“Their opinions are not sustained by my knowledge of the facts, nor by my evidence, nor yours either”

I am headed to Washington to testify before a congressional inquiry into the removal of Gen. Butler after the failure of his Ft. Fisher assault.  Meanwhile, the previous inquiry into the explosion of the mine at Petersburg has released its report.  It is very prejudiced towards Gen. Burnside’s account and unfair to Gen. Meade.  I wrote Gen. Meade,

CITY POINT, VA., February 9, 1865-10 a. m.

Major-General MEADE:

The Committee on the Conduct of the War have published the result of their investigation of the mine explosion. Their opinions are not sustained by my knowledge of the facts, nor by my evidence, nor yours either. I suppose Burnside’s evidence apparently has been their guide, and, to draw it mildly, he had forgotten some of the facts. I think in justification to yourself, who seems to be the only party censured, Burnside should be brought before a court-martial, and let the proceedings of the court go before the public along with the report of the Congressional committee.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 399

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 497-8

“This is evidently a movement to get troops to send south and to enable to enemy to hold Wilmington also”

There appears to be a concerted effort underway by the rebels to shift more men south to protect Wilmington, NC.  I wrote Gen. Schofield,

CITY POINT, VA., February 8, 1865.

Major-General SCHOFIELD, Fort Fisher, N. C.:

For the last three days there have been many troops arriving in Richmond from the Valley or Southwest Virginia. This is evidently a movement to get troops to send south and to enable to enemy to hold Wilmington also. I have no doubt but that the quicker you can bring your troops against Wilmington the smaller the force you will have to contend against.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 393

O.R., I, xlvii, part 2, p 355

“This afternoon the Fifth Corps advanced and drove the enemy back onto their artillery”

Some of Gen. Meade’s troops came under attack yesterday after their advance.  I wrote Sec. Stanton,

CITY POINT, VA., February 6, 1865-Midnight.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

In the affair yesterday, when the enemy attacked a part of the Second Corps and were handsomely repulsed, leaving a part of their dead for us to bury, our losses were 3 officers and 18 men killed, 11 officers and 92 men wounded, and 22 men missing. In front of one brigade of Mott’s division he buried thirty-one of the enemy, and counted twenty-two graves besides, some of which were large enough for five or six bodies each. General Smythe estimates the loss of the enemy in his front at 200. Our captures for the day were about 100 men, half of these taken by the cavalry, and the rest by the Fifth and Second Corps. This afternoon the Fifth Corps advanced and drove the enemy back onto their artillery, probably into their entrenchments beyond Dabney’s Mill. Here the enemy was re-enforced, and drove Warren back. Our troops are still out, and will not be returned to their old position unless driven to it by the difficulty of supplying them. The casualties for to-day I will report as soon as learned.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 376

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 415

“Gregg’s cavalry moved out this morning and went as far as Dinwiddie Court-House”

I wrote Gen. Halleck,

CITY POINT, VA., February 5, 1865-10.30 p. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Washington:

Gregg’s cavalry moved out this morning and went as far as Dinwiddie Court-House. He met but little opposition. As far as he could learn, owing to the destruction of the Weldon bridge and bridge on Boydton rod, but few stores were remaining at Bellefield but few wagons were on the road. He captured 18 wagons and 50 prisoners. Warren moved at 7 a. m., to go as far as Stony Creek. He met with but little opposition and reports no casualties. He captured about thirty prisoners. Humphreys moved out on the Vaughan road to crossing of Hatcher’s Run. He was attacked late in the afternoon, but repulsed every attack. What the casualties have been I do not know.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 370

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 388

“I would like to take advantage of the present good weather to destroy … the enemy’s wagon train”

I wrote Gen. Meade,

CITY POINT, VA., February 4, 1865.

Major General G. G. MEADE,

Commanding Army of the Potomac:

I would like to take advantage of the present good weather to destroy or capture as much as possible of the enemy’s wagon train, which it is understood is being used in connection with the Weldon railroad to partially supply the troops about Petersburg. You may get the cavalry ready to do this as soon as possible. I think the cavalry should start at 3 a. m. either to-morrow or the day following, carrying one and a half days’ forage and three days’ rations with the. They should take no wagons and but few ambulances. Let the Second Corps move at the same time, but independent of the cavalry has done the enemy all the harm it can and returns to that point. The infantry may take four days’ rations in haversacks and one and a half days’ forage for the cavalry in wagons. The artillery taken along may be reduced to one battery to each division or one section from each battery, at your option. The Fifth Corps should also be held in readiness to got o the support of the Second Corps if the enemy should move out to attack. Probably it will be well to move the Fifth Corps at the same time with the Second Corps, sending it by a road west of the one taken by the latter, and to go but about half way to Stony Creek, unless required to do so to meet movements of the enemy. They will go out prepared to remain four days.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 365

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 367

“The appearance of Mr. Stephens and party within our lines has had no influence on military movements whatever”

I received the following telegram from Sec. Stanton,

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, February 4, 1865-12.20 p. m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT,

City Point, Va.:

The President desires me to repeat that nothing transpired or transpiring with the three gentlemen form Richmond is to cause any change, hindrance, or delay of your military plans of operations.

EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War.

 

I replied,

CITY POINT, VA., February 4, 1865.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

The appearance of Mr. Stephens and party within our lines has had no influence on military movements whatever. The swamps about Richmond and Petersburg are entirely impassable for artillery if I wanted to move by either flank. But I do not want to do anything to force the enemy from Richmond until Schofield carries out his program. He is to take Wilmington and then push out to Goldsborough, or as near it as he can go, and build up the road after him. He will then be in a position to assist Sherman if Lee should leave Richmond with any considerable force, and the two together will be strong enough for all the enemy have to put against them. Terry is being re enforced from here with the fragments of divisions which were left behind when he started on his expedition. The number left in this way proves to be 5,500 men. Schofield takes about 33,000 effective men, and Terry has already about 7,500. Altogether this makes a formidable force., I shall necessary have to take the odium of apparent inactivity, but if it results, as I except it will, in the discomfiture of Lee’s army, I shall be entirely satisfied.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 362

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 365

“if you should be placed in my position, and I put subordinate, it would not change our relations in the least”

I received a letter from Gen. Sherman detailing his movements.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,

In the Field, Savannah, January 21, 1865.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,

City Point, Va.:

GENERAL: In fulfillment of my project General Howard moved the Seventeenth Corps, General Blair, from Thunderbolt to Beaufort, S. C., and on the 14th by a rapid movement secured the Port Royal Ferry and moved against Pocotaligo, which he gained on the 15th, the day appointed. By that course secured the use of the ground in South Carolina up to the Selkehatchie (Saltkatcher), and General Slocum was ordered in like manner to get his wing up about Robertsville by the way of the Savannah River and the Union Causeway. The transfer of men, animals, and wagons by steamer is a very slow process, and on the 19th General Slocum had only two divisions of the Twentieth at Purysburg and Hardeeville with open communications with Howard. John E. Smith crossed by the Union Causeway, on which Slocum had put ten days’ hard work, but the hard rains had raised the Savannah River so that the whole country was under water, and the corduroy road on the Union Causeway was carried away, cutting off one

brigade of John E. Smith, one division of the Fifteenth Corps (Corse’s), and all of the Fourteenth Corps, General Davis. All were ordered to move up the west bank of the Savannah to cross at Sister’s Ferry, but the rains have so flooded the country that we have been brought to a standstill; but I will persevere and get the army as soon as possible up to the line from Sister’s Ferry to Pocotaligo, where we will have terra firma to work on. Our supplies have come daily, that is, we have never had four days’ forage ahead, but I will depend on enough coming to get me out to the neighborhood of Barnwell, where we will find some.

General Grover’s division now occupies Savannah, which I had refortified, and I have turned over everything to General Foster, so that nothing now hinders me but water. I rather think the heavy rains in January will give us good weather in February and March. You cannot do much in Virginia till April or May, and when I am at Goldsborough and move against Raleigh, Lee will be forced to divide his command or give up Richmond.

I am rejoiced that Terry took Fisher, because it silences Butler, who was to you a dangerous man. His address to his troops on being relieved was a direct, mean, and malicious attack on you, and I admired the patience and skill by which you relieved yourself and the country of him. If you want some new and fresh men, able to handle large armies, I will offer you Charles R. Woods, Hazen, and Mower, all good and capable officers for an army of any size. Of course, I prefer to have them myself, but would give them up if you can do better by them.

As soon as possible, if I were in your place, I would break up the Department of the James, make the Richmond army one; then when I get to Goldsborough you will have a force to watch Lee, and I can be directed to gradually close in, cutting all communications. In the meantime Thomas’ Army should not be reduced too much, but he should hold Chattanooga, Decatur, and Eastport, collect supplies, and in March move on Tuscaloosa, Selma, Montgomery, and back to Rome, Ga., when he could be met from Chattanooga.

I take if for granted that Beauregard will bring, as fast as he can, such part of Hood’s army as can be moved over to Augusta to hit me in flank as I swing round Charleston. To cover the withdrawal Forrest will be left in Mississippi and West Tennessee, to divert attention by threatening the boats on the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers. This should be disregarded and Thomas should break through the shell, expose the thick, and prevent the planting of corn this spring in Middle Alabama. The people of Georgia, like those of Mississippi, are worn out with care, but they are so afraid of their own leaders that they fear to organize for positive resistance. Their motives of “honor” and “fair play” are, that by abandoning the cause now they would be construed as “mean” for leaving their commands in the scrape. I have met the overtures of the people frankly, and given them the best advice I knew how.

