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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Camp on Valley River

Sept. 16, 1861


My Dear Miss Louisa1


With a heart filled with grief I have to communicate the saddest tidings you have ever heard.

May ‘Our Father who is in Heaven’ enable you to bear it, for in His inscrutable providence, abounding in mercy and omnipotent in power, He has made you father-less on earth. Your dear father, in reconnoitering the enemy’s position, came into the range of the fire of his pickets and was instantly killed. He fell in the cause to which he had devoted all his energies, and in which his noble heart was earnestly enlisted. My intimate association with him for some months has more fully disclosed to me his great worth, than double so many years of ordinary intercourse would have been sufficient to reveal. We have shared the same tent, and morning and evening has his earnest devotion to Almighty God elicited my grateful admiration. He is now safely in heaven—I trust with her he so loved on earth. We ought not to wish him back.

May God in His mercy, my dear child, sustain you, your sisters and brothers under this heavy affliction, my own grief is so great. I will not afflict you further with it.

Faithfully your friend,

R E Lee


Source: Published in newspaper article, vertical files, Valentine Museum, Richmond, Virginia

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 March 16   


1. Brother of John Augustine Washington (1821-1861), who was killed in action in the western Virginia campaign of September 1861 in which General Lee took part.

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