Camp Fredg 31 May 1863


I have been trying all the week my dear Mary to write to you. But have been unable. You must always remember when you do not hear from me that I have no time to write, & have nothing particular to Say. I am very glad to hear that you are even a little better. I trust your improvement will Continue & that you will attain your usual Comfortable Condition. That will be a great relief for which I shall be fervently thankful to our Heavenly father. I told you you would not be satisfied with the Photographs. I should indeed like very much to See Mildred on her return from school, both for the pleasure it would give me, & also that I might better form an opinion as to her future Course. But where I may be then, or what may be the condition of things I cannot say. I shall leave it therefore to you & Custis. I think I Can trust the discretion of the latter in this case. I think I Can trust the discretion of the latter in this case. I enclose a very complimentary letter from DrSmedes. I have been extremely gratified at his account of her progress & deportment. As far as I Can now judge, I think she had better return for I do not see what better she Can do in the present unsettled state of affairs. I am sorry indeed that MrC. is deprived of the services of Arthur. He has doubtless gone to the enemy. Young John is very well. I have seen him since the last battle, on the battlefield. Beverly C1 I can hear nothing of. I should like to Know where he is. I have recd a letter from Charlotte. She was at Culpepper CtHouse, very Comfortable & happy. Had seen the review & all the Genls & had much to say about F. It was written in pencil so I suppose ink is scarce. F & R were both well & according to C. looked uncommonly handsome at the review. Tell Miss Nannie Hutchinson1 also. Genl Hooker has been very busy the past week & equally active. He has not said what he intended to do but has given out by his movements that he designs crossing the Rappk. I think we shall hear from Genl Stoneman must also I hope we may be able to frustrate their plans seem to place great reliance & his Corps of veterans of 30,000 men. I pray that our merciful father in heaven may protect & direct us. In that Case I fear no odds & no numbers. Kiss Agnes for me & Custis. I hope the Presidents health is improving, though I suppose he Cannot feel better as long as this uncertainty hangs over Vicksburg. May God bless us with a victory there too! Genl Ewell came up day before yesterday with his wife son & daughter. He looks very well & is very stout of heart. Mrs. E & daughter I think returned to Richmd yesterday. God bless you my dear Mary. Truly yours R E Lee




1. Beverly Randolph Codwise. On Codwise, see Lee’s letter of 1863 April 19.

2. Nancy “Nannie” E. (Hutchinson) Dawson (1851-9109) was the daughter of Mary Edmonia Caskie Hutchinson (1822-1852) and Robert Hutchinson (1802-1861), a native of Scotland, who moved to Savannah as a young man. Nannie moved to England during the Civil War and married John Tempest Dawson (1839-1909), a native of Canada. In February of 1909, Nannie was shot by her husband in the National Portrait Gallery in London before turning the gun on himself. He died instantly, but she lingered for two hours before dying in hospital. The murder-suicide made international headlines. For more about Nannie, see Walter E. Wilson, The Bulloch Belles: Three First Ladies, a Spy, a President’s Mother and other Women of a 19th Century Georgia Family (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015). Nannie’s mother, Mary, was the daughter of John (1790-1867) and Martha Jane Caskie (1797-1844) of Richmond, Virginia. Her mother’s siblings still alive during the Civil War included James Kerr Caskie (1818-1868), Robert Alexander Caskie (1830-1928), and William Henderson Caskie (1834-1900). One sibling, Elizabeth Euphemia Caskie (1831-1854), married James Dunwoody Bulloch (1823-1901), a native of Savannah, who worked as a Confederate naval agent during the war. Nannie apparently was named for her aunt Nannie Euphemia Caskie Harrison (1824-1857), who married Samuel J. Harrison of Missouri. Many in the Caskie-Hutchinson families are buried in Shockoe Cemetery in Richmond.      



Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L 51 c 455, Section 22, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 February 9