Camp Fredg 23 Feby ’63

I have recd your letter of the 20th dear Mary & am very sorry that your Suffering Continues. I wish I could relieve it, but Can only pray that our Heavenly father will guard & Comfort you. The weather now is very hard upon we poor bushmen. This morg the whole country is covered with a mantle of Snow full a foot deep. It was nearly up to my knees as I stepped out this morg & our poor horses were enveloped. We have dug them out & opened our avenues a little, but it will be terrible & the roads impassable. No cars from Richmond yesterday & I fear our short rations for man & horse will have to be curtailed. Our enemies have their troubles too. They are very strong immediately in front of us but have withdrawn their troops above & below us back towards Aquia Creek, where they can be better provisioned, or be disposed of. They keep very close & we cannot get within their lines to discover their movements. They have sent to New Port news a portion of their force, about the Corps, enough to form an army for Burnside. I do not know what more they will do but am waiting on them. I enclose an answer to Mrs Rives according to your request. I have only time for few words now for every body. You must make up for my deficiencies in all things. I believe she is a cousin of my mothers & Consequently a relative of mine. You had better keep the blanket if Mrs C. can give it houseroom. I have heard nothing of the titled ladies of England. That is evidently fancy. From Charlotte I hear nothing, nor do I know where she is. I hope she is well. From F[itzhugh] & R[ooney] I have recd nothing since my return from Richmond. I saw them at the Cavy review. They are down in Essex or Middlesex & I expect F is exercised to get forage for his horses &c. That is a great labour now, & I fear this hard weather will kill a great many. I owe Mr. F. J. Hooker no thanks for keeping me here in this state of expectancy. He ought to have made up his mind long ago, what to do. The men Can do very well but our animals suffer terribly. I am very sorry to hear of the resignation of Genl. Smith.1 No one ought to resign now, from any Cause, if able to do duty. Nor do I know what he is going to do.

24th We had no mail yesterday & I Could not send my letter. To days [sic] the cars have arrived & has brought me a young french officer, full of vivacity & no english, ardent for service with me. I think the appearance of things will cool him, if they do not, the night will, for he brought no blankets. Tell Mr Caskie, I have recd his letter & have sent Mr Moores letter to Lord Lyons2 to be passed over the river if Genl H. will reserve it. The Courier with his mail was sent over yesterday. Give love to all. Truly yours

R E Lee    




1. Gustavus W. Smith (1821-1896) was from Kentucky. He served for one day as commander of what became the Army of Northern Virginia after Joseph E. Johnston was wounded. He also served as interim Secretary of War for four days in November 1862. He resigned his commission on 1863 February 17 and served on the staff of P.G.T. Beauregard. He then worked at the Etowah Iron Works in northern Georgia until 1864 June 1. He commanded Georgia state militia and remained in Georgia until the end of the war.

2. Richard Lyons, 1st Viscount (1817-1887), a British diplomat, and George Moore, who was the English consul in Richmond. The letter had to do with a sale of Confederate cotton to England.



Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 435, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 December 1