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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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

5 Decr 1860

My dear Son

I have recd your letter of the 14th Inst: accompg a copy of the accounts of the Estate, & am really very Sorry for all the trouble & labour you have had in arranging them. I hope hereafter it will be less, & now that you have the matter in your own hands, you will be able to keep them straight. As far as I can judge they are all correct. The Arithmetical part surely is, & I have compared the Account Sent me by Mr Winston of his expenditures for 1859 & find all the items of debits credits properly entered. I wish now you Could get them closed, but do not think it will be necessary for you to go to Hanover expressly for those returned to Mr W. for Correction, unless you Can go on to the W.H. & pay Fitzhugh a visit. Mr W. may have been sick, or been unable to see the individuals to obtain the corrections desired. He ought all events to have replied to your letters & acknowledged the reception of your Check.  A line to Wms Wickham (son of Mr W.) Hanover CtHouse P.O. would procure information of Mr Winston. Wms when at home goes to the CtHouse every day. It adjoins his farm. I would write to him myself but think it probable you may have recd the accounts.

The expenses attending the men & women from Arlington hired in Richmond & South of it Seems to me to be very heavy. I suppose it arises in Conveying them, clothing them &c. I hope it will be less next year, as it reduces their profit to the Estate very much. Unless I have made a mistake in taking the items from your account, it amounts to $346.16 independent of the expenses of the support of the people at A, which amounts to $428.73

I am glad to hear such good news of dear Rob & Precious Life. I hope they will derive great benefit from their present positions, & that I may be able to retain them there until their education is advanced as far as the opportunities admit. The education of a man or woman is never completed till they die. There is always before them much to learn & more to do. Our hardest lesson is Self Knowledge, & it is one perhaps that is never accomplished. The derangement & Confusion of business consequent upon the political troubles of the country, I apprehend will curtail my resources. I will send you a check in my next letter for the Jany dividends so that you may be able to pay the accounts at the end of the year. As it is uncertain what may be the amount, you will have to see what means you will have for the expenses of the house & farm, after paying all debts, & regulate your expenditures accordingly. I believe I mentioned before, that I desired all the people now hired out, to be relieved for the Coming year, & any others at Arlington that you can or desire. I should think that Harry, Amanda & Sarah, might at all events be put to service, to their benefit & mine, & much to your mothers relief. Consult her about it. I am Sorry my dear Annie is not well. Which does she propose doing, going to California with Major Armistead or Coming out to her Pa’a? She may do as she chooses. Don’t let her pine. If Agnes has not returned home yet, I fear she will be captured by the Abolitionists, especially if she has been expressing any opinions inimical to their theories. I am glad daughter is with Ella. She will be safe there, & has always had a soft feeling for her Cousin Charles, he tells me. I am extremely glad my dear Son to learn that you are better. I think if you study your feelings, the effect of any Course you may prescribe for yourself, you must be relieved. You have been remarkably healthy till the past four years. Some derangement has taken place in your system, from exposure or imprudence, which time & prudence will Correct. Your Constitution is a remarkably good one, & can be reestablished.  I hope your mother is well, or at least Comfortable. She Seems by her letters to be able to go about a good deal, which makes me hope she is better, & slowly, perhaps imperceptibly to herself, improving. God grant it may be so. Genl Twiggs has not reached here yet. It has been more than a week since he arrived at Indianola & I have been expecting him every day. I heard by the last mail that Major Nichols had joined him, which I am very glad of, as he will require his Services. I presume they will Come up together. I have started all the recruits to their destination. Those for the nearer Posts have reached them. Some detachments have several hundred miles to travel & one nearly 700. With this last is a bride. I am afraid she is sorry she has enlisted in the 1st Infy. She is the wife of 2nd Lt H. Clay Wood, a civil appointment, & is the only lady in the party. As all the recruits whether for the mounted or foot Service have to march on foot, their progress is slow. She poor lady will at least be a month & a half on the route, though seemed to Carry a brave heart in a little Carriage behind a pair of indifferent mules. Your old Comrade Zemas R. Blip has grown enormously. I think he said he weighed 240 lbs: I should have estimated him at more. He looked remarkably well & enquired with interest after you. I am all ready to take up my line of march & am only awaiting the arrival of the Genl to know where I am to go. One of my horses is a fine draught horse & I have been desirous to procure a mate, that they might take my traveling wagon. But I Cannot succeed in finding one, so I shall have to get a pair of mules. I shall then only want a water keg in addition.

Please remember me to all in the Engr office, the officers & other friends in Washington. If the Union is dissolved, which God in his mercy forbid, I shall return to you. If not tell my friends to give me all the promotion they Can

With love to all with you & my earnest prayers for every happiness to them & to you  

I am your devoted 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 July 5

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