Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XXIII: A Round of Visits: Tired of public places

The Document

"Hot Springs, Bath County, Virginia, August 23, 1870.

"My Dear Mary: I have received your various notes of the 17th and 18th, and I am glad to hear of your well-being. Our good cow will be a loss to us, but her troubles are all over now, and I am grateful to her for what she has done for us. I hope that we did our duty to her. I have written to Mr. Andrew Cameron to inquire about a young cow he has of mine, and asked him to let you know if she is giving milk. If his report is good, you had better send for her. She is, however, young, and will require very gentle treatment. Caution Henry on that point. I have told him, Mr. C---, also, that you would send for the horses, which I wish you would do as soon as you can see that they will be properly cared for. Tell Henry to be particularly gentle and kind to them, or the gray will give him great trouble. He must wash them clean, and not pull out their manes and tails. The girls will have to exercise them till Custis comes. I suppose we may give up expecting Edward. Retain Henry till you can find someone better. You had also better engage some woman or man for a month as a dining-room servant. I think Easter has not intention of coming to us before October, and she will not come then if Mr.--- can keep her. You will have so many friends staying with you that you cannot make them comfortable unless you have more servants. As I stated in a previous letter, I shall go to Staunton on the 29th. I hope I shall be detained but a few days. Lest your funds may run low, I send you a check.... The girls can get it cashed. I may be detained, but I hope to return in time to see our children and friends. I have been here a fortnight to-day. I hope that I am better, but am aware of no material change, except that I am weaker. I am very anxious to get back. It is very wearying at these public places and the benefit hardly worth the cost. I do not think I can even stand Lexington long. Colonels Allan and Johnston [Professors Wm. Allan and William Preston Johnston of Washington College. The former afterward principal of the McDonough School, near Baltimore, Maryland; the latter president of Tulane University, New Orleans] arrived this evening on horseback and have given me all Lexington news. Mr. Sledge and his wife, from Huntsville, brother of the Colonel, also arrived, and a Mr. and Mrs. Leeds, from New Orleans, with ten children, mostly little girls. The latter are a great addition to my comfort. I have written to Fitzhugh and Mrs. Podestad. Robert, you know, said he would make his annual visit the first week in September. Tell the girls they must make preparations to welcome all. Mrs. Walker, wife of the former Secretary of War in the Confederacy, is here with her son, whom she says she is anxious to place in the college, and wishes to visit Lexington with that view. I have offered my escort and invited her to stay with us. I do not know whether she will go with me. The girls will have to prepare my room for some of the visitors, and put me anywhere. I can be very comfortable in the library. Tell the little creatures they must work like beavers and get a supply of eggs and chickens. Recollect there is flour at Leyburn's mill when you want it. Thank Mildred for her letter. Remember me to all, and believe me,

"Always yours affectionately,

"R. E. Lee.

"Mrs. M. C. Lee.

"P.S.--I send you an order for the horses. Tell Henry to take with him a bridle and halter. You must write for the cow if you want her. R. E. Lee."

Next: Preference for country life

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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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