Camp Fredg 25 May 1863


My precious little Agnes

I have recd your “little note” by Major Venable,1 & heartily thank you for your affectionate remembrances & regrets at my departure. I sincerely join in your wish that the war was over & that we could all be once more united, though it may be for a short time. Then too what Calamity would be Shared the Country! What pain & anguish would be turned from many a household! I trust that a merciful God in his own good time accomplish his holy will & give us peace & happiness. I hope you are not going to be afflicted with rheumatism too. You must take regular exercise, be much out in the open air, & be careful not to excuse yourself to the Sudden attenuation of heat & cold. You girls have no time to be sick. You have a sacred charge, the care of your poor mother. You must endeavour to get her to Some of the healing waters this Summer & I hope you may find relief in your own person. She has tried the hot springs twice without permanent relief, though I believe with some benefit. It may be the best for her. But I have heard of the Rockbridge Alum proving advantageous in many cases, & I think she had better give that a trial. She might go to the Hot, before or after as might be judged best. Tell Miss Sallie [Warwick] I am very grateful for her love, but I wish she had not ran away from Richmond before my last visit. I do not Know when I shall be there again, but I shall think of her often. You must also give my Kind regards to Mrs. Phoebe & Mr Warwick.2 I do not believe I told you that our old friend Charlie Turnbull was engaged against us in the battle at Chancellorsville. He Commands the old Sapper & miner Compy I understand, of which he is Captain. He is married to some rich Boston lady, & I suppose she has turned him.3 The train which brought me up Monday stopped at Ashland for Breakfast & I went in to see Bishop Johns &c. I Saw Laura & Bella. They were very Sad but Composed. I did not see Cousin Cornelia.4 Perhaps she had not left her room as it was early. Tell Miss Sallie if I had hair like hers, “whose glossy hue to shame might bring, the plumage of the ravens wing.”5 I would send her Some, but She must not laugh at my grey hairs. Good bye my precious child. Kiss your mother for me & take good Care of her. You Know I Can do nothing for her now. Remember me in your Sweet prayers & Supplicate the throne of God for mercy & forgiveness towards me. May God guard & protect you, prays your devoted father

RE Lee         




1. Charles Venable (1827-1900) was a native of Farmville, Virginia. He graduated from nearby Hampden-Sydney College and later taught mathematics in Virginia and South Carolina. At the outbreak of war, he was serving in a South Carolina unit. In the spring of 1862, he joined the staff of Robert E. Lee and eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He stayed with the Army of Northern Virginia until its surrender in April 1865. He died in Charlottesville, Virginia, and is buried in the UVA cemetery.    

2. Phoebe Warren Douglas Warwick (1838-1887) was married to William Barksdale Warwick (1836-1885), who served on the staff of Rooney Lee at the time Lee wrote this letter. Phoebe was a native of New York, though her husband was from Richmond. They both died in Richmond and are buried in Shockoe Hill Cemetery in the city.  Sallie Warwick was William’s sister.

3. Charles Nesbit Turnbull (1833-1874) was born in Washington, D.C. A graduate of the US Military Academy in 1854, he taught mathematics at West Point before serving in the Union army as an engineer. On 1862 September 10, he married Mary B. Dale in Boston. Turnbull died in Boston and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.        

4. Isabella Virginia Stuart (1835-1880) and Laura Stuart (1833-1898) were the daughters of Charles Calvert Stuart (1794-1844) and Cornelia Lee Tuberville (1794-1883) of “Chantilly” plantation in Fairfax County, Virginia. Cornelia was the granddaughter of Richard Henry Lee of Stratford Hall. Her mother was Henrietta Lee, who was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia.  

5. Lee is quoting from Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott.




Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L 51 c 454, Section 22, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond       

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 February 8