Camp Culpepper [sic] 26 July 1863


I recd last night dear Mary your letter Commenced at H. H. on the 18th enclosing one from Charlotte of the same date. I also got a Kind note from Margt Stuart dated 22nd at Ashland giving me an account of your journey that far & of your departure for the Hot springs. I am extremely grateful to our Kind friends for their Considerate attendions to you & wish it was in my power to thank them for it. I hope the Car prepared for you may alleviate as far as possible the pain & fatigue I fear you will suffer in your journey. But if a merciful God will only bless the means it seems alone open to you to attain relief, we must bear all else in the effort to accomplish it. I pray this may be his holy pleasure, & that you may be again restored to a comfortable state of health should a perfect Cure not be vouchsafed you. I am glad too you have Mary & Agnes with you, but who will go to the Alum with C[harlotte Wickham Lee]? Poor child I am too sorry she is suffering in health as well as from her separation from F[itzhugh]. She writes as if in distress & sadness. You must try & cheer her. It now cannot be avoided & we have only to submit. I hope his exchange may be soon effected. But nothing can be done to hasten it. The more anxiety shewn on our part, the more it will be procrastinated by our enemies, whose pleasure seems to be to injure harass & annoy us as much as their extensive means enable them. I am glad Marys health is so good. I hope my poor little Agnes will be able to threw off her neuralgia & that you will all return full of health & thankfulness to our Heavenly father for the mercies bestowed upon us. Tell M[ary]. I recd her (two) letters from Dr S’s [Stuart’s] but was unable to reply for fear of Compromitting our scouts, on whom if my letters had been found extreme punishment would have been inflicted. For the same reason I had to discourage her writing to me. Now I have no time, but I think of her Constantly & I Cannot express how I long & pray that God in his mercy may pardon my many & long standing sins & once more gather around me you & my dear children & grant me a little time with you all before I go hence & be no more seen. How great is my remorse at having thrown away my time & abused the opportunities afforded me. Now I am unable to benefit either myself or others & am recg in this world the punishment due to my sins & follies. I regret so not seeing Mildred & am saddened by the thought that the opportunity may never recur. But Gods will be done! I am glad you have my Rob for your escort. I trust all will go well with you & him. After crossing the Potomac finding that the Shenandoah was six feet above fording stage & having waited a week for it to fall so that I might cross into Loudoun; fearing that the enemy might take advantage of our position to move upon Richmond. I determined to ascend the valley & Come into Culpepper [sic]. Two Corps are here with me. The third passed up to Thorntons gap & I hope will be in striking distance tomorrow. The army has laboured hard, endured much & behaved nobly. It has accomplished all that Could have been reasonably expected. It ought not to have been expected to have performed impossibilities or to have fulfilled the anticipations of the thoughtless & unreasonable. You must give a great deal of love to daughter & Agnes. Also to Charlotte & Mildred when you write. Tell C__ my affection for F my sympathy for her, & distress at their forcible separation, is not the less because their expression is restrained. I am accustomed to bear my sorrows in silence. My prayers for her & F are fervent & Constant & my trust is in God for their relief from their distress.

May God in his infinite mercy guard guide & protect you all, & once more give peace & rest to our distracted Country!

Truly & affy yours

R E Lee



P.S. I do not recollect whether I told you of the death of Mary Lowe.1 She died at Savannah in June in premature child birth, leaving four little children. Her mother was in Bartow & her little Grd children have all been taken up to her by their good aunt Miss Kate Mackay. I have written a short note of condolence to Mrs L__





1. Mary Cowper Low (1832-1863), who was married to Andrew Low (1813-1886). Her parents were William Henry Stiles (1808-1865) and Elizabeth Ann (Mackay) Stiles (1810-1867). Their children were Katie Mackay (1855-1923), Mary Cowper (1859-1932), William Mackay (1860-1905), and Jessie (1862-1934). Andrew and Mary were married in 1854. Andrew was born in Scotland, and he inherited his father’s successful business in cotton and dry goods. Andrew and Mary were staunch Confederates. For more on the Lows, see Tania June Sammons and Virginia Connerat Logan, The Andrew Low House (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2018).     




Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L 51 c 466, Section 23, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 February 25