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...."
And in a letter, a month later, to an officer asking his opinion about a decree of the Emperor of Mexico encouraging the emigration from the South to that country:
"...I do not know how far their emigration to another land will conduce to their prosperity. Although prospects may not now be cheering, I have entertained the opinion that, unless prevented by circumstances or necessity, it would be better for them and the country if they remained at their homes and shared the fate of their respective States...."
Again, in a letter to Governor Letcher [the "War Governor" of Virginia]: