General Sherman deserves thanks for bringing to light the above interesting and valuable historical papers. The contest, if continued after this paper is rejected, will be likely to lose entirely the dignity of regular warfare, many of the States will make such terms as they may, in others separate and ineffective hostilities may be prosecuted, while the war, wherever waged, will probably degenerate into that irregular and secondary stage out of which greater evils will flow to the South than to the enemy. For these and for other reasons which need not now be stated, I think we can no longer contend with a reasonable hope of success. It seems to me that the time has arrived when, in a large and clear view of the situation, prompt steps should be taken to put an end to the war. It may be said that the agreement of the 18th inst. contains certain stipulations which you can not perform. This is true, and it was well understood by General Sherman that only a part could be executed by the Confederate authorities. In any view of the case grave responsibilities must be met and assumed. If the necessity for peace be conceded, corresponding action must be taken. The mode of negotiation which we deem regular and would prefer is impracticable. The situation is anomalous and can not be solved upon principles of theoretical exactitude. In my opinion you are the only person who can meet the present necessities. I respectfully advise: 1. That you execute, so far as you can, the second article in the agreement of the 18th inst. 2. That you recommend to the several States the acceptance of those parts of the agreement upon which they alone can act. 3. Having maintained, with faithful and intrepid purpose, the cause of the Confederate States while the means of organized resistance remained, that you return to the States and the people the trust which you are no longer able to defend. Whatever course you pursue opinions will be divided. Permit me to give mine. Should these or similar views accord with your own, I think the better judgment will be that you can have no higher title to the gratitude of your countrymen and the respect of mankind than will spring from the wisdom to see the path of duty at this time, and the courage to follow it, regardless alike of praise or blame. Respectfully and truly your friend,John C. Breckinridge, Secretary of War.
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General Sherman deserves thanks for bringing to light the above interesting and valuable historical papers.
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