Skip to main content

Edward Lee Childe to Robert E. Lee, 1865-07-16

 Item — Box: 7, Folder: 5

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

This collection contains primary and secondary resources pertaining to Robert E. Lee and the Lee family. Included are correspondences from, to, and about Lee and various family members; memorabilia, pamphlets, photographs, reminiscences, miscellaneous personal papers, family history and genealogy. The collection includes materials acquired from the Lee family and items donated to and purchased and compiled by W&L University since Lee's tenure as president of Washington College from 1865 - 1870. Adminstrative papers, such as President's Reports, etc..., from Robert E. Lee's presidency of the school may be found within the W&L University Archives. Please contact W&L Special Collections for information regarding the University Archives.


  • Creation: 1865-07-16

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.


From the Collection: 24 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Edward Lee Childe, Robert E. Lee's nephew, had allowed a family friend to read a letter to him from his “Aunt Mary” (Mary Custis Lee). The letter divulged details of Richmond in the two months after its fall as well as the sentiments of Robert E. Lee and Mary Custis Lee regarding the war and figures such as Jefferson Davis. The family friend, without permission, submitted a copy of the letter to a newspaper, which published it. The newspaper wrote that the letter was “from the pen of a lady residing in Richmond, Virginia, where she is widely known and beloved for the admirable simplicity of her life and character, and for the practice of ‘all the charities of mother, daughter, and sister.’” It was fairly obvious that the letter in the newspaper was written by Mary Custis Lee, mostly thanks to allusions to her husband and children, and for this reason Childe wrote to Robert E. Lee to apologize and explain the circumstances.


A clipping of the anonymous letter from Mary Custis Lee published in the newspaper is included with the letter. The letter is signed only as “Edward”. However, a note follows the transcription of the letter, reading “This letter is probably from Edward Lee Childe. This based on a note on the reverse of a letter by Mr. P. S. Worsley to Mr. Childe written from Herndon Sept 15th (most likely 1865). On the reverse is a note by General Lee which states: 29 Sept ‘65 Edwd Lee Childe sends dedication of P.S. Ensley’s (?) Of his translation of Illiad. A translation of Homer is mentioned in the text of Edward’s letter.”

Repository Details

Part of the Washington and Lee University, University Library Special Collections and Archives Repository

204 W. Washington St.
Lexington VA 24450 USA