COOSAWHATCHIE, S. C., December 29, 1861.
You have no occasion to inform me, you precious Chass, that you have not written to me for a long time. That I already knew, and you know that the letters I am obliged to write do not prevent my reading letters from you.
If it requires fits of indignation to cause you to ventilate your paper, I will give occasion for a series of spasms, but in the present case I am innocent, as my proposition was for you to accompany your mama to Fayetteville, and not to run off with her son to Fredericksburg. I am afraid the enemy will catch you, and besides there are too many young men there. I only want you to visit the old men — your grandpapa and papa. But what has got into your heads to cause you to cut off of them your hair? If you will weave some delicate fabrics for the soldiers of the family out of it, I will be content with the sacrifice. Or if it is an expression of a penitential mood that has come over you young women I shall not complain. Poor little A., somebody told me that a widower had been making sweet eyes at her through his spectacles. Perhaps she is preparing for caps. But you can tell her not to distress herself. Her papa is not going to give her up in that way. I am, however, so glad that you are all together that I am willing you should indulge in some extravagances if they do not result in serious hurt, as they will afford a variety to the grave occupation of knitting, sewing, spinning, and weaving. You will have to get out the old wheels and looms again, else I do not know where we poor Confederates will get clothes. I have plenty of old ones for the present, but how are they to be renewed? And that is the condition of many others. I do not think there are manufactories sufficient in the Confederacy to supply the demand, and as the men are all engrossed by the war, the women will have to engage in the business. Fayetteville or Stratford would be a fine manufactory. When you go to see your grandpa, consult him about it. I am glad to hear that he is well, and hope he will not let these disjointed times put him out of his usual way or give him inconvenience. I would not advise him to commence building at Broadneck until he sees whether the enemy can be driven from the land, as they have a great fondness for destroying residences when they can do it without danger to themselves . . . Do not let them get that precious baby, as he is so sweet that they would be sure to eat him. . . . Kiss Fitzhugh for me and the baby. That is the sweetest Christmas gift I can send them. I send you some sweet violets. I hope they may retain their fragrance till you receive them. I have just gathered them for you. The sun has set, and my eyes plead for relief, for they have had no rest this holy day. But my heart with all its strength stretches toward you and those with you, and hushes in silence its yearnings. God bless you, my daughter, your dear husband and son. Give much love to your mama, and may every blessing attend you all, prays,
Your devoted father,
R. E. LEE.
SOURCES: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 155-6