Tuesday, July 31, 2018

General Robert E. Lee to a Young Lady in the North, May 5, 1861

RICHMOND, May 5, 1861.

MY DEAR LITTLE H——: I am very grateful for your kind letter, and the cordial expressions it contained. You are not only welcome to that severe representation of me, but anything else you may fancy. I pray you will not exhibit it however, as it will only serve to bring down denunciations on my head. You, I hope, will make allowances for my position and failings, and think as kindly of me as you can.

I shall never forget you, and require no work of art to keep you vividly before me. It is painful to think how many friends will be separated and estranged by our unhappy disunion. May God reunite our severed bonds of friendship, and turn our hearts to peace. I can say in sincerity that I hear animosity against no one. Wherever the blame may be, the fact is, that we are in the midst of a fratricidal war. I must side either with or against my section of country. I cannot raise my hand against my birth-place, my home, my children.

I should like, above all things, that our difficulties might be peaceably arranged, and still trust that a merciful God, whom I know will not unnecessarily afflict us, may yet allay the fury for war.

Whatever may be the result of the contest, I foresee that the country will have to pass through a terrible ordeal, a necessary expiation, perhaps, of our national sins.

May God direct all for our good, and shield and preserve you and yours.

Very truly and sincerely,

SOURCE: “The Rebel Gen. Lee,” The New York Times, New York, New York, Tuesday, August 6, 1861, p. 3. According to the first paragraph of the article, the young lady had asked for a photograph from Lee.  He didn’t sit for one, but Mrs. Lee having some sent one to the young lady.

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