Robert E. Lee writes to his daughter, Agnes, in the summer of ’56 while he is serving in Texas and she is away at school. Agnes has become rather restless at school and complained a great deal about it in her previous letter. What I love most about this letter is the timeless voice of a father. As we study the war, we sometimes forget that the great men involved were family men. They loved their wives. They adored their children. And, at times, they even disciplined them through whatever means available. Listen to the affections of a father in this timeless letter:
Camp Cooper, Texas 4 Aug 1856
I cannot send off my letters to Arlington dearest Agnes without writing to you. But what shall I tell you more than you know already. How glad I was to receive your letter (May 24) to hear from you, to talk to you. Oh, that I could see you, kiss you, squeeze you! But that cannot be Agnes and I must not indulge in wishes that cannot be gratified. That reminds me I must take you to task for some expressions in your letter. You say, “our only thought, our only talk, is entirely about our going home.” How can you reconcile that with the object of your sojourn at Staunton! Unless your thoughts are sometimes devoted to your studies, I do not see the use of your being there, and if it was “so hot” (May 24) as to render it “impossible for you to study,” in the mountains of Virg. how can you expect to exist in Texas in July and August? It is so hot in my tent now, that the spermaceti candles become so soft as to drop from the candlesticks. Sturine candles, have melted, and become liquid in the stand. The chair I sit in and the table I write on is hot, disagreeably so, to the touch, and feel as if made of metal. Do not speak of heat Agnes, for you know not what it is and I shall have to relinquish all hope of ever having you here with me. …I must now bid you goodbye. Give love to everyone. Your affectionate father
Source: Growing Up in the 1850s: The Journal of Agnes Lee *Letter was copied as written. **The letter in the picture was not written by Lee.