Tuesday, December 31, 2013

General Robert E. Lee to Charlotte Wickham Lee, July 26, 1863

CAMP CULPEPER, 26th July, 1863.

I received last night, my darling daughter, your letter of the 18th from Hickory Hill. I was also glad to hear from M. S. that you accompanied your mother from Ashland on the 22d, I presume on your way to the Alum Springs. I hope the water and mountain air will invigorate you and make you well. You must not be sick while F. is away or he will be more restless under his separation. Get strong and healthy by his return that he may the more rejoice at the sight of you. You give such an account of yourself that I scarcely recognize you. What sort of a closet is that to which you compare yourself? I see no resemblance, and will have none. I can appreciate your distress at F.'s situation. I deeply sympathize with it, and in the lone hours of the night I groan in sorrow at his captivity and separation from you. But we must all bear it, exercise all our patience, and do nothing to aggravate the evil. This, besides injuring ourselves, would rejoice our enemies, and be sinful in the eyes of God. In His own good time He will relieve us, and make all things work together for our good, if we give Him our love and place in Him our trust. I can see no harm that will result from Fitzhugh's capture except his detention. I feel assured that he will be well attended to. He will be in the hands of old army officers, and surgeons, most of whom are men of principle and humanity. His wound I understand had not been injured by his removal, but is doing well. Nothing would do him more harm than for him to learn that you were sick and sad. How could he get well? So cheer up and prove your fortitude and patriotism. What, too, should I do? I cannot bear to think of you except as I have always known you — bright, joyous, and happy. You may think of Fitzhugh and love him as much as you please, but do not grieve over him or grow sad. That will not be right, you precious child. I hope I shall be able to see you on your return from the Springs, and be able to welcome Fitzhugh too. I miss him very much, and want his assistance too. Perhaps I should have been able to have done better in Pennsylvania if he had been with me. . . . General Stuart is as dashing as ever. Colonel Chambliss commands F.'s brigade now. The cavalry has had hard service and is somewhat pulled down. But we shall build it up now. It has lost some gallant officers which causes me deep grief. Indeed the loss of our gallant officers and men throughout the army causes me to weep tears of blood and to wish that I never could hear the sound of a gun again. My only consolation is that they are the happier and we that are left are to be pitied.

I am sorry for the disappointment I caused you by returning to Virginia, but under the circumstances it was the best to be done. Had not the Shenandoah been so high, I should have gone into Loudoun, but being unable to cross it, I determined to come here. You must think of me, and pray for me always, and know that I am always thinking of you. I am so sorry that the enemy treated my dear Uncle Williams so badly. I also grieve at not seeing M. Good-by, my dear child. May God in His great mercy guard and protect you and your dear husband! I saw Mrs. Hill today and she inquired very kindly after you and Fitzhugh.

Your affectionate papa,
R. E. LEE.

SOURCE: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 277-8

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