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The terms of surrender.

I. By John C. Pemberton, Lieutenant-General, C. S. A.

1Philadelphia, June 12, 1875.
Dear Sir — I give you with pleasure my version of the interview between General Grant and myself on the afternoon of July 3, 1863, in front of the Confederate lines at Vicksburg.

If you will refer to the first volume of Badeau's life of U. S. Grant, you will find a marked discrepancy between that author's account of it and mine. I do not fear, however, to trust to the honest memory of any officer then present to confirm the statement I shall make.

Passing over all preceding events, I come at once to the circumstance that brought about the personal interview referred to.

Feeling assured that it was useless to hope longer for assistance from General Johnston, either to raise the siege of Vicksburg or to rescue the garrison,2 I summoned division and brigade commanders, with one or two others, to meet in my quarters on the night of the 2d of July. All the correspondence that had taken place during the siege between General Johnston and myself was laid before these officers. After much consideration it was advised that I address a note to General Grant, proposing the appointment of commissioners to arrange terms of capitulation.

The following, having been read to the council and approved, was sent to General Grant under a flag of truce by the hands of Major-General J. S. Bowen, on the morning of the 3d:

Vicksburg, July 3d, 1863. Major-General Grant, Commanding United States Forces near Vicksburg, Mississippi. General: I have the honor to propose to you an armistice of------hours, with a view to arrange terms of capitulation of Vicksburg. To this end, if agreeable to you, I will appoint three commissioners to meet a like number, to be named by yourself, at such place and hour to-day as you may find convenient. I make this proposition to save further effusion of blood, which must otherwise be shed to a frightful extent, feeling myself fully able to maintain my position for a yet indefinite period. This communication will be handed you under flag of truce by Major-General John S. Bowen. I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant, John C. Pemberton, Lieutenant-General Commanding.


In due time the following reply was handed to me:

headquarters, Department of the Tennessee, near Vicksburg, July 3d, 1863. Lieutenant-General John C. Pemberton, Commanding Confederate Forces, etc. General: Your note of this date is just received, proposing an armistice for several hours for the purpose of arranging terms of capitulation through commissioners to be appointed, etc. The useless effusion of blood you propose stopping by this course can be ended at any time you may choose, by an unconditional surrender of the city and garrison. Men who have shown so much endurance and courage as shown now in Vicksburg, will always challenge the respect of an adversary, and I can assure you will be treated with all the respect due to prisoners of war. I do not favor the proposition of appointing commissioners to arrange the terms of capitulation, because I have no terms other than those indicated above. I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant, U. S. Grant, Major-General.

I at once expressed to General Bowen my determination not to surrender unconditionally. He then stated that General Grant would like to have an interview with me if I was so disposed, and would meet me at a designated point between the two lines at 3 P. M. that day. I was not aware that the suggestion had originated with General Bowen, but acceded to the proposed meeting at the joint request of my four division commanders.

On reaching the place appointed, accompanied by Major-General Bowen and Colonel Montgomery, then temporarily serving on my personal staff, I found General Grant and a number of his generals and other officers already arrived and dismounted. To the general himself, with whom my acquaintance dated as far back as the Mexican war,--as well as to.several of the group who surrounded him,--I was formally introduced by General Bowen.

After a few remarks and inquiries on either side, a pause ensued, which was prolonged on my part in expectation that General Grant would introduce the subject, the discussion of which I supposed to be the object of our meeting. Finding that he did not do so, I said to him that I understood that he had expressed a wish to have a personal interview with me. He replied that he had not. I was much surprised, and, turning to General Bowen, remarked, “Then there is a misunderstanding; I certainly understood differently.” The matter, however, was satisfactorily explained to me in a few words, the mistake, no doubt, having been my own. Again addressing General Grant, I said: “In your letter this morning you state that you have no other terms than an unconditional surrender.” He answered promptly, “I have no other.” To this I rejoined: “Then, sir, it is unnecessary that you and I should hold any further conversation; we will go to fighting again at once” ; and I added: “I can assure you, sir, you will bury many more of your men before you will enter Vicksburg.” General Grant did not, as Badeau represents, reply, “Very well,” nor did he “turn off.” He did not change his position, nor did he utter a word. The movement to withdraw, so far as there was any movement, was on my part, and was accompanied by the remark that if he (General Grant) supposed that I was suffering for provisions he was mistaken, that I had enough to last me for an indefinite period, and that Port Hudson was better supplied than Vicksburg. General Bowen made no suggestion whatever in regard to a consultation between any parties during this interview, as he is represented to have done by Badeau; but General Grant did at this time propose that he and I should step aside, and on my assenting, he added that if I had no objection, he would take with him Generals McPherson and A. J. Smith. I replied, certainly, and that General Bowen and Colonel Montgomery would accompany me. General Grant then sugge sted that these gentlemen withdraw and see whether, on consultation, they could not arrive at some satisfactory arrangement. It will be readily understood that I offered no objection to this course, as it was, in fact, a withdrawal by General Grant from the position he had so unqualifiedly assumed, to wit, unconditional surrender — and it really submitted, as I had desired it should, the discussion of the question of terms to a commission, although that commission was now necessarily an impromptu one.

Pending the interchange of views by the officers named, General Grant and I remained apart from them, conversing only upon topics that had no relation to the important subject that brought us together. The terms which this commission agreed to propose were in the main those that were afterward proffered by General Grant, and eventually accepted by me. During this discussion I stated to him that as he declined to appoint commissioners when invited to do so by me, it was now his part to propose the terms. He agreed to this, and said I should hear from him by 10 P. M. When about to part I notified General Grant that I held myself in no manner pledged to any agreement, but should consult my division and brigade commanders. He replied that I must understand him in the like manner, and that he, too, should consult his corps commanders. With this our interview ended.

Mr. Badeau's statement is a misrepresentation of the facts as they occurred, and, whether intentional or otherwise, conveys false impressions to his readers. If he was present at the interview he knows, if he was absent, he could readily have ascertained, that after General Grant's verbal declaration that he had no other terms than unconditional surrender, all suggestions and all overtures looking to terms arose directly from General Grant himself, and neither directly nor indirectly from me or my subordinates. There was no display by General Grant as to the result of this interview, nor did he feel indifferent. On the night of the 3d of July a dispatch was intercepted by my signal-officer from Admiral Porter to General Grant. The former inquired as to the chances of a surrender on the 4th. General Grant replied through the same medium, mentioning in a general way the terms offered, stating that the arrangement was against his feelings, but that his officers advised it on the ground that it would free his river transportation for other [545] important uses, etc., etc. If this message was sent it should be found in the reports of the signal-officers. Will you have it looked up? No doubt both these gentlemen remember the circumstances. I am, Colonel, very truly yours,

Ii. By Ulysses S. Grant, General, U. S. A.

the following letter, dated New York, November 30th, 1884, and printed for the first time in “The century” magazine for August, 1887, was addressed to General Marcus J. Wright, Agent of the War Department for the Collection of Confederate Records, by whose permission it is here given, from the original manuscript.--editors.

dear General: Herewith I send you General Pemberton's account of the surrender of Vicksburg. As the written matter [printed above] is “Copy,” and supposing you have what it has been copied from, I do not return it, though I will if you inform me that you want it.

A gentleman from Philadelphia sent me the same matter I return herewith, last summer. I probably left the paper at Long Branch, but do not know certainly. All there is of importance in the matter of the surrender of Vicksburg is contained in the correspondence between General Pemberton and myself. The fact is, General Pemberton, being a Northern man commanding a Southern army, was not at the same liberty to surrender an army that a man of Southern birth would be. In adversity or defeat he became an object of suspicion, and felt it. Bowen was a Southern man all over, and knew the garrison of Vicksburg had to surrender or be captured, and knew it was best to stop further effusion of blood by surrendering. He did all he could to bring about that result.

Pemberton is mistaken in several points. It was Bowen that proposed that he and A. J. Smith should talk over the matter of the surrender and submit their views. Neither Pemberton nor I objected, but we were not willing to commit ourselves to accepting such terms as they might propose. In a short time those officers returned. Bowen acted as spokesman; what he said was substantially this: The Confederate army was to be permitted to march out with the honors of war, carrying with them their arms, colors, and field-batteries. The National troops were then to march in and occupy the city, and retain the siege-guns, small-arms not in the hands of the men, all public property remaining. Of course I rejected the terms at once. I did agree, however, before we separated, to write Pemberton what terms I would give. The correspondence is public and speaks for itself. I held no council of war; hostilities having ceased, officers and men soon became acquainted with the reason why. Curiosity led officers of rank — most all the general officers--to visit my headquarters with the hope of getting some news. I talked with them very freely about the meeting between General Pemberton and myself, our correspondence, etc., but in no sense was it a council of war. I was very glad to give the garrison of Vicksburg the terms I did. There was a cartel in existence at that time which required either party to exchange or parole all prisoners either at Vicksburg or at a point on the James River within ten days after captures or as soon thereafter as practicable. This would have used all the transportation we had for a month. The men had behaved so well that I did not want to humiliate them. I believed that consideration for their feelings would zmakse them less dangerous foes during the continuance of hostilities, and better citizens after the war was over.

