<br /> Lee Letter: a071

Washington and Lee University

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

Finding my dear Mary an opportunity to San Antonio, I write to inform you of my progress thus far on my journey. I arrived here yesterday in a cold Norther, & though I pitched my tent in the most sheltered place I could find, I was surprised to see this mng on getting up, my bucket of water, which was sitting close to my bed, so hard frozen that I had to break the ice, before I could pour the water into the basin. On visiting the horses in the night, they seemed to suffer much with cold, notwithstanding, I had stretched their picket line under the lee of a dense thicket, to protect them from the wind. This is the second Norther, I have encountered since leaving San Antonio. The former which occurred on Wednesday (8th) was not I think as cold as the latter, though ice formed in my bucket the next night, Thursday. Three heavy frosts coming in succession, Sunday, Wednesday, & Saturday, has put an end I fear to early vegetables & all fruit. The young leaves of the forest trees are all killed, & I fear the crop of acorns & pecans will be much diminished this year, & that the wild animals as well as tame, will suffer next winter from the scarcity of food. To give you an idea of the abundance of the mart usually, Major Thomas was telling me today of a Mt Peters, who last year located himself on a stream, 12 miles distant, with a view of establishing a farm. He put in a crop of corn to furnish bread for his people, of whom he had a number, but in consequence of the droughth he literally made nothing, & he was reduced to gather pecan nuts to keep his people from starving. Finding them so abundant, he continued their collection for the market, & in the course of the winter gathered ten thousand bushels, which he sold in San Antonio at $1.50 per bushel, about as profitable a crop probably as he could have made. This being Sunday I determined to lie over here today, for the benefit of man & beast, & have been recd with usual kindness by all the officers, which I every where meet with. There are only three ladies at the Post. Mrs Thomas, Mrs Smith, (wife of Dr Charles), & Mrs Johnson, wife of Capt J. I could only take a bed in their parlour, which it was difficult to decline. I supped with Mrs Johnson, breakfasted & dined with Mrs Thomas today, & am to take tea with Mrs. Smith. The supper last night was so good & so much to my taste, venison steak, biscuit & butter, that I had little appetite for my breakfast this mng, though warfles, eggs, & wild turkey, were three dishes that it presented, & when dinner of wild turkey, tomatoes, french peas, snap beans & potatoes, was followed by a plum pudding, jellies & preserved peaches, I despaired of eating any of Mrs Smiths supper. What that will be, I cannot tell. But I shall take the road at day light tomorrow, which I hope will produce a favorable re-action. Mrs Smith was a Miss Campbell of new YOrk, niece of the Mr Campbell, member of Congress from the Cooperstown district I believe. She is a bride. Just arrived in Texas, & seems to be a quaint little lady, & pleasing in her appearance. I have only yet seen her for a short time last evg. Dr Smith is the son of our old friend Dr Chas: H. Smith of Norfolk, as I believe I have explained in some former letter. The kindness I always receive from my brother officers, & the sincerety & cordiality with which it is accompanied, makes me very much ashamed, of my meagre hospitality, when I was in a situation to extend it. I hope if I ever again hae the power, I will remember my present contrition & do better. John Shaaff, Mr Sam Hood & Mr Lowe are the only young officers of your acquaintance stationed here. This Post has the advantage of Camp Cooper, in providing habitable, though homely quarters for officers & men. The married officers have each two rooms & a kitchen, & the single ones, a room apiece. They are rough, but protect them from the cold, sun, & dust. This is Easter Sunday. I hope you have been able to attend the services at Church. Mine have been performed alone in my tent. I hope they have been performed with an humble grateful & penitent heart, & will be acceptable to our heavenly father. May he continue his mercies to us both, & all our children relatives & freinds; & in his own good time again unite us in his worship, if not on earth, forever in heaven! Give much love to your father, Markie, all the children. My darling Rob & Precious life, & all friends whom you meet. John Shaaff sends his regards to you, your father, Mary & the rest. He tells me Miss Nannie Johns is to be married to a Mr. Mason at the Seminary. Is it Richard? I suppose you have not been able to see anything of Miss Julia Kellogg in Washington this past winter. I continue my journey tomorrow. Will write next from Camp Cooper, which I hope to reach in 7 days. Farewell. May God bless you & restore you to health.

Truly yours

R E Lee

Mrs M. C. 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. 325 – 28.