Richmond 30th April 1861


My dear Mary


On going to my room last night I found my trunk & sword there & opening it this morning discovered the package of letters, & was very glad [to] learn you were all well & as yet, peaceful, I fear the latter state will not continue long, not that I think Virginia is going to make war but if the Federal Government should be disposed to peace there is now such a mass of [word missing] in Washington such a pressure from the North, & such fury manifested against the South that it may not be in the power of the authorities to restrain them. Then again among such a mass of all characters it might be considered a good smart thing to cross into Va & rob, plunder, &c especially when it is known to be the residence of one of the Rebel leaders. I think therefore you had better prepare all things for removal, that is the plate, pictures &c & be prepared at any moment. Where to go is the difficulty. When the war commences no place will be exempt in my opinion, & indeed all the avenues into the State will be the scene of military operations. Tell Custis to consider the question. He is a discreet person & prudent & advise what had better be done. I wrote to Robert that I could not consent to take boys from their school & young men from their colleges & put them in the ranks at the beginning of a  war when they are not wanted & when there were men enough for the purpose. The war may last 10 years. Where are our ranks to be filled from then?

I was willing for his company to continue at their studies, to keep up its organization & to perfect themselves in their military exercises & to perform duty at the College but not to be called into the field. I therefore wished him to remain. If the exercises at the College are suspended he can then come home. I do not wish any more socks or shirts at this time. I forgot to take from the old uniform coat I left for the servants the eyes or hooks from the shoulders that confined the epaulettes. Will you cut them out & also the loops at the collar. You will have to rip the coat & take them out. If you will then wrap them up carefully & send them to Mr. John G. or Mr. Dangerfield directed to the Spotswood House there are persons coming on every day by whom they can be forwarded. I was much interested in Mary Childe’s letter.1 My poor Anne how she must have suffered. I have not time to write to her. There is no prospect or intention of the government to propose a truce. Do not be deceived by it. Custis must exercise his judgment about sending to the Alexa market. It is your only chance. Give much love to all my dear children & Helen. Tell them I want to see them very much. May God preserve you all & bring peace to our distracted country.

Truly yrs

R E Lee




1. Mary Custis Childe was a niece of Robert E. Lee. She was born in 1841 in Paris to Edward Vernon Childe (1804-1861) and Lee’s sister, Catharine Mildred Lee Childe (1811-1856). In 1859 in Maryland, she married Robert G. Hoffman. She died in Paris in 1865, before the Civil War was over. She had no children.



Source: Transcribed from photocopy of copy written by Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 282, Section 15, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 May 3