Stephens: “We desire to … hold a conference with President Lincoln upon the subject of the existing war”

A delegation of three rebels, including the Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens, has arrived and asked safe passage to Washington to engage in peace talks.  I wrote Pres. Lincoln,

CITY POINT, January 31, 1865-10 a. m.

President A. LINCOLN,

Washington, D. C.:

The following communication was received here last evening.


PETERSBURG, VA., January 30, 1865.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT:

SIR: We desire to pass your lines under safe conduct and to proceed to Washington to hold a conference with President Lincoln upon the subject of the existing war, and with a view of ascertaining upon what terms it may be terminated, in pursuance of the course indicated by him in his letter to Mr. F. P. Blair of January 18, 1865, of which we presume you have a copy; and if not, we wish to see you in person, if convenient, and to confer with you upon the subject.

Yours, very respectfully,





I have sent directions to receive these gentlemen, and expect to have them at my quarters this evening awaiting your instructions.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 333-4

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 297, 311

“The rebels still have five gun-boats above us”

Several rebel warships have made an attempt to get past the barricade we have set up on the James River and attack our headquarters at City Point.  It was repulsed eventually, but the withdrawal of some of our ships let them approach more closely than desired.  I wrote to Sec. Stanton,

CITY POINT, VA., January 24, 1865-4.30 p. m.


Secretary of War:

I respectfully request that the Secretary of the Navy remover Captain Parker, U. S. Navy, from command of the James River Flotilla to-night by telegraph. With three days’ notice of his danger, and a large fleet at his command, when I sent a staff officer to him this morning before daylight, on hearing that the rebel rams were coming down the river and that two of them had passed the obstructions, he had but one gun-boat, that a wooden one, and a torpedo-boat above the pontoon bridge at Aiken’ Landing.

On my arrival here yesterday from Washington, I requested him to get to the front every boat he had in the river within reach. This he should have done two days, before without notice. The rebels have suffered severely in to-day’s operations, but with a, no doubt, gallant sent of commanders for the vessels, they have been allowed to contribute but little to this result. One rebel gun-boat was blown up by a shell from Battery Parsons, one other sunk, and a third disabled; the fourth, the Virginia, was hit a great many times, but I do not know that she was injured. It is the judgment of officers who were present that had the Monitor been in her place, on learning that the Virginia and Fredericksburg were aground, both vessels would have been destroyed before they could have been got off. As it is, only the weaker vessel of the two was disabled. The rebels still have five gun-boats above us.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 303

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 218-9

“I know General Meade well. What the objections to his confirmation are I do not know”

It seems that Gen. Meade’s promotion to Major General in the regular army from his current rank as Major General of volunteers has been held up.  I wrote to Congressman Washburne on his behalf and also wrote Senator Wilson.

CITY POINT, VA., January 23, 1865.


Chairman Committee on Miliary Affairs:

I see that General Thomas and Sheridan have been confirmed as major-generals in the Regular Army, whilst no mention is made of General Meade’s confirmation to the same rank. From this I infer objections have been raised. This I regret.

General Meade was appointed at my solicitation, after a campaign the most protracted and covering more severely contested battles than any of which we have an account in history.

I have been with General Meade during the whole campaign, and not only made the recommendation upon a conviction that this recognition of his services was fully won, but that he was eminently qualified for the command such rank would entitle him to.

I know General Meade well. What the objections to his confirmation are I do not know; did I know I would address myself directly to these objection.

Hoping that your honorable body consider this case favorably, I subscribe myself, with great respect,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 300

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 206

“Your favor of this date in relation to your son serving in some Military capacity is received”

I received the following letter from Pres. Lincoln,

Please read and answer this letter as though I was not President, but only a friend. My son, now in his twenty second year, having graduated at Harvard, wishes to see something of the war before it ends. I do not wish to put
him in the ranks, nor yet to give him a commission, to which those who have already served long, are better entitled, and better qualified to hold. Could he, without embarrassment to you, or detriment to the service, go into your Military family with some nominal rank, I, and not the public, furnishing his necessary means? If no, say so without the least hesitation, because I am as anxious, and as deeply interested, that you shall not be encumbered as you can be yourself.

