"When General Lee requested me to make a copy of this letter, he remarked it was but right for him to set an example of making a formal submission to the civil authorities, and that he thought, by do doing, he might possibly be in a better position to be of use to the Confederates who were not protected by military paroles, especially Mr. Davis"
Colonel Charles Marshall [a grandson of Chief Justice Marshall, and Lee's military secretary] says:
"...He (General Lee) set to work to use his great influence to reconcile the people of the South to the hard consequences of their defeat, to inspire them with hope, to lead them to accept, freely and frankly, the government that had been established by the result of the war, and thus relieve them from the military rule.... The advice and example of General Lee did more to incline the scale in favour of a frank and manly adoption of that course of conduct which tended to the restoration of peace and harmony than all the Federal garrisons in all the military districts."
My father was at this time anxious to secure for himself and family a house somewhere in the country. He had always had a desire to be the owner of a small farm, where he could end his days in peace and quiet. The life in Richmond was not suited to him. He wanted quiet and rest, but could not get it there, for people were too attentive to him. So in the first days of June he mounted old Traveller and, unattended, rode down to "Pampatike"--some twenty-five miles--to pay a visit of several days to his relations there. This is an old Carter property, belonging then and now to Colonel Thomas H. Carter, who, but lately returned from Appomattox Court House, was living there with his wife and children. Colonel Carter, whose father was a first cousin of General Lee's, entered the Army of Northern Virginia in the spring of 1861, as captain of the "King William Battery," rose grade by grade by his skill and gallantry, and surrendered in the spring of 1865, as Colonel and Chief of Artillery of his corps at that time. He was highly esteemed and much beloved by my father, and our families had been intimate for a long time.
"Pampatike" is a large, old-fashioned plantation, lying along the Pamunkey River, between the Piping Tree and New Castle ferries. Part of the house is very old, and, from time to time, as more rooms were needed, additions have been made, giving the whole a very quaint and picturesque appearance. At the old-fashioned dinner hour of three o'clock, my father, mounted on Traveller, unannounced, unexpected, and alone, rode up to the door. The horse and rider were at once recognised by Colonel Carter, and he was gladly welcomed by his kinsfolk. I am sure the days passed here were the happiest he had spent for many years. He was very weary of town, of the incessant unrest incident to his position, of the crowds of persons of all sorts and conditions striving to see him; so one can imagine the joy of master and horse when, after a hot ride of over twenty miles, they reached this quiet resting-place. My father, Colonel Carter tells me, enjoyed every moment of his stay. There were three children in the house, the two youngest little girls of five and three years old. These were his special delight, and he followed them around, talking baby-talk to them and getting them to talk to him. Every morning before he was up they went into his room, at his special request, to pay him a visit. Another great pleasure was to watch Traveller enjoy himself. He had him turned out on the lawn, where the June grass was very fine, abundant, and at its prime, and would allow no cord to be fed to him, saying he had had plenty of that during the last four years, and that the grass and the liberty were what he needed. He talked to Colonel Carter much about Mexico, its people and climate; also about the old families living in that neighbourhood and elsewhere in the State, with whom both Colonel Carter and himself were connected; but he said very little about the recent war, and only in answer to some direct question.
About six miles from "Pampatike," on the same river and close to its banks, is "Chericoke," another old Virginia homestead, which had belonged to the Braxtons for generations, and, at that time, was the home of Corbin Braxton's widow. General Lee was invited to dine there, and to meet him my brother, cousin, and I, from the White House, were asked, besides General Rosser, who was staying in the neighbourhood, and several others. This old Virginia house had long been noted for its lavish hospitality and bountiful table. Mrs. Braxton had never realised that the war should make any change in this respect, and her table was still spread in those days of desolation as it had been before the war, when there was plenty in the land. So we sat down to a repast composed of all the good things for which that country was famous. John and I did not seem to think there was too much in sight-- at any rate, it did not daunt us, and we did our best to lessen the quantity, consuming, I think, our share and more! We had been for so many years in the habit of being hungry that it was not strange we continued to be so awhile yet. But my father took a different view of the abundance displayed, and, during his drive back, said to Colonel Carter:
"Thomas, there was enough dinner to-day for twenty people. All this will now have to be changed; you cannot afford it; we shall have to practise economy."
In talking with Colonel Carter about the situation of farmers at that time in the South, and of their prospects for the future, he urged him to get rid of the negroes left on the farm--some ninety-odd in number, principally women and children, with a few old men--saying the government would provide for them, and advised him to secure white labour. The Colonel told him he had to use, for immediate needs, such force as he had, being unable at that time to get whites. Whereupon General Lee remarked: