Chapter I

 

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Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee
by Captain Robert E. Lee, His Son



Chapter I
Services in the United States Army


Captain Lee, of the Engineers, a hero to his child--The family pets--
Home from the Mexican War--Three years in Baltimore--Superintendent
of the West Point Military Academy--Lieutenant-Colonel of Second
Cavalry--Supresses "John Brown Raid" at Harper's Ferry--Commands the
Department of Taxes

The first vivid recollection I have of my father is his arrival at
Arlington, after his return from the Mexican War.  I can remember
some events of which he seemed a part, when we lived at Fort Hamilton,
New York, about 1846, but they are more like dreams, very indistinct
and disconnected--naturally so, for I was at that time about three
years old.  But the day of his return to Arlington, after an absence
of more than two years, I have always remembered.  I had a frock or
blouse of some light wash material, probably cotton, a blue ground
dotted over with white diamond figures.  Of this I was very proud,
and wanted to wear it on this important occasion.  Eliza, my "mammy,"
objecting, we had a contest and I won.  Clothed in this, my very
best, and with my hair freshly curled in long golden ringlets, I
went down into the larger hall where the whole household was assembled,
eagerly greeting my father, who had just arrived on horseback from
Washington, having missed in some way the carriage which had been
sent for him.


There was visiting us at this time Mrs. Lippitt, a friend of my
mother's, with her little boy, Armistead, about my age and size, also
with long curls.  Whether he wore as handsome a suit as mine I cannot
remember, but he and I were left together in the background, feeling
rather frightened and awed.  After a moment's greeting to those
surrounding him, my father pushed through the crowd, exclaiming:

"Where is my little boy?"


He then took up in his arms and kissed--not me, his own child in his
best frock with clean face and well-arranged curls--but my little
playmate, Armistead!  I remember nothing more of any circumstances
connected with that time, save that I was shocked and humiliated.  I
have no doubt that he was at once informed of his mistake and made
ample amends to me.

A letter from my father to his brother Captain S. S. Lee, United States
Nave, dated "Arlington, June 30, 1848," tells of his coming home:

"Here I am once again, my dear Smith, perfectly surrounded by Mary
and her precious children, who seem to devote themselves to staring
at the furrows in my face and the white hairs in my head.  It is not
surprising that I am hardly recognisable to some of the young eyes
around me and perfectly unknown to the youngest.  But some of the
older ones gaze with astonishment and wonder at me, and seem at a
loss to reconcile what they see and what was pictured in their
imaginations.  I find them, too, much grown, and all well, and I have
much cause for thankfulness, and gratitude to that good God who has
once more united us."

My next recollection of my father is in Baltimore, while we were on
a visit to his sister, Mrs. Marshall, the wife of Judge Marshall.  I
remember being down on the wharves, where my father had taken me to
see the landing of a mustang pony which he had gotten for me in
Mexico, and which had been shipped from Vera Cruz to Baltimore in a
sailing vessel.  I was all eyes for the pony, and a very miserable,
sad-looking object he was.  From his long voyage, cramped quarters
and unavoidable lack of grooming, he was rather a disappointment to
me, but I soon got over all that.  As I grew older, and was able to
ride and appreciate him, he became the joy and pride of my life.  I
was taught to ride on him by Jim Connally, the faithful Irish servant
of my father, who had been with him in Mexico.  Jim used to tell me,
in his quizzical way, that he and "Santa Anna" (the pony's name) were
the first men on the walls of Chepultepec.  This pony was pure white,
five years old and about fourteen hands high.  For his inches, he
was as good a horse as I ever have seen.  While we lived in Baltimore,
he and "Grace Darling," my father's favourite mare, were members of
our family.

Grace Darling was a chestnut of fine size and of great power, which
he had bought in Texas on his way out to Mexico, her owner having
died on the march out.  She was with him during the entire campaign,
and was shot seven times; at least, as a little fellow I used to
brag about that number of bullets being in her, and since I could
point out the scars of each one, I presume it was so.  My father was
very much attached to her and proud of her, always petting her and
talking to her in a loving way, when he rode her or went to see her
in her stall.  Of her he wrote on his return home:

"I only arrived yesterday, after a long journey up the Mississippi,
which route I was induced to take, for the better accommodation of my
horse, as I wished to spare her as much annoyance and fatigue as
possible, she already having undergone so much suffering in my service.
I landed her at Wheeling and left her to come over with Jim."

Santa Anna was found lying cold and dead in the park at Arlington one
morning in the winter of '60-'61.  Grace Darling was taken in the
spring of '62 from the White House [My brother's place on the Pamunkey
River, where the mare had been sent for save keeping."] by some
Federal quartermaster, when McClellan occupied that place as his base
of supplies during his attack on Richmond.  When we lived in Baltimore,
I was greatly struck one day by hearing two ladies who were visiting
us saying:

"Everybody and everything--his family, his friends, his horse, and
his dog--loves Colonel Lee."

The dog referred to was a black-and-tan terrier named "Spec," very
bright and intelligent and really a member of the family, respected
and beloved by ourselves and well known to all who knew us.  My father
picked up his mother in the "Narrows" while crossing from Fort Hamilton
to the fortifications opposite on Staten Island.  She had doubtless
fallen overboard from some passing vessel and had drifted out of
sight before her absence had been discovered.  He rescued her and
took her home, where she was welcomed by his children an made much of.
She was a handsome little thing, with cropped ears and a short tail.
My father named her "Dart."  She was a fine ratter, and with the
assistance of a Maltese cat, also a member of the family, the many
rats which infested the house and stables were driven away or destroyed.
She and the cat were fed out of the same plate, but Dart was not
allowed to begin the meal until the cat had finished.

Spec was born at Fort Hamilton and was the joy of us children, our pet
and companion.  My father would not allow his tail and ears to be
cropped.  When he grew up, he accompanied us everywhere and was in
the habit of going into church with the family.  As some of the little
ones allowed their devotions to be disturbed by Spec's presence, my
father determined to leave him at home on those occasions.  So the
next Sunday morning, he was sent up to the front room of the second
story.  After the family had left for church he contented himself for
awhile looking out of the window, which was open, it being summer time.
Presently impatience overcame his judgment and he jumped to the ground,
landed safely notwithstanding the distance, joined the family just as
they reached the church, and went in with them as usual, much to the
joy of the children.  After that he was allowed to go to church whenever
he wished.  My father was very fond of him, and loved to talk to him
and about him as if he were really one of us.  In a letter to my mother,
dated Fort Hamilton, January 18, 1846, when she and her children were
on a visit to Arlington, he thus speaks of him:

"...I am very solitary, and my only company is my dogs and cats.  But
'Spec' has become so jealous now that he will hardly let me look at
the cats.  He seems to be afraid that I am going off from him, and
never lets me stir without him.  Lies down in the office from eight
to four without moving, and turns himself before the fire as the side
from it becomes cold.  I catch him sometimes sitting up looking at me
so intently that I am for a moment startled..."

In a letter from Mexico written a year later--December 25, '46, to my
mother, he says:

"...Can't you cure poor 'Spec.'  Cheer him up--take him to walk with
you and tell the children to cheer him up..."

In another letter from Mexico to his eldest boy, just after the capture
of Vera Cruz
, he sends this message to Spec....

"Tell him I wish he was here with me.  He would have been of great
service in telling me when I was coming upon the Mexicans.  When I
was reconnoitering around Vera Cruz, their dogs frequently told me by
barking when I was approaching them too nearly...."

When he returned to Arlington from Mexico, Spec was the first to
recognise him, and the extravagance of his demonstrations of delight
left no doubt that he knew at once his kind master and loving friend,
though he had been absent three years.  Sometime during our residence
in Baltimore, Spec disappeared, and we never knew his fate.

From that early time I began to be impressed with my father's character,
as compared with other men.  Every member of the household respected,
revered and loved him as a matter of course, but it began to dawn on
me that every one else with whom I was thrown held him high in their
regard.  At forty-five years of age he was active, strong, and as
handsome as he had ever been.  I never remember his being ill.  I
presume he was indisposed at times; but no impressions of that kind
remain.  He was always bright and gay with us little folk, romping,
playing, and joking with us.  With the older children, he was just
as companionable, and the have seen him join my elder brothers and their
friends when they would try their powers at a high jump put up in
our yard.  The two younger children he petted a great deal, and our
greatest treat was to get into his bed in the morning and lie close
to him, listening while he talked to us in his bright, entertaining
way.  This custom we kept up until I was ten years old and over.
Although he was so joyous and familiar with us, he was very firm on
all proper occasions, never indulged us in anything that was not good
for us, and exacted the most implicit obedience.  I always knew that
it was impossible to disobey my father.  I felt it in me, I never
thought why, but was perfectly sure when he gave an order that it had
to be obeyed.  My mother I could sometimes circumvent, and at times
took liberties with her orders, construing them to suit myself; but
exact obedience to every mandate of my father was part of my life and
being at that time.  He was very fond of having his hands tickled,
and, what was still more curious, it pleased and delighted him to
take off his slippers and place his feet in our laps in order to
have them tickled.  Often, as little things, after romping all day,
the enforced sitting would be too much for us, and our drowsiness
would soon show itself in continued nods.  Then, to arouse, us, he
had a way of stirring us up with his foot--laughing heartily at and
with us.  He would often tell us the most delightful stories, and
then there was no nodding.  Sometimes, however, our interest in his
wonderful tales became so engrossing that we would forget to do our
duty--when he would declare, "No tickling, no story!"  When we were a
little older, our elder sister told us one winter the ever-delightful
"Lady of the Lake."  Of course, she told it in prose and arranged it
to suit our mental capacity.  Our father was generally in his corner
by the fire, most probably with a foot in either the lap of myself or
youngest sister--the tickling going on briskly--and would come in at
different points of the tale and repeat line after line of the poem--
much to our disapproval--but to his great enjoyment.

In January, 1849, Captain Lee was one of a board of army officers
appointed to examine the coasts of Florida and its defenses and to
recommend locations for new fortifications.  In April he was assigned
to the duty of the construction of Fort Carroll, in the Patapsco River
below Baltimore.  He was there, I think, for three years, and lived
in a house on Madison Street, three doors above Biddle.  I used to
go down with him to the Fort quite often.  We went to the wharf in
a "bus," and there we were met by a boat with two oarsmen, who rowed
us down to Sollers Point, where I was generally left under the care
of the people who lived there, while my father went over to the Fort,
a short distance out in the river.  These days were happy ones for
me. The wharves, the shipping, the river, the boat and oarsmen, and
the country dinner we had at the house at Sollers Point, all made a
strong impression on me; but above all I remember my father, his
gentle, loving care of me, his bright talk, his stories, his maxims
and teachings.  I was very proud of him and of the evident respect
for and trust in him every one showed.  These impressions, obtained
at that time, have never left me.  He was a great favourite in
Baltimore, as he was everywhere, especially with ladies and little
children.  When he and my mother went out in the evening to some
entertainment, we were often allowed to sit up and see them off; my
father, as I remember, always in full uniform, always ready and waiting
for my mother, who was generally late.  He would chide her gently,
in a playful way and with a bright smile.  He would then bid us good-
bye, and I would go to sleep with this beautiful picture in my mind,
the golden epaulets and all--chiefly the epaulets.

In Baltimore, I went to my first school, that of a Mr. Rollins on
Mulberry Street, and I remember how interested my father was in my
studies, my failures, and my little triumphs.  Indeed, he was so
always, as long as I was at school and college, and I only wish that
all of the kind, sensible, useful letters he wrote me had been
preserved.

My memory as to the move from Baltimore, which occurred in 1852, is
very dim.  I think the family went to Arlington to remain until my
father had arranged for our removal to the new home at West Point.

My recollection of my father as Superintendent of the West Point
Military Academy is much more distinct.  He lived in the house which
is still occupied by the Superintendent.  It was built of stone,
large and roomy, with gardens, stables, and pasture lots.  We, the
two youngest children, enjoyed it all.  "Grace Darling" and "Santa
Anna" were there with us, and many a fine ride did I have with my father
in the afternoons, when, released from his office, he would mount his
old mare and, with Santa Anna carrying me by his side, take a five or
ten-mile trot.  Though the pony cantered delightfully, he would make
me keep him in a trot, saying playfully that the hammering sustained
was good for me.  We rode the dragoon-seat, no posting, and until I
became accustomed to it I used to be very tired by the time I got back.

My father was the most punctual man I ever knew.  He was always ready
for family prayers, for meals, and met every engagement, social or
business, at the moment.  He expected all of us to be the same, and
taught us the use and necessity of forming such habits for the
convenience of all concerned.  I never knew him late for Sunday service
at the Post Chapel.  He used to appear some minutes before the rest
of us, in uniform, jokingly rallying my mother for being late, and for
forgetting something at the last moment.  When he could wait no longer
for her, he would say that he was off and would march along to church
by himself, or with any of the children who were ready.  There he sat
very straight--well up the middle aisle--and, as I remember, always
became very sleepy, and sometimes even took a little nap during the
sermon.  At that time, this drowsiness of my father's was something
awful to me, inexplicable.  I know it was very hard for me to keep
awake, and frequently I did not; but why he, who to my mind could do
everything right, without any effort, should sometimes be overcome,
I could not understand, and did not try to do so.

It was against the rules that the cadets should go beyond certain limits
without permission.  Of course they did go sometimes, and when caught
were given quite a number of "demerits."  My father was riding out
one afternoon with me, and, while rounding a turn in the mountain road
with a deep woody ravine on one side, we came suddenly upon three
cadets far beyond the limits.  They immediately leaped over a low wall
on the side of the road and disappeared from our view.

We rode on for a minute in silence; then my father said:  "Did you know
those young men?  But no; if you did, don't say so.  I wish boys would
do what was right, it would be so much easier for all parties!"

He knew he would have to report them, but, not being sure of who they
were, I presume he wished to give them the benefit of the doubt.  At
any rate, I never heard any more about it.  One of the three asked me
the next day if my father had recognised them, and I told him what
had occurred.

By this time I had become old enough to have a room to myself, and,
to encourage me in being useful and practical, my father made me attend
to it, just as the cadets had to do with their quarters in barracks
and in camp.  He at first even went through the form of inspecting it,
to see if I had performed my duty properly, and I think I enjoyed this
until the novelty wore off.  However, I was kept at it, becoming in
time very proficient, and the knowledge so acquired has been of great
use to me all through life.

My father always encouraged me in every healthy outdoor exercise and
sport.  He taught me to ride, constantly giving me minute instructions,
with the reasons for them.  He gave me my first sled, and sometimes
used to come out where we boys were coasting to look on.  He gave me
my first pair of skates, and placed me in the care of a trustworthy
person, inquiring regularly how I progressed.  It was the same with
swimming, which he was very anxious I should learn in a proper manner.
Professor Bailey had a son about my age, now himself a professor at
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, who became my great chum.
I took my first lesson in the water with him, under the direction and
supervision of his father.  My father inquired constantly how I was
getting along, and made me describe exactly my method and stroke,
explaining to me what he considered the best way to swim, and the
reasons therefor.

I went to day-school at West Point, and had always a sympathetic helper
in my father.  often he would come into the room where I studied at
night, and, sitting down by me, would show me how to overcome a hard
sentence in my Latin reader or a difficult sum in arithmetic, not by
giving me the translation of the troublesome sentence or the answer
to the sum, but by showing me, step by step, the way to the right
solutions.  He was very patient, very loving, very good to me, and
I remember trying my best to please him in my studies.  When I was
able to bring home a good report from my teacher, he was greatly
pleased, and showed it in his eye and voice, but he always insisted
that I should get the "maximum," that he would never be perfectly
satisfied with less.  That I did sometimes win it, deservedly, I know
was due to his judicious and wise method of exciting my ambition and
perseverance.  I have endeavoured to show how fond my father was of
his children, and as the best picture I can offer of his loving, tender
devotion to us all, I give here a letter from him written about this
time to one of his daughters who was staying with our grandmother,
Mrs. Custis, at Arlington:

                                     "West Point, February 25, 1853

"My Precious Annie:  I take advantage of your gracious permission to
write to you, and there is no telling how far my feelings might carry
men were I not limited by the conveyance furnished by the Mim's [His
pet name for my mother] letter, which lies before me, and which must,
the Mim says so, go in this morning's mail.  But my limited time does
not diminish my affection for you, Annie, nor prevent my thinking of
you and wishing for you.  I long to see you through the dilatory nights.
At dawn when I rise, and all day, my thoughts revert to you in
expressions that you cannot hear or I repeat.  I hope you will always
appear to me as you are now painted on my heart, and that you will
endeavor to improve and so conduct yourself as to make you happy and
me joyful all our lives.  Diligent and earnest attention to ALL your
duties can only accomplish this.  I am told you are growing very tall,
and I hope very straight.  I do not know what the Cadets will say if
the Superintendent's CHILDREN do not practice what he demands of them.
They will naturally say he had better attend to his own before he
corrects other people's children, and as he permits his to stoop it
is hard he will not allow them.  You and Agnes [His third daughter]
must not, therefore, bring me into discredit with my young friends,
or give them reason to think that I require more of them than of my
own.  I presume your mother has told all about us, our neighbors, and
our affairs.  And indeed she may have done that and not said much
either, so far as I know.  But we are all well and have much to be
grateful for.  To-morrow we anticipate the pleasure of your brother's
[His son, Custis] company, which is always a source of pleasure to us.
It is the only time we see him, except when the Corps come under my
view at some of their exercises, when my eye is sure to distinguish
him among his comrades and follow him over the plain.  Give much love
to your dear grandmother, grandfather, Agnes, Miss Sue, Lucretia, and
all friends, including the servants.  Write sometimes, and think always
of your
                                         Affectionate father,
                                               R. E. Lee."

In a letter to my mother written many years previous to this time, he
says:

"I pray God to watch over and direct our efforts in guarding our dear
little son....Oh, what pleasure I lose in being separated from my
children!  Nothing can compensate me for that...."

In another letter of about the same time:

"You do not know how much I have missed you and the children, my dear
Mary.  To be alone in a crowd is very solitary.  In the woods, I feel
sympathy with the trees and birds, in whose company I take delight,
but experience no pleasure in a strange crowd.  I hope you are all
well and will continue so, and, therefore, must again urge you to be
very prudent and careful of those dear children.  If I could only get
a squeeze at that little fellow, turning up his sweet mouth to 'keese
baba!'  You must not let him run wild in my absence, and will have to
exercise firm authority over all of them.  This will not require
severity or even strictness, but constant attention and an unwavering
course.  Mildness and forbearance will strengthen their affection for
you, while it will maintain your control over them."

In a letter to one of his sons he writes as follows:

"I cannot go to bed, my dear son, without writing you a few lines, to
thank you for your letter, which gave me great pleasure....You and
Custis must take great care of your kind mother and dear sisters when
your father is dead.  To do that you must learn to be good.  Be true,
kind and generous, and pray earnestly to God to enable you to keep
His Commandments 'and walk in the same all the days of your life.'  I
hope to come on soon to see that little baby you have got to show me.
You must give her a kiss for me, and one to all the children, to your
mother, and grandmother"

The expression of such sentiments as these was common to my father all
through his life, and to show that it was all children, and not his
own little folk alone that charmed and fascinated him, I quote from
a letter to my mother:

"...I saw a number of little girls all dressed up in their white frocks
and pantalets, their hair plaited and tied up with ribbons, running
and chasing each other in all directions.  I counted twenty-three
nearly the same size.  As I drew up my horse to admire the spectacle,
a man appeared at the door with the twenty-fourth in his arms.

"'My friend,' said I, 'are all these your children?'

"'Yes,' he said, 'and there are nine more in the house, and this is
the youngest.'

"Upon further inquiry, however, I found that they were only temporarily
his, and that they were invited to a party at his house.  He said,
however, he had been admiring them before I came up, and just wished
that he had a million of dollars, and that they were all his in reality.
I do not think the eldest exceeded seven or eight years old.  It was
the prettiest sight I have seen in the west, and, perhaps, in my
life...."

As Superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point my father had
to entertain a good deal, and I remember well how handsome and grand
he looked in uniform, how genial and bright, how considerate of
everybody's comfort of mind and body.  He was always a great favourite
with the ladies, especially the young ones.  His fine presence, his
gentle, courteous manners and kindly smile put them at once at ease
with him.

Among the cadets at this time were my eldest brother, Custis, who
graduated first in his class in 1854, and my father's nephew, Fitz.
Lee, a third classman, besides other relatives and friends.  Saturday
being a half-holiday for the cadets, it was the custom for all social
events in which they were to take part to be placed on that afternoon
or evening.  Nearly every Saturday a number of these young men were
invited to our house to tea, or supper, for it was a good, substantial
meal.  The misery of some of these lads, owing to embarrassment,
possibly from awe of the Superintendent, was pitiable and evident
even to me, a boy of ten or eleven years old.  But as soon as my father
got command, as it were, of the situation, one could see how quickly
most of them were put at their ease.  He would address himself to
the task of making them feel comfortable and at home, and his genial
manner and pleasant ways at once succeeded.

In the spring of '53 my grandmother, Mrs. Custis, died.  This was the
first death in our immediate family.  She was very dear to us, and
was admired, esteemed and loved by all who had ever known her.  Bishop
Meade, of Virginia, writes of her:

"Mrs. Mary Custis, of Arlington, the wife of Mr. Washington Custis,
grandson of Mrs. General Washington was the daughter of Mr. William
Fitzhugh, of Chatham.  Scarcely is there a Christian lady in our
land more honoured than she was, and none more loved and esteemed.
For good sense, prudence, sincerity, benevolence, unaffected piety,
disinterested zeal in every good work, deep humarity and retiring
modesty--for all the virtues which adorn the wife, the mother, and
the friend--I never knew her superior."

In a letter written to my mother soon after this sad event my father
says:

"May God give you strength to enable you to bear and say, 'His will be
done.'  She has gone from all trouble, care and sorrow to a holy
immortality, there to rejoice and praise forever the God and Saviour
she so long and truly served.  Let that be our comfort and that our
consolation.  May our death be like hers, and may we meet in happiness
in Heaven."

In another letter about the same time he writes:

"She was to me all that a mother could be, and I yield to none in
admiration for her character, love for her virtues, and veneration for
her memory."

At this time, my father's family and friends persuaded him to allow
R. S. Weir, Professor of Painting and Drawing at the Academy, to paint
his portrait.  As far as I remember, there was only one sitting, and
the artist had to finish it from memory or from the glimpses he
obtained as his subject in the regular course of their daily lives at
"The Point."  This picture shows my father in the undress uniform of
a Colonel of Engineers [His appointment of Superintendent of the
Military Academy carried with it the temporary rank of Colonel of
Engineers], and many think it a very good likeness.  To me, the
expression of strength peculiar to his face is wanting, and the mouth
fails to portray that sweetness of disposition so characteristic of
his countenance.  Still, it was like him at that time.  My father never
could bear to have his picture taken, and there are no likenesses of
him that really give his sweet expression.  Sitting for a picture was
such a serious business with him that he never could "look pleasant."

In 1855 my father was appointed to the lieutenant-colonelcy of the
Second Cavalry, one of the two regiments just raised.  He left West
Point to enter upon his new duties, and his family went to Arlington
to live.  During the fall and winter of 1855 and '56, the Second Cavalry
was recruited and organised at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, under the
direction of Colonel Lee, and in the following spring was marched to
western Texas, where it was assigned the duty of protecting the settlers
in that wild country.

I did not see my father again until he came to my mother at Arlington
after the death of her father, G. W. P. Custis, in October 1857.  He
took charge of my mother's estate after her father's death, and
commenced at once to put it in order--not an easy task, as it consisted
of several plantations and many negroes.  I was at a boarding-school,
after the family returned to Arlington, and saw my father only during
the holidays, if he happened to be at home.  He was always fond of
farming, and took great interest in the improvements he immediately
began at Arlington relating to the cultivation of the farm, to the
buildings, roads, fences, fields, and stock, so that in a very short
time the appearance of everything on the estate was improved.  He often
said that he longed for the time when he could have a farm of his
own, where he could end his days in quiet and peace, interested in
the care and improvement of his own land.  This idea was always with
him.  In a letter to his son, written in July, '65, referring to some
proposed indictments of prominent Confederates, he says:

"...As soon as I can ascertain their intention toward me, if not
prevented, I shall endeavour to procure some humble, but quiet abode
for your mother and sisters, where I hope they can be happy.  As I
before said, I want to get in some grass country where the natural
product of the land will do much for my subsistence...."

