<br /> Lee Letter: a018

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: William F. Wickham

My dear Sir

Since I had the pleasure of seeing you, I have examined the accounts of Mr F. Nelson, during the eleven years that he has had charge of Mr Custis’ Estates. Many of his debits, or charges against Mr C. are not supported by vouchers at all, or the vouchers are not in the proper or necessary form. While in the other hand, accounts of sales credited in the settlement of others, are not entered to his credit in a manner in which they can be recognized or understood. I have made a statement embracing each point requiring explanation & substantiation, as well as such arithmetical errors, as I have discovered. Should my engagements permit me to revisit New Kent, I have no doubt a personal intercourse with Mr N would enable to arrive at a satisfactory settlement. I have today red orders placing me on a Genl Court Martial to convene at Carlisle Penna on Monday next; & I fear upon its adjournment, it will be necessary for me to repair to Texas. In that event it will be desirable to some other person to attend to this matter, & upon mentioning Mr Custis your opinion & recommendation of Mr Wm Overton Winston of Hanover, he has desired me to ascertain whether he would be willing to undertake it. Mr Richmond T. Lacey, of New Kent has also been recommended by Mr Francis L. Smith of Alexa as a suitable person, & as it is probable the character of both gentlemen are known to you, I have determined to ask your advice, & should you think that Mr Winston would be the most suitable, to avail myself of your kind offer to ascertain from him, whether he would undertake the business, the compensation he would expect &c.

It would be necessary for him after receiving the account & papers submitted by Mr Nelson, to explain to him the information & facts required to substantiate his accounts. Obtain from him & the merchants &c with whom he has dealt, everything necessary for their clear elucidation, & restate the whole account in a legal & proper manner. Rejecting all erroneous & improper charges & shewing the true balance. I have recently visited Baltimore with a view of obtaining from McConkey & Parr, a statement of all sales made by him. This he has promised to give, but like Messrs Haxall, & Warwick & Barksdale, of Richmond, he will be unable to furnish it immediately. This may cause more or less delay, unless Mr N. has been able to find the orginal accounts of sales, or can furnish such information as to dispense with them. I have been thus particular, that you might if you deem it necessary, give to Mr W full information before his entering on the business . . .

Very respcy &c

R E Lee


Transcribed in Francis Raymond Adams, Jr., An Annotated Edition of the Personal Letters of Robert E. Lee, April, 1855 – April, 1861, pp. 80 – 81. Addressed to Wickham “Near Hanover Ct House Va.” When copying to his letterbook Lee omitted some text before the closing.