We invite you to join us for VBS from July 15th to July 19th!


May 25, 1861


I have been trying, dearest Mary, ever since the reception of your letter by Custis to write to [you]. I sympathize deeply in your feelings at leaving your dear home. I have experienced them myself & they are constantly revived. I fear we have not been grateful enough for the happiness thee within our reach, & our heavenly father has found it necessary to deprive us of what He had given us. I acknowledge my ingratitude, my transgressions & my unworthiness & submit with resignation to what He thinks proper to inflict on me.

We must trust all there to Him & I do not think it prudent or right for you to return there, while the U. S. troops occupy that country. I have gone over all this ground before & have just written to Cousin Anna on the subject.

While writing, I received a telegram from Cousin John G[oldsborough]1 urging your departure “South.” I suppose he is impressed with the risk of your present position, & in addition to the possibility, or probability of personal annoyance to yourself, I fear your presence may provoke annoyance to Cousin Anna. But unless Cousin Anna goes with you, I shall be tortured about her being there alone. If the girls went to Kinlock2 or E[astern] V[iew]3 you & Cousin A might take care of yourselves because you could get in the carriage & go off in an emergency. But I really am afraid that you may prove of more harm than comfort to her.

Mr. Williams C. Rives4 has just been in to say that if you & Cousin A will go to his house, he will be very happy for you to stay as long as you please. That his son has a commodious house just opposite his, unoccupied, partially furnished, that you could if you prefer take that, bring up servants & what you desired, & remain there as independent as at home. It is 7 miles east of Charlottesville, Cobbrams station. That though is on the direct line to Staunton &C & is objectionable unless we can shut them off below.

I must now leave the matter to you & pray that God may guard you. I have no time for more. I know & feel the discomfort of your position but it cannot be helped, & we must bear our trials like Christians.

Smith is well & Custis apparently so. Edward Butler5 is here. Perry6 & the horse has arrived. The former is looking very badly.

If you & Cousin Anna choose to come here you know how happy we shall be to see you. I shall take the field as soon now as I can.

Give much love to the girls. Thank Cousin J[ohn Goldsborough] for his kindness. May God guard & bless you.


Every yours truly & devotedly,

 R E Lee



1. A cousin to the Fitzhugh family.

2. “Kinloch,” a plantation in Fauquier County, Virginia, and the home of Edward Carter Turner (1816-1891).

3. A Carter family home in Warrenton in Fauquier County, Virginia.

4. William Cabell Rives (1793-1868), a planter and diplomat, who served in the Confederate house of representatives. He was born at “Union Hill” plantation in Richmond.

5. Edward George Washington Butler (1800-1888), a West Pointer and veteran of the Mexican War, with whim Lee corresponded after the war.

6. Lee’s African American body servant.



Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 295, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 March 7