Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/559

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527
Second Congress.

City Point, Feb 1, 1865.

To Lieut. Gen. Grant.

Sir: We desire to go to Washington City to confer informally with the President personally, in reference to the matters mentioned in his letter to Mr. Blair of the 18th of January, ult., without any personal compromise on any question in the letter. We have the permission to do so from the authorities in Richmond.

Very respectfully yours,

Alexander H. Stephens,

R. M. T. Hunter,

J. A. Campbell.


At 9:30 p.m. I notified them that they could not proceed farther unless they complied with the terms expressed in my letter. The point of meeting designated in the above would not, in my opinion, be insisted upon. I think Fortress Monroe would be acceptable. Having complied with my instructions, will return to Washington to-morrow, unless otherwise ordered.

Thomas T. Eckert, Major, etc.


On reading this dispatch of Major Eckert's, I was about to recall him and the Secretary of State, when the following telegram of General Grant to the Secretary of War was shown me:


Office U. S. Military Telegraph, War Department.

(In cipher.)

The following telegram was received at Washington at 4:35 a.m., Feb. 2, 1865, from City Point, Va., Feb. 1, 1865:

To Hon. E. 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 I do not know what to recommend. I am sorry, however, that Mr. Lincoln cannot have an interview with the two named in this dispatch, if not all three 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 Capt. Eckert.

U. S. Grant, Lieut. General.


This dispatch of General Grant changed my purpose, and accordingly I telegraphed him and the Secretary of War as follows: