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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Near Petersburg 13 Decr 64


My dear Son

I have been expecting to See you for some weeks, but each day that I have appointed to return to the N. Side of the James river, some movement of the enemy has occurred or some rumour of a projected movement has reached me, to prevent. Yesterday week I had directed our caravan to be prepared to move the next morg, but during the night or rather before day this day week, I heard of their last move down the plank road, & had to put our troops in motion. We succeeded in arresting them at the Meheren [sic]1 & turning them back. Their route of retreat was due East in direction of Jerusalem & Sussex Ct H__, & thus their infy got out of our way, & we Could only strike their rear guard of Cavy. The weather was wretched, & I fear our men & animals suffered much. The enemy reached their camps last night & our men are coming in this morg. Their prisoners stated they were going to Weldon, & I suppose were bound on a distant mission as they carried beef Cattle & a long train of wagons. Their trains &c were all East of their route of march. We did them little harm I fear. They destroyed about six miles of R. R., so the sup[erintenden]t reports, & burned some small bridges. During this operation they attempted to turn our right flank, & to reach Dinwiddie CtH. In this they also failed. I do not know what they will attempt next.

I have a nice pair of woolen gloves, gauntlet shaped, which may keep you warm this cold weather. If you want them will send them up. If you do not, let me know. I have my fur. I am afraid you will ruin my character with the young ladies, & may cause that of the family for fidelity to be suspected. Several of them wishing, I suppose, to see how they would like me as a father in law, have requested my photographs, which I have promised, & have relied on those you were to have sent me. Not one has ever reached me, & I am taxed with breach of promise. See what a strait you have placed me in. Robt got here tuesday & I had to forward him next tuesday on Ajax.2 He had I fear a disagreable ride as it rained all day. I hope you & your men are Comfortable & that every thing is well with you. Have you been able to pole your road through that slushy wood?

God bless you & keep you my dear Son, is the daily prayer of your affectionate


R E Lee




Source: Scan of original letter, Robert E. Lee Papers, 1749-1975, Rubenstein Library, Duke University

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 May 21



1. Lee is referring to action at along the Meherrin, also known as the Stoney Creek raid of 1864 December 7-12.

2. A large horse formerly ridden by Robert E. Lee.

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