Primary Resource

Letter from Robert E. Lee to Mary Randolph Custis Lee (November 11, 1863)

In this letter to his wife, Mary Randolph Custis Lee, dated November 11, 1863, Robert E. Lee talks of family matters, the war, and ongoing issues regarding the estate of his father-in-law, George Washington Parke Custis.

Transcription from Original

Camp Rapidan 11 Nov '63

I have recd dear Mary your notes by Col Cole & Bryan. I am very glad that you & Charlotte are better & that Fitzhugh has been heard from. I had heard nothing of the latter for a long time. In my previous letters I told you all about the jackets & drawers. I want two of each. The Dr thinks garments made of flannel are better than knit or woven. Let them be of flannel then. The pair you sent me fit well now. The flannel does not appear to have been shrunk & I therefore fear when washed will shrink as small as the others. Please have all the flannel well shrunk before being made up, or the material will probably be lost. I have been afraid to wear the pair sent, as I have no change. As regards the people at the White House & Romancoke I directed Mr. Collins as soon as he Could get in the small crop this fall, to obtain from the Country Courts their free papers & to emancipate them. They can then hire themselves out & support themselves. Their families if they choose or until they can do better can remain at their present homes. I do not know what to do better for them. The enemy has carried off all the teams &c & there is no certainty if they remain of making enough to live on. I wish this done. Custis is apprised of it & will see to it as far as possible. I am distressed to hear of our dear little Mary Childe. Bryan got up last night with the fur robe & letters. Thank Agnes for hers, I will write when I Can. Give love to Mary & all friends. I have not time for more now. I am better than I was. Col: Cole brought up the socks & gloves. They will be very acceptable for this cold weather. We had a snow storm day before yesterday. The Mts: are Covered & last night ice made in my tent. I withdrew the army Monday to the line of the Rapidan. I held the Rappk in hope of deterring the enemy from advancing this winter. As he seems disposed to Come on, the ground is more favourable for us here than there & I hope a kind Providence will prosper us & give us victory our only trust is in.

Truly & affly

R E Lee