<br /> Lee Letter: c002

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Annette Carter

The reception of your letter of the 18th ultimate from Cedar Grove my sweet Annette has given me great pleasure. It was very kind of you and Ada to think of me. You must have felt that I was thinking of you and longing m see you. I hope no young men accompanied the parry of young ladies to Cedar Grove in whom you and Ada took such delight, or I shall next hear of you two being engaged as well as Ella Calvert. I cannot however otherwise understand how the injury occurred to Ada’s arm. I can nevertheless sympathize with her, for the other morning on dismounting from my horse, in attempting to give her a lump of sugar – she is as fond of candy as a young girl – she got hold of my finger in her eagerness and bit it severely. It was owing to my awkwardness and not her fault, but still you see I can write. I wonder if Ada’s was owing to a bite? I suspect that “small package” you propose sending me is your sweet little self. You know you could send me nothing that would give me so much pleasure. If it is, send it right off and bundle up with it bright-faced Ella. She will make it very little larger and if you tell the Postmasters you are coming to your Cousin, they will forward you with care and despatch. But if it is not, it will be useless to send it, for it would not pass through the P.O. of Queen Anne, before it would be taken and sent to Billy Bowie; how then could it escape the cupidity of the Texans? You must not risk it then, Annette, but keep it and I will keep as a Xmas gift your letter instead, which I prefer to any package except the one I have mentioned.

I was very glad to learn from your letter of the well-being of all at Cedar Grove and Goodwood. I think of the occupants of both very often and hope some day to see them again. I may have the opportunity soon, for it the Union is dissolved I shall return to Virginia and share the fortune of my people. But before so great a calamity befalls the country, I hope all honorable means of maintaining the Constitution and the equal rights of the people will be first exhausted. Tell your father he must now allow Mayland to be tacked on to South Carolina before the just demands of the South have been fairly presented to the North and rejected. Then if the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are denied us, and the citizens of one portion of the country are granted privileges not extended to the other, we can with a clear conscience separate. I am for maintaining all our rights, not for abandoning all for the sake of one. Our national rights, liberty at home and security abroad, our lands, navy, forts, dockyards, arsenals and institutions of every kind. It will result in war I know – fierce and bloody war. But so will secession, for it is revolution and war at last and cannot be otherwise. We might as well look at it in its true character. There is a long message Annette for your father, and a grave one, which I had not intended to put in my letter to you, but it is a subject upon which my serious thoughts often turn, for as an American citizen I prize my government and country highly and there is no sacrifice I am not willing to make for their preservation save that of honour. I trust there is wisdom and patriotism enough in the country to save them, for I cannot anticipate so great a calamity to the nation as a dissolution of the Union.

But now I will turn to other matters. What are you and Ella and Mildred and May doing? The latter is enjoying her school I hear. Mildred was in Baltimore, and Ella I understand is as sweet as ever. You are all therefore in a happy state. You must give my love to all and be sure sometimes to think of your Cousin. He is as forlorn as he can be, is surrounded by a parcel of men and hears nothing but Indians. But he is not going to tell you a word about either. There is a handsome young fellow here though. If I send him on for you will you come? He wears an embroidered jacket, with a black plume in his hat and a long sword by his side. You would soften the aspect of this country amazingly, which I confess is hard and uninviting, and if the troops are withdrawn from it, will soon be reoccupied by our red brethren. A sergeant and twenty men from the post above me recently followed a part of twenty-five nine days, who had been on a marauding expedition and punished them severely, killing fourteen, capturing three and forty-five horses, their camp &c &c. They are constantly prowling around us and occasionally suffer severely. I arrived here a few days before Xmas. I do not know how long I shall remain at this spot but there are several others of the same sort within reach of me. And now sweet Annette I will tell you goodbye, for there is nothing else here to tell you, as you will already have discovered, and will think of you always.

R. E. Lee

Notes:

UNKNOWNUNKNOWN

Transcription based on dealer’s catalog.