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,
WASHINGTON, D. C., February 1, 1865.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,
Meade confirmed by a heavy vote. Please telegraph me when you will be here. I may have to go to Norfolk on a committee of investigation, but do not want to leave till you come.
E. B. WASHBURNE.
FEBRUARY 1, 1865.
Major General J. G. PARKE,
Commanding Army of the Potomac:
Two deserters from the Sixth Virginia Infantry, Weisiger's brigade, Mahone's division, came into the lines of lines of Second Cavalry Division about 9 o'clock. They state that Mahone's division left camp last Wednesday, and it was expected that it was to go to North Carolina. It camped four miles this side of Belfield, and on Sunday morning the order of march was countermanded and the entire division started back toward Petersburg again. Informants left their brigade on the return march and came into our lines by the Weldon railroad. Their brigade was the rear of the column, and they are certain all five brigades of the division started on the way back. The report the track down seven miles this side of Belfield, and very poorly put down. The same rails have been used that were torn up. Did not pass the bridge over Nottoway, and cannot say whether it is repaired or not.
JNO. C. BABCOCK.
WAR DEPT., ADJT. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 51.
Washington, February 1, 1865.
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61. Bvt. Brigadier General William Hoffman, U. S. Army, commissary-general and inspector of prisoners of war, will relieve Brigadier General H. W. Wessells, U. S. Volunteers, in charge of the office of the commissary-general of prisoners, in the city of Washington.
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By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND,