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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



          Ft Monroe  16th Sept 1833

My dear Brother Carter

     It has been a very long time since I have written to you & I have no reason to assign for it,

except procrastination. I have put it off from day to day, since the reception of your letter. Sometimes from business, sometimes from laziness etc, untill the days have passed into weeks, & the weeks to months. Our Rose had not sailed when your letter arrived & he had the benefit of a perusal. But as usual I could get nothing definite from him, as regarded the plan of a Division etc. I am perfectly agreed to it, or any other that you think best, so that I am not brought into debt, for I have no money to pay. I hope you have not had the great Drought on the Mountains, which has been so injurious to the Farmers on the Atlantic. No rain for 8 weeks & then a partial one. We are burnt up here & what is worse our water is nearly exhausted, & the appearance for rain appears as far removed as ever. Mrs. Custis is in Frederick, we heard from her at Kinlock. They were all well there. Her own health being indifferent. She spoke of the new House as being a very pleasant one. Little Nancy Kennon & her Spouse were there, Miss Long  and her Frocks low off of her shoulders as Mr. Turner said to catch the Horner, Marietta, Charles, Fitzhugh &c. Fitz is to be married tomorrow, to Miss Jane Hall of Baltimore.

Bena is to go on with him & Charles and Murray Mason,[1] the French Counts, to be his Groomsmen. She did not mention John Hill & probably had not seen him. Cousins Hill & Mary, with all their chickens are here. Mary came down early in the Season, with Mrs. Custis & Mary & staid with us about 3 weeks.  She was so much benefited, that she has returned with all her Household. Sir Hill is in fine spirits as usual, looks thin but very well. He has just sent me a letter from Mr. Wm Wickham in which he says that Uncle Bernard is in the Country & will be at his house in a few days. Uncle Wms & Bella are at the Rocky Mills, with Charles & Charlotte. Hill tells me that Shirley is still in Richmond, but does not know what he is doing. Cousin Beverly Randolph told him that he was going to live there. A letter from Cousin Anna arrived lately, Her Fathers family are there. He & little Wm having gone to Berkly Springs.[2] Anne is still there & she expects  Mildred as soon as she leaves N. Port. The Major writes us a short letter every Saturday in his usual way. He & the old fallow [sic] (Tom) are feasting on Woodcock & Doves. Some Gentleman from Washington walked over the other night & stole Magnolio. I have not heard whether he has recovered him. The Masons have bought Clermont, Fairfax Co. formerly owned by Christopher Neale for $7,000. The Island is rented $500 a year & is to be converted into a pleasure Garden. The young ladies are at Bath & the old Lady at Holin Hall. It is reported that Miss May Shoaf has turned off Collins Lee. Mr. C. said there had been 2 or 3 cases of cholera in Was[hington]. We are after the same fashion, & your Nephew has grown amazingly. He is a year old to day, & after a fashion walks & Talks. Mary sends much love & would put a Postscript, but we are both trying to get our respective letters in time for the mail, hers is to her Mother. How is Spring Camp & do you expect to be in this Fall? Write soon & I will promise to answer it immediately

          Believe me yours


                                   R E Lee




Source: Robert E. Lee Papers, 1830-1870, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 May 31


[1] Perhaps referring to Murray Mason (1808-1875), who later became a captain in the Confederate navy.

[2] Berkeley Springs, now in West Virginia.

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