Camp Culpepper [sic] 27 July 1863


I have heard my precious daughter that you have returned to your school. I cannot tell you how I regret not having seen you. I had looked forward to your vacation with so much pleasure this summer in the hope of seeing you a little while at least. But it is past & I am disappd. I wanted to see how you were, how you looked & whom you resembled. Have you no photograph of yourself that you Could send me. I am glad however that you have returned to school for your sake. I think it is the best Course you Could have pursued. I hope you will be able to learn a great deal this year & by the next that there will be peace over the land & that we shall all be together when I can enjoy the happiness of being once more with you. I long for that time very much & pray that we may all be long united in this world & forever in the next. I heard from your mother on her way to the Hot springs, the day she started from Ashland. She had got that far very well & her prospects for a Comfortable journey were good. I trust that she may be relieved from her great affliction & at last find ease. I hope indeed all may be benefited & especially that Charlotte & Agnes may be cured, the one of debility & the other of neuralgia. I suppose Sister had a great [words missing] sufferings of our poor [words missing] extends pretty much [words missing]1 make up our minds to bear it. I saw some of your acquaintances in the valley who enquired particularly after you, particularly Miss Sally Dandridge2 & Miss Fanny Mc___ of Smithfield. I have forgotten her name but her mother was a Miss Nelson. She said she was a great friend of yours & that you had once accompanied her home during some holy day. I saw her mother also & Dr Nelson &c &c. Poor Winchester has been terribly devastated & the inhabitants plundered of all they possessed. Mr James Masons residence3 has been torn down to the ground. Scarcely one brick stands upon another & a pile of rubbish rests upon the hill on which it stood. I hope you will have time to write to me sometimes, for though I have little time to reply, I shall enjoy the perusal of your letters very much. You must tell me how you found your mother Charlotte sisters & Rob. I suppose Rob thinks himself almost a man now. I hope you had a pleasant visit to Virginia & that you have carried back with you pleasant thoughts & reflections. My only pleasure is to think of your mother & my children. May God bless you my dear daughter, strew your path in that world with every happiness & finally gather you & all of us to his mansions of bliss in heaven is my daily & hourly prayer! Tell me of your companions; your roommate, studies, occupations &c. & all that concerns you will be interesting.




1. The bottom left-hand corner of the letter was apparently removed for the signature of Robert E. Lee on the back.

2. Sarah “Sallie” Pendleton Dandridge Hughes (1839-1879) was born at “The Bower” in western Virginia (present day Jefferson County, WV). She courted John Pelham during the war, but he was killed in March of 1863. “The Bower” was used as a headquarters by Jeb Stuart during the war. After the war she married and died while giving birth. She is buried in Martinsburg in Berkeley County, WV. The Dandridges were related to the Washingtons.

3. “Selma” plantation in Winchester, Virginia. Federal troops occupied it in March of 1862 and began dismantling it slowly over the next ten months. It was the home of James Mason (1798-1871) of Mason and Slidell mission fame. Mason served in the Senate and the Virginia House of Delegates. After failing to achieve diplomatic recognition from England in 1863, he moved to Paris, where he lived for the rest of the war.




Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 467, Section 23, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 March 3