Coosawhatchie, S. C. 28 Jany 1862


I have just returned from Charleston & recd your letter of the 14th dear Mary enclosing one from dear Annie. I also found a letter from Mary who was then in Richmond but whom I suppose you will have seen before this reaches you. I am unable to write to the girls now & indeed have no time for such amusements. I think of them a great deal for my thoughts will be busy when I am busy about other things. I am glad to hear that poor little life is well & hope nothing will interrupt her. It seems difficult for Rob to Continue at his studies & I fear his time at College will yield him little profit. The times are unpropitious for labour of all kinds, & there are frequent interruptions at the University [of Virginia] at all times. I send you a letter from little Mary, for though daughter may have told you the Contents, you & the girls may still like to see it. She is a warm hearted true child & I am grieved to hear of her feeble health. I must let all my correspondents beyond our limits rest till after the war, should I see the end of it, for I cannot attend to them within our lines. I was called to Charleston by the appearance off the bar of a fleet of vessels the true character & intent of which could not be discerned during the Continuance of the storm which obscured the view. Saturday however all doubt was dispelled & from the beach on Sullivans Isd the preparations for sinking them were plainly seen. Twenty-one were visible the first day of my arrival, but at the end of the storm Saturday only 17 were seen. Five of these were vessels of war, what became of the other four is not known. The twelve old merchantmen were being stripped of their spars, masts, &c., & by sunset 7 were prepared apparently for sinking across the mouth of the maffit channel. They were placed in a line about 200 yds apart, & about 4 miles from Fort Moultrie. They will do but little harm to the channel, I think, but may deter vessels running out at night for fear of getting on them. There now seems to be indications of a movement against Savannah. The enemy’s gunboats are pushing up the creeks to cut off Communications between the city & Fort Pulaski on Cockspur Isd: Unless I hear better news, I must go there today. There are so many points of attack, & so little means to meet them on water, that there is but little rest. I saw Shirley Turner & his family when in C[harleston]. He is a great Sufferer from rheumatism & has been for some years. Miss Grace Totten that was, now Mrs. Stevens, is in C. but I did not see her. She married Lt Stevens of S. C. who has now joined the Confederate navy. I am very sorry to hear that Agnes suffers so from neuralgia. I had hoped she was relieved. Poor child, I wish Something Could be done for her. Perry & Meredith are well & send regards to every body. Give much love to Charlotte & the girls. To the boys when you see them. I have recd. the decree of the Court of appeals in reference to your fathers will. It has decided all the points. The people are to be emancipated at the end of the five years. So much of the legacies as may be unpaid must be raised out of the land of the White House & Romancoke, after devoting to them the proceeds of the sale of the lands at Smith’s Isd: &c., & of all the personal property not otherwise devised at Arlington, White House, Romancoke &c. The hire of the people at A. is also to be devoted to the payment of the legacies. I have requested Custis to get a copy of the decree for himself & Fitzhugh & to attend to all the business & to do what they Can to advance the execution of the will. No sales of land can now be made. The enemy is in possession of Smith’s Isd & what I am to do with the negroes I do not know.

Very truly & sincerely yours

R E Lee




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Mss1 L51 c 340, Section 17, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 May 9