Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

 Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

The quiet and rest which he so much desired, and which he was enjoyingwhen he wrote, did not long remain his. He had just gotten my mothercomfortably settled at the Baths, when he received the news of thesudden death of his brother Smith. He went at once to Alexandria,hoping to be in time for the burial. From there he writes my mother:

"Alexandria, July 25, 1869.

"My Dear Mary: I arrived here last evening, too late to attend theburial of my dear brother, an account of which I have clipped fromthe Alexandria Gazette and inclose to you. I wish you would preserveit. Fitz. and Mary went up to 'Ravensworth' the evening of the funeralservices, Friday, 23d, so that I have not seen them, but my nephewSmith is here, and from him I have learned all particulars. Theattack of his father was short, and his death apparently unexpecteduntil a short time before it occurred. Mary [General Lee's eldestdaughter] was present, and I hope of some comfort to her uncle andassistance to her aunt. came here the afternoon of his father'sdeath, Thursday, 22d, made all arrangements for the funeral, went outto 'Ravensworth' to announce the intelligence to our aunt. Hecarried down, Friday morning, on the steamer, Mrs. Cooper and Jennie,to stay with his mother, and returned that afternoon with his father'sremains, which were committed to earth as you will see described.

"John returned the next morning, yesterday, in the mail-boat, to hismother, with whom Dan stayed. Robert arrived this morning and hasgone to 'Ravensworth' to announce my arrival. I shall remain hereuntil I see or hear from Fitz., for, as you will see by the Gazette'saccount, the last resting-place of the body has not been determinedupon. Fitz., I understand, wishes it interred at Hollywood, Richmond;Nannie a the cemetery here, where her father, mother, and daughterare buried; and Mrs. Fitzhugh at 'Ravensworth.' I think Nannie'swishes should be consulted. I shall probably leave to-day or to-morrow,and, after seeing all that remains to us of our dear brother depositedin its last earthly home, and mingling my sorrow for a brief seasonwith that of his dear wife and children, I shall return to you.Please send the letter after perusal to Agnes and Mildred, as I shallbe unable to write to them. I am staying at the Mansion House. OurAunt Maria did not come down to the funeral services, prevented, Ifear, by her rheumatic attack. May God bless us all and preserve usfor the time when we, too, must part, the one from the other, whichis now close at hand, and may we all meet again at the foot-stool ofour merciful God, to be joined by His eternal love never more toseparate.

"Most truly and affectionately,

"R. E. Lee.

"Mrs. M. C. Lee."

The loss of his brother was a great sorrow to him. They were devotedto each other, having always kept warm their boyish love. Smith'sadmiration for and trust in my father were unbounded, and it wasdelightful to see them together and listen to the stories of the happylong ago they would tell about each other. No one could be near myUncle Smith without feeling his joyful influence. My sister Mary,who knew him long and well, and who was much attached to him, thuswrites:

"No one who ever saw him can forget his beautiful face, charmingpersonality, and grace of manner which, joined to a nobility ofcharacter and goodness of heart, attracted all who came in contactwith him, and made him the most generally beloved and popular of men.This was especially so with women, to whom his conduct was that ofa preux chevalier, the most chivalric and courteous; and, having nodaughters of his own, he turned with the tenderest affection to thedaughters of his brother Robert."