Fort Hamilton November 8 [1844][1]


I received your letter my dearest Mother & was very sorry the carpet had not arrived I hope ere this it has reached you & that you are pleased with it. Rose is in a great hurry I think if I had time enough I could have got her a very pretty mousseline but now it would be very doubtful whether it would reach her in time. I have purchased yours & hope you will not find it too grave. There was no medium between that & the brightest colours. You had better let me get the ribbon to trim your bonnet here They have such beautiful ribbon & you could then get the satin to match or I will get the whole for you if you choose & you can have it made in Alexa if you prefer. Give my congratulations to Rose & tell her if there is any thing especial she would like me to get her in New York that comes within my economical views let me know. Do not be too profuse or you will leave me nothing to add when I come on. I am glad to hear she is going to marry so well & hope she will not think it necessary to be good for nothing afterwards for if she should be released from her house duties there will be nothing in the world for her to do. Tell Boo I received his letter & his Father she says he has no objection to his leaving to shoot with his grandfather if he will be at the trouble of teaching him but he must not shoot elsewhere. Tell him I will write to me soon & that I am sorry to hear he is wearing his best jacket & pants to walk over to Arlington as[,] thin or not[,] they are all I had intended to get him this winter indeed I told him I would prefer his Keeping that suit at Arlington for a while. I particularly desire that he should not walk over in it or go a shooting in it. I received the little package containing the gloves & edging which is very pretty & wish you had sewed the money up in it as it would have come very safely it seems hardly worth while to send on a draft. I am in no immediate want of it so you can wait for a good opportunity if you have not sent it already. I will enquire again soon at Royal [Finley’s?] hoping to receive the other package containing the letter to Robert—I received a very affectionate letter from Martha if you should chance to see her tell her I will write soon. I hope you will be able to suit her cap but do not fatigue yourself about it or anything else. I went over yesterday in the boat to spend the day with Mrs. Talcott at New Brighton. The Capt[2] has got some employment from Government at Pensacola this winter & she will spend it in Norfolk as she does not wish to stay alone at New Brighton She had just bought some pretty plaid & had cloaks cut out for her girls they were to be made with plain tight bodies & capes just down to the waist very small collars but as daughter is thin perhaps the yoke & plaited body may suit her best. The sleeves cut straight & loose as they were last winter. Did I write you, I had been up to town to see the Bishop but he wasnt out & Dr. Milner whom I saw gave me very little hope of finding him at home as he told me he would be very much engaged & was to go on to Boston. I left a card & a line begging him to let us know when he could come down here but we have not heard from him yet I am going up tomorrow & shall call again & see him. We have lovely weather here now tho’ it has been exceedingly cold. Rob Ed[3] makes frequent efforts at walking & sometimes accomplishes 6 or 8 steps at a time. He is the greatest jabberer I ever heard & pronounced several words very distinctly.

            His father as usual complains dreadfully of him at night & in truth he is very restless & keeps his Mother awake a great deal. You did not say whether you had heard from Mr Nelson on the subject of the things sent down. Give my love to Nurse & tell her I am very sorry to hear she is laid up will not this wedding rouse her. I will try & get to see Cassy[4] before I go on as she is too proud to come to see me. Lily has not got down yet. We went last night to a tea party at Mrs. Bennetts the next house to Col. Stanton’s. The table was loaded with all kinds of cakes & preserves & twice filled. The married ladies first & then the young people & afterwards we had apples & nuts lemonade & sweet cider for they are teetotalers. Robert & I were both terribly sleepy but we held out till nearly 11 & when I came home Rob Ed was wide awake & continued  so the greater part of the night. So this morning I feel pretty flat. Tell Father we have got a new Tom a real Maltese & he is the tamest creature I ever saw allows the children to pull him about & sleeps all day in my room he is also very sociable with the Dog but Tibby does not admire him altogether. He is a mouse colour & his fur as soft as silk As it is nearly time for me to prepare for my expedition to Governors Island[5] I must bring this epistle to a close. I believe I have said all that was of importance. Do not forget to write me about your bonnet I think I will put up your mousseline dress & send it to Royal [Finley’s?] as I do not know of anyone likely to go on at present. There are 10 ¼ yards which I think will be a plenty to allow for a cape. It is very grave but as I told you the others were all too gay This is a very fine quality & was only 37 ½ cts per yd.

If you should have a good chance you might send on Rooney’s new flannel jackets as, these are very old but he can do without them till cold weather. I do not know that it will be necessary to knit any socks for Rob before I get on as there are some old ones of Wig’s that will do for him to commence with. However I will draw his foot if he wakes up in time & I shall not put shoes on him till he gets to walking well.

Tell Grandpa he is devoted to the pup. I have got some tea to send him by Eddison very fine Hyson. I hope Judy is at a good place & will stay in it. I have a bonnet for her & tell Rose to ask her what she will need for her winter clothes as I may pick up some things here. My love to all.

In haste

Yrs devotedly

M C Lee


Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 3, M2009.224, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 November 16



[1] Robert E. Lee reported for duty at Fort Hamilton on 1841 April 10. He remained there until 1846 August, when he left to begin his service during the Mexican War.

[2] Captain Andrew Talcott served in Pensacola from 1844 July to 1845 March.

[3] Robert E., Lee, Jr., was born 1843 October 27.

[4] Lee family maid.

[5] A 172 acre island located approximately a half-mile south of Manhattan Island.