City Point, Feb. 1, 1865.
Messrs. Alexander H. Stephens, J. A. Campbell, and R. M. T. Hunter.
Gentlemen: I am instructed by the President of the United States to place this paper in your hands with the information that if you pass through the United States military lines, it will be understood that you do so for the purpose of an informal conference on the basis of that letter, a copy of which is on the reverse side of this sheet; and that you choose to pass on such understanding, and so notify me in writing. I will procure the Commanding General to pass you through the lines and to Fortress Monroe under such military precautions as he may deem prudent, and at which place you will be met in due time by some person or persons for the purpose of such informal conference; and further, that you shall have protection, safe conduct, and safe return in all events.
Thomas T. Eckert, Major and Aid-de-Camp.
Afterwards, but before Major Eckert had departed, the following dispatch was received from General Grant:
Office U. S. Military Telegraph, War Department.
The following telegram was received at Washington. Jan. 31. 1865, from City Point, Va., 10:30 a.m., Jan. 31, 1865:
His Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States.
The following was received here last evening:
Petersburg, Va., Jan. 30, 1865.
Lieut. Gen. U. S. Grant, Commanding Armies of the United States.
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. Blair of Jan. 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 on the subject.
Very respectfully yours,
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, Lieut. General,
Commanding Armies of the United States.
This, it will be perceived, transferred General Ord's agency in the matter to General Grant. I resolved, however, to send Major Eckert forward with his message, and accordingly telegraphed General Grant as follows, to wit: