<br /> Lee Letter: v036

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Charles Carter Lee

My dear Carter

I cannot too quickly thank you for your letter of the 10th which Arr – d yesterday, giving me some of the facts in the case of Genl Gratiots dismissal from the Army. It relieved me from a load of anxiety and I well appreciate the considerate motives by which it was prompted. You can well imagine with what deep regret I learned of an event that displaced from the head of my Corps So able a friend and one to whom I was so much attached. When I call to mind the zeal and integrity with which he discharged his duties, the circumstances of his offence that have come to my knowledge, and the indulgences shewn to others having lesser claims, I can neither comprehend or account for a result that has deprived the Public of so able an Officer, or the Army of so worthy a member. Some of the main facts therefore I must yet be ignorant of. I cannot believe that he has been guilty of intentional or willful fraud. The Sum was too pitiful, and why not take the whole as well as a part. Nor could there have been any fear of Govt’s losing the Amount. His own property is more than equivalent for its payment, and his family here would have put down at a moment double the Sum to have shielded his reputation from a blemish or his name from dis-honour – So soon as the first rumour reached here one of his Brother’s in law met the other, and they immediately proposed, “you will pay one half of this sum and I the other” – The third Brother in law told me yesterday that he had that mor – g Sent his Son for the third time to one of those I have already mentioned that they must at once insist in paying the whole amount. Nor would he listen to my suggestion of waiting the decision of the Courts, even on the grounds of the Genl having no “other” means of proving the rectitude of his conduct, because he said until the Courts have decided “the County would look upon him as a defaulter.” You see the high estimate they place upon his character and my only wish now is that it should be proved spotless. Every thing else can be repaired or borne with. His own name, the feeling of his friends, the reputation of the Army and the standing of the Corps all combine to shew that if possible this should be reestablished. In the mean time what must be his feelings, and he is at once cut off from a support for his family, for his property is mostly if not altogether unproductive. I have just written to him. A melancholy and painful task. I wish I could afford him assistance equivalent to my sympathy. Should you learn any further facts, relative to this matter, even should they be unfavourable do let me know, as I wish to be informed of the whole truth. I do not know how it has happened that so long a time has passed without my writing to you, nor have I yet thanked you for your last letter, which gave us the first intelligence of the recovery of Mother and made us aware of the violence of the attack under which She had been labouring. I am glad that all our friends are now well. How I wish we could be with them these Christmas times, and what a contrast will our feelings on this occasion be to those we have formerly enjoyed. I have to day knocked off all hands. The weather has been intensely cold, and the running ice in the river has been accumulating from day to day for the last fortnight, and now comes down in such masses, that it is impossible to force our boats through it. It will take me the remainder of the Month to put things away for the Winter, and after closing my accounts for the year, which I hope to get through with early in Jan – y I know of nothing that will require my presence in St. Louis. But here we shall have to stay, as it would be impossible for Mary and the children to undertake a journey in the stage at that Season, with the thermometer at night – ranging from 10 to 20 degrees below zero – Could I look a little in the future, and know that I was not to be continued here next year, I would get a pair of strong horses, and some comfortable conveyance, and wend our way East Slowly, through the Suckers, Hosiers, and Buckeyes and thereby get a Sight of you the sooner, which would be prefarable to staying out here all the winter. From the recommendations to Cong. by the President and Sec – y of the Treasurer, I doubt whether they will make app – ns at all for works of Internal Impt. Or at any rate to a limited extent, and whether those I am on will be included or excluded is more that I or you can tell. I am glad to hear Such good accounts of little “Num,” especially that she has an affectionate disposition. Both the Boys are quite hearty. Mr. Rooney carries a wide row, and when offended struts about the room swelling like a turkey cock; The only person that he does not think himself called on to shew defiance to is his “Baba” I hope your furnace will prosper, and that you will soon be converting your iron into gold. You must remember us very particularly and affectionately to Cousin Anna, Sis-Nanie, the Masons, etc and all at Arlington – I am very glad to hear of Smiths well-doing and hope he may soon return to you all safe and sound. I will try and be a better correspondent – ask Cousin Anna if She recd a letter from me dated at the Rapids – It was mailed at Quincy and perhaps never reached her – We have been pleased to learn of Cousin Washy’s engagement, and a little surprised to hear that our precious Cousin1 Brit has been bowed down by the tender passion. What are Chas. Turner’s prospects with Miss Hill – Henry has just arr – d here and will be stationed in Genl Gaines staff – Mary joins me in best love to all, and would no doubt have sundry messages if she were not enjoying a “comfortable night’s rest” – I am tired so good night very truly

your Brother

R E Lee

Notes:

Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

This letter is addressed on the center of the fourth page to “C.C. Lee, Esqr, Ravensworth, Near, Alexandria, D.C – .” It is postmarked “St. Louis, Dec. 26.” In the upper right hand corner of the envelope portion is written: “Paid, Charge Box 305 – ” and the number “25.”

1 Beginning with this word the rest of the letter is written perpendicularly across the other two sections on page 4.