Again in a letter to his son, dated October, 1865, after he had accepted
the presidency of Washington College, Lexington, Virginia:

"I should have selected a more quiet life and a more retired abode than
Lexington.  I should have preferred a small farm, where I could have
earned my daily bread."

About this time I was given a gun of my own and was allowed to go
shooting by myself.  My father, to give me an incentive, offered a
reward for every crow-scalp I could bring him, and, in order that I
might get to work at once, advanced a small sum with which to buy powder
and shot, this sum to be returned to him out of the first scalps
obtained.  My industry and zeal were great, my hopes high, and by good
luck I did succeed in bagging two crows about the second time I went
out.  I showed them with great pride to my father, intimating that I
should shortly be able to return him his loan, and that he must be
prepared to hand over to me very soon further rewards for my skill.
His eyes twinkled, and his smile showed that he had strong doubts of
my making an income by killing crows, and he was right, for I never
killed another, though I tried hard and long.

I saw but little of my father after we left West Point.  He went to
Texas, as I have stated, in '55 and remained until the fall of '57,
the time of my grandfather's death.  He was then at Arlington about
a year.  Returning to his regiment, he remained in Texas until the
autumn of '59, when he came again to Arlington, having applied for
leave in order to finish the settling of my grandfather's estate.
During this visit he was selected by the Secretary of War to suppress
the famous "John Brown Raid," and was sent to Harper's Ferry in command
of the United States troops.

From his memorandum book the following entries were taken:

"October 17, 1859.  Received orders from the Secretary of War in person,
to repair in evening train to Harper's Ferry.

"Reached Harper's Ferry at 11 P.M....  Posted marines in the United
States Armory.  Waited until daylight, as a number of citizens were
held as hostages, whose lives were threatened.  Tuesday about sunrise,
with twelve marines, under Lieutenant Green, broke in the door of the
engine-house, secured the insurgents, and relieved the prisoners
unhurt.  All the insurgents killed or mortally wounded, but four,
John Brown, Stevens, Coppie, and Shields."

Brown was tried and convicted and sentenced to be hanged on December 2,
1859.  Colonel Lee writes as follows to his wife:

                                 "Harper's Ferry, December 1, 1859.

"I arrived here, dearest Mary, yesterday about noon, with four companies
from Fort Monroe, and was busy all the evening and night getting
accommodation for the men, etc., and posting sentinels and piquets to
insure timely notice of the approach of the enemy.  The night has
passed off quietly.  The feelings of the community seem to be calmed
down, and I have been received with every kindness.  Mr. Fry is among
the officers from Old Point.  There are several young men, former
acquaintances of ours, as cadets, Mr. Bingham of Custis's class, Sam
Cooper, etc., but the senior officers I never met before, except
Captain Howe, the friend of our Cousin Harriet R---.

"I presume we are fixed her till after the 16th.  To-morrow will
probably be the last of Captain Brown.  There will be less interest
for the others, but still I think the troops will not be withdrawn
till they are similarly disposed of.

"Custis will have informed you that I had to go to Baltimore the evening
I left you, to make arrangements for the transportation of the
troops....  This morning I was introduced to Mrs. Brown, who, with a
Mrs. Tyndall and a Mr. And Mrs. McKim, all from Philadelphia, had come
on to have a last interview with her husband.  As it is a matter over
which I have no control I referred them to General Taliaferro [General
William B. Taliaferro, commanding Virginia troops at Harper's Ferry].

"You must write to me at this place.  I hope you are all well.  Give
love to everybody.  Tell Smith [Sydney Smith Lee, of the United States
Navy, his brother] that no charming women have insisted on taking care
of me as they are always doing of him--I am left to my own resources.
I will write you again soon, and will always be truly and affectionately
yours,
  "Mrs. M. C. Lee.                               R. E. Lee"

In February, 1860, he was ordered to take command of the Department
of Texas.  There he remained a year.  The first months after his arrival
were spent in the vain pursuit of the famous brigand, Cortinez, who
was continually stealing across the Rio Grande, burning the homes,
driving off the stock of the ranchmen, and then retreating into Mexico.
The summer months he spent in San Antonio, and while there interested
himself with the good people of that town in building an Episcopal
church, to which he contributed largely.

 

 

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