Short URL for this page:
On November 11, 1857, Robert E. Lee reached Arlington on the saddest of all his ante-bellum home-comings. The shadow of Mr. Custis's death still hung over the plantation. The old gentleman had been ill only four days from pneumonia when he had realized that his end was near at hand. On the morning of October 10, after having been unconscious most of the night, Mr. Custis had roused himself, had embraced Mrs. Lee and the children, and had directed that his rector be summoned. After the clergyman had arrived, Mr. Custis had asked that the prayer for the dying be said, and while it was being repeated, he passed away. He was then in his seventy-seventh year.1
The absence of his father-in‑law, however, was less of a shock to Lee than the plight of his wife. When he had left home in 1856 she had been in her usual health, which had been fair after she had recovered from the pelvic infection which, in 1836, had caused her so much suffering. Lee had heard in January, 1857, that she was ill, and he had yielded at that time to his impulse to give advice,2 but he does not seem to have realized the seriousness of her condition. Perhaps she kept it from him, lest it add unhappiness to the hardships he had to sustain in Texas. "I almost dread him seeing my crippled state," she had written in February, 1857, to a kinswoman. Arthritis had assailed her right hand and arm at that time and probably was slowly spreading. Often she was kept awake at night by the pain.3 Lee now found her scarcely able to move about the house, and, though she was only forty-nine, aging very rapidly. Overnight, and without warning, he had to face the fact that his wife had become an invalid. That was enough to add the deepest gloom to his return.
p380 Lee soon found that Mr. Custis's will had put a heavy burden on him. He had been named one of the four executors,4º and as the others failed to qualify, he had to discharge all the duties of settling a troublesome estate under a complicated testament. Mr. Custis had drawn up the paper in 1855, apparently without consulting counsel. He left Mrs. Lee a life interest in Arlington and its contents and in adjacent properties. On her demise all this property except the minor plate was to pass in fee to Custis Lee, "he my eldest grandson taking my name and arms." His "White House" plantation of •4000 acres in New Kent County, Mr. Custis left to Rooney Lee, and the "Romancock"5 property of like acreage he bequeathed to his youngest grandson, Robert E. Lee, Jr. To Colonel Lee he left a lot in "Square 21" of Washington City. Each of Mr. Custis's granddaughters was to receive $10,000. One paragraph of the will provided that Smith's Island, off Northampton County, and sundry lands in Stafford, Richmond, and Westmoreland Counties, should be sold to provide these legacies. Another section said that these properties and "my estates of the White-House in the County of New Kent and Romancock in the County of King William" were to be "charged with the payment of the legacies to my granddaughters." The will then read: "Smith's Island and the aforesaid lands in Stafford, Richmond and Westmoreland only are to be sold, the lands of the White House and Romancock to be worked to raise the aforesaid legacies to my four granddaughters." This was confusing and contradictory enough, but a final tangle was added by a provision that when the legacies should have been paid, and the properties had been cleared of debt, all the Custis slaves were to be emancipated, "the said emancipation to be accomplished in not exceeding five years from the time of my decease."6
The courts manifestly would be required to construe this document and to determine the nature and extent of the liens on White House and Romancock. The beneficiaries under the will were of the same family. If, therefore, all went well and the p381 miscellaneous landed properties yielded enough to pay the greater part of the legacies without draining the White House and Romancock for too long a time, a settlement would be a matter of no great difficulty. The immediate trouble was that Mr. Custis left more than $10,000 of debts7 and virtually no money with which to operate the estate. He had wide-spreading acres and 196 slaves,8 but he had always been a negligent farmer and an easy-going master, and he had become more careless as he had grown older. For some time after 1851 he had devoted himself chiefly to the painting of feeble pictures of Washington's battles.9 His Arlington tract of •1100 acres, in the Virginia phrase, was sadly "run down." His fences had fallen, his roof leaked, his very lawn was being invaded by bushes and weeds. Arlington would not have sustained the family during the life of Mr. Custis had he not received a fair income from some of his other farms that were rented out to capable planters. His servants, who for years had done little but tend their own gardens, were not disposed to turn to hard work. Instead of inheriting easy luxury, the Lees found themselves "land-poor."
ARLINGTON, THE CUSTIS MANSION OVERLOOKING WASHINGTON, WHERE R. E. LEE WAS MARRIED AND WHERE HIS FAMILY RESIDED, WITH FEW LONG INTERMISSIONS, FROM 1834 TO APRIL, 1861
From a photograph by Cook.
As executor, Lee saw that if his daughters' legacies were to be paid, Arlington must be made self-supporting. If the house was to be saved from ruin, it had to be repaired. To do all this called for the expenditure of at least a part of his salary, and also for his presence on the ground. He could not hope to effect the necessary revolution through some one else while he was absent in Texas. Embarrassing as was the application, and serious as might be the effect on his career of protracted separation from his regiment, he had no choice except to ask for a lengthy leave of absence. He applied for two months' leave soon after he reached home,10 and before that expired he got an extension to December 1, 1858, by which time he hoped to be able to rejoin his regiment.11 In all this, of course, he had the support of his "true and warm p382 friend," as he styled General Scott.12 It had been only in the previous spring that his old chief had advocated a commission for Rooney Lee "mainly," as Scott had said, "on the extraordinary merits of the father, the very best soldier I ever saw in the field."13 As commanding general of the army, Scott would grant whatever leave the circumstances of Colonel Lee required — and would be ready to argue that it was far less than the country owed Lee.
So Lee settled down in the winter of 1857‑58 to become temporarily a farmer — with scant equipment, little money, many debts, and indifferent help. He had often longed to lead the life of a planter, but now that he had to do so, with a neglected estate, deeply involved, he entered upon one of the darkest, most unhappy periods of his life. He wished, of course, for Mrs. Lee and the children to be comfortable, and he wanted the property to be in good order when it passed to his son. But he could do little, at that season, for the repair of the house or for the cultivation of the farm. He soon became restless and unsettled regarding his future. He felt that he was at the crossroads. Should he stay in the army, or was it his duty to resign and devote himself to Arlington, on which $10,000, exclusive of the payment of the debts, would have to be spent?14 He decided that his course of action should depend chiefly on what his sons had in contemplation. Custis was still in the West, and not particularly pleased with his post. Rooney wanted to marry his cousin, Charlotte Wickham, of Shirley, and start housekeeping at White House, but he had just been ordered to join the expedition against the Mormons and he could not afford to resign at such a time. Lee explained all this in a letter to Custis and continued:
"As to myself and future plans, I shall defer my determination until the fall, as it will not be necessary to determine till then. In the meantime, you must think over the matter and decide what you would prefer doing. If you wished to resign and take this place, and Rooney to get married and settle down at the White p383 House, there would be no necessity for my leaving the Army. I had thought myself of applying for your appointment in any new regiment that might be raised this winter, if I saw any chance of success, and am glad you have mentioned the subject. I am doubtful whether you would be benefited or not. That also depends upon your taste and feelings. The service in the Engineer Corps is preferable to that in the regiment. No place is without its drawbacks and you must not expect unalloyed pleasure anywhere. Promotion, if offered an officer, ought in my opinion to be accepted. But it need not be sought unless deserved. A captaincy in the engineers in time of peace, in responsibility, dignity, and usefulness, would rank with a field officer of the line. In time of war, it might be different. . . ."15
There was, in this letter, a suggestion of his strong wish to remain in the army,16 and perhaps an indirect confession that his former service with the engineers was preferable to his new cavalry command, but desire and ambition alike were subordinated to the need of the family. He was not alone in this. If he was willing to abandon his profession in order to improve Arlington for his son, Custis was equally anxious to increase his father's happiness and at his own expense. On March 17, 1858, Lee received a letter from Custis, written February 18, in which the boy sent his father a deed to Arlington and all the other property inherited under his grandfather's will. The transfer had already been suggested by Custis, so it was no surprise to the senior Lee. He sat down at once and thanked his son but of course declined the gift. He said:
"I am deeply impressed by your filial feeling of love and consideration, as well as your tender solicitude for me, of which, however, I required no proof, and am equally touched by your generosity and disinterestedness. But from what I said in a previous letter you will not be surprised at my repeating that I cannot accept your offer. It is not from an unwillingness to receive p384 from you a gift you may think proper to bestow, or to be indebted to you for any benefit great or small. But simply because it would not be right for me to do so. Your dear grandfather distributed his property as he thought best, and it is proper that it should remain as he bestowed it. It will not prevent me from improving it to the best of my ability, or of making it as comfortable a home for your mother, sisters, and yourself as I can. I only wish I could do more than I shall have it in my power to do. I wish you had received my previous letter on this subject in time to have saved you the trouble of executing the deed you transmitted me."
