Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XVI: An Advisor of Young Men: His affection for his prospective daughter-in-law

The Document

My brother Fitzhugh was to be married that autumn. This event, so soon to take place, gave my father great pleasure. He was an earnest advocate of matrimony, and was constantly urging his sons to take to themselves wives. With his daughters he was less pressing. Though apparently always willing to have another daughter, he did not seem to long for any more sons. He thus writes to my brother when his engagement was formally announced to him:

"Lexington, Virginia, September 20, 1867.

"My Dear Fitzhugh: I have been anxious for some time to write to you, to express the pleasure I have felt a the prospects of your marriage with Miss Bolling; but sickness has prevented, and I am still so feeble that I cannot attend to the pressing business connected with the college. As you know how deeply I feel all that concerns you, you may feel assured of the pleasure I derived from your letter to your mother informing her of your engagement. I have the most pleasing recollection of 'Miss Tabb,' and of her kindness to me, and now that she has consented to by my daughter the measure of my gratitude is filled to overflowing. I hope she will not delay the consummation, for I want to see her very much, and I fear she will not come to see me until then. You must present her my warm love, and you both must accept my earnest prayers and most fervent wishes for your future happiness and prosperity. I am glad that your house is progressing and that your crops promise well. I hope that you soon will be able to come and see us. Your mother, I hope, has derived some benefit from her visit to the Springs. Her general health is improved, but I see no relaxation in her rheumatic complaint. The girls are quite well, and all send love....

"Your affectionate father,

"R. E. Lee.

"General William H. F. Lee."

The young lady who was so soon to become a member of his family was Miss Mary Tabb Bolling, the daughter of Mr. G. W. Bolling, of Petersburg, Virginia. Her father had been very kind to General Lee during the eventful months of the siege of that town, and his daughter had been often to see him and was a great favourite of his. My brother was especially anxious that his father should be present at his wedding, and had been urging him to make his arrangements to come. The sickness to which he frequently alludes in his recent letters had been annoying him since his return from the White Sulphur Springs up to this time, and he now writes proposing that my brother and bride should come to him instead of his going to the wedding:

"Lexington, Virginia, November 15, 1867.

"My Dear Fitzhugh: I received this morning your letter of the 13th, and am glad to hear of your safe arrival and of the favourable condition of things at your home. I was afraid your house would not be ready at the time supposed, but I would not delay the wedding on that account--you can exist without it. We have one here at your service, though a poor one. I am obliged to you for having arranged about my clothes. Upon reflection, I think it better not to go to the White House and Romancoke before the wedding. You and Robert could hardly pay the necessary attention to business matters with your hands filled with love and matrimony. I think of catching up Rob and marrying him to some of my sweethearts while I am down, so as to prevent the necessity from him to reach Petersburg by the 28th, and we have arranged to commence our journey on Monday night, 25th inst., at 12 M., so as to reach Richmond Tuesday evening, remain there the 27th and go to Petersburg the 28th. I do not think I shall be able to go to the White House at all. I should not be able to aid you or Rob, my only object, and would put you to much trouble.... We are all as you left us, and miss you and Mildred very much.

"Very affectionately, your father,

"R. E. Lee.

"General William H. F. Lee."

Next: Fitzhugh's wedding

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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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