<br /> Lee Letter: v032

Washington and Lee University

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

Our Boats my dear Mary got here two nights ago, and I have determined to go at once up the river to the Rock river rapids to make the examinations there and at the Des Moines, before commencing those here, as I am afraid the water may get to low as to prevent us getting up. This would make it very uncomfortable as we should be obliged to part with our boats and go by land, would detain us much longer and put Uncle Sam to additional expense – Besides it is astonishingly hot here, Thermometer 97′ in the House, and it seems that rain will never fall again on this deserted City, But that it is doomed to be choked up in its own dust and dirt. The soil along this whole river is such, that it easily becomes ground into an almost impalpibable powder that is put in motion by the slightest wind and penetrates every where. It is now only ankle deep in the streets and when it gets knee deep what is to become of us? I am told that the Climate at the Rock river rapids is most delightful, cool and bracing. We shall at least get clear of the dust and as it is 350 miles further North am prepared to find it much more pleasant – We leave here this Ev – g for this purpose. I am quite exhilarated at the prospect of getting to work, so very tired have I become of lazing on our oars and daily urging thru that have been making some little things for us These are all done now But that everlasting Theodolite has not yet reached us. I shall wait for it no longer but do the best I can without it. There is only one drawback to our leaving here and that is we shall be so far from the P. Office. There is none up there nor can we reasonably expect to get our letters until we return here, unless by running a great risk of losing them altogether which I have no wish to do. You must write here as usual, and I will take advantage of the descending boats to advice you of our movements. I hope to get back here early in October where I shall expect to find all your letters and in the mean time may receive some from you if some kind Captain can be found to bring them up. I shall sincerely hope and pray that you may be all well and happy during that time, and as you will be returning to Arlington then our correspondence will be regularly resumed – Its interruption is a great deprivation to me and a source of great anxiety – I was much pleased on returning from an Even. Stroll on Friday last to find sitting at the supper table Mr Dimmock – He had had a long journey from Wash. and had been quite sick on the road (The letter that you Sent over to the Ind to be brought by D – the Ind sent me by mail, and I rec – d some days ago, as you will see by my previous letter) He left Mrs. D. and the children at Fredricksburg two of them quite sick with the Hooping-Cough, one of whom was little Mary Lee and being teething besides she was so low that D – – thought she could not get over it – He heard from Mrs. D. yesterday. She was no better and so weak that they could just hear her whisper – Poor D – in telling me of it and of his anxiety of leaving home at such a time, of the different points along the road even as far as Lousiville where he had hold of his trunk to get in a boat going back could not prevent his eyes filling with tears – God Grant she may be relieved, but if not he will take her to a better world – He went off yesterday mor – g up the Missouri river to Fort Leavenworth about 400 miles, where he has engaged to assist in running a Military road from about St. Peters on the Mississippi cutting the Missouri about 200 miles West of Fort Leavenworth and extending West of the State of Missouri to the Arkansas river – Genl Atkinson told him yesterday that he thought they might get through this Winter, but Maj. Smith who at one time was one of the Commissioners App – d (Since res – d from the Army) Says it will take five years. We went down Saturday to Jefferson Barracks – It is a very pretty place situated on the bank of the river, and it was very refreshing once more to get among trees and grass. It appeared as if we were in a different atmosphere and was the only pleasant day I have spent since I have been in this Country – We dined at Genl Atkinsons – Mrs. A. seems to be a very pleasant Lady, quite pretty, conversible and rec – d us very kindly – You may know that she was a Miss Bullet, whose Sister she came on with from Lousiville – The Ladies all enquired after you and my three children – We found Miss Dir – Sick, though she came down after dinner to see us – Dimmock and Dr. Huskill went down with us – We dined on Friday with the great Col. Benton – Saw Madame & Daughter, heard him talk a little about the currency and drank to our better acquaintance – Genl Gaines and several Officers of the Army were there – I got a letter from the Genl – yesterday in which he mentioned that he had seen you and given you my letter from Louisville – I was glad to hear that you were well, but regret that you had been delayed in your journey up the Country, by the breakage in the Canal – Henry Turner came down yesterday from Fort Leavenworth his station to get some Horses for the Dragoons – He looks very well and is much pleased with the West – Tell Boo that I am sorry he cannot give a better account of himself – And as for the Woman I know I shall hear nothing but good from her – But how is the little one? I feel very anxious to see him and to appreciate the great impt – s that you say have taken place – Kiss them all for me including Mother Remember me to all our friends wherever you go, and tell Cousin Nancy how happy I should be under her more than kind and hospitable roof this Summer. Write often my dear Mary to

Yur

R E Lee

Notes:

Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

This letter is addressed “Mrs. R. E. Lee, White Post – “near Alexandria” lined through – Care of David Meade, Clarke Cty, Va.” The return address is “BerryVille Va, Sept. 4th.” Also on the fourth page is what appears to be a list of items. Some are not discernable, but a few are, such as: 2 shifts, 4 shirts, 3 flannels, jacket, 2 diaper. This list does not appear to be in R. E. Lee’s handwriting.