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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Shirley Oct 22d 1862

My Beloved Mary


With how much pain did I hear yesterday that it had pleased the Lord to take your sweet child Annie to dwell with Him; O! Mary when our children are taken that we know to be children of God, we can bear it, for our Father knows the best and right time to call them, but this dearest Mary does not prevent our feeling the loss of the dear ones every minute in the day, and O! how I do feel for you and for darling little Agnes how she will miss her and for her dear father who can scarcely have moments to give way to the natural feelings of grief at the loss of his child, but O! dear Mary sweet Annie is with her Saviour now, and with your sainted mother to whom she was always so dear, there is great comfort in thinking of our departed children as enjoying the presence of the Saviour and also being with the loved ones who have gone before. Constantly have & been longing to hear how your dear child was, since I heard of your going up to see her and I feared from you not writing to me that she was ill, but not one word have I heard till yesterday when a note from my Robert told me she was gone from us forever; dear lovely Annie she is with my Lizzie now and O!  how I would love to have her dear remains lying beside my child in our little quiet spot, where I so often go to dig and nurse the violets and think of my loved ones lying there. But dear Mary what is it in death that we so mourn when it comes for our dear ones; & is rarely a selfish feeling when we know they are called by this messenger to the bosom of our Saviour can we wish them back? no, not for a moment, let us rather be busy in fitting ourselves and all around us to meet this same servant of God who will so soon call all of us to go to the world of spirits. If you could come right here to me as soon as you come from the springs & shall be so glad to have you, and all your children I was so sorry to hear Mary was not with you, but I trust she is well fixed where she is. If I did not give up all things into the hands of my Father in Heaven & should feel most anxious about my dearest Louise and still dearer Millie, and the precious children; a month has passed since we heard from her, and then she was on her way to see after Millie and said she would be here the first of October and this is the 22d, and no news of her or of Millie either my dear Charlie is in Petersburg & hear, and nearly well, thank God for all his mercies; of Beverley & have never heard any certain account and O! I pray he is safe for he is not a christian that I know of, but has much feeling I believe on the subject, and if I never see him again I shall feel that the Lord has taken care of him. Dear Mary if you could come to me instead of writing you do not know how glad I shall be, but if that is not practicable at this time, write and tell me all of your precious child and how sweet Agnes bears this bereavement, for I do feel such deep interest in you and yours. We had smart frost last night and do not fear to have our children return home now. Poor Mr Carter was not so well Monday or Tuesday it was that I heard from him, but he does not think himself sick enough to need me, so I shall not go up unless there is some change for the worse. O! I do so long to have you all here again & am up stairs here by my self for Warrington sleeps below now that his father is away and though I am very quiet and happy feeling that my God is near me, still I long to have my dear children and you here once more, and then we miss the Post Office so much, none nearer than Richmond or Petersburg. O! my daily, hourly prayer is for peace. And O! when this blessing comes will not everyone in the Confederacy feel that they ought to live nearer to God than they have ever done before. God bless you my dear Mary and comfort you under this and every trial He may in His wisdom and mercy see fit to put on you is the prayer of your true friend




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 394, Section 20, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 January 15                 

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