I inclose copies of orders issued for the guidance of General Foster and other officers on this coast.  These orders are made on conference with the Secretary of War.

I have been told that Congress meditates a bill to make another lieutenant-general for me. I have written to John Sherman to stop it, if it is designed for me. It would be mischievous, for there are enough rascals who would try to sow differences between us, whereas you and I now are in perfect understanding. I would rather have you in command than anybody else, for you are fair, honest, and have at heart the same purpose that should animate all. I should emphatically decline any commission calculated to bring us into rivalry, and I aks you to advise all your friends in Congress to this effect, especially Mr. Washburne. I doubt if men in Congress fully realize that you and I are honest in our professions of want of ambition. I know I feel none, and to-day will gladly surrender my position and influence to any other who is better able it wield the power. The flurry attending my recent success will soon blow over, and give place to new developments.

I inclose a letter of general instructions to General Thomas, which I beg you to revise and indorse or modify.

I am, truly, yours,

W. T. SHERMAN,

Major-General.

I replied,

CITY POINT, VA., February 1, 1865.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN,

Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:

Without much expectation of its reaching you in time to be of any service, I have mailed to you copies of instructions to Schofield and Thomas.  I have informed Schofield by telegraph of the departure of Mahone’s division south from the Petersburg front. The troops marched down the Weldon road, and as they apparently went without baggage, it is doubtful whether they have not returned. I was absent from here when they left. Just returned yesterday morning from Cape Fear River. I went there to determine where Schofield’s corps had better go to operate against Wilmington and Goldsborough. The instructions with this will inform you of the conclusion arrived at. Schofield was with me and the plan of the movement against Wilmington fully determined before we started back; hence the absence of more detailed instructions to him. He will land one division at Smithville and move rapidly up the south side of the river and secure the Wilmington and Goldsborough Railroad, and with his pontoon train cross into the island south of the city if he can. With the aid of the gunboats there is no doubt but this move will drive the enemy from their position, eight miles east of the city, either back to their inner line or away altogether. There will be a large force on the north bank of Cape Fear ready to follow up and resist the garrison if they should go inside.

The railroads of North Carolina are four feet eight inches and a half gauge. I have sent large parties of railroad men there to build them up, and have ordered stock to run them. We have abundance of it idle from the non-use of the Virginia roads.

I have taken every precaution to have supplies ready for you wherever you may turn up. I did this before, when you left Atlanta, and regret that they did not reach you promptly when you arrived at salt-water. The fact is, Foster, from physical disability, is entirely unfit for his command. I would like to change him for a man who can get about and see for himself.

Alexander H. Stephens. R. M. T. Hunter, and Judge Campbell are now at my headquarters very desirous of going to Washington to see Mr. Lincoln informally on the subject of peace. The peace feeling within the rebel lines in gaining ground rapidly. This, however, should not relax our energies in the least, but should stimulate us to greater activity. I have received your very kind letter in which you say you would decline, or are opposed to, promotion. No one would be more pleased at your advancement than I, and if you should be placed in my position, and I put subordinate, it would not change our relations in the least. I would make the same exertions to support you that you have ever done to support me, and I would do all in my power to make our cause win.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 349-351

O.R., I, xlvii, part 2, p 102-4, 193-4

“I am convinced … that their intentions are good and their desire sincere to restore peace and union”

I have great hope that the commissioners sent by the rebel government will be willing to agree to acceptable terms to end this war.  I wrote Sec. Stanton,

CITY POINT, VA., February 1, 1865-10.30 p.m.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

Now that the interview between Major Eckert, under his written instructions, and Mr. Stephens and party has ended, I will state confidentially, but not officially to become a matter of record, that I am convinced, upon conversation with Messrs. Stephens and Hunter, that their intentions are good and their desire sincere to restore peace and union. I have not felt myself at liberty to express even views of my own or to account for my reticence. This has placed me in an awkward position, which I could have avoided by not seeing them in the first instance. I fear now their going back without any expression from any one in authority will have a bad influence. At the same time I recognize the difficulties in the way of receiving these informal commissioners at this time, and do not know what to recommend. I am sorry, however, that Mr. Lincoln cannot have an interview with the two named in this despatch, if not all there now within our lines. Their letter to me was all that the President’s instructions contemplated, to secure their safe conduct, if they had used the same language to Major Eckert.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 345-6

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 342-3

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,

ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS.

J. A. CAMPBELL.

R. M. T. HUNTER.

 

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

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

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.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,

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.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

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

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