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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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




Feb. 9th 1867

My darling Mother

I arrived here only last monday—so you see I made quite a prolonged stay in Balto & one would presume that I had had a uncommon fine time. But some how I did not owing to myself entirely I expect for every one was very polite & kind. Any how I am glad I am safe back home. There is nothing truer & straighter to the point then the line of the old song “there is no place like home”. I have felt that feeling intensely strong during the war with regard to the place where my tent was pitched—all ways glad to get back to camp—felt more settled—knew what to do. And the same way I feel to wards this ranch, which in point of comfort is but little better than a tent & in point of society & gaiety far inferior.

And I shocked the good people of Balto by telling them I was homesick. I saw every body in Balto pretty much–all your old friends at least as far as I remember them except the Wimans—I do’nt know why I did’nt get to see them for I intended to do so. Dr Williams had possession of me for two weeks that is during the morning & he put my mouth in a thorough state of uproar & did it with very little pain for which I am truly grateful. Saw a great deal of the Hugers—the Gen had just gone south so I missed him. Celestine has a fine little boy Willis (her oldest) & the youngest boy died short time previous to my arrival. They all are perfectly devoted to & rapt up in Willis or Rowdie. But Preston as he calls himself & every evening after dinner every one must devote an hour & a half to amusing him. His Uncle Ben plays on the flute & his mother on the piano for him to dance & his Grand Ma builds wonderful log cabins which he kicks over & the company are all ways expected to bear a hand. Saw Col Marshall & his wife—took dinner with them. They are very snugly fixed up & Mrs M is exceedingly pretty. The Col is very devoted in his way—which you know, is a peculiar one. Saw Shirley & made a point of going & seeing his fiancée Miss Mary Swann—who seems to be a very nice person—not a beauty at all—but a very quiet, sweet lady like person. Shirley looks very badly & seems in terrible bad spirits—owing I think to the way people talk of his being about to marry “Tom Swann’s1” daughter. You know the old gentleman stands very low amongst the “bon ton” of Balto & nobody visits or knows the family—that is to say no one that Shirley knows well—none of his relations & old friends. Saw Dr Post & all the family cousins Lum2 & Bella to boot. Cousin Mary Post had been very sick—but was recovering. The Dr looks as well as could be & his friends think he will get into a practice if he can wait & work his way. Every body likes him—but not enough for all of them get sick. Went to Belvidere once or twice & Mildred & I took dinner there with the family & with Mr & Miss Bulluck—the latter is lovely in every sense of the word—the former you know your son was placed at the foot of the table in front of a mammouth gobbler (?) & told to carve it—which he did with his usual grace & elegance. Mrs McKim looks very sad & is so very much broken. Miss Margie & Mary are perfectly charming & if I had not known your very strong objection to my marrying any one older than myself I would have let up the breaks Mrs Lee & tempted fate for I was just in that state when I had to carefully consider & weigh every word I uttered for fear of making them think I was spooney3.

They certainly are two of the sweetest lovliest [sic] women I ever saw or heard of. Tell sister I went to see the Robinsons & was invited to dinner & excepted. All the young ladies are engaged now. Miss Rosa gone I was too late. Miss Aggie was to have been married the middle of this month. She has been very sick all the winter. I forgot to tell you that Mildred arrived in town before I left. Came around by land was escorted by her beaux in sleighs to the nearest rail road some thirty miles & thence by rail to Balto. She is looking very well—better than I have seen her for a long time & seems to be enjoying her self very much. She told me in confidence that she had taken the masking ink & had it but as to the guilt she nor I could exactly make out what you meant by that insinuation. I saw all the Kerrs except Edwards little child. Mrs Kerr is very feeble & can not move by herself at all. Miss Dandridge from Winchester Phils sister is living with them. Cousin Edmund Rogers I also saw & his wife but did not see his children. He is one of the gayest men about town. I think he is going to be just like his Father in his ways which will be dreadful—but it strikes me he is tending that way. I got your letter when I was in Balto enclosing one to Robbie &c which I return. I brought Dr Buckner’s note away in my pocket but I have mailed it to him. I did not stop in Alexandria going or coming, though I would have spent an evening there returning but missed the connection in Washington. Passed Arlington in the evening both times so late that I could see nothing. Alexandria & Washington what I saw of them are perfectly horrid. I saw Fitzhugh in R-d as I came back also the Caskies. I wrote a short note to Pa from R-d. Tell him I got my mules in R-d for $900 00/100 for six pretty fair mules not quite so large but seemingly very good. I have the privilege of exchanging or returning if they don’t suit. I went to Lynwood for three days & was very much charmed with all my cousins there though I am afraid I bored them all for I was quite unwell & was so snowed up that I couldn’t relieve them of my company. I have written a long letter dear Mother & told you all. I am very well & am going hard to work as soon as the weather will permit. Had one chill in Balto which I was calling on Shirleys lady but I bought a bottle of Dr Osgood as I was going up home & cured it at once. Love to Custis & the girls & Papa & believe me your

Loving son




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

Transcribed by Katie Hall, 2018 July 27


1.  Thomas Swann (1809-1883), a politician and Alexandria native.

2. Columbia Wingfield Williams Upshur (1828-1886), a great-great-grandchild of Martha Washington.

3. Slang for being foolishly in love.

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