Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech


Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, or Major-General HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.

GENERAL: I inclose herewith a copy of an agreement made this day

between General Joseph E. Johnston and myself, which, if approved

by the President of the United States, will produce peace from the

Potomac to the Rio Grande. Mr. Breckenridge was present at our

conference, in the capacity of major-general, and satisfied me of

the ability of General Johnston to carry out to their full extent

the terms of this agreement; and if you will get the President to

simply indorse the copy, and commission me to carry out the terms,

I will follow them to the conclusion.

You will observe that it is an absolute submission of the enemy to

the lawful authority of the United States, and disperses his armies

absolutely; and the point to which I attach most importance is,

that the dispersion and disbandment of these armies is done in such

a manner as to prevent their breaking up into guerrilla bands. On

the other hand, we can retain just as much of an army as we please.

I agreed to the mode and manner of the surrender of arms set forth,

as it gives the States the means of repressing guerrillas, which we

could not expect them to do if we stripped them of all arms.

Both Generals Johnston and Breckenridge admitted that slavery was

dead, and I could not insist on embracing it in such a paper,

because it can be made with the States in detail. I know that all

the men of substance South sincerely want peace, and I do not

believe they will resort to war again during this century. I have

no doubt that they will in the future be perfectly subordinate to

the laws of the United States. The moment my action in this matter

is approved, I can spare five corps, and will ask for orders to

leave General Schofield here with the Tenth Corps, and to march

myself with the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth, Twentieth, and

Twenty-third Corps via Burkesville and Gordonsville to Frederick or

Hagerstown, Maryland, there to be paid and mustered out.

The question of finance is now the chief one, and every soldier and

officer not needed should be got home at work. I would like to be

able to begin the march north by May 1st.

I urge, on the part of the President, speedy action, as it is

important to get the Confederate armies to their homes as well as

our own.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

Memorandum, or Basis of agreement, made this 18th day of April, A.

D. 1865, near Durham's Station, in the State of North Carolina, by

and between General Joseph E. JOHNSTON, commanding the Confederate

Army, and Major-General William T. SHERMAN, commanding the army of

the United States in North Carolina, both present:

1. The contending armies now in the field to maintain the statu

quo until notice is given by the commanding general of any one to

its opponent, and reasonable time--say, forty-eight hours--allowed.

2. The Confederate armies now in existence to be disbanded and

conducted to their several State capitals, there to deposit their

arms and public property in the State Arsenal; and each officer and

man to execute and file an agreement to cease from acts of war, and

to abide the action of the State and Federal authority. The number

of arms and munitions of war to be reported to the Chief of

Ordnance at Washington City, subject to the future action of the

Congress of the United States, and, in the mean time, to be needed

solely to maintain peace and order within the borders of the States


3. The recognition, by the Executive of the United States, of the

several State governments, on their officers and Legislatures

taking the oaths prescribed by the Constitution of the United

States, and, where conflicting State governments have resulted from

the war, the legitimacy of all shall be submitted to the Supreme

Court of the United States.

4. The reestablishment of all the Federal Courts in the several

States, with powers as defined by the Constitution of the United

States and of the States respectively.

5. The people and inhabitants of all the States to be guaranteed,

so far as the Executive can, their political rights and franchises,

as well as their rights of person sad property, as defined by the

Constitution of the United States and of the States respectively.

6. The Executive authority of the Government of the United States

not to disturb any of the people by reason of the late war, so long

as they live in peace and quiet, abstain from acts of armed

hostility, and obey the laws in existence at the place of their


7. In general terms--the war to cease; a general amnesty, so far

as the Executive of the United States can command, on condition of

the disbandment of the Confederate armies, the distribution of the

arms, and the resumption of peaceful pursuits by the officers and

men hitherto composing said armies.

Not being fully empowered by our respective principals to fulfill

these terms, we individually and officially pledge ourselves to

promptly obtain the necessary authority, and to carry out the above


W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General,

Commanding Army of the United States in North Carolina.

J. E. JOHNSTON, General,

Commanding Confederate States Army in North Carolina.

Major Hitchcock got off on the morning of the 20th, and I reckoned

that it would take him four or five days to go to Washington and

back. During that time the repairs on all the railroads and

telegraph-lines were pushed with energy, and we also got possession

of the railroad and telegraph from Raleigh to Weldon, in the

direction of Norfolk. Meantime the troops remained statu quo, our

cavalry occupying Durham's Station and Chapel Hill. General

Slocum's head of column was at Aven's Ferry on Cape Fear River, and

General Howard's was strung along the railroad toward Hillsboro';

the rest of the army was in and about Raleigh.

On the 20th I reviewed the Tenth Corps, and was much pleased at the

appearance of General Paines's division of black troops, the first

I had ever seen as a part of an organized army; and on the 21st I

reviewed the Twenty-third Corps, which had been with me to Atlanta,

but had returned to Nashville had formed an essential part of the

army which fought at Franklin, and with which General Thomas had

defeated General Hood in Tennessee. It had then been transferred

rapidly by rail to Baltimore and Washington by General Grant's

orders, and thence by sea to North Carolina. Nothing of interest

happened at Raleigh till the evening of April 23d, when Major

Hitchcock reported by telegraph his return to Morehead City, and

that he would come up by rail during the night. He arrived at 6

a.m., April 24th, accompanied by General Grant and one or two

officers of his staff, who had not telegraphed the fact of their

being on the train, for prudential reasons. Of course, I was both

surprised and pleased to see the general, soon learned that my

terms with Johnston had been disapproved, was instructed by him to

give the forty-eight hours' notice required by the terms of the

truce, and afterward to proceed to attack or follow him. I

immediately telegraphed to General Kilpatrick, at Durham's, to have

a mounted courier ready to carry the following message, then on its

way up by rail, to the rebel lines:



General JOHNSTON, commanding Confederate Army, Greensboro':

You will take notice that the truce or suspension of hostilities

agreed to between us will cease in forty-eight hours after this is

received at your lines, under the first of the articles of


W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

At the same time I wrote another short note to General Johnston, of

the same date:

I have replies from Washington to my communications of April 18th.

