<br /> Lee Letter: a084

Washington and Lee University

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

I recd dearest Mary on the 16 July at Camp Cooper your letter of 24 June from Arlington. The same express brought me orders from Washington detailing me on a Court of Inquiry at Fort Mason. I started next mng & reached Mason on the mng of the 6th at 9 AM. Hard traveling this hissing hot weather, with little water & no grass, but I was obliged to do it. The next night another Express from San Antonio brought orders for Col A. S. Johnston, Pres: of the Court to report immediately at Washington for distant service, & ordering me to San Antonio, to take command of the Regt: The next mng therefore we withdrew from the Court, & commenced our journey here, where we arrived at noon on the fourth day. I here found your letter of 7 July from Bath written after you had been there a week. I do not think therefore that I passed any of your letters on the way, as the former seemed to have been the last written from Arlington & the latter the first from Bath. Each have created in me much hope, which I pray may be realized, & that the improvement you fancied in your condition, may be real & may progress to restoration. Still should it not please God to grant our prayers or favour our efforts, we must not repine, but be resigned. Knowing that he will never afflict us but for our good, which though it may he hid to us is clear to him. Relax no efforts though dear Mary that affords a reasonable prospect of relief, & do not be deterred by the trouble or expense of doing that which promises probable restoration. I fear one thing militates against your recovery. You occupy yourself too much & overtax your strength. I wish you would not do that. Now that you have all your daughters with you, they surely could do what is necessary & if every thing is not accomplished that is desirable, enough will surely be done to satisfy necessity. What “many & arduous duties” ought you to have to perform, with the assistance around you. It is an imputation upon them. Perhaps though we attribute a different meaning to these words. I am glad to hear that dear Annie is improving in health, & infer from your mention of Agnes that she is at Arlington & I hope well. I am not certain that my letters to them as also to Mary & others were lost aboard the steamer Louisiana. This will also account to you for the interval in my letters to you previous to the arrival of those you mentioned of 15 & 18 May. I was under the impression I had cut off for yo the coupons for two years. That is for July 1856, & Jany ’57, July ’57 & Jany ’58. I presume from what you say I had forgotten; & it was merely two separate semiannual dividends. I hoe you look at the dates of the coupons, before cutting them off, or you may run aground. Your last letters confirmed my expectations, expressed in my letter of 6 July (enclosed check on Bk: of Commerce of $200) of Fitzhughs acceptance of the commission of 2nd Lt. I hope it will turn out for his benefit & that he will now be satisfied & no longer exclaim against his fate; but set himself to work diligently to prepare himself for his duties & endeavour to acquit himself honourably of them. He will find that every position in life, has its drawbacks. Had he have entered West Point at the time he desired he would not yet have graduated. He has therefore gained one years rank & is above all of the class that entered in 1853. Equivalent to two years rank. These are not slight advantages, which he should not overlook. I have not heard anything from him since his appointment. As far as I can now see, his Regt is destined for California. I am very sorry that Custis has been hurried off to San Francisco so abruptly, & hope he may have been able to bid you, his Grdfather & sisters farewell. I suppose there was some reason for it, or something that made it advantageous to himself to go out in the steamer of the 5th Inst. I trust so at any rate. Now that our sons are fairly launched forth on the everchanging & tempestuous life they have selected for themselves, we can scarce hope to see much of them in this world. Probably they & I will never meet again. If they can only carry in their memories our unceasing love, & anxious efforts for their welfare & happiness, it may when no other monitor is near point them the course they ought to pursue. In the hands of a merciful & tender father, I have placed my all, & to him I resign them.

This movement of Col Johnson is perplexing to me. I do not know what “distant service” they can design for him away from the Regt. It is not usual, & I have thought it probably they may intend the Regt to follow him. This embarasses me in my preparations for my sojourn her. Whatever probability there was in the rumour you heard of my being recalled East, is now diminished by this order, for though scattered as the Regt now is from the Brazos to the Rio Grande, the presence of its field officers is not so important. Still should it be necessary at any time to unite it, they would then become essential. Genl Twiggs has directed me to take up my abode here, which I shall therefore have to do; but except so far as it puts me in quicker communication with you, the change to me is not desirable. I prefer the wilderness of Texas to its cities. In a few days, however, when the matter is fixed, I will rent me a little house on the bank of the San Antonio, where I can at least enjoy the bathing. All my camp fixtures are behind & expecting to come no farther than Ft Mason when I started, I only brought my field habiliment along. It will require but little to set me up. Tell sweet Mary Childe, that I cannot expect her to love me as much as she does her Uncle Smith whom I know to be very sweet fellow, & whom I too love dearly. But she may be assured that no one can love her more than I do. I long to see her. I hope there is a mistake in the report you heard of Miss Sally Taylor. One of the Compeys I left at Fort Brown I know find here. Lts Bell & Graham say when they left they were all well. That the Col was expecting orders to FLorida & intended to take his family with him. I of course did not allude to the woman you mention. I know nothing of the Col: more than I see. He has always appeared to me a most affectionate father. Perhaps ill judged in some things & rather indulgent. He does not bear in the Army the character given him in B[altimore]. The friends of Genl Huston are making day hideous with drunkeness, rioting, & blasphemy, & bawling themselves hoarse, in their applause of his speech now going on at the barbecue given him in rear of the Plaza where I am staying. I have reced a very delightful letter from Childe at the WHite Sulphur. Also one from Carter. Give much love to all

as ever Yours

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. 381 – 85.