• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 23rd Feby ’62

            I have been wishing dear Mary to write to you for more than a week to you, but every day & every hour Seems so taken up that I have found it impossible. Your last letter was recd a week ago & with it came one from Rooney & Rob & more recently one from Custis. To the former two I have replied as it was requisite for their guidance. I sent on by Col H. H. Walker an afghan or robe knit for me by Miss Catharine Clinch with a request that he give it to Custis to send to you. You must keep it for me & use it if you wish, as it is too handsome for camp life & my blankets more suitable. It was very Kind of Miss C. thus to occupy herself but I feared I Could not take Care of it in the field. She is the daughter of Genl Clinch & sister of Mrs. Anderson, wife of Major Anderson of Sumter renown. I am very glad to hear that you are well & that your little Sunbeam1 lightens up the house so brightly & cheerfully. I hope he will always give equal warmth & pleasure. The news from Tennessee and N. Carolina is not all cheering & disasters seem to be thickening around us. It calls for renewed energies & redoubled strength on our part, & I hope I will produce it. I fear our soldiers have not realized the necessity of endurance & labour they are called upon to undergo & that it is better to sacrifice themselves than our Cause. God I hope will shield us and give us success. Here the enemy is progressing slowly in his designs & does not seem prepared or to have determined when or where to make his attack. His gunboats are pushing up all the creeks & marshes of the Savannah & have attained a position so near the river as to shell the steamers navigating it. None have as yet been struck. I am engaged in constructing a line of defense at Fort Jackson which if time permits & guns can be obtained I hope will Keep them out. They can bring such overwhelming force in all their movements that it has the effect to demoralize our new troops. The accounts given in the papers of the quantity of cotton shipped to New York is of Course exaggerated. It is Cotton in the seed & dirt & has to be ginned & cleaned after its arrival. It is said that the negroes are employed in picking & collecting it & are paid a certain amount. But all these things are gathered from rumour & can only be believed as they appear probable which this seems to be. You must give much love to the children. I hope Agnes is better of her neuralgia. Poor child has suffered a great deal. I am very sorry to hear of Mrs. Barnes condition. All must suffer it seems in this war. Mr. W. H. Stiles2 has Come down to see her mother. I have seen her once. She looks well & is very anxious about her soldier husband. Mrs. Mackay seems to me very feeble, & is much reduced. Still her faculties seem quite clear. I went yesterday to church, being the day appointed for fasting & prayer. I wish I Could have passed it more devoutly. The Bishop (Elliott) gave a most beautiful prayer for the President, which I trust may be heard & answered. It will give me great pleasure to do anything I can for Edward Turners sons. What can it be? You Know I cannot give appointments & if I recommend unless an occasion offers it cannot be acted on. If either of them had sufficient experience to assist on my staff, when an opportunity offers I might give them an appointment. But I require efficient persons about me & I know nothing of any of our young relatives, whom I should like to have about me. Give my love to Charlotte I hope her trees & flowers are all prospering. Here the yellow Jasmine, Red bud, fringe tree &c perfume the whole wood & the Japonicas & auzalias Cover the gardens. Perry & Meredith are well. May God bless & keep you all is the Constant prayer of your husband.

R E Lee




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 342, Section 17, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Nicholas Tarchis, 2017 June 19



1. Robert Edward Lee, born 1860 March 9, died in 1862 June 30 in Richmond. He was the son of William Henry Fitzhugh Lee and his wife Charlotte Wickham.

2. William Henry Stiles, Jr. (1834-1878), an officer in the Confederate army, was the son of William Henry Stiles, Sr. (1808-1865) and Eliza Ann Mackay Stiles (d. 1867). He was a member of the United States House of Representatives. Both father and son served as officers in the Confederate military.  

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