“I read it carefully myself … and felt satisfied that it could not possibly be approved”

With the rejection of Sherman’s terms by the President, I wrote him to resume hostilities.


Washington, D. C., April 21, 1865.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN,

Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:

GENERAL: The basis of agreement entered into between yourself and General J. E. Johnston for the disbandment of the Southern army and the extension of the authority of the General Government over all the territory belonging to it, sent for the approval of the President, is received.

I read it carefully myself before submitting it to the President and Secretary of War and felt satisfied that it could not possibly be approved. My reasons for these views I will give you at another time in a more extended letter.

Your agreement touches upon questions of such vital importance that as soon as read I addressed a note to the Secretary of War notifying him of their receipt and the importance of immediate action by the president, and suggested in view of their importance that the entire cabinet be called together that all might give an expression of their opinions upon the matter. The result was a disapproval of the negotiations altogether, except for the surrender of the army commanded by General Johnston, and directions to me to notify you of this decision. I cannot do so better than by sending you the inclosed copy of a dispatch (penned by the late President, through signed by the Secretary of War) in answer to me on sending a letter received from General Lee proposing to meet me for the purpose of submitting the question of peace to a convention of officers.

Please notify General Johnston immediately on receipt of this of the termination of the truce and resume hostilities against his army at the earliest moment you can, acting in good faith.

The rebels known well the terms on which they can have peace and just when negotiations can commence, namely, when they lay down their arms and submit to the laws of the United States. Mr. Lincoln gave the full assurances of what he would do, I believe, in his conference with commissioners met in Hampton Roads.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 14, p 424-5

O.R., I, xlvii, part 3, p 263-4

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