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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Friday, May 17, 2013

general lee misses his kids and cats

Robert E. Lee was not only a central figure in American military history, but a tender father with a fondness for pets.  Here's an excerpt from a letter he wrote to his daughter Milly (Mildred Childe Lee) in 1857, while he was serving in Indianola, Texas.
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. . . I want to see you so much. Cannot you and dear Mary Childe (Lee's oldest daughter-curator) pack yourselves in a carpet bag and come out to the Comanche country? I wish you would. I would get you such a fine cat you would never look at "Tomtita" again. Did I tell you "Jim Nooks," Mrs. Waite's cat, was dead? Died of apoplexy. I foretold his end. Coffee and cream for breakfast, pound cake for lunch, turtle and oysters for dinner, buttered toast for tea, and Mexican rats, taken raw, for his supper. Cat nature could not stand so much luxury. He grew enormously and ended in a spasm. His beauty could not save him. I saw in San Antonio a cat dressed up for company. He had two holes bored in each ear, and in each were two bows of pink and blue ribbon. His round face set in pink and blue looked like a full blooming ivy bush. He was snow-white, and wore the golden fetters of his inamorata around his neck, in the form of a collar. His tail and feet were tipped with black, and his eyes of green and stealthy pace, were truly cat-like! 
But I saw "cats as is cats" in Savannah. While the stage was changing mules, I stepped around to see Mr. and Mrs. Monod, a French couple, with whom I had passed a night when I landed in Texas in 1846, to join General Wool's army. Mr. Monod received me with all the shrugs and grimaces of his nation, and the entrance of Madame was foreshadowed by her stately cats, with visage grave and tails erect, who preceded, surrounded, and followed in her wake. Her present favorite Sodoiska, a large mottled gray, was a magnificent creature, and in her train she pointed out Aglai, her favorite eleven years ago when I first visited her. They are of French breed and education, and when the claret and water was poured out for my refreshment they jumped on the table for a sip too. . . 

-- Robert E. Lee, in Children's letters: a collection of letters written to children by famous men and women, Elizabeth Colson and Anna Gansevoort Chittenden, eds. (New York: Hinds, Noble & Eldredge, 1905), pp. 127-8

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