<br /> Lee Letter: a024

Washington and Lee University

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

In my letter of the 26th Inst: I expected to leave dear Mary next day. But after dispatching it, in making my preparations, I discovered I could not get a pound of grain for my animals, & in view of the very little grass in consequence of the very backward Spring, I determined to wait till tomorrow, as the Qr Mr expects some wagons with a supply today. I am delighted at the detention, as the Expressman from San Antonio has brought me your letter of the 7th Inst: with the cheering intelligence that all are well, for which I am deeply grateful to the Great Giver of all good & mercy, & the reception of which I will acknowledge before I go farther. Your letters to New Orleans ought to have met me there, but have probably miscarried. I inquired at the P.O. Examined the list of advertised letters & inquired at the Qr Mrs office, wehre all Army letters are sent, when not called for, but found nothing. You must be particular in your direction. Always add “U.S. Army,” for perhaps “2nd Cavalry” which you generally superscribe, may be confounded with State Cavalry, & the letter be thus thrown out of its course. I think it safer also to get the stamped envelopes, as on them the P.O. stamp cannot be lost. I hope the letters may still come to hand for though of older date than the one just recd I should not like to lose, as everything from you is interesting.

I am glad to hear that the papers sent from Richmond reached your father safely. You must let me know when he wishes me to act in the matter. After reaching the Clear Fork, I shall write to Mr Winston to let me know how he progresses. I am very glad that Mr Smith has sent him his written opinion. I do not think that we ever accomplished our purposed visit to himself & wife. He has always been very kind & attentive, & I regret not having done it. As regards your household arrangements, & what concerns your fathers comfort & welfare, as well as your own; you must yourself act, & not rely on him or wait for me, as the opportunity or necessity may be lost. At his age & present state of life, persons prefer their matters being accomplished by others, if well & satisfactorily performed. I feel that coming on me myself. We do not attach the same importance to objects we did when younger, & I hope our children will come to our relief in the same way at the proper time. Be prudent therefore & circumspect in your management. What you cannot get done at the house by the servants, buy, or hire persons to do, as far as the means at your disposal will permit.

On the 17 Inst: I sent you from San Antonio a check on the Br Farmers Bank at Alex for all the money to my credit in bank, which I supposed to be about $275.00. This will be sufficient to pay the $229.96½ due for the girls tuition at the end of the present term, & which I hope will therefore enable you to pay it at once. Should it however not yet be available, you can get from the Bank the package endorsed with your name, & you will ifnd six coupons of the Hudson River R.R. Bonds amounting to $240.00 due either the 1st of April or May, & six coupons of the St. Louis Bds due 1 June amounting to $180.00, which the Bank will collect for you before the rest become due in July. You can therefore thus pay Mr Sheffey before the end of the term. The coupons you do not require I wish placed to my credit in the Bank of Metropolis Washington, & to be informed of their exact amount, that I amy transfer it to New York, to meet the demands from Fitzhugh &c. This you can delay till the last of June or 1st of July if more convenient, or if you should not want any of them before that time, postpone the whole till that time. Take then what you want, & have passed to my credit the balance. I hope you sent my Rob some salve & sticking plaster. Tell him he must not cut his precious self. Now that he is separated from Precious Life, he has no one to take care of him. How is he & how is he getting on? I hope he is studying & trying to learn. You must encourage Fitzhugh to apply himself to his education & to endeavour to improve his present advantages, & not to have to regret when too late, opportunities lost. When you write tell me of all the children. I am glad that Washington Peter has succeeded in finding a place to his liking, & to hear that it is such a nice one. I hope my Cousin Jane will be pleased with it. I am particularly glad to hear of Cousin Britts recovering from that afliction of her face. I hope she will now grow fat and strong. she has suffered a long time. I believe I can add nothing to the account I gave you in my last of persons & things here. All are well & very kind, inviting me to their tents & all meals. Mrs. A. S. Johnston is a very pretty & sweet woman. Is intelligent & well adapted to her position & life. She employs herself in teaching her children all the mng. 2 boys & a girl, & while superintending the preparation of their lessons, occupies herself in painting the birds & flowers of the country. She has much talent that way & is very successful, & is anxiously looking forward to the time of arrival of the Spring flowers. Mrs Richd Johnson, wife of our Regimental Qr Mr, seems quite au fait at camp life. I have taken tea with her twice & though her dining room is a canvassed porch, her kitchen a tent, & her servants few, everything was very nice & inviting. She would put her two little boys to sleep in her own bed, for her bed room is her only room & then invite us into the porch to tea. She has staying with her a Mrs Arthur whose husband Capt Arthur of the Infantry has recently died at Fort Chadbourne, & she poor lady is endeavouring to work her way to her friends. Mr Johnson has pitched her a tent in front of his door, where she sleeps & is waiting some opportunity to San Antonio. Fortunately she has no children, or at least I have seen or heard of none. She is carrying with her a large vase of reptiles in alcohol. Rattlesnakes, tarantulas, centipedes vinegrones &c &c. The latter is a ferocious looking animal, with claws something a crawfish, a long wire tail & is said to be very poisonous. It emits an odour like vinegar & hence its name. She caught them at Chadbourne. She said she had to leave her fine cat there, which she much regrets, it being considered unfortunate to remove him. But as I have no such superstition, she has given him to me. & I shall endeavour to carry him to the Clear Fork as I pass through Chadbourne. She describes him as a dark grey, with rings around his neck, legs & tail & is called Peter. I have not yet seen Mrs Palmer. She had invited me to see her but I am putting off till the last moment this evg. There is besides Mrs Oakes, a Mrs. McArthur, wife of Lt McArthur, 2nd Cavy. Major & Mrs Thomas have not yet arrived. Capt Travis’ trial is progressing still & I suppose will continue all next week. I forgot to mention among our acquaintances Capt. E. K. Smith, who was at West Point. John Shaaff, Robt Wood, Mr Dick, Mr. Radziminski Mr. Wheeler &c &c all send regards. The latter includes Ella with our young ladies. Tell Helen Mr Dick has a lively remembrance of her. I understand Lt Cross, brother of the one that married Miss Ritchie, now at the Clear Fork, has resigned. I am sorry to lose so good an office & gentleman from the Regt. Give much love to your father & all the children & believe me

Always yours

R E Lee

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. 103 – 7.