Washington City, April 27, 1865.
This Department has received the following dispatch from Major-General Halleck, commanding the Military Division of the James*. Generals Canby and Thomas were instructed some days ago that Sherman's arrangement with Johnston was disapproved by the President, and they were ordered to disregard it and push the enemy in every direction.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, Raleigh, N. C., April 28, 1865.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,
General-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: Since you left me yesterday I have seen the New York Times of the 24th, containing a budget of military news authenticated by the signature of the Secretary of War, which is grouped in such a way as to give very erroneous impressions. It embraces a copy of the basis of agreement between myself and General Johnston of April 18, with commentaries which it will be time enough to discuss two or three years hence, after the Government has experimented a little more in the machinery by which power reaches the scattered people of the vast area of country known as the South; but in the meantime I do think that my rank, if not past services, entitled me at least to the respect of keeping secret what was known to none but the cabinet until further inquiry could have been made, instead of giving publicity to documents I never saw and drawing inferences wide of the truth. I never saw orhad furnished me a copy of President Lincoln's dispatch to you of the 3rd of March until after the agreement, nor did Mr. Stanton, or any human being, ever convey to me its substance or anything like it. But, on the contrary, I had seen General Weitzel's invitation to the Virginia legislature, made in Mr. Lincoln's very presence, and had failed to discover any other official hint of a plan of reconstruction, or any ideas calculated to allay the fears of the people of the South, after the destruction of their armies and civil authorities would have them without any government at all. We should not drive a people into anarchy, and it is simply impossible for our military power to reach all the recesses of their unhappy country. I confess I did not wish to break General Johnston's army into bands of armed men, roving about without purpose and capable only of infinite mischief. But you saw on your arrival that I had my army so disposed that his escape was only possible in a disorganized shape, and, as you did not choose to direct military operations in this quarter, I infer you wth the military situation. At all events, the instant I learned what was proper enough, the disapproval of the President, I acted in such a manner as to compel the surrender of General Johnston's whole army on the same terms you prescribed to General Lee's army when you had it surrounded and in your absolute power.
Mr. Stanton, in stating that my orders to General Stoneman were likely to result in the escape of "Mr. Davis to Mexico or Europe," is
*See April 26, 9. 30 p. m., p. 311.