Old Point

15th June 1831         


My dear Carter

The day has been fixed & it is the 30th June, I can tell you I begin to feel right funny when I count my days, especially when I consider the novel situation in which I shall be placed. However Nym says “Things must be as they may & that’s the certain of it”1 which is a good doctrine too. Can you come on to see it well done? But you must not put yourself to the least inconvenience on my account. But as you talk of coming on in August perhaps, you may get through your business before. At any rate, try & come on before the end of July if possible, for as it is not expected of Engr Officers to be absent from their Posts when the works are carried on, I only applied for a Furlough of one month now & will take some others in the Winter. I expect to leave here in the Potomac2 on the 29th & reach Alexa Thursday morning, go out to Arlington in the afternoon, dress &c. I am told there are to be six pretty Bridesmaids Misses Mason, Mary G. Marietta Angela, Julia & Brittania & you could have some fine Kissing. As you know what a fellow you are at these weddings. I got the other day the kindest letter from Cousin Anna you ever read, which of itself shews that she is much better. But I have since heard that she Miss Mary G.3 & Smith4 have gone down to Arkindale5 which is a greater Proof. Poor Anne6 is quite sick in Baltimore & though I do not know, I fear it is occasioned by her hand. How I do wish for money on many accounts but particularly that she might be able to spend the Summer on the seashore, as I believe Bathing gives her more relief than any thing else. I spent a day at shirley last week & saw there Uncle Wms. Bernard, Wms. Jr. Charles & sweet little Cousin Nancy Randolph. Sir Hill is just the same as ever, cursing farming, low grounds etc.  For he has been so unfortunate as to have his Embankments broken down by the Storm & his corn crop entirely destroyed, & after mending up his dikes & replanting, It was attacked by a species of worm that destroyed his whole field & at this late day he has not five stalks standing. Harvest is so near that he cannot replant. Cousin Mary is in quite precarious health & has entirely lost her appetite, in so much that she does not eat a single ‘thing’ all day, saving a little milk & water in the morning. She looks very thin & badly at present, But I hope will recover from her trip to Fauquier. Uncle Wms says we must wind up our affairs this summer & is the Best person in the World. Bernard is going to Fauquier & then to Philadelphia. We are in grand preparation here for the reception of the President & eight Gentleman of his suite who are expected next saturday & will spend some days over at the Rip Raps to enjoy the Sea Breeze &c. Maj. Eaton, Genl Macomb &c are of the Party. Shirley has gone home but was to return to Richmond in two weeks after he left it. Miss Ella has not got down, though is daily expected. Sweet Charles has had the Ague & Fever as also ‘his wife’ But have now recovered & talks of taking her to Fauquier. There is nothing new here & very cleverly hot. Visitors are beginning to arrive & every Boat & in the course of Time we shall have a plenty. I have not received my clothes yet & unless Frost has despatched them before this arrives, can you contrive to get them on by land, as the Sea is very uncertain & the time is short. I wish you had all the suits in N. York & money besides. So Good Bye & Believe me yours as ever

R. E. Lee


[This letter is addressed to C. C. Lee, Counsellor at Law, No. 15 Pine Street, New York. The return address is R. E. Lee, 1831 June 15. This letter is postmarked Jun 16. However the town is not distinguishable.]






1. Lee is referring to a character and a line in Henry V, Act 2, Scene 1.

2. Frigate built in 1822. It was decommissioned in 1877.

3. Mary Caroline Goldborough (1808-1890), the adopted daughter of Anne Maria Goldborough Fitzhugh (1796-1874), the widow of William Henry Fitzhugh (1792-1830).

4. Smith is Sidney Smith Lee, Robert E. Lee’s brother.

5. “Arkindale” was owned by William Henry Fitzhugh (1792-1830) of Ravensworth plantation. Fitzhugh was the uncle of Mary Ann Randolph Custis Lee. Arkindale is today an unincorporated community in Stafford County, Virginia. In 1850, the slaves at Arkindale were freed according to Fitzhugh’s will. Fitzhugh, who was a member of the American Colonization Society, asked that the freed slaves be sent back to Africa.

6. Lee’s sister Anne Kinloch Marshall, who married into a Baltimore family.




Source: Scan of original letter, The Papers of Robert E. Lee, University of Virginia Special Collections, Charlottesville

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 March 29