<br /> Lee Letter: a015

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee

I was glad to see dearest Mary by your addition to Annies letter, that the draft for Collins & Co had reached you safely & been so promptly disposed of that your other accounts had been paid. I am sorry that the poor Roon is so poor a financier & particularly that he taxed his Gdfather for his expenses back. I wish you had have furnished him with funds. I purposely restricted him that he might feel the inconvenience of his want of forethought, in the hope of correcting him. I do not know any other way of working a reformation than by letting him both see & feel the effect of his errors. My letters I fear have but a short influence. There is one thing with him however that I like & which always disarms & mollifys me. He is ready to acknowledge his fault & take the blame, & is frank & affectionate. God grant that he may in time get sufficient wisdom to see what is right, & strength to do it. I am glad you like the picture. It will serve to recall more vividly a view we have often admired, & a place that afforded us for a season a pleasant residence, & where we recd much kindness. I think it much better than a portrait of the old Supt & an object of more general interest to the visiters of A. You must get a handsome & suitable frame for it & hang it up in a good light. I told you in a former letter that I believed the report of Dr Simons death was erroneous. As far as I can learn he is well & at Fort Riley. What a dreadful catastrophe that was at Burlington! Capt & Mrs Boyce & daughter! What a terrible swoop in one family. And all so estimable & beloved. But the good alone are prepared to die. The accounts from Norfolk are heartrending. Among the victims to this terrible scourge I see the names of many former acquaintances. May it serve to turn us from our sins, & lead us all to him who alone can give relief. I do not know why you think there is cholera at Fort Leavenworth. There have been some cases there, but I do not know that there has been more than elsewhere in the West. No place is exempt from disease or death, & no place beyond the reach of a merciful God, whose arm has hitherto saved me in all dangers. I shall feel as safe there as here, or as if I was with you at A. Col Johnston arrived yesterday & will enter on his duties tomorrow. I shall be busy all the week explaining matters to him & at the close of the 15th it will be necessary for us both to start for Leavenworth, for he is on the Court as well as myself. That will leave the Regt: without a field officer, & render it necessary to call here Col Hardee and thus break up his arrangements & plans for the purchase of horses, in which he is now engaged. This will retard us again. I suppose however they know better at W how to arrange their matters than I do. I have heard today that Col J. E. Johnston is in St Louis on his way to Fort Leavenworth. His Regt. it is stated is to take the field on the 20th. They have only 500 men, & have taken a portion of our saddles, which we are in need of, to mount them. We have 800 men & 600 horses, & only 300 saddls. Thus we are delayed that they may be advanced. But as I said before they know best at W. Mrs. J. did not come on with the Col. as he only expects to be here a week. Mrs. J. E. Johnston I understand has been staying with her sister Mrs. Garesche in or near St Louis all this time but I did not know it. I do not know whether she will go with him to Leavenworth or not. Mr Fish the Chaplain has returned, & I went to church for the first time since my arrival. We had a slim congregation, several officers, 3 ladies & some of the soldiers. I was the only person who made the responses. So Mr. Fish & I had the service all our own way. I presume I was the only Episcopalian in the church. Dr Wright & his daughter, I am told are Presbyterians. Also Mrs May. I hope next Sunday it will be better. It was not generally known that there was to be service. I like Mr Fish very much. His sermon was plain & practical, & he was without conceit or pretensions. The day was very hot & my inspection this morg very long. The men, arms, Qrs & horses & equipments occupy much time. Just as begun to wrte to you this evg Mr Fish came & paid me a visit. I must now stop. Good night. Give much to your father, all the children, Markie &c. I am glad Laurence & Orton have been to see her. I will endeavor to write again before I leave. Truly & devotedly


R E Lee


Ely-DeButts PapersLibrary of Congress

Transcribed in Francis Raymond Adams, Jr., An Annotated Edition of the Personal Letters of Robert E. Lee, April, 1855 – April, 1861, pp. 67 – 69.