Coosawhatchie S.C. 25 Decr 1861


My dear daughter

Having distributed such poor Xmas gifts as I had to those around me I have been looking for something for you. Trifles are even hard to get these war times, you must not therefore expect more. I have sent you what I thought most useful in your separation from me & hope it will be of some service. Though stigmatized as “vile dross” it has never been a drug with me. That you may never want for it, restrict your wants to your necessities. To Compensate for such “trash” I send you some Sweet violets that I gathered for you this morg while covered with dense white frost whose clystals glittered in the bright sun like diamonds, & formed a broche of rare beauty & sweetness which Could not be fabricated by the expenditure of a world of money. Yet how little will it purchase. But See how God provides for our pleasure in every way. May he guard & preserve you for me my dear daughter. Among the calamaties of war the hardest to bear perhaps is the separation of families & friends. Yet all must be endured to accomplish [our] [indepen]dence1 & maintain our self government.

In my absence from you I have thought of you very often & regretted I Could do nothing for your comfort. Your old home if not destroyed by our enemies has been so desecrated that I cannot bear to think of it. I should have preferred it to have been wiped from the earth, its beautiful hill sunk, & its sacred trees burned, rather than to have them degraded, by the presence of those who revel in the ill they do for their own selfish purposes. You see what a poor sinner I am, & how unworthy to possess what was given me. For that it has been taken away. I pray for a better spirit & that the hearts of our enemies may be changed. In your houseless Condition I hope you make yourself Contented & useful. Occupy yourself in aiding those more helpless than yourself. If you were not my daughter, I should like you to go to your Aunt Maria not that her Condition she is so helpless, but my heart bleeds for her Condition & I Can form for her no relief. It seems to me she can neither remain where she is or go away. Your presence I fear would provoke greater indignities from the enemy than she now suffers. Think always of your father


[RE Lee]



1. Letters are missing in this portion of the letter. Lee’s signature was cut out of the letter on the other side.



Source: Transcribed from original letter, Mary Custis Lee Papers, Mss1 L5144 a 884-895, Section 14, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond          


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 November 19