Here Lee's amusing propensity for giving advice to his children asserted itself even more strongly — and certainly with less of tact — than usually. He added:
"And indeed I also regret the expense you incurred, which I fear in that country is considerable, as I wish you to save all your money, and invest it in some safe and lucrative way, that you may have the means to build up old Arlington, and make it all we would wish to see it. The necessity I daily have for money has, I fear, made me parsimonious. In order that you may know the full extent of your grandfather's will, I enclose you a copy."17
Custis probably was actuated by a desire to have his father own a property on which he, and not the son, would have to spend money. Lee must have felt that his boy's generous letter, which unfortunately has been lost, was full compensation for all the labor he put on Arlington. His own affairs, however, were not so embarrassed as Custis may have thought. The Custis property was in distress, but Lee himself had always lived within his income and had been able to save a part of his salary.
On April 26, Lee had to leave for Newport Barracks, Kentucky, by way of Cincinnati to serve on a court-martial,18 convened to try Brigadier General Twiggs, but he was not long detained and was back in Washington on May 5, with a day in Baltimore on his return journey. He found his sister, Mrs. Marshall, in poor p385 health, but he had the pleasure of seeing numerous kinspeople and old friends.19 He was at work again in time to put in a good crop of corn, his first large venture as a planter.
His labor was aggravating and the results doubtful. Arlington was far more difficult to administer than West Point or a fort under construction. The rain interfered, and agrarian discontent, which was as general then as thereafter, overtook him in mid-summer. "I am getting along as usual," he wrote Rooney in August, "trying to get a little work done and to mend up some things. I succeed very badly."20 The affairs of his family claimed much time. Rooney had gone off to his command in the West, with his father's benediction and a letter of parental advice, "which, Lee somewhat apologetically explained, "proceeds from my great love and burning anxiety for your welfare and happiness."21 The young man was anxious to marry without further delay and had to be tactfully discouraged for the time, acceptable though his fiancée was in every way.22 While urging Rooney to stay in the West until he had established a name for himself in the army, Lee was working to get Custis an assignment in the engineer bureau in Washington, in order that the young man might "see how [he] would like to become a farmer."23
Mrs. Lee and his daughters were at the time even more of a concern than were the boys. The condition of Mrs. Lee was somewhat better, but she had to be taken to the Hot Springs during August, while the younger children were left with the ever-generous Mrs. Fitzhugh at Ravenswood.24 Later in the year, two of his daughters were ailing.25 He had to play the nurse, while attending to the farm, but he contrived to do both and still kept in contact with the army. Unknown to him, James M. Porter, founder of Lafayette College, and former nominee for Secretary of War, had been urging Lee's promotion as p386 brigadier general to succeed Persifor F. Smith, who had recently died. Porter had said:
"Col. Lee is one of the most accomplished and best educated officers in the Army. . . . He is a highly finished gentleman in his manners and deportment and one of the best educated men, both in a military point of view and as a general scholar, that we have in this country. I have always considered him a model officer; the pattern of a soldier and a gentleman. He is in the prime and vigor of life, and admirably adapted for the command of our forces."26
The recommendation came to naught, but it shows that Lee's professional reputation, which was limited to army circles at the close of the Mexican War, was gradually spreading. When Scott was ill about this time there was some talk in the army of Lee as his successor.27 Lee had no repinings that he was not named in Smith's stead, nor did he complain because he was not given a place in the Utah expedition, but he did think a mistake was made in placing two sick men in charge of the later stage of the campaign — General W. S. Harney and Lee's old colonel, Albert Sidney Johnston, now a brevet brigadier general. "I do not think it right," he said, "to commit the honor of the country and the lives of the soldiers to persons so prostrated."28
There was already beginning to creep into his correspondence some of the misgiving of a man long separated from his profession. His leave was to expire on December 1, 1858, but as that date approached, Lee realized that he could not quit Arlington with his work as executor half-done. The farm was by no means in the order he desired. Moreover, the court had not yet construed those parts of Mr. Custis's will in which provision had been made both for the emancipation and for the employment of the slaves on the farms, as well as for the sale of certain properties, to provide the specified bequests for the daughters. Lee set forth his situation very fully in a letter of October 22, 1858, addressed to General Scott's assistant adjutant general. This read as follows:
"I have been occupied ever since my arrival from Texas, in p387 settling the estate of the late G. W. P. Custis, and have earnestly endeavored so to arrange it, so as to enable me to return to my Regt this Fall. I find it however impossible to do so, and without going into a narration of matters still unfinished and requiring my personal attention, I will only state that the terms of Mr. Custis' will are found to be so indefinite and admit of so many different versions, that I have been compelled to apply to the Circuit Court of Virga for their true and legal construction, and specific rules for my government as Executor.
