Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XVIII: Mrs. R. E. Lee: Goes to Warm Springs for rheumatism

The Document

That summer my father determined to take my mother to the Warm Springs, in Bath County, Virginia, hoping that the baths there might be of service to her, and purposing, if she was not benefited, to go to the Hot Springs, five miles distant. He was most anxious that his new daughter should join her there and go with him to any place she might select and come back with them to Lexington. In the following letter to his son he tells of his plans for the summer:

"Lexington, Virginia, July 1, 1868.

"My Dear Fitzhugh: I received yesterday your letter of the 28th ultimo, and regret very much to learn of Tabb's indisposition. I hope that she will soon be well, and I wish very much she would join us in the mountains and return here with us. In my letter to her about the time when she went to her sister's wedding, which I hope she got, I told her of my wishes on the subject, and believe gave her our general plans. I can now say with more distinctness that, unless something now unforeseen should prevent, I will take your mother to the Warm Sprints, from the 10th to the 15th inst., and after trying the water there about two weeks, if not favourable, will take her over to the Hot. After seeing her comfortably established, I will then go anywhere Tabb desires--to the Healing or the White Sulphur or Sweet. I intend to go myself to the White Sulphur for about a fortnight, to drink the water, and will take Mildred with me. Agnes, having gone last summer, will not care to go, I presume, and can remain with her mother. Mildred has been quite sick for the past week, but is now much better, and in a week will be strong enough for the journey, I think. If not, we shall have to delay our departure a little. Agnes was also sick on the Eastern Shore of Maryland about three weeks, and, I am told, looks badly. She is now at the University of Virginia, and will be home in a few days and go with us to the Springs. You must arrange your plans to suit your interests and convenience, coming to us when you can and staying as long as you can. You know the interest I take in your prosperity and advancement, which cannot be assured without earnest attention to your business on your part, and therefore I never urge you to act contrary to your own judgement in reference to them. As to my daughter, Tabb, tell her if she will trust herself to her papa she shall never want anything he can do for her, and I think she will find the prediction in my letter to her verified. She might join us at Goshen and go with us, or come here. Why did she not come up with her father? I went to see him last evening, but he was out. Your mother, I presume, has told you of home affairs. She has become nervous of late, and broods over her troubles so much that I fear it increases her sufferings. I am therefore the more anxious to give her new scenes and new thoughts. It is the principal good I anticipate. Love to Rob. Custis still talks of visiting you, but I have not heard of his having fixed the day of his departure. He is quite well. With my best love to my daughter T--- and the same to yourself, I am,

"Most affectionately your father,

"R. E. Lee."

The morning he left Lexington he, while waiting for the stage, writes as follows to a great favourite of his, a friend of Mildred's, who had been on a visit to her that summer:

"Lexington, Virginia, July 14, 1868.

"...The stage is at the door to carry us to Goshen, and if Mrs. Lee's strength permits, we hope to reach the Warm Springs to-night. After two or three week's trial of its waters we shall go to the Hot, where, leaving Agnes to take care of her mother, I shall take Mildred to the White Sulphur, and hope to meet you at Covington and carry you along. Will you not come?... Mildred is quite well again and is flying about this morning with great activity. Agnes is following with slower steps, Mrs. Lee is giving her last injunctions to Sam and Eliza. Letitia [my mother's maid] is looking on with wonder at the preparations, and trying to get a right conception of the place to which she is going, which she seems to think is something between a steel-trap and a spring-gun. Custis is waiting to help his mother into the stage, and you see how patient I am. To add interest to the scene, Dr. Barton has arrived to bid adieu and to give Mildred an opportunity of looking her best. I believe he is the last rose of summer. The others, with their fragrance and thorns, have all departed...."

Next: Her daughter Mildred takes typhoid there

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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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