R.E. Lee’s Christmas in Mexico, 1846
Lee now found himself with one division of what was immeasurably the largest body of troops he had ever seen, fully 6,000 men! Once the reconnaissances were made and the camp was laid out he had no special duties until Christmas eve. . . . That evening his mind turned homeward, where he knew his children were preparing for Christmas. From his tent he wrote Custis and Rooney: "I hope good Santa Claus will fill my Rob's stocking tonight; that Mildred's, Agnes's and Annie's may break down with good things. I do not know what he may have for you and Mary, but if he only leaves for you one half of what I wish, you will want for nothing. I have frequently thought if I had one of you on each side of me riding on ponies, such as I could get you, I would be comparatively happy."

Shortly after breakfast Christmas morning a hurried message from some of the subsistence officers was sent to headquarters: The enemy was coming! . . . "The Mexicans, however, did not make their appearance," Lee wrote his wife that night. "Many regrets were expressed at Santa Anna's having spoiled our Christmas dinner for which ample preparations had been made. The little roasters remained tied to the tent pins wondering at their deferred fate, and the headless turkeys retained their plumage unscathed. Finding the enemy did not come, preparations were again made for dinner." The feast did not awaken enthusiasm in Lee's heart. He found, instead, what comfort he could in writing Mrs. Lee. "We have had many happy, happy Christmasses together," he said. "It is the first time we have been entirely separated at this holy time since our marriage. I hope it does not interfere with your happiness, surrounded as you are by father, mother, children, and dear friends. I therefore trust you are well and happy, and that this is the last time I shall be absent from you during my life. May God preserve and bless you till then and forever is my constant prayer." The language differed little from that which he was to employ in a letter written on a dark Christmas day, with far greater issues at stake, fifteen years thereafter.

From R.E. Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman, Vol. I, pp. 213-214

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