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[103] our arms reached her in the latter ocean, when she struck her guns below in her hold, made the best of her way to England, and surrendered herself to the British government in trust for the conquering belligerent.

It is well known to the country that only a few weeks before the surrender of Lee, President Davis had no thought of surrender himself. His speech at the African church in Richmond, after the return of the Commission from Old Point, is ample evidence of this. If he had meditated flight from the country, as is falsely pretended by General Wilson, and to facilitate this, had desired to communicate with the Shenandoah, three or four months must have elapsed before a dispatch could reach her, and an equal length of time before she could return to the coast of Florida-even if he had known her precise locality; which was a matter of great improbability under the discretionary orders under which the ship was cruising.

I was, myself, commanding the James river fleet in the latter days of the war, and was in daily communication with the Navy Department, and if any such intention as that mentioned had been entertained by the Executive, I think I would have been consulted as to the whereabouts of the Shenandoah and the means of reaching her. Nothing of the kind transpired.

I remain very truly yours, &c., Raphael Semmes.

General Wilson continues:

When Davis and his companions left Richmond in pursuance of this plan, they believed that Lee could avoid surrender only a short time longer. A few days thereafter the news of this expected calamity reached them, when they turned their faces again toward the South. Breckinridge, the Secretary of War, was sent to confer with Johnston, but found him only in time to assist in drawing up the terms of his celebrated capitulation to Sherman. The intelligence of this event caused the rebel chieftain to renew his flight; but, while hurrying onward, some. fatuity induced him to change his plans and to adopt the alternative of trying to push through the Southwest toward the region which he fondly believed to be yet under the domination of Forrest, Taylor, and Kirby Smith, and within which he hoped to revive the desperate fortunes of the rebellion. He confided his hopes to Breckinridge, and when he reached Abbeville, South Carolina, he called a council of war to deliberate upon the plans which he had conceived forregenerating what had now become in fact “The lost cause.” This council was composed of Generals Breckinridge, Bragg, and the commanders of the cavalry force which was then escorting him. All united that it was hopeless to struggle longer, but they added that they would not disband their men till they had guarded their chieftain to a place of safety. This was the last council of the Confederncy. Davis, who had hitherto commanded with all the


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