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Arlington July 17th [1856]

          I received your letter my dear Carter & am sorry you have given yourself the trouble to write to your friend for I am such a cripple that I do not feel able to undertake the difficulties. I must encounter in getting to that famous Spring of yours I fear too the baths are too cold & I must go either to Bath or the warm springs tho’ I rather incline to the latter. However, the information may serve me for another season when I hope to get therewith some of my family. I have been confined to my room & bed most of the time more than 4 weeks with rheumatism in my knee & have tried every thing my sapient Dr could suggest without effect. It is a complaint I never had before in my life & I am anxious to check it at once – for I cannot resign myself willingly to this state of inaction you must excuse the hurried letter I wrote in which I only told you of myself & troubled I will endeavor to tell you all I knew of your friends Aunt Maria is very well & spent a day or two here not long since you know she is always busy & mysterious with regard to her plans. I think she contemplates a trip somewhere has got a splendid new carriage & horses which I have not yet seen. She has been very little at Ravensworth. Rooney has gone down to Cedar Grove to see those girls who have quite bewildered him you know there are 6 of them the youngest 14 & all sweet & pretty. He will write to you when we get to the Springs, I feel quite uneasy about Custis. It is so long since we heard from him. The rest of my children are all here. I have two tall young ladies just returned from Staunton & Mary will go with me to the Springs to perfect the cure of her foot. I got a few hurried lines from Robert yesterday. He was on the Colorado on this Indian expedition said he was poorly equipped & poorly provided with guides but hoped the expedition might prove successful. Is it not too bad to have him out there among those wild Indians when he might be so comfortable & useful at home. God knows when he will ever be able to return unless some change is made in his rank. Smith & Nannie I hear of as quite well tho’ Smith has never been so closely confined in his life. Mr. Marshall spent a few days with us & left poor Anne1 in charge of Louis & his wife & “the gaws” who is a sweet little fellow very like what his Father was at his age tho with small blue eyes like his Mother. Anne I fear will never get out of that bed again I do not know any one whose situation is more pitiable than hers yet, she is wonderfully cheerful Louis expected to be in Baltimore 2 years unless he is promoted. I forgot to mention that our Nevey Cherie2 has just graduated at West Point & has turned out a famous whisker & mustache. He is an affectionate fellow. I am sorry he did not do himself more justice at West Point. Charley & Lewis Conrad have been to see us this summer & we have had a host of young people in the House who seemed very merry as I heard their voices up in my room. I should think this intensely hot weather would now cure the whooping cough. I never felt anything like it. I want very much to see all those little ones of yours they are quite strangers to me. Give them all a kiss & remember us both to Nannie & Lucy. I have reserved my dear Carter the saddest news for the last. You have probably ere this seen it in the newspaper the death of our sister Mildred I have only heard of it thro a few lines from Mr. Cotting in Boston who had not heard from Mr. Childe but merely received an intimation that the remains which had been embalmed had have been put aboard a sailing vessel then ready to start for that port that her illness was short & sudden. I begged him if he received any further news to write to me, what a commentary on the vanity of all earthly hopes & aspirations that she the youngest of your family & most favoured by fortune should be torn away in the midst of all her enjoyments & poor Anne to whom death might prove a release still lingers on Truly the way of Providence all past our finding out. God grant that we may all be found watching & waiting for the coming of our Lord.

            Father is in his usual health & sends his regards to you says if you hear anything about the White House you must let him know.

Yours affectionately

M C Lee



Charles Carter Lee, Esquire

Windsor, near Fine Creek Mills

Powhatan County, Virginia




Source: Photostat copy of original handwritten letter, vertical files, Stratford Hall. Original at Yale University Library.


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 March 15


1. Anne Kinloch Lee Marshall (1800-1864), the wife of William Louis Marshall. Mary is referring to their son, Colonel Louis Henry Marshall. Colonel Marshall married Florence Burke in 1854. 

2. French for “darling nephew.” She is referring to Fitz Lee, her nephew and future Confederate cavalry commander, who graduated from West Point in July of 1856.