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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Arlington 2 Jany 1859

I must add dear Custis, my heart felt wishes for your happiness & welfare on this New Year, to those given by your Mother & Sister. May each return bring with it increased joy, & a richer harvest of wisdom & usefulness, than the preceding. I do not know that I can add anything to the information they have imparted & on domestic matters, for fear of repetition, will only express the pleasure I experience in having with me my “little horse”, who although somewhat grown is the same dear little fellow he ever was. I enjoy his Company infinitely & regret exceedingly that tomorrow will be his last day with us for this time, & when I shall see him again, is beyond the reach of my calculations. I hope & pray however that it may not be as long as I fear, & that he may want nothing during the interval that I can give him. I am much concerned my dear Son at the Continuation of your attack of rheumatism. I had hoped that it was produced by some exposure or imprudence, which care & time would eradicate, but its continuation & apparently increase alarms me. I wish you would Consult Dr McCormick, & ask him what you had best do. If he thinks the climate of California unfavourable to you, it will be good ground for an application to be relieved. I will speak to the chief Engineer on the subject. That will be better than getting a leave of absence. If on the Contrary he thinks the climate does not affect you, then you can do as you prefer. I wish indeed one of your young soldiers was stationed in this vicinity, that you might afford some protection to your mother & Sisters in my absence. I told you in a former letter that I had asked for an extension of my leave of absence in the hope that I might regulate matters more to my liking, but I fear I shall accomplish little in that way, & must leave many things undone. I think however some amelioration has been effected, & we at least enjoy at every storm the exclusion of the rain from the House & stable. I have just returned from West Point, where I was ordered on a Court of Inquiry to investigate a Complaint prepared by Lt Martin of the Engrs against Profr Mahan. It grew out of a paper presented to the Board of Visitors of 1857, prepared by Lt M, criticizing the Course of Engineering as taught at the academy. I suppose the action of the Court will in time be divulged. It was extremely unpleasant & irksome to me, & took me away at a time when it was important I should be here. I was detained so near the 1st Jany, that I had to hurry back to hire out certain of the people & could not stop in Baltimore as I wished, or do some little matters that I wished in New York. I do not find that matters have progressed in my absence. Indeed it has been raining ever since my departure, & for some time before, so that our winters work is much behind hand. I do not know when we can bring it up. I met Col Steptoe in New York & heard of Major Garnett, but had not time to go & see him. Everyone at W. P. inquired kindly after you. Three of your classmates are stationed there. Howard, Smead & Greeble. All married & all apparently have nice wives. Nearly all of the young officers have been Changed since my day. Remember me to all the McCormicks & all friends & believe me

always your father

R E Lee



Source:  Digital scan of original letter, The Papers of Robert E. Lee, 1749-1975, Rubenstein Library, Duke University

Transcribed by Katie Hall, 2018 June 27

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