<br /> Lee Letter: wl058

Washington and Lee University

Sender: R. W. Jones
Recipient: Robert E. Lee

Dear Sir:

Though I feel that it is hardly right for me to trespass upon your time, so important to you, so far as to ask you to read my letter and reply to the same, I trust when you learn the Circumstances of my writing, you will deem them a sufficient apology for what justly seems an unwarranted liberty. I seek a situation as Professor in some Institution of Standing, wherein my services would command a comfortable living for myself and my small family and wherein I would be expected to give instruction in only one department of Knowledge, and thus have time for study, self-improvement and for endeavoring to acquire reputation in the Literary and Scientific worlds. I know you are widely known and that your influence is great. I have indulged the hope that I might gain your influence in my favor, and thereby obtain such a situation as I desire in the College over which you preside: or if there is no situation I could likely get in Washington College, may be, you can inform me of some desirable one elsewhere. The Professorship of pure Mathematics, mixed Maths, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry or either Ancient Language or both would be acceptable to me. In thus making an application to you, it is proper I should tell you something of myself, for tho’ you are no stranger to me I am, doubtless, one to you. I graduated at R. M. College with M.A. in 1857: taught school thereafter with great success & entire acceptability to my patron for two years. In 1859 became a student at the University of Va, and at the close of my second session, July 1861, the degree of Master of Arts was there conferred upon me. The war had already commenced and as soon as my duties at the University were ended, I hastened home and soon joined the Army. I served as an officer of the 12th Va Regt (Inf’y) Mahone’s Brigade, A.N.V from that time until the close of the war. And if there is and part of my life of which I can justly feel proud, it is of my career as a soldier. I entered the military service thro’ a sense of duty and not thro’ enthusiasm. The same thing feeling kept me constantly at my post. I participated in every battle, save one, in which my Regiment was engaged during the war. I was twice slightly wounded. I need not say more. I have testimonials from the faculty of R. M. College and the University of Va respecting my character and qualifications and for information concerning my career as a Soldier I refer to Brig Genl Weisger, Maj Genl Mahone, Maj G. B. Cook, Lieut Col H. E. Peyton and many others if necessary – The last named gentleman I refer to especially, because he was a personnel friend many years before the war.

My home was near Hicksforde Va, and I, therefore, lost nearly all I possessed during the war and by its decision against us. I have now no reliance for a livelihood but my own exertions. Finding no employment for a long time after returning from the Army, in April, I have lately taken the position, I now hold, of Principal of the Warrenton Fem Institute: but my salary depends upon the patronage, which is small, and my attention is very much divided between a variety of subjects to be taught by me.

I feel that I can achieve more for myself and accomplish more good to others, by teaching in an Institution of higher grade than this and on a different plan. I know not how to procure such a situation but by writing to such as one in a situation to impart information and lend assistance. I do not ever hear of a vacancy until it is filled. I will be very grateful if Genl Lee will be kind enough to answer this letter, and I can only say that while I cannot make any adequate return for such favor, his reply would be honored and prized as I have ever appreciated whatever came from the hand of the beloved Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. With great respect,

Your most obd’t servant

R. W. Jones
Prest Female Institute Warrenton N.C.


Robert E. Lee CollectionLeyburn Library, Washington and Lee University

Endorsed by Lee: “23 Jany ’66 R. W. Jones applies for Professorship of Mathematics, Philosophy Chemistry, or Languages And 29 Jany.”