• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 Feb 14 [1861]

My dear Annie

Mr Dodson, though having spent some hours in Alexa only yesterday finds it necessary to take a whole day to morrow to transact his business; I hope he will condescend to take this note which I proceed to write forthwith. Of course, as I told you the elastic was forgotten. Well, my dear, how have you been enjoying yourself? very much I am sure. We have been status quo; returned home in a melancholy manner ourselves the sole occupants of the mansion for the night. I suppose you will think it a judgment upon me, I was most uncomfortably cold all night! This morning as a divertissement I set to work to put in order & lock up your places the bed stuffed with clothes. I in an irremediable dishabille[1] when Ma screamed from downstairs the Misses Roach I leisurely arranged my attire, & after various summons descended. They walked over with a friend, & Ma & I (particularly the former) made ourselves so fascinating & affectionate I thought they had come to remain!

Orton returned this eve so charmed with your adieu he has immediately seated himself to an epistolary reply. I told him our last day’s conversation was a serious discussion of Antonias charms, so we propose walking or riding to the valley speedily. Don’t forget the darning cotton. I expect to see my mirror confined to Mr. D’s care. It is “absolutely necessary” to have it T’was the first thing I wanted on my return, I have looked for it hourly since & never found it there! If Richmond can’t produce you a glass I don’t know what it is fit for. Tell Mr John the country doesn’t produce valentines so I send him a paper of wedding cake which he must faithfully promise not to open until he has dreamed on it. Be sure to answer this epistle if you are in town

Tell us of your plans &c. And when you reach the White House don’t talk of writing dear a month before you do it. Remember [Bunch?] & her promptness. I sighed last night for “Maude” & even felt equal to penetrating Audley Court[2] if I only had it. Give much love to Aunt Maria & all enquiring friends. Do if you have heard anything more of the Stuarts write us of it. O I can scarcely yet realize what has happened to them. It has made me so sad; when I saw them it seems only a few weeks ago so comfortable & happy to think that Julia who was so sweet & well should now be cold & lifeless. O I wish our sympathy could do something for them but I must say good bye. Excuse this scratch I am so sleepy from my last night’s wakefulness.






Source: Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L 51 c 274, Section 15, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 June 7


[1] Archaic way of saying “disheveled.”

[2] Reference to Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, a 1862 novel, which includes a manor named Audley Court.

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