Tuesday, April 25, 1865

Raleigh, North Carolina

General Grant is here to discuss terms of surrender. The agreement I wrote was rejected. I wrote a reply to General Grant with my assessment of the situation:


Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, present.
GENERAL: I had the honor to receive your letter of April 21st, with inclosures, yesterday, and was well pleased that you came along, as you must have observed that I held the military control so as to adapt it to any phase the case might assume.
It is but just I should record the fact that I made my terms with General Johnston under the influence of the liberal terms you extended to the army of General Lee at Appomattox Court-House on the 9th, and the seeming policy of our Government, as evinced by the call of the Virginia Legislature and Governor back to Richmond, under yours and President Lincoln’s very eyes.

It now appears this last act was done without any consultation with you or any knowledge of Mr. Lincoln, but rather in opposition to a previous policy well considered.

I have not the least desire to interfere in the civil policy of our Government, but would shun it as something not to my liking; but occasions do arise when a prompt seizure of results is forced on military commanders not in immediate communication with the proper authority. It is probable that the terms signed by General Johnston and myself were not clear enough on the point, well understood between us, that our negotiations did not apply to any parties outside the officers and men of the Confederate armies, which could easily have been remedied.

No surrender of any army not actually at the mercy of an antagonist was ever made without “terms,” and these always define the military status of the surrendered. Thus you stipulated that the officers and men of Lee’s army should not be molested at their homes so long as they obeyed the laws at the place of their residence.

I do not wish to discuss these points involved in our recognition of the State governments in actual existence, but will merely state my conclusions, to await the solution of the future.  Such action on our part in no manner recognizes for a moment the so-called Confederate Government, or makes us liable for its debts or acts.

The laws and acts done by the several States during the period of rebellion are void, because done without the oath prescribed by our Constitution of the United States, which is a “condition precedent.”  We have a right to, use any sort of machinery to produce military results; and it is the commonest thing for military commanders to use the civil governments in actual existence as a means to an end. I do believe we could and can use the present State governments lawfully, constitutionally, and as the very best possible means to produce the object desired, viz., entire and complete submission to the lawful authority of the United States.

As to punishment for past crimes, that is for the judiciary, and can in no manner of way be disturbed by our acts; and, so far as I can, I will use my influence that rebels shall suffer all the personal punishment prescribed by law, as also the civil liabilities arising from their past acts.  What we now want is the new form of law by which common men may regain the positions of industry, so long disturbed by the war.

I now apprehend that the rebel armies will disperse; and, instead of dealing with six or seven States, we will have to deal with numberless bands of desperadoes, headed by such men as Mosby, Forrest, Red Jackson, and others, who know not and care not for danger and its consequences.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

I wrote a response to Secretary Stanton:

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington.
DEAR SIR: I have been furnished a copy of your letter of April 21st to General Grant, signifying your disapproval of the terms on which General Johnston proposed to disarm and disperse the insurgents, on condition of amnesty, etc. I admit my folly in embracing in a military convention any civil matters; but, unfortunately, such is the nature of our situation that they seem inextricably united, and I understood from you at Savannah that the financial state of the country demanded military success, and would warrant a little bending to policy.

When I had my conference with General Johnston I had the public examples before me of General Grant’s terms to Lee’s army, and General Weitzel’s invitation to the Virginia Legislature to assemble at Richmond.

I still believe the General Government of the United States has made a mistake; but that is none of my business–mine is a different task; and I had flattered myself that, by four years of patient, unremitting, and successful labor, I deserved no reminder such as is contained in the last paragraph of your letter to General Grant. You may assure the President that I heed his suggestion.
I am truly, etc.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General Commanding

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Raleigh, N. C., April 25, 1865
Colonel W. W. WRIGHT, Superintendent of Railroads;

SIR: The army moves tomorrow against the enemy in the direction of Greensborough and Salisbury. I wish the road to be repaired as the army progresses, at least as far as the Company’s Shops, in Alamance County. You may see General Schofield, whose army will operate along the road and will guard the construction parties.
I am, &c., W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Raleigh, N. C., April 25, 1865.

General KILPATRICK, Durham’s:
As soon as you have notice at the picket-line of General Johnston’s answer to General Sherman’s dispatch sent out yesterday you will please telegraph me. It may be that the general will want you to open it there and communicate the substance to him by telegraph. Acknowledge receipt of this.
L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General

DURHAM’S, April 25, 1865 5 p.m.
Major L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General:
The communication from General Johnston has just reached my picket-post. Do you wish me to send it by telegraph? Answer.
J. KILPATRICK, Brevet Major-General.

Kilpatrick forwarded the message from General Johnston at 6:15 p.m:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF TENNESSEE, In the Field, April 25, 1865

Major-General SHERMAN, U. S. Army:

Your dispatch of yesterday received. I propose a modification of the terms offered for the army as you wrote on the 18th; they are modified according to change of circumstances, and a further armistice to arrange details and meeting for that purpose.


I will be up tomorrow. Arrange for me to meet General Johnston tomorrow at 12 m. at the same place as before. Send a note to the picket officer to be telegraphed to Johnston. Answer.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Raleigh, April 25, 1865.
I will meet you at the same place as before, tomorrow at 12 o’clock noon.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Raleigh, N. C., April 25, 1865.
General KILPATRICK, Durham’s:
No orders further than to hold your command well in hand ready to move on notice, but no movement will be made until after the interview between Generals Johnston and Sherman has terminated. Please have about twenty horses ready, as General Howard, Schofield, and probably Blair, will go up with the general. The dismounted men will go up with your train in the morning, as the locomotives cannot haul a sufficient number of cars to accommodate them.
Assistant Adjutant-General

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Raleigh, N. C., April 25, 1865.
Admiral DAHLGREN, Charleston:
I expect Johnston will surrender his army tomorrow. We have had much negotiation, and things are settling down to the terms of General Lee’s army. Jeff. Davis and cabinet, with considerable specie, are making their way toward Cuba. He passed Charlotte going south on the 23rd, and I think he will try to reach Florida coast, either Cedar Keys or lower down. It would be well to catch him. Can’t you watch the east coast and send word round to the west coast?

RALEIGH, April 25, 1865.
Captain YOUNG, or NAVAL COMMANDER, Wilmington:
Please send the dispatches for Admiral Dahlgren and General Gillmore to them by one of your steamers. Admiral Porter authorized me to call on any gun-boat for such service.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

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