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‘ [401] I am authorized to do whatever the result of the proposed interview may render necessary or advisable. Should you accede to this proposition, I would suggest that, if agreeable to you, we meet at the place selected by Generals Ord and Longstreet for their interview, at eleven A. M., on Monday next.’

Grant at once forwarded a copy of this letter to the Secretary of War, with these remarks: ‘The following communication has just been received from General Lee. General Ord met General Longstreet a few days since, at the request of the latter, to arrange for the exchange of citizen prisoners and prisoners of war improperly captured. He had my authority to do so, and to arrange definitely for such as were confined in his department, arrangements for all others to be submitted for approval. A general conversation ensued on the subject of the war, and has induced the above letter. I have not returned any reply, but promised to do so at twelve M. to-morrow. I respectfully request instructions.’

Grant, it will be seen, had taken no step to elicit these overtures, and made no suggestion in regard to the answer he should be instructed to communicate. His dispatch reached Stanton at the Capitol, where the President and his cabinet were assembled on the night of the 3rd of March, awaiting, as is usual, the adjournment of Congress. The document was submitted to Lincoln, who, after pondering a few moments, took up a pen and wrote with his own hand the reply, which he submitted to the Secretaries of State and War. It was then dated, addressed, and signed by Stanton, and telegraphed to Grant. It was in these words: ‘The President directs me to say that he wishes you to have no conference with ’

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