I found this interesting account of General Lee's sorrel mare in The William and Mary Quarterly from October, 1939. It was written by Mary Campbell. Upon completion of the short story, I will, in the immortal words of Paul Harvey, give the rest of the story.
The true story of a small sorrel mare belonging to General Robert E. Lee, told by Mr. William Campbell of Essex County, Virginia, to his daughter, Mary Campbell.
My father told it this way: "The years go by and I am come towards the end of the journey called life. There have been many things of great interest and keenest pleasure in the long and full years. I know as I look back on the very incidents, that the great things of life are the simple things, done in a fine thoughtful way. In Virginia, where I was born in 1837, in the West of the 'roaring 50's' where I hunted with the Indians and dug gold, and in war and peace. I have met and known many men of renown and have watched their ways to get a grasp in the pulse of humanity; have acutely and admired often the kind deeds I have seen in my day. I have written many of these for my children that they may know what their father valued most as he came to be an old man."
The story of General Lee's little sorrel mare I cannot find among my father's papers therefore, I must tell it is I remember it. Being a child of the Confederacy and alwys thrilled at the conversation that followed the meeting of my father's friends, I have pictured, in my childish mind, the great General Lee riding on gray Traveller, serene and clear-eyed, and behind him, my father gay and confident. As far as I know or cared, this was the whole Confederacy. General Lee, leading wisely, and my father doing a gay bit of fighting to expel this horde of invaders who had come into our lovely land. So they have come to many a battle and finally to a gallant and glorious surrender at Appomattox. I was very sure that defeat was the finest thing in the world, and a man defeated was a hero, for had not my father and General Lee surrendered, and I have never heard a word of sadness or regret.
One evening after talk of men and battles, of skirmishes and camp, and finally of horses, how hard it had been to keep themselves mounted, and how hard my father fighting under Jeb Stuart, who often sent into the enemy lines to obtain a mount, had many an exciting adventre, my father said, "Have I never told you how I came into possession of one of General Lee's horses after the surrender?" I realized that my father was in Company F of the 9th Virginia Cavalry and had done a great deal of scouting. "It was in the fall of 1866," he said. "I was back in the County of Essex and was looking to gather the threads of life when I had an offer to buy a small spirited mare, which a returned soldier offered to sell for one hundred twenty-five dollars. I found her very satisfactory for riding and drawing a light wagon. One morning, I stopped to talk to a friend, and I suddenly noticed his eyes riveted on the horse. After a salutation, he said, 'Campbell, where did you get that horse?' When I told him, he said, 'I have seen General Lee ride her when Traveller was resting.' Naturally, I was much surprised and intensely interested. General Lee at the time was in Lexington, Virginia, as President of Washington College. I decided to write and ask him about such a horse and suggest that if it was his, he would send his son, Robert, Jr., who was living at the White House in New Kent County, which was not so far away to look her over; for if she belonged to him, I wanted him to have her. A few days after sending my letter an answer came in his own beautiful scrp saying that he would send his son to look her over."
A copy of the original of General Lee's letter follows:
27 October 1866
My dear sir:---
Just before the reception of your letter of the 18th ultimo, I sent to Dr. Garnett such evidence as I have received as to the identity of the mare ridden from North Carolina by Mr. D. in his return home to Virginia. I do not know whether it will be sufficient; but I have written to my son, Robert, as you suggested to ride over and see her, if he has any recollection of her, I think it probable that if mine, she would be better known to those who served in the Infantry of the Army of Northern Virginia, than in the Cavalry, the latter being mostly on detached or outpost duty; as I rode her frequently after the return of the Army from Maryland to Virginia in 1862 and the Spring of 1864 and especially while around Fredericksburg and at the battle of Chancellorsville. Being much exhausted in the Spring of 1864, she was sent to Mr. Hairston's I believe in Henry County, by Major Harman to be recruited, and had reached Lynchburg on her return to me about the time of the evacuation of Richmond and was carried with the horses under Major Paxton's change to North Carolina. Captain Hopkins of this place, to whom you refer, died a year since, though there are some of the men who were employed by him residing in the vicinity.
I shall be very sorry if any loss occurs to you on account of the mare, and would prefer to bear it myself.
