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

In this beautifully composed letter, Confederate general Robert E. Lee attempts to console his son William Fitzhugh "Rooney" Lee ~ above the lose of his wife. The letter demonstrates the emotion the Lee felt for his family and also offers a glimpse that the toughness that brought Lee with the war. His confidence in God, his empathy for others’ misfortunes, and also his belief in the Confederate cause, all granted Lee the fortitude he needed to endure the war. One have the right to see all of these features in this single, quick missive.

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Perhaps no one of Lee’s children incited his paternal anxiety an ext than Rooney. Born on might 30, 1837, that lived approximately the call of the prodigal 2nd son. As a child, Rooney’s carefree personality and propensity towards self-indulgence caused his father an excellent distress. As soon as West suggest rejected Rooney’s applications in 1855, Lee’s child temporarily gone into Harvard. He quit institution in 1857, enlisted in the Army, and also received a the supervisory board as 2nd lieutenant. In 1859, Rooney married his cousin Charlotte Wickham, and although Robert E. Lee originally had actually misgivings about the relationship, he soon came to cherish Charlotte favor a daughter. Shortly after the marriage, Rooney resigned from the Army and also began a career as a planter at White home Plantation, which had actually been bequeathed come him by his grandfather, George Washington Parke Custis. In ~ the outbreak that the civil War, Rooney joined the Confederate cavalry and also performed admirably.

The center years that the polite War lugged the Lee family a cascade the tragedies. In the autumn of 1862, typhoid fever declared the resides of Lee’s youngest daughter, Annie, and also his only grandson, Rooney’s son, Robert. In June that 1863, Rooney was wounded and captured through Union troops. While her husband was a prisoner at fort Lafayette in brand-new York, Charlotte offered birth come a sickly daughter, who passed away in December. Meanwhile, mary Lee’s decreasing health and also Charlotte’s ongoing fight with tuberculosis continually worried the family. Then, ~ above December 26, 1863, after a period of relatively great health, Charlotte died unexpectedly while she husband continued to be a sinner of the Union Army.

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

God knows how I loved your dear too ~ wife, just how Sweet her memory is come me, & just how I mourn her loss. Mine grief can not be greater if you had actually been taken from me. You were both same dear to me. My love is too complete to Speak on the Subject, nor deserve to I write. However my grief is no for her, yet for ourselves. She is brighter & happier 보다 ever, for sure from all evil & awaiting us 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 prior to Him & sell perpetual prayer because that pardon & forgiveness!

Yet, even throughout this disastrous time, Lee emphasized duty and reminded his kid that every accessible man would certainly be required to save the Confederacy. Basic Ulysses S. Approve had assumed command of every Union forces and had begun moving federal troops across the Rappahannock River. Return Lee had actually never confronted Grant in battle, the knew the this Union basic would not be as simple to defeat as his predecessors. Give had already defeated 2 Confederate armies: one at fort Donelson in 1861 and also another at Vicksburg in 1863.

We can not indulge in grief however mournful yet pleasing. Our nation demands every our thoughts, every our energies. To resist the powerful combination now forming against us, will need every guy at his place. If victorious us have every little thing to hope because that in the future. If defeated nothing will be left united state to live for.

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This advice undoubtedly assisted both guys put their an individual losses right into perspective. In addition, your concentration ~ above duty would aid distract the Lee males from your grief. Not long after creating this letter, Lee sustained Rooney’s promo to major general, making that the youngest officer in the Confederate military to achieve that rank.

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

Transcript

Camp Orange Co: 24 Apl ’64

I recd critical night mine dear boy your letter that the 22nd. It has offered me an excellent Comfort. God knows how I loved her dear dear Wife, exactly how Sweet her storage is come me, & just how I mourn her loss. My grief might not be better if you had been taken from me. You to be both same dear come me. My heart is too complete to Speak on this Subject, nor have the right to I write. Yet my grief is not for her, but for ourselves. She is brighter & happier 보다 ever, for sure from all evil & awaiting us in she Heavenly abode. May God in his Mercy enable us to join her in eternal worship to our mr & Saviour. Let us humbly bow ourselves prior to Him & market perpetual prayer for pardon & forgiveness!

But us Cannot indulge in grief but mournful however pleasing. Our country demands every our thoughts, every our energies. To withstand the powerful mix now forming against us, will need every male at his place. If victorious us have every little thing to hope because that in the future. If beat nothing will be left united state to live for. I have not heard what activity has to be taken by the Dept in recommendation to mine recommendations concerning the company of the Cavy. But we have actually no time to wait & you had much better join your brigade. This week will certainly in all probability lug us active work & we need to strike rapid & strong. My totality trust is in God, & i am prepared for everything he might ordain. May he overview guard & Strengthen united state is my consistent prayer!