arrangements the local depots were generally found so full and supplied so well in hand, from Charlotte southwest, that the commissary-general was able to report to the Secretary of War that the requisitions for which he was notified to prepare could all be met. The details of this service were executed, and very ably, by Major J. H. Claiborne, then, and until the end, assistant commissary-general.
, in his report, writes:
Being placed under orders as assistant commissary-general, I forwarded supplies from South Carolina to General J. E. Johnston's army, and also collected supplies at six or seven named points in that State for the supposed retreat of General Johnston's army through the State.
This duty, with a full determination at the evacuation of this city [Richmond] to follow the fortunes of our cause, gave me opportunity of ascertaining the resources of the country for my department.
The great want was that of transportation, and specially was it felt by all collecting commissaries for a few months before the surrender.
It will thus be seen that my expectations, referred to above, caused adequate provision to be made for the retreat of our army, if that result should become necessary by the failure of the attempt to open negotiations for an honorable peace.
I had never contemplated a surrender, except upon such terms as a belligerent might claim, as long as we were able to keep the field, and never expected a Confederate army to surrender while it was able either to fight or to retreat.
had surrendered his army only when it was impossible for him to do either one or the other, and had proudly rejected Grant
's demand, in the face of overwhelming numbers, until he found himself surrounded and his line of retreat blocked by a force much larger than his own.
After it had been decided that General Johnston
should attempt negotiation with General Sherman
, he left for his army headquarters; I, expecting that he would soon take up his line of retreat, which his superiority in cavalry would protect from harassing pursuit, proceeded with my Cabinet and staff toward Charlotte, North Carolina
While on the way, a dispatch was received from General Johnston
announcing that General Sherman
had agreed to a conference, and asking that the Secretary of War
, General J. C. Breckinridge
, should return to cooperate in it. The application was complied with, and the Postmaster General
, John H. Reagan
, also went at my request.
He, however, was not admitted to the conference.
We arrived at Charlotte
on April 18, 1865, and I there received, at the moment of dismounting, a telegram from General Breckinridge
announcing, on information received from General Sherman
, that President Lincoln
had been assassinated.
An influential citizen of the town, who had come to welcome me, was standing near me, and, after remarking to him in a low voice that I had received sad intelligence, I