I replied,

Annapolis Junction Md.
Jan.y 21st 1865
A. Lincoln President,
Your favor of this date in relation to your son serving in some Military capacity is received. I will be most happy to have him in my Military family in the manner you propose. The nominal rank given him is immaterial but I would suggest that of Capt. as I have three Staff officers now, of considerable service, in no higher grade. Indeed I have one officer with only the rank of Lieut, who has been in the service from the beginning of the war. This however will
make no difference and I would still say give the rank of Capt.— Please excuse my writing on a half sheet. I had no resource but to take the blank half of your letter.
Very respectfully
your obt. svt,
U. S. Grant
Lt. Gen


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 281-2

“I have authorized Colonel Mulford … to renew negotiations for the exchange of all prisoners”

The rebels have agreed to treat all prisoners of war on equal terms.  Now that they have agreed to this, I will support resuming their exchange.  I wrote Sec. Stanton,


Washington, D. C., January 21, 1865.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

SIR: I have authorized Colonel Mulford, agent of exchange, to renew negotiations for the exchange of all prisoners now held by either party. The first interview between our agent and Colonel Ould, rebel agent, has already been had. No doubt but that an arrangement will be entered into. Indeed, on the strength of that interview an exchange–limited one–is now going on near Richmond.

Yours, truly,



We are sending supplies to our prisoners at least weekly. They are received by officers of our own selection (released Federal prisoners), who distribute them as directed.

U. S. G.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 290-1

O.R., II, viii, p 98

“direct him to make an independent campaign, looking to the capture of Mobile”

With Hood’s army out of the way, we should have enough men available to start a campaign against Mobile.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

CITY POINT, VA., January 18, 1865-9 p. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.:

I now understand that Beauregard has gone west to gather up what can be saved from Hood’s army to bring against Sherman. If this be the case Selma and Montgomery will be easily reached. I do not believe, though, that General Thomas will ever get there from the north. He is too ponderous in his preparations and equipments to move through a country rapidly enough to live off of it. West of the Mississippi we do not want to do more than defend what we now hold, but I do want Canby to make a winter campaign, either from Mobile Bay or from Florida. You might order all the cavalry horses now in the West to Canby and direct him to make an independent campaign, looking to the capture of Mobile, first, if the job does not promise too long a one, and Montgomery and Selma, and the destruction of all roads machineshops, and stores, the main object.

Thomas can do without horses for some time; a portion of his troops could be sent by water to Canby. If Thomas does move in co-operation, probably the best route for him to take would be by way of Chattanooga, repairing the road to Rome, and starting from there. These I give as views. What I would order is, that Canby be furnished cavalry horses and be directed to prepare to commence a campaign, and that Thomas be telegraphed to to say what he could do, and when, and get his views upon the choice of routes, looking upon Selma as his objective. Thomas must make a campaign or spare his surplus troops.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 273

O.R., I, xlv, part 2, p 609-10

Terry: “I have the honor to report that Fort Fisher was carried by assault”

On the 17th I received this welcome news from Gen. Terry and I forwarded to Sec. Stanton.



On Federal Point, N. C., January 15, 1865.

Brigadier General JOHN A. RAWLINS,

Chief of Staff, City Point, Va.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that Fort Fisher was carried by assault this afternoon and evening by General Ames’ division and the Second Brigade of the First Division of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps, gallantly aided by a battalion of marines and seamen from the navy. The assault was preceded by a heavy bombardment from the Federal fleet, and was made at 3.30 p.m., when the First Brigade (Curtis’) of Ames’ division effected a lodgement upon the parapet, but full possession of the work was not obtained until 10 p.m.

The behavior of both officers and men was most admirable. All the works south of Fort Fisher are now occupied by our troops. We have not less than 1,200 prisoners, including General Whiting and Colonel Lamb, the commandant of the fort.

I regret to say our loss is severe, especially in officers. I am not yet able to form any estimate of the number of casualties.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brevet Major-General, Commanding Expedition.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 230

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 140

Porter: “The forces under General Terry were landed yesterday without accident or opposition”

I received word from Admiral Porter that our troops have landed near Fort Fisher.


