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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Fort Mason 30 Jany 1861

I have recd My dear Son your letter of the 4th Inst: I am very Sorry to hear of Mr McQuinns & Roberts condition. I do not know how you will get along without some one in the place of the former & fear that your operations for the year will be retarded by his incapacity. You might possibly get Some Single man temporarily or conditionally, who could live with Mr McQ. & advance matters. You must judge of the necessity & propriety. As to Robert poor fellow all you can do for him is to make him Comfortable & let him follow the Drs Advice. I am glad so few of the hirelings were on hand on the 4th. I hope they are disposed of ere this, & that you have been able to collect all their wages.

I enclose herewith a certificate of deposit of the Cashr of the Bank of Virginia, Richmond, of $4064.22, made by Fitzhugh to my credit on a/c of the Estate. This amount with the $1000 previously remitted to you by him, will make $5064.22 to be credited to the Estate in the accounts for 1860. Add to this the amount of hire of all the Arlington people & any other money you may receive (of which I am not aware) on Said account.

The balance remaining on hand upon the Settlement of the accounts for 1860, due the Estate, I wish invested to go to make up the sum to pay the legacies. I had intended to have purchased Virginia 6 per ¢ bonds, as being as secure as anything I know, so as to have kept the assets of the Estate within Virginia which as Executor I believe is proper. But as far as I Can judge at this distance there is a prospect of Virginia’s Seceding as it is termed politely, or revolutionizing. In which Case her debt now large will have to be much increased, her bonds will be much depreciated & may become valueless. Such an investment at this time would therefore be imprudent. But that advantage may be taken of circumstances. I send you a check for the Amt: deposited by Fitzhugh to my credit. You will know on the adjustment of the accounts for 1860 how much is due the Estate. But if upon Consultation with Mr Henry Dangerfield, Cassius Lee, your Uncle Smith, Mr Richard Smith &c you should think it advisable to purchase Virga bonds, do so to the whole amount of the check or other available funds in your hands, & I can hereafter assign to the Estate its dues, or you may be able at the time. Otherwise retain the check, or put out the money if possible on good bond & Mortgage on Virginia property. Mr Marbury in Alexa on Riggs in Washington Could purchase the bonds, the registered bonds in this case would be preferable, & Mr Dangerfield or Cassius Lee might aid you in effecting a judicious loan. I hope I have been sufficiently clear & explicit. The money I suppose in banks is in jeopardy, & it would be Safer loaned out on good bond & mortgage. I would prefer country to town property all other things being equal. I have some $2000. On my own account in the Bank of Commerce in New York, amt: of sales of there of the N.Y. & Erie R. R. bds; you sent one, which is in the Same condition, & which I am at a loss how to invest. I will send you a check for that if you can do anything with it. Two of the bonds were not Sold & are in the hands of Prince & Co. The state of the Country knocked down the price, & Mr Prince wrote me that R. R. securities were Considered safer than State at the time so I have retained them for the present. You must bear in mind where they are. You See I have imposed much trouble upon you, I know you will excuse me on a/c of the necessity & accomplish it to the best of your judgment. No one Could do better. The Mim, the dear Mim, Considers herself a great financier. Consult her, but do not let her take at shopping, or you will to furnish her with an equal amount to Complete her purchases. She has such a fine eye for bargains. Neither need you put it in the hands of those girls or you would never see it again. I should like to make a good investment for the Estate, & of a large pile, even if it pinched me a little. The interest would be a help, & this is the first time it has had a surplus for a long time. We are all on strict allowance out here. No pay no money & waiting upon the turn of events. The Country Seems to be in a lamentable condition & may have been plunged into civil war. May God rescue us from the folly of our acts, Save us from our selfishness & teach us to love our neighbour as ourself. I am glad to hear that you are all well & that the mill is doing such good business. You did not say whether you had recd from Mr Winston the vouchers forwarded to him. I hope so & that the accounts of the Estate for 1859 have been closed. I requested Fitzhugh to send you the accounts for 1860 as soon as he had made them up. I wish you would then as soon as convenient prepare them for the Commission.

I have nothing new or interesting. I have just had a report of an indian depredation below us in the settlements & have detailed a party to go in pursuit. Our horses are grazing 4 miles out & have been sent for. I shall get the party off in about 2 hours, & I fear there is small chance for success. Our horses have been on half rations, there is no grass, & the weather is inclement. Very discouraging. Still we must try.

Give much love to every body. I wrote to Agnes yesterday & refer to her for domestic items.

As ever your affectionate father

R E Lee


G. W. Custis Lee



Source:  Digital scan of original letter, The Papers of Robert E. Lee, 1749-1975, Rubenstein Library, Duke University

Transcribed by Katie Hall, 2018 July 6


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