"Hot Springs, Bath County, Virginia, August 23, 1870.
"My Dear Agnes: I have received both of your letters, the last the 17th, and thank you for them as well as for your care of my room and clothes. The former I understand is used for a multiplicity of purposes, and the cats and kittens have the full run of my establishment. Guard me against 'MISS SELDEN' [Mildred's kitten], I pray you. I am sorry that you are not with me, as it possibly may have benefitted your neuralgia. But if MISS BELLE is with you, I am sure she will be of greater service, and tell her she must remain till I come, that she may cure me. That you may have some other inducements than your flowers and weeds to take you out of doors, I will write to your mother and send for the horses as soon as she can make arrangements to have them cared for, and then you and Mildred and Miss Belle, the one on Traveller, the other on Lucy, can scour the country and keep us in eggs and chickens. I am sorry for the death of our good cow, but glad that she is out of misery.... I do not think any of your friends are here. Mr. Washington has been vibrating between this place and the Healing, but does not seem to be well. Miss Alman, from Salem, Massachusetts, whom you may recollect as having been at the White last summer, is here with her father and mother. Miss Mollie Jourdan left to-day, and Colonel Robert Preston arrived. The Chestnuts and Le Verts are still here. I hope that you are well and that all is well with you. When Custis comes, ask him to see to the horses and the cow and that they are gently treated and properly fed. I know nothing of Henry's capacity in that way. I hope to be home next week and am very anxious to get back.
Letter to his wife--To Mr. Tagart--Obituary notice in "Personal Reminiscences of General Robert E. Lee"--Mrs. Lee's account of his death
The following is the last letter that I can find written by my father to my mother. He was back in Lexington early in September, and was never separated from her again while he lived:
"My Dear Mary: I have received your letter of the 22d. I should remain here a week longer if time permitted, as I have felt in the last few days better than I have yet, but I am obliged to be in Staunton on the 30th and therefore must leave Monday, 29th. I should not have time to return here. The college opens on September 15th, and I wish to see that all things are prepared. Possibly the little improvement now felt will continue. If not, I shall have to bear my malady. I am truly sorry to hear of Edwin Lee's death [Colonel Edwin Grey Lee was a near cousin. He had distinguished himself in the late war. At its commencement he had volunteered, and was made a 2d. lieutenant in the Second Virginia regiment, "Stonewall Brigade." From that rank he quickly rose to be lieutenant colonel of the 33d Virginia, in the same brigade. In 1862 his health, which was very feeble, compelled him to resign, but after a short time he again entered the service, though he never became strong enough to serve actively in the field. General lee's opinion of his abilities was very high.]. He was a true man, and, if health had permitted, would have been an ornament as well as a benefit to his race. He certainly was a great credit to the name. Give my sincere sympathy to his wife and family. You have never mentioned anything of Dr. Grahame. I have heard that he was in a critical condition. I saw Colonels Allan and Johnston. They only stayed a day, and went on to the White. I have heard of them on their return, and presume they will reach Lexington to-morrow. Mr. George Taylor, who has been a month at the White, arrived here to-day. Both he and his wife are well. The company is thinning, though arrivals occur daily. Mr. Middleton and his daughter and son, from Washington, whom you may recollect, also came. But I hope to see you so soon that I will defer my narrative. I am glad that Mary is enjoying herself and that Rob is so happy. May both long continue so. I will endeavour to get the muslin, but fear I shall not succeed. I trust I may not be detained in Staunton more than a day or two. In that event, you may expect me Thursday, September 1st, but I cannot say as to time. I hope that I shall find you all well. Give my love to Agnes and Mildred, and Custis, if he has arrived. Colonel Turner is very well. Tell his wife that he was exhibited to-day at the Healing as a specimen of the health of the Hot. In my last I gave you my views about the servants and sent you a check for ---, which I hope that you have received. Most truly and affectionately,
His last letter was written on the morning of the day he was taken ill, September 28th. It was to Mr. Tagert, of Baltimore, at whose home he had stayed the previous summer. Its tone was cheerful and hopeful, and he wrote that he was much better and stronger.
"Lexington, Virginia, September 28, 1870.
"My Dear Mr. Tagart: Your note of the 26th reached me this morning, and see how easy it is 'to inveigle me into a correspondence.' In fact, when a man desires to do a thing, or when a thing gives a man pleasure, he requires but small provocation to induce him to do it. Now I wanted to hear how you and Mrs. Tagart were, what you were doing, and how you had passed the summer, and I desired to tell you so. That is the reason I write. In answer to your question, I reply that I am much better. I do not know whether it is owing to having seen you and Doctor Buckler last summer, or to my visit to the Hot Springs. Perhaps both. But my pains are less, and my strength greater. In fact, I suppose I am as well as I shall be. I am still following Doctor B---'s directions, and in tie I may improve still more. I expect to have to visit Baltimore this fall, in relation to the Valley Railroad, and in that event I hope to see you, if you will permit me. I am glad to hear that you spent a pleasant summer. Colonel --- and I would have had a more agreeable one had you been with us at the Hot, and as every place agrees so well with Mrs. Tagert, I think she could have enjoyed as good health their as at Saratoga, and we should have done better. Give my sincere regards to Mrs. Tagart, and remember me to all friends, particularly Mr. ---. Tell --- his brother is well and handsome, and I hope that he will study, or his sweethearts in Baltimore will not pine for him long. Captain --- is well and busy, and joins in my remembrances. Mrs. Lee and my daughters unite with me in messages to you and Mrs. Tagart, and I am most truly yours, R. E. Lee.