I Cannot Return to My Home

My house has been taken over by the United States Military.  They are not occupying the building as of yet but I fear any day they will invade my home.  My cousin Markie Williams, who has stayed loyal to the United States, was able to visit Arlington and retrieve some of her possessions.  She saw the family cat and the servants that we had to leave behind.  I fear that the treasures that I was forced to leave at Arlington will be taken or destroyed by the Union forces.  For years my family was the caretaker of Washington’s memory.  We have many of his possessions and letters.  I could not take everything with me when I was forced to leave my home and so many things had to be locked in the attic and in cupboards.  Markie was not able to bring all of these things back to safety with her either.  She was able to save Anne’s letters and my father’s painting, The Battle of Monmouth, which once hung in the U. S. Capitol. How far we have fallen.

I have come to realize that I will no longer be able to return home anytime soon.  It does not appear that the war will end as soon as it was once thought.  I cannot express the sorrow that I feel when I think of not returning home.  My heart has been crushed into such small pieces I feel as if they could blow away.  I feel as though the country has turned its back on me and my family.  We have done nothing but uphold the memory of Washington and the values and beliefs of the country.

If it wasn’t to relieve the minds of my husband and sons, who are performing their duty, I would not have stirred from the house even if the whole Northern Army were to surround it.  I wonder if it would have been better had I stayed at the house.  Would these zealous patriots who are risking their lives to preserve the Union founded by Washington come and take the home of his great granddaughter away?  Now, whatever I have thought, and even now think, of the commencement of this horrible conflict, our duty is plain—to resist unto death.  In God is our only hope. 



Filed under Civil War, Family Life, Home

2 responses to “I Cannot Return to My Home

  1. Yvonne Kosby

    Dear Mrs. Lee,

    Please give us your view of slavery and what the issue of slavary has to do with the war. As a southern, do you wish to see slavery continue forever?

    • Dear Ms. Kosby,

      Slavery is an institution that has been left to us by those who went before. I did not create slavery nor do I wish to see it continue. My father set his slaves free after his death. What has become problematic is what should happen with the slaves after they have been granted their freedom. Should they stay in the state or country? Should they go back to Africa? My family has taken the position that they should be sent back to Africa. My mother and I worked hard for the American Colonization Society raising money to settle free slaves in Liberia. One family, the Burkes, moved there and have been very successful. In addition to paying for them to go back to Africa my family has helped educate the slaves we own making sure they can read and write. This broke the law of Virginia but we believed it would be better to provide them with some kind of education so they could support themselves and not continue to be a burden on us. I have no wish to see slavery continue now or forever. It is immoral and a blemish on all God fearing men and women.

      Regarding slavery’s place in the war: this horrible war was brought on by those extremists – North and South – who have bickered and fought over the institution for generations and who have determined to destroy our great nation over it. My family does not agree with those Southerners who see slavery as a righteous institution and believe they are doing God’s work defending it. But we do agree that it is a constitutionally protected institution and that no one has a right to interfere with it – not any abolitionists or the government itself. The South did not want to leave the Union but felt it had no other option given the hostile nature of the North to its rights.

      Mrs. M. C. Lee

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