A day or two after that, when "Dan" was doorkeeper, three Federal officers, a colonel, a major, and a doctor, called and asked to see General Lee. They were shown into the parlour, presented their cards, and said they desired to pay their respects as officers of the United States Army. When Dan went out with the three cards, he was told by some one that my father was up stairs engaged with some other visitor, so he returned and told them this and they departed. When my father came down, was shown the cards and told of the three visitors, he was quite put out at Dan's not having brought him the cards at the time and that afternoon mounted him on one of his horses and sent him over to Manchester, where they were camped, to look up the three officers and to tell them he would be glad to see them at any time they might be pleased to call. However, Dan failed to find them.
He had another visit at this time which affected him deeply. Two Confederate soldiers in very dilapidated clothing, worn and emaciated in body, came to see him. They said they had been selected from about sixty other fellows, too ragged to come themselves, to offer him a home in the mountains of Virginia. The home was a good house and farm, and near by was a defile, in some rugged hills, from which they could defy the entire Federal Army. They made this offer of a home and their protection because there was a report that he was about to be indicted for treason. The General had to decline to go with them, but the tears came into his eyes at this hearty exhibition of loyalty.
After being in Richmond a few days, and by the advice of my father getting my parole from the United States Provost Marshal there, the question as to what I should do came up. My father told me that I could go back to college if I desired and prepare myself for some profession--that he had a little money which he would be willing and glad to devote to the completion of my education. I think he was strongly in favour of my going back to college. At the same time he told me that, if I preferred it, I could take possession of my farm land in King William County, which I had inherited from my grandfather, Mr. Custis, and make my home there. As there was little left of the farm but the land, he thought he could arrange to help me build a house and purchase stock and machinery.
My brother, General W. H. F. Lee, had already gone down to his place, "The White House" in New Kent County, with Major John Lee, our first cousin, had erected a shanty, and gone to work, breaking up land for a corn crop, putting their cavalry horses to the plow. As I thought my father had use for any means he might have in caring for my mother and sisters, and as I had this property, I determined to become a farmer. However, I did not decide positively, and in the meantime it was thought best that I should join my brother and cousin at the White House and help them make their crop of corn. In returning to Richmond, I had left at "Hickory Hill," General Wickham's place in Hanover County, our horses and servants, taken with me from Lynchburg to Greensboro and back. So bidding all my friends and family good-bye, I went by rail to "Hickory Hill" and started the next day with three servants and about eight horses for New Kent, stopping the first night at "Pampatike." The next day I reached the White House, where the reinforcements I brought with me were hailed with delight.
Though I have been a farmer from that day to this, I will say that the crop of corn which we planted that summer, with ourselves and army servants as laborers and our old cavalry horses as teams, and which we did not finish planting until the 9th of June, was the best I ever made.
Lee's conception of the part--His influence exerted toward the restoration of Virginia--He visits old friends throughout the country-- Receives offers of positions--Compares notes with the Union General Hunter--Longs for a country home--Finds one at "Derwent," near Cartersville
My father remained quietly in Richmond with my mother and sisters. He was now a private citizen for the first time in his life. As he had always been a good soldier, so now he became a good citizen. My father's advice to all his old officers and men was to submit to the authority of the land and to stay at home, now that their native States needed them more than ever. His advice and example had great influence with all. In a letter to Colonel Walter Taylor [his old A. A. G.], he speaks on this point:
"...I am sorry to hear that our returned soldiers cannot obtain employment. Tell them they must all set to work, and if they cannot do what they prefer, do what they can. Virginia wants all their aid, all their support, and the presence of all her sons to sustain and recuperate her. They must therefore put themselves in a position to take part in her government, and not be deterred by obstacles in their way. There is much to be done which they only can do...."