so-called Confederate Government, or makes us liable for its debts
The laws and acts done by the several States during the period of
rebellion are void, because done without the oath prescribed by our
Constitution of the United States, which is a "condition
We have a right to, use any sort of machinery to produce military
results; and it is the commonest thing for military commanders to
use the civil governments in actual existence as a means to an end.
I do believe we could and can use the present State governments
lawfully, constitutionally, and as the very best possible means to
produce the object desired, viz., entire and complete submission to
the lawful authority of the United States.
As to punishment for past crimes, that is for the judiciary, and
can in no manner of way be disturbed by our acts; and, so far as I
can, I will use my influence that rebels shall suffer all the
personal punishment prescribed by law, as also the civil
liabilities arising from their past acts.
What we now want is the new form of law by which common men may
regain the positions of industry, so long disturbed by the war.
I now apprehend that the rebel armies will disperse; and, instead
of dealing with six or seven States, we will have to deal with
numberless bands of desperadoes, headed by such men as Mosby,
Forrest, Red Jackson, and others, who know not and care not for
danger and its consequences.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI
IN THE FIELD, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, April 25, 1865.
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington.
DEAR SIR: I have been furnished a copy of your letter of April 21st
to General Grant, signifying your disapproval of the terms on which
General Johnston proposed to disarm and disperse the insurgents, on
condition of amnesty, etc. I admit my folly in embracing in a
military convention any civil matters; but, unfortunately, such is
the nature of our situation that they seem inextricably united, and
I understood from you at Savannah that the financial state of the
country demanded military success, and would warrant a little
bending to policy.
When I had my conference with General Johnston I had the public
examples before me of General Grant's terms to Lee's army, and
General Weitzel's invitation to the Virginia Legislature to
assemble at Richmond.
I still believe the General Government of the United States has
made a mistake; but that is none of my business--mine is a
different task; and I had flattered myself that, by four years of
patient, unremitting, and successful labor, I deserved no reminder
such as is contained in the last paragraph of your letter to
General Grant. You may assure the President that I heed his
suggestion. I am truly, etc.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.
On the same day, but later, I received an answer from General
Johnston, agreeing to meet me again at Bennett's house the next
day, April 26th, at noon. He did not even know that General Grant
was in Raleigh.
General Grant advised me to meet him, and to accept his surrender
on the same terms as his with General Lee; and on the 26th I again
went up to Durham's Station by rail, and rode out to Bennett's
house, where we again met, and General Johneton, without
hesitation, agreed to, and we executed, the following final terms:
Terms of a Military Convention, entered into this 26th day of
April, 1865, at Bennett's House, near Durham's Station., North
Carolina, between General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON, commanding the
Confederate Army, and Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding the
United States Army in North Carolina:
1. All acts of war on the part of the troops under General
Johnston's command to cease from this date.
2. All arms and public property to be deposited at Greensboro',
and delivered to an ordnance-officer of the United States Army.
3. Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate; one
copy to be retained by the commander of the troops, and the other
to be given to an officer to be designated by General Sherman.
Each officer and man to give his individual obligation in writing
not to take up arms against the Government of the United States,
until properly released from this obligation.
4. The side-arms of officers, and their private horses and
baggage, to be retained by them.
5. This being done, all the officers and men will be permitted to
return to their homes, not to be disturbed by the United States
authorities, so long as they observe their obligation and the laws
in force where they may reside.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General,
Commanding United States Forces in North Carolina.
J. E. JOHNSTON, General,
Commanding Confederate States Forces in North Carolina.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
I returned to Raleigh the same evening, and, at my request, General
Grant wrote on these terms his approval, and then I thought the
matter was surely at an end. He took the original copy, on the
27th returned to Newbern, and thence went back to Washington.
I immediately made all the orders necessary to carry into effect
the terms of this convention, devolving on General Schofield the
details of granting the parole and making the muster-rolls of
prisoners, inventories of property, etc., of General Johnston's
army at and about Greensboro', North Carolina, and on General
Wilson the same duties in Georgia; but, thus far, I had been
compelled to communicate with the latter through rebel sources, and
General Wilson was necessarily confused by the conflict of orders
and information. I deemed it of the utmost importance to establish
for him a more reliable base of information and supply, and
accordingly resolved to go in person to Savannah for that purpose.
But, before starting, I received a New York Times, of April 24th,
containing the following extraordinary communications:[First Bulletin]
WAR DEPARTMENT WASHINGTON, April 22, 1885.
Yesterday evening a bearer of dispatches arrived from General
Sherman. An agreement for a suspension of hostilities, and a
memorandum of what is called a basis for peace, had been entered
into on the 18th inst. by General Sherman, with the rebel General
Johnston. Brigadier-General Breckenridge was present at the
A cabinet meeting was held at eight o'clock in the evening, at
which the action of General Sherman was disapproved by the
President, by the Secretary of War, by General Grant, and by every
member of the cabinet. General Sherman was ordered to resume
hostilities immediately, and was directed that the instructions
given by the late President, in the following telegram, which was
penned by Mr. Lincoln himself, at the Capitol, on the night of the
3d of March, were approved by President Andrew Johnson, and were
reiterated to govern the action of military commanders.
On the night of the 3d of March, while President Lincoln and his
cabinet were at the Capitol, a telegram from General Grant was
brought to the Secretary of War, informing him that General Lee had
requested an interview or conference, to make an arrangement for
terms of peace. The letter of General Lee was published in a
letter to Davis and to the rebel Congress. General Grant's
telegram was submitted to Mr. Lincoln, who, after pondering a few
minutes, took up his pen and wrote with his own hand the following
reply, which he submitted to the Secretary of State and Secretary
of War. It was then dated, addressed, and signed, by the Secretary
of War, and telegraphed to General Grant:
WASHINGTON, March 3, 1865-12 P.M.
