Robert E. Lee’s condolence letter come his kid Rooney, 1864

In this beautifully written letter, Confederate basic Robert E. Lee attempts to console his boy William Fitzhugh "Rooney" Lee ~ above the loss of his wife. The letter displayed the emotion the Lee felt for his family and also offers a glimpse of the toughness that brought Lee with the war. His belief in God, his empathy because that others’ misfortunes, and also his belief in the Confederate cause, every granted Lee the fortitude he necessary to endure the war. One deserve to see all of these attributes in this single, quick missive.

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Perhaps no one of Lee’s children incited his paternal anxiety much more than Rooney. Born on might 30, 1837, the lived approximately the reputation of the prodigal 2nd son. Together a child, Rooney’s carefree character and propensity towards self-indulgence led to his father great distress. When West allude rejected Rooney’s application in 1855, Lee’s son temporarily entered Harvard. The quit college in 1857, enlisted in the Army, and also received a board of directors as 2nd lieutenant. In 1859, Rooney married his cousin Charlotte Wickham, and although Robert E. Lee originally had misgivings about the relationship, he soon came to cherish Charlotte prefer a daughter. Shortly after the marriage, Rooney resigned from the Army and began a career together a planter in ~ White house Plantation, which had been bequeathed come him by his grandfather, George Washington Parke Custis. In ~ the outbreak of the civil War, Rooney join the Confederate cavalry and performed admirably.

The center years that the civil War carried the Lee family a cascade that tragedies. In the fall of 1862, typhoid fever declared the lives of Lee’s youngest daughter, Annie, and also his only grandson, Rooney’s son, Robert. In June of 1863, Rooney to be wounded and captured through Union troops. While her husband was a prisoner at ft Lafayette in brand-new York, Charlotte gave birth to a sickly daughter, who passed away in December. Meanwhile, mary Lee’s declining health and Charlotte’s ongoing fight with tuberculosis continually concerned the family. Then, on December 26, 1863, after a duration of relatively an excellent health, Charlotte died unexpectedly while her husband remained a sinner of the Union Army.

In February 1864, Rooney to be exchanged by the Union Army and also by the finish of March had returned come his unit. Grief-stricken end the lose of his wife and also two children, Rooney turned to his father because that support and guidance. The elder Lee, also devastated through so countless family deaths, eloquently consoled:

God knows just how I loved your dear dear wife, how Sweet her storage is to me, & how I mourn she loss. My grief might not be better if you had been taken from me. You were both equally dear to me. My love is too complete to Speak on the Subject, nor have the right to I write. However my grief is not for her, however for ourselves. She is brighter & happier 보다 ever, for sure from all angry & awaiting united state in she Heavenly abode. Might God in his Mercy allow us to sign up with her in eternal worship to our lord & Saviour. Let united state humbly bow ourselves prior to Him & market perpetual prayer for pardon & forgiveness!

Yet, even during this destructive time, Lee emphasized duty and reminded his son that every obtainable man would be necessary to save the Confederacy. Basic Ulysses S. Provide had suspect command of every Union forces and also had begun moving federal troops throughout the Rappahannock River. Return Lee had never confronted Grant in battle, he knew that this Union general would no be as basic to defeat as his predecessors. Approve had currently defeated 2 Confederate armies: one at fort Donelson in 1861 and another in ~ Vicksburg in 1863.

We can not indulge in grief yet mournful yet pleasing. Our nation demands every our thoughts, all our energies. To withstand the powerful mix now forming against us, will require every man at his place. If victorious we have whatever to hope for in the future. If beat nothing will certainly be left us to live for.

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This advice undoubtedly aided both males put their personal losses right into perspective. In addition, their concentration ~ above duty would help distract the Lee men from their grief. Not lengthy after composing this letter, Lee supported Rooney’s promo to major general, making the the youngest officer in the Confederate military to achieve that rank.

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This letter is an excellent example of toughness of Lee’s character and his partnership with his children. As an overwhelming as the Civil war was for all Americans, that was particularly tragic because that the renowned general Robert E. Lee and also his family. As this letter helps to demonstrate, Lee’s letters to his youngsters typically preach discipline, duty, and also responsibility, while, in ~ the same time, tempering strictness v extraordinary tenderness and affection.

Transcript

Camp Orange Co: 24 Apl ’64

I recd last night mine dear child your letter the the 22nd. The has offered me an excellent Comfort. God knows just how I loved her dear too ~ Wife, how Sweet her memory is to me, & how I mourn she loss. My grief might not be greater if you had been taken indigenous me. You to be both same dear to me. My love is too complete to Speak ~ above this Subject, nor have the right to I write. But my grief is no for her, yet for ourselves. She is brighter & happier than ever, safe from all angry & awaiting united state in she Heavenly abode. May God in his Mercy permit us to sign up with her in eternal prayer to our mr & Saviour. Let us humbly bow ourselves before Him & market perpetual prayer for pardon & forgiveness!

But we Cannot indulge in grief yet mournful however pleasing. Our country demands all our thoughts, every our energies. To resist the powerful combination now forming versus us, will call for every guy at his place. If victorious we have whatever to hope for in the future. If defeated nothing will be left us to live for. I have not heard what action has been taken by the Dept in referral to mine recommendations concerning the organization of the Cavy. Yet we have no time to wait & friend had much better join her brigade. This week will certainly in all probability bring us energetic work & we need to strike quick & strong. My whole trust is in God, & i am prepared for whatever he may ordain. Might he guide guard & Strengthen us is my consistent prayer!