CHARLOTTE, N. C., April 22, 1865.
SIR: The question submitted by you to the members of your cabinet for their opinion are: First. Whether the convention agree dupon on the 18th instant by and between General Johnston, commanding the Confederate forces, and Major-General Sherman, commanding the forces of the United States in North Carolina, should be ratified by you. Second. If so, in what way it should be done.
The terms of that convention are substantially as follows: That the armies of the Confederate States shall be disbanded and their arms surrendered. That the several State governments shall be recognized by the Executive of the United States, upon their officers and legislatures taking the oaths prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, and where there are conflicting State governments the question to be referred to the decision of the Supreme Court. That all political rights and franchises, and all rights of person and of property, shall be respected and guaranteed. That a general amnesty be granted and no citizen be molested in person or property for any acts done in aid of the Confederate States in the prosecution of the war. Taken as a whole, the convention amounts to this: That the States of the Confederacy shall re-enter the old Union upon the same footing on which they stood before seceding from it. These States, hving in their several conventions solemnly asserted their sovereignty and right of self-government, and having established for themselves and maintained through four years of bloody war a government and estruction as long as there remains a reasonable hope of successful resistance to the arms of the United States. The question, therefore, whether the terms of the military convention should be accepted will depend upon whether the Confederate States are in a condition further to prosecute the war with a reasonable hope of success, and this question will be answered by a brief review of our military situation.
The Army of Northern Virginia, for four years the pride and boast of the Confederacy, under the lead of the general-in-chief whose name we have been accustomed to associate with vitory, after having been defeated and reduced to a mere remnant by straggling and desertion, has capitulated to the enemy. All who were not embraced in the capitulation have thrown away their arms and disbanded, beyond any hope of reorganization. Our only other army east of the Mississippi, the Army of Tennessee, contians now about 13,000 effective men, of infantry and artillery, an dis daily melting away by desertion. It is confronted by one of the best armies of the United States, 50,000 strong. Manifestly it cannot fight, and if it retreats the chances are more than equal that, like the Army of Northern Virginia, it will dissolve and the remnant be forced to capitulate. If it should retreat successfully, and offer itself as a nucleus for reorganization it cannot be recruited. Volunteering is long since at an end, and conscription has exahsuted all its force. East of the Mississippi, scattered through all the States, we have now about 40,000 organized troops. To oppose these the enemy have more than 200,000. Persevering efforts for many months passed have failed to overcome the obstacles to the removal of troops from the west to the east of the Mississippi. We can, therefore, look for no accession of strength from that quarter. If a returning sense of duty and patriotism should bring back the stragglers and deserters in sufficien tnumbers to form a respectable army, we have not the means of arming them. Our supply of arms is very nearly exhausted, our means of manufacturing