Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XXIV: Last Days: To Mr. Tagart

The Document

His last letter was written on the morning of the day he was taken ill, September 28th. It was to Mr. Tagert, of Baltimore, at whose home he had stayed the previous summer. Its tone was cheerful and hopeful, and he wrote that he was much better and stronger.

"Lexington, Virginia, September 28, 1870.

"My Dear Mr. Tagart: Your note of the 26th reached me this morning, and see how easy it is 'to inveigle me into a correspondence.' In fact, when a man desires to do a thing, or when a thing gives a man pleasure, he requires but small provocation to induce him to do it. Now I wanted to hear how you and Mrs. Tagart were, what you were doing, and how you had passed the summer, and I desired to tell you so. That is the reason I write. In answer to your question, I reply that I am much better. I do not know whether it is owing to having seen you and Doctor Buckler last summer, or to my visit to the Hot Springs. Perhaps both. But my pains are less, and my strength greater. In fact, I suppose I am as well as I shall be. I am still following Doctor B---'s directions, and in tie I may improve still more. I expect to have to visit Baltimore this fall, in relation to the Valley Railroad, and in that event I hope to see you, if you will permit me. I am glad to hear that you spent a pleasant summer. Colonel --- and I would have had a more agreeable one had you been with us at the Hot, and as every place agrees so well with Mrs. Tagert, I think she could have enjoyed as good health their as at Saratoga, and we should have done better. Give my sincere regards to Mrs. Tagart, and remember me to all friends, particularly Mr. ---. Tell --- his brother is well and handsome, and I hope that he will study, or his sweethearts in Baltimore will not pine for him long. Captain --- is well and busy, and joins in my remembrances. Mrs. Lee and my daughters unite with me in messages to you and Mrs. Tagart, and I am most truly yours, R. E. Lee.

"S. H. Tagart, Esq."

When my brother Fitzhugh and I reached Lexington, my father was no more. He died the morning of our arrival--October 12th. He had apparently improved after his first attack, and the summoning of my brother and myself had been put off from day to day. After we did start we were delayed by the floods, which at that time prevailed over the State. Of his last illness and death I have heard from my family.

Next: Obituary notice in "Personal Reminiscences of General Robert E. Lee"

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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/chapter24c.html, webpage created by Rickard, J (8 June 2006),

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