26th April [1865]


My dear Lucy

            I received your letter today & will write now that I may have my letter ready whenever your messenger calls the jacket is here & I will also send that & some papers. We have all been here very quiet since the sad event that has so darkened our souls. Virginia will rue the day that so many of her people laid down their arms & tho’ Starvation is a cruel thing to contend with even that might have been endured for a time to accomplish their independence. As to your servants I would not be bothered with them & if they will not work I would send them off. Poor ignorant creatures they are perfectly beside themselves tho’ they are cooling down here considerably as the officers do not such countenance them at all in their impertinence & several have been shot & others punished severely. Many have been caught up & put to work on the streets without other remuneration than their food. They will all learn too late who are their best friends. For us we have no hope left but in God who for some wise purpose has caused us to pass thro’ this furnace of affliction & who we must trust will make it to result in our eternal if not our temporal good what we know not now we shall know hereafter, we can only now be still & feel “it is the Lord let it do what seemeth Him good.” He reigneth let the earth be glad, the triumphing of the wicked is but short. I try to bless His name that all these so dear to me have been spared without hurt tho’ I think I could have blessed Him if all who were prepared had filled a soldiers grave & not lived to see the failure of the cause for which they have perilled life, farms, & fortune that they have done this will ever be to me a source of pride & satisfaction tho’ their efforts have not been crowned with success. 

            Fitzhugh has gone to his ruined farm with Johnny Lee & a white man who acted as hostler & without even a covering for their heads have commenced to plough the land & are putting in some corn. They will build a shanty soon. Custis who was only paroled thro’ the courtesy of some old friends among the Federal officers & sent to see me here under the supposition that I was very ill, expected to go to Fort Warren1 as prisoner of war, & when released to go to Mexico or some other clime to practice his profession of Engineer. Rob has not yet come in & has probably joined Johnston’s army.2 Dan Murray & Fitz have been here & have gone to Farmville to bring back some horses & see Charlie Minnegerode3 who is in a fair way to recover. The girls are well & with the genl & Custis unite in kind regard to you & yours. Mary went to Shirley with Annie Leigh to remain about a week. Cousin Hill, Warrington & Dr. Shirley with them. Our plans are still unsettled tho’ the great kindness of friends leaves us nothing to desire in the ways of comfort except to make choice of a home. We may go to Fluvanna or somewhere in reach of the White House. Let us hear from you whenever you have an opportunity. I hope ere long the boats may run regularly. Tell George he must emulate his cousin Fitzhugh & go to work, hard both for mind & body. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

Yours affectionately,

Mary Custis Lee


I have yet seen General Wickham & knew nothing of your brother & friends.




Source: Photostat of original letter, vertical files, Jessie Ball duPont Memorial Library, Stratford Hall. Original letter is at Yale University.


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 March 20



1. Located in Boston Harbor in Massachusetts. It held Confederate officers during the Civil War.

2. Joseph Johnston surrendered his army at Bennett Place, North Carolina, on the day Mary Custis wrote this letter.

3. Charles Minnegrode (1814-1894), a professor of Latin and Greek and a long-time rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond.