Jones Springs  Saturday Octr 18th [1862]


I only received your letter last night my dear Mary too late to write for the next mail & now this must lay over until Monday. I am truly grieved to hear of your suffering. How did you take such a cold? You must take some advice [,] for rheumatism is not to be trifled with & you have suffered so much before from pain in your back. Have you ever tried a strengthening plaster. Aunt Lewis1 used to have great faith in them & it could do you no harm but is a great support to a weak back. If you are not much better do have medical advice for I have a great dread of any one of my family getting sick in these times especially now when it will be impossible for me to leave Annie for 5 or 6 weeks. She is much worse than when I came, more attenuated & pulse higher the disease must be at its crisis now, the Dr is cautious in giving his opinion but tonight he says her pulse is a little better, she has been suffering today with pain in her stomach & bowels which has distressed her & which has been only relieved by morphine of which she takes a dose every night which enables her to sleep a good deal tho’ I have to get up 4 or 5 times to give her nourishment & stimulants. She takes brandy & cream every hour, not so often at night & sweet tea. I sleep in a little bed by her side & attend to her altogether. In the day Agnes & Ella Selden who is a most admirable nurse take care of her by turns & no one else goes in her room tho’ all have offered their services. The Dr sees her 3 & sometimes 4 times during the day. He is considered a most skilful physician especially in this disease. we have a plenty of ice & rich cream so that I have the satisfaction of knowing that all is done for her that human aid can accomplish & must leave  the rest with God. She is so deaf that she can scarcely hear a word & takes no interest in reading or in aught that is going on. I do not think it at all necessary for you to come on, even if you were well enough & hope you will try & get cured of your ailments. I shall feel very anxious to hear from you. Do take time to write as you can without fatiguing yourself. You seem to think that I am the only unfortunate person in the Confederacy in an unsettled state. There are no less than 4 ladies here some with large families who have been writing all over the country to get board & say when they are obliged to leave this place they know not where to go. Dr Selden’s family consisting of wife & children boarded in Raleigh for a time but say that they cannot get board there now, & it is very high but I will make some enquiries. Mrs Cross & Jennie Richie say they know not where to go & they cannot afford to live in Richmond, so you see other persons have their difficulties as well as our family. It is very certain I shall not be able to leave this place for 6 weeks at the least. I have received a long letter from your papa indeed several lately. He writes cheerfully, says his army is improving & in good spirits & he hopes to be ready for McClellan. Annie could not even listen to his letter tho’ it contained many kind messages for her.


19th Annie passed a very uncomfortable night & this morning her pulse is raised again. The Dr considers her extremely ill but says her pulse is her worst symptom & it has been bad from the first [,] feeble & quick [,] still she is in the hands of God who will do all things well for her & I do not know that you could be of any important advantage to her as I am able to do all she needs & can make up for my want of rest in the days. I will keep this letter open till it goes so as to give you the last accounts of her. I shall write to your papa & Custis by this mail & shall only tell them she is very ill. I will write to him about your bond after a while which I think he alluded to in one of his letters. I was truly grieved to hear of the Caskie’s loss & shall write to them soon. I have not had a line from Charlotte nor did I know till I had received your letter that she had gone to Richmond your papa seems anxious that some of us should be with her but I do not see how any one could stay at Mrs Conways. poor child I am very sorry I cannot fulfil my promise of being with her but she is in excellent hands & I doubt not is entirely satisfied. Did she take Susan with her & has she heard any thing of Maria. You must give much love to all with you I will write & tell you of any should there be any change either for the better or worse. I am very sorry you could not make your visit to King George where the care of the good Dr. & the affection of your sweet cousins would be truly beneficial to you. You could not be in kinder hands than you are now. Be sure to give for me [,] if Charlotte has not done so [,] 50 cts to Ella & 50 to uncle Tom for which I will pay you

yr mother

M C Lee




1. Presumably Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis (1779-1852), the sister of George Washington Parke Custis, Mary’s father.



Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 390, Section 20, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 February 28