• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 May 5th [1861]


My dear little girl

I received your very amusing letter & am glad that you have spirits to be happy, we alas are very sad now, we have received information from a friend that the government troops are to take possession of these heights in a few days & as they will not I suppose be allowed to remain here if the South can dislodge them I fear this will be the scene of conflict & my beautiful home endeared by a thousand associations may become a field of carnage God forbid we will not anticipate Except to relieve the minds of your Father & brother & leave them free to perform their duty. I would not stir from this house even if the whole Northern Army were to surround it. The zealous patriots who are risking their lives to preserve the union founded by Washington might come & take the granddaughter of his wife from her home & desecrate it, for whatever I have thought & even now think of the commencement of this horrible conflict now our duty is plain, to resist unto death. The government has proved itself so false & treacherous that we have nothing to hope. The men which are at the head of it seem to be without honour & without pity & I believe it would give them pleasure to lay waste our fair country. In God is our only hope. I have sent all our silver & valuables to Richmond & some other things to Ravensworth where we are going in a few days & will remain till we see what is to be done & the rest of our effects must take their chance. I do not know what to do with Bub but I shall give him to uncle George as he does not agree with Marcellina’s cat. Poor fellow he comes up to see me every morning in my room & gets in my bed. I shall be very sorry to leave him but hope he will escape harm & if this alarm should not be true. I shall come down & see after him. I cannot attend to your little wants now, & if they are indispensable & you have spent all your money ask Mrs. Powell advance you some. I send your report which was excellent to your papa. Make the best of your time as we may not be able to send you to school another year. When your vacation commences & if I cannot return to home I will either go to Winchester or let you return to me wherever I may be. Direct to care of Mrs Fitzhugh Ravensworth till you hear from me again & remember me affectionately to all friends. It is very late & all are asleep. Your papa’s letters are only on business but when he writes any thing of interest I will send you one. We got a long letter from Annie. She & Charlotte seem to be enjoying your papa’s distinctions. May god bless you. Pray for your country that it may yet be delivered.

Yr fond mother

MC Lee




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L 51 c 284, Section 15, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 February 6                 

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