On reading this dispatch of Major Eckert, I was about to recall him and to 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,
The following telegram received at Washington, 4.35 a. m., February 2, 1865, from City Point, Va., February 1, 10.30 p. m., 1865:
"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 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 Major Eckert.
"U. S. GRANT,
This dispatch of General Grant changed my purpose; and accordingly I telegraphed him and the Secretary of State, respectively, as follows:
Washington, D. C., February 2, 1865. (Sent 9 a. m.)
City Point, Va.:
Say to the gentlemen I will meet them personally at Fortress Monroe as soon as I can get there.
Washington, D. C. February 2, 1865.
(Sent 9 a. m.)
Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Fortress Monroe, Va.:
Induced by a dispatch from General Grant, I join you at Fort Monroe as soon as I can come.
Before starting the following dispatch was shown me; I proceeded, nevertheless:
OFFICER U. S. MILITARY TELEGRAPH, WAR DEPARTMENT,
The following telegram received at Washington, February 2, 1865, from City Point, Va., 9 a. m. February 2, 1865:
"Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
"Secretary of State, Fort Monroe:
"The gentlemen here have accepted the proposed terms, and will leave for Fort Monroe at 9.30 a. m.
"U. S. GRANT,
(Copy to Honorable Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, Washington.)
On the night of the 2nd I reached Hampton Roads, found the Secretary of State and Major Eckert on a steamer, anchored offshore, and learned of them that the Richmond gentlemen were on another steamer,