• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 curator, Colin Woodward, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



February 7, 1922


Dear Madam:-


I have your letter of Jan 27th and am more than inclined to agree with you in regard to the mask. I know Col. Wm Preston Johnston well. He was with general Lee not only in his last illness, but when the remains were being prepared for burial. The Colonel was a member of the Committee which gave me the order for a ‘Recumbent Figure.’ And I never heard from him or any other gentleman of the Committee that a death mask had been taken. It seems to me that in speaking of the statue which was to be made they would have informed of its existence. I had an interview with Mrs Lee after the general’s death. She made no mention of a mask, nor did Miss Agnes.

It was said that some one made a life mask of the General. To me it is difficult to imagine how General Lee ever submitted to its being done if he had any idea of the process. I speak from experience. During my student life in Berlin a mask was made from my face. I scarcely would never have asked the General to pass through any such ordeal.

When I see what are said to be statues pictures, portraits of General Lee, I might sometimes be almost inclined to believe that I had never seen the original. I will say nothing of the statues, but oh! the pictures and photographs. I know one man who represented General Lee with blue eyes. It is such a pity that engravings have not been made from the photograph which the General sat for during the war. It was made for me. Mrs Lee induced him to sit for it.

I very rarely see you now as I have not been in “St. James’ Church” for about eight months. My wife was taken sick the better part of May, but I am glad to say is better now. She goes out driving and we frequently take walks together.

She send love

Remember me to Colonel Bob, I rarely see him at the club. With kind regards I am sincerely

Edward V. Valentine


To Mrs W. H. F. Lee

Stoneleigh Court

Washington, D.C.




Source: Scan of original letter, Edward Valentine Papers, The Valentine Museum, Richmond, Virginia

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 May 4


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