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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Coosawatchie S.C.

8 Decr 1861


My precious Annie

I have taken the only quiet time I have been able to find on this holy day to thank you for your letter of the 29th Ulto. One of the miseries of war is that there is no sabbath & the current of work & strife has no cessation. How can we be pardoned for all our offences!

I am glad that you have joined your Mama again & that Some of you are together at least. It would be a great happiness to me were you all at some quiet place remote from the vicissitudes of war where I Could consider you Safe. You must have had a pleasant time at Clydale. I hope indeed that Cedar Grove may be saved from the ruin & pillage that other places have recd at the hands of our enemies, who are pursuing the same course here as they have practiced elsewhere. Unfortunately too, the numerous deep estuaries all accessible to their ships, expose the multitude of Isds: to their predatory excursions, & what they leave is finished by the negroes whose masters have deserted their plantations subject to visitations of the enemy. I am afraid Cousin Julia1 will not be able to defend her home if attacked by the vandals, for they have little respect for any body, & if they Catch the Dr2 they will certainly send him to Fort Warren or La Fayette. I fear too the yankees will bear off their pretty daughters. I am very glad you visited Chatham.3 I was there many years ago, when it was the residence of Judge Coulter,4 & some of the avenues of poplar, so dear to your Grd Mama, still existed. I presume they have all gone now. The letter that you & Agnes wrote from Clydale I replied to & sent to that place. You know I never have any news. I am trying to get a force to make head against our defenders, but it Comes in very slow & the people do not seem to realize there is war.

I am glad Custis is so well & tells you all his plans. He can explain them better than I & is besides at Hd qrs. Ask him to keep the dear Mim5 informed. It is very warm here if that is news, & as an evidence I enclose some violets I plucked in the yard of a deserted house I occupy. I wish I could see you & give them in person. There are other things I would give, & send some in this letter to the mim, Chass, Agnes & the baby. If F is there give him some too. I hope the poor little baby has revived at the sight of his Papa. Who is Ella Campbell6 & Duncan? Poor little life try & stop her from studying so hard. I fear it is not work that causes her hair to fall but its early luxuriance & want of cupping.

Good bye my precious child. My feet are entirely neglected. Give much love to everybody & believe me your

affectionate father,

R E Lee           








Source: Check against original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 328, Section 16, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 August 17  



1. Julia Calvert Stuart (1814-1888).

2. Dr. Richard Henry Stuart (1808-1889).

3. House in Fredericksburg, Virginia, used by the Union army during the Fredericksburg campaign. It belonged to the Fitzhugh family before the war.

4. John Coulter (1771-1838), who served as a judge on the Virginia supreme court.

5. "Mim" was Lee's wife, Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee. The children also called her by that name.

6. Ella Calvert Campbell (1840-1902).

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