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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Savannah 8 Feby 1862

            I wrote to you dear Mary the day I left Coosawhatchie for this place. I have been here ever since endeavoring to push forward the works for the defense of the city which has lagged terribly & which ought to have been finished. But it is difficult to arouse ourselves from ease & comfort to labour & self denial. Guns are scarce as well as ammunition. & I shall have to break up batteries on the coast to provide, I fear, for this city. Our enemies are endeavouring to work their way through the creaks that traverse the impassable & soft marshes stretching along the interior of the Coast & communicating with the Sounds & Sea, through which the Savannah flows & thus avoid the entrance of the river commanded by Fort Pulaski. Their boats only require 7 ft water to float them & the tide rises 7 ft so that on high water they Can work their way & rest on the mud at low. They are also provided with dredges & appliances for removing obstructions through the creeks in question, which cannot be guarded by batteries. I hope however we shall be able to stop them & daily pray to the giver of all victory to enable us to do so. I suppose if you have written your letter is at Coosawhatchie & I therefore have not heard from anyone. I trust you are all well & doing well & wish I Could do anything to promote either. I have more here than I Can do & more I fear than I can well accomplish. It is so very hard to get anything done & while all wish well & mean well, it is difficult to get them to act energetically & promptly.

Mrs. Lowe is here with her Grdmother. She brought her little daughter Kate down who is very much like her & full of motion & activity. Mrs. L herself is much more quiet & Sedate & perhaps more pleasing though not so youthful in appearance. I have only seen here for a short time in the evg, when her fingers have been more busy with her knitting than her tongue in conversation. I see Mrs. Gilmer occasionally who remains here while her husband[1] is in Kentucky. Yesterday there was a report that he was captured on the Tennessee river, but it was subsequently Contradicted. The news from Kentucky & Tennessee is not favourable, but we must make up our minds to meet with reverses & to overcome them. I hope God will at last crown our efforts with Success. But the Contest must be long & Severe & the whole country has to go through much Suffering. It is necessary we should be humbled & taught to be less boastful, less selfish, & more devoted to right & justice to all the world. Give much love to every body. Charlotte & the girls & custis, Fitzhugh & Robert when you write. Take good care of yourself & be resigned to what God ordains for us. I left Meredith at Coosawhatchie & have Perry with me. God bless you all & believe me always yours

R E Lee  




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 341, Section 17, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Nicholas Tarchis, 2017 June 1  


[1] Mrs. Gilmer refers to the wife of Confederate General Jeremy F. Gilmer, a chief engineer of the Confederacy.

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