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Arlington April 19th


My dear Mildred

Mamma’ thinks you may have an opportunity to send your bonnet over to Mrs. Barnes to-day, so as “Agnes never writes” I have seated myself to concoct an epistle to send any how. The bonnet is very sweet I think, & the openness too, I hope it will fit if the sleeves are too long take up two plaits on the seams just at the bend of the arm. The young ladies had just begun to wear those waists over low-necked dresses to little parties in New York last fall & I think they are so stylish & pretty. We are all very sad here at the present state of affairs. Papa, Mamma and Mary went to Alexandria this morning. Helen & I learnt out walking to-day Virginia had seceded! I cannot yet realize it, it seems so dreadful. But she had to take one side or the other & truly I hope she has chosen the right one. It is a very solemn step & I fear we will have to go through a great deal of suffering.

I am sorry you are away from us, though fortunately you are in the midst of kind friends. So you must acquire all the knowledge you can to be the better prepared for any emergency. Your hand writing is improving very much, if you only keep it large enough to give it character. I heard from Rob two days ago. He has joined the “Southern Guards” who were much disappointed by the rainy weather threatening to prevent a grand parade they expected the next day. Annie is with Charlotte & Fitzhugh; when we last heard from her she was going to pay a little visit to Cousin Rebecca Tabb. Cousin Nannie Stearns is now in Alexandria. We are all well here bodily at least. I believe we have written you of Robert’s death, & a few weeks ago Aunt Patsy’s little girl Matilda died also.

Custis is still at Fort Washington,1 I don’t know when he will get through. Your Cousin Angela Turner is in W, but his father thinks there ay be trouble traveling now so he has written for her to come home. I have nothing new to tell you. You have probably heard of Miss Nellie Hall’s marriage. We meant to go, but it was so rainy we could not. Helen Beati is engaged to Mr. DuBarry I believe I wrote you. Nothing here is talked or thought of except our troubles. Our poor country & our Fathers & brothers need all of our prayers. Yours are still in the Army. Tom is the only one who seems to be happy these blue days. He constantly comes to me for a little petting. Good-bye, dear Mil, write to me soon & I will write again. Helen sends love. Your fond sister






Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 280, Section 15, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 May 4


1. Located roughly twenty miles south of Washington, D.C. It is in Maryland along the Potomac.