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Lexington, Va: 20 Nov 1868

My dear Mr. Tagart[1]

Your kind letter of the 13th has been recd, & has caused quite a contest in the minds of certain gentlemen in Lexington between duty & pleasure. You will however expect their actions to be governed by reasons that hold sway upon mature reflection. Genl Custis & Col: Massie say, that the examination of their respective classes commence on the 1st of Jany, & that they must arrange & prepare for the same, so that it will be impossible for them to accept your invitation. Major White & myself besides our official duties, are fathers of families, & their claims upon us are entitled to great Consideration. My son Robert is coming up to make his annual visit; the only time he allows himself for the purpose, & it would not be a proper return for me to go away. 

In addition I will say that there is only one day’s cessation of studies at the College, so that we should set a bad example to others by absenting ourselves, & we have therefore concluded that we cannot visit you on Xmas. All the gentlemen whom I have named, have earnestly requested me to thank you most sincerely for your cordial invitation, & to express their regrets at their inability to accept it. I must add my special thanks & particular regrets to theirs on my own behalf, & must ask you to give my grateful thanks to Mrs. Tagart for her remembrance. I want very much to visit Baltimore, & hope to do so soon, & will then if you will allow me see you in a quiet way as you propose. Besides my admiration of the Baltimoreans which I have long felt, I have for them & their city a great affection, & can never forget the kind sympathy & material aid they bestowed upon the South. I assure you it is with great reluctance that I feel compelled to postpone my visit.

Mrs. Lee & my daughters unite with me in kindest regards to yourself & Mrs. Tagart.

& I am most truly yours

R E Lee


Mr. S.H. Tagart

Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 4, M2009.369, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 September 30



[1] Samuel H. Tagart was a Baltimore lawyer, who founded the McDonogh School, a preparatory school in Owning Mills, Maryland. The school was founded in 1873. Lee’s last known letter was sent to Tagart in September of 1870.