Without giving entire credence to the communication, I rode rapidly to the front, accompanied by several officers of my staff, determined to halt the advance at the defences of the city, and see General Cobb, so as to satisfy myself entirely in regard to every point before consenting to acknowledge the armistice. But before I could overtake the advance, or arrest it through an order carried by a staff-officer, Colonel White had dashed into the city and received its surrender. The garrison made a slight show of resistance, but laid down their arms promptly at the summons of Colonel White.General Cobb protested at what he professed to regard a violation of the alleged armistice, forgetting that my subordinates could neither acknowledge him as a channel of communication nor assume the responsibility of suspending their operations. I arrived at Macon at half-past 8 P. M., had an interview with General Cobb, during which he renewed his protest, insisting that I should acknowledge the existence of the armistice and withdraw my troops to the point at which they were met by the flag of truce. While I had no reason to doubt that an arrangement had been entered into by General Johnston and Major-General Sherman in the terms asserted, I could not acknowledge its application to my command, or its obligation upon me till notified to that effect by specific instructions from proper authority, authentically transmitted. My forces, although known as the “cavalry corps of the military division of the Mississippi,” organized under General Sherman's orders, had not served under his direct command since I separated from him at Gaylesville, Ala., in October, 1864. He at that time directed me to report to Major-General Thomas, with my troops, for the purpose of completing the organization and assisting in the operations against Hood and Forrest. From that time till my arrival at this place all of my operations were conducted under instructions either directly from General Thomas or transmitted through him from Lieutenant-General Grant. But I fully expected to join the armies operating in the Carolinas and Virginia, and therefore to be under and receive my instructions from General Sherman whenever I should re-establish communication with him. I therefore felt it to be my duty to obey whatever instructions General Sherman might send me, unless they would clearly injure the cause of our arms. No orders having yet been received by me, I accordingly informed General Cobb, without questioning the existence of an armistice, or that it might be applicable to my forces, I could not acknowledge the justice of his protest, but must regard all the acts of my command which had transpired that evening, or which might transpire before the official propagation of the armistice, legitimate acts of warfare. I further informed him, without any regard to the principle just asserted, that I had used all diligence in endeavoring to halt the advance of my troops till I could obtain satisfactory information, and should therefore not withdraw from the city, but continue to hold it and consider the garrison, including the generals, prisoners of war till my conduct was disapproved by competent authority after full investigation of the case. I was permitted to send to General Sherman, by telegraph, a despatch in the following terms; a telegraphic despatch, of which the following is a copy:My force being a portion of General Johnston's command, I proceed at once to execute the terms of the armistice, and have accordingly issued orders for the carrying out the same. I will meet you at any intermediate point between our respective lines for the purpose of making the necessary arrangements for a more perfect enforcement of the armistice. This communication will be handed to you by Brigadier-General F. N. Robinson. I am, General, very respectfully yours,Generals Johnston and Sherman applicable to all forces under their command. A message to that effect from General Sherman will be sent him as soon as practicable. The contending forces are to occupy their present position, forty-eight hours notice being given on the event of resumption of hostilities.P. T. Beauregard, General, second in CommandHowell Cobb, Major-General Commanding, &c.
Fearing that it might be tampered with by the rebel telegraph operators, I had it put in cipher, in which shape I have reason to believe it reached its destination. The original was materially changed. I have seen in the newspapers what purported to be the reply of Generalheadquarters cavalry corps, M. D. M., Macon, Ga., April 20, 1865--9 P. M.My advance received the surrender of this city this evening. General Cobb had previously sent me under flag of truce a copy of a telegram from General Beauregard, declaring the existence of an armistice between all the troops under your command and those under General Johnston, without questioning the authenticity of this despatch or its application to my command, I could not communicate orders to my advance in time to prevent the capture of the place. I shall therefore hold its garrison, including Major-Generals G. W. Smith and Cobb, and Brigadier-General Mackall, prisoners of war. Please send me orders. I shall remain here a reasonable length of time to hear from you.
Major-General W. 7. Sherman, through Headquarters General Beauregard, Greenboro, N. C.: