Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XIX: Lee's Letters to His Sons: Visits Alexandria

The Document

After leaving Washington, he stopped in Alexandria for several days, as the guest of Mrs. A. M. Fitzhugh. It was at her country place, "Ravensworth," about ten miles from town, that his mother had died, and there, in the old ivy-covered graveyard, she was buried. Mrs. Fitzhugh was the wife of my mother's uncle, Mr. William Henry Fitzhugh, who, having no children, had made my mother his heir. The intimacy between "Arlington" and "Ravensworth" was very close. Since Mr. Fitzhugh's death, which occurred some thirty years prior to this time, my father and mother and their children had been thrown a great deal with his widow, and "Aunt Maria," as we called her, became almost a member of the family. She had the greatest love and admiration for "Robert," sought his advice in the management of her estate, and trusted him implicitly. His brother, Admiral Sidney Smith lee, came up from "Richland," his home on the Potomac near Acquia Creek, to meet him, and he found at Mrs. Fitzhugh's "Aunt Nannie" [Mrs. S. S. Lee] and her son Fitz. Lee. This was the first time they had met each other since their parting in Richmond just after the war.

On his arrival in Alexandria my father had walked up from the wharf to "Aunt Maria's." He was recognised by a number of citizens, who showed him the greatest deference and respect. So many of his friends called upon him at Mrs. Fitzhugh's that it was arranged to have a reception for him at the Mansion House. For three hours a constant stream of visitors poured into the parlours. The reception was the greatest ovation that any individual had received from the people of Alexandria since the days of Washington. The next day, in Bishop Johns' carriage, he drove out to Seminary Hill to the home of Mr. Cassius F. Lee, his first cousin, where he spent the night. In the afternoon he went to see the bishop and his family--General Cooper and the Reverend Dr. Packard. The next morning, with Uncle Smith, he attended Ascension-Day services at Christ church, and was afterward entertained at a dinner-party given by Mr. John B. Daingerfield. Before he left Alexandria he called on Mr. John Janney, who was president of the Virginia Convention in 1861, when, as Colonel Lee, he appeared before it and accepted the command of the Virginia forces, organised and to be organised.

Next: Declines to be interviewed

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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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