Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

 Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

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His friends and admirers were constantly sending him presents; some,simple mementos of their love and affection; others, substantial andmaterial comforts for the outer and inner man. The following letter,from its date, is evidently an acknowledgement of Christmas giftssent him:

"December 30th.... The Lyons furs and fur robe have also arrivedsafely, but I can learn nothing of the saddle of mutton. Bryan, ofwhom I inquired as to its arrival, is greatly alarmed lest it has beensent to the soldiers' dinner. If the soldiers get it, I shall becontent. I can do very well without it. In fact, I should ratherthey should have it than I...."

The soldiers' "dinner" here referred to was a Christmas dinner, sentby the entire country, as far as they could, to the poor starving menin the trenches and camps along the lines. It would not be consideredmuch now, but when the conditions were such as my father describeswhen he wrote the Secretary of War,

"The struggle now is to keep the army fed and clothed. Only fiftymen in some regiments have shoes, and bacon is only issued once in afew days,"

anything besides the one-quarter of a pound of bacon and mustycorn-bread was a treat of great service, and might be construed as"a Christmas dinner."