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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Camp Fredg 25 May 1863

My precious little Agnes

            I have recd your “little note” by Major Venable, & heartily thank you for your affectionate remembrances & regrets at my departure. I sincerely join in your wish that the war was over & that we could all be once more united, though it may be for a short time. Then too what Calamity would be spared the Country! What pain & anguish would be turned from many a household! I trust that a merciful God in his own good time will accomplish his holy will & give us peace & happiness. I hope you are not going to be afflicted with rheumatism too. You must take regular exercise, be much out in the open, & be careful not to expose yourself to the sudden alternation of heat & cold. You girls have no time to be sick. You have a sacred charge, the care of your poor mother. You must endeavour to get her to some of the healing waters this summer & I hope you may find relief in your own person. She has tried the hot springs twice without permanent relief, though I believe with some benefit. It may be the best for her. But I have heard of the Rockbridge Alum proving advantageous in many cases, & I think she had better give that a trial. She might go to the Hot, before or after as might be judged best. Tell Miss Sallie I am very grateful for her love, but I wish she had not ran away from Richmond before my last visit. I do not know when I shall be there again, but I shall think of her very often. You must also give my kind regards to Mrs Phoebe & Mr Warwick. I do not believe I told you that our old friend Charlie Turnbull[1] was engaged against us in the battle at Chancellorsville. He Commands the old sapper & miner Compy I understand of which he is captain. He is married to some rich Boston lady, & I suppose she has turned him. The train which brought me up Monday stopped at Ashland for Breakfast & I went to see Bishop Johns, &c. I saw Laura & Bella. They were very sad but Composed. I did not see Cousin Cornelia. Perhaps she had not left her room as it was early. Tell Miss Sallie if I had hair like hers, “whose glossy hue to shame might bring, the plumage of the ravens wing” I would send her some, but she must not laugh at my grey hairs. Good bye my precious child. Kiss your mother for me & take good Care of her. You know I can do nothing for her now. Remember me in your Sweet prayers & Supplicate the throne of Grace for mercy & forgiveness towards me.

            May God guard & protect you, prays your devoted father

                                                                                                            R E Lee



Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 454, Section 22, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Nicholas Tarchis, 2017 June 1        


[1] Charlie Turnbull, a cadet at West Point 1850-1854, graduated fifth in his class (George Washington Custis Lee graduated first). Robert E. Lee was superintendent of the academy while Turnbull was there. Turnbull returned to West Point after his graduation to teach mathematics. He excelled in engineering and served as one of the chief engineers of the Union Army.

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