General Lee's Civil War-era letters fetch $61,000 at auction

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For months, 11 folders of old papers rescued from his parents' closet sat in Thomas Willcox's sport utility vehicle. Then he realized some were signed by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and might be valuable.

They were: The three letters written by Lee during the Civil War sold at auction Saturday for $61,000.

That was far off the record $630,000 a Lee item sold for in 2002. But it was an improvement from last year, when two letters from the general who surrendered in 1865 sold for $5,000 and $1,900, said Patrick Scott, director of rare books and special collections at the University of South Carolina's Thomas Cooper Library.

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