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Arlington        5 Decr 1857

My dearest Markie

I recd a week ago your letter of the 26th ulto, & am very grateful for your remembrance on the day of Thanksgiving. I was thankful that you reached your destination in safety, & that your various adventures were only sufficiently exciting to add to the interest of your journey, & the amusement of your narration. I am very glad that you found Genl Smith so agreable. For his kindness I felt that I could answer, & knew that he would render your every service in his power. I hope now that you are with your dear Aunt, & know that her presence & the company of your Uncle & Cousin will more than compensate you for the pains & trials of joining them. I have been intending dear Markie every day to write to you, to tell you how much we all miss you, & how glad we were to hear of your safe journey, but business that called me out all day, & the presence of friends every night, has only allowed me to respond to letters that admitted of no delay. You had scarcely left before the illness & death of Mrs Mason,1 & the arrival of my brother Smith & his wife occupied my attention, & on Monday (30 Nov) Mr Childe & my little niece arrived & claimed their share of my company. You have no doubt heard of the quiet end of Mrs Mason, & her being placed by the side of her husband in Christ’s Church Cemetery Alexa. One after one are taken from us, till none are left. Nannie & Mrs Jameison are still in Washington. Smith has returned to Phila.

I can tell you nothing Markie about Capt Wallen,2 more than you already know. I do not recollect ever having met with him, unless in Mexo & until I see him, cannot be certain of that, as his name will not serve as well as his appearance to recall him to my mind. But I know you will be able on your return to tell me all about him. The Genl (Smith) has appointed Lt Frank Wheaton now as one of his aids, which I presume will be gratifying to his pretty wife, & give her the opportunity of passing the winter in St Louis with her spouse.

Little has occurred to cheer the sadness that reigns over the house since your departure. Mr McLeod came the last Saturday & shared ortons room with him at night & remained till after dinner Sunday. But he could persuade none of the young ladies to attend his afternoon service. Orton went into Alexa in the morg with the carriage. He is much pleased with the coat you selected for him, as I presume he has told you, & I think this visit he will have an opportunity of testing its qualities, for since his arrival this afternoon it has commenced raining & continues steadily, with the promise of 24 hours duration; & he says he must return tomorrow night. He has however missed seeing my niece. She & her father returned to Baltimore yesterday. They regretted very much your absence & left for you their kindest regards. He is however enjoying the presence of pretty Annette Carter, who has been here about a week, & expects on Monday her sister Ella from Cedar Grove. I have no news to relate Markie, & were I to attempt to deliver the messages of the family, time & paper would fail. I will therefore condense them all in their warmest love. My eyes you know at night soon fail & must therefore bid you adieu, in the hope that your uncle is again well, & that you are all happy together. Farewell

Very truly your


R E Lee




1. Mrs. Mason was Anna Maria Murray Mason, who died on 1857 November 29. She was born in 1776 and was the husband of John Mason (1766-1849). Her daughter, Anna Maria Murray Mason Lee (1818-1898), was the wife of Sidney Smith Lee. Her nickname was “Nannie.”

2. Henry D. Wallen, who had a varied career in the military before and after the Civil War.



Source: Digital scan of original letter, Letters of Robert E. Lee to Martha Custis Williams, 1844-1870, Huntington Library, San Marino, California

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 September 15