Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Letter from Grant to LeeApril 10, 1865

Handwritten letter from Ulysses S. Grant to Robert E. Lee,
setting the terms of surrender of Lee's Army

From The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant:
I determined to return to Washington at once, with a view to putting a stop to the purchase of supplies, and what I now deemed other useless outlay of money.  Before leaving, however, I thought I would like to see General Lee again; so next morning I rode out beyond our lines towards his headquarters, preceded by a bugler and a staff-officer carrying a white flag. Lee soon mounted his horse, seeing who it was, and met me.  We had there between the lines, sitting on horseback, a very pleasant conversation of over half an hour, in the course of which Lee said to me that the South was a big country and that we might have to march over it three or four times before the war entirely ended, but that we would now be able to do it as they could no longer resist us.  He expressed it as his earnest hope, however, that we would not be called upon to cause more loss and sacrifice of life; but he could not foretell the result.  I then suggested to General Lee that there was not a man in the Confederacy whose influence with the soldiery and the whole people was as great as his, and that if he would now advise the surrender of all armies I had no doubt his advice would be followed with alacrity.  But Lee said, that he could not do that without consulting the President first.  I knew there was no use to urge him to do anything against his ideas of what was right.
I was accompanied by my staff and other officers, some of whom seemed to have a great desire to go inside the Confederate lines.  They finally asked permission of Lee to do so for the purpose of seeing some of their old army friends, and the permission was granted.  They went over, had a very pleasant time with their old friends, and brought some of them back with them when they returned. 
When Lee and I separated he went back to his lines and I returned to the house of Mr. McLean.  Here the officers of both armies came in great numbers, and seemed to enjoy the meeting as much as though they had been friends separated for a long time while fighting battles under the same flag.  For the time being it looked very much as if all thought of the war had escaped their minds.  After an hour pleasantly passed in this way I set out on horseback, accompanied by my staff and a small escort, for Burkesville Junction, up to which point the railroad had by this time been repaired.  

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