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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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


 

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Richmond        Saturday night [1862 October 25]1

 

Tho’ I have just arrived here after a very fatiguing days journey my dear child. I determined to write, as tomorrow I may be interrupted. I have just been over to see my little granddaughter.2 She was born very unexpectedly last Tuesday & is very fine pretty baby. Charlotte is not very well & is having a slight touch of jaundice. Fitzhugh fortunately came down not knowing of the event & will remain several days in town. I shall remain here for 10 days or a fortnight & see Charlotte every day. Custis met me at the cars with a kind note 2 pressing invitations from the Caskies so I came here & Agnes has gone to Sally Warwicks tho’ very cordially visited here. Fitzhugh went to H Hill today to bring a wet nurse up from North Wales & brought me the kindest letters from cousin Anne & Lucy urging me to go there which I had intended to do if only for a few days they also sent me your letter. I am truly grieved to hear you have been so unwell & trust that the quiet Clydale & the love & sympathy of its dear inmates may restore you I could not go there now as I promised Fitzhugh to watch over his wife & Agnes is very anxious to have her teeth attended to here as she has been suffering a great deal lately with them. I hope we shall both be able to visit King George in the spring if we cannot accomplish it this fall. I enclose a letter which I wrote to you but which only reached Charlotte tonight. With regard to my precious Annie you could not have done her any good. It seemed mercifully ordered that she did not miss any of her absent ones. She had the best advice & every thing that she could use.

It was the will of Heaven that she should be taken from the evil to come tho’ not aware of her danger, it seemed that I could not pray waiting for her recovery. Only that God’s will might be done. I remembered how earnestly I had prayed that Danger’s life might be spared & wondered that I could not pray as heartily for my own child but even then I was not awakened to a sense of her danger. Nor do I think she was aware of it only a few days before her death she insisted upon having her travelling dress got out & my clearing off the spots for her. She was rendered so deaf by the fever that she had great difficulty in hearing any thing said to her. The last few days she suffered some spasms of pain in her bowels for which the Dr. applied a blister & which were relieved by morphine under the influence of which she slept a great deal both day & night. Her head was never affected until Sunday morning & then only for a short time after which she insisted upon being propped up in the bed & cleaning her teeth, changing her gown & sheets after which she asked to have her favourite hymn book brought her. She lay some time turning over the leaves & I suppose trying to read & then laid it down, I took it up, but she put out her hand for it & seemed to find the one she wanted & handed it to me. It was marked “In extremity & commenced” when I can trust my all with God. In trials fearful hour.” I asked if I should read it to her & she said she could not listen. She closed a great deal during the day, ate an egg, & took more brandy & beef tea than usual. In the afternoon when the Dr came, in I told him I wanted to write to her Father & I think I wrote to you also & to tell me candidly what he thought of her condition. He replied she is extremely ill. I said Do you think hopelessly so. He said no while there is life there is hope but her pulse has always been bad so feeble & frequent & her stomach so irritable that I have been unable to administer her the medicines I should otherwise have given her. I then sat down & wrote & she seemed to sleep heavily while we sat in the adjoining room with the door wide open. Hearing her stir I went to the bed & found the cheeks which had been so long scarlet with fever cold as marble. Her hands too cold & clammy. I sent for the Dr but he did not seem so alarmed as I was said it was the want of circulation but said I must have some of the ladies to sit up with me. I thought it was the icy touch of death but we made all our arrangements for the right & gave her morphine every hour & brandy according to his directions. Her feet were quite warm & we chafed her hands & lay them in my bosom. After 12 oclock she seemed not to notice who was aroused her & never called me to notice who was around her & never called me which she was apt to do frequently during the night. Her eyes were raised to the ceiling & her breathing became more labored towards day. we found she could not swallow the brandy the Dr came & said her pulse was scarcely perceptible & she lay quietly, her life ebbing away with her hand warm & soft in my bosom till at 7 oclock all was still. Every thing was done for us that the most considerate & delicate kindness could suggest & she was laid out with her black hair braided over her marble brow & covered with beautiful flowers which were sent in profusion from all the neighbourhood. My first wish was to have her placed in the cemetery of the family, as I always objected to removing the dead especially in times like these when it is attended with so much difficulty but Agnes so urgently begged that she might be brought to Richmond that I yielded so far as to allow Annie to write to Mr Leigh. Afterwards when Col Richard Lee came down from Warrenton & we all spoke of the delay & uncertainty attending the removal. I decided to pursue my first plan & leave her in Carolina with our kind friends till she could be taken to her own dear home so all the arrangements were made for Wednesday. Mr Leigh got down on Tuesday night but Custis was out of town. The episcopal clergyman from Warrenton came down & performed part of the services in the House, the rest at the grave where all the kind neighbours were assembled & which even the next day was beautifully turfed & planted around with flowers & evergreens by kind hands without my knowledge. I rode out these Friday evening & covered the grave with my flowers & tears & took leave of my sweet gentle child oh what an unspeakable comfort to know she was fully prepared for the great change. The ladies there all sent whatever black materials they could spare from their own scanty supply & made us two very nice bonnets of black silk covered with Gauze we also got 3 veils & have sent one to Mildred so there will be no occasion to get her another. she has a black straw which she will have fixed up in Raleigh & Agnes has sent her Annie’s black cloth cloak. I told her to have it stretched up for trimming but if cousin Julia has not gone & will get a piece of binding of some kind it would be better as the cloth is so very thick, we cut it into a long sack so she can judge how much will be needed for 2 as Agnes will alter hers also. I have one & will try & get my large shawl from Ravensworth tho’ I would like to have something to make a thin one, one of those bound with ribbon would answer for mild weather. Mildred will not require so fine a dress as ours. I would like an English crape veil as the one got in Warrenton is so indifferent, buttons for the cloaks about 8 for each, large ones, cousin Julia had better see Eleanor Rogers as I asked her to be our banker during the war & I heard he has sent many things here but I cannot find out where they are. I will write to Margaret in a few days  

 

 

 

                

1. The date of this letter is based on the fact that Mary apparently was writing on the Saturday following the death of Annie on October 20 (a Monday) and her funeral, which was on Wednesday the 22nd. Mary was writing two letters to her daughter Mary at the same time. The other was dated the 23rd of October. The Virginia Historical Society, which houses these letters, has this letter and the one from the 23rd as separate items, but Mary apparently finished this undated letter on the second page of her letter from the 23rd. To preserve continuity, the portion of the letter from the 23rd that did not correspond to that letter has been included here. 

2. The birth of Charlotte Carter Lee on 1862 October 19. Mary says the birth took place on a Tuesday, but the 19th was a Sunday. Charlotte died in December, the second of Charlotte and Fitzhugh’s children to die at a young age.

 

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