I am in possession of the second bulletin of Mr. Stanton, published in all the Northern papers, with comments that assumed that I was a common traitor and a public enemy; and high officials had even instructed my own subordinates to disobey my lawful orders. General Halleck, who had so long been in Washington as the chief of staff, had been sent on the 21st of April to Richmond, to command the armies of the Potomac and James, in place of General Grant, who had transferred his headquarters to the national capital, and General Halleck was therefore in supreme command in Virginia, while my command over North Carolina had never been revoked or modified.
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, April 27 9.30 a.m. To Major-General DIX:
The department has received the following dispatch from Major-General Halleck, commanding the Military Division of the James. Generals Canby and Thomas were instructed some days ago that Sherman’s arrangements with Johnston were disapproved by the President, and they were ordered to disregard it and push the enemy in every direction.
E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, April 26. 9:30 p.m
HON. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
Generals Meade, Sheridan, and Wright, are acting under orders to pay no regard to any truce or orders of General Sherman respecting hostilities, on the ground that Sherman’s agreement could bind his command only, and no other.
They are directed to push forward, regardless of orders from any one except from General Grant, and cut off Johnston’s retreat.
Beauregard has telegraphed to Danville that a new arrangement has been made with Sherman, and that the advance of the Sixth Corps was to be suspended until further orders.
I have telegraphed back to obey no orders of Sherman, but to push forward as rapidly as possible.
The bankers here have information today that Jeff. Davis’s specie is moving south from Goldsboro’, in wagons, as fast as possible.
I suggest that orders be telegraphed, through General Thomas, that Wilson obey no orders from Sherman, and notifying him and Canby, and all commanders on the Mississippi, to take measures to intercept the rebel chiefs and their plunder.
The specie taken with them is estimated here at from six to thirteen million dollars.
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General commanding
General Halleck’s measures to capture General Johnston’s army, actually surrendered to me at the time, at Greensboro’, on the 26th of April, simply excite my contempt for a judgment such as he is supposed to possess. The assertion that Jeff. Davis’s specie-train, of six to thirteen million dollars, was reported to be moving south from Goldsboro’ in wagons as fast as possible though my army of eighty thousand men had been at Goldsboro’ from March 22d to the date of his dispatch, April 26th; and such a train would have been composed of from fifteen to thirty-two six-mule teams to have hauled this specie, even if it all were in gold.
To say that I am merely angry at the tone and substance of these published bulletins of the War Department, would hardly express the state of my feelings. I am outraged beyond measure, and am resolved to resent the insult, cost what it might.
I went to the Wayanda and showed them to Mr. Chase, with whom I had a long and frank conversation, during which he explained to me the confusion caused in Washington by the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, the sudden accession to power of Mr. Johnson, who was then supposed to be bitter and vindictive in his feelings toward the South, and the wild pressure of every class of politicians to enforce on the new President their pet schemes. He showed me a letter of his own, which was in print, dated Baltimore, April 11th, and another of April 12th, addressed to the President, urging him to recognize the freedmen as equal in all respects to the whites. He is the first man, of any authority or station, who ever informed me that the Government of the United States would insist on extending to the former slaves of the South the elective franchise, and he gave as a reason the fact that the slaves, grateful for their freedom, for which they were indebted to the armies and Government of the North, would, by their votes, offset the disaffected and rebel element of the white population of the South.
Quite a storm is prevailing at sea, outside, and our two vessels lie snug at the wharf at Morehead City. I saw a good deal of Mr. Chase, and several notes passed between us. Always claiming that the South had herself freed all her slaves by rebellion, and that Mr. Lincoln’s proclamation of freedom of September 22, 1862 was binding on all officers of the General Government, I doubted the wisdom of at once clothing them with the elective franchise, without some previous preparation and qualification; and then realized the national loss in the death at that critical moment of Mr. Lincoln, who had long pondered over the difficult questions involved, who, at all events, would have been honest and frank, and would not have withheld from his army commanders at least a hint that would have been to them a guide. It was plain to me, therefore, that the manner of his assassination had stampeded the civil authorities in Washington, had unnerved them, and that they were then undecided as to the measures indispensably necessary to prevent anarchy at the South.