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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



(Jones) N C

Aug 10th [1862]

My dear Mama

                We were delighted to hear from you last night, it being the first time since Mr. Leigh C & I went. I was beginning to imagine that you or somebody was sick or that something had happened dreadful, but was kept from very great anxiety by recollections of former neglect. I do wish you would write a little more regularly & take generally a little more time. Isn’t Hickory Hill a sweet place! I am so glad you have been there & am sure a little change from Richmond will do you good. How I wish I could have been with you on this visit it must have been so pleasant to have Fitzhugh so near you & Stuarts Calv. You must have had very pleasant visittors[sic]. It has been intensely hot here & the last week has exceeded any thing I ever knew each day more intolerable than the one before. This is decidedly the warmest place we have ever spent the Summer in, the nights are generally cooler or I don’t know what would become of us. Every one begins to have a wilted look & you feel decidedly like a wrung out rag. We are very much annoyed in this cottage by knats as there are a great many [& a few trees?] around; last night put the finishing touch to our miseries. We went to bed late & the heat was worse than usual, an external irritation was kept up both outside & inside the cover. Mildred & I tossed about in vain & finally Annie rushed in from the next room being tortured in the same way, we all laid on the floor, or sat on our dress room steps bewailing our condition, & scarcely slept at all. Candice our handmaiden assured us that after a most diligent investigation nothing can be found in the beds, & attributes our sufferings to the fleas. this morning we all felt dreadfully my hands & wrists especially are not fit to be seen, these knats are much worse than mosquitoes as they give no warning of their approach & their bite is so stinging, we have nothing but cold water to apply & I am a perfect lazarus[1]. Capt Banon arrived last night his daughters are perfectly delighted to see him it is more than a year of captivity. I presume he will be the lion of “Jones” for a short time. Mrs. Jimmy Pegram[2] & Miss Mattie Paul came a few days ago & Mrs. Edward Mayo from Richmond. We hear that a good many more are expected but trust they will not come it is quite full here indeed crowded & not quite as comfortable of course. Ice is giving out & this morning was made indignant, being an invalid, when my breakfast was brought by being told Mr. Jones would allow no more ice to be sent out. Indeed I have felt so badly for several days, a constant headache & dizziness. It must be the heat, probably a little bilious attack so I have been persuaded to take your favorite, a blue pill for the last two nights & the attendent “little something” & hope to feel better tomorrow though I can’t say I do yet. Before this I have felt so well & have had such a fine appetite but now I think I look very sallow & not at all interesting. I wish you were here & sometimes think it the most extraordinary, dreadful thing to be poked off here by ourselves, but after all I had rather have you nearer the scene of action, though I do want to see you this evening dreadfully. Agnes & Mildred are well & send much love. Capt Banon said he saw Custis & that he looked very well, he is a lazy piece & I just wish I could get to him. I would pinch him well. MissCustis Sister too deserves something fearful, tell her I would write to her today but Mildred says, her intention is to indite her an epistle. I do wish Pope could be hung. his soldiers enjoying their license to steal all they can get from the people. Wretches! I do hope & pray their day of retribution is not far off! Our soldiers must suffer so in this hot weather. I dread every day to hear of battles somewhere. Annie got a letter from her mother, she had come to Petersburg to bring the baby who had been sick, & Mr. Wickham & Cousin Landon are to bring the baby here. Cousin Mary did not say one word of Shirley or anything & went right back. Annie is perfectly delighted & expects them every day. Do write with much love yours




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 376, Section 19, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Katie Gibson, 2017 July 18


[1] Reference to the story “Sir Lazarus and the Dragons,” in which Lazarus is bitten by fleas. The story comes from the Epirus region of Greece.

[2] James West Pegram (1839-1881). He was a major who served on Ewell’s staff. He is buried in Richmond.

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