January 19, 1862
I have just returned from a visit to the coast as far as Fernandina. Our defenses are growing stronger, but progress slowly. The volunteers dislike work and there is much sickness among them besides. Guns too are required, ammunition, and more men. Still, on the whole, matters are encouraging and if the enemy does not approach in overwhelming numbers, we ought to hold our ground. He is quiescent still. What he is preparing for or when he will strike I cannot discover. His numerous boats cut off all communications with the islands, where he hides himself, and his works. I saw in Fernandina Miss Matilda. I fear she is out with me. She had written me another tremendous long letter, which I had never been able to read, and it seems she wanted some companies placed near her at old Fort Carlos, which I could not do. I was also at Dungeness. The garden was beautiful. Filled with roses, etc., which had not so far been touched with frost this winter. The place is deserted. Mrs. N. and her daughters occupy a log cabin in the pines near Thebeanville, junction of Brunswick and S. & Gulf R. R's. Mr. N. is on the St. Mary's. Every one on the coast has suffered, but they bear it manfully. No civilized nation within my knowledge has ever carried on war as the U. S. Govt, has against us. I saw good old Mrs. Mackay, the young Stiles, etc., in S. Everybody inquired kindly for you. Ives is in S. helping Echols lay out intrenchments around the city. Give much love to all friends, your mother, etc., and believe me always,
Your affectionate father,
R. E. LEE.
COL. G. W. CUSTIS LEE.
SOURCES: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 158