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    Highly Important Robert E. Lee Autograph Letter Signed, Referring to Grant, with Poignant Civil War Content Mostly written on one side, carried over to and signed on verso, 8.25" x 10.25", in ink on beige letter paper and in Very Fine condition. Written at Arlington, Virginia, on December 1, 1864, during the last dark days of the Civil War, to a Dr. Alfred Hughes in Richmond: "My dear sir I am deeply impressed with a sense of your grief and sincerely sympathize with you in your great affection. I wish it was in my power to afford you any consolation or relief. I am distressed at being unable to comply with your request. I hold no communication with Genl. Grant xcept [sic] on purely official and military matters. Nor in my opinion is it proper that I should. I have no claims upon his favours, I should not ask it. I feel sure of his refusal. I have on several occasions forwarded applications from individuals for permission to enter the enemy lines for benevolent purposes, to attend invalid husbands, sons & I have invariably been refused. I should feel no mortification at a repetition of these denials, but I believe my application would be useless & injure your prospects of attaining your wish. If (two words unclear) cannot procure you a passport, I cannot. I will give Mrs. Hughes a passport through any portion of our lines she desires, or will forward an application from you to bend. Grant for permission to visit Wheeling. This is all I can do with propriety. Regretting that I can do no more, & praying that a merciful God may give you strength to bear the heavy affliction he has thought proper to deal you. I am truly your obliged sevt. R. Lee".

    Families were often divided by the arbitrary boundaries created by the War. This was particularly true between West Virginia and Virginia proper, which had been a single entity until West Virginia chose to break off and remain loyal to the Union. Hughes wife wished to visit a sick relative in West Virginia, and could not pass through the lines to get there. Grant's policy was not simply rooted in hard-heartedness. Both sides actively sent spies dressed as civilians, occasionally including women, into each other's territories to seek valuable military information, so it was necessary to ban travel back and forth between the areas held by the two sides.

    This letter beautifully exemplifies the great tragedy of the War: the fact that people with blood relations, and commonalities, were suddenly severed from all contact with one another. This exceptional example of even Lee's inability to help bridge this awful gap, even in light of a family crisis, is of great importance in gaining a real sense of those horrible times.

    A truly outstanding Robert E. Lee ALS in a lovely state of preservation.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2006
    1st-2nd Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,941

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