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Camp Petersburg 24 July ’64


I recd this morg dear Mary your note of the 21st & am rejoiced to hear of your daily improvement. You must present my qualifications to Dr & Mrs Cocke for their kindness to you & my sincere wishes for their health & prosperity. Mrs Shippen near whom I am encamped (the lady whom I mentioned to you as having suffered so much from articular rheumatism & which left her, after a severe attack of pneumonia) says that she applied stimulating applications to her joints as she was recovering, that if she had not done so she thinks they would have, become rigid again. She was so weak as to be unable to stand & of Course Could not walk for some time, but her joints remained flexible. I do not know whether you apply anything to your joints or not. Red pepper was a larger ingredient in the application she used, & I think she mentioned having used Belladonna ointment.

Custis has spent a night with me since your departure, & yesterday Fitzhugh & Robert paid me a visit. They all were very well. I was very uneasy the morg after your departure from Richmond & I was fearful that you would be caught in it & suffer. How did you manage? Fitzhugh had recd your letter written before your departure with the gloves, of which he said he stood much in need. Mrs Baker is Correct, the ladies of P[etersburg] have sent me a nice sett of shirts. They were given to me by Mrs Jas: R Branch & her mother Mrs Thos: Branch.1 In fact they have given every thing which I fear they Cannot spare, vegetables, bread, milk, ice cream &c. To day one sent me a nice peach, the first & only one I have seen I think for two years. I sent it to Mrs. Shippen. Mr Platt held service again to day under the trees near my Camp. We had quite a large Congregation of citizens, ladies & gentlemen & our usual number of soldiers. During the service I constantly heard the shells crashing around the houses of Petersburg. Tell Life I send her a letter from one of her friends which I hope gives good account of Custis Morgan. It was imprudent in the winter to send it to my Care as it has prolonged its journey. I also send her a song composed by a french soldier. As she is so learned in that language, I want her to send me a reply in verse. Kiss the girls for me & believe, always yours

R E Lee




1. James Read Branch (1828-1869) was a Confederate artillery officer and a banker. A native of the Petersburg area, he was severely wounded in April of 1864 in North Carolina at the battle of Plymouth. He never fully recovered. He moved back to Richmond and resigned his commission in March of 1865. He was married to Martha Patteson Branch (1831-1908), a native of Petersburg. Lee may be confused as to the connection between the Read and Branch family. Thomas Branch (1802-1888) at the time of the Civil War, was married to Anne Adams Branch (1829-1908), who was his second wife. Martha’s mother was Anne Obedience Turpin Harris (1799-1837), who had been dead for many years. Lee apparently confused the two Annes.    



Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 537, Section 27, Virginia Museum of History and Culture

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 June 23