30th June [1861]

Dear Agnes

We have not received a line from any of you only a telegraph announcing your safe arrival which I suppose must content me. I am going to day to Chantilly1 from thence to Kinlock.2 I sent home & got Billy3 who I shall take there with me until I can learn whether your papa or Custis want him if they do not I shall keep him with me as he will be very useful to me & I could not bear to have him ruined there now at Arlington. In spite of the protection which General Scott has given the place I fear there is nothing but the special protection of Heaven which can save it from men. But I will not write more now on this painful subject. Poor Mr McQuinn4 came up to see me this morning & is so nervous that he could scarcely refrain from tears. He says some of the New Jersey Regiment who are straying about marauding & who are stationed at the Columbia Springs have threatened to take his life & that Genl McDowell had to station 3 guards at his house. He says they are perfectly lawless & are now let loose upon Virginia. Oh my God could I ever have beleived [sic] that such things could be to me & mine.

If we can be saved from the tyranny & despotism that now oppress the land I am willing to suffer. I believe the North itself will soon have to revolt against it. It is now carried to a height I could not imagine probable it only wants the guillotine to complete it. I suppose they are anxious to make a grand coup de’tat before the meeting of Congress that they may vote them all their supplies & support them in their tyranny. We should all unite night & day in the most earnest cries to the almighty to bless our cause. we are the weaker & it is only by his help that we can prevail. It is fearful to think of the overwhelming force arrayed against us but if God be on on [sic] our side we will not we will not [sic] fear. He has promised to protect the weak & bring down the pride of the oppressor.

If I could only hear from my husband & children but this perpetual silence is truly distressing. I will probably not write again ‘till I get to Kinlock. We hear from Manassas Gap almost daily & do not get a line except once some old letters that had been there a great while. I cannot conceive why Custis has never written. How I long to see him again & your papa if only for one moment. I shall stay at Chantilly a few days hoping to get some intelligence. We never see a Richmond paper the poor old Gazette is silenced & not one of the Washington or New York papers that I see ever tell a word of truth so here I am without any certain information about any thing or any body. I suppose you must be at the White House by this time. I wish I was there too & my little darling. I suppose he can walk now. Do write me about him & of Rooney & Charlotte. Oh how I long to see you. any letters written immediately on the receipt of this had better be directed to Manassas Gap & I will continue to get them from there. Tell me of your papa & Custis[.] Are they at all sanguine of success. What do they say? I hear some of the politicians who have perhaps got us into this trouble think your papa is rather slow in his movements. They would have him with all the odds against us rush into a conflict which might end in ruin. Mr John is still here & all write in much love. Mary is going to try to get your shoes to you & when I get to Kinlock I will write of the best way of your communicating with me, but the country around here now is in such a state that none of us know what a day may bring forth or how long we may have possession of the mail road. May god bless you all



1. “Chantilly,” located in Fairfax County, Virginia, roughly 25 miles west of Washington, D.C. It was owned by Richard Bland Lee and named after “Chantilly,” the plntation of Richard Henry Lee in Westmoreland County, Virginia, located three miles from Stratford Hall. Chantilly was burned by Federal troops during the Civil War and was the site of the battle of Ox Hill during the Antietam campaign of 1862.

2. “Kinloch,” located in The Plains in Fauquier County, Virginia, roughly 20-25 miles from Manassas battlefield. It was the home of Edward Carter Turner (1816-1891), who was born and died in The Plains.    

3. An African American servant.

4. John Strother McQuinn, an overseer at the Arlington plantation. He is mentioned in a letter of 1861 July 2.

Source: Transcribed from original copy, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 302, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 April 6

Robert Edward Lee, the son of Charlotte and William Henry Fitzhugh Lee. He was born 1860 March 11 and died 1862 June 30.