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    Future Confederate General Lee writes from Camp Cooper in Texas

    Robert E. Lee Autograph Letter Signed and Initialed to Captain Nathan G. Evans. Four pages including integral address leaf, 5" x 8", Fort Brown [Texas], December 6, 1856. In June 1856, the future Confederate general was based at Camp Cooper in western Texas, from which he launched an unsuccessful raid against marauding Comanches in the region. Shortly after his return, he received orders to sit on a court martial to be held at Ringgold Barracks near Rio Grande City. Later, the trial moved to Fort Brown at Brownsville, and it dragged on interminably. During the months of endless court wrangling, Lee spent much of his free time exploring the countryside, studying the local flora, and writing to family and friends. It was at this time that Lee wrote to Evans, a colleague and friend from Camp Cooper. Evans would later become a brigadier general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Addressed to "Capt. N.G. Evans & nobody else," the letter reads in part:

    "Capt. Evans, I write to you at a venture, for having heard nothing of u [sic] from Camp Cooper since I left, I do not know whether it is in existence, or that you are in it. You may ask in your turn what I am doing here, & that will be hard for me to answer. I can only say that I feel I ought not to be here, and that I am no use here, & that I ought not to be here. I am on a Court that likes long justice & tall justice it has to administer; but when it will get to the end of it I cannot say. You will have heard of its being adjourned down here - we have for the last month, been laboring through a mass of testimony, & got a mite of evidence. The witnesses for the defense who are present, having been exhausted, the Court . . . has decided today to wait for late Lt. Booth, late Sgt. Symonds, Adml. Kennedy, & Lt. Gill, who was summoned long time ago, and have not yet been heard from. When I shall get away God only knows."

    Lee requests that Evans remember him to all the officers at Camp Cooper and mentions mutual friends who are with him at Fort Brown (Captains Hill and Dawson, Major George H. Thomas), as well as those who are due to arrive soon (Lieutenants Morris, Bell, Graham, and Gilman, Colonel Frank Taylor, Captain Naublut and Major Cunning). He closes by writing, "I am distressed to hear of the rumor of the death of Pike Graham. I hope it is not so. Major Thomas is well & sends his regards. Truly yours in haste, [signed] R E Lee."

    Lee's postscript reads, "All the members of the Court are well. Col. Chapman is failing. My friend the Genl of Ordnance, Bradford is improving. [signed] R E L." The letter shows faint age toning and smoothed folds.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2011
    12th Saturday
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