"These I had hoped to receive before this time, but the earliest period I can now obtain them, is at the next November term of said Court; which if received will not enable me to put in train of execution, before the expiration of my present leave of absence, 1st Decr.
"The most important point to be determined by the Court is the period of the emancipation of the slaves, which is dependent upon the conditions of the will. Justice to them requires their earliest fulfilment. I therefore feel compelled to ask an extension of my present leave of absence till 1st May next.
"The leave of absence granted by the Commd Genl of the Dept of Texas, authorized me to ask for such an extension as was necessary for the arrangement of my business.
"Should however the Commd Genl of the Army consider my presence with my Regt this winter necessary, I will cheerfully join it at any time he may designate."29
Scott "heartily approved" this application,30 which was accordingly granted.31 Not all this additional leave, however, was spent at home. On December 15, Lee was at West Point, sitting on an irksome court of inquiry assembled to hear some foolish charges against Professor Mahan. This held him until after Christmas, and forced him to hurry back home for the necessary but unpleasant task of hiring out some of the idle Arlington Negroes.32 The only pleasure Lee had on this journey was a report of p388 Rooney's soldierly bearing and good conduct, given him in New York by Rooney's colonel, Charles A.May.33
The winter of 1858‑59 and the spring of 1859, were in many ways the gloomiest Lee had experienced. The circuit court adjourned in November, 1858, without construing the Custis will,34 and the pressure on Lee's finances, for the improvement of the property, was so manifest that the always thoughtful Mrs. Fitzhugh was constrained to send him $1000 to be used as he saw fit. Lee had determined to keep the expenditures at Arlington within his means and he could not accept the check, which he acknowledged with warmest gratitude.35 Remaining continuously at home, except for about seven weeks' service on a board convened in Washington, to consider the equipment of the cavalry,36 he worked hard, but, as he thought, to very little purpose. He got the house and the stable safe from leaks and, as he said, "ameliorated some things," but the embarrassment of limited means could not be overcome. The improvements, he wrote Custis, were "very meagre. . . . I have been able to do nothing to the grounds around the house, except to clean up on the hill, and have been obliged to limit myself to what is most essential, and promises something for man and beast to eat, and to furnish shelter and protection. You will find things, therefore, I fear rough and unsightly, as much as I desire to polish up your mother's habitation, and to prepare for you an acceptable home."37
His other worries continued. Mrs. Lee's health at the end of the spring of 1859 was as bad as it had been when Lee returned from Texas. By July, Lee had begun to despair of her recovery. His ailing daughters, except Mildred, got no better. "I have no enjoyment in life now," he wrote in distress, "but what I derive from my children."38 He did not spare himself to make those p389 young Lees happy. Whatever the load he carried, he had a cheerful mien in their presence. Once, in the autumn of 1858, he came upon Annie and Katherine Stiles, a friend from Georgia, weeping together as Katherine made ready to leave after a visit. "No tears at Arlington," he gaily told them, "no tears!"39 The time was not far distant when there would be nothing but tears at Arlington!
Lee's only relief from nursing his family and managing the farm in 1859 was in a number of brief visits. In March he travelled to Richmond and thence to Shirley, the beloved old home of his mother, where, on the 23d, Rooney was married to his distant cousin, Charlotte Wickham. The wedding was of the generous, old-fashioned sort, where the guests lingered long. Lee was one of the trustees under the generous marriage settlement of Charlotte, and on April 1 he was in Richmond, probably in connection with the recordation of the deed of trust.40 The next month Lee made a brief trip to Goodwood, his first vacation since his return to Virginia. He went, also, to the White House at the end of May, to prepare it for Rooney and Charlotte, who were soon to move there; and he journeyed to Baltimore to see Mrs. Marshall, whose eyesight was endangered.41 But even changes of scene, which he regarded as the best physic,42 did not raise his depressed spirits. Absence from his command troubled him deeply, the more so as circumstances had protracted it. He had hoped to return to his regiment on May 1, for the summer at least, but he had to ask once again that his leave be prolonged, and on June 14 had it extended four months more.43 He explained this to Custis: "It was this desire [to have Robert with me], the unsettled business of your grandpa's estate, your mama's condition, p390 and the hope I at one time entertained of seeing you, my dear son, that induced me to forego my purpose of returning to Texas this summer, and to remain till the fall. God knows whether I have done right, or whether my stay will be an advantage. I am very doubtful on the subject and feel that I ought to be with my regiment, and this feeling deprives me of half the pleasure I should derive from being here under other circumstances."44
The handling of the slaves, always a difficult matter to a conscientious man, added to Lee's distress. The Negroes at Arlington numbered sixty-three, and the majority of them belonged to a few large families. They were more than Lee could work advantageously with his available capital and land, consequently he had to hire out a few of them by the year in order to supplement the income from the property. The demand for servants was so limited in northern Virginia, and the return was so small that he was compelled to send some of the Arlington Negroes to work in eastern Virginia. This may have caused something of a rebellion among them, for two of them, a man and a young woman, ran away in the hope of reaching Pennsylvania. They were captured in Maryland and were returned to Arlington. Thereupon Lee sent them to labor in lower Virginia, where there would be less danger of their absconding.45 That probably was the extent of the punishment imposed on them. There is no evidence, direct or indirect, that Lee ever had them or any other Negroes flogged. The usage at Arlington and elsewhere in Virginia among people of Lee's station forbade such a thing. But false stories were spread, and on June 24, 1859, The New York Tribune printed two communications on the affair. One of them read as follows:
To the editor of the N. Y. Tribune.
Sir It is known that the venerable George Washington Parke Custis died some two years ago; and the same papers that announced his death announced also the fact that on his deathbed he liberated his slaves. The will, for some reason, was never p391 allowed any publicity, and the slaves themselves were cajoled along with the idea that some slight necessary arrangements were to be made, when they would all have their free papers. Finally they were told five years must elapse before they could go. Meantime they have been deprived of all means of making a little now and then for themselves, as they were allowed to do during Mr. Custis's life, have been kept harder at work than ever, and part of the time have been cut down to half a peck of unsifted meal a week for each person, without even their fish allowance. Three old women, who have seen nearly their century each, are kept sewing, making clothes for the field hands, from daylight till dark, with nothing but the half-peck of meal to eat; no tea or coffee — nothing that old people crave — and no time given them to earn these little rarities, as formerly. One old man, eighty years old, bent with age, and whom Mr. Custis had long since told "had done enough," and might go home and "smoke his pipe in peace," is now turned out as a regular field hand. A year ago, for some trifling offense, three were sent to hail, and a few months later three more, for simply going down to the river to get themselves some fish, when they were literally starved.
Some three or four weeks ago, three, more courageous than the rest, thinking their five years would never come to an end, came to the conclusion to leave for the North. They were most valuable servants, but they were never advertised, and there was no effort made to regain them which looks exceedingly as though Mr. Lee, the present proprietor, knew he had no lawful claim to them. They had not proceeded far before their progress was intercepted by some brute in human form, who suspected them to be fugitives, and probably wished a reward. They were lodged in jail, and frightened into telling where they had started from. Mr. Lee was forthwith acquainted with their whereabouts, when they were transported back, taken into a barn, stripped, and the men received thirty and nine lashes each, from the hands of the slave-whipper, when he refused to whip the girl, and Mr. Lee himself administered the thirty and nine lashes to her. They were then sent to Richmond jail, where they are now lodged.
Next to Mount Vernon, we associate the Custis place with the "Father of this free country." Shall "Washington's body guard" be p392 thus tampered with, and never a voice raised for such utter helplessness?
Washington, June 21, 1859.
The other letter was briefer but equally exaggerated:
To the editor of the N. Y. Tribune.
Sir: I live •one mile from the plantation of George Washington P. Custis, now Col. Lee's, as Custis willed it to Lee. All the slaves on this estate, as I understand, were set free at the death of Custis, but are now held in bondage by Lee. I have inquired concerning the will, but can get no satisfaction. Custis had fifteen children by his slave women. I see his grandchildren every day; they are of a dark yellow. Last week three of the slaves ran away; an officer was sent after them, overtook them •nine miles this side of Pennsylvania, and brought them back. Col. Lee ordered them whipped. They were two men and one woman. The officer whipped the two men, and said he would not whip the woman, and Col. Lee stripped her and whipped her himself. These are facts as I learn from near relatives of the men whipped. After being whipped, he sent them to Richmond and hired them out as good farm hands.
Washington, June 19, 1859.
This was Lee's first experience with the extravagance of irresponsible antislavery agitators. The libel, which was to be reprinted many times in later years with new embellishments, made him unhappy, but it did not lead him to any violent retort. All he had to say to Custis about the criticism was: "The N. Y. Tribune has attacked me for my treatment of your grandfather's slaves, but I shall not reply. He has left me an unpleasant legacy."46
The summer dragged itself out. A visit to Capon Springs, for the health of Mrs. Lee and of Agnes, was interrupted by a hurried call from Lee's niece, Mary Childe, who begged Lee to join her at Saratoga Springs, N. Y., where her father was very ill. Lee dutifully started from the Capon spa, but fortunately got a letter, p393 as he was passing through Alexandria, stating that Childe was better and that Lee need not come. He accordingly went out to Arlington, where he found that he had missed a visit from Lieutenant "Jeb" Stuart,47 who was then on leave, visiting friends and relatives in Virginia.
On October 6, Lee was at Fort Columbus, New York harbor, for a brief court-martial.48 Then, or about that time, General Scott offered him the position of military secretary, with the same rank as Lee then held, that of lieutenant colonel.49 But Lee had made the change from the staff to the line, and though he was devoted to the old General, and would have done anything in his power to serve him, he did not wish to return to staff duty, where experience had shown him promotion was slow. Scott expected he would decline and was not piqued when he did so.
1 Decker and McSween: Historic Arlington, 45. He had been born at Mount Airy, April 30, 1781 (Brock, 162).
2 Lee to Mrs. Lee, Jan. 7, 1857; Jones, L. and L., 84.
3 Mrs. R. E. Lee to Mrs. Hackley, MS., Feb. 19, 1857; Talcott MSS. (VHS).
4 They were Robert Lee Randolph of Eastern View, Right Reverend William Meade, and George Washington Peter.
5 This harsh name, which is spelled throughout the will as it is here given, was subsequently softened to "Romancoke."
6 Will of G. W. P. Custis, MS. Records Alexandria County, Virginia. This document was probated Dec. 7, 1857.
7 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, MS., March 17, 1858; Duke Univ. MSS.
8 Inventory of the estate of G. W. P. Custis, Jan. 1, 1858; MS. Records Alexandria County, Virginia; R. E. Lee to Mrs. A. M. Fitzhugh, MS., Nov. 22, 1857; Duke Univ. MSS.
9 B. J. Lossing: "Arlington House," Harper's Magazine, September, 1853, pp435, 445 ff.
10 MS. A. G. O., vol. 13, S. O. 154, Nov. 27, 1857.
11 MS. A. G. O., vol. 14, S. O. 7, Jan. 21, 1858.
12 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, Feb. 15, 1858; Jones, L. and L., 89‑90.
14 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, MSS., Jan. 17, Feb. 15, 1858, Duke Univ. MSS. The original of the second of these letters contains much matter, omitted without any indication of that fact, from Jones's version, quoted supra.
15 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, Feb. 15, 1858; Jones, L. and L., 89.
16 Cf. Lee to unnamed correspondent, n. d., 1859: "You have heard me say that the cordiality and friendship in the army was the great attraction of the service. It is that, I believe, which has kept me in it so long, and it is that which now makes me fear to leave it. I do not know where I should meet with so much friendship out of it" (P. A. Bruce: Robert E. Lee, 93).
17 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, March 17, 1858; Jones, L. and L., 90‑91. In printing this letter, Doctor Jones omitted the important statement, the crux to Lee's whole problem at Arlington, that the Custis estate was $10,000 in debt. Cf. the original, Duke Univ. MSS.
