<br /> Lee Letter: a070

Washington and Lee University

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

I am about to commence dearest Mary, my return to Camp Cooper. I fee very sad at going farther from you, when I so much wish to be going to you. But I pray to God to give me resolution to deny any inclinations, & a willingness to submit to any punishment for all my misspent time & the sins of my life, he may think fit to inflict; & that it may be the constant practice of my life to be pleased with all he chooses for me; that when sickness & death approach, I may be prepared to yield my will to his. I hope the coming Summer will not be as wearisome as the past. But that it may bring you health & me contentment.

After many efforts to procure a cook that promised some comfort, I have engaged one, of the same pretensions as he last. I hope he may be as good, & indeed if he is clean & respectable, I would wish for nothing more for myself, but I like to have something good for my friends& companions even in the wilderness. When you have to give $20. a month, you are led to expect some return, though $25. a month failed to induce one who was said to be better to leave the town. I shall give him a trial in the plains tonight, though if he proves incompetent, I shall have no means of replacing him.

I will before going farther, despatch what I have to say on business matters, which is mostly to repeat what I have already said, for fear my letters may have miscarried. On the 28th Ulto: I sent you my check No. 125 of that date, on the Bank of Commerce in New York for $200.00 to your order, & on the 4 April I sent you my checks on the Bank of Virginia, Richmond, & Bank of the Valley, Winchester dated 1 July for the July dividends, payable to the order of the Cashr Br Farmers Bank, Alexa & an order on said Bank payable to your order for the whole amount. You can draw it therefore as you please & dispose of it as wanted. As regards Marshalls bond &c in relation to which you asked, should he pay it in July, I think it had better be invested in State bonds, either Missouri, Virginia, North Carolina &c as may be most advantageous, & a note to Mr Riggs in Washington in my name should you not be able to avail yourself of the aid of some friend, would accomplish it. You will have to add to it enough of the coupons for the purpose. I know that the R.R. bonds are cheaper but they are not so certain, in the payment of the interest, & very fluctuating in their value, & when making a permanent investment, I think it best to be as secure as we can in anything in this world. Do you learn whether the Ches: & Ohio Canal will ever resume payment of the interest on their bonds. Cas: Carter can tell you. I have nothing to add on the subject of Robs school, to what I have already said, & should Fitzhugh wish to return to Cambridge & finish his course, I have no objection, & indeed think it best for him to do so, provided he thinks it advisable & intends applying himself to his studies. Otherwise he might as well quit one time as another. I merely give you my sentiments in advance, that you may know them and act upon them. The officers & their families have been very kind to me here, in many ways & I have enjoyed their society much. I miss Col & Mrs Myers very much but Capt & Mrs McLean have come in their stead, that is socially, & Major & Mrs McDowell in the place of Major & Mrs Buell. I dined with the latter (Major & Mrs McD) a day or two since. They have two french women whom they brought from New York who do all their household work. One is an elegant cook judging from the dinner & dessert, & the other, the waiter &c. They had Charlotte Russe, macaroni & a variety of cake, all of domestic manufacture, with imported preserves for dessert, though I believe the Charlotte &c was prepared by Mrs. McD. Dr & Mrs McCormick have also been very kind to me. She I believe is from Baltimore or Annapolis & was formerly the wife of Dr Wells of the Army. She has one little girl, Nannie Wells, about 12 or 13. Mrs Chilton has just sent me some nice ginger nuts for my journey, so I shall be well prepared. Major Chilton is absent at this time on a paying tour, & the last time I went to see her, she had one of her headaches, which at times distress her very much. I shall not have an opportunity of writing again until I reach Camp Cooper, & from that point you know, you must allow one month for the letters to reach you & one for an answer to get back to me. You must therefore write regularly without waiting for replies, & endeavour to anticipate as far as possible everything concerning which you desire my opinion. Give much love to your father. Tell him I go back without a cat, he my know how lonesome I shall be. You must also give much love to all the children, present & absent, Markie & all friends. I hope Mr Winston is going on well at the White House. As regards Mr Nelson, I am utterly at a loss what to do at this distance to bring him to a settlement. I fear he is much in debt to the Estate, or rather your father, & there is no way of compelling him, except by process of law, & from what I hear, he has no property to meet any balance that may be found against him. I hope soon to draw something from Mr W on the subject. May God guard & bless you all, & have you in his holy keeping, is the constant & earnest prayer of

yours devotedly

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. 320 – 23.