Miss M. Williams

Tudor Place



Governors Island

7 June 1846

            I do not know where I could find a more appropriate place than this to write to my dear Markie. The Head quarters of her beloved 2nd & the Island of her associations. She would however be surprised to see how its smiling face of peace has been changed for the grim visage of war. There is nothing but preparation for battle: The Sharpening of Swords, the grinding of bayonets & equipping for the field, occupy all thoughts & hands. Even the benign countenance of its gallant Adjutant is obscured by bristles, & the coral of his lips is shaded by a warlike moustache. Mr Shacklefords and Capt Swartwouts Companies have been increased to 90 men each & are to embark for Point Isabel on thursday next. This carries Mr Sedgewick, Hunt (cupid) Nichols, Coppée, & Edwards. The same ship is to touch at old Point for the Compy from there. Compy D. in Command of Mr Armstrong & Mr Arnolds Compy at Fort Hamilton will be all that is left of the 2nd Regt: Neither of those Companies number more than 20 men, the other Compes having been filled from them. I attended Church this morg under the willows near the graveyard, where Dr McVickar, the present Chaplain of the Post delivered an interesting sermon. The officers & soldiers of the Garrison were present, & formed an attentive audience. The close ranks of the soldiers, the Squads of Recruits, & the groups of women children & citizens scattered on the grass made a pleasing as well as picturesque scene. The music from the Band was appropriate & solemn & I have never witnessed a more imposing service. You are aware that Mr Robt: Allen & Chapman have been appointed QrMrs & sent to Texas. Mrs Allen has returned to her friends & Mrs Chapman goes on tuesday next, having been detained here since the departure of her husband by indisposition. Mrs Swartwout remains at New Port till the Fall. But to think of my finding Mr Pratt here! And he tells me that Mrs P. will soon join him. What will you do Markie, you will have to Come on too? Miss Nora is on a visit to Baltimore, where she has been for a month past, nor do I hear anything of her returning. Miss Lizzy is prettier than I have ever seen her & more engaging. The Colonel and Madam are well. You have heard of the marriage of Mr Blair. He was at Albany on the recruiting service, when he recd the orders for his Compy to repair to Texas. He hastened to West Point & was married that night, & came down to N.Y. next morg to join his Compy, where he heard of the order being countermanded. He had therefore nothing to do but to go back in the return Boat & has resumed his station at Albany. At Fort Hamilton the change is as great as at this Place. Mr Arnold is alone left with the skeleton of his Compy. Mr Barry is at Hudson endeavouring to recruit it. Mr Anderson is at Hartford on the same errand. The ladies are well but Solitary. Mr Macomb is ordered to the Lexington which sails for the Pacific. Mrs M. is Sad & even little Sallys sorrows have diminished her Smiles. The ladies are otherwise well. The Col: is on a visit to them at present but I believe returns to Phila this evg And now Markie I believe I have given you an account of every body, except the Dr who is not yet married. His fine house is yet without a mistress & his fine daughters without a mother. How would such a responsible station Suit you? Consult Bunnie on the subject. Col: Fanning has been sent to Cincinnati on the recruiting Service. Mrs Erving is in N. York & will spend the summer at the Hamilton House. You will perhaps want to Know how I came here. Feeling a little solitary & under the weather, I determined to refresh myself with a sight of the boys before their departure to Texas. I return to FtH. tomorrow. The Major (Smith) is to assemble at his quarters on tuesday (10th) all the ladies & gentlemen of the Island to take leave of each other & bury their greif at their separation in strawberries & cream. I take it for granted they will be lightened for the time by the Majors champaighn, but you must remember them in your orisons Markie, for it is no less certain that we neer shall look upon them all again. And now Markie, I must beg you to remember me to your Grd Mother, Cousin Brit, your father, sisters & Bunnie1 & to all friends & to believe me always, though now in great haste, your Cousin

                                                                                                R E Lee

Source: Photocopy of original, Letters of Robert E. Lee to Martha Custis Williams, mssHM8813, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California

Transcribed by Caitlin Connelly, 2016 May 24

1. “Bunnie” was a pet name for Markie’s brother Orton Williams.