Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XXIV: Last Days: Letter to his wife

The Document

The following is the last letter that I can find written by my father to my mother. He was back in Lexington early in September, and was never separated from her again while he lived:

"Hot Springs, August 27, 1870.

"My Dear Mary: I have received your letter of the 22d. I should remain here a week longer if time permitted, as I have felt in the last few days better than I have yet, but I am obliged to be in Staunton on the 30th and therefore must leave Monday, 29th. I should not have time to return here. The college opens on September 15th, and I wish to see that all things are prepared. Possibly the little improvement now felt will continue. If not, I shall have to bear my malady. I am truly sorry to hear of Edwin Lee's death [Colonel Edwin Grey Lee was a near cousin. He had distinguished himself in the late war. At its commencement he had volunteered, and was made a 2d. lieutenant in the Second Virginia regiment, "Stonewall Brigade." From that rank he quickly rose to be lieutenant colonel of the 33d Virginia, in the same brigade. In 1862 his health, which was very feeble, compelled him to resign, but after a short time he again entered the service, though he never became strong enough to serve actively in the field. General lee's opinion of his abilities was very high.]. He was a true man, and, if health had permitted, would have been an ornament as well as a benefit to his race. He certainly was a great credit to the name. Give my sincere sympathy to his wife and family. You have never mentioned anything of Dr. Grahame. I have heard that he was in a critical condition. I saw Colonels Allan and Johnston. They only stayed a day, and went on to the White. I have heard of them on their return, and presume they will reach Lexington to-morrow. Mr. George Taylor, who has been a month at the White, arrived here to-day. Both he and his wife are well. The company is thinning, though arrivals occur daily. Mr. Middleton and his daughter and son, from Washington, whom you may recollect, also came. But I hope to see you so soon that I will defer my narrative. I am glad that Mary is enjoying herself and that Rob is so happy. May both long continue so. I will endeavour to get the muslin, but fear I shall not succeed. I trust I may not be detained in Staunton more than a day or two. In that event, you may expect me Thursday, September 1st, but I cannot say as to time. I hope that I shall find you all well. Give my love to Agnes and Mildred, and Custis, if he has arrived. Colonel Turner is very well. Tell his wife that he was exhibited to-day at the Healing as a specimen of the health of the Hot. In my last I gave you my views about the servants and sent you a check for ---, which I hope that you have received. Most truly and affectionately,

"R. E. Lee."

Next: To Mr. Tagart

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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/chapter24b.html, webpage created by Rickard, J (8 June 2006),

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