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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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

24 Nov 1860

My dear Son

I have recd your letter of the 31 Ulto: It was a long time on the way. The mails between this place & New Orleans have been very irregular, in consequence of the matters of the Court, which have added to the obstacles of navigation, low water on the bars at the entrance to the harbors, averting the ingress & egress of the steamers.

In regard to the mode of keeping your accounts; that you have adopted is entirely satisfactory to me, & if preferred to you, I by no means wish you to change it. The mode I suggested was only with a view to save you writing.

Major Delafield recd the Erie R R bonds you forwd to him & I believe they have been sold. Three of them I know have, but how to invest the proceeds these troublesome times I am at a loss.

The Southern States Seems to be in a convulsion & confidence in their Securities Shaken. It is difficult to See what will be the result, but I hope all will end well.

We must try and make all we can from the land & I hope you may have promising Crops the next year. The wheat ought to be better from the present field & if you can get the Corn field in good order this winter, having been so long out of Cultivation, with the aid of the ashes from the brush & the lime, it ought to produce well too.

I shall be glad to see Mr Somers’ map of the Forest Survey. I believe I mentioned my inability to discover any deed for the 12 acres East of the mill stream, that it was said your Grd father purchased. The land originally belonged to the Fairfaxs & the word of the deed should have been made in the Alexa County Court. I fear the purchase if made was never perfected.

While on the Subject of land I neglected to mention in my former letter among the matters relating to your Grd Fathers Estate that I understand from Dr Stuart there was a lot of 26 acres of the Westmoreland tract in the possession of Marmaduke for which he had no deed, & that the family of Joshua Henson held between 300 & 400 acres in Richmond County for which they had no deed. This ought to be looked to. Whether they had paid for the land I do not know. You are aware that the original tract laid in the Counties of Westmoreland & Richmond. You had better take memorandums of the items in my letters that require attention, for they are desultory & unconnected.

I am glad to hear that things are going well with you & dare Say the plough Mr McQuinn had made will answer your purpose. A good strong plough is wanting in that land & will be useful till it becomes better cleaned & cleared of briars roots &c. I have never Seen the Peeler1 or the cast Steel plough, but having noticed the accounts of them given in the papers, my Curiosity has been aroused.

I am very Sorry to hear that Miss has been relieved from the works in Washington. I know nothing of the controversy between him & the Secy, but wish that the latter had not permitted anything to have interrupted the Successful prosecution of works of such a national Character, but had continued on the duty the officer best calculated to perform them. Works of that magnitude ought not to be jeopardized by the feuds or feelings of the officers. I know Meigs to be capable & qualified. I do not know who may now have their completion & execution.

A detachment of recruits under Major Brooks 3rd Infy has just arrived. I believe there are no officers with them that you know. A Second detachment under Z. R. Bliss are two days in the rear. The former is composed of Arty Cavy & Infy. The latter of Infy.

They have fallen into a period of bad weather. We have had one of our wet northers, which has terminated in a degree of Cold producing ice. Few ladies belong to the detachments, two of whom are brides, Mrs H. C. Wood & Mrs Sherburne. I fear their expectations of the Honeymoon have not been realized. Three of the ladies arrived in advance & took refuge in the Mener, the crack hotel of the City. One of them, Mrs Garland, I am told is quite Sick. Mrs Brooks the wife of the Major has adhered to her husband & though they encamped about three or four miles from town, she declines the protection of a home & remains in Camp. She rode up Saturday & I brought her into the office to warm herself while the Major was adjusting his papers. She Seems to be a very nice lady. Was a Miss Drake of Indiana & I am told is quite an heiress. She would not dine with me, nor accept a room at Mrs Philips, but returned with the Major to Camp. I did not hear or See of any little streams or rivulets & hesitate to ask. She was attired in travelling costume & is young & pretty. Major Nichols has not arrived nor have I heard anything of him since the reception of the order relieving him from duty on that 1st Inst. I presume he is on the way. I am also looking daily for the arrival of Genl Twiggs, a letter from whom was recd a week since saying he was about returning to resume the Command of the Dept. Probably he & the Major are coming together & are now at Indianola, writing for more propitious weather. I have not heard what is to become of Genl A. S. Johnston, whom I understand expected to return the 1st Proxo.

Probably he will go to the Pacific to replace Genl Clarke.

I shall Soon be turning my face to the Comanche Country, but to what point I Cannot say till the arrival of Genl Twiggs. My personal Comforts will be less than here, & I shall have to exchange the protection of a house for the shelter of a tent. But I shall not mind that, nor regret my departure from San Antonio, except so far as it will take me farther from you all, & render my Communication with you more distant & precarious. But Gods will be done! It will only prepare us for a larger separation Soon to Come. My little personal troubles sink into insignificance when I contemplate the condition of the country & I feel as if I could easily lay down my life for its for its safety. But I also feel that would bring but little good. I am all ready for a march, though one of my horses is not fit for the road. The mare I got from Fitz Lee was afflicted with swelled legs when I got her. This has increased & one has become much enlarged & stiff so that I have not ridden for a long time, but have turned her out. I am very sorry to learn that you have lost the use of your horse when you will require him most. Give much love to your mother & Sisters & remembrances to all friends. I have heard from Fitzhugh Saying he has Sent you $1000. I hope that will answer your purposes.

Very truly your father

R E Lee


P.S. The love Star is floating all over this State. There was a grand meeting here Satur day.



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

Transcribed by Katie Hall, 2018 July 5


1. The Peeler Plow, named after James Peeler (1817-1900), a minister and inventor.

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