your own letter is written. Note on the copy which you retain the time of delivery, and to whom delivered. Receive their answer in writing, waiting a reasonable time for it, and which, if it contain their decision to come through, without further condition, will be your warrant to ask General Ord to pass them through, as directed in the letter of the Secretary of War to him. If, by their answer, they decline to come, or propose other terms, do not have them passed through. And this being your whole duty, return and report to me.
CITY POINT, VA., February 1, 1865.
Messrs. ALEX H. STEPHENS, J. A. CAMPBELL, and R. M. T. HUNTER:
GENTLEMEN: I am instructed by the Preside to of the United States t place this paper in your hands, with the information that, if you pass through the United State military lines, it will be understood that you do so for the purpose of an informal conference, on the basis of the letter, a copy of which is on the reverse side of this sheet, and that, if you choose to pass on such understanding, and so notify men 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 Aide-de-Camp.
WASHINGTON, January 18, 1865.
F. P. BLAIR, Edq.:
SIR: Your having shown me Mr. Davis' letter to you of the 12th instant, you may say to him that I have constantly been, am now, and shall continue ready to receive any agent whom he, or any other influential person now resisting the national authority, may informally send to me with the view of securing peace to the people of our one common country.
Afterward, but before Major Eckert had departed, the following dispatch was received from General Grant:
OFFICE OF U. S. MILITARY TELEGRAPH, WAR DEPARTMENT,
The following telegram received at Washington, January 31, 1865, from City Point, Va., 10.30 a. m. January 30, 1865:
"His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
"President of the United States:
"The following communication was received here last evening:
PETERSBURG, VA., January 30, 1865.
'Lieutenant General 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 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 your upon 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,
"Lieutenant-General, Commanding Armies of the United States."