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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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

1 Jany 1861

My dear Miss Nellie

I had hoped to have seen you before leaving San Antonio, & wished to thank in person the three Sweet Sisters for the nice Xmas cake they Sent me. But So many matters crowded on the hour of my departure that I was forced to spare you a second farewell & resign myself to my loss.

To day wishing to do honour to the bright Next Year, bright in Sunshine & beauty though clouded by Sad forebodings I invited all the officers at the Post to join me in its celebration, & exposed to their wistful eyes my Xmas cake. I told them it had been given to me by three of the sweetest little girls they had ever Seen, & that they were named Nellie Vallie & Hettie. I was sure too they must have made it or it never could have been so good. To this they all assulted & we drank to the health of the fair young dames in iced champagne. But I sent many well wishes over the hills to your father, mother, sisters, & a fervent one for her “who wears the moonlight around her neck & the sunlight around her head” & wished every return to you Miss Nellie might be happier & happier.

The end of it all was an end of the cake, & I will also make an end of this New Year note.

Tell Miss Kate I have prepared a room for her & Miss Kitty & if you & Miss Vallie & Hettie will Come, each of you shall have a nice little gentleman to attend you. One has a Cherokee pony the other a donkey, & the third a wagon.

With kind regards to all your household I remain very truly

R E Lee


Miss Nellie Whiteley



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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