<br /> Lee Letter: a044

Washington and Lee University

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

I wrote to you my dearest Mary, this day week from Ringgold Bks: On the following day I embarked aboard the steamer Rainbow, with the other members of the Court, five Comies of the 5th Infy the ladies, women, children & baggage of the detachment, for this place, where we arrived Monday evg. I had to leave behind my waggon, tent &c & my servant who was sick in Hospital, & finding here an empty room, Major Thomas & I encamped in it. We each brought along new bedding, & as we are enabled to get our meals at a very good restaurant in Brownsville, have nothing in the way of living to want. The Court resumed its business <illegible>. Major Porter has entered upon his defense, & I suppose he will make no objections to his own questions, or the answers of his own witnesses, & that we shall proceed faster. I fear however that Col: Waite, the pres: of the Court, who does not seem able to do but one thing at a time, will create great delay by wanting time to attend to the embarkation of the troops, all of which it seems to me might be done in hours when the Court is not in session, by making proper arrangements & giving the proper directions. But as I have not it to do perhaps I am not the proper judge. Fort Brown is the most comfortable Post I have yet seen in Texas. There is no beauty in the surrounding country, being one unlimited flat chapperal, interspersed, or rather dotted with a few cultivated spots along the meandering of the river, but within the limits of the Post there is an air of comfort & life of which the others I have visited are destitute. The buildings are good & abundant & arranged with some order. The yards are enclosed with convenient outbuildings, & the trees & grass in my eyes are objects of beauty & interest. There is a large parade ground covered with luxuriant grass, bordered by young but flourishing pride of China trees. The quarters are also much shaded by trees of the same character, & around some are large oleander & pomegranates in full bloom. The vicinity of Brownsville & Matamoros, affords many conveniences in the way of living, though perhaps in other respects may be objectionable. The Post is separated from Brownsville by a <illegible> fence & gate through which open out the streets. Matamoros is opposite but a mile or so distant. I have not yet visited it. Brownsville is a quiet little village, neat & orderly with many good stores &c &c. I was particularly struck by its order & quiet on the 4th Inst, on which day besides the election of Presidential electors, the election of a Judge took place. I saw in the evg in returning from my dinner a few happy Mexicans, who perhaps were a little excited from the enjoyment of their liberty, but there was no drunkeness, noise or disturbance, & everything passed off harmoniously. I understand that the Buchanan ticket prevailed in the country, & that a Mr Davis was elected Judge. His opponent was Judge Bigelow, one of Major Porters counsel. The residences in Brownsville though small are comfortable, & many of them have very pretty gardens around them. The roses, pomegranates, poncianas &c are in full bloom & the orange trees though young are filled with unripe fruit. Lettuce, okra, string beans &c are still green & vigorous, & green corn & sweet potatoes seem to be abundant. I have made but two visits in Brownsville. One to a Mrs Moses whose husband is an agent in the Qr Mrs Dept: & she seems to be an acquaintance of Mrs Wm Chapman whom you saw at Governors Isd. & who now resides at Point Isabel in this state. Mr Moses is a jew, & his wife belongs to the same nation. She is a pretty little woman & a fine musician, & gave us some operas on a new piano, she had recently imported from New York. My other visit was to Mr Pasmore ( spell the name according to its pronunciation) & wife. He is the episcopal clergyman of Brownville & is chaplain to the Garrison. He has a church in B which I hope to attend tomorrow & lives in quite a comfortable house near it. He tells me he was a student at the Seminary near Alexa, & was frequently at Arlington, where he saw you, & heard of me. He looks quite young, & has black hair & eyes & dark skin. His wife is from Jersey. I do not know where he is from. He was returning from the States last winter & in descending the Mississippi in the Mediator was near to losing his life in the conflagration of that steamer. His mother, wife & child were with him. His mother died in New Orleans from her burns, & his wife is still pallid & emaciated from the indisposition produced by her sufferings & exposure. Her little girl I did not see. I have also visited an old acquaintance of mine whom I have not seen since the Mexican War Dominguez the famous guerillen chief, & captain of the spy camp that engaged in our service. In approaching the city of Mexico, I was frequently thrown with him & on several occasions took with me in my reconnoissances, portions of his compy as guides & escorts. He has changed but little. His eyes hair & whiskers are as black as formerly, & I had no difficulty in recognizing him. I did not expect him to recognize me with my long grey beard, though he said he did & mentioned various points where he had accompanied me. He left <illegible> Genl Scott during <illegible> They were sent here & his troop have scattered. He leaves <illegible> on the outskirts of B but I know not how he employs himself. He says Brownsville is very male. He has been unwell for the last two years & is much reduced in flesh. I understand he is not in the best repute in the community, perhaps on the ground of dispising the traitor while loving the treachery. Which seems to be the universal sentiment of man. I hope my dear Mary you are now well, or at least improving. I do not know when I shall hear from you. I am farther from San Antonio than before & now see no chance of a letter until I get there. Give much love to your father, Markie, Mary & all the children. I have written to Fitzhugh & Childe. Write & direct to San Antonio. I trust you are all well.

Yours truly & sincerely

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. 199 – 203.