"Alexandria, Virginia, July 15, 1870.
"My Dear Mary: I arrived here last evening from Goodwood, and was glad to hear from Burke this morning that our Aunt Maria was as well as usual. I wish to get out to Cassius Lee's this afternoon, and will spend to-morrow on the Hill in visiting General Cooper, Mr. Mason, the Bishop, etc. ["Aunt M---" was Mrs. Fitzhugh of "Ravensworth," and "Burke," her coloured servant; Cassius Lee, my father's cousin; General S. S. Cooper, Adj. General of the C. S. armies; Mr. J. M. Mason, Senator in U. S. and C. S. Congress; the Bishop, Bishop Johns of Virginia, all at that time living on the "Hill"--or Seminary Hill-- about two miles from Alexandria.] Next week I shall go to Ravensworth and from there think I shall proceed to Lexington. It is so hot that I shall be obliged to forego my visit to Nannie and the 'White House.' It is intensely hot here and I am unable to bear the heat now. I took cold yesterday in the cars or elsewhere and am full of pains this morning, and was unable to sleep last night.
"I have seen Mr. Smith [Mr. Francis L. Smith was my father's lawyer. The matter referred to which caused the remark, "The prospect is not promising," was the chance of getting back the estate of Arlington from the U. S. Government. Mr. Smith and Mr. Cassius Lee were my father's advisers in this matter. "Nannie" was the widow of Captain S. S. Lee, my father's brother.] this morning and had with him a long business talk, and will see him again after seeing Cassius. The prospect is not promising. I got your letter at Charles's. Thank Agnes for hers. All were well there and on West River, and sent you all messages of love. I will give all particulars when we meet. I am at the Mansion House, where it is piping hot. I had felt better until I caught fresh cold, but no one can avoid it in such weather. Love to all. I cannot fix yet the day of my return, but it will be the last week in July.
"I hope Custis has got off, though I shall not be able to see him.
"Most truly and affectionately,
Mr. Cassius Lee was my father's first cousin. They had been children together, schoolmates in boyhood, and lifelong friends and neighbours. He was my father's trusted adviser in all business matters, and in him he had the greatest confidence. Mr. Cazenove Lee, of Washington, D. C., his son, has kindly furnished me with some of his recollections of this visit, which I give in his own words:
"It is greatly to be regretted that an accurate and full account of this visit was not preserved, for the conversations during those two or three days were most interesting and would have filled a volume. It was the review of a lifetime by two old men. It is believed that General Lee never talked after the war with as little reserve as on this occasion. Only my father and two of his boys were present. I can remember his telling my father of meeting Mr. Leary, their old teacher at the Alexandria Academy, during his late visit to the South, which recalled many incidents of their school life. They talked of the war, and he told of the delay of Jackson in getting on McClellan's flank, causing the fight at Mechanicsville, which fight he said was unexpected, but was necessary to prevent McClellan from entering Richmond, from the front of which most of the troops had been moved. He thought that if Jackson had been at Gettysburg he would have gained a victory, 'for' said he, 'Jackson would have held the heights which Ewell took on the first day.' He said that Ewell was a fine officer, but would never take the responsibility of exceeding his orders, and having been ordered to Gettysburg, he would not go farther and hold the heights beyond the town. I asked him which of the Federal generals he considered the greatest, and he answered most emphatically 'McClellan by all odds.' He was asked why he did not come to Washington after second Manassas.
"'Because,' he replied, 'my men had nothing to eat,' and pointing to Fort Wade, in the rear of our home, he said, 'I could not tell my men to take that fort when they had had nothing to eat for three days. I went to Maryland to feed my army.'