Wednesday, September 12, 2012
MRS. LEE WAS A FIGHTER TOO…
“It is bad enough to be victims of such tyranny, but when it is wielded by such cowards ad base men as Butler, Thaddeus Stevens and Turner, it is indeed intolerable. The country that allows such scum to rule them must fast be going to destruction.” March 1867 on Reconstruction
Following Robert E. Lee's resignation from the U.S. Army on April 22, 1861, he pleaded with Mary to evacuate Arlington House as Union forces were certain to occupy the property. But leaving behind her family home, the Washington relics, and the Arlington slaves was difficult for Mary and she delayed. It was only the knowledge that her husband was so deeply concerned for her safety that convinced her to leave on May 15, 1861. As she wrote in a letter to General Winfield Scott a few days earlier, “Were it not that I would not add one feather to his load of care, nothing would induce me to abandon my home.”
Although confined to a wheelchair and in nearly constant pain, she worked hard to support her husband and the Confederate war effort. Throughout the war, she and her daughters knitted socks for Confederate soldiers, which she sent to her husband by the hundreds to distribute to his men.
Mary Lee did visit Arlington a few months before her death in 1873. Unable to get out of the carriage, someone brought her a drink of water from the well. “I rode out to my dear old home but so changed it seemed but a dream of the past—I could not have realized it was Arlington but for the few old oaks they had spared & the trees planted by the Genl and myself which are raising their tall branches to the Heaven which seems to smile on the desecration around them.”
Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee died on November 5, 1873 at the age of 66. She is buried next to her husband on the Washington & Lee campus in Lexington, Virginia