visiting charleston, Fayetteville, Raleigh, Richmond etc. none of which I had ever seen. In charleston I met several of your acquaintances Allston, Lowndes, Chives, Dr. Macomb &c who enquired particularly after you. But the Harbour & its Fortifications as you may expect, occupied more of my Time than the Inhabitants. As I passed through Georgetown, I met with a Gentleman well acquainted with Mr. Kinlock, who is at present living with his sister Mrs. Middleton about 2 miles from G. & attending to his Plantation adjoining. He reported all well. In Richmond I saw shirley who looks remarkably well & handsome & who was still carrying on his advances against Miss Ella with a slow but sure Progress. He had been in R. about 3 months they told me, was very close though every one pronounced him successful. And I heard yesterday that he was certainly engaged & had gone home. If so I suppose you will soon hear of it. He is a candidate for the Legislature & has no opponent.

Sweet Cousin Mary of Shirley had chosen that time to come up on a shopping expedition & had left Hill with the children to moan over his dikes that had been destroyed

by the Gale. I was going out to see Uncle Wms but learned that he had gone up to the District with Sweet Charles & the Madam who had been staying with him for some time & from there he was going to West River. Of course I saw Cousins Beverly, Nancy, Wm. Lee, Sally & Ladies & Gentlemen out of number who were all well - Bernard Carter went down the River with me as far as Shirley; But I had been so much longer on the road than I expected, that I could not stop & had to defer my visit till a more convenient time. Norfolk for the last week has been filled to overflowing, so that it was impossible to get a bed there. The Convention has now risen & the

Good People have given way to the Races which commenced on the 24th. Last Monday about 200 of them came over to look at the Fortifications & Penetrated every hole. The Bishop at their Head. There was Miss Landonia too, Cousin Anne Butler Berkley, with all her Brothers & Sisters.  25 Misses Nelson & as many Misters &c &c &c &c. I returned to Norfolk with them at night. Saw there Uncle Edmund, Cousins RidB. Lee, John (‘Lee U. S. N’), Sally, Nancy Randolph, Tom Turner, & in fact if I was to mention them all you would cut your throat in despair. Aunt

R. & Mary staid at Shirley. Tom by this time has passed his examination. But the result not known. He says all N. is devoted to him, that he gets a letter from Park Landon every mail; & that he intends going North this summer to commence a course of Reading. Smith is at Arlington, Sweet Charles at Riversdale: & Dear Cousin Anna at Ravensworth (I Believe)  Mr. Butler has resigned & intends establishing himself in Louisa this Fall. Miss Rosalie Stuart is married to Mr. __ (From the north & teacher at Chantilly) & Miss Anna has written an account of the Wedding with a pen of the author of the Children of the Abbey. I am just waiting to receive another letter from A[rlington] to know when the wedding will take place there. I do hope you will be present & that it will take place soon. Capt. Talcott, the Chief Eng. of these works & whose Apt. I am, is now Absent & probably will not return till the 25th. June. After which they must let me off. As we both cannot be absent at the same time. You will see by the enclosed order I am making some little preparation, which Please give to Frost & see that he complies with it as soon as possible. I believe I will wear my uniform coat on the important night, & therefore the white pantaloons must be in character. Should there be nothing better than drilling, I have some very good prs. which will answer perfectly well & you may order some other colour in their place. Let the material of all be the best & don’t let him charge too much. I will write more particularly when I hear from A. This is a very pleasant Post & I have charge of Ft. Calhoun (Rip Raps) on the other side of the channel. I am living in Capt. Talcott’s Family & am very comfortable as it regards the external. But I have such a longing to get up to the District that if it was not so near Head Qrs. I Believe I should run up & return with the Boat. I had scarcely landed when the capt said he had been waiting for my arrival to go to Phila. & there is no chance for me. And indeed I shall hate to ask for leave of Absence when he returns.  As they expect us of the Engs Cps to be present at the work when it is going on & take our Holyday when they are suspended. But these will not be till the Winter which is too long off. If I had have remained at CockSpur I would have had all the Summer. But it is not my fault that I did not & they must indemnify me by allowing me one month now & the Balance in the Winter. Genl Jackson & some of the Heads of dept. are coming down next Month. Also the Masons & Maj. Eaton. at least it is so reported. Good bye, My dear Brother & believe me yours as ever


R. E. Lee


Excuse all this trouble. I have not heard a word from Baltimore not even whether the wedding

has taken Place.


We have just received account from the race of to day on the Norfolk course Wm. R. Johnstons Slender in the Second heat fell down & broke her back. The course was very heavy & slippery -

It was supposed she would have won I have forgotten Frost’s name But believe it is Samuel. Your Man. He fitted me admirably last Fall



Source: Copy of original letter, The Papers of Robert E. Lee, 1830-1870, University of Virginia Special Collections, Charlottesville

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 February 16

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