Richmond, May 25, 1861.
I have been trying, dearest Mary, ever since the receipt of your letter by Custis, to write to you. I sympathise deeply in your feelings at leaving your dear home. I have experienced them myself, and they are constantly revived. I fear we have not been grateful enough for the happiness there within our reach, and our heavenly Father has found it necessary to deprive us of what He has given us. I acknowledge my ingratitude, my transgressions, and my unworthiness, and submit with resignation to what he thinks proper to inflict upon me. We must trust all then to him, and I do not think it prudent or right for you to return there, while the United States troops occupy that country. I have gone over all this ground before, and have just written to Cousin Anna on the subject.
While writing, I received a telegram from Cousin John Goldsborough*, urging your departure “South.” I suppose he is impressed with the risk of your present position, and in addition to the possibility, or probability, of personal annoyance to yourself, I fear your presence may provoke annoyance to Cousin Anna. But unless Cousin Anna goes with you, I shall be distressed about her being there alone. If the girls went to “Kinloch” or “Eastern View,” you and Cousin Anna might take care of yourselves, because you could get in the carriage and go off in an emergency. But I really am afraid that you may prove more harm than comfort to her. Mr. Wm. C. Rives has just been in to say that if you and Cousin Anna will go to his house, he will be very glad for you to stay as long as you please. That his son has a commodious house just opposite his, unoccupied, partially furnished; that you could, if you prefer, take that, bring up servants and what you desire, and remain there as independent as at home. . . . I must now leave the matter to you, and pray that God may guard you. I have no time for more. I know and feel the discomfort of your position, but it cannot be helped, and we must bear our trials like Christians. . . . If you and Cousin Anna choose to come here, you know how happy we shall be to see you. I shall take the field as soon now as I can. . . .
Ever yours truly and devotedly,
R. E. Lee.
* A cousin of Mrs. Fitzhugh.
SOURCE: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 32-3