Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XIX: Lee's Letters to His Sons: Declines to be interviewed

The Document

Tne evening a correspondent of the New York "Herald" paid him a visit for the purpose of securing an interview. The General was courteous and polite, but very firm. He stood during the interview, and finally dismissed the reporter, saying:

"I shall be glad to see you as a friend, but request that the visit may not be made in your professional capacity."

The same correspondent had tried to interview him, for his paper, while he was in Baltimore, but had failed.

My father was much amused at an occurance that took place during this visit. Late one afternoon a visitor was announced. As the General was very tired, Uncle Smith Lee volunteered to relieve him. The visitor was found to be an Irishwoman, very stout and unprepossessing, who asked if she could see the General. The Admiral bowed, intimating that he was the desired person, when she said:

"My boy was with you in the war, honey, and I must kiss you for his sake." And with that she gave the Admiral an embrace and a kiss. Mr. Cassius Lee, to whom he told this, suggested that he should take General Fitz. Lee along to put forward in such emergencies.

My father's first letter after his return to Lexington was the following:

"Lexington, Virginia, May 11, 1869.

"My Dear Fitzhugh: I reached here last Saturday, bringing Agnes and Miss Peyton with me from Staunton. Found everybody well and Custis better. I had, upon, the whole, a pleasant visit, and was particularly glad to see again our old friends and neighbours in Alexandria and vicinity; though should have preferred to enjoy their company in a more quiet way. Your Uncle Smith came up to meet me, and your Aunt Nannie and Fitz. were there. I had not seen them since I parted from them in Richmond after the war. I wish I could have visited you and Rob and have seen my daughter and grandson; but that pleasure, I trust, is preserved for a future day. How is the little fellow? I was much relieved after parting from you to hear from the doctors that it was the best time for him to have the whooping-cough, in which opinion the 'Mim' concurs. I hope that he is doing well. Bishop Whittle will be here Friday next and is invited to stay with us. There are to be a great many preparatory religious exercises this week. A great feeling of religion pervades the young in the community, especially at the Virginia Military Institute. All send love.

"Your affectionate father,

"R. E. Lee."

Next: Interested in his grandson

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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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