Letter from Wm. Preston Johnston.
the Hon. R. M. T. Hunter, made in the Southern Historical Society Papers for December, 1877, page 308. Mr. Hunter, after detailing a confidential conversation said to have been held with you, says: “After we separated I scarcely expected to hear more from this conversation; but soon, perhaps the next day after, I heard it was bruited all over Richmond that I had been thoroughly conquered, had submitted, and was disposed to make peace on any terms, with many other disparaging remarks. Amongst others, the President's aids were said to be freely discussing these matters. How did they get hold of them, &c.?” At that time your aids, on duty at Richmond, were Colonels Wood, Lubbock, and myself. I can only speak for myself. It is very difficult, after thirteen years, for me to remember many things I once knew well; but so far as I can recollect, this is the first time I ever heard that Mr. Hunter had such a conversation with you as that detailed by him. I do remember that about that time — that is to say, early in 1865--a friend, a Member of Congress, if I am not mistaken, called my attention to Mr. Hunter, near St. Paul's church, and used almost the expressions which Mr. Hunter employs. He father stated, to my great surprise, that there was a cabal in the Senate to supersede Mr. Davis and put Mr. Hunter at the head of the govment. It was my surprise which impressed this upon me, for I supposed that your relations with Mr. Hunter were of the most confidential character. I would further state, that I do not believe it possible for you to have revealed any conversation confidential in its character. The statement is moreover improbable in many aspects. I was not living with you; I met you generally at the office. I rode frequently with you on horseback; more than all others put together. Your conversation was friendly and familiar, but it generally turned upon anything else than the business of the hour, as your rides were for relaxation. Your business with your aids related to war, not politics. I never knew, until this correspondence arose, that any except the kindest relations existed between Mr. Hunter and yourself. I knew that he was frequently consulted by you, and was regarded as in perfect accord with you. I have always heard you speak of him kindly-even affectionately. It is therefore with regret that I learn that a different state of feeling exists.
Very sincerely yours, Wm. Preston Johnston.