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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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


 

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Dec 29 [1863]

 

My Dear Agnes

In your last letter you did not give me your address so I will put my letter under cover to Mr Caskie. Write & give me your address & your parents. Tell your mother I have not yet succeeded in finding out the name of the publisher who purchased her book. I’m much pained by what I have heard of her.

I was horrified to hear that her husband died after my poor brother.1 This would seem to be something without extenuation & make her words to me & him most false. I think she must be deranged[.] Lo & Harrie who saw her often, thought her very strange although they believed in her love for Orton. Lo know [sic] thinks she is deranged. Poor girl she has my deep pity. I wish I could do something for her, though I do not know what I could do. I am much grieved at what I have heard & do not see how I could ever again have any communication with her. What strange trials God has seen fit to bring upon me. Yet, I must acknowledge that they have a wise purpose since they eminate from the source of all true wisdom. I tell you all this that you may know just what has occurred. It seems from a misfortune that I should have seen her and yet it was perfectly not used that I should desire to. It was ordained that I shd I suppose. I am a fatalist now.

My dearest Agnes. How often my mind reverts to the past. Yet how I stifle back the thoughts that come. I go on in my routine of daily duties without allowing myself time to think. Yes I can easily imagine the interest you feel in all connected with him you were children together. In my minds eye I can see you now. You & our darling Annie & he, sitting around the nursing fender telling fairy tales.

And then when you had grown up, it was always where are Agnes & Orton? Those Forest shades could tell. And your rides on horse back! Once, Particularly I have before me, your glowing face & your streaming hair & his admiring glances as you entered the dear old “room of the house-hold” together. You are very very dear to me dear Agnes and ever will be [loved?]. You seem like my little sister. Our beautiful home! What sorrow the memory of it brings to my heart. I have never been to Georgetown or Washington since my great grief. I feel as if I never could go again. Every place there, is associated with him, especially dear A[rlington]. I sometimes wish I could go to Europe & live, where I’ll never see anything to remind me of bygone days. Here, I am among strangers. I might as well be there.

 

 

1. Markie is referring to the woman who was involved with her brother Orton Williams, who had been hanged for spying in June of 1863. Markie, “Lolo” (her brother Laurence), and her brother-in-law Harry (John Henry Upshur [1823-1917], who was married to her sister Kate) had visited the woman after Orton’s death. For more information on the Williams family, see Frances Scott and Anne Cipriani Webb, Who Is Markie? The Life of Martha Custis Williams Carter Cousin and Confidante of Robert E. Lee (Westminster, Md.: Heritage Books, 2007).

 

 

Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 332, Section 16, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 January 19 

 

 

 

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