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Hardly a man possessed a particle of money, and some had a thousand miles to travel in a country where railroads had been annihilated. They were allowed to wear their uniforms, but without insignia, and to pass free over all government transports and railroads.

Lee rode from Appomattox court-house to Richmond, which he entered on the 12th, while his army was laying down its arms. A few of the inhabitants gathered around him on the way to his house, but he discouraged any demonstration, and no disturbance occurred. The population had been fed by the national authorities since the capture of the town; and the officer who had charge of this duty, aware that Lee must be entirely destitute, sent at once to ask if he would like supplies. Lee expressed his thanks and said that he had no other resource, and unless this assistance had been extended, he did not know where he should have found a meal. There was only one way in which the provisions could be distributed. A law of Congress provided for such emergencies, allowing what was called the ‘destitute ration’ to be supplied to negroes and others in captured towns. A printed form was issued, and the name of the recipient must be written on the paper before the ration could be drawn. A ticket for a ‘destitute ration’was accordingly made out for General Robert E. Lee.1

1 I have already stated that I was sent to Richmond by General Grant after the close of the Appomattox campaign; and it fell to me to make the inquiry, mentioned in the text, of General Lee, and to write his name on the order for the supply.

Subsequently I had an important interview with the rebel chief. He made a verbal request of General Grant, through me, that the soldiers captured at Sailor's creek, among whom was his own son, General Custis Lee, should be placed on the same footing as those who surrendered at Appomattox—that is to say, released on parole; but this was not immediately acceded to.

During the conversation, Lee spoke of his acquiescence in the result of the war, and declared he had thought at the beginning we were better off as one nation than as two, and, he added, ‘I think so now.’ I could not resist asking how then he came to serve against the government, and he replied that it was President Lincoln's proclamation calling for troops to coerce the South which decided him to act with his section.

He spoke very bitterly of the course of England and France during the war, and said that the South had as much cause to resent it as the North; that England especially had acted from no regard to either portion of the Union, but from a jealousy of the united nation, and a desire to see it fall to pieces. England, he said, had led the Southerners to believe she would assist them, and then deserted them when they most needed aid.

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