. . . glad to hear all is well and as yet peaceful. I fear the latter state will not continue long. I think, therefore, you had better prepare all things for removal from Arlington — that is, plate, pictures, etc., and be prepared at any moment. Where to go is the difficulty. When the war commences no place will be exempt; in my opinion, indeed, all the avenues into the State will be the scene of military operations. I wrote to Robert that I could not consent to take boys from their schools and young men from their colleges and put them in the ranks at the beginning of the war when they are not needed. The war may last ten years. Where are our ranks to be filled from then?
SOURCES: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 139. A full transcription of this letter may be found in Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters, p. 298-9.