<br /> Lee Letter: a022

Washington and Lee University

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

I have thought it best dearest Mary before going farther into the country, where my communication with the regular mails will be rare & at long intervals, to put you in possession of such funds as I have available in Alexa in case your own wants or those of the children should make an unexpected demand upon your purse. I ought now to have in the Bank $95.50; & a draft I gave on the Bank of Virginia at Richmond, what had not been paid when I left, for $185.00, would make $280.50. There may be some deduction from this amount as I requested the Cashr of the Bank of Virga as I passed through Richmond to reissue the certificate of some stock purchases long since which had been lost in its transmittal to me, & pay the charge of publication &c. This will not be however more than $5. So there will probably be $275.00 available. I wish you would when you want the money, see Mr Marbury the Cashr of the Farmers Bank in Alexa & ask him to fill up the check with the amount to my credit in Bank & then endorse it,w hen you can draw the money. Let me know the amount you receive. I hope it will supply your wants till the July dividends come in. I do not wish you to restrict yourself in clothes or your pleasures, of the children in what is needful for them, so far as your means will permit & I particularly wish that you will allow yourself what you want, & always array yourself as becomes a lady. A second New Orleans mailhas arrived since my arrival here, but it has brought me no letters. I hope you are all well & doing well & that I may yet hear from you before I depart. I am still waiting for my baggage, which I hear is on the road, but in consequence of the horrible state of the roads, high waters &c cannot get up. Capt & Mrs Jones, whom you may recollect were my fellow travellers from New Orleans, & whom I left at Indianola only got up last night, though they had a six mule team for their luggage, & a four mule ambulance for themselves. Capt Lindsay who left in the stage two days after me, was ten days on the road. So I have no reason to complain. It has been raining ever since my arrival here I believe but for one or two days, & is raining still. The mud is indescribable to those not acquainted with the soil, & with breeches rolled up to the top of my boots I plunge through regardless of its depth – followed by my faithful Achates Mr Radziminski. The officers stationed here are quite comfortable. They each rent a cottage house of the country, & have such necessary furniture as can be procured from New Orleans. Their table furniture & little ornaments that they carry with them, is very neat; & some quite handsome. Among those stationed here whom you know, are Col Myers, Qr Mr Col. Andrew Porter of the Rifles, Major Chilton Pay Mr, Major Lloyd Beall, Major Buell, Capt Blair, Capt Gibbs Capt Maury &c &c. Major Chilton married Miss Laura Mason, & Major Buell Mrs Genl Mason. She I should think was some ten years older than her husband, & does not look juvenile as she feels. She has with her, her two daughters, Emma & Nannie, who were at the Priors with Mary. They are grown up & seem to be quite nice young ladies. They are certainly very skilful & useful. Make their own drapes, & the most beautiful bread, rolls, biscuit & cake I have ever seen. Their mother must be a great manager & has everything very nice around her. She has a very old woman for a cook who formerly belonged to the Masons & two little boys larger than Billy, as her only domestics. The boys do all the housework, dining room, parlour & chambers, & the elder the baking of the bread &c, to relieve his Grdmother, the cook. They were clean & nicely dressed, & waited admirably at a little tea party at which I assisted the other evg & Mrs B informed me were her only attendants at her receptions diners &c. I have dined or teaed with most of the officers & all have been kind & hospitable. They all seem to have their own servants, & as they have no superfluity, appear skilful & useful. I have engaged to go along with me a Frenchman, who was once in the service of Col Hardee of whom he speaks favourably. I do not know how he will answer. He promises well. I have heard nothing of my man Henry & do not know whether he is with the Regt or not. I hope my effects will arrive today, in which event I will leave tomorrow, though the country is covered with water. There seems to be no prospect of the cessation of rains. I have added to my personal property, some camp chairs, tables, a little crockery & some cooking utensils, in the event of being able to use them. Being unwilling to go into the wilderness entirely unprovided with the means of extending aid or hospitality to my friends. For myself unless I can have things very nice, I care little for expedients. I find that the common white crockery cost here exactly the price of the white french china, we purchase in Baltimore. I only got however 1 doz plates, 4 dishes, 2 vegetables, ½ doz cups & saucers, tea pot, sugar, &c. I get very tired of tin, when used constantly. Genl Smith left last Tuesday for New Orleans. He took with him his wife & Dr McCormick. Saturday there was to have been a sale of his furniture &c, but was on account of the rain postponed till today. It is doubtful whether it will be any better. He seems to have made his arrangements to be absent some time, & yet has left no one in command of the Dept, or as far as known, to have notified the second in command of his intended departure, which is my Colonel A. S. Johnston. This may be all right, but is contrary to what I have been taught, & hitherto believed. Tell Mary the Misses Mason send love. Give much love for me to everybody, your father, Martha, the children, & all friends. If detained, I will write again. Take care of the check & have it correctly filled up & endorsed before payment.

Very truly & devotedly

R E Lee

Direct here to me.

Notes:

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. 90 – 93.