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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Richmond 2 May ’61

My dear Mary,

            I recd last night your letter of the 1st with the Coat. It gave me great pleasure to learn that you were all well & in peace.

            You know how pleased I should be to have you & my dear daughters with me. That I fear  Cannot be. There is no place that I Can expect to be but in the field & there is no rest for me to look to. But I want you to be in a place of Safety. To spare me that anxiety. Nor can any one say where safety Can be found. I am very grateful to dear Cousin Anna for her invitation to you. She is always our friend in need. Ravensworth I suppose is as safe as any place, & if you could all be there comfortable together, my heart would have but the one place to leap to. I fear however it would add too much to Cousin Anna’s anxiety & trouble. Of this you must judge, or where else you had better go. Do not go to Berkely, or the Shenandoah Valley. Those points are much exposed, but you must not talk of what I write (nor is Richmond perhaps more out of harms way.) I take it for granted that our opponents will do us all the harm they Can. They feel their power & they seem to have the desire to oppress & distress us. I assume therefore they will do it. We have only to be resigned to Gods will & pleasure & do all we can for our protection.

            Make your preparations quickly, to be ready for any emergency. Your arrangement of the Servants I think good. I must have some one with me, & unless Perry can be of use somewhere will take him. Custis can take Billy or any one else he chooses. The plates, &c will not be safe in Alexa, as I suppose it will be occupied by troops of one side or the other & be enveloped in conflict. Ravensworth will be as safe as any place I presume, if they can be stored out of the way there.

            Do keep yourselves quiet & out of harms way. I hope Mr. McGuire is able to prosecute work on the farm. Give love to all. I hope Helena is not alarmed & that she will when she wishes be able to return to her friends in safety.

            I have just recd Custis letter of the 30th enclosing the acceptance of my resignation. It is stated it will take effect on the 25th Apl. I resigned on the 20th & wished it to take effect on that day. I Cannot Consent to its running on farther & he must receive no pay if they tender it, beyond that day, but return the whole if need be. In answer to his question he had better I think, when he fully makes up his mind, tender his services formerly to the Govr.

Truly & affly

            R E Lee

PS. Mr. H Daingerfield & all his family arrived here last night. Ask Custis to get & secure my package of private papers from the Br Farmers Bank of Alexa where he placed it I think.  





Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 283, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond


Transcribed by Nicholas Tarchis, 2017 June 1

Reference Shelf

Data Collections

About the Project

Website by Fresh Look Web Design
Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved