• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 curator, Colin Woodward, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



Coosawhatchie S.C. 25 Decr 1861


My dear daughter

Having distributed such poor Xmas gifts as I had to those around me I have been looking for something for you. Trifles are even hard to get these war times, you must not therefore expect more. I have sent you what I thought most useful in your separation from me & hope it will be of some service. Though stigmatized as “vile dross” it has never been a drug with me. That you may never want for it, restrict your wants to your necessities. To Compensate for such “trash” I send you some Sweet violets that I gathered for you this morg while covered with dense white frost whose clystals glittered in the bright sun like diamonds, & formed a broche of rare beauty & sweetness which Could not be fabricated by the expenditure of a world of money. Yet how little will it purchase. But See how God provides for our pleasure in every way. May he guard & preserve you for me my dear daughter. Among the calamaties of war the hardest to bear perhaps is the separation of families & friends. Yet all must be endured to accomplish [our] [indepen]dence1 & maintain our self government.

In my absence from you I have thought of you very often & regretted I Could do nothing for your comfort. Your old home if not destroyed by our enemies has been so desecrated that I cannot bear to think of it. I should have preferred it to have been wiped from the earth, its beautiful hill sunk, & its sacred trees burned, rather than to have them degraded, by the presence of those who revel in the ill they do for their own selfish purposes. You see what a poor sinner I am, & how unworthy to possess what was given me. For that it has been taken away. I pray for a better spirit & that the hearts of our enemies may be changed. In your houseless Condition I hope you make yourself Contented & useful. Occupy yourself in aiding those more helpless than yourself. If you were not my daughter, I should like you to go to your Aunt Maria not that her Condition she is so helpless, but my heart bleeds for her Condition & I Can form for her no relief. It seems to me she can neither remain where she is or go away. Your presence I fear would provoke greater indignities from the enemy than she now suffers. Think always of your father


[RE Lee]



1. Letters are missing in this portion of the letter. Lee’s signature was cut out of the letter on the other side.



Source: Transcribed from original letter, Mary Custis Lee Papers, Mss1 L5144 a 884-895, Section 14, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond          


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 November 19




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