December 29, 1861.
The news from Europe is indeed good, but I think the U. S. Govt., notwithstanding their moral and political commitment to Wilkes’s act, if it finds that England is earnest and that it will have to fight or retract, will retract. We must make up our minds to fight our battles ourselves, expect to receive aid from no one, and make every necessary sacrifice of comfort, money, and labor to bring the war to a successful close. The cry is too much for help. I am mortified to hear it. We want no aid. We want to be true to ourselves, to be prudent, just, and bold. I am dreadfully disappointed at the spirit here. They have all of a sudden realized the asperities of war. If I only had some veteran troops to take the trust, they would soon rally and be inspired with the great principle for which we are contending. The enemy is quiet, and safe in his big boats. He is threatening everywhere around, pillaging, burning, and robbing where he can venture with impunity, and alarming women and children. Every day I have reports of their landing in force, marching upon us, etc., which turns out to be some marauding party. The last was the North Edisto. I yesterday went over the whole line in that region from the Ashepro to the W. and found everything quiet and could only see them by black ships lying down the Edisto, where the water is too broad for anything we have to reach them. They will not venture as yet in the narrow waters. I went yesterday 115 miles but only 35 on horseback. I did not get back until 11 P. M. I took Greenbrier the whole distance. Take good care of Richmond. Draw his forage on my account. Send him to me if opportunity offers, if you do not want him. I have two horses now with me. Good-by, my dear son.
R. E. LEE.
SOURCES: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 157