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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



“Romancoke” Dec 4th 1870 -

Your strenuous efforts my dear Agnes, met with the success they deserved, for your letter of the 24th ulto reached me last Tues; for which I thank you.

My plans, as far as I know them now, are to stay here this Xmas, or for one or two days, in cludiny Xmas day, either at the White House or some where nearby.  Arrangements I have to make on my farm compel me to be here the 18th Jan.; & indeed the necessity of using all my cash in the settling up of my affairs for the past year prevents my indulgence in any extreme trip.

I should like dearly to spend Xmas with you all but I fear unless something unforeseen turns up I will be prevented from having that pleasure. The cav boots I have put away - have never used - & will be very glad to let Mr Valentine1 have them for the purpose you mention. Maybe you had better let him know that he can get them at any time by writing me to that effect at West Point. I wish you would ask Sister if she has got that sash of mine. She took it soon after the surrender, when I returned to Richmond, & said she would take care of it for me. It was one Pa gave me together with a sword. The sword I have & should like to know if the sash is safe, as I value it because he wore it in service.

Miss Lottie writes me that she continually improves, but very slowly, & probably will not return to R-d until after Xmas at which I am of course proportionately miserable. For in R-d it is very easy to see her any time. But Phil is a little too much for me. You must keep all those letters of mine, that Pa kept, for me until I come. I only wish & I do pray, that I was more worthy of the love & care of such a father, & that his teachings & example had borne more fruit in my case. I can yet try & I do & will trusting in a stronger power than my own will, but the twig has been bent & the tree inclined for so long, that it seems almost impossible to straighten it again. Our lives in this world I believe are always a struggle to do better even unto the end; that is those who try at all. The best of us never attain to anything like the standard set before us. That is my comfort & the knowing that the more we try, believing in the mercy of God through His Son, the more He helps us & the more hope & peace of mind he gives us.

I have been here all alone to day by myself & you can never imagine a more terribly lonesome fellow.

It becomes worse and worse every year. I am quite well though & eat & sleep well & enjoy the superb weather we are having, and think a good deal of you all.

My best love to Ma & the children & believe me ever your fond brother




Source: Photocopy of original, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 g, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Katie Hall, 2018 June 21


1. Edward Virginius Valentine (1838-1930) was an American sculptor born in Richmond, Virginia. He became one of the most accomplished sculptors of the Reconstruction era, specializing in portraiture of Southern and Virginian notables. One of his most famous works includes the Recumbent Lee statue at Washington & Lee University.

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