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[578] of the army in North Carolina was unbroken, for, though surrounded by circumstances well calculated to depress and discourage them, I had learned that they earnestly protested to their officers against the surrender which rumor informed them was then in contemplation. If any shall deem it a weak credulity to confide in such reports, something may be allowed to an intense love for the Confederacy to a thorough conviction that its fall would involve ruin, both material and moral, and to a confidence in the righteousness of our cause, which, if equally felt by my compatriots, would make them do and dare to the last extremity.

But if, taking the gloomiest view, the circumstances were such as to leave no hope of maintaining the independence of the Confederate States—if negotiations for peace must be on the basis of reunion and the acceptance of the war legislation—it seemed to me that certainly better terms for our country could be secured by keeping organized armies in the field than by laying down our arms and trusting to the magnanimity of the victor.

For all these considerations I was not at all hopeful of any success in the attempt to provide for negotiations between the civil authorities of the United States and those of the Confederacy, believing that, even if Sherman should agree to such a proposition, his government would not ratify it; after having distinctly announced my opinion, however, I yielded to the judgment of my constitutional advisers, of whom only one held my views, and consented to permit General Johnston, as he desired, to hold a conference with General Sherman for the purpose above recited.

Then, turning to what I suposed would soon follow, I invited General Johnston to an expression of his choice of a line of retreat toward the southwest. He declared a preference for a different route from that suggested by me, and, yielding the point, I informed him that I would have depots of supplies for his army placed on the route he had selected. Commissary General St. John executed the order, as shown in his report published in the Southern Historical Society Papers.1

Referring to the period which followed the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, General I. M. St. John, Commissary General of the Confederate States Army, writes:

The bureau headquarters were continued in North Carolina until the surrender of that military department. During the interval preparations were made for the westward movement of forces as then contemplated. In these

1 Vol. VIII, pp. 103-107.

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