<br /> Lee Letter: wl117

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert W. Lewis, Jr.
Recipient: Robert E.Lee

My Beloved General;

During a recent visit to Rev. Saml Beach Jones, Bridgeton, New Jersey, I attended a Lodge of Free Masons, and was thrown in contact with ex-members of the Federal Army, one of whom informed me that he had in his possession one small volume of Scott’s Poems, the property of yourself – given him by a soldier, while visiting the camps near Arlington.

The man did not consider himself culpable, and readily offered to let me forward the volume to you. For some cause he has failed to send it to me, though I offered to pay postage, and make a special pilgrimage to lay the small tribute of love at your feet, – a relic of vandal spoil of your family home. He gave me his word that he would deliver it up. I feel sure of getting it eventually.

If you care for such small articles I will endeavor to reclaim other articles, scattered among those people who are ashamed to keep them, and I will be proud to humbly serve you. You are the only man alive for whom I would do menial service even, and feel no degradation. I am, my dear General one of your veterans who learned to love and serve you, as a Father, and a second “Army of Northern Virginia,” will make you a Dictator or Emigrate with you to Australia, if you call us, as I heard you call Johnsons Division at the rout of the Spotsylvania Horseshoe. “I thought I had brave men.”

Will you be so kind as to advise me, for the benefit of many valuable young men, my friends, who contemplate emigrating to Mexico or Brazil. We love Virginia, and I have always heard that our General did; now would our Commander advise us to remain in Virginia or not? Considering all things, would you General, advise a true Virginian to find his duty and happiness for a permanent home; in Virginia or elsewhere?

I have longed to ask you this question for months, for you would not deceive any one, still less your soldiers; – if you can bear the degradation of our position, (no real degradation) we all can – for you were the Soul of the lost cause.

Will you also answer a question for me, – in which as a Mason, I feel great interest – Are you a Master Mason? Or a higher Mason?

If I have troubled you; – you will burn this sheet & forget it, but if you will take the trouble and no doubt valuable time, to reply, you will repay me for much of suffering in a lost cause, by convincing me that our great Commander still cares for a private of that once invincible army.

For your visit to Genl B. before the 1st Manassas – where I first saw you – to the last sad scene at Appomattox CH, I have followed your course in the Bulletins, or your track on the war-path: I was with you in agony & defeat, and you are the only Man that I ever saw, – advise me.

By our thin line at Sharpsburg, by our victorious colors at 2nd Manassas, our fruitless thunderings & sullen retreat from Gettysburg, by the untold losses in a common cause – or a common devotion to Virginia; and finally by your paternal relation to the Army of Northern Virginia, I ask your advice. Your words shall be sacred & private if you would have them so, – for some fanatics may desire your home. As I was your faithful standard bearer in war – I am ever Yours

faithfully to command –

Robert W. Lewis Jr.
Cobham Depot Albemarle Co. Va.


Robert E. Lee CollectionLeyburn Library, Washington and Lee University

Endorsed by Lee: “2nd Apl ’66 Robert W. Lewis Jr offers to restore some books taken from Arlington – Ask advice etc Ansd: 6 Apl.”