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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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


 

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Dec 31st 1864

My dear Mother,

 

I have set apart various times to write you, but been always prevented when they are assisting the church. I have so many visits and messages on business that I can do little else. The only time I have written since my confinement, my letter was so disjointed, it must have read very much as Mrs said to the saucy girl who sent her a dictionary to read, “very good but rather disconnected.” This is the last of holidays, for which I am thankful, I don’t keep Silvia because we cant afford to feed & clothe four servants, the cost of our servant without hire is estimated at $1200, so even if the boys return in February we must do without so many, indeed we southern people have to come to it in the end any how, what statesman said? “masters would run from their slaves, not slaves from their masters”

Last night after dark I was sitting in my chambers (over my parlor) the children playing around when Dolly announced Gen Lee; I always ask him right into my chamber he came in very cold, but my bright fire soon thawed him out; he came with a Christmas present for the baby, a beautiful little image of St. Paul in prison, it was cut for Gen Lee by a prisoner while confined at Elmyra, the Gen said “I hunted over all my things and could find nothing more suitable to give the baby, so I’ve brought this” the children soon ran off to dance in the kitchen as they do every night, and he and I sat cozily over the fire chatting, oh I do so love, honor, revere him indeed language fails to express all I feel for that noble man. We call the baby Nellie Lee, Neila explains it to all saying her whole name is Eleanor Lee, but she is to be called Nellie Lee. Ella said last night Mrs Paul says you ought to call her Nellie Beauregard, no said I, on the impulses of the moment, Lee is the man we love above all other names, he saw it was heartfelt and gave me such a sweet smile; I wish you could know him like I do, this is his second visit to me and the baby. Maggie spent the day here yesterday, all are well with hers, she had quite a dining last Monday, I have as much as I can possibly do, to feed the numerous chaplains who are with the army, and fancy Mr P & Mr Gibson have long purses and keep open house; there are some who are terrible inflictions, Mr Porter is to school me into patience, but I barely can be civil that is all; no body can love to entertain more than I do, but I prefer to choose my company & be sure I am not running into debt. It is snowing as I write, now we may expect our winter. What sort of Christmas did you have. I made some cakes and puffs, bought some apples, candy at $25 was out of my reach and so were toys. I had three turkeys sent me & two chickens; had our taste of eggnog and a slice of mince pie; some housekeepers make no difference nor should I if I was making money, but we have to economise. The children are having church in the dining room. I wish you could so join us. & Neila[,] how devoted they are to the baby, Nina minds her if she wakes while I am dressing in the morning, she gets up on the bed, if the baby cries gives her, her finger to suck, I wish you could see the absorbed important air she assumes. The baby is as little trouble as is possible for a baby to be, she is very healthy but so sweet every body laughs at her. Mr P speaks of her as a “failure” a minute particle that begins to be visible to the naked eye.     

My paper is out &I write too badly to dare close a letter so with love & kisses to all I must say good bye yours Nell

Yours Nell1

 

 

 

1. Eleanor Beverley Meade was born on 1834 December 18. She was the daughter of John Everard Meade (1792-1854) and Rebecca Wormely Beverley (1803-1867) of Petersburg, Virginia. She married Rev. William Henry Platt (1821-1898) on 1857 June 23. Rev. W. H. and Eleanor Platt resided in Petersburg until 1866, when they moved to Louisville, Kentucky. Eleanor died from tuberculosis. The Platts raised at least five children, some of whom were from his previous marriages. They included Ella, Charles, Willie (b. 1858), Cornelia (b. 1861), and Johnnie.

 

 

Source: Mss2 P6977 a, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 June 27

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