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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



San Antonio, Texas

9 July 1860


My precious Son

I have recd your long satisfactory letter of the 24th ulto, which has given me pleasure in every way but one, viz: your account of the sickness of Chass & my grd son: I am very glad to hear that they are well over it, & hope they may meet with no drawbacks or return. Where does the sweet child think of going this Summer? Your mother wrote she talked of old Point, which will be very Convenient, if it will suit her in other respects. As she cannot come out to her Pa’a, I want her to go where she prefers, believing she will decide upon the best place under all the circumstances. The sea breeze & salt bathing of the Point, were considered in my day fine for the babies, & the oysters & hog fish in addition, equally good for their mamas. I do not know how it is now. When you decide you must let me know. I hope Chass has recd my letters, one from the Rio Grande & one from this place, for I would not like her to think I had neglected her So long. I am glad to hear that you like the improvements to your house & hope you will have much enjoyment in all you have done. Have the mechanics completed entirely & have the accounts all been paid? I ask that I may know if you want any assistance. On hearing that you had not sold the corn & could not do so at once, I sent Custis all the funds I had, & orders for my July dividends, that he might pay Mr Winston’s asst the repairs of the Arlington Mill & supply your mother with funds for her summer expedition. I can therefore pay myself out of the Sales of the Corn, & spare you some if you want it. I hope therefore you will let me know, I am very sorry for the death of your horse. The breaking of the pair, is a serious loss, independent of the horse himself. Can you replace him? I hope in time you will be able to raise your own horses. That wretched bull. He must be a very fine one to indemnify you for your loss. I am very glad to hear such good accounts of the wheat crop. I have been fearing that the various injuries to the crops in other sections of the state had extended to yours, though I had seen none reported in the papers. I hope now you will make a fair one get a remunerative price. The plan you propose for selling it is very judicious. I am an advocate for early Sales of every crop. The reasons you give for the sale of the wheat, hold good for the sale of the Corn, which I have always desired to be sold as early in the spring as possible. Except in the event of a calamity, the prices do not vary much, & the wastage is certain. When the Cornhouses are full of corn it is seen to be used more profusely than when you have only a sufficiency. That may be one cause why the crop of Romankoke falls short of the estimate. As regards what I believe the quicker you can get it to market, the better the price. By selling it in the way you propose it will save the construction of additional barns which is a consideration, at this time. I am sorry to hear of the death of Mildred. You know you must make particular records of all the deaths & births. I shall have to account for everything on the inventories at both places, taken Jany 1858. On the inventories you take at the end of the year, enumerate the deaths &c. I am glad to hear of the successful fishing & the good conduct of the people.1 I hope they will continue in good health & that every thing will prosper under your management. It will require enumerating attention on your part. As regards the use of the reapers, Mr Nelson made large expenditures in their purchase, with my approbation, but always had to abandon them before the end of harvest & take to the scythes. Whether it was bad management or bad machinery I do not know. I should think they would be a great relief in those large fields, that were free of stumps, but Mr N said the soil was unfavourable for driving the grains. As I never was there during harvest I was obliged to take his word for it. I think some of the reapers are there now. I am very glad to hear that the Corn is looking so well. I hope it may turn out So. Deep plowing with lime is the basis of the improvement of the Soil. If you can keep that up, the land must improve & crops increase. By attention & Comparison you will soon satisfy yourself the best system to pursue. You will learn a great deal from the management & progress of your neighbors. I hope this year something will be done to the payment of the legacies. After Mr Winston is paid, I believe I will be the only creditor to the Estate. I have written to Custis to send me the amt: after the Commissioner shall have settled the accounts, after paying which, the balance of the crops will go to the legacies.

There is another thing I wish to speak to you of. I fear I shall have to purchase a servant. I find it almost impossible to hire one, & nearly all the officers in the Dept have been obliged to resort to purchase. Sometimes you can get a discharged soldier, that will answer on a campaighn [sic], but that is uncertain, & not to be relied on. At present I have a boy belonging to Major Martin for whom I pay $20 per month. I have thought some one about Richmond might have a good family servant from whom they are obliged to part, & for whom they would like to procure a master. Do you know of any? Do you think Anthony has any ideas about Hog driving, or could he be made any thing of? I would rather hire a white man than purchase if I Could. I have no news. The indians are quiet at this time, & we have no trouble from Cortemas. The troops are out, as hot as it is, but I suppose in the Fall we shall have more work. I am expecting the 3rd Infy from new mexico, & many of the officers of the Regt, who have been in the States, have arrived here to join it. Col Backus, Capts, Gordon, Bowman Trevitt, & Lt Holt, Col Chandler & Captain Clitz are on the way. The officers here are all well & frequently ask after you. I wish I could get you a horse I have. He is a bay & strong & muscular 7 years old. I think he is larger than yours. I know much broader & heavier. He is a fine trotter. I bought him before I went to the Rio Grande, & while there I purchased a Zacatecas mare. Since my return I have purchased from Chudie2 a mare that was originally offered me, but which I let Mr Radjiminski3 have. She was brought from Kentucky with the horses of the Regt: & they kept here for me. She is a fine animal & well broken though is 9 or 10 years old. The horse I speak of is broke to Harness though I have never driven her. I have been trying to match him for my wagon, but cannot. Major C. says I will not find a match in the Dept. He was poor & reduced when I bought him in this place. Every one is asking me where I procured him now. 

Kiss my sweet Chass for me. Tell her I am wishing to see her all the time & hope to do so some of these days. You must also kiss my grd son for me & take care of him at nights. Good bye my dear son. your affn father R E Lee




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Mss1 L5114 c 36, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 June 13  



1. Lee is referring to enslaved African Americans.

2. Nickname for Fitzhugh Lee, the son of Sidney Smith Lee. He became a cavalry general during the Civil War.  

3. Charles (Carol) Radziminski, a Polish soldier and revolutionary, who Lee mentioned often in his letters from this time period.

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