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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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


 

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Fort Hamilton N.Y.

8 Sept 1845

 

My dearest Jack

 

How long has it been Since I recd your last letter? For I should then know how long it had been since I ought to have written to you? The subject is too painful for me to investigate, for it will prove to me my negligence; I would rather trust therefore the examination to you, knowing your forgiving temper. I am sorry to learn indirectly that your health is still not good. But the grasses are ripening fast & the prospects of a good crop very favourable. So Come on as speedily as you can & we will endeavour to make a perfect cure of you this time. I want you to get strong & hearty for the Mexican campaign this winter, for if there is anything to be done or won there, you & I must surely participate, & you know there is a little matter, but a very important one, that we must first accomplish. I have not been able this whole summer to lay eyes on the other party to this business so industrious has she kept out of my way, but I am watching her whereabouts & it will go hard with me but I catch her soon. She is a difficult one to put your finger on, but a man & woman too must work out their destiny, & every thing is fulfilled in time. Your mother & Miss Kate I presume are still in the country. We got a letter not many days since from Mrs Stiles & I am very glad to learn that she is getting along so well, in the absence of Mr S. Your brother Bob I hear of occasionally flourishing in New Port. I did not see him as he passed through N.Y. for I could not find him. He is a great beaux & the girls say a great flirt. Do you believe it. But the strangest thing I have to tell you is that I have been sick, sicker than I have ever been in my life. Early in the spring I had an attack or two of chills & fever, but about two months after the last attack, I was taken in an uncommon manner. Every one prescribed for me. The ladies god bless them sent me decoctions & advice & the Drs got down one dose of medicine. It was an awful one & reminded me of the dangers I had incurred from the same cause just 20 years ago. This was near finishing me. But the next morg I stepped softly out of bed & embarked for Boston, with all my pills & powders carefully packed in my trunk. I visited the battle fields of Bunkers hill Concord & Lexington & the hights [sic] of Dorchester. Examined the navy yard, the City Institutions & the Cambria. Ran over Cambridge, Lowell & all Boston & returned through Springfield, Hartford & New Haven, & took a look at each. I had been absent just four days. You will see then I had not been idle & will be gratified to learn that I brought back my medicines safe & intact. Still I was not entirely well. So after devoting four more days to my Irishman, I started for Saratoga with my medicines all abroad, my trunk. I drank of its healing waters, rode out to the field of Burgoyne’s surrender went over Bemis’ heights, descended the Hudson to Albany, visited the state House, City Halls & Lions, stoped [sic] at West Point where I gave them all the benefit of my countenance, & reached home the evg of the fourth day again. But this time I was a well man & have been ever since, which has been just a fortnight ago. There is a prescription for you John Mackay. That is the way to take your medicines. In your trunk John Mackay. But keep them under lock & key! Where I now have mine. The Dr was charmed with the efficacy of his doses & crows loud upon my recovery. Simple Soul, may he always have such patients. But I was sorry to leave Saratoga So Soon, nor would I, Could I have been absent from my work; for I left there Mr & Mrs Geo: Anderson & party. Miss Mary had her Sweetheart by her side, young Lamar but Miss Georgia’s was away. I also left there Mr Wm Elliott & his sweet daughters. The eldest was decidedly the prettiest girl at the springs & a lady every inch of her. Oh she is a darling one & if her little shy Countrywoman gives us the slip what do you think of substituting her? The plan is good. So it is a settled matter. I wonder if your sister Margarets daughters are like them. But I would rather they should take after their mother. The Genl & Mrs Scott & daughters were at W.P. Weis was taking the Genls Portrait.1 Mrs S. is afflicted with weak eyes & Dr Delafield has shut her up in dark rooms. But Sir Henry & Miss Cornelia make full use of theirs & upon each other too. They are reveling in their liberty, but Sir H. says he comes on badly. Miss Pearson Lizzie & the Miss Gardeners from Alexa were also there. Delafield you know has left the Point. Breverton is there. I hope he will do as well & give more satisfaction, but it is a hard berth, try it who will. We are all well & have had some of our friends with us all the summer. Mrs Custis & my sister Mrs Marshall have been with us for about 2 months. Mr Custis & Marshall spent 3 weeks with us. Mr Childe has also been with us. He left Mrs. C. my youngest sister in France & has returned in the Hibernia. The Stantons are all well. The Col: is in Washn actg Qr Mr Genl. Mrs. S. is at present with him. I need not tell you of the movements of the troops. Duncan took on an easy horse & a lump of ice for sanders. The secy rapped Col. B. pretty severely about Mr Kenzers business. Mr K__ has gone with his compy. I have not written to you since Joe Johnstons marriage. He is actually married, though the girls will not believe it. He had to go out in the field shortly after his marriages & encamped in the E. S. of Md. I have heard of him since at Bedford with his bride. Sick! I am afraid our Joe was playing the old Soldier. But he is excusable. Please remember me very Kindly to all the members of your family & Mrs Lee & the children unite in kindest regards to yourself.

Believe me very truly

R E Lee

 

 

 

Source: Photocopy of original letter, Robert E. Lee Collection, 1835-1869, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript Archives & Rare Book Library, Emory University

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 December 17 

                                          

1. Robert Walter Weis (1803-1889) was an artist of the Hudson River School. He did a portrait of Winfield Scott as well as Robert E. Lee.

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