He also wanted to embrace in the same general proposition the fate of all the Confederate armies that remained in existence. I never made any concession as to his own army, or assumed to deal finally or authoritatively in regard to any other, but it did seem to me that there was presented a chance for peace that might be deemed valuable to the Government of the United States, and was at least worth the few days that would be consumed in reference. To push an army whose commander had so frankly and honestly confessed his inability to cope with me were cowardly and unworthy the brave men I led. Inasmuch as General Johnston did not feel authorized to pledge his power over the armies of Texas, we adjourned to meet next day at noon. I returned to Raleigh and conferred freely with all my general officers, every one of whom urged me to conclude terms that might accomplish so complete and desirable an end. All dreaded the weary and laborious march after a fugitive and dissolving army back toward Georgia, almost over the very country where we had toiled so long. There was but one opinion expressed, and if contrary ones were entertained they were withheld, or indulged in only by that class who shun the fight and the march, but are loudest, bravest, and fiercest when danger is past. I again met General Johnston on the eighteenth, and we renewed the conversation. He satisfied me then of his power to disband the rebel armies in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, as well as those in his immediate command-namely, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. The points on which he expressed especial solicitude were lest their States were to be dismembered and denied representation in Congress, or any separate political existence whatever, and that the absolute disarming his men would leave the South powerless and exposed to depredations by wicked bands of assassins and robbers. President Lincoln's message of 1864; his amnesty proclamation; General Grant's terms to General Lee, substantially extending the benefits of that proclamation to all officers above the rank of colonel; the invitation to the Virginia legislature to reassemble in Richmond by General Weitzel, with the approval of Mr. Lincoln and General Grant, then on the spot; a firm belief that I had been fighting to re-establish the Constitution of the United States; and last, and not least, the general and universal desire to close a war any longer without organized resistance, were the leading facts that induced me to pen the “memorandum” of April eighteen, signed by myself and General Johnston. It was designed to be, and so expressed on its face, as a mere “basis” for reference to the President of the United States and constitutional commander-in-chief. to enable him, if he chose, at one blow to dissipate the military power of the Confederacy, which had threatened the national safety for years. It admitted of modification, alteration, and change. It had no appearance of an ultimatum, and by no false reasoning can it be construed into an usurpation of power on my part. I have my opinions on the questions involved, and I will stand by the memorandum; but this forms no part of a military report. Immediately on my return to Raleigh I despatched one of my staff, Major Hitchcock, to Washington, enjoining him to be most prudent and careful to avoid the spies and informers that would be sure to infest him by the way, and to say nothing to anybody until the President could make known to me his wishes and policy in the matter. The news of President Lincoln's assassination on the fourteenth of April (wrongly reported to me by telegraph as having occurred on the eleventh) reached me on the seventeenth, and was announced to my command on the same day in Special Field Orders No. 56. I was duly impressed with its horrible atrocity and probable effect upon the country; but when the property and interests of millions still living were involved, I saw no good reason to change my course, but thought rather to manifest real respect for his memory by following after his death that policy which, if living, I feel certain he would have approved, or at least not rejected with disdain. Up to that hour I had never received one word of instruction, advice, or counsel as to the “plan or policy” of Government looking to a restoration of peace on the part of the rebel States of the South. Whenever asked for an opinion on the points involved, I had always evaded the subject. My letter to the mayor of Atlanta has been published to the world, and I was not rebuked by the War Department for it. My letter to Mr. N----W----, at Savannah, was shown by me to Mr. Stanton before its publication, and all that my memory retains of his answer is that he said, like my letters generally, it was sufficiently “emphatic, and could not be misunderstood.” Both these letters asserted my belief that, according to Mr. Lincoln's proclamation and messages, when the people of the South had laid down their arms and submitted to the lawful power of the United States, ipso facto the war was over as to them; and furthermore that if any State in rebellion would conform to the Constitution of the United States, “cease war,” elect senators and representatives to Congress, if admitted (of which each house of Congress alone is the judge), that State became instanter as much in the Union as New York or Ohio. Nor was I rebuked for this expression, though it was universally known and commented on at the time. And again, Mr. Stanton, in person, at Savannah, speaking of the terrific expenses of the war, and difficulty of realizing the money necessary for the daily wants of the government, impressed me most forcibly with the necessity of bringing the war
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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