"I cannot let this day of grateful rejoicing pass, dear Mary, withoutsome communication with you. I am thankful for the many among thepast that I have passed with you, and the remembrance of them fillsme with pleasure. For those on which we have been separated we mustnot repine. Now we must be content with the many blessings we receive.If we can only become sensible of our transgressions, so as to be fullypenitent and forgiven, that this heavy punishment under which we labourmay with justice be removed from us and the whole nation, what agracious consummation of all that we have endured it will be!
"I hope you had a pleasant visit to Richmond.... If you were to seethis place, I think you would have it, too. I am here but littlemyself. The days I am not here I visit some point exposed to theenemy, and after our dinner at early candle-light, am engaged inwriting till eleven or twelve o'clock at night.... AS to our old home,if not destroyed, it will be difficult ever to be recognised. Evenif the enemy had wished to preserve it, it would almost have beenimpossible. With the number of troops encamped around it, the changeof officers, etc., the want of fuel, shelter, etc., and all the direnecessities of war, it is vain to think of its being in a habitablecondition. I fear, too, books, furniture, and the relics of MountVernon will be gone. It is better to make up our minds to a generalloss. They cannot take away the remembrance of the spot, and thememories of those that to us rendered it sacred. That will remainto us as long as life will last, and that we can preserve. In theabsence of a home, I wish I could purchase 'Stratford.' That is theonly other place that I could go to, now accessible to us, that wouldinspire me with feelings of pleasure and local love. You and thegirls could remain there in quiet. It is a poor place, but we couldmake enough cornbread and bacon for our support, and the girls couldweave us clothes. I wonder if it is for sale and at how much. AskFitzhugh to try to find out, when he gets to Fredericksburg. You mustnot build your hopes on peace on account of the United States goinginto a war with England [on account of the Trent affair]. She willbe very loath to do that, notwithstanding the bluster of the Northernpapers. Her rulers are not entirely mad, and if they find England isin earnest, and that war or a restitution of their captives must bethe consequence, they will adopt the latter. We must make up our mindsto fight our battles and win our independence alone. No one will helpus. We require no extraneous aid, if true to ourselves. But we mustbe patient. It is not a light achievement and cannot be accomplishedat once.... I wrote a few days since, giving you all the news, andhave now therefore nothing to relate. The enemy is still quiet andincreasing in strength. We grow in size slowly but are working hard.I have had a day of labour instead of rest, and have written intervalsto some of the children. I hope they are with you, and inclose myletters....
"Affectionately and truly,
"R. E. Lee."