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 General Lee's army, or on some minor or purely military matter.
He instructs me to say that you are not to decide, discuss, or
confer upon any political questions. 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.
The orders of General Sherman to General Stoneman to withdraw from
Salisbury and join him will probably open the way for Davis to
escape to Mexico or Europe with his plunder, which is reported to
be very large, including not only the plunder of the Richmond
banks, but previous accumulations.
A dispatch received by this department from Richmond says: "It is
stated here, by respectable parties, that the amount of specie
taken south by Jeff. Davis and his partisans is very large,
including not only the plunder of the Richmond banks, but previous
accumulations. They hope, it is said, to make terms with General
Sherman, or some other commander, by which they will be permitted,
with their effects, including this gold plunder, to go to Mexico or
Europe. Johnston's negotiations look to this end."
After the cabinet meeting last night, General Grant started for
North Carolina, to direct operations against Johnston's army.
EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
Here followed the terms, and Mr. Stanton's ten reasons for
The publication of this bulletin by authority was an outrage on me,
for Mr. Stanton had failed to communicate to me in advance, as was
his duty, the purpose of the Administration to limit our
negotiations to purely military matters; but, on the contrary, at
Savannah he had authorized me to control all matters, civil and
By this bulletin, he implied that I had previously been furnished
with a copy of his dispatch of March 3d to General Grant, which was
not so; and he gave warrant to the impression, which was sown
broadcast, that I might be bribed by banker's gold to permit Davis
to escape. Under the influence of this, I wrote General Grant the
following letter of April 28th, which has been published in the
Proceedings of the Committee on the Conduct of the War.
I regarded this bulletin of Mr. Stanton as a personal and official
insult, which I afterward publicly resented.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI
IN THE FIELD, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, April 28,1865.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, General-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.
GENERAL: Since you left me yesterday, I have seen the New York
Times of the 24th, containing a budget of military news,
authenticated by the signature of the Secretary of War, Hon. E. M.
Stanton, which is grouped in such a way as to give the public very
erroneous impressions. It embraces a copy of the basis of
agreement between myself and General Johnston, of April 18th, with
comments, which it will be time enough to discuss two or three
years hence, after the Government has experimented a little more in
the machinery by which power reaches the scattered people of the
vast country known as the "South."
In the mean time, however, I did think that my rank (if not past
services) entitled me at least to trust that the Secretary of War
would keep secret what was communicated for the use of none but the
cabinet, until further inquiry could be made, instead of giving
publicity to it along with documents which I never saw, and drawing
therefrom inferences wide of the truth. I never saw or had
furnished me a copy of President Lincoln's dispatch to you of the
3d of March, nor did Mr. Stanton or any human being ever convey to
me its substance, or any thing like it. On the contrary, I had
seen General Weitzel's invitation to the Virginia Legislature, made
in Mr. Lincoln's very presence, and failed to discover any other
official hint of a plan of reconstruction, or any ideas calculated
to allay the fears of the people of the South, after the
destruction of their armies and civil authorities would leave them
without any government whatever.
We should not drive a people into anarchy, and it is simply
impossible for our military power to reach all the masses of their
I confess I did not desire to drive General Johnston's army into
bands of armed men, going about without purpose, and capable only
of infinite mischief. But you saw, on your arrival here, that I
had my army so disposed that his escape was only possible in a
disorganized shape; and as you did not choose to "direct military
operations in this quarter," I inferred that you were satisfied
with the military situation; at all events, the instant I learned
what was proper enough, the disapproval of the President, I acted
in such a manner as to compel the surrender of General Johnston's
whole army on the same terms which you had prescribed to General
Lee's army, when you had it surrounded and in your absolute power.
Mr. Stanton, in stating that my orders to General Stoneman were
likely to result in the escape of "Mr. Davis to Mexico or Europe,"
is in deep error. General Stoneman was not at "Salisbury," but had
gone back to "Statesville." Davis was between us, and therefore
Stoneman was beyond him. By turning toward me he was approaching
Davis, and, had he joined me as ordered, I would have had a mounted
force greatly needed for Davis's capture, and for other purposes.
Even now I don't know that Mr. Stanton wants Davis caught, and as
my official papers, deemed sacred, are hastily published to the
world, it will be imprudent for me to state what has been done in
As the editor of the Times has (it may be) logically and fairly
drawn from this singular document the conclusion that I am
insubordinate, I can only deny the intention.
I have never in my life questioned or disobeyed an order, though
many and many a time have I risked my life, health, and reputation,
in obeying orders, or even hints to execute plans and purposes, not
to my liking. It is not fair to withhold from me the plans and
policy of Government (if any there be), and expect me to guess at
them; for facts and events appear quite different from different
stand-points. For four years I have been in camp dealing with
soldiers, and I can assure you that the conclusion at which the
cabinet arrived with such singular unanimity differs from mine.
I conferred freely with the best officers in this army as to the
points involved in this controversy, and, strange to say, they were
singularly unanimous in the other conclusion. They will learn with
pain and amazement that I am deemed insubordinate, and wanting in
commonsense; that I, who for four years have labored day and night,
winter and summer, who have brought an army of seventy thousand men
in magnificent condition across a country hitherto deemed
impassable, and placed it just where it was wanted, on the day
appointed, have brought discredit on our Government! I do not wish
to boast of this, but I do say that it entitled me to the courtesy
of being consulted, before publishing to the world a proposition
rightfully submitted to higher authority for adjudication, and then
accompanied by statements which invited the dogs of the press to be
let loose upon me. It is true that non-combatants, men who sleep
in comfort and security while we watch on the distant lines, are
better able to judge than we poor soldiers, who rarely see a
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