• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 curator, Colin Woodward, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



Richmond 13 May ‘61


My dear Mary


I have just recd your letter of the 12 & am glad mine to you arrived Safely. Do not put faith in rumours of adjustment. I See no prospect for it. It cannot be while passions on both sides are so infuriated. Make your plans for a several years war. If Virginia is invaded, which appears to be designed, the main routes through the country will in all probability be invested, passage interrupted, & every one annoyed.

I fear Cousin Anna1 will be very uncomfortable at R. & you may be an embarrassment to her. Some retired spot in the Mts: as before observed would give more quiet & sense of security than on the main routes. If you all could agree on some point & make yourselves happy & contented, it would afford me infinite relief where I could embrace you together in my thoughts & heart. But to accomplish this you must reach there before the R. Roads are seized &c or you cannot go. What do you think of the Soda Sulphur. Smith thinks they would never find you out there or any body else. He is looking towards Abingdon. But that is on the Main route to the Mississippi &c & comes under the objects I have pointed out. Fincastle in Bottetourt I would recommend in preference to Abingdon if that section of country is desired. I agree with you in thinking that the inflammatory articles in the papers do us much harm. I object particularly to those in the Southern papers, as I wish them to take a firm dignified course, free from bravado, boasting & vulgarism. As to the cooking utensils you propose custis can decide. As I stated before I sent the chests of plate & two old trunks to Lexington. Nothing therefore can be got out of them. My box of papers is still here. The bit can be secured.  

The times are indeed calamitous. The brightness of Gods countenance seems turned from us, & his mercy stopped in its blissful current. It may not always be so dark, & he may in time pardon our sins & take us under his protection. May that time soon come. Tell Custis he must consult his own judgment reason & conscience, as to the course he may take. I do not wish him to be guided by my wishes or example. If I have done wrong, let him do better. The present is a momentous question, which every man must settle for himself, & upon principle. Do not let him suppose therefore that I wish him to take any particular course.

Our good Bishop Meade has just come in to see me. He opens the Convention tomorrow, & I understood him to say would preach his fiftieth anniversary sermon.

Give much love to Cousin Anna[,] Nannie,3 daughter & Agnes. May God bless & guard you & all with you.

Truly & affy


R E Lee



Miss Mary Custis Lee




Source: Transcribed using the original letter, Mary Custis Lee Papers, Mss1 L5144 a 884-895, Section 14, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 October 11    



1. Anna Maria Goldsborough Fitzhugh (1796-1874). She was born in Maryland to Charles and Elizabeth Goldsborough. Her father was a politician and governor of the state. She married William Henry Fitzhugh in 1814 and lived at Ravensworth. Since Anna and her husband had no children of their own, Ravensworth would have passed to Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee with Ann Fitzhugh’s death. However, Mary died before Anna did. But when Anna died in 1874, the property passed to the Lee children.   

2. Lee is referring to the Protestant Episcopal Church Convention in Virginia.

3. Anna Maria Mason Lee (1811-1898), the wife of Sidney Smith Lee.

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