Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XX: The New Home in Lexington: Numerous guests

The Document

On my father's return to Lexington the new house was ready. It adjoined the one he had been occupying, so the distance was not great and the transfer was easily accomplished. It was much larger and more comfortable than the one given up. My mother's room was on the first floor and opened out on the veranda, extending three sides of the house, where she could she could be rolled in her chair. This she enjoyed intensely, for she was very fond of the open air, and one could see her there every bright day, with Mrs. "Ruffner," a much petted cat, sitting on her shoulder or cradled in her lap. My father's favourite seat was in a deep window of the dining-room, from which his eyes could rest on rolling fields of grass and grain, bounded by the ever-changing mountains. After his early and simple dinner, he usually took a nap of a few minutes, sitting upright in his chair, his hand held and rubbed by one of his daughters. There was a new stable, warm and sunny, for Traveller and his companion, "Lucy Long," a cow-house, wood-shed, garden, and yard, all planned, laid out, and built by my father. The increased room enabled him to invite a great number to visit him, and this summer the house was full.

In answer to a letter from me on business, which reached him during commencement week, he writes:

"Lexington, Viriginia, June 19, 1869.

"My Dear Son: I have just receive your letter of the 10th, and have only time for a word.... I hope all things are going well with you both. With the improvement of your farm, proceeds will increase, and, with experience, judgment, and economy, will augment greatly. You will have to get married if you wish to prosper, and must therefore make arrangements to build your house this fall. If I live through this coming week, I wish to pay you and F--- a visit the week following, about July 1st. I am trying to persuade Custis to accompany me, but he has not yet responded. I am very much occupied with examinations, visitors, arrangements, etc.

"All are well, and would send love if accessible. Mildred is full of housekeeping and dresses, and the house is full of young ladies--Misses Jones, Albert, Burwell, Fairfax, and Wickham; others in expectation. Good-bye,

"Affectionately your father,

"R. E. Lee.

"Robert E. Lee, Jr.

Ten days later, he writes to his son, Fitzhugh, giving up his proposed visit to him at this time, expressing his regrets at the necessity, and telling his reasons for so doing:

"Lexington, Viriginia, June 30, 1869.

"My Dear Fitzhugh: This is the day that I had proposed to visit you, but I find it impossible to get away. I find a great deal to do in closing up the past session and in preparing for the new. In addition, our college officers have all been changed--proctor, clerk, treasurer, librarian--and the new incumbents enter upon their duties to-morrow. I shall have to be with them some days to initiate and install them. That would only delay me, but then on the 15th proximo the Educational Association of Virginia will meet here, and I should not be able to return in time. As I have never attended any of their meetings when elsewhere, if I were to go away when appointed here it would look as if I wished to avoid them, which is not the case. After that is over, I must locate your poor mother at the Baths [Rockbridge Baths], which she has made up her mind to visit, and prepare to go myself to the White Sulphur, the waters of which I want to drink for three or four weeks. So I do not see how I could get to the Pamunkey before fall. I want to get there very much to see you all, and, as far as my personal predilections are concerned, would rather go there than to the White; but the doctors think it would not be so beneficial to me, and I am obliged now to consider my health. I propose, therefore, that you bring Tabb and the baby up to the mountains and leave them either at the Baths with 'the Mim' or with me, if you cannot remain. Tell Rob, if he can, he must also come and see us. If he were here, now, he would find very pleasant company, Misses Jones, Albert, Kirkland, Burwell, Fairfax, and Wickham, all in the house, with others out of it. They are so much engaged with the collegates that Custis and I see but little of them, but he could compete with the YEARLINGS, which we cannot. Tell my daughter Tabb, her father is here, very well, and dined with us yesterday. Give my much love to grandson. He must not forget me. I have a puppy and a kitten for him to play with. All send love.

"Truly your father,

"R. E. Lee."

"General William H. Fitzhugh Lee."

Next: Further sojourns at different Baths

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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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