• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 2 March 1862

My precious Annie

            It has been a long time Since I have written to you, but you have been Constantly in my thoughts. I think of you all separately & Collectively, in the busy hours of the day & the silent hours of the night & the recollection of each & every one whiles away the long nights in which my anxious thoughts drive away sleep. But I always feel that you & Agnes at those times are sound & happy & that it is immateriel to either where the blockaders are, or what their progress is in the river. I hope you are all well & as happy as you Can be in these perilous times to our Country. They look dark at present & it is plain we have not suffered enough, laboured enough, repented enough to deserve Success. But they will brighten after a while & I trust that a Merciful God will arouse us to a sense of our danger, bless our honest efforts & drive back our enemies to their homes. Our people have not been earnest enough. Have thought too much of themselves & their ease, & instead of turning to a man, have been Content to nurse themselves & their dimes, & leave the protection of themselves & families to others. To satisfy their consciences they have been clamorous in criticizing what others have done & endeavoured to prove that they ought to do nothing. This is not the way to accomplish our independence.  I have been doing all I can with our small means & slow workmen to defend the cities & coast here. Against ordinary numbers we are pretty strong, but against the hosts our enemies seem able to bring every where, there is no calculation. But if our men will stand to their work, we shall give them trouble & damage them yet. They have worked their way across the marshes, with their dredges, under cover of their gunboats, to the Savannah river, above Fort Pulaski. I presume they will endeavour to reduce the Fort & thus open the way for their heavier vessels up the river. But we have an interim line they must force before reaching the city. It is on this line we are working, slowly to my anxious mind, but as fast as I can drive them. I believe I mentioned to your mother that Mrs. Wm H. Stiles is here on a visit to her mother. I see them occasionally & they are as kind as they can be. Mrs S. has undertaken to repair my shirts & necessity has Compelled me to accept her offer, which I am ashamed to do, both on account of the trouble to her & the exhibition of my rags. But pride must have a fall. Her sisters & niece had offered before, but my pride objected. See how foolish I am. Mr. Edwd Stiles is here on a leave of absence. His Regt: is near Yorktown. He has seen his mother & Sisters who are in the interior of G[eorgia] & who are well. The young people say here Miss Sidney is engaged to her Cousin Dr Wm Elliott. I know not how it is, but the Dr is a very clever gentleman, stands well in the Army, in which he is an Asst Surgeon. He was with the troops at Port Royal & remained with some wounded, three days after our troops left the Isd of Hilton head & got them off. He is the Son of Dr Ralph Elliott, who married Miss Margaret Mackay, sister of Mrs Ben & William H. Stiles. His sister Carrie is in town, a sweet young lady. I believe I have nothing else to say, except to send love to every body. Give much to your mother, Charlotte, Agnes, Mary & the, boys, among whom is included my GrdSon. I recd a letter from Precious life the other day. She is well but in a starving Condition from her own account from child, yet fattening. I hope it is not as bad as that, but you must tell her not to be too particular in her diet, but to eat everything before her. It is not necessary for young ladies to become etherial to grow wise. She moans after Tom & knows he is alive & that his precious heart will break if he does not see her soon. I shall have to get Genl Johnston to send in a flag of truce & make inquiries. I hope you girls are learning to be useful & have entered into domestic manufactures. Take separate departments & prepare fabric, or it will end in destitution. Has my poor little Agnes recovered of her neuralgia. I will write to her as soon I can. I hope her disease is not catching. Good bye my dear child. May God bless you & our poor Country.

            Your devoted father

                                                R E Lee



Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 345, Section 17, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Nicholas Tarchis, 2017 May 24


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