• The Lees of Virginia
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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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.


 

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Near Hanover Ct House

Sunday 28th June 1863

 

My dear sir

I went to town last Friday at 8 o’clock & heard by telegraph that the Yankees had visited my house a few hours after I left there. I could not get home again till last evening. Their cavalry got here at 12 o’clock & left here at 5 oclock. They carried off Genl W. H. F. Lee as a prisoner in my carriage. It seems to me a great outrage to have done so in the condition in which he was, but his wound was healing, & I do not think, further than the annoyance from the act, that he will suffer any serious inconvenience. I am told that he bore his arrest, as might be expected, with great composure. He was not treated with the least incivility, with exception of one or two words to my wife, by which rough men meant nothing, we have no reason to complain of the Yankees, further than their taking your son prisoner & their carrying off my horses & negroes of which I lost a good number. I have thought proper to give you this information, but from the letters of the ladies you might apprehend we had been treated with indignity. I feel confident that Fitzhugh will meet with kind treatment & with the attention that his situation requires. Charlotte, whose health is not good is dreadfully distrest, but I hope as she hears from her husband, as she did yesterday morning, that she will become more composed. There was quite a fine battle at S. Anna bridge. We had eighty men against a thousand. Our soldiers behaved with the greatest gallantry & kept them back for near three hours, when the enemy sent a part of their force across the river by a ford half a mile below the bridge & attacking our men in front & rear compelled them to surrender. We lost eight men killed & many wounded, but as some of the wounded were carried away as prisoners we do not know their number. The Yankees said they never saw men fight more bravely than our handful did & they doubted if they would have got possession of the bridge if they had not been on both sides of the river. Our wounded said they were treated with the greatest humanity after the surrender. The Yankees burnt the railroad bridge & then retired the same way they came towards [the] bridge, & then retired the same way they came towards the White House. A small straw rick was burnt on my land, but nothing else. They did not set a foot in my dwelling house but were anxious to search it for Robert, but took my wife’s word for his not being in it.

Your uncle Williams is very feeble & you may not be surprised at any time to hear that he is no more. The Yankees were at North Wales & carried away one or two of Fitzhugh’s horses, & the boy who drives Mr Carters buggy, but I have heard of no other damage there. Yesterday there were reports in town of a large Yankee force approaching from the Pamunkey, but it is doubtful whether it is true. The general apprehension is that a sufficient force has not been left in Richmond for the defense of the city, but I have written already more than you will probably have time to read. Robert goes to town today. Mrs Lee, Charlotte Agnes & Mildred are with us & one shall be glad to have them remain as long as they find it agreable to do so. Our minds are made to have to undergo the horrors of war, & we bear it with as much unconcern, as one should always bear inevitable evils.

If you have any communion with Col. Wickham please let him know you have heard from us. Our letters may not reach him.

Yours very truly

Wm F. Wickham

 

 

 

Source: Scan of original copy, The Papers of Robert E. Lee, 1830-1870, Special Collections Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 January 11

A plantation located in Caroline County. The place was managed by William Carter Wickham for his cousin Dr. Charles Carter of Philadelphia.

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