Arlington 30 May 1859


My dear Son

My hurried note from Washington by the previous steamer will have told you everything that then Could be done in reference to your wishes for leaving California. The Secy is still absent from Washn & I have not heard whether the Actg Secy will take any steps in the matter before his return. Col. DeRussy1 promised me to get his action if possible. I have been very busy & absent too & have not since been to Washington. Tomorrow I shall go down to the White House & therefore will not be able to ascertain before my return. Then I will see all about it. Col. Cooper is sick & absent which operates against my accomplishing my wishes at present. Fitzhugh will go with me to New Kent. I believe I ha6ve already told you that he will establish himself there in Jany next & take charge of both plantations. I hope he will like it & be successful in their arrangement for it will be a matter of importance to him & Robert. I have made the management hoping it will be for his benefit. The sooner the legacies are paid off the Sooner he will get possession of his farm, & in the meantime can make arrangements & improvements to that will result in his advantage & Comfort. Charlotte seems much pleased at the prospect & is planning a great many improvements in their establishment. She is a sweet thing, artless & affectionate, & you must love her as you do Fitzhugh. She tells me she has recd a very sweet letter from you which she will answer in time. Just now she is a little sick, having taken cold & is suffering from an attack of neuralgia. The Dr has been to see her two or three times & to day she is quite bright again. Your poor mother is a great sufferer again & I think as bad as when I first returned from Texas. She I presume has taken cold too. We have had some harsh Easterly weather, & she would go out as usual. Now she moves with pain & difficulty. It is a great aggravation to me at this time especially, just as I am preparing for my departure to Texas. Unless something occurs which I now do not know of, I must leave here the middle of next month. I have not accomplished all I wished, & indeed it would take me another year so slowly do I progress with my limited means. Still I have ameliorated some things. If you do come East, you must not think of taking the overland route to look for me in Texas. Ten chances to one after all your trouble & labour that you could get to me, after finding where I was, for I am always warring over the Plains. I Cannot therefore consent to your sacrificing yourself to my benefit. You must come directly here, see them all & enjoy yourself as much as possible. I have no enjoyment in life now but what I derive from my children. May God guard & bless them all is my Constant prayer. Your Sister is still in Baltimore. We have been expecting her with Ella Carter, Margaret Stuart, Mary Carter & Mary Childe for some weeks. Yesterday I recd a letter from Childe, saying that Mary Lee, Mary Carter & Mary Childe, would be here on thursday next, in the 4 ¼ P.M. train, & as no mention was made of the others I presume they have gone or are going to Cedar Grove, where they designed to go from here. I was particularly desirous of seeing Ella, & shall now be disappointed. The other evg after putting Florence Marshall in the Cars for B. I proposed to Annie, the only one who could leave home, that we should ride down to Goodwood, which we reached about dark & found there Charles, Mildred & Annette. They sent the next morg early for Eugenie & Alice who came over for the day with some of their children. I had a very pleasant time & it was the first holy day I had taken since my return from Texas. Every thing was looking very beautiful. The house had been painted & done up. The trees had grown very much, & the grass & flowers were very beautiful & pretty. On our return we called at the navy yard to see Capt & Mrs Charles Turner, & at the Marine Bks: to see Col & Mrs Harris. Mrs. Harris was Miss Mary Gray of Norfolk & during our residence at Old Point, & your infancy was a kind & constant visitor to us. Since the death of Genl Henderson, Col Harris has been promoted & put in command of the Marine Corps, & taken up his residence at the Bks: in Washington. Orton Williams has gone to Minnesota on a Surveying expedition, which I hope may prove beneficial to him. Markie is with us but as usual a Martyr to Neuralgia. Agnes too has been suffering with her eyes all the winter & spring, which I attributed to some indisention or cold, that would pass off with the cold weather. Finding it did not I recently took her over to the Drs who pronounce it rheumatism & are treating it accordingly. You see what a suffering set we are. Annie is never very strong, & Precious Life is the only well one of our women kind

Craighill told me he had written to you by the steamer of the 20th & that he would write that he would write to you by that of the 5th Proxo if there was anything interesting to relate about your movements. I have therefore been the more easy on the subject than I would have been.

I must now bid you good bye my dearest Son. May every happiness & success attend you in this world is the Constant prayer of your

devoted father

 R E Lee




1. René Edward De Russy (1789-1865) was born in Haiti and fled with his family to Old Point Comfort, Virginia, after the Haitian revolution. He attended the United States Military Academy and helped build fortifications on the East Coast. He served as the superintendent at West Point. He died in San Francisco.



Source: Digital scan of original letter, The Papers of Robert E. Lee, 1749-1975, Rubenstein Library, Duke University

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 August 22