<br /> Lee Letter: a048

Washington and Lee University

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

I commence my dearest Mary my weekly bulletin. I have but little to say, except to express my gratitude at my own continued good health, & my hope & trust that you, your father, all the dear children, & our friends are enjoying the same blessing. I lament much I cannot hear from you, & therefore know nothing how any of you are or what you are about. The only person of whom I have even heard indirectly, since your letter of 7 Sept is Fitzhugh. I heard that he was in Boston just a month since with a party of his companions & well. I hope he is doing well, but I more frequently hear of him away from than at his college. He has however arrived at an age when he ought to know the value of his time, & feel the responsibility of his acts, & I hope this knowledge & this consciousness, will guard & inspire him.

The time is approaching when I trust many of you will be assembled around the family hearth at dear Arlington to celebrate another Xmas. Though absent, my heart will be in the midst of you, & I shall enjoy in imagination & memory, all that is going on. May nothing occur to mar or cloud the family fireside, & may each be able to look back with pride & pleasure at their deeds of the past year & with confidence & hope to that in prospect. I can do nothing but hope & pray for you all.

In my last letter dated 26 Nov, I enclosed you my checks, dated 1 Jany 1857 on the Bank of Virginia, Richmond, & on the bank of the Valley of Virginia, Winchester, payable to the order of the Cashr Br Farmers bank of Virga Alexandria, for the Jany dividends. I also enclosed you my check of 1 Jany 1857 on the Br Farmers bank of Virginia, Alexa to your order, for the whole amount of the dividends &c. I sent to Fitzhugh, a draft on the Asst Treasurer of the U.S. at New York, for $200.00 to his order, in payment of his 2nd Qrs: allowance. I hope both letters will reach their destination safely, & I repeat here that should they not do so, you may take steps to arrest the payment of the checks. I sent the checks at that time, to take advantage of the steamer Atlantic, which had come over from New Orleans to the mouth of the river & was to carry back the mail, thinking they might reach you more expeditiously & safely. But I learn the steamer had departed before the arrival of the mail, which was to await the departure of the usual schooner. I therefore do not know when the letter may reach you. I wish you to apply a portion of the money in purchasing for the children some Xmas present, that will be useful & agreeable to the, or let them do it for themselves.

I last saturday visited Matamoros for the first time since my arrival here, though its sombre looking buildings have been in full view every day. I did not have but an hour or two in the afternoon, yet I found that was sufficient for every purpose. The town looked neat though much out at the elbows, & nothing apparently going on of interest. The plan or square, was enclosed & the trees & grass flourishing, for which I am told the city is indebted to Major Wm Chapman of the Qr Mrs Dept, who made the improvement, when it was in the occupancy of the American Army. The cathedral on one side of the plaza, is a large unfinished building, & however little attractive in its exterior is still less so in its interior. I shuddered at the exhibition of ignorance & superstition in the worship of the true & living God, as indicated by the senseless images, & offerings, around the walls, & the uninterested careless & wandering looks of the single worshipper on the floor of the building. I felt humbled that his creatures, upon whom so many blessings have been showered, should have so poor an appreciation of his majesty & goodness. On the opposite of the plaza was the Infantry barrack, with some soldiers lounging around a sentinel. On another side was the Arty barrack, in front of which were some guns & howitzers of brass & iron, whose carriages seemed nearly done & strengthened by raw hide. I soon walked over the town. The only thing that was attractive to me, were the orange trees loaded with unripe fruit, the oleander in full bloom, some large fig, date & palm trees. The enclosures were as dilapidated as the houses, & in many instances the gardens were entirely exposed to trespassers. The evening market contained nothing inviting to the eye or taste, & did not even attract a crowd. Some few people were moving along homeward with about enough in their baskets to feed a cat, & several soldiers were keeping order over a vacant, silent square. A few minutes inspection satisfied me & I recrossed the river.

The Court has done but little so far this week in consequence of the indisposition of Col Chapman who has only been able to attend one day. It is expected he will be well enough tomorrow. There are but two more witnesses for the defense to examine, & I understand he intends them to ask for an adjournment to await some more witnesses he has summoned from the States. I do not think it is necessary or proper. The Court ought to have finished its hearing a month ago, & I hope the Court will delay no longer. I cannot however tell what they will do. I have just recd a letter from Lt Garrard, the Adjt of the Rgt saying that there are a number of letters for me at San Antonio, but that he has been expecting me every day & is afraid to send them lest I should miss them. His letter has taken nearly a month to reach me, so it seems useless to write for them. Give much love to your father, Markie, mary & all the children & believe me

always yours

R E Lee


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. 219 – 22.