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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Richmond 15 March 1862

            My dear Mary,

            I wrote to you yesterday by mail. On returning to my quarters last night after 11 P.M. Custis informed me Robert had arrived & had made up his mind to go into the Army: He staid at the Spottswood & this morg I went with him to get his overcoat, blankets &c. There is great difficulty in procuring what is good. They all have to be made & he has gone to the Agt Genls office of Virga to engage in the Service. God Grant it may be for his good. As he has permitted it I must be resigned. I told him of the exemption granted by the Secy of War to the Profrs & students of the University[1], but he expressed no desire to take advantage of it. It would be useless for him to go if he did not improve himself nor would I wish him to go merely for exemption. As I have done all in the matter that seems proper & right, I must now leave the rest in the hands of our merciful God. I hope our Son will do his duty & make a good Soldier. I have not seen the children since I wrote yesterday. Rob will see them & tell you about them. I had expected yesterday to go to N. C. this morg but the Pres: changed his mind. I should like to go to see you tomorrow but in the present Condition of things I do not feel that I ought to be absent. If I remain here after Charlotte returns I think you had better Come up for a little while. I may have to go to N. C. or Norfolk yet. Newberne, N. C. has fallen into the hands of the enemy. In Arkansas our troops under Van Dorn have had a hard battle, but nothing decisive gained. Four generals killed McIntosh, McCullogh, Hebert & Slack. Genl Price wounded. Loss on both sides said to be heavy. Many of our best Colonels &c reported Killed. Our army had fallen back & the enemy claim a victory. I send Mrs Powells bill which I paid Mr P. Custis can find nothing of your letter enclosing to him your check. How did you send it & did you put other enclosures in the letter. When you send money in a letter it should be as unattractive as possible. Kiss life for me & the baby.

Very truly yours

R E Lee



Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 347, Section 17, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Nicholas Tarchis, 2017 June 1


[1] Robert E. Lee, Jr., was a student at the University of Virginia at the outbreak of the Civil War.

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