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[401] stipulations which you cannot 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 case grave responsibilities must be met and assumed. If the necessity for peace be conceded, corresponding action must be taken. The modes of negotiation which we deem regular, and would prefer, are impracticable. The situation is anomalous, and cannot be solved upon principles of theoretical exactitude. In my opinion you are the only person who can meet the present necessities.

I respectfully advise—

1st. That you execute, so far as you can, the second article of the agreement of the 18th instant.

2d. That you recommend to the several States the acceptance of those parts of the agreement upon which they alone can act.

3d. Having maintained with faithful and intrepid purpose the cause or 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.

Another telegram from General Johnston to the Secretary of War, following close upon this letter to the President, had, at last, the desired effect; and, on the 24th, from Charlotte, Mr. Davis wrote:

General J. E. Johnston, Greensboroa, N. C.:
The Secretary of War has delivered to me the copy you handed to him of the basis of an agreement between yourself and General Sherman. Your action is approved. You will so inform General Sherman; and if the like authority be given by the Government of the United States to complete the arrangement, you will proceed on the basis adopted.

Further instructions will be given as to the details of the negotiation and the methods of executing the terms of agreement when notified by you of the readiness on the part of the General commanding the United States forces to proceed with the arrangement.


Hardly had the foregoing communication been received by General Johnston, when two despatches were brought to him from General Sherman, the purport of which is clearly explained

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