PGBC Senior Prom - Stepping Out In Elegance - August 10th

Camp Boteler  sept 11 1863


My Dear Mareille,

I was agreeably surprised at your note from Buford’s. I had made up my mind that you had laid me aside, and was refusing all consolation, but your letter came, and I am all right.

You say that Agnes’ having my picture makes you jealous, well really! that is quite overwhelming. You jealous! and I the subject, well miss mary tell me did you intend that for sober earnest or a hoax. The latter I opine. I am sure if I could have flattered myself that such a thing would have been fringe I certainly would have sent a dozen.

Believing however that in the present location of “Les charmantes” (not “Miserables”) you may find some rustic girl of my native hills to whom you may feel inclined to say “I once knew him and have his likeness now.” I send it to you without doubt or questioning. When you see it let it remind you of one who loved you

more than he ever dared to tell.”

By the way, I saw Gen Ewell the day after I recd your note, he is the picture of domestic happiness and so is Mrs E. (see what you have missed) I told her I had an inquiry to make in your behalf, but there was too much of a crowd. I asked him, but he referred me to Mrs E. for a more authoritative answer.

I am told that the public eye rarely gets a chance at either, both appearing to be so wrapt in each others society. Tom Turner (his Aid) is much sweeter on Miss Brown (Gen Ewell’s daughter) than I was aware of. Gen Ewell is said to have introduced Mrs E. as “my wife, Mrs Brown.” I saw quite an array of beauty at the review of Ewell’s corps. I thought of you so often, a great many ladies were on horseback why was not you there? I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with Miss Maggie & Miss Carrie Stuart my new cousins, they were there, & seemed to enjoy the sight of so many confederates very much. In 15 minutes I felt as if I had known them for years.

They go back to Richmond tomorrow. Mrs H. H. walker (late Miss Mercer) was the beauty of the occasion. I believe two of the Misses Stuarts are going to marry captn Randolphs. Rumor so declares. We were all on tiptoes to see you & Miss Agnes, as Gen Lee gave it out that he has brought down two of his daughters. Imagine Rob’s surprise to find that his Pa’s two daughters were not his Sisters, but cousins Maggie & Carrie.

Flora is near Lynchburg & is I regret to say something of an invalid. She would be so glad to see you all. My little angel left me nearly a year ago. I was in battle at the moment of her death. I think of her as absent only, I can not realize her death, when

I last saw her, at Dundee, a year ago last august, after I mounted my horse to ride away, o.

When farewells were said

And tears had been shed she ran out after me climbed up by my stirrup, clung around my neck with her sweet little arms, with tearful kisses till forced away. Ah! Mary, can I ever forget that picture! that parting! that embrace! Can you wonder at the tears that fill my eyes as I write. The thought flashes through my mind at that moment it is now vividly remembered. Shall I see my pet again, and the gloomy apprehension rose and kindles tears in my eyes. I am just starting on the campaign against Pope & knew that my life hung by a thread ready to be severed by anyone of the thousand missiles of death which sweep the battle plain, all this flashed through my mind, for there are moments which are like a century, I thought of the widow, and the fatherless little sylph in my arms, and breathed a prayer that He who tempered the winds to the shorn lamb, would deal tenderly with mine. Ah little did I think I was to be spared and she, she taken!

I feel it is all gain to her but my grief admonishes me that earth has lost its main attraction, and while it does not make me reckless, I go forth at the summons of duty and of danger with that cheerful resignation which the cold world miscalls rashness. I must apologize Dear Mary for intruding my grief in your presence, you touched a tender chord when you alluded to Little Flora, and the heart strings would vibrate. I dare not write to Flora as I have written to you. I have to restrain my grief, my feelings, my language, on that subject, and she little dreams what agony in lone bivouac, & even on the march those choking memories have caused me.

Enough of this here.

Give my best love to your ma & sisters, Mrs Lee used to send me her love, but in Miss Agnes’ letter it was “kindest regards.”      

Old Captain Buford! Why in my country he is a state aye, a national Institution. You ought to have known him in his palmy days before rail roads, which I hear he thoroughly despises. When the stage horn echoing through the mountain pass betokened a ne plus ultra breakfast, after a night of fatigue, jolting and fasting. The old captain flourished in those days always in his shirt-sleeves, with a huge (I should say tremendous red bandanna handkerchief suspended from his neck and hanging in a loop in front. I wonder if he has changed. Few men have seen as much of the world at breakfast as that same Capt B. Give him my love. I know him well, but he doesn’t know me. Suppose you pay your Pa a visit, I want to see you.

Yours ever

J. E. B. Stuart




Source: Transcribed from digital scan of original letter, Mary Custis Lee Papers, Mss1 L5144a 1644-1718, Section 34, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 May 20