Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

 Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

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It is to be regretted that so little was written by my father whileon this trip. In the letters extant he scarcely refers to hisreception by the people at different points visited. His daughterAgnes tells more, and we can imagine how tenderly and joyfully hewas greeted by his old soldiers, their wives, children and friends.He was very unwilling to be made a hero anywhere, and most reluctantto show himself to the crowds assembled at every station along hisroute, pressing to catch sight of him.

"Why should they care to see me?" he would say, when urged to appearon the platform of the train; "I am only a poor old Confederate!"

This feeling, natural to him, was probably intensified at that timeby the state of his health. On Sunday he writes to my mother of histrip to Richmond and of his stay there:

"Richmond, Virginia, March 29, 1870.

"My Dear Mary: I reached here Friday afternoon, and had a morecomfortable journey than I expected. The night aboard the packetwas very trying, but I survived it, and the dust of the railroadthe following day. Yesterday the doctors, Huston, McCaw, andCunningham, examined me for two hours, and I believe, contemplatereturning to-day. They say they will make up their opinion andcommunicate it to Doctor Barton, who will write me what to do. Inthe meantime they desire me to continue his prescriptions. I thinkI feel better than when I left Lexington, certainly stronger, butam a little feverish. Whether it is produced by the journey, orthe toddies that Agnes administers, I do not know. I have not beenable to see anybody, nor was I able to get the groceries yesterday.Agnes thinks you will have enough to last till I get back here,when I will select them and send them up. Should you want anyparticular article, write to Messrs. Bacon & Lewis for it. I saw,yesterday morning, Mr. John Stewart and Miss Mary [Miss Mary Stewart,of "Brook Hill," afterward Mrs. Thomas Pinckney, of South Carolina.],who had called to see Agnes but found she was out. Miss Mary lookedvery sweet, and inquired about you all. Agnes rode out thereyesterday afternoon and saw all the family. I am told all ourfriends here are well. Many of my northern friends have done me thehonour to call on me. Among them 'Brick Pomeroy.' The like to seeall that is going on. Agnes has gone to church with Colonel Corley.I was afraid to go. The day is unfavourable, and I should see somany of my old friends, to whom I would like to speak, that it mightbe injurious to me. I was in hopes that Fitzhugh might make hisappearance yesterday, when we should have learned all about thosebelow, but he did not. I hear that they are all well, however. Iexpect to continue our journey to-morrow, if nothing prevents, thoughI have not yet got the information I desire about the routes. Still,I will get on. I will leave to Agnes to tell about herself. Loveto all, Truly, R. E. Lee."

The next letter that I find is written from Savannah:

"Savannah, Georgia, April 2, 1870.

"My Dear Mary: I reached here yesterday evening and have borne thejourney much better than I expected. I think I am stronger thanwhen I left Lexington, but otherwise can discover no difference. Ihave had a tedious journey upon the whole, and have more than everregretted that I undertook it. However, I have enjoyed meeting manyfriends, and the old soldiers have greeted me very cordially. Myvisit to dear Annie's grave was mournful, yet soothing to my feelings,and I was glad to have the opportunity of thanking the kind friendsfor their care of her while living and their attention to her sinceher death. I saw most of the ladies of the committee who undertookthe preparation of the monument and the inclosure of the cemetery,and was very kindly received by all the citizens of Warrenton, and,indeed, at all the towns through which we passed. Yesterday, severalgentlemen from Savannah met the train in which we came from Augusta--General Lawton, Mr. Andrew Lowe, Mr. Hodgson, etc., etc. I foundthey had arranged among themselves about my sojourn, so I yieldedat once, and, after depositing Agnes at General Lawton's, I came offto Mr. Lowe's, where I am now domiciled. His house is partiallydismantled and he is keeping house alone, so I have a very quiettime. This morning I took a short drive around the city with Agnesand Miss Lawton, and on returning called on Mrs. Elliot, who has hertwo widowed daughters living with, Mrs. Elliot and Mrs. Habersham.I also went to see Mrs. Gordon, Mrs. Gilmer, and Mrs. Owen, and thenreturned to the Lowes', where I find he has invited some gentlemento meet me at dinner--General Joe Johnston, General Lawton, GeneralGilmer, Colonel Corley, etc. Colonel Corley has stuck to me allthe journey, and now talks of going to New Orleans. The weatherto-day is rather cool and raw, with an easterly wind, and if itcontinues I will go on to Florida next week. The woods are filledwith flowers, yellow jasmine covering all the trees, etc., andfresh vegetables everywhere. I must leave Agnes to give you allthe details. The writing-desk is placed in a dark corner in thishandsome house, prepared for younger eyes than mine, and I can hardlysee what I write. All friends inquire after you, Custis, Mary, andMildred. Give my love to all, and believe me,

"Most truly, R. Lee.

"Mrs. R. Lee."