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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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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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Camp Fredg 24 March ‘63

 

My dear brother Carter

I have recd your letter of the 18th & will endeavour to forward the enclosure to Mrs Taylor.1 I do not know where she is now. When last at her house house [sic] on the Rappk the enemy seemed to be preparing to cross very near it. Whether it was a feint or a reality I could not tell, but recommd they should make arrangements to evacuate if necessary, & I have heard they proposed going to their country house in the forest. Genl Jackson is quite near me & her residence is not near him. The weather has been very unfavourable to those exposed to it, & the roads are nearly impassable. Genl Hooker seems to be prepared for a move somewhere, & this day week the indications were he was Coming over. He threw his Cavy over Kellys ford, & brought his infy to the mouth of the U. S. ford (just below the mouth of the Rapidan) but the former was so roughly handled by your nephew Fitz that it had to retire at night, & the latter stuck to their position. The reports from within their lines are, that the cavy was to have swept around to the Central & Fredg R. R.s. burn our depots & cut us up generally, under cover of which then infy was to cross, but that we had forestalled them &c & they changed their minds. I presume it will be repeated in some shape the next fine day. As far as I learn Fitz Lee & his Brigade behaved admirably, & though greatly outnumbered stuck to the enemy with a tenacity that could not be shaken off. The report of our scouts north of the Rappk place their strength at 7000. Stuart does not put it so high. While Fitz did not have with him more than 800. But I grieve over our noble dead! I do not know how I can replace the gallant Pelham. So young so true so brave. Though stricken down in the dawn of manhood, his is the glory of duty done! Fitz had his horse shot under him but is safe. The news from the West is favourable & at the south the blow is still impending on Charleston.2 When it falls it will be heavy, but if we do our duty I trust we shall not be crushed. “Through God we shall do great acts; & it is He that shall tread down our enemies.”3 Give much love to Sis Lucy & “Mildred & them.”4 Tell them I wish I could get there. You must take them all out in the fields & raise us quantities of corn. We are in great need, both man & beast. Set all the farmers to work. If they do not do better I shall have to call for aid upon our glorious women. I was glad to have seen George5 in Richmond. He has become a fine boy. Your affectte brother R E Lee

 

 

 

 

1. Elizabeth A. Fitzgerald “Bessie” Forbes Taylor (1820-1854). She was the wife of Dr. John Robert Taylor (1803-1884) of “Faith Hill” plantation in Spotsylvania County, near Fredericksburg. Their son Captain Murray Forbes Taylor (1843-1909) served on A. P. Hill’s staff in the Army of Northern Virginia and was wounded at Chancellorsville on the same died Stonewall Jackson was shot by Confederate troops. After the war, he moved to California and worked for Senator William Randolph Hearst. A couple of years before his death, he moved back to “Faith Hill” and died there. His brother Robert Innes Taylor (1846-1925) served with William Henry Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry as a member of the 9th cavalry and fought at Spotsylvania. He was wounded in the chest at Reams’ Station in 1864 and sent to Chimborazo hospital to recover. He stayed in Fredericksburg after the war and died and was buried there. According to Lost Cause lore, at “Faith Hill,” General Lee moved a nest of birds to safety after being disturbed during the battle of Fredericksburg.           

2. Charleston was the scene of major operations in 1863, but the city did not fall to Union forces until February of 1865.

3. Lee is quoting from Psalms.

4. Carter’s much younger wife, Lucy Penn Taylor Lee (1827-1913). Mildred was Carter’s daughter (1857-1945). She married Dr. John Taylor Francis (1859-1893).

5. George Taylor Lee (1848-1933), Carter’s son.  

 

 

 

Source: Transcribed from scan of original letter, The Papers of Robert E. Lee, 1830-1870, University of Virginia Special Collections Library Charlottesville

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 November 8

         

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