July 11 [1862]


would dear Charlotte that I had the pencil of a Hogarth1 to pourtray [sic] the sleeper laid out before me in the person of your husband. He is stretched out on the pallet in Custis room sleeping soundly & looking so much with his lips slightly parted like our little darling. He only received both your letters & more yesterday & came in last night about 10 oclock very much sunburnt, but well & unhurt for which we must be too thankful to almighty God. He looked very sad & seemed to have had some hope of finding you here, but that I told him was impossible just now for the cars are so crowded it is almost impossible to get a seat & the government have forbidden the transportation of all coffins on the R Road. I am rejoiced that our baby got here & is laid by his ancestors. I cannot tell you how I still long to clasp him in my arms. Custis is so much better that he & Mary are going to their Uncle Carters on Monday next: I shall then decide what is best for me to do, tho’ I dislike to be out of the way of rendering aid to the sufferers in this unhappy war. Fitzhugh says the battle of Cold Harbor2 was more terrific than any thing could be imagined that McLellan is completely whipped, & if Magruder & Huger had been in their appointed places the whole army would have been captured. I will not dwell on the scene of desolation at the White House. Tell Mammy her husband is there. Clairborne & Colbert & Bob Cryden & Dinah & some few others. The rest were deluded off with the most infamous lies & were taken in the Boats men, women & children. poor creatures either to starve this winter or what perhaps would be more comfortable for them to labor on the sugar fields of Cuba. God has deprived us both of our homes. I hope for some wise purpose that we do not see now but I shall know hereafter. The weather has been so excessively hot & I have been so busy making things for Rob who came here without any baggage having lost all that. I have not been out but I am going down to Worthams tomorrow after Rob leaves & will then attend to your other commissions as far as practicable & will write. Fitzhugh has gone off to camp says he will write to you this evening & thinks he will come tonight & spend the night with us. It is such a comfort to have him here keeping so quietly where I can see him. I had all my boys last night & safe & well in these awful times was not that a mercy? Kiss all my girls for me & tell them I will write soon. In the meantime they must write to me. I suppose soon some of the enemy’s plans will be developed at present all is quiet. I have not seen your papa yet. He has not been well but says he has no time to be sick. I get a note from him every day & he begs me to write to you for him. He says of our loss “I know what a void it will occasion in your hearts but when I reflect on his great pain we ought to rejoice. God grant we may all join him around the throne of our maker to unite in praise & adoration of the most High.” Tell the girls to send their signatures when they write & I can draw their dividends for them they had better make them payable to James K. Caskie as it will save me the trouble of going to the Bank. the stage is running again to Old Church & I think of going down there for a few days before I join you. You must all write soon. Ever yr affectionate mother M C Lee

I will send the [end of letter]



1. William Hogarth (1697-1764), an English artist and writer.

2. Referring to the battle of Gaines’ Mill, very near the same ground as the battle of Cold Harbor fought in June 1864. The battle of Gaines’ Mill, waged on 1862 June 27, was the bloodiest of the Seven Days battles, and the only one in which the Confederates could claim victory. It came at a cost of nearly 8,000 Confederates killed, wounded, and taken prisoner. Federal forces also suffered heavily, losing nearly 7,000 men that day. In terms of total casualties, the fighting on June 27 was far worse than the more notorious fighting of June 3, 1864.

3. White House plantation was located in New Kent County. Federal forces burned it on 1862 June 28. The home was built in the 18th century and was the residence of the Custis family before the Civil War. At the time Union forces destroyed the house, it belonged to William Henry Fitzhugh Lee. After the war, he rebuilt it. His brother Rob would take up residence at “Romancoke,” a few miles away.



Source: Transcribed from original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 366, Virginia Historical society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 May 8