War of the Rebellion: Serial 096 Page 0512 N. AND SE. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.

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also anchored offshore, in the Roads, and that the Secretary of State had not yet seen or communicated with them. I ascertained that Major Eckert had literally complied with his instructions, and I saw, for the first time, the answer of the Richmond gentlemen to him, which, in his dispatch to me of the 1st, he characterizes as "not satisfactory." That answer is as follows, to wit:

CITY POINT, VA., February 1, 1865.

Major THOMAS T. ECKERT,

Aide-de-Camp:

MAJOR: Your note, delivered by yourself this day, has been considered. In reply, we have to say that we were furnished with a copy of the letter of President Lincoln to Francis P. Blair, esq., of the 18th of January ultimo, another copy of which is appended to your note.

Our instructions are contained in a letter, of which the following is a copy:

"RICHMOND, January 28, 1865.

"In conformity with the letter of Mr. Lincoln, of which the foregoing is a copy, you are to proceed to Washington City for informal conference with him upon the issues involved in the existing war, and for the purpose of securing peace to the two countries.

"With great respect, your obedient servant,

"JEFFERSON DAVIS."

The substantial object to be obtained by the informal conference is to ascertain upon what terms the existing war can be terminated honorably.

Our instructions contemplate a personal interview between President Lincoln and ourselves at Washington City, but with this explanation we are ready to meet any person or persons that President Lincoln may appoint, at such place as he may designate.

Our earnest desire is that a just and honorable peace may be agreed upon, and we are prepared to receive or to submit propositions which amy possibly lead to the attainment of that end.

Very respectfully, yours,

ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS.

R. M. T. HUNTER.

JOHN A. CAMPBELL.

A note of these gentlemen, subsequently addressed to General Grant, has already been given in Major Eckert's dispatch of the 1st instant.

I also here saw, for the first time, the following note, addressed by the Richmond gentlemen to Major Eckert:

CITY POINT, VA., February 2, 1865.

Major THOMAS T. ECKERT,

Aide-de-Camp:

MAJOR: In reply to your verbal statement that your instructions did not allow you to alter the conditions upon which a passport could be given to us, we say that we are willing to proceed to Fortress Monroe, and there to have an informal conference, with any person or persons that President lincoln may appoint, on the basis of his letter to Francis P. Blair of the 18th of January ultimo, or upon any other terms of conditions that he may hereafter propose, not inconsistent with the essential principles of self-government and popular rights, upon which our institutions are founded.

It is our earnest wish to ascertain, after free interchange of ideas and information, upon what principles and terms, if any, a just and honorable peace can be established without the further effusion of blood, and to contribute our utmost efforts to accomplish such a result.

We think it better to add, that in accepting your passport we are not to under-stood as committing ourselves to anything, but to carry to this informal conference the views and feelings above expressed.

Very respectfully, yours, &c.,

ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS.

J. A. CAMPBELL.

R. M. T. HUNTER.

NOTE.-The above communication was delivered to me at Fort Monroe, at 4.30 p. m. February 2, by Lieutenant-Colonel Babcock, of General Grant's staff.

THOS. T. ECKERT,

Major and Aide-de-Camp.