• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 us about how you can contribute to this historic project.




West Point       26 May 1854

I recd to day dearest Markie the guard you sent me. I feel very deeply your great kindness & thoughtfulness. Immediately on reading your note I attached it to my watch, where it now feels the beatings of a grateful heart for your consideration & remembrance. So long as that heart beats it will be full of affection & gratitude for you. But what makes you sad Markie? That I do not like to hear. You who give so much pleasure to others, ought yourself to be happy & joyous at the benefits you bestow. The world is full of pleasure for you, & a blessed immortality I trust laid up for you in heaven. We are all prone I think to undervalue the gifts of a merciful God, & to make our own unhappiness. I am conscious of my faults in this respect & make many resolutions & attempts to do better, but fail. I will continue my efforts & am resolved to improve. You who know my weakness will I fear have little confidence in my success. Before I get too far from the guard I must ask whether your Cousin M. thought of giving you the Silk you requested me to get in New York; & will also state that I did not discover until too late to count, that I had only expended half the money you gave me to make the purchase I asked for eight twists, & found they were charged on the bill at 50 ₵. I still therefore have another half dollar to expend for you. This comes from your insisting on my taking the money. I am so poor an accountant that I always make mistakes under such circumstances. The curious & scientific are assembling in the observatory above me to witness the Eclipse of the Sun. The Cadets & boys are scattered over the plain with pieces of smoked glass, each his own astronomer, begrimming his face & hands. The glorious Sunlight is sensibly diminishing, & a blueish twilight covering the mountains. How unerring is the course & periods of the Heavenly bodies & how sure are the calculations of science. I would that our course were as true & our calculations as sure. I promised Profr Bartlett to witness the observations & have recd admonition that the time of greatest obscuration was approaching. I must therefore leave you Markie, but will always carry you in my thoughts & prayers. Love to all.

Truly your Cousin

R E Lee





Source: Digital scan of original letter, Letters of Robert E. Lee to Martha Custis Williams, 1844-1870, Huntington Library, San Marino, California

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 September 15

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