Nashville January 15th 1866
Genl Robert E. Lee
President of Washington College
Having suffered in the same cause as yourself - a cause which though dead is dear to me, and having the highest appreciation of your whole character, I have concluded to send my grandson, my only living descendant, to the institution over which you preside.
I desire that he shall go through the regular course of instruction in the College. His studies have been very much interrupted during the war, and in consequence of that fact, it is probable that he will have to be placed in the preparatory class; but of this your professors will be best able to judge.
I desire that he shall be placed from the first in a position to acquire a knowledge of the French language; and, as I learn from your circular, that other of the living and spoken languages will be taught in the institution, I wish him to have the benefit of those also.
Sincerely desiring that the institution may prove a success, and become the honored alma mater of many true Southerners, and hoping and believing that under your tuition, my grandson may be educated a scholar, as I know he will be, a gentleman, I close by assuring you of my high admiration of your character and career, and subscribing myself
Your Obt Servant
I may properly say that owing to troubles and imprisonment for a portion of the time pending the war, my health has been damaged, and my nerves so unstrung, that I am compelled to employ the assistance of a kind friend as one --?-- .
On the reverse in General Lee's handwriting:
15 Jan 66
wishes his grd son
Jno: Shelly Barrow
to take a full collegiatecourse & the living languages