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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Arlington 13 Feby 1858


My dear Edward

I have just returned & recd your letter of the 11 Feby, for which I am much obliged. I have not yet engaged an overseer. If the man you speak of will in your opinion suit my purposes I am willing to take him. You know how I am situated & can therefore judge. I am no farmer myself & do not expect to be always here. I wish to get an energetic honest farmer, who while he will be considerate & kind to the negroes, will be firm & make them do their duty. I am perfectly willing to give the wages & even more for a suitable man. If you engage him, specify in writing the wages & findings, that there may be no misunderstanding. The house is not large, but I wish to put it in good repair & make it comfortable so soon as the man now in it can move. His wife has been expecting to be Confined, which has induced me to retain him since 1st Jany. If the man you speak of does not wish to move his family down at once, I can give him a room in the wing of this house, & his meals, until the overseers house can be put in order for him. In that case he can come when he is ready. I might even accomodate his family, if it only consists of a wife & child or two. I have no servants for him.

I shall be very much obliged to you for a pair of oxen. You must not part with them however unless you can spare then & you must then affix to them a fair price (I mean their value). As to getting them down I can send up one of the men for them, but how he would succeed in getting them down I do not know. You know the difficulties in the way & the time it would require, so I will leave it to you. I will send up when you notify me if you think one of these men will answer. If not, I will pay the cost for another. The ground is now covered with snow & there is prospect of cold weather. It would be better to wait for favourable weather.

I am satisfied at the price you name for the oxen & if it is not enough you must make it so.

All send love

Truly yours

R E Lee




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

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 November 8


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