Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XIII: Family Affairs: His fondness for animals

The Document

"Baxter" and "Tom, the Nipper" were Mildred's pets. All of us had a fondness for cats, inherited from my mother and her father, Mr. Custis. My father was very fond of them in his way and in their place, and was kind to them and considerate of their feelings. My father was very fond of them in his way and in their place, and was kind to them and considerate of their feelings. My mother told of his hearing one of the house-pets, possibly Baxter or the Nipper, crying and lamenting under his window one stormy night. The General got out of bed, opened the window, and called pussy to come in. The window was so high that the animal could not jump up to it. My father then stepped softly across the room, took one of my mother's crutches, and held it so far out of the window that he became wet from falling rain; but he persuaded the cat to climb up along the crutch, and into the window, before he thought of dry clothing fo himself. "Lucy Long" was my father's mare, which had been lost or stolen at the end of the war, and which I had just brought back to him. I will give in the following letter his account of her:

"Lexington, Virginia, September 4, 1866.

"Dr. C. S. Garnett.

"Dear Sir: I am much obliged to you for your letter of the 23d ult. and the information it contained. The mare about which my son wrote you was bred by Mr. Stephen Dandridge, of 'The Bower,' Berkeley County, Virginia, and was purchased from him for me by General J. E. B. Stuart in the fall of 1862--after the return of the army from Maryland. She is nine or ten years old, about fifteen hands high, square built, sorrel (not chestnut) colour, has a fast walk, easy pace, and short canter. When I parted with her she had a full long mane and tail. I rode her in conjunction with my gray horse from the fall of '62 to the spring of '64, when she was sent back for refreshment; and it was in recalling her in the spring of '65 from Mr. Hairston's, in Henry County, that she got into Major Paxton's stables of public horses and went to Danville with them. I think she might be recognised by any member of the Army of Northern Virginia, in Essex, unless much changed. I now recollect no distinctive marks about her except a blaze in her forehead and white hind-legs. My son, General W. H. F. Lee, residing at the White House, in New Kent, might recognise her, and also my son Robert, who resides near West Point, in King William. Captain Hopkins, to whom you refer in your letter, is dead, but Major Paxton, who had general charge of the public stables, and to whom I referred you letter, has sent me the accompanying affidavits of two of the men employed by him. Should their evidence not be satisfactory, he will procure statements from some of the officers, which probably may be more definite. I should be obliged to you, if the mare in question is the one I am seeking for, that you would take steps to recover her, as I am desirous of reclaiming her in consideration of the donor, General Stuart.

"Your obedient servant, R. E. Lee."

It was proved to the satisfaction of all parties that the mare in question was "Lucy Long," and my father reimbursed the man who had bought her from some one who had no right to her. She was brought to my place and I recognised her at once. She stayed with me until I was ready to pay my Christmas visit to Lexington. She then was put on the train and sent to Staunton, where I met her. I found there Colonel William Allan, a professor of Washington College, who had a buggy and no horse, and as I had a horse and no buggy, we joined forces and I drove him over to Lexington, "Lucy Long" carrying us with great ease to herself and comfort to us. My father was glad to get her, as he was very fond of her. When he heard how she came over, he was really shocked, as he thought she had never been broken to harness. She lived to be thirty-three years old, and was then chloroformed, because my brother thought she had ceased to enjoy life. For the last ten years of her life she was boarded out in the country, where she did nothing but rest, and until about a year before her death she seemed in good health and spirits.

Next: Chapter XIV: An Ideal Father

A.C.W. Home Page | A.C.W. Subject Index | A.C.W. Books | A.C.W. Links

How to cite this article

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

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us -  Subscribe in a reader - Join our Google Group - Cookies