Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XI: The Idol of the South: Photographs and autographs in demand

The Document

The people of Virginia and of the entire South were continually giving evidence of their intense love for General Lee. From all nations, even from the Northern States, came to him marks of admiration and respect. Just at this time he received many applications for his photograph with autograph attached. I believe there were none of the little things in life so irksome to him as having his picture taken in any way, but, when able to comply, he could not refuse to do what was asked of him by those who were willing and anxious to do so much for him.

In the following letter the photographs referred to had been sent to him for his signature, from a supply that my mother generally kept on hand. She was often asked for them by those who very considerately desired to save my father the trouble:

"Lexington, November 21, 1865.

"My Dear Mary: I have just received your letter of the 17th, and return the photographs with my signatures. I wrote to you by the boat of yesterday morning. I also sent you a packet of letters by Captain Wilkinson [commander of the canal packet], which also ought to have reached you to-day. I have nothing to add to my former letters, and only write now that you may receive the photos before you leave. I answered Agnes' letter immediately, and inclosed her several letters. I was in hopes she had made up her mind to eschew weddings and stick to her pap. I do not think she can help little Sallie. Besides, she will not take the oath--how can she get married? The wedding party from this place go down in the boat to-night to Lynchburg--Miss Williamson and Captain Eoff. They are to be married in church at eight P. M. and embark at eleven. I wish them a pleasant passage and am glad I am not of the party. The scenery along the river will no doubt be cheering and agreeable. I think the repairs of the house will be completed this week; should the furniture arrive, it will be habitable next. The weather is still beautiful, which is in our favour. I am glad Caroline is so promising. I have engaged no servant here yet, nor have I found one to my liking. we can get some of some kind, and do better when we can. I have heard nothing of the wedding at 'Belmead,' and do not think Preston will go. Mrs. Cocke is very well, but the furniture she intends for your room is not yet completed. It will be more comfortable and agreeable to you to go at once to the house on your arrival. But if there is anything to make it more desirable for you to come before the house is ready, you must come to the hotel. If we could only get comfortable weather in December, it would be better not to go into the house until it is dry, the paint hard, etc. It will require all this week to get the wood done; then it must be scoured, etc., and the furniture properly arranged. Tell Rob he will soon be well. He must cheer up and come and see his papa. Give my love to Mrs. Cocke, Miss Mary, etc., etc. Tell Agnes, if she thinks Sallie is IN EXTREMIS, to go to her. I do not want her to pass away, but it is a great disappointment to me not to have her with me. I am getting very old and infirm now, and she had better come to her papa and take care of him.

"Most affectionately yours, R. E. Lee.

"Mrs. M. C. Lee."

Next: The General's interest in young people

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How to cite this article

Lee, Robert E. jr., The Recollections & Letters of Robert E. Lee,, webpage created by Rickard, J (8 June 2006),

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