Friday, November 15, 2013

General Robert E. Lee to Col. G. W. Custis Lee, February 23, 1862

SAVANNAH, 23d February, 1862.

My Dear Son:

I have received your letter of the 12th and am glad you have returned safely from the Rappahannock. I hope your visit was satisfactory. I am sorry your arrangement for sending on Richmond failed, and especially for the trouble he occasioned everybody. He is a troublesome fellow and dislikes to associate with strange horses. He expresses it more in words than acts, and if firmly treated becomes quiet at last. I know his propensity to squeal on such occasions and can imagine how unacceptable he made himself to strangers. I carried him in the car with all our horses to and from western Virginia without accident or harm. He might as well wait now, and I hope you can make him useful to you. The expense of hiring a man and car to get him to me would not be indemnified by the use to me. I have two horses. Col. W. has been here, as you may have learned, and I should judge from his manner everything was agreeable to him. He took his departure two days since, and I sent by him an afghan or robe, knit for me by Miss "Tattie" Clinch, which is too pretty to have in camp. I desired him to give it to you and I wish you would send it to your mother or put it away somewhere, and ask her to keep it for me. I have heard of Mary's return from Norfolk, and I hope she is now with her mother. In these times of trouble I am always anxious about those away from me. The victories of the enemy increase and consequently the necessity of increased energy and activity on our part. Our men do not seem to realize this, and the same supineness and carelessness of their duty continue. If it will have the effect of arousing them and imparting an earnestness and boldness to their work, it will be beneficial to us. If not we shall be overrun for a time, and must make up our minds to great suffering. Here the enemy seems to be slowly making his way to the Savannah River through the creeks and marshes, and his shells now interrupt its navigation. We have nothing that floats that can contend with him, and it is grating to see his progress unopposed by any resistance we can make. The communication with Fort Pulaski is cut. That may in time be reduced, but I am constructing batteries at Fort Jackson which, if our men will fight, will give him trouble to get to the city. His batteries are so numerous and strong that I know they are hard to resist, but if we have the time and guns they ought if vulnerable to be beaten off. Their barges and reconnoitering boats are even clad with iron, so that our musket and rifle balls are harmless. The work progresses slowly and it is with the utmost difficulty that it is pushed ahead. I had until lately supposed Charleston would have been first attacked, but now it seems they are concentrating here. We are stronger in C. than here. The creeks that intersect the marshes through with the waters of Port Royal Harbor to the north and Warsaw Sound on the south are a great element of weakness, and indeed the facilities the arms or branches of these waters afford for approach and investment in all directions make it one of the hardest places to defend I ever saw, against light draft boats. The tide rises seven and eight feet, so it is easy to propel their boats over the mud. This will be plain to you who know the topography of the place. Your friends here are all well and frequently inquire after you. Mrs. Wm. H. Stiles has come down, since Mrs. Lord's return to her children. I now hear that Mr. Lord is released on parole in Baltimore. I do not know if it is true. Remember me to all friends, my dear son, and give much love to your mother, Fitzhugh, and all the girls. I hope you will be able to attend to the business matters without distress to yourself or neglect of your duty. All must be sacrificed to the country. May God protect you and shield you from all harm.

Your devoted father,
R. E. LEE.

SOURCE: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 161-2

1 comment:

troutbirder said...

I really enjoy these letters. What a treasure trove....