LEE, ROBERT E., General, C.S.A.. Autograph letter signed ("R E Lee") to his son Col. George Washington Custis Lee, "Camp Fred[ericksbur]g," [Virginia], 11 May 1863. One page, 4to, on pale blue lined paper, folds imperceptibly strengthened, the ink faded and the lower three-fifths including signature lightly browned, three words discreetly heightened in the same color ink (perhaps indicating the fading occurred at a very early date).
LEE REFLECTS ON THE DEATH OF STONEWALL JACKSON: "ANY VICTORY WOULD BE DEAR AT SUCH A COST"
A letter both mundane and poignant written at the height of the conflict (between the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg) to his son. The letter is dated the day after the news reached Lee of the death of Lt. General T.J. Jackson, who had bee mortally wounded by his own riflemen on a darkened road at the Battle of Chancellorsville. The same day as this letter, Lee drafted his General Order no.61, which announced the news to the Army of Northern Virginia and, rather formally, mourned the "daring, skill and energy of this great and good soldier," and called on the Confederate Army to "emulate his invincible determination to do everything in the defense of our beloved country." Here, writing to a family member, he expresses his personal sense of loss. "My dear Custis These hot days remind me I must prepare to lighten my clothing. Will you send by Thomas, the messenger of the A[djutant] & I[nspector] Genl. my grey Sack, Cotton drawers & some cotton socks that I sent down last Fall. Upon their arrival I will send my flannels & will get you to put them in my trunk. You must excuse all the trouble I give you. I have no one else to aid me, & I cannot leave here.
"If the President [Davis] cannot visit the army, I must go to him for a day at least. In that event, I could make these exchanges myself. I found Ham in this army, and requested his employer to send him down to Mr. Eacho to get his free papers. I have not heard whether he obtained them. I heard from your mother yesterday. She was at Shirley [Plantation], but did not seen satisfied I fear she is no better. I wish I could do something for her relief.
"You will have heard of the death of General Jackson. It is a terrible loss. I do not know how to replace him. Any victory would be dear at such a cost. But God's will is done. His body goes to Richmond today. Give love to all...."
Published in Wartime Papers of Robert E. Lee,, ed. C. Dowdey and L.H. Manarin, 1961, no.441 (a quotation from the letter also is used as the sub-title for Chapter Eleven, p.473); the portion on Jackson's death is quoted by Douglas Southall Freeman, R.E. Lee: A Biography, 3:1.