• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 curator, Colin Woodward, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



Jones Springs  Saturday Octr 18th [1862]


I only received your letter last night my dear Mary too late to write for the next mail & now this must lay over until Monday. I am truly grieved to hear of your suffering. How did you take such a cold? You must take some advice [,] for rheumatism is not to be trifled with & you have suffered so much before from pain in your back. Have you ever tried a strengthening plaster. Aunt Lewis1 used to have great faith in them & it could do you no harm but is a great support to a weak back. If you are not much better do have medical advice for I have a great dread of any one of my family getting sick in these times especially now when it will be impossible for me to leave Annie for 5 or 6 weeks. She is much worse than when I came, more attenuated & pulse higher the disease must be at its crisis now, the Dr is cautious in giving his opinion but tonight he says her pulse is a little better, she has been suffering today with pain in her stomach & bowels which has distressed her & which has been only relieved by morphine of which she takes a dose every night which enables her to sleep a good deal tho’ I have to get up 4 or 5 times to give her nourishment & stimulants. She takes brandy & cream every hour, not so often at night & sweet tea. I sleep in a little bed by her side & attend to her altogether. In the day Agnes & Ella Selden who is a most admirable nurse take care of her by turns & no one else goes in her room tho’ all have offered their services. The Dr sees her 3 & sometimes 4 times during the day. He is considered a most skilful physician especially in this disease. we have a plenty of ice & rich cream so that I have the satisfaction of knowing that all is done for her that human aid can accomplish & must leave  the rest with God. She is so deaf that she can scarcely hear a word & takes no interest in reading or in aught that is going on. I do not think it at all necessary for you to come on, even if you were well enough & hope you will try & get cured of your ailments. I shall feel very anxious to hear from you. Do take time to write as you can without fatiguing yourself. You seem to think that I am the only unfortunate person in the Confederacy in an unsettled state. There are no less than 4 ladies here some with large families who have been writing all over the country to get board & say when they are obliged to leave this place they know not where to go. Dr Selden’s family consisting of wife & children boarded in Raleigh for a time but say that they cannot get board there now, & it is very high but I will make some enquiries. Mrs Cross & Jennie Richie say they know not where to go & they cannot afford to live in Richmond, so you see other persons have their difficulties as well as our family. It is very certain I shall not be able to leave this place for 6 weeks at the least. I have received a long letter from your papa indeed several lately. He writes cheerfully, says his army is improving & in good spirits & he hopes to be ready for McClellan. Annie could not even listen to his letter tho’ it contained many kind messages for her.


19th Annie passed a very uncomfortable night & this morning her pulse is raised again. The Dr considers her extremely ill but says her pulse is her worst symptom & it has been bad from the first [,] feeble & quick [,] still she is in the hands of God who will do all things well for her & I do not know that you could be of any important advantage to her as I am able to do all she needs & can make up for my want of rest in the days. I will keep this letter open till it goes so as to give you the last accounts of her. I shall write to your papa & Custis by this mail & shall only tell them she is very ill. I will write to him about your bond after a while which I think he alluded to in one of his letters. I was truly grieved to hear of the Caskie’s loss & shall write to them soon. I have not had a line from Charlotte nor did I know till I had received your letter that she had gone to Richmond your papa seems anxious that some of us should be with her but I do not see how any one could stay at Mrs Conways. poor child I am very sorry I cannot fulfil my promise of being with her but she is in excellent hands & I doubt not is entirely satisfied. Did she take Susan with her & has she heard any thing of Maria. You must give much love to all with you I will write & tell you of any should there be any change either for the better or worse. I am very sorry you could not make your visit to King George where the care of the good Dr. & the affection of your sweet cousins would be truly beneficial to you. You could not be in kinder hands than you are now. Be sure to give for me [,] if Charlotte has not done so [,] 50 cts to Ella & 50 to uncle Tom for which I will pay you

yr mother

M C Lee




1. Presumably Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis (1779-1852), the sister of George Washington Parke Custis, Mary’s father.



Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 390, Section 20, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 February 28            



Reference Shelf

Data Collections

About the Project

Website by Fresh Look Web Design
Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved