April 21, 1865: Sherman’s agreement with Johnston rejected

William Tecumseh Sherman

The New York Times reports that Sherman’s agreement with Johnston was rejected by the President and cabinet in Washington. They sent him Lincoln’s instructions to Grant from March to use as a guide for the surrender renegotiations. A dispatch from Richmond suggests that one goal of Johnston and Breckinridge in the surrender was to provide an opportunity for Jefferson Davis to escape the country with the Confederate treasury. Grant is on his way to take over in North Carolina.

Yesterday evening a bearer of dispatches arrived from Gen. SHERMAN.

An agreement for a suspension of hostilities, and a memorandum of what is called a basis for peace, had been entered into on the 18th inst., by Gen. SHERMAN with the rebel Gen. JOHNSTON.

The rebel Gen. BRECKINRIDGE was present at the conference.

A Cabinet meeting was held at 8 o’clock in the evening, at which the action of Gen. SHERMAN was disapproved by the President, by the Secretary of War, by Gen. GRANT, and by every member of the Cabinet.

Gen. SHERMAN was ordered to resume hostilities immediately, and was directed that the instructions given by the late President in the following telegram, which was penned by Mr. LINCOLN himself, at the Capitol, on the night of the 3d of March, were approved by President ANDREW JOHNSON, and were reiterated to govern the action of military commanders.

On the night of the 3d of March, while President LINCOLN and his cabinet were at the Capitol, a telegram from Gen. GRANT was brought to the Secretary of War, informing him that Gen. LEE had requested an interview or conference to make an arrangement for terms of peace.

The letter of Gen. LEE was published in a letter of DAVIS to the rebel Congress.

Gen. GRANT’s telegram was submitted to Mr. LINCOLN, who, after pondering a few minutes, took up his pen and wrote with his own hand the following reply, which he submitted to the Secretary of State and Secretary of War.

It was then dated, addressed and signed by the Secretary of War, and telegraphed to Gen. GRANT.


WASHINGTON, March 3, 1865 — 12 P.M.
Lieut.-Gen. Grant:

The President directs me to say to you that he wishes you to have no conference with Gen. LEE unless it be for the capitulation of Gen. LEE’s army or on some minor and purely military matter. He instructs me to say that you are not to decide, discuss or confer upon any political question. Such questions the President holds in his own hands, and will submit them to no military conferences or conventions. Meantime you are to press to the utmost your military advantages.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

The orders of Gen. SHERMAN to Gen. STONEMAN to withdraw from Salisbury and join him will probably open the way for DAVIS to escape to Mexico or Europe with his plunder, which is reported to be very large, including not only the plunder of the Richmond banks but previous accumulations.

A dispatch received by this Department from Richmond, says:

It is stated here by respectable parties that the amount of specie taken South by JEFFERSON DAVIS and his partisans is very large, including not only the plunder of the Richmond banks but previous accumulations. They hope, it is said, to make terms with Gen. SHERMAN or some other Southern commander, by which they will be permitted, with their effects, including this gold plunder, to go to Mexico or Europe. JOHNSTON’s negotiations look to this end.

After the Cabinet meeting last night, Gen. GRANT started for North Carolina to direct operations against JOHNSTON’s army.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

This entry was posted in Jefferson Davis, John C. Breckinridge, Joseph Johnston, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman. Bookmark the permalink.

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