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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Lexington Va: 22 Decr 1866


My dearest Markie

If I was an artists like you, I would draw a true picture of Traveller; representing his fine proportions, muscular figure, deep chest, short back, strong haunches, flat legs, small head, broad forehead, delicate ears, quick eye, small feet, & black mane & tail. Such a picture would inspire a poet, whose genius could then depict his worth, & describe his endurance of toil, hunger, thirst, heat & cold; & the dangers & suffering through which he has passed. He could dilate upon his sagacity & affection, & his invariable response to every wish of his rider. He might even imagine his thoughts through the long night-marches & days of battle through which he has passed. But I am no artist Markie, & can therefore only say he is a confederate grey. To your other questions I can give more definite answers. I purchased him in the mountains of Virginia in the Fall of 1861, & he has been my patient follower ever since, to Georgia, the Carolinas & back to Virginia. He carried me through the seven days battle around Richmond, the Second Manasses, at Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, the last day of Chancellorsville, to Penna, at Gettysburg, & back to the Rappahannock. From the commencement of the campaign in 1864 at orange, till its close around Petersburg, the saddle was scarcely off his back, as he passed through the fire of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbour & across the James river. He was almost in daily requisition in the winter of 1864 ’65 on the long line of defences from the chickahominy north of Richmond, to Hatchers run south of the Appomattox, 35 miles in length; & in 1865 bore me to the final day at Appomattox CtHouse. You know the comfort he is to me in my present retirement. He is well supplied with equipments—Two sets have been sent to him from England, one by the ladies in Baltimore & one was made for him in Richmond; but I think his favourite, is the American saddle from StLouis. Of all his companions in toil, Richmond, Brown-Roan, Ajax & quiet Lucy Long, he is the only one that retained his vigour to the last. The two first expired under their onerous burden, & the two last failed – You can I am sure from what I have said paint his portrait.

I am very sorry to hear of Gertie’s sickness. Tell her she must get well & come on & see my cat, Tom nipper. He has been reared in the stable & had the advantage of Travellers company & has acquired the most refined manners. You omitted to enclose Mrs Lawrence’s letters – All unite in much love to yourself & the children. Thank Mr Shepherd for his kindness & tell him not to trouble himself about the Erie [railroad] b[on]ds: Mildred is in the E. S. of Md: The rest of the family are here & as usual.

Your Cousin

R E Lee




Source: Scan of original letter, Letters of Robert E. Lee to Martha Custis Williams, 1844-1870, Huntington Library, San Marino, California              

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 October 2

Reference Shelf

Data Collections

About the Project

Website by Fresh Look Web Design
Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved