Some Personal Letters of Robert E. Lee, 1850–1858
William D. Hoyt, Jr.

Note: The following is taken from the November 1946 issue of The Journal of Southern History (volume 12), pp. 557–70.

Notes and Documents

“Fighting is the easiest part of the soldiers duty. It is the watching, waiting, labouring, starving, freezing, wilting, exposure & privation, that is so wearing to the body & trying to the mind.” These words from a letter written by Robert E. Lee to Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte in February, 1855, show that the man who later became the military leader of the Confederacy had a real understanding of the feelings of the soldiers under his command. The letter itself is one of an even dozen in a correspondence between Lee and the son of the ill-fated match of Baltimore’s Betsy Patterson and the Emperor Napoleon’s brother Jerome–all of them in the Bonaparte Papers at the Maryland Historical Society.

The first three letters were written from Baltimore, where Lee was in charge of the construction of Fort Carroll in the harbor, and two of them were dated during the summer or early fall months when Bonaparte was out of town. The last letter was penned from “Arlington,” the Lee home in Virginia looking across the Potomac River at Washington. The others were scratched off while Lee was busy with the many details of his work as superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point. All the letters have a friendly, chatty quality which does not appear so clearly in Lee correspondence previously published.

Various subjects were discussed in the correspondence. There is much discussion of the progress of young Jerome Bonaparte, Jr., as a cadet at West Point, his appointment as an instructor in French, and his possible transfer to the dragoons. In the letter of March 12, 1853, there is an interesting comment on Lee’s superintendency, with some indication that he did not find the work altogether pleasant and would be glad when his tour of duty came to an end. In many of the letters there are remarks on affairs at West Point, with references to the continuous stream of guests, the morale of the corps, and the troubles of individual cadets; and also—very often—glimpses of a man busy with details of reports and other administrative routine. Possibly most important of all are Lee’s comments on the Crimean War and the siege of Sevastopol, remarks based on his own experiences in the Mexican War a few years earlier. Throughout the letters are cheerful messages to Mrs. Bonaparte, revealing Lee as something of a gallant.

Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte (1805–1870), the recipient of the letters, was a prominent citizen of Baltimore, who devoted his time to the management of an extensive property which he had acquired through inheritance and marriage. Although he did not take an active part in his mother’s campaign to obtain official recognition of the American Bonapartes, he did go to France during the period of the Lee correspondence and succeeded in having his son (the Jerome mentioned in the letters) accepted as a member of the imperial family and commissioned in the French army. Mrs. Bonaparte was Susan May Williams (1812–1881), daughter of a Roxbury, Massachusetts, merchant. The “Charley” of the letters was a younger son, Charles Joseph Bonaparte (1851–1921), who later served as a secretary of the navy and attorney general in Theodore Roosevelt’s cabinet.

Baltimore 19 Sept. 1850

My dear Mr Bonaparte

Upon the reception of Mrs Bonaparte’s letter with your postscript; I despatched a letter to Capt. Brewerton;1 asking if necessity did not require it, & it could be done, with justice to Jerome and the Academy, that he be allowed to retain his military appointment in the Corps, & to waive the academic appointment of ass. teacher of French. But it was too late & the deed was done. I am glad to find by your letter of the 12, that you are more reconciled to the change, which I do not think will be to his disadvantage, or will interfere with his being made Adjutant, when the necessity of his present office ceases. Perhaps you think like a sensible man, that when a thing is done, nothing remains but to make the best of it. That is right. Still I must not leave you under the impressions you entertained when you first wrote. You then seemed to be at a loss to reconcile the kind feelings, which you believed Capt. B. to entertain for Jerome, with his present appt. If the appt. of an asst. Teacher of French was necessary, it is surely a compliment to Jerome’s knowledge & character, that he should be selected. That is plain. But should it be necessary to make one from his class, it would be doing him injustice, who stands first to select the second. That I would object to. And if Capt. B believed that Jerome was the fittest person in the Corps for the situation, his duty to the Institution & justice to the cadets of the fourth class would require him to appoint him. You see now the disadvantages of having a son, whose services are necessary to the Country. This necessity may pass away with the present term. In that case, I think it very certain, that he will be restored to his mil: rank, & appd Adjutant next encampment. His present work at the Acady is however above that of his fellow Cadets, & next to the Command Officers.

Tell Mrs Bonaparte, I had sat down to write to her, & thank her for her kind letter of the 9, which as I did not merit, I did not expect; but the uncertainty of its finding her in Winchester, & my unwillingness that any letter for her, should be hawked about by the Postmasters, deterred me. I nevertheless am truly grateful for her kindness & duly appreciate it.

The houses in town all give indication of the return of their occupants. Windows are open, brushes are flourishing, & dust flying. Yours still retains its closed impassiveness. Mr Meredith has come back charmed with Jenny Lind, & the people here are in extacies at the announcement this morg; that the Frong St. theatre, has been engaged for her performance,2 & that the Germania Band will again this winter, gladden them with their soft music. All the Belles of the city are said to be engaged, which has caused the belief in others of their sex, that the millenium is at hand. Mrs. Lee has been much occupied in assisting one of her Virga Cousins, Miss Stuart, whom you may recollect having seen here last Spring, select her wedding paraphranalia. It is finished, & I have just been summoned to pass judgement on the dresses, that have arrived from Miss Browns.

Tell Mrs. B. I have sent her message to Custis, who will be greatly delighted at it. Rooney send his love & begs she will pardon Grace for declining her polite invitation for the 2nd Oct. at 12. She never attends the feasts of the foxes who have lost their tails. He says how you must regret the sacrifice of Nobles graceful appendage. You would now have a pair of them.

All join me in kindest regards to Mrs B. Mrs W. & yourself, & in the pleasurable expectation of the arrival of the 1st Oct. Please present me in an acceptable manner to Dr & Mrs Hoffman & believe me very truly yours

R E Lee

My dear Mr Bonaparte

I have just recd & read a review of the “Memoir on the U.S. Arty.” The memoir itself I have not seen, but I think you will be able to get at its spirit if not its merits from the pages of the reviewer.

If you would like to read it, please return it me as early as convenient, as it has been loned to me, with a request that it be returned. We are progressing with the measles & I think our invalids are better today, at least more comfortable.

With our best regards to Mrs B— I remain very truly yours

6 Feby [1852]

R E Lee

Baltimore 31 July 1852

My Dear Mr Bonaparte

My brother has a small package for his son Fitzhugh, which he is anxious he should get, as it contains some necessary clothing he inadvertently left behind. May I therefore ask the favour of you or Jerome to hand it to him, that being in my opinion the surest way of its reaching him.

Tell Mrs B— she has taken away a great part of my regret at leaving Baltimore by going away herself & diminished my reluctance to reach W.P. by placing herself there. I am very glad to hear that you both have recovered from your fall. I saw John yesterday. He said all were well. & the horses nearly recovered from their injury. One horse entirely.

Mrs M Louis & the Judge have gone to Cape May. Mrs L has been at A— for some days. I go on in the 4 O’Clock train. All my things are shipped for N.Y. I have wound up my matters at S. except settling the accounts—

Remember me to Mrs B Mrs W & Charly & believe me very truly yours

R E Lee

West Point 12 March 1853

I should have sooner acknowledged, My dear Mr Bonaparte, your letter of the 27 Ulto, but have been obliged to save my eyes for the service they had to perform that was indespensable. I have not how ever been the less thankful for your kind recollection, nor sympathized the less with Mrs. B. in her indisposition, because I could not say so; & indeed tell her I am not certain that their affection was not caused by their furnishing a vent to my overcharged heart. But they are better now & I infer therefore that she is well, & truly hope that you are also released from your confinement & are enjoying your horse & exercise as usual. I understand that your good temper has remained imperturble under the whole and & there is only one more test that I wish to see it put to, before being satisfied that it is the best in the world. What a blessing it would be if it could only be possessed by the Supt. of the Mil Acady! My friend Charles Carter is mistaken. I am not dissatisfied. Nor has any soldier cause to be, while endeavouring to perform his duty. That duty may not be pleasant to him, & there may be circumstances attending it, distasteful & unpalatable, but while assigned to its performance, he has no right to be dissatisfied, still less to express it. As to the truth of your prediction time as you say will alone shew. I can only say that it has worked but little progress so far, & that I should pay but little attention to my feelings could I hope that a portion of what you kindly say I shall accomplish will be realized. I have more at heart the prosperity of the Academy than my own pleasure, while under my charge I shall administer it to the best of my ability But when called upon, shall relinquish that charge with more cheerfulness than I felt reluctance in undertaking it.

I am very glad you get such pleasing accounts from Jerome. He has all the qualities to make a good soldier, & where he can perform most service will always be most agreable to him. His life of active service must be improving to him, in body & mind, & his temptations to those pleasures so captivating to the young, far less I think, than when aggravated by the idleness & listlessness enjoyed in Barracks & Cities. For my part I have no fear of his falling into such habits. He ought to be above their reach & I take it for granted he is. Still you & Mrs B. must aid his goodly nature, & make the life of virtue & rectitude so agreable, that he can live no other. I suppose you will have seen Lacy & Ives on their route through B— I can therefore tell you nothing new of them. I must also leave to them to report the news of the Point. I do not know whether we have had more than the usual alotment of Colds, Catarhs, Scarlet fever &c. But such complaints have been & still are very prevalent. The weather is wretched. Snow, wet, mud, mud, wet, snow. It snowed all yesterday, hailed all night & is now raining. Dr Simons was so ill yesterday I had to telegraph to New York for a Surgeon, & recall Dr Cuyler from his leave.3 He is better this morg. Mrs L. has been suffering from Cold, & I presume my eyes are indebted to the same cause for their pleasant state. My young friends are as well as usual. Some of them come to see us every Saturday. But I fear they find the Supt & his dame, dull commodities in the interchange of social pleasure. When you & Mrs B— come on to see us, we shall be more in favour. You said nothing of Charly & Mrs Emily H— You must bring them with you. I hope you got to the ball in Washn. The 1st Class are in communication with the tailor, the hatter, the boot & trunk maker, & do not envy the Emperor, in his acquisition of a grand Empire & beautiful Empress. I wonder which is the happier in their anticipations! Mrs. L. joins me in kindest regards to Mrs. B. Mrs H. Jerome, Charly & Mrs Wms. The mail is closing & I remain always most truly yours

R E Lee

West Point 19 March 1853

My dear Mr Bonaparte

I have just recd your letter of the 17th Inst. & lay aside my writing to answer it. I am very glad of the step you have taken in reference to Jerome. I was on the point of sending you a note by Ives for that very purpose; but was restrained by the thought, that it might prompt you beyond your natural suggestions, & that you & Mrs B— could better judge than I whether the transfer would be profitable to Jerome. In truth I think he prefers the Dragoons & the service in the field, & will have seen nothing as yet to change his views. My present objective is therefore more to advise, should Jerome prefer to remain as he is, not to think yourself, or lead him to think, that he or you are under obligations to accept the transfer, but to let him exercise his own predilection. It is better I think that he should feel the stimulus of pride & emulation, than that he should run the risk of disgust. He will have an opportunity of consulting his taste, with the benefit of some little experience & I would let him exercise it, free & untraneled. If he does not wish to accept the transfer, it will not be improper for him to decline it. Genl Scott will understand it, & you can tell him that it was by my advice that he so acted—

I hope I have made myself understood—I have written between the receptions of the Professors with their weekly class reports & must now close to get my letter of this mg—

I am sorry to hear Mrs B. is still sick. Tell her I wish I was there to cure her—Mrs L would join me in all regards & love had she the opportunity.

If Jerome does not accept the transfer he can be restored to his former position, before the graduation of the present 1st Class, & no one will be thereby injured or have a right to complain. You are probably aware that Genl Scotts Head qrs will be changed to New York the 1st Proxo. Remember me to all friends—I will not speak of your letter till I hear all is satisfy arranged Very truly

R E Lee

West Point. 11 April 1853

My dear Mr Bonaparte

By the first mail after the reception of your letter of the 31st Ulto. I wrote to Genl Smith at Phila. according to your desire: & have delayed replying to you, in the hope of recg from him an answer. I have not yet heard from him, & conclude that my letter has either not reached him, or that he did not think it called for an immediate reply. The only thing that I see now necessary to be done, is to get the Secy to act upon your application. Perhaps there is some delicacy felt in transferring an officer from one Corps to another, in the absence of an application from himself, or some exigency of the Pub. Service. But if Col: Craig4 wants more officers, as I understand from your letter he does; as one has been taken from him for another branch of the Service, he could with propriety apply for another to fill his place, & either name Jerome, or let the nomination be made according to the recommendation of the A— Board. In that way Jeromes claims would be brought up.

I think some fine day you had better run down to Washington, just to see how the wind blows. I will write to some friend to recall the matter to the Secy, who has probably overlooked it, in the multiplicity of affairs requiring his attention. An application from Jerome would bring it up at once.

Louis passed some days with us on his way west. I have never seen him look better, or more cheerful & happy. He was much pleased at seeing his old Comrades, & I was particularly pleased to find at dinner, that he invariably refused to take wine, & even with his classmates at parting. I commended his act at the time & hope he may always continue in the same disposition.

Lacy spent but a single day with us, & was only one day behind Louis. He having arrived the day L. left.

I am glad Mrs B. has met with Col Loring.5 I formed his acquaintance in Mexico, & thought him very gentlemanly in behaviour. His service was new to him, but his deportment & conduct good. I am sorry to hear his health is so bad.

I am very sorry to hear that Mrs B. has suffered from another attack of erysipelas. Tell her if she will come on here, our mountain air & mountain fare, will soon eradicate every thing of that kind. Bring her on in May. I shall not take otherwise, your message by Lacy as any excuse for your promised visit in June: Indeed tell Mrs B— I think she had better not go to the White Sulphur again, but had better come & stay with me. I recd last week a letter from the Commander, at the Cape of Good hope, who sent his particular regards to “Madame B. & Lady E.”

Mrs. Taylor & Captn & Mrs Jones are here. They arrived Friday & came Saturday evg. to help us entertain some of our Cadet friends—Mr & Mrs Sidney Brooks are to join them at our house this ev— & tomorrow we are to be honoured with the Compy of Sir James Alexander, & Col D’Urban of the British Army.6 You & Mrs B— ought to be here for them.

Mrs Lee joins me in kindest regards to yourself Mrs B. Mrs W & Charlie. I wish this to go by this morngs mail & must therefore close with our remembrances to Mrs Emily Very truly yours

R E Lee

West Point 11 May 1853

My dear Mr Bonaparte

I am too sorry that your kind intentions of visiting us at the Point should have been frustrated just on the point of execution. I should have been particularly glad to have seen you, & I want much to hear of Mrs B— & all in Baltimore. So she has determined to go to the W.S. I see that W.P. is retrograding fast in her affections. The sooner I get away from it then the better. I wish I could go to the W.S. with you. My health is failing fast, & if I could get hold of a Dr sensible enough to see it, she might have other of her Army friends with her this Summer, besides Col P— & Campbell G—

I cannot help regretting the decision of the Secy in reference to Jeromes transfer, though think that he himself will thank him for it. I have always supposed, perhaps erroneously, that his consent to enter the ordnance, was caused by his desire to gratify your & his mothers wishes, but that his own predilections were against it. I therefore could not enter into the matter with my whole heart. As it is decided however, we must all be reconciled, & believe that it will eventuate for the best. His present service will be more agreable to him & his promotion more rapid. He used to say to me in his modest way, that he thought he would make a very poor ordnance officer & a tolerable dragoon. I delayed replying to your preceding letter in the hope of seeing Genl Smith during his visit at New York. About the time I heard of his return to Washington, I was much occupied with my own & Mrs Ls distress at the death of her mother & the consequent events. Lt Huse7 went on to W— last Friday to see if he could accomplish a transfer to the ordnance. I presume he had heard of the Secs decision in Jeromes case, though I do not know, as he said nothing to me of the object of his visit. I concur with you in hoping that Genl Scott may be gratified in the appointment of the new Inspector Genl. If the Pres: had have taken the appointment in his own hands, I believe he would, but I consider it now very doubtful. Col Scott is an excellent man & good officer, & though there are many men in the Army who may be considered as having greater claims, I think that all would be willing, as a personal gratification to the Genl, that he should get it. I have heard men named for the office, whom I do not think so deserving as he, or who would fill it so well. Remember me to the Judge & Mrs M. when you have an opportunity. What will Mrs B do after the departure of Dr & Mrs Hoffman? I have no prospect of seeing either of you until you return from the W.S. Cannot you bring her on here then? She will want to get the fashions of New York for herself & Charlie. You must fulfill your promise at all events. One of your citizens, Miss Gittings, left us yesterday, & two arrived, Capt & Mrs Chiffelle. We are getting on as usual. The Examn is close at hand, bringing pleasant anticipation to many. I hope all will be realized. Mrs L. is still with her father, who has had an attack of Pneumonia, but is pronounced better. I do not know when she will return. I am glad you get such gratifying letters from Jerome. Remember me to him when you write. Give my best love to Mrs B— & kind regards to Mrs W. Very truly yours

R E Lee

West Point 31 May 1854

My dear Mr Bonaparte

I am very glad to hear that you & Jerome are about to embark for France. It will be as agreable to you as beneficial to him, & I think you can fairly take great pleasure in comparing him with his Princely relatives. Where worth makes the man & rank is but the stamp, his head can tower as lofty as the best.

I am very sorry that you will not have time to pay us a visit, but can readily understand your engagements. You forget that the Examination commences tomorrow, when you speak of my being in New York. I should with much pleasure go down to meet you, but you will see that it is impossible–I am much obliged to you for your kind offer to take charge of any commissions, & you will see by the enclosed that I have taken advantage of it. You must also remember me very kindly to Mrs Hoffman if you see her, & do not forget to give Mrs Lee’s & Bonaparte’s regards to the Dr.

I hope that you will have a safe & pleasant voyage, & much satisfaction from your visit, & that you & J— may speedily return to us —

I shall certainly see Mrs B— as I pass through Baltimore, & as you expect to return so soon, will hope to find you there on my return to W. P— I have much to do, & have besides to meet Mr Washn Irving at dinner to day—8Wishing you both every happiness I remain most truly yours

R E Lee

West Point 4 Nov 1854

My dear Mr Bonaparte

I was much gratified at the reception of your letter from Paris, & should have acknowledged it at once; but there was not time for my answer to reach you before the day appointed for your return to this Country. I watched for the arrival of the Indiana & Baltic, but happened not to see the list of Passengers in the Africa, & it was not till several days after her arrival, that I learned you were among them. I then sat down to congratulate you on your safe return, but was called off, & put off, by divers matters, visits from various great Military Commanders of the Country &c, & finally by the Secy of War & Adjt Genl, & my paper is still lying before me, as I left it.

Yesterdays’ mail brought your very acceptable package of Maps of the Seat of War, which increased my mortification at not having acknowledged your kind letter or welcomed you back, & determined me amidst the Comparison of Muster Rolls, forwarding accounts &c not to let this mail pass without my doing so. I must first express my great pleasure at your safe return, & the hope you found Mrs B— & Charlie well. I know it made them happy. My feelings were so harrowed at the terrible Catastrophe of the Arctic, that I became anxious about all friends on the Water, & was sadly disappd at not seeing your arrival in the Indiana or Baltic, as I would then have felt assured of your safety. I am also very glad at the pleasant and satisfactory visit you had in France & the kindness of your reception by the Emperor & Country. I hope Jerome will never have cause to regret his leaving us, & feel sure, of his adding to the lustre of his name & distinction of his family. Now that he is recognized as one of the Princes of the Empire & placed in his proper position, our regrets at his leaving us ought to be diminished, though we see the probability of our also losing the father & Mother—I am very much obliged to you for the Maps & shall examine them with much interest. I have only had time as yet to glace at the several sheets & enjoy their perusal in anticipation. I only fear you have deprived yourself of them, in which case you must let me know.

The Secy left us yesterday after a three days visit.9 He went through the Several Sections of each Class, Barrack, Academies, Stables &c & seemed to take much interest in the condition of things. Whether he will be able to improve them I know not. There is but little doubt, but that the Admn will be in a minority the coming Cong—& the oppn in the following will be overwhelming—We are all well & all unite in much love & every kind wish for Mrs B— & yourself—Tell her I want to see her now more than ever & regret very much that I cannot get to Baltimore the purpose. The Cadets get on as usual—nothing turns them from their labours or aspirations. Their World is in themselves, & they care not how the outside wags—We expect Custis this Evg & hope to learn much about you, Mrs B— & Charlie, to whom I again send kindest regards—Believe me very truly & sincy Yours

R E Lee

West Point 5 Decr 1854

My dear Mr Bonaparte

I have been expecting since the reception of your kind note of the 10— the visit you then led us to hope for. The Fall having passed into the Winter, & all the delights of our first permanent Snow Storm being now upon us, leads to despair of its realization; & I fear our only Communication will be through the pen. I hope Mrs B. has recovered from the effects of the Summer. Tell her I attributed her drooping to your absence & not the heat, & that consequently your return would have made all things right. I have not heard whether she got on to Miss Ella’s wedding, or whether you were present on the occasion. I am told she looked very beautifully, no uncommon thing for her to do, but could not get to see her, even on her passage through New York. What will Charly do for his lady-love Emmy. I fear some Don will retain her in Spain. I never saw her till this Fall. She & Ella spent a week here in Sept. It was before Mrs Lees return, but they spent every evg I believe at our house & thus I saw much of them. She is very sweet and ladylike but not as beautiful as her sister. I have looked anxiously at every account from the Seat of War for a notice of Jeromes arrival, & I presume the mention of Prince Napoleon being at Constantinople was intended for him, as the same accounts stated that Prince N. was to lead the 4000 Stormers that had been selected to assault the breach. Sebastopol holds out manfully, & the Russians are making a better defense than I anticipated. But the fact is the Allies are outnumbered by too large odds for their work. Their available strength I expect has always been overstated. It is one thing to send a certain number of men into a distant Country, & another to have them actually for duty, in the trenches & batteries. Disease, Constant labour, Exposure & battle thin the ranks amazingly. I know in Mexico Genl Scotts army in the field was about one third of the number which the official report of the Adjt Genl at Washington stated he must have, & which was based upon the number ordered & embarked. So I suppose it is there. Disease in the Camp has been more fatal to them than death in the field. Still it seems to me, that such indomitable Courage as they have shewn, if properly directed, must prevail; & notwithstanding the unfavourable accounts by the Baltic, I think S— will yet fall. I can heartily sympathize in their position, labours & anxiety, but while their Courage is so fine & brilliant there is no room to fear. I confess however their position appears to be critical. I have had the Map of the Gulf of Finland nicely mounted. That of Wallachia, Bulgaria & Roumilia was so, you may recollect. But there are several sheets wanting of that of the Country around the Black Sea, Caspien Red &c. Those sheets you sent here probably belong to the sett you retained for yourself, & if so I will return them, as they are necessary to make your map complete, & without the others are of little or no use here. The other maps are very complete & excellent, & the best we have of the Countries represented; & the acady is extremely obliged to you for them.10

We are all well. Marys foot is slowly improving. She can step a little in it now & previous to this Snow storm rode every day on horseback 6 or 8 miles without inconvenience—That reminds me, you have not seen a horse in B— to ride & drive with Grace? I have written to several of my friends in this part of the Country but can hear of nothing. Mrs Lee & the girls join me in much love to Mrs B— Remember us kindly to Mrs W & believe me very truly yours

R E Lee

Lawrence W. is here, waiting to hear from the Qr Mr Genl in reference to his transportation in advance. Capt. & Mrs G. W. Smith11 have broken up their house preparatory to his departure to Penascola, where he is ordered & only waits the arrival of Lt Newlon of the Engrs to relieve him. In the meantime they are staying with us. Miss Helen Peters is also paying us a visit. The Officers & Cadets are all well & I hope the latter are doing so—


West Point 28 Feby 1855

My dear Mr Bonaparte

I recd by Casy the large Military map of Europe; & found the spare sheets previously mentioned formed a large part of it, & added a broad strip of Country to the East & South. I have caused them to be attached, with a new roller & stretcher, & though it does not look so well, as if they had all been lined together, it makes a very complete & valuable map from the Atlantic on the West, to the Caspian Sea on the East, & embracing Norway & Finland to the North & the Southern shore of the Mediterranean on the South. I have presented the three maps to the Library in your name, & now in behalf of the Acady express our thanks for your valuable present. They will be a great addition to the Library & advantage to the Officers & Cadets.

I hope you continue to get satisfactory accounts from Jerome, & I am very glad to hear that he is comfortable & well. I have not yet seen the arrival of his Regt from Adrianople & presume he is still on the staff of Genl Morris. Mr Childe writes that he frequently hears of him through letters of Genl M. to his wife, & that he always speaks in high terms of him. There is so marked a difference between the Condition of the French & English troops, that it is calculated to allay much anxiety that might otherwise be felt, & shews conclusively the superiority of the organization of the one over the other. Fighting is the easiest part of a soldiers duty. It is the watching, waiting, labouring, starving, freezing, wilting, exposure & privation, that is so wearing to the body & trying to the mind. It is in this state that discipline tells; & attention night & day on the part of the offr so necessary. His eye & thoughts must be continually on his men. Their wants anticipated & their comforts provided. The English offrs untaught by instruction have to learn by terrible experience the necessity of these things. I know you will rejoice with me in the tardy Compliment paid to Genl Scott.12 I have had nothing to give me so much pleasure since the Capture of Mexico. The Genl has returned to New York. But I am never able to see him. I was very glad to hear from Roony that Mrs B. & Charly were so well. Tell her I want to see her very much & the more as I fear my eyes will not hold out much longer. The short comings [&] necessities of my young friends are wearing them out fast, & I have to aid them with glasses, which pain me terribly. I think a sight of her would do me great good. Roony left us yesterday with a heavy heart, poor fellow, for Cambridge. He said no one knew how sorry he was to leave W.P. & all hope of becoming a Cadet. I am very sorry, on his account, that he could not get an appointment. But I had no hope of it myself & endeavoured from the beginning to prepare him for it. I hope he will now be content & that it may turn out for the best. He enjoyed his visit to Baltimore very much, & descanted on the pleasure of the many rides he had with you; & the beauty & performance of Cooper, Nutter, Pepin & Jinny. Custis is still in Washington, about completing the drawings of the Fort at Cumberland Sound, on which he is to be engaged, & which have occupied him all the Winter. He expects to leave Washington next week. I should have much preferred, could it have been so arranged, that his duty had been at the South in the Winter, & at the North in the Summer. But he must take things as they come. The Officers & Cadets are all well, & the latter more attentive to their studies & duties, than they were before Jany—You may have seen in the papers an account of an accident that befell Cadet Gay. It was bad as it was, but I am happy to say was much exaggerated. As soon as I saw it, I wrote to his father, but before the arrival of my letter, his mother had left a sick bed & was on her way to him. His horse refused the leap, when Gay spurred through the Squad to the other side of the course, & instead of turning in the direction of the regular circuit, he forced his horse in the contrary direction, & met his rear rank file who had made the leap, & the shoulder of whose horse struck him on the leg midway between the knee & ankle & broke the bone. It is a simple fracture. He suffers no pain, is comfortable, & there is no reason now to apprehend any unfavourable result. He says it was his own fault, but I am sorry he will have a tedious time, & be kept from his studies. He is a smart young man, & before Jany was 2nd in his class in Engg—He seems to have at times an uncontrollable temper, which has previously got him in difficulty. I hope in time he will subject it at least to command, if he cannot subdue it—

The Court was ordered on him for an attempted assault on the 1st Capt in the M. H. has been ordered to reconvine & revise their finding & action, & has again adjourned. Mrs Lee unites with me in kindest regards to Mrs B. Mrs W. & Charly—Mary’s foot is improving slowly I think, & she walks about the house now, but cannot yet wear her shoe. I remain as ever very truly yours

R E Lee

P.S. This is muster day & as usual I have written amid many interruptions


Arlington 14 June ’58

My dear Mr Bonaparte

I have just recd your note of the 11th & am highly gratified at the prospect of having a reduction of your bust—I shall value it very highly, & place it among the most esteemed objects in the house.

Your letter was late reaching me in consequence of having been directed to Washington—Alexandria is our P Office—I shall send for the bust as soon as it ceases raining—I hoped you would have heard from Jerome. I am very anxious to learn the official announcement of his promotion—

I see announced in the papers the information you gave of the mission of Prince N to Algeria—

I hope Mrs B— has entirely recovered & am very glad to learn of the continued improvement of Judge M. Mrs. Lee joins me in affectionate regards to Mrs B. & yourself & I am very truly yours

R E Lee