Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XIX: Lee's Letters to His Sons: Lionised in Baltimore

The Document

The delegation was invited to the floor of the Corn and Flour Exchange, to meet the business men of the city. My father, for the same reasons given above, earnestly desired to be excused from this part of the programme, and asked some of his friends to see Mr. John W. Garrett, the president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, who had the delegation in charge, and try to have it so arranged. Mr. Garrett, however, was very positive.

"General Lee is a most interesting man; I think he had better come," was the message brought back to him.

As he appeared on the floor, which was filled with a great crowd, he was greeted with deafening cheers, and was soon surrounded by the thousands who had assembled there to see him. Everywhere that he appeared in the city he received an ovation. Sunday intervening, he attended services in the morning at St. Paul's church on Charles Street. When it became known that General Lee was there, large numbers collected to see him come out, waiting patiently and quietly until the congregation was dismissed. As he appeared at the door, all heads were uncovered and kept so until he had passed through the long lines extending down the street.

A reception was given by Mr. Tagart in his honour. There his friends crowded to see him, and the greatest affection and deference were shown him. He had lived in Baltimore about twenty years before this time, and many of his old friends were still there; besides, Baltimore had sent to the Army of Northern Virginia a large body of her noble sons, who were only too glad to greet once more their former commander. That he was still "a prisoner on parole," disfranchised from all civil rights, made their love for him stronger and their welcome the more hearty. On his return to Lexington, he was asked how he enjoyed his visit. With a sad smile, he said:

"Very much; but they would make too much fuss over the old rebel."

A few days after he came home, when one of his daughters remonstrated with him about the hat he was wearing, he replied:

"You don't like this hat? Why, I have seen a whole cityful come out to admire it!"

There is only a short note to my mother that I can find written during this trip:

"Baltimore, April 27, 1869.

"My Dear Mary: I am still at Mr. Tagart's, but propose going to-morrow to Ella's, and thence to Washington's, which will consume Wednesday and Thursday. If not obliged to return here, which I cannot tell till this evening or to-morrow morning, I will then go to Washington, where I shall be obliged to spend a day or two, and thence to Alexandria, so I shall not be able to return to Lexington till the last of next week. What has become of little Agnes? I have seen many of our old friends, of whom I will tell you on my return. I have bought you a little carriage, the best I could find, which I hope will enable you to take some pleasant rides. All send love. Give mine to Mildred, and Custis, and all friends. I am just about starting to Mrs. Baker's.

"Truly and affectionately, R. E. Lee.

"Mrs. M. C. Lee."

The "Ella" mentioned was Mrs. Sam George, of Baltimore, who as a girl had always been a pet and favourite of my father. She was a daughter of his first cousin, Mr. Charles Henry Carter, of "Goodwood," Prince George County, Maryland, and a schoolmate of my sister Mary. Their country place was near Ellicott City. He went there to see her, and from there to "Lynwood," near by, the seat of Washington Peter, my mother's first cousin and an intimate friend of us all

Next: Calls on President Grant

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How to cite this article

Lee, Robert E. jr., The Recollections & Letters of Robert E. Lee, http://www.historyofwar.org/sources/acw/lee_letters/chapter19d.html, webpage created by Rickard, J (8 June 2006),

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