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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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




9 June 1861


Except through a letter to Nannie I have not heard of you dearest Mary for a long time. My letters it Seems do not reach you & yours perhaps to me share the same fate. I last wrote by Mr. F. S. Smith. He was returning to Manassas, near which he has his family, & he thought he Could easily forward my letter by Cousin John. It contained a little money $100 & perhaps he has been over Cautious for its safety & did not like to risk it by uncertain hands. I fear it has not reached you, as daughter in her letter to nannie said you would leave for Kinloch the day after she wrote, apparently Monday, & its Contents may be Convenient to you. How I Can get funds to you now I do not know. I can transmit you a check, but how will you get it Cashed?

I have just returned from a visit to the batteries & troops on James & York rivers &c where I was Some days. I called a few hours at the White House. Saw Charlotte & Annie. Fitzhugh was away but got out of the cars as I got in our little boy looked very sweet & seemed glad to kiss me a good bye. He seemed to be suffering from his teeth. Charlotte said she was going to prepare to leave home for the summer, but had not determined where to go. I Could only See Some of the Servants about the house & stables. They were all well. The house was very nice & Comfortable, & the Corn looked well. Agnes is still here staying with Mrs. Dr. Conway. She talks of going down to the W. H. tuesday 11th. I Can rarely See her, & I believe I have Seen Nannie but once since her arrival. Fitz Lee is better. I heard of his walking down the street yesterday. Custis is also better than he was. He is a great Comfort to me & if we have to separate I do not know what I shall do. You may be aware that the Confederate Government is established here.

Yesterday I turned over it to the Command of the Mil & naval forces of the state, in accordance with the proclamation of the Govt & the agreement between the State & C. States, I do not know what my position will be. I should like to retire to private life, if I Could be with you & the children, but if I Can be of any service to the state or her Cause, I must Continue. Mr Davis & all his cabinet are here. Custis says he will write to you to day & I will leave to him the relation of local matters. On returning to my room last night I found Turbeville & Arthur Stuart.1 The latter had arrived with a Louisiana Regt: & both were to leave for Chantilly this morg at 6 am. It was then nearly 11 P.M. I wished to have written by them a few lines, but could not. Good bye. Give much love to kind friends. May God guard & bless you, them & our suffering country, & enable me to perform my duty. I think of you constantly. Write me what you will do. Direct here. always yours.

RE Lee




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 297, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 March 13  



1. They were the sons of Charles Calvert Stuart of Chantilly in Fairfax County, Virginia. Arthur Lee Stuart was born ca. 1819 and married Clara Norton. He eventually settled in New Orleans, where he returned after the war. Shilto Turbeville Stuart was born in 1821 in Virginia and died 1884 August 4 in King George County, Virginia. 

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