Off Fort Fisher, January 14, 1865.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,

Commanding Armies of the United States:

DEAR GENERAL: The forces under General Terry were landed yesterday without accident or opposition, and their supplies followed immediately. To-day I hope to finish landing the guns, which will be all left to do. General Terry is throwing up a breast-work across the neck of land from Battery Anderson to the river. (Battery Anderson is called by us Flag-Pound Battery.) I find General Terry most agreeable and efficient, but I think from the way he is going to work that he would like to have more men. This, however, is a mere matter of opinion of mine, which you may take for what it is worth. General Terry has said nothing about wanting more men, and, I judge, is one of those who would not ask for re-enforcements unless it should be absolutely necessary. Yesterday afternoon, after landing the troops, I went with a portion of the fleet to attack the fort. Our fire completely silenced them as usual. The iron-clads fired nearly all day yesterday, and the fort bears many scars, but I cannot tell how much harm was done. We suffered no loss whatever.

Most truly, yours,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 227

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 128-9

“I understand there are back taxes on Mr. Dent’s place … which if not paid this month the land will be sold”

I wrote to my friend Charles Ford in St. Louis to ask him to take care of a tax matter concerning my father-in-law’s property.


City Point, Va, Jan. 10th 1865.
Dear Ford,
I understand there are back taxes on Mr. Dent’s place (now including two places belonging to me) amounting to some $1,400 00 which if not paid this month the land will be sold. If I send money there to settle this it will be the last of it. Now I want to ask you to do me a favor. Select some eligible man to attend to the matter for me. Let the land be sold for the taxes and buy it in for me and call on you for the means to pay for it. I will send you a draft for $1500 00 as soon as I can procure it and before the money will be required. If this should not prove enough please advance for me and I will pay at once. My only reason for wishing to buy in the land instead of paying off the incumbrance is this. I am not able, and under the circumstances not willing, to lose the money. These taxes were due before I owned any of the land and it is not my debt. John Dent paid off an incumbrance of $4000 00, and taxes, interest, on the whole tract and now owns the whole with the exception of what I have. He made me buy over and pay him the cash for forty acres which Mr. Dent had previously given to Mrs. Grant though it had not been deeded to her. Another forty acres I bought and paid for. Mr. Dent many years ago signified the way his land was to be divided. Now all but the little I have goes to one for a paltry sum. You can understand that I would naturally want to make him pay his own taxes.
Yours Truly
U. S. Grant


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 260-1

“The doctor is a rebel of the most virulent order”

I wrote to Gen. Irvin McDowell to alert him to the possibility of rebel agitation in the state of California.

CITY POINT, VA., January 8, 1865.

Major General I. McDOWELL,

Commanding Department of the Pacific:

It is known that Doctor Gwinn, former U. S. Senator from California has gone to Mexico and taken service under the Maximillian Government. It is understood also that he has been appointed governor-general of Sonora. The doctor is a rebel of the most virulent order. His being formerly a resident of California and now getting to that State in Mexico bordering on the State of his former residence, portends no good to us. May it not be his intention to entice into Sonora the dissatisfied spirits of California, and if the opportunity occurs organize them and invade the State? I write without having discussed this question with any one, to put you on your guard against what I believe may prove a great danger. Watch this matter closely, and should you find these apprehensions well founded, prepare to meet them. You will find no difficulty in raising any number of volunteers that may be necessary in California to repel an invasion of the State. Especially will this be the case where the invasion comes from a country with which we are at peace.

In any event like the one alluded to, I would not rest satisfied with driving the invaders onto Mexican soil, but would pursue him until overtaken, and would retain possession of the territory from which the invader started until indemnity for the past and security for the future, satisfactory to the Government, was insured.

This letter, which may have to be regarded as instructions for your guidance, is written entirely without knowledge of what the President would advise in case of an invasion of our territory from that of Mexico, but with a conviction that it is right and just. The case supposed is a very different one from those that have occurred starting from Canada. In the latter case rebels have fitted out for the invasion of out for the invasion of our Northern frontier upon Canadian soil, secretly and without the knowledge of Canadian authorities. In the threatened invasion it will be the act of officials of the usurpers of the Government of Mexico, and, in my judgment, would justify direct assistance on our part to re-establish the legitimate Government over that country.

This letter is intended as private until the exigency contemplated calls for action on your part, when in will be regarded as instructions for your guidance in the absence of more recent orders.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 250-1

O.R., I, l, part 2, p 1118