<br /> Lee Letter: a035

Washington and Lee University

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

I have heard nothing from your dearest Mary, since your letter of 14 July, which I acknowledged on the 11 Inst: I will repeat for fear of the miscarriage of my letters, that on the 28 July I sent you my check of that date of the Br Farmers Bk: of Virga at Alexa, to your order for $400.00. On the 4 Aug, I sent you my check of that date, on the same Bank, to your order, for $200.00. And on the 11 Aug, I sent you my check of that date, on the same bank, to your order, for $200.00. Making in the whole $800.00, which I hope will reach you safely. I hope my not hearing from you by the last courier from san Antonio, results from your having left A[rlington] for the springs in pursuance of your plan mentioned in your former letter, & not from continued indisposition. I think though among all the children around you, some of them might have found time to have informed me of your movements & condition. The courier alluded to, brought me an order to repair to Ringgold Bks: on a Genl Court Martial for the trial of Major Giles Porter, which is to convene on the 1 Oct. R. Bks is situated on the Rio Grande, opposite Camargo, & I have thus to traverse the entire length of the state. From the most northern to the most southern part. It will take me a month to get there, & I shall leave here on the 1st prox. I do not expect to get back till about the middle of Nov. Write to me however regularly as usual. I will make arrangements, to have my letters stopped at San Antonio, & shall get them though not as regularly as if stationed here. What I most regret is that I may not be able to relieve your father of the trouble incident to a change of managers at the White House. If however he decides upon accepting Mr Winstons offer, he had better write to him directly & so inform him, & give him such directions as he thinks best. I can afterwards write to him more particularly, in time for his guidance before 1 Jany.

I believe I told you of having found here letters form Mrs Stiles & Miss Cornelia Van Ransselaer. The former was alone in Cass with Wm H. Her eldest son Henry was engaged to be married to a Miss Gordon. A match that pleased them all very much. They had failed in obtaining a cadet appt for Robt. Mrs. Lowe had gone to England to spend the Summer. I suppose though Custis has given you all news of them. She said she had written to you in Feby last. Cornelia V R writes they are living in New York. Their house on the St Lawrence was struck by lightning & consumed by fire. Fortunately they were all in New York at the time. It seems their eldest brother is at Columbia College there. They were to spend the Summer at New Port. She sent much love to you & M[ary]. We have some ladies here now. Of Capt Caldwell & his family I believe I told you. Lt McArthur of the Cavy, attached to one of the Compies, arrived a few days since. He has a little wife, 2 children, & a niece about 14, & their only domestic a negro woman, has an infant. I took them into my tent until I got some place to put them in. Such a time they had of it. It furnished them little else but a shade from the sun, a narrow bed for the children to sleep on. The little negress sprawled on the ground. Some bread & molasses satisfied the young ones, till dinner was procured, & some wine & water refreshed their elders. I had a couple of tents pitched for them on the bank of the river & after tea, they moved into them. Fortunately I had sent down the river that mng and procured some eggs & butter, which was a great treat to them, & which I divided with Mrs McA to commence housekeeping on. She is quite a pretty little woman from New York, & her eldest boy Selim, is a piece. People do not know the misery they entail on their children & society by bringing them up badly & yet what have I done? John Shaaff has been promoted to a 1st Lieutcy, & I was in hopes, would have been sent to one of the Compies here. But his Compy is stationed on the Colorado, about 175 miles south of me. I am very sorry, for I had hoped to have had him with me. He was well when I heard from him. I told you in my last Mr Radziminskis departure. I also told you all that I had to say about Fitzhugh & his plans, & the other children. I wish them all to go on with their education, & hope they will endeavour to improve themselves & apply themselves to their studies. Next Spring I wish Robt to commence at St James, & to remain there till he graduates. He must this Fall learn all he can at Mr Tippetts. If he will learn perfectly Latin, french & arithmetic & can write a good hand, he will be qualified to commence anything. Let him never touch a novel. They paint beauty more charming than nature, & describe happiness that never exists. They will teach him to sign after that, which has no reality, to despise the little good that is granted us in this world, & to expect more than is ever given. Instill in him industry & frugality, & teach him to be prudent, before he is liberal, & to be just before he is generous. He must study human nature, more by experience than precept. Learn to guard himself & his actions, & not to be deceived, by the low, the cunning & the vicious. Give a great deal of love to all the children, your father & all friends. I will write again before I leave. I trust this may find you well, & that you will have a pleasant trip & all return to A in perfect health & happiness. I fear you are not sufficiently provided with money & wish you had taken as much as you wanted from that left in your hands. Yours

very truly

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. 153 – 57.