San Antonio, Texas 17 March 1856


I have thought it best dearest Mary before going farther into the Country, where my Communication with the regular mails will be rare & at long intervals, to put you in possession of Such funds as I have available in Alexa. in Case your own wants or those of the children Should make an unexpected demand upon your purse. I ought now to have in the Bank $97.50: & a draft I gave on the Bank, of Virginia, at Richmond, which had not been paid when I left, for $183.00 or, would make $280.50. There may be Some deduction from this amount as I requested the Cashr of the Bank of Virga. as I passed through Richmond to reissue the certificate of Some stock, purchased long since which had been lost in its transmittal to me & pay the the [sic] charge of Publication &c. This will not be however more than $5. So there will probably be $275.00 available. I wish you would when you want the money, See Mr. Marbury[1] the Cashr. of the Farmer Bank in Alexa. & ask him to fill up the check with the amount to my credit in Bank & then endorse it, when you Can draw the money. Let me know the amount you receive. I hope it will supply your wants till the July dividends come in. I do not wish you to restrict yourself in clothes or your pleasure, or the children in what is needful for them, So far as your means will permit & I particularly wish that you will allow yourself what you want, & always may yourself as becomes a lady. A second New Orleans mail has arrived Since my arrival here, but it has brought me no letters. I hope you are all well & doing well & that I may yet hear from you before I depart. I am still waiting for my baggage, which I hear is on the road, but in Consequence of the horrible state of the roads, high waters &c cannot get up. Capt. & Mrs. Jones, whom you may recollect were my fellow travellers from New Orleans, & when I left at Indianola[2] only got up last night, though they had a Six mule team for their baggage, & a four mule ambulance for themselves. Capt Lindsay who left in the stage, two days after me, was ten days on the road, So I have no reason to Complain. It has been raining ever since my arrival here, I believe but for one or two days, & is raining still. The mud is indescribable to those not acquainted with the Soil, & with breeches rolled up to the top of my boots I plunge through regardless of its depth followed by my faithful Achates[3] Mr. Radziminsky.[4] The officers stationed here are quite Comfortable. They, each rent a Cottage house of the Country, & have such necessary furniture as Can be procured from New Orleans. Their table furniture & little ornaments that they carry with them, is very neat; & Some quite handsome. Among those stationed here whom you Know are Col Myers, Mr. Col. Andrew Porter of the Rifles, Major Chilton Pay Mr. Major Lloyd Beall, Major Buell, Capt Blair, Capt Gibbs Capt Maury &c &c.

Major Chilton married Miss Laura Mason & Major Buell Mrs. Genl. Mason.[5] She I should think was some years older than her husband & does not look as juvenile as she feels. She has with her, her two daughters Emma & Nannie, who were at the Priory with Mary. They are grown up & Seem to be quite nice young ladies. They are certainly very Skillful & useful. Make their own dresses, & the most beautiful bread rolls, biscuit & cake I have seen.

Their mother must be a great manager & has every thing very nice around her. She has a very old woman for a Cook, who formerly belonged to the Masons & two little boys larger than Billy, & probably older brothers, as her only domestics. The boys do all the house work, Dining room, Parlour & Chambers, & the elder the baking of the bread &c, to relieve his Grd Mother the Cook. They were clean & nicely dressed, & waited admirably at a little tea Party which I assisted the other evg & Mrs. B informed me were her only attendants at her reception dinners &c. I have dined or teaed with most of the officers & all have been Kind & Hospitable. They all seem to have their own servants, & as they have no superfluity, appear skillful & useful. I have engaged to go along with me a Frenchman, who was once in the Service of Col Hardee, & of whom he speaks favourably well. I do not Know how he will answer. He promises well. I have heard nothing of my man Henry & do not know whether he is with the Regt or not.

I hope my effects will arrive to day, in which event I will leave tomorrow, though the Country is covered with water. There seems to be no prospect of the cessation of rains. I have added to my personal property, Some Camp chairs, tables, a little crockery & some cooking utensils, in the event of being able to use them, Being unwilling to go into the wilderness entirely unprovided with the means of extending aid or hospitality to my friends. For myself unless I can have things very nice, I care little for expedients. I find that the Common white crockery costs here exactly the price of the white french china we purchased in Baltimore. I only got however 1 doz Plates, 4 dishes, 2 vegetables, ½ doz cups & saucers Tea Pot, sugar, &c

I got very tired of tin, when used Constantly. Genl Smith left last tuesday for New Orleans. He took with him his wife & Dr. McCormick. Saturday there was to have been a sale of his furniture &c, but was on account of the rain postponed till to day. It is doubtful whether it will be any better. He seems to have made his arrangements to be absent Sometime, & yet has left no one in command of the Dept, or as far as Known, to have notified the Second in Command of his intended departure, which is my Colonel A. S. Johnston. This may be all right, but is Contrary to what to what [sic] I have been taught & hitherto believed. Tell Mary the Misses Mason send love. Give much love for me to everybody your father Martha, the Children & all friends. If detained, I will write again. Take care of the check and have it correctly filled up & endorsed before payment. Very truly & devotedly

R E Lee

Direct to me here  





Source: Photocopy of photocopied hand-written letter, Lee Family Papers, Section 9, Mss1L51c 150, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 February 29


[1] William Henry Marbury, who was elected cashier in Alexandria in July of 1854.

[2] Indianola, Texas, located in Calhoun County in southeastern Texas.

[3] Achates a character from The Aeneid and shorthand for a “good companion.”

[4] Charles (Carol) Radziminski was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1805. He took part in the Polish revolt in the 1830s and was given the opportunity to emigrate to the United States than face punishment in his home country. He settled in Washington, D.C., and became a civil engineer with the James River Kanawha Canal Company in Richmond. On 1847 March 8 he became a second lieutenant, appointed in Louisiana. He later joined the regiment of Dragoons. After the Mexican War, he continued his work as an engineer and surveyor, In May 1851, he went to San Antonio, where he surveyed the new U.S.-Mexico boundary. In 1855 he became a first lieutenant in the Second Cavalry Regiment, which was commanded by Albert Sidney Johnston and which had Robert E. Lee as second in command. In March 1856, Lee and Radziminski traveled together from San Antonio to Camp Cooper in north central Texas. Radziminski contracted tuberculosis and died on 1858 August 18 in Memphis and was buried there five days later. For more information, see Stanley F. Radzyminski’s article in Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 38 (winter 1960-1961), 354-368.

[5] Robert Hall Chilton (1815-1879) was married to Laura Ann Thomson Mason Chilton (1820-1911). Both were natives of Loudon County, Virginia. Chilton joined the Confederate army during the Civil War and rose to the rank of brigadier general. Margaret Hunter Buell (1821-1881) was first married to Richard Barnes Mason (1797-1850). After his death, she married Don Carols Buell on 1851 November 19 in St. Louis. Buell served in the Union army during the Civil War.