Camp Rapidan 4 Decr ’63


My dear Mary

I recd when the army was in line of battle your letter of the 28th Ulto: & as Custis proposes to return to Richmond tomorrow I must endeavour to write a few lines in reply. You will probably have seen that Genl Meade has retired to his old position on the Rappk without giving us battle. I had expected from his movements & all that I had heard that it was his intention to do so, & after the first day, when I thought it necessary to skirmish pretty sharply with him on both flanks to ascertain his views, I waited patiently his attack. Tuesday however I thought he had changed his mind & that night made preparations to move around his left next morning & attack him. But when day dawned he was no where to be seen. He had Commenced to withdraw at dark tuesday evg. We pursued to the Rapidan, but he was over. Owing to the nature of the ground it was to our advantage to receive rather than to make the attack, & as he about doubled us in numbers, I wished to have that advantage. I am greatly disappd at his getting off with so little damage, but we do not know what is best for us, & I believe a kind God has ordered all things for our good. I must leave to Custis to tell you of all events. I send you a letter from Judge Field, which I also recd when in line of battle. I have kept the salve & will try it, but you will see the prescription & can have it made & try it. I hope it will relieve us both. I am much better, though still stiff & painful. I fear I will never be better & must be content. I recd the box from Mrs. Heiskell when we returned to Culpepper [sic]. It was very acceptable & Contained all things a man might want in the field. It was sent to Col. Corley for whom half the box was intended & Bryan divided it with him. I hope it was done fairly. Col. Corley promised to return all the clothes, &c with my thanks for her kind Consideration. Mr. Heiskell was in western Virga with Col. Corley, & it was on that account I suppose I came in for part of his favours. Do ask Mrs. Atkinson to express my gratitude to Mrs. H__. I am glad to hear there is a prospect of getting socks & gloves for the soldiers. Tell all the young girls to set to work industriously, knit night & day. None of them shall see their sweethearts till they are forthcoming. So Misses Norvell & Silby must better themselves. Send Beverly Coderise’s coat, &c, to me through Col. Corley, as you send the socks. They will come safely. I have not seen him for sometime. As to my jackets get any pattern to fit a big old man & cut them large. Measure Custis & give an extra size or two. Good bye with love to the girls & Charlotte.

I am most truly & affy yours

R E Lee




Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L 51 c 493, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 May 25