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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



[May 1833?]

                                                                                        Old Point Friday


Dearest Mother

We had a prosperous voyage & arrived here about sunrise yester day morning. It was so cold on board the Steam Boat that the ladies remained in the cabin during the greater part of the day. There were only 2 besides ourselves & a Mrs Symington & her Mother very clever & kind ladies. We had a large airy cabin & my little darling1 slept well day & night. He has been very fretful & feverish rubbing his gums violently so that I doubt not he will cut teeth soon. Mrs Symington had a little daughter who took a great fancy to him & bit his finger which did not hurt him much, but wounded his tender sensibilities so that he cried very much. We were all pretty sea sick at night except Bell who slept soundly. I was sick in earnest & cascading at a powerful rate while Bun was sound in the berth beside me. If you see Mary Fairfax, tell her that Pat bore the voyage very well & was only a little sick at night. There were many gentlemen on board but I know none of them except Frank Huger. We thought of proceeding to Norfolk but it was so fine a morning that we determined to land here. As soon as we touched the wharf Robert despatched a messenger to have fires made & by the time we reached the house they were burning brightly & the rooms quite warm. Capt Talcott who we found here had them well aired a few days before. He said he was very glad that we did not set off that unpleasant day we had fixed for coming here has been very pressing for Bun to visit his daughter who he says is a wonderful girl & that her Mother is perfectly enchanted with Anna & Mrs Taylor are her sole nurses. Miss Philly is engaged to be married to a Mr Suter a merchant of Norfolk & is they say bien e’pris. Nancy Randolph is in Richmond where she went to remain while her house was painted. She is expected soon & when she arrives I think we shall make a visit to Norfolk. The Capt goes up today & I sent the worsted by him & a little worked cap which was too small for Bun. To return to our never tiring theme as soon as he got up stairs he was quite in ecstasies looking all around room & out of the windows & after breakfast took a long nap after which Bell nursed Mim while we arranged every thing in complete order in which I shall endeavour to keep them. We dined on Bun’s pye & some cold ham & vegetables & had during the day Sunday visitors—among them the little Madam, Ben senior Frank, Dick & Mr Campbell Grahame, so there are quite beaux enough here to satisfy so moderate a person as Bell. I hear little Ben walks & talks but I have not seen him. Poor Mary has lost her husband from a very sudden indisposition produced by cold & a childless widow she has returned to live with Mrs Huger. Mrs Corprew’s2 house is pulled down. The same fate awaits Mrs Huger’s as soon as she moves her quarters to the roads above Mrs Kirby. This lady is in Richmond, so our number here is but small. This is all the news of the Point which as yet has reached my ears. They all complain of the excessive dullness of the past winter & how little sociability has prevailed. Robert is much alarmed lest Bell should be captivated by Horatio Eustis, who he says has become quite an exquisite. The Faithful Jim has this moment arrived saying the Columbia will not pass before 5 o clock so I shall be able to write much more at leisure. A relation of Mrs Archer’s is going to Alexa who will take charge of this letter & your basket which will be deposited in Mr Irvin‘s warehouse & contained 5 towels & 2 bags. I did not anticipate this opportunity or I would have had them washed. Nancy’s child’s hand is nearly & well & both Mother & child seem content & disposed to please.

Bun is much delighted with his armchair & sits up in it & plays with the elbow. Dear little thing he has been fretful this morning & I have just sent him out to walk as it is a mild beautiful evening. My dear Mother ask nurse if she put up any artichokes for me. I do not mention them because I want them but to satisfy myself that they were not lost, as they have not come to hand. I find a good supply of carrots & apples in the barrel with the hams. Do mention if I have everything else of yours that you want. Geofrey has gone out with Bun or I doubt not she would have some message to her friends. Tell her Mammy I have had to give her one scolding since I came down about wearing her shoes down at the heel except she has done very well so far. Nancy says will you send her little girl’s chair which she left in her room, down by some good opportunity. Give our loves to every body. After the first bustle of fixing was over I felt sad indeed to think I had come so far from those dear to me & have not yet become at all reconciled to it. Last I lay a long time awake thinking of you all, you will hardly beleive [sic] this but it is a fact indeed. The ladies here all enquire kindly for you. Mrs Mackay has sent a letter which she begs the favor of you to send to Georgetown. I enclose a sample from Mrs Huger. She begs you will send & get her a dress like it exactly, it came from Washington’s Store in Washington & is 1 dollar per yd. She wants 14 yds & begs you will not give yourself any trouble about it but send for it & send it down when you have a good opportunity. She will send the money by some good opportunity. Will you call & see Miss Dorsey some time when you are in town & enquire about Letitia & ask Miss Dorsey if she will let her go to Church & to Sunday School if there is one in town. I intended to have called myself & spoken to her but many other of my good resolutions it was never put in practice. I have written enough I think. Bell sends an immense deal of love to you all. Tell Aunt Eleanor Bun is quite too sweet. She must come down & see him. Write me all about what you are doing give my love to Father & the [Pap] & believe me your devoted daughter M C Lee we commence next to day.


My dearest Mother

I know you will congratulate me upon the safe arrival of my family at their homes, we came in yesterday morning in fine style & landed in the most comfortable manner, stepping from the Boat to the wharf. Your little boy was in the finest spirits & though still fretful & I do not think his cold was at all increased. Marian was the most delighted of the party, was neighing all the time we were approaching the Point & the mindel had some difficulty in holding her.

I have nearly had time to write the [letter damaged] while the ladies were putting on their bonnets to walk, so good bye dearest Mother, give my love to every one & believe me your

Affectionate Son



To Mrs M. L. Custis


Near Alexandria


Polite attention of Mr Valentine



Source:  Digital scan of original letter, The Papers of Robert E. Lee, 1749-1975, Rubenstein Library, Duke University

Transcribed by Katie Hall, 2018 June 21


1. George Washington Custis Lee (1832-1913).

2. Wife of George W. Corprew (d. 1840), a Virginian & West Pointer who served in Virginia around this time and later moved to Mississippi.

Reference Shelf

Data Collections

About the Project

Website by Fresh Look Web Design
Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved