[CIVIL WAR LEE, Robert E. (1807-1870), General, CSA]. WASHINGTON, John A. ( 1821-1861), Lieutenant Colonel CSA, Aide-de-camp to Robert E. Lee. Seven Autograph letters signed to his children, Richmond, Monterey, and "Camp on Valley Mountain," VA., 10 May 1861 to 26 August 1861. Together 17 pages, 4to and 8vo, some with envelopes, some with samples of seeds sent home by Washington. [With:] LEE, J.F. Autograph letter signed, Upper Marlboro, MD., 25 July 1869. 1 p., 4to. Re: commenting upon Washington's bravery and death.
WITH ROBERT E. LEE IN WEST VIRGINIA: THE LETTERS OF JOHN A. WASHINGTON
A excellent series of letters by the grand-nephew of George Washington, the last private owner of Mount Vernon, an aide-de-camp to Robert E. Lee during the first months of the Civil War. 10 May, shortly after his arrival in Richmond: "The City [Richmond] is full of military--the drum & fife are constantly sounding and soldiers marching up and down the streets. We sent off ...about a thousand men, who will be between you all and danger and shall have before long a large force along the Orange and Manassas Gap Road." 13 June, three days after the Battle at Big Bethel: "This is the right spirit, every man should wish to stay, and should stay with his company or at his post whatever it is, and not be asking for leave to go away...If any such worthless fellow wants to be your sweetheart, tell him no...What is he good for if he cannot go through one campaign, without running back to his mammy's apron string." Washington notes the arrival of the famous zouave regiment, the Lousiana Tigers: "Their pantaloons are of red flannell [sic] are very full & button close around the ankle, just like the pictures you see of Turks. Their hair is cut close...They have a very fierce look, and are very active and very unmanageable in the towns, but good troops in the field. They are almost all Frenchmen."
29 June, describing a review of the troops: "We...are just going out with Gen. Lee to join the President [Davis] who reviews one of the Mississippi Regiments and a ride around to some of the encampments. It is generally hot work and not very interesting as our motions are necessarily governed by those of the President." He bitterly denounces the destruction of Virginia homes: "these Yankees are for the most part a set of plundering fellows, who will steal & bully when they can and do as little fighting as possible. I hope the time is not far distant when...we shall drive them back, whipped & disgraced to their own country." 17 July, reporting their departure for western Virginia: "We are off to the war at last...We have very painful reports of the defeat and dispersion of our Army under Gen. Garnett...by an overwhelming force of Ohio & Indiana Yankees under Gen. McClellan. It is reported here that Gen. Garnett is killed and his Army utterly broken up...Gen. Lee hastens up to endeavour to organize a new army to withstand the invaders...[we will join our troops] & then forward to Cheat Mountain, and do the best we can."
On August 1, from the front: "Here we are way up in the Mountains... Our party consisted of Gen. Lee, Lieut. Walter H. Taylor, his acting Adjutant, Myself, Aide to Gen. L., His Orderly Sergeant Mayo on horseback...with two two-horse wagons with our baggage, tents, camp equipage." He describes their journey and adds "it is our duty to... be constantly prepared for whatever of success or reverse may await us, with firm and equal heart." 26 August: He describes depredations due to the "horde of Yankee thieves" and recounts their current situation: "We have had no battle, or skirmish even, thus far. Our scouting parties go out a few miles and I suppose the Enemy's do the same, but they never seem to come across each other, so that when we move forward on the Enemy we shall do so with untried troops. They all talk bravely enough, & if they will stand up to it, we will do well." Finally, he details his own misfortunes: "Since the war began, it so happens that all my property except that at Waveland has either been taken by the enemy or has been rendered useless to me...In one word, instead of being well off we are poor."
6 September, only a week before Washington was killed at Cheat Mountain: "I think it is probable we shall begin to advance on the Enemy tomorrow...Our Party has enjoyed excellent health except Genl. Lee who has been somewhat indisposed but has recovered...and we are all ready and anxious....Genl. Floyds battle and defeat of the Yankees at Cross Lanes...is the only affair of consequence we know of." Washington concludes the letter with lengthy and loving fatherly advice. On September 13th, reconnoitering Cheat Mountain with Lee's son, William "Rooney" Lee, Washington was killed instantly by a Yankee bullet. (8)