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

In this beautifully written letter, Confederate general Robert E. Lee attempts to console his boy William Fitzhugh "Rooney" Lee top top the ns of his wife. The letter displayed the emotion the Lee felt because that his family and offers a glimpse the the strength that carried Lee through the war. His belief in God, his empathy for others’ misfortunes, and his id in the Confederate cause, all granted Lee the fortitude he essential to endure the war. One have the right to see every one of these characteristics in this single, quick missive.

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Perhaps none of Lee’s children incited his head anxiety more than Rooney. Born on may 30, 1837, that lived approximately the reputation of the prodigal 2nd son. Together a child, Rooney’s carefree character and tendency towards self-indulgence resulted in his father an excellent distress. When West suggest rejected Rooney’s applications in 1855, Lee’s kid temporarily entered Harvard. He quit college in 1857, enlisted in the Army, and received a board of directors as second lieutenant. In 1859, Rooney married his cousin Charlotte Wickham, and although Robert E. Lee originally had misgivings about the relationship, the soon pertained to cherish Charlotte prefer a daughter. Soon after the marriage, Rooney resigned from the Army and began a career together a planter in ~ White house Plantation, which had actually been bequeathed to him by his grandfather, George Washington Parke Custis. In ~ the outbreak of the polite War, Rooney join the Confederate cavalry and performed admirably.

The center years of the polite War brought the Lee family a cascade the tragedies. In the autumn of 1862, typhoid fever asserted the stays of Lee’s youngest daughter, Annie, and his just grandson, Rooney’s son, Robert. In June that 1863, Rooney to be wounded and captured by Union troops. While her husband to be a sinner at fort Lafayette in brand-new York, Charlotte provided birth to a sickly daughter, who passed away in December. Meanwhile, mar Lee’s decreasing health and also Charlotte’s ongoing battle with tuberculosis continually concerned the family. Then, on December 26, 1863, ~ a duration of relatively an excellent health, Charlotte died unexpectedly while her husband remained a sinner of the Union Army.

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

God knows exactly how I loved her dear dear wife, just how Sweet her storage is come me, & how I mourn her loss. Mine grief can not be higher if you had actually been taken native me. You to be both equally dear come me. My heart is too complete to Speak top top the Subject, nor deserve to I write. Yet my grief is not for her, however for ourselves. She is brighter & happier 보다 ever, for sure from all angry & awaiting united state in her Heavenly abode. Might God in his Mercy allow us to join her in eternal praise to our lord & Saviour. Let us humbly bow ourselves before Him & market perpetual prayer for pardon & forgiveness!

Yet, even throughout this terrible time, Lee emphasized duty and reminded his kid that every easily accessible man would certainly be required to conserve the Confederacy. Basic Ulysses S. Grant had suspect command of every Union forces and had begun moving commonwealth troops throughout the Rappahannock River. Back Lee had never faced Grant in battle, he knew that this Union basic would no be as easy to defeat as his predecessors. Give 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 however pleasing. Our country demands every our thoughts, every our energies. To stand up to the powerful mix now forming against us, will require every guy at his place. If victorious us have every little thing to hope for in the future. If beat nothing will certainly be left united state to live for.

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This advice undoubtedly assisted both guys put their personal losses into perspective. In addition, your concentration on duty would help distract the Lee men from their grief. Not long after creating this letter, Lee supported Rooney’s promotion to significant general, making him the youngest officer in the Confederate army to achieve that rank.

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This letter is an outstanding example of strength of Lee’s character and also his connection with his children. As difficult as the Civil war was for all Americans, the was specifically tragic because that the renowned basic Robert E. Lee and also his family. As this letter helps to demonstrate, Lee’s letter to his kids typically preach discipline, duty, and responsibility, while, at the exact same time, tempering strictness v extraordinary tenderness and also affection.

Transcript

Camp Orange Co: 24 Apl ’64

I recd last night mine dear kid your letter of the 22nd. It 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 her loss. Mine grief could not be better if you had actually been taken from me. You were both equally dear to me. My love is too complete to Speak top top this Subject, nor have the right to I write. But my grief is no for her, but for ourselves. She is brighter & happier than ever, safe from all angry & awaiting united state in she Heavenly abode. Might God in his Mercy allow us to sign up with her in eternal prayer to our mr & Saviour. Let us humbly bow ourselves prior to Him & market perpetual prayer for pardon & forgiveness!

But us Cannot indulge in grief however mournful yet pleasing. Our country demands all our thoughts, every our energies. To stand up to the powerful mix now forming versus us, will need 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. I have actually not heard what activity has to be taken through the Dept in referral to my recommendations concerning the organization of the Cavy. Yet we have no time come wait & friend had far better join her brigade. This week will certainly in every probability carry us active work & we have to strike quick & strong. My whole trust is in God, & i am ready for everything he may ordain. May he overview guard & Strengthen us is my continuous prayer!