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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



May 6th [ 1861]

                I am sorry my dear Annie you think I have nothing in my letters really I am so sleepy tonight I can scarcely keep my eyes open so I suppose in your estimation this epistle will not be more brilliant than the others. That letter from Alexa you complained of was written on the spur of the Moment after having been implored by Cousin R.T. to allay your anxiety in regard to Papa. I shall try to remember the cassock pocket this time though you don’t deserve it. My C- is a treasure. I shall now submissively answer all of your questions prefacing my effort by telling you next time to write a letter so that I can read it. I have spent several half hours over your last & have no idea. I have half read it yet. Ans No 1. We are nearly packed up to leave & will go to Ravensworth tomorrow or next day. I have hunted up your valuables crammed my trunks but I suppose have left half. It is so  so sad to leave home & it is looking so beautifully too but we have reason to believe the Gov. troops will occupy these heights in a few days. They are trying very hard to believe all sorts of reports about thousands of troops over here to have a shadow of an excuse, but we are perfectly quiet; females are leaving en masse from Alexa & the neighborhood. The Floyds, Fairfaxes, Lees &c. Mr. Roach says “Elizabeth never could stand it Mrs. Lee in particular with the children around her.” Tell Charlotte the Repub. will probably enter the house without permission, & we can already see a piece in the Intelligencer ( that spends its time in lauding the troops and their quarters) to the effect of the cool airy rooms & cool commanding position for summer quarlers on “Arlington heights” &c. But it has said one good thing lately “that the whole nation has gone insane” which I subscribe to with some individual exceptions you know.) Yes we have been very much gratified at the love & respect for Papa, & the universal satisfaction & confidence they repose in him. The Gazette is uncreasing. You & Charlotte seem however to be having a joyous & self congratulatory time down there which we are too sad up here to indulge in. We have packed up a good many things but it is hard to tell where they will be safest. Moses’ remark was capital. Tell Roon. I hope he will bring out his New Kent neighbors like refined gold. My precious little nephy, his Aunty can see those poor weeping eyes & wants to kiss them so much! Orton is alive! We see him very often. He will probably resign in a day or two but do not say so until it is done. He sends you various messages & would write but fears an epistle dated H.Q. the Army W[ashington] would be considered treason at once. Lolo has gone to Ohio we tell him to drive home a drove of swine! Uncle Marshall has been here several times. The excitement in B[altimore] was so great he was compelled to leave & to remove Aunt Ann. fearing the house would be mobbed. We have not heard of them since his return. Aunt Nannie I think is running round; she is at Mrs. Masons. Fitzhugh reached W but applied to be sent to Carlise to bring on his company, we [?]ly by suspect to get his horse & equipments. Persons are leaving in all directions. Helen left us Sat. & has gone on this afternoon. We were very sorry to have her go; she has left a collar & a note for you which I will send another time. Custis is with us making strenuous efforts after his pay accounts he thinks this a time to “circulate” his money freely, as well as to visit all of his friends, so is planning various excursions. As to Tom[1] his affection to me is perfectly touching. I don’t know how I shall ever leave him & intend to leave injunctions with the Commanding officer here to make a particular pet of him. The servants distress at our leaving them & terror of the soldiers is scarcely complimentary to their friends who are coming to their release. Nurse says “She may say they are vipers” & they all agree in wishing they would stay on their own side of the river, “they hears how they treats colored people taking their eggs & chickens” &c, “those low vulgar sort of poor white people,” Selina adds. ‘Tis true the volunteers are disorderly, but I believe do pretty well considering. We are imagining how they enjoy this fine weather in the camps of the 7th & the Zouves. But I am writing in a joyous stain to which I am far from feeling so. But I cant give way to anymore unhappiness. I fear I must agree with you in thinking there is but little this Gov will now hesitate to do. They are so strong they have at least 20,000 men in W[ashington]. However as Mr. Meade says “let them come.” He spent a day a two with us after his resignation & professed to take a most cheery view of matters. Now I hope I have answered one half of your questions. Perhaps I will amplify this letter when I arrive in R[ichmond] & have more time. I will try to send you one of Ada’s letters in this enclose one & reserve a longer one for another time. Now good-night dear Annie my sleepy peepers refuse to remain open longer. I have felt almost glad you have not have to leave home as we must. Give love to Charlotte & Fitzhugh, Agnes.


Miss Annie C. Lee

Care W. H. F. Lee

Tunstall’s Station

New Kent Co. Virginia



Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 285, Section 15, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Katie Gibson, 2017 June 26


[1] "Tom" is the family cat.

Reference Shelf

Data Collections

About the Project

Website by Fresh Look Web Design
Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved