• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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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Savannah 23 Feby 1862

 

My dear Son

I have recd your letter of the 12th & am glad you have returned safely from the Rappahannock. I hope your visit was satisfactory. I am Sorry your arrangement for sending on Richmond1 failed & especially for the trouble he occasioned every body. He is a troublesome fellow & dislikes to associate with strange horses. He expresses it more in words than acts & if firmly treated becomes quiet at last. I know his propensity to Squeal on such occasions & Can imagine how unacceptable he made himself to strangers. I Carried him in the Car with all our horses to & from Western Virga without accident or harm. He might as well wait now & I hope you can make him useful to you. The experience of hiring a man & Car to get him to me would not be indemnified by the use to me. I have two horses, Col: W. has been here as you may have learned & I should judge from his manner, every thing was agreeable to him. He took his departure two days since, & I sent by him an affghan or robe knit for me by Miss “Tattie” Clinch2 which is too pretty to have in camp. I desired him to give it to you & I wish you would send it to your mother, or put it away somewhere, & ask her to keep it for me. I have heard she is now with her mother. In these times of trouble I am always anxious about those away from me.

The victories of the enemy increase & Consequently the necessity of increased energy & activity on our part. Our men do not seem to realize this, & the supineness & carelessness of their duties Continue. If it will have the effect of arousing them & imparting an earnestness & boldness to their work, it will be beneficial to you us. If not we shall be oveerun for a time, & must make up our minds to great suffering. Here the enemy seems to be slowly working his way to the Savannah river through the creeks & marshes & his shells now interrupt its navigation. We have nothing that floats that Can Contend with him & it is grating to see his progress unopposed by any resistance we can make. The Communication with Ft Pulaski is cut. That may in time be reduced, but I am Constructing batteries at Fort Jackson which if our men will fight will give him trouble to get to the city. His batteries are so numerous & strong that I know they are hard to resist, but if we have time & guns they ought if vulnerable to be beaten off. Their barges & reconnoitering boats are even clad with iron, so that our musket & rifle balls are harmless. The work progresses slowly, & it is with the utmost difficulty that it is pushed ahead. I had until lately supposed Charleston would have been first attacked, but now it Seems they are Concentrating here. We are stronger in C. than here. The creeks that intersect the marshes through which the Savannah flows, & which Connect with the waters of Port Royal Harbour to the north & Warsaw Sound on the South are a great element of weakness & indeed the facilities the arms or branches of these waters afford for approach & investment in all directions make it one of the hardest places to defend I ever saw against light draft boats. The tide rises 7 & 8 ft so it is easy to propel their boats over the mud. This will be plain to you who Know the topography of the place. Your friends here are all well & frequently inquire after you. Mrs. Wm H. Stiles has Come down, since Mrs. Lord’s return to her children. I now hear that Mrs Lord is released on parole in Baltimore. I do not know if true. Remember me to all friends my dear Son & give much love to your mother, Fitzhugh & all the girls. I hope you will be able to attend to the business matters without distress to yourself or neglect of your business. All must be sacrificed to the country. May God protect you & shield it from all harm.

Your devoted father R E Lee

 

 

 

Source: George Francis Markham Collection, Section 1, Mss1 M3415 a 23-25, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond             

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2019 May 22   

 

 

1. Richmond is a horse.

2. Catherine Maria “Tattie” Clinch (1828-1870). She was the daughter of General Duncan Clinch of South Carolina and the sister-in-law of Major Robert Anderson of Fort Sumter fame. She was the second wife of Edward Barnwell Heyward (1826-1871), whom she married on 1863 February 17. She had two children with him. Heyward was a planter and served as an engineer in the Confederate army.  

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