18 MS. A. G. O., vol. 14, S. O. 42, March 19, 1858.
19 Lee to Mrs. A. M. Fitzhugh, MS., May 5, 1858; Duke Univ. MSS.; R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, May 17, 1858; Jones, L. and L., 91‑93. For the erroneous transcription of Twiggs's name as Scruggs, see infra, 414, n34.
20 R. E. Lee to W. H. F. Lee, Aug. 7, 1858; Jones, L. and L., 95.
21 R. E. Lee to W. H. F. Lee, May 30, 1858; Jones, 376.
22 R. E. Lee to W. H. F. Lee Aug. 7, 1858; Jones, L. and L., 94‑95.
23 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, May 17, 1858, Aug. 19, 1859; Jones, L. and L., 92, 103.
24 R. E. Lee to Mrs. A. M. Fitzhugh, MS., Aug. 12, Sept. 6, 1858; Duke Univ. MSS.
25 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, May 30, 1859; Jones, L. and L., 100.
26 J. M. Porter to James Buchanan, May 25, 1858; MS. A. G. O., L., 48.
27 Long, 37.
28 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, May 17, 1858; Jones, L. and L., 92.
29 Lee to Irvin McDowell, A. A. G., Oct. 22, 1858; MS. A. G. O.
30 Endorsement on Idem.
31 MS. A. G. O., vol. 6, S. O. 153, Oct. 29, 1858.
32 Ibid., vol. 6, S. O. 167, Dec. 1, 1858; Lee to Andrew Talcott, MS., Dec. 21, 1858; Talcott MSS. (VHS); R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, Jan. 2, 1859; Jones, L. and L., 97. Lee reached home on Dec. 29, 1858.
33 R. E. Lee to W. H. F. Lee, Jan. 1, 1859; Jones, L. and L., 96.
34 R. E. Lee to Mrs. A. M. Fitzhugh, MS., Nov. 20, 1858; Duke Univ. MSS.
35 R. E. Lee to Mrs. A. M. Fitzhugh, MS., Nov. 20, Dec. 13, 1858; Duke Univ. MSS.
36 R. E. Lee to Mrs. A. M. Fitzhugh, MS., Jan. 30, Feb. 17, 1859; Duke Univ. MSS.; MS. A. G. O., vol. 6, S. O. 13, Jan. 20, 1859; undated MS. memorandum, A. G. O., of Lee's assignments, 1858‑59. He served on the equipment board, Jan. 25 – March 1, and March 2‑12, 1859. D. H. Maury, who was also a member of this board, has left a brief account of its work (op. cit., 107).
37 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, Jan. 2, May 30, July 2, 1859; Jones, L. and L., 97‑98, 99, 102.
38 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, May 30, July 2, 1859; Jones, L. and L., 100, 101.
39 Miss Stiles in Richmond Times-Dispatch, Jan. 20, 1907.
40 Information supplied by Honorable Henry T. Wickham; Records Chancery Court of Richmond, Va., MS. Deed Book 73‑A, p553. Charlotte Wickham, christened Georgiana, was the posthumous child of George Wickham, U. S. N., and of Charlotte Carter, daughter of Williams Carter of Shirley. Her mother dying while she was a baby, Charlotte was reared by her maternal grandfather at Shirley. George Wickham, her father, was the son of John Wickham and his wife, Elizabeth Selden McClurg of Richmond, Va.
41 Jones, L. and L., 98, 100, 101; R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, MS., May 30, 1859; Duke Univ. MSS.
42 Cf. "[An excursion] to some healthy and interesting region will do more to renovate and invigorate the system, and enable it to throw off any general or even local disease, than anything else in the world" (Lee to Talcott, MS., Aug. 7, 1838; Talcott MSS. (VHS)).
43 MS. A. G. O., vol. 6, S. O. 104, June 14, 1859.
44 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, July 2, 1859; Jones, L. and L., 101‑2.
46 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, July 2, 1859; Jones, L. and L., 102.
47 R. E. Lee to Custis Lee, MS., Aug. 17, 1859; Duke Univ. MSS.; same to same, Aug. 19, 1859; Jones, L. and L., 104.
48 MS. A. G. O., vol. 6, S. O. 179, Oct. 3, 1859.
49 Keyes, 317.
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
Robert E. Lee
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
if its URL has a total of one *asterisk.
If the URL has two **asterisks,
the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use.
If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 23 Jun 13