I am instructed to limit my operations to your immediate command,

and not to attempt civil negotiations. I therefore demand the

surrender of your army on the same terms as were given to General

Lee at Appomattox, April 9th instant, purely and simply.

Of course, both these papers were shown to General Grant at the

time, before they were sent, and he approved of them.

At the same time orders were sent to all parts of the army to be

ready to resume the pursuit of the enemy on the expiration of the

forty-eight hours' truce, and messages were sent to General

Gillmore (at Hilton Head) to the same effect, with instructions to

get a similar message through to General Wilson, at Macon, by some


General Grant had brought with him, from Washington, written

answers from the Secretary of War, and of himself, to my

communications of the 18th, which I still possess, and here give

the originals. They embrace the copy of a dispatch made by Mr.

Stanton to General Grant, when he was pressing Lee at Appomattox,

which dispatch, if sent me at the same time (as should have been

done), would have saved a world of trouble. I did not understand

that General Grant had come down to supersede me in command, nor

did he intimate it, nor did I receive these communications as a

serious reproof, but promptly acted on them, as is already shown;

and in this connection I give my answer made to General Grant, at

Raleigh, before I had received any answer from General Johnston to

the demand for the surrender of his own army, as well as my answer

to Mr. Stanton's letter, of the same date, both written on the

supposition that I might have to start suddenly in pursuit of

Johnston, and have no other chance to explain.


Lieutenant-General GRANT.

GENERAL: The memorandum or basis agreed upon between General

Sherman and General Johnston having been submitted to the

President, they are disapproved. You will give notice of the

disapproval to General Sherman, and direct him to resume

hostilities at the earliest moment.

The instructions given to you by the late President, Abraham

Lincoln, on the 3d of March, by my telegraph of that date,

addressed to you, express substantially the views of President

Andrew Johnson, and will be observed by General Sherman. A copy is

herewith appended.

The President desires that you proceed immediately to the

headquarters of Major-General Sherman, and direct operations

against the enemy.

Yours truly,

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

The following telegram was received 2 p.m., City Point, March 4,

1865 (from Washington, 12 M., March 3,1865)




Lieutenant-General GRANT:

The President directs me to say to you that he wishes you to have

no conference with General Lee, unless it be for the capitulation

of Lee's army or on solely minor and purely military matters.

He instructs me to say that you are not to decide, discuss, or

confer upon any political question; such questions the President

holds in his own hands, and will submit them to no military

conferences or conventions.

Meantime you are to press to the utmost your military advantages.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.


WASHINGTON, D.C. April 21, 1865.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Military Division of the


GENERAL: The basis of agreement entered into between yourself and

General J. E. Johnston, for the disbandment of the Southern army,

and the extension of the authority of the General Government over

all the territory belonging to it, sent for the approval of the

President, is received.

I read it carefully myself before submitting it to the President

and Secretary of War, and felt satisfied that it could not possibly

be approved. My reason for these views I will give you at another

time, in a more extended letter.

Your agreement touches upon questions of such vital importance

that, as soon as read, I addressed a note to the Secretary of War,

notifying him of their receipt, and the importance of immediate

action by the President; and suggested, in view of their

importance, that the entire Cabinet be called together, that all

might give an expression of their opinions upon the matter. The

result was a disapproval by the President of the basis laid down; a

disapproval of the negotiations altogether except for the surrender

of the army commanded by General Johnston, and directions to me to

notify you of this decision. I cannot do no better than by sending

you the inclosed copy of a dispatch (penned by the late President,

though signed by the Secretary of War) in answer to me, on sending

a letter received from General Lee, proposing to meet me for the

purpose of submitting the question of peace to a convention of


Please notify General Johnston, immediately on receipt of this, of

the termination of the truce, and resume hostilities against his

army at the earliest moment you can, acting in good faith.

Very respectfully your obedient servant,

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.



Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, present.

GENERAL: I had the honor to receive your letter of April 21st, with

inclosures, yesterday, and was well pleased that you came along, as

you must have observed that I held the military control so as to

adapt it to any phase the case might assume.

It is but just I should record the fact that I made my terms with

General Johnston under the influence of the liberal terms you

extended to the army of General Lee at Appomattox Court-House on

the 9th, and the seeming policy of our Government, as evinced by

the call of the Virginia Legislature and Governor back to Richmond,

under yours and President Lincoln's very eyes.

It now appears this last act was done without any consultation with

you or any knowledge of Mr. Lincoln, but rather in opposition to a

previous policy well considered.

I have not the least desire to interfere in the civil policy of our

Government, but would shun it as something not to my liking; but

occasions do arise when a prompt seizure of results is forced on

military commanders not in immediate communication with the proper

authority. It is probable that the terms signed by General

Johnston and myself were not clear enough on the point, well

understood between us, that our negotiations did not apply to any

parties outside the officers and men of the Confederate armies,

which could easily have been remedied.

No surrender of any army not actually at the mercy of an antagonist

was ever made without "terms," and these always define the military

status of the surrendered. Thus you stipulated that the officers

and men of Lee's army should not be molested at their homes so long

as they obeyed the laws at the place of their residence.

I do not wish to discuss these points involved in our recognition

of the State governments in actual existence, but will merely state

my conclusions, to await the solution of the future.

Such action on our part in no manner recognizes for a moment the

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