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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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


 

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Mill View Near Augusta

19th Oct. ‘65

 

My dear Agnes

Many thanks for your kind, and graceful note very few girls possess l’eloquence du billet and is one of the most pleasing talents when exercised upon me.

From the papers I see that your family have moved to Lexington. It must be far more pleasant to you, and perhaps even to your dear Mother, who in her suffering may perhaps find relief from the memory of it, in the society which the town affords. I know that whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth. But I cannot believe that she will be kept always in such agony as she must suffer now. Having several times in my life I thoroughly sympathise with her. Tell her Mr Davis knows now that she has written to him and I hope to receive a message for her in his next letter. please tell her also that if I were with her, I would confide somethings which I cannot trust to paper of a cheering character. But his own account of his health is not hopeful. he says “It is true that my strength has greatly failed me and the loss of sleep (consequent upon the light, and Sentinels in the room) has created a morbid excitability, but an unseen hand has sustained me, and a peace which the world could not give, and has not been able to destroy will I trust uphold me to meet with resignation whatever may befall me.” His letter is full of beautiful piety. Love toward God and man. Believing himself still lying under an accusation of assassination, he waits patiently to be attacked with only the shield of innocence and faith between himself and his blood thirsty captors. I will not apologize to you for telling particulars of one whom it has been sweetly sung:

 

“In your green prison, dreary, lonely,

“With none to comfort but God only,

“There’s one that supposeth for many,

“In fault at least, not more than any

“One who not more than others sinning,

“A martyrs crown is surely winning1

 

I can hear nothing of the intention of the government as regards me. I get no answer to entreaties for permission to go to him, or to my children. suspense is their best weapon with me, and its [sic] does wound very deep.

The little baby keeps me alive by her little endearments of which she has many.2 She talks a little and walks quite well, and has grown pretty. I send you a daguerreotype of her. I should say photograph. I am thrown in [illegible]. Not expecting to figure in the picture, it is rather a strange attitude. I supposed the man still busy arranging the instrument when the likeness was taken, and never could get another good likeness of the baby.

With best love to your dear Mother and Sisters, and my kind remembrance to Genl Lee. I am most

sincerely your friend

Varina Davis

 

 

 

Source: Photocopy of original letter, Mary Custis Lee Papers, Section 62, Mss1 L5144 a 6213, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 December 20      

 

 

1. She is referring to Hebrews, 12:6.

2. Varina Ann “Winnie” Davis, born in 1864 and known as the “Daughter of the Confederacy.”

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