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[402] informed me that the conference was to be at noon next day, at a house on the Raleigh road midway between the pickets of the two armies.

General Sherman met me at the time and place appointed — the house being that of a Mr. Bennett. As soon as we were without witnesses in the room assigned to us, General Sherman showed me a telegram from Mr. Stanton, announcing the assassination of the President of the United States. A courier, he told me, had overtaken him with it, after he left the railroad-station from which he had ridden. After reading the dispatch, I told General Sherman that, in my opinion, the event was the greatest possible calamity to the South.

When General Sherman understood what seemed to have escaped him in reading my letter, that my object was to make such an armistice as would give opportunity for negotiation between the “civil authorities” of the two countries, he said that such negotiations were impossible-because the Government of the United States did not acknowledge the existence of a Southern Confederacy; nor, consequently, its civil authorities as such. Therefore he could not receive, for transmission, any proposition addressed to the Government of the United States by those claiming to be the civil authorities of a Southern Confederacy. He added, in a manner that carried conviction of sincerity, expressions of a wish to divert from the South such devastation as the continuance of the war would make inevitable; and, as a means of accomplishing that object, so far as the armies we commanded were concerned, he offered me such terms as those given to General Lee.

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