Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XVII: The Reconstruction Period: Letter to Mrs. Fitzhugh Lee

The Document

My father came to Richmond, summoned to attend the trial of Mr. Davis, but when he arrived he found that it was again postponed. So he went to the White House and spent several days. I came up from Romancoke and stayed with him till he left. It was a great pleasure to him to meet his sons and to see his new daughter in her new home. After his return to Lexington he wrote to her this letter:

"Lexington, Viriginia, May 29, 1868.

"My Dear Daughter: I have been enjoying the memory, ever since my return, my visit to the Pamunkey, and whenever I have thought of writing to you the pleasure I experienced in your company and in that of Fitzhugh and Robert absorbed the moment I could devote to a letter, and other calls made me postpone it. But I have thought of you often, and always with renewed pleasure; and I rejoice at your having around you more comforts and within your reach more pleasures than I had anticipated. I pray that both may be increased and be long continued. There is one thing I regret--that you are so far from us. I know the difficulty of farmers and their wives leaving home. Their success, and in a measure their pleasure, depend upon their daily attention to their affairs, and it is almost an impossibility for us old people to get to you. Yet I trust we may meet this summer some time, and whenever you can you must come and see us. Our small house will never be so full that there will not be room for you, or so empty that you will not be most cordially welcome. Letters received from Mary and Agnes report them still on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where they were detained by the sickness of Agnes. They expected, however, to be able to return to Baltimore last Tuesday, 26th, where, after a few days' sojourn, they were to go to Mrs. Washington Peter's. I fear, however, that Agnes might not have been well enough, as she had had an attack of bilious fever and was much prostrated. Should you find yourself in danger of becoming sick, you must come right up to your papa. I know you will pine, but I would rather you should suffer in that way than burn with fever, and while on that subject I will tell you something that may be of comfort: you may reasonably expect Fitzhugh soon to follow, so you will not suffer long. I wish to take your mama to the Warm Springs, and to the Hot or Healing, if she will go, to try to obtain for her some relief; but we will not leave home till the last of June or first of July. I am so much occupied that I feel that I ought never to go away, and every absence accumulates my work. I had a pleasant visit of three days, to Lynchburg, attending the Episcopal Convention, and I have not yet brought up my correspondence, etc. I fear, too, I shall have to go to Richmond next week, as everything seems to portend the certainty of Mr. Davis's trial. God grant that, like the impeachment of Mr. Johnson, it may be dismissed. If I do go, I fear I shall have no time to visit you. The examinations of the senior classes of the college are now in progress, and after their completion the examination of the undergraduates will commence, and will not terminate till the 15th of June, and the commencement exercises them begin and end on the 18th. So you see how necessary it is for me to be here and that I shall be obliged to hasten back as soon as permitted. I wanted, if possible, to pass one day at 'Shirley'--I have not been there for ten years. It was the loved home of my mother, and a spot where I have passed many happy days in early life, and one that probably I may never visit again. But I do not know that I shall be able. We are all as usual, and all would send much love if they knew I was writing. Mildred is very happing in the company of Miss Charlotte Haxall, and Custis retains his serenity of character. Our young members of the family are looking forward to their return to Powhatan as soon as the college exercises close, which I hope will bring some relief to me also. I see that you have been much visited of late, but you know that no one wants to see you as much as I do. Tell Fitzhugh that his old friend, Miss Helen Peters, has come to Lexington, from New York, to pass the summer. She is now Mrs. Taylor and has brought with her two babies. She is as cordial and affectionate as ever. Give much love to Fitzhugh and Rob, and believe me always your devoted father,

"R. E. Lee.

"Mrs. Wm. H. Fitzhugh Lee."

Next: Intercourse with Faculty

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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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