[CIVIL WAR]. LEE, Robert E. (1807-1870), General, C.S.A. Autograph letter signed ("R E Lee") with autograph FREE FRANK ("R E Lee") to Jonathan Lloyd, Washington, 6 March 1855. 1 page, small 4to, integral address leaf, mathematical notations in left margin, in fine condition. [With:] LEE, Mary Custis. Four autograph letters signed to Jonathan Lloyd, [Arlington], 12 December 1847 - 5 May 1849. Together 6 pages, 8vo and 12mo.
ANTE-BELLUM DOMESTIC FINANCES OF THE LEE FAMILY
An unusual group of letters written to their accounting agent by Mr. and Mrs. Lee regarding various financial matters during the Mexican War and shortly before his first command of a cavalry regiment. In August 1846, Lee received orders to report to General Scott in Mexico and quickly departed, leaving Mary Custis and their children at their home in Arlington. Mary was left to run the family in her husband's absence. Writing to Lloyd on 12 December 1847, she requests $50.00 to cover expenses for daughter Mary's school, but notes: "I am afraid you will think me very extravagant." On 7 January 1848, she confirms that her husband has approved Lloyd's proposition to make a payment of $1000 (the purpose is not disclosed). She informs Lloyd: "Robert does not seem to have the least expectation of getting home. He says as soon as they receive recruits, they expect [to] march into the interior." On 7 March 1848, she informs Lloyd that she needs money as soon as possible: "Having no other funds available at present & being obliged to pay for my boys whose term commences the 1st of March." On 5 May 1849, she requests a check in the amount of $650 payable only to Robert: "make the whole up in a small sealed package & give to our servant. You need not tell him what it is."
The Spring of 1855 marked a period of transition for Robert E. Lee as he resigned as Superintendent of West Point and accepted his first regimental command, the 2nd United States Cavalry. One month before he left for his new appointment, Robert E. Lee writes to Lloyd about investments likely related to renovations to Arlington House: "If you can use advantageously to your business the interest of the $2600 due (I believe) on the 8th inst. I will thank you to do so. And in order to make an even sum, I have added $244, as will be seen by the above check. My wish is for the whole amount to be returned at the same time & at the date mentioned in the deed etc. Let me know whether this arrangement is perfectly convenient to you...I will bring the deed in with me some of these days & get you to arrange it."
Lee had a keen understanding of finances: "Lee had saved rigorously, invested wisely, and accumulated substantial net worth" (Thomas, Robert E. Lee, p. 176). However, the burden of a substantial debt from his Father-in-Law in 1857 and property losses due to the war plagued him for the remainder of his life. (5)