April 18, 1865: Sherman’s terms for Johnston

William Tecumseh Sherman

Sherman, having told everyone he planned to give Johnston the same terms that Grant gave Lee, sends this bombshell to Washington. Not only has he accepted the surrender of Johnston’s army, he has recognized the state governments of the southern states and guaranteed amnesty to all the Confederates. This is not going to go well.

Official Records:

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, Raleigh, N. C., April 18, 1865.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT or
Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I inclose herewith a copy of an agreement made this day between General Joseph E. Johnston and myself, which, if approved by the President of the United States, will produce peace from the Potomac and the Rio Grande. Mr. Breckinridge was present at our conference in his capacity as major-general, and satisfied me of the ability of General Johnston to carry out to the full extent the terms of this agreement, and if you will get the President to simply indorse the copy and commission me to carry out the terms, I will follow them to the conclusion. You will observe that it is an absolute submission of the enemy to the lawful authority of the United States, and dispersed his armies absolutely, and the point to which I attach most importance is that the dispersion and disbandment of these armies is done in such a manner as to prevent their breaking up into guerrilla bands. On the other hand, we can retain just as much of an army as we please.

I agreed to to the mode and manner of the surrender of arms set forth, as it gives the States the means of repressing guerrillas, which we could not expect them to do if we stripped them of all arms. Both Generals Johnston and Breckinridge admitted that slavery was dead, and I could not insist on embracing it in such a paper, because it can be made with the states in detail. I know that all the men of substance South sincerely want peace, and I do not believe they will resort to war again during this century. I have no doubt that they will in the future be perfectly subordinate to the laws of the United States.

The moment my action in this matter is approved I can spare five corps, and will ask for orders to leave General Schofield here with the Tenth Corps, and to march myself with the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-third Corps, via Burkeville and Gordonsville, to Frederick or Hagerstown, there to be paid and mustered out. The question of finance is now the chief one, and every soldier and officer not needed should be got home at work.

I would like to be able to begin the march north by May 1. I urge on the part of the President speedy action, as it is important to get the Confederate armies to their homes as well as our own.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding.
[Inclosure Numbers 1.]

Memorandum or basis of agreement made this 18th day of April, A. D. 1865, near Durham’s Station, in the State of North Carolina, by and between General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding the Confederate army, and Major General William T. Sherman, commanding the army of the United States in North Carolina, both present.

First. The contending armies now in the field to maintain the status quo until notice is given by the commanding general of any one to its opponent, and reasonable time, say forty-eight hours, allowed.

Second. The Confederate armies now in existence to be disbanded and conducted to their several State capitals, there to deposit their arms and public property in the State arsenal, and each officer and man to execute and file an agreement to cease from acts of war and to abide the action of both State and Federal authority. The number of arms and munitions of war to be reported to the Chief of Ordnance at Washington City, subject to the future action of the Congress of the United States, and in the meantime to be used solely to maintain peace and order within the borders of the States, respectively.

Third. The recognition by the Executive of the United States of the several State governments on their officers and legislatures taking the oaths prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, and where conflicting State governments have resulted from the war the legitimacy of all shall be submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Fourth. The re-establishment of all the Federal courts in the several States, with powers as defined by the Constitution and laws of Congress.

Fifth. The people and inhabitants of all the States to be guaranteed, so far as the Executive can, their political rights and franchises, as well as their rights of person and property, as defined by the Constitution of the United States and of the States, respectively.

Sixth. The Executive authority of the Government of the United States not to disturb any of the people by reason of the late war so long as they live in peace and quiet, abstain from acts of armed hostility, and obey the laws in existence at the place of their residence.

Seventh. In general terms, the war to cease, a general amnesty, as far as the Executive of the United States can command, on condition of the disbandment of the Confederate armies, the distribution of the arms, and the resumption of peaceful pursuits by the officers and men hitherto composing said armies.

Not being fully empowered by our respective principals to fulfill these terms, we individually and officially pledge ourselves to promptly obtain the necessary authority and to carry out the above programme.

W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding Army United States in North Carolina.
J. E. JOHNSTON,
General, Commanding C. S. Army in North Carolina.

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