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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Arlington 24th February [1861]


What is the matter of my precious little Mildred that she has not written to us for so long a time & now I have such bad news to tell her that I must write at once. About a week ago Charlotte[,] Rooney & the boy arrived most unexpectedly & without a nurse, so that we all had to take care of him, poor Tom Tita was so little noticed that he went off in a fret & got into a terrible fight with Marcellina’s cat & came in all torn to pieces & lame. He is now laying by the fire but looks very badly & little Rob is much afraid of him tho’ he is now getting more used to him. He is the sweetest little fellow you ever saw & sleeps with me every night & is as good as he can be. They are going away soon & Annie will go with them your sister has not returned from Washington but will probably come home next week. We went over on the 22d to see the parade & the streets were thronged with people but so much had been said about the troops being stationed there, that the President on the morning of the 22d issued an order that there should be no parade of the U. S. troops, but some persons told him there was such a disappointment that he countermanded the order, & just as we were coming out of town at 3 oclock they began to come out, we had seen some companies of volunteers. The next day Capt Barry & some officers dined here & capt Barry enquired very particularly after you. His two daughters are grown up young ladies now. I suppose you have heard of your Uncle Childe’s death. He died in Paris & Edward has come over with his remains to be interred in Boston at the side of your Aunt Mildred. Edward writes that he died very happily anxious to go & he with his Redeemer. You must have heard too of your cousin Julia’s death Mrs Jones. she left a little baby boy & your cousin Julia is still in New York where I suppose she will remain until the baby is old enough to bring it to Cedar grove. It was only 3 days old when its Mother died. Did you hear that your papa would certainly come in by the first of April, perhaps before, as soon as Texas secedes all the U. S. troops are to be withdrawn from there. Monday I intended to have sent this letter before but the boy takes up so much of his grandmother’s time & tonight your letter to Agnes arrived. She sends you much love & says she will write to you in a few days. Your ma is better & is just put out.

Charlotte & Rooney have gone to Baltimore for a few days & left the boy with me & I am writing in Custis’ office on the only piece of paper I see here. He came up to see Rooney but returned to Fort Washington today. There may be a thousand troops in Washington including the volunteers but not a thousand regulars.

The papers are now filled with Mr Lincoln’s arrival in Washington & this week will I presume decide our fate as a Nation. Orton who is staying here in Custis’ absence says he saw Mr Crittenden today who told him that more important matters would be decided this week than ever were included in that portion of time before. I pray that the Almighty may listen to the prayers of the faithful in the land & direct their counsels for good, & that the designs & ambitions & selfish politicians who would dismember our glorious country may be frustrated, especially that our own state may act right & obtain the mead promised in the Bible to the peacemakers.

You do not mention Mrs Barnes, if she is still in Winchester. if so give my love to her & tell her she must cheer up & come down to see us. Mary will be at home in the course of the week. I suppose Agnes now talks of going to the White House with Rooney as well as Annie.

Write soon again. It shall not be so long again before I write. Give much love to Selina & the girls. I hope to see them when they come to convention. I think you have improved your hand writing very much in this last letter. I see a famous recipe in the churchman for ink. you had better buy the materials & make some to fill up your jug. I hope my dear child that you are daily studying to grow in grace & acquire that true knowledge which alone will make you wise unto salvation

May God bless you now & forever is the prayer of your affectionate Mother

Write if you can read my hand easily

M C Lee




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L 51 c 276, Section 15, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 June 7

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