VALLEY MT., 3d September, 1861.
MY DEAR SON:
I was very glad to receive your letter of the 27th ulto., and to learn something of your whereabouts. I did not know what had become of you, and was very anxious to learn. You say nothing of your health, and I will hope you are well and able to do good service to the cause so dear to us all. I trust you may be able to get a position and field agreeable to you; and know that wherever you may be placed you will do your duty. That is all the pleasure, all the comfort, all the glory we can enjoy in this world. I have been able to do but little here. Still I hope I have been of some service. Things are better organized. I feel stronger, we are stronger. The three routes leading east are guarded. The men have more confidence, our people a feeling of security. The enemy has been driven back, and made to haul in his horns, and to find he cannot have everything his own way. This has been done without a battle, but by a steady advance of positions. Now to drive him farther a battle must come off, and I am anxious to begin it. Circumstances beyond human control delay it, I know for good, but I hope the Great Ruler of the Universe will continue to aid and prosper us, and crown at last our feeble efforts with success. Rain, rain, rain, there has been nothing but rain. So it has appeared to my anxious mind since I approached these mountains. It commenced before, but since has come down with a will. The cold too has been greater than I could have conceived. In my winter clothing and buttoned up in my overcoat, I have still been cold. This state of weather has aggravated the sickness that has attacked the whole army, measles and typhoid fever. Some regiments have not over 250 for duty, some 300, 500, or about half, according to its strength. This makes a terrible hole in our effectives. Do not mention this, I pray you. It will be in the papers next. The rains and constant travel have cut these dirt turnpikes so deep, the soil being rich mould in most parts, that wagons can only travel with double teams. But there is a change in the weather. The glorious sun has been shining these four days. The drowned earth is warming. The sick are improving, and the spirits of all are rising. F. is anxious to get his buffalo robe. Did you ever get my letter concerning it? It was directed to be sent to the Spotswood to me. I asked you to put it up securely, and get Colonel Myers to send it to me at Huntersville. I have heard nothing of it. F. feels the want of it every night. He is very well, hearty, and sanguine. I am glad to hear of Gen. A. S. Johnston's approach and Captain Garnett's arrival. The disaster at Cape Hatteras was a hard blow to us, but we must expect them, struggle against them, prepare for them. We cannot be always successful and reverses must come. May God give us courage, endurance, and faith to strive to the end. Good-by, my dear son. F. has just come in. He sends his love and Colonel W. and Captain T. their regards. Give my kind remembrances to everybody.
Your fond father,
R. E. LEE.
CAPT. G. W. CUSTIS LEE.
SOURCE: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 146-7