COOSAWHATCHIE, S. C, December 25, 1861.
I cannot let this day of grateful rejoicing pass without some communion with you. I am thankful for the many among the past that I have passed with you, and the remembrance of them fills me with pleasure. As to our old home, if not destroyed it will be difficult ever to be recognized. Even if the enemy had wished to preserve it, it would almost have been impossible. With the number of troops encamped around it, the change of officers, the want of fuel, shelter, etc., and all the dire necessities of war, it is vain to think of its being in a habitable condition. I fear, too, the books, furniture, and relics of Mount Vernon will be gone. It is better to make up our minds to a general loss. They cannot take away the remembrances of the spot, and the memories of those that to us rendered it sacred. That will remain to us as long as life will last and that we can preserve. In the absence of a home I wish I could purchase Stratford. It is the only other place I could go to now acceptable to us, that would inspire me with pleasure and local love. You and the girls could remain there in quiet. It is a poor place, but we could make enough corn-bread and bacon for our support, and the girls could weave us clothes. You must not build your hopes on peace on account of the United States going to war with England. The rulers are not entirely mad, and if they find England is in earnest, and that war or a restitution of the captives* must be the consequence, they will adopt the latter. We must make up our minds to fight our battles and win our independence alone. No one will help us.
* Mason and Slidell.
SOURCES: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 153