Very respectfully your obedient servant,
"On the eleventh of November, 1866, about a week after this, on a quiet Sunday afternoon General William H. F. Lee (Rooney) arrived at my home in Essex. He was General Lee's second son and my old commander. He had happened to be paying his brother a visit and had ridden over at his father's request. He was sure that he would know any horse that his father had owned and ridden. We walked down to the stables and as soon as the mare was brought up he said,'Yes that is Lucy Long presented to my father by General Longstreet and ridden when Traveller was resting in the spring of '62 and again in '63.' He insisted on seeing the man where I purchased the horse, who had gotten her from the stables in Lynchburg. As we approached the house, I saw the man. General Lee dismounted and I did not hear the conversation between them. I felt sure that General Lee simply wanted to be certain that the horse was his father's. General Robert Lee had told his son not to accept the horse as a gift on any consideration. So after spending the night, he paid me one hundred twenty five dollars and rode away leading Lucy Long. She was kept on the White House farm for some time and I think was finally carried to Lexington, Virginia. The receipt for the horse signed by General William H.F. Lee is still in my possession."
Following is the receipt for the horse given to my father by General William H.F. Lee.
Dunnsville, Essex Co, Va.,
12 'November 1866
Received of Mr. Wm Campbell, in behalf of General R.E. Lee, his sorrel mare Lucy Long, taken about the time of the surrender of the C.S. Army, for which I have paid Mr. Campbell one hundred twenty-five dollars, the amount paid by him to Mr. P.P. Derieux, who bought the mare from Recruiting Camp of the C.S.A.
Wm. H.F. Lee
Here's the rest of the story.
Rooney was wrong when he said that Lucy Long was a gift from James Longstreet. Actually, Lucy Long was purchased for General Lee by Jeb Stuart. During Second Manassas, Lee was holding Traveller's bridle reins when the gray became spooked. Lee fell and broke both his hands. Upon the Army's return from Maryland, Stuart sought to buy General Lee a quieter and gentler horse.
Below is the letter to Dr. Garnett that Lee mentions in his letter to Campbell.
"Lexington, Virginia, September 4, 1866.
"Dr. C. S. Garnett.
"Dear Sir: I am much obliged to you for your letter of the 23d ult. and the information it contained. The mare about which my son wrote you was bred by Mr. Stephen Dandridge, of 'The Bower**,' Berkeley County, Virginia, and was purchased from him for me by General J. E. B. Stuart in the fall of 1862--after the return of the army from Maryland. She is nine or ten years old, about fifteen hands high, square built, sorrel (not chestnut) colour, has a fast walk, easy pace, and short canter. When I parted with her she had a full long mane and tail. I rode her in conjunction with my gray horse from the fall of '62 to the spring of '64, when she was sent back for refreshment; and it was in recalling her in the spring of '65 from Mr. Hairston's, in Henry County, that she got into Major Paxton's stables of public horses and went to Danville with them. I think she might be recognised by any member of the Army of Northern Virginia, in Essex, unless much changed. I now recollect no distinctive marks about her except a blaze in her forehead and white hind-legs. My son, General W. H. F. Lee, residing at the White House, in New Kent, might recognise her, and also my son Robert, who resides near West Point, in King William. Captain Hopkins, to whom you refer in your letter, is dead, but Major Paxton, who had general charge of the public stables, and to whom I referred your letter, has sent me the accompanying affidavits of two of the men employed by him. Should their evidence not be satisfactory, he will procure statements from some of the officers, which probably may be more definite. I should be obliged to you, if the mare in question is the one I am seeking for, that you would take steps to recover her, as I am desirous of reclaiming her in consideration of the donor, General Stuart.
"Your obedient servant, R. E. Lee."
The other confusion is which Lee son was living where. Upon the death of their grandfather, George Washington Custis, each of Lee's sons inherited a plantation. Custis, the oldest son (and named for his grandfather) inherited Arlington House. This house was seized by Union forces at the beginning of the war and turned (spitefully so by General Montgomery Meigs) into a cemetary. After the war, Custis lived in Lexington and taught at VMI. Upon the death of his father, he became president of Washington College. Later, the Supreme Court ruled that Arlington had been illegally seized and to be given back to Custis. Custis sold the property to the government for $150,000. Rooney inherited the White House plantation in New Kent County. At the end of the war, Rooney and Rob, Jr. (Lee's youngest son) worked the farm together, but as Lee's letter to Dr. Garnett points, Rob was living in King William County on his plantation Romancoke.
Rob writes that Lucy Long lived to be 33 years old, and was then chloroformed because my brother (he does not say which one) thought she had ceased to enjoy life. For the last ten years of her life, she was boarded out in the country, where she did nothing but rest, and until a year before her death, she seemed in good health and spirits. Rob writes that General Lee was glad to have Lucy Long back, as he was very fond of her.
**The Bower was the name of the Stephen Dandridge's home in Berkeley County. After Sharpsburg, Stuart placed his headquarters beneath its magnificent oaks.