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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Nov 18. 1862

Dearest Agnes,

                On hearing the sad intelligence, brought by Cousin J S I wrote immediately to your dear mother I had not then time to write to you, although I thought a great deal about you and as you well know, sympathized most deeply with you.

Our precious Annie! I cannot at all realize that I shall never see her again. How vividly do I recall her the morning of our departure for St. Catherine’s  as she stood on the back steps at A Oh! Agnes, what changes since that hour. How long ago it appears and yet vivid are the scenes that pass before my minds’ eye, in thinking of it! I long to see you all & since I have heard of this deep affliction, have sometimes felt that I must go to you & try to comfort you but, this cannot be.

Let me beg of you, to write at once, dear Agnes, & tell me all about Annies’ last moments[1]. The intelligence was a great shock to me, for I had but a week or two previous, received a letter from Cousin M, enclosing one from Annie to her, which it was a great pleasure to me to read. The least thing is interesting to me to hear & that letter seemed to give me some idea of what you were doing. Poor Annie seemed so anxious about what you would all do this winter & expressed so urgently her wish to pass it in Richmond. Ah! how little do we know what God is preparing for us. We make our plans & think to realize them, but one whose wisdom is supreme, ordains our course.

 Let us not unduly lament the departed, my dear Agnes for we may believe,  that she has gone to the mansions of eternal rest & peace & is spared the deep sorrows & anxieties which await those who continue here.

 What a blessed sound is “rest & peace” now, that we have known so much the reverse. God grant us the power spiritually to interpret His Providence to our souls’ good. It is a time of great temptation to depart from that beautiful spirit, which our savior exemplified in his life, but, let us hold fast to the profession of our faith, remembering, that there is one unchangable,  whose promises fail not, if we are faithful.

 When you write Agnes, tell me if you hear from my dear dear  Brother & how & where he is. Tell me everything you know of him. It has been more than a year since I have heard from him. It appears strange that other persons get letters constantly & that I cannot. I wonder sometimes if he ever thinks of or cares for me. It is hard to live without any evidences of affection from one on whom I have lavished so much. Give much love to him & tell him I have written until I am tired of writing. Give a great deal of love to your dear mother, Father, Sisters & Brothers, especially, my dear Pettie, whom I think of often. Tell him the little blue fan of Niagara memory presented itself before me to-day & recalled many a pleasant memory. Kate is living in Germantown & Lum[2] with her. Ellen A has a little girl a few weeks old. They were all well when I recently heard. Lo[3] is in New York on duty. He wrote a day or two ago, expressing his kindest sympathy for you all in the sad news he had just received & sending his love, to yourselves & to “ dear O,” Lum & K[4] also sent the same. Lo says Helen P is engaged or is said to be, to a cuban. I hear recently from the Adams. They always speak most affectionately of you & send the kindest messages, particularly Mollie. Aunt M & her family also send their loves. They have lately been very unsettled at the prospect of war with England. Ah! Me, when will peace be restored to us. Many think the great climax is near at hand. I sincerely hope it may be. Gods’ purposes concerning us, must first be accomplished, our national pride must be humbled to the dust & our spirits brought more into subjection to His divine will. When we see evidence of this being the case, we may look for Heavens approving smile I fear not before. My heart  is with you all dearest Agnes. Believe that you have the love and sympathy of your attended & sympathizing

Cousin M

Aunt B & M send much love & sympathy & so does Mrs. Stevenson whom I see often.




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 406, Section 20, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Katie Gibson, 2017 June 20


[1] Anne Carter Lee, who died on 1862 October 20.

[2] Lum is the nickname for Columbia Wingfield Williams Upshur (1828-1886), who was Markie Williams’ sister.

[3] Lawrence/Laurence A. Williams (1833-1879) was a West Point graduate and officer during the Civil War, serving in New York in November 1862.

[4] K is Kate Alicia Williams Upshur (1832-1864).

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