I am very much obliged to you, General, for your courtesy in sending me these papers. Very truly yours,

Iii. Correspondence between General Pemberton and Generals Grant and Blair.

Warrenton, Fauquier, Virginia, January 30, 1874. His Excellency, U. S. Grant, President of the United States. Sir: A statement of some historic significance and of considerable interest to me personally, has lately come to my notice in a way that induces me to address you as the single individual competent to confirm or refute it. I am aware that I have no claim to your special consideration; should you, however, deem it not improper to respond to my inquiry, I shall feel myself indebted to your kindness. The statement I refer to was from a general officer of the Army of the Tennessee, and was in the words following:
It was generally understood in our army that General Johnston's courier, conveying dispatches to you previous to the battle of Baker's Creek or Champion Hills, betrayed his dispatches to General Grant, and also your answers to General Johnston's orders. I do not know positively from General Grant these facts, but the matter was spoken of by the officers of our army in such a way as to leave no doubt in my mind.

Permit me to add that this information has tended to confirm my own suspicion, excited at the time by the (otherwise) inexplicable delay in the receipt of General Johnston's dispatch of the 14th of May, which, as you, sir, are probably aware, was not handed to me until after 5 P. M. on the 16th, when my army was in full retreat. My inquiry is confined simply to two points: first, the truth (or reverse) of the facts discussed by the officers of the Armyof the Tennessee; second, the correctness (or the reverse) of my surmises as to the dispatch of the 14th, above referred to. I am, sir, most respectfully your obedient servant,

executive mansion, Washington, January 31, 1874. General J. C. Pemberton, Warrenton, Virginia. General: Your letter of yesterday was duly received this morning, and the President authorizes me to say that the statement of the officer to which you refer was correct, and he thinks you are also correct as to your surmises in regard to the delay in receipt of your dispatch. He says the dispatches were brought in our lines and given to General McPherson, and by him immediately brought to headquarters. I have the honor to remain, sir, your obedient servant,

Levi P. Luckey, Secretary.


St. Louis, January 24, 1874. General J. C. Pemberton, Fauquier County, Virginia. Dear General: I take pleasure, in answer to your letter of the 19th of January, in saying that it was generally understood in our army that General J. Johnston's courier, conveying dispatches to you previous to the battle of Baker's Creek or Champion Hills, betrayed his dispatches to General Grant, and also your answers to General Johnston's orders, so that, in fact, General Grant had the most precise information as to your movements and those of General Johnston. I do not know positively from General Grant these facts, but the matter was spoken of by the officers of our army in such a way as to leave no doubt in my mind. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Confederate River-Battery on the Ridge South of Vioksburg. From a sketch made after the surrender.

1 For this letter, addressed to Lieutenant-Colonel John P. Nicholson, the American editor of the Comte de Paris's History of the civil War, we are indebted to General Marcus J. Wright, Agent of the War Department for the Collection of Confederate Records. See General Grant's reply, addressed to General Pemberton, p. 545; also his paper, “The Vicksburg campaign,” p. 493.--editors.

2 Among General Pemberton's papers was found a copy of the following letter, accompanied by a note stating that the original had “miscarried and was never received, but General Johnston was kind enough to furnish me a copy” :

“June 27, 1863. General Pemberton: Your dispatch of the 22d received. General E. H. Smith's troops have been mismanaged, and have fallen back to Delhi. I have sent a special messenger, urging him to assume direct command. The determined spirit you manifest and his expected co-operation encourage me to hope that something may yet be done to save Vicksburg and to postpone both of the modes suggested of merely extricating the garrison. Negotiations with Grant for the relief of the garrison, should they become necessary, must be made by you. It would be a confession of weakness on my part, which I ought not to make, to propose them. When it becomes necessary to make terms, they may be considered as made under my authority.--J. E. Johnston, General.”

3 On the 19th of January, 1874, General Pemberton addressed a letter, substantially to the same effect, to General Frank P. Blair, whose reply follows General Grant's.--editors.

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