Today in History:

32 Series I Volume XLVII-I Serial 98 - Columbia Part I

Page 32 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.

Two bridges had to be built and twelve miles of new road made. We had no iron except by taking up that on the branch from Goldsborough to Weldon. Instead of losing by time I gained in every way, for every hour of delay possible was required to reconstruct the railroad to our rear and improve the condition of our wagon roads to the front, so desirable in case the negotiations failed and we be forced to make the race of near 200 miles to head off or catch Johnston's army, then retreating toward Charlotte.

At noon of the day appointed I met General Johnston for the first time in my life, although we had been interchanging shots constantly since May, 1863.

Our interview was frank and soldier-like, and he gave me to understand that further was on the part of the Confederate troops was folly, that the cause was lost, and that every life sacrificed after the surrender of Lee's army was the "highest possible crime. " He admitted that the terms conceded to General Lee were magnanimous and all he could ask, but he did want some general concessions that would enable him to allay the natural fears and anxiety of his followers, and enable him to maintain his control over them until they could be got back to the neighborhood of their homes, thereby saving the State of North Carolina the devastations inevitably to result from turning his men loose and unprovided on the spot, and our pursuit across the State.

He also wanted to embrace in the same general proposition the fate of all the Confederate armies that remained in existence. I never made any concession as to his own army, or assumed to deal finally and authoritatively in regard to any other, but it did seem to me that there was presented a chance for peace that might be deemed valuable to the Government of the United States, and was at least worth the few days that would be consumed in reference.

To push an army whose commander had so frankly and honestly confessed his inability to cope with me were cowardly and unworthy the brave men I led.

Inasmuch as General Johnston did not feel authorized to pledge his power over the armies in Texas, we adjourned to meet the next day at noon. I returned to Raleigh and conferred freely with all my general officers, every one of whom urged me to conclude terms that might accomplish so complete and desirable an end. All dreaded the weary and laborious march after a fugitive and dissolving army back toward Georgia, almost over the very country where we had toiled so long. There was but one opinion expressed, and if contrary ones were entertained they were withheld, or indulged in only by that class who shun the fight and the march, but are loudest, bravest, and fiercest when danger is past. I again ston on the 18th, and we renewed the conversation. He satisfied me then of his power to disband the rebel armies in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, as well as those in his immediate command, namely, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia.

The points on which he expressed especial solicitude were, lest their States were to be dismembered and denied representation in Congress, or any separate political existence whatever, and that the absolute disarming his men would leave the South powerless and exposed to depredations by wicked bands of assassins and robbers.

President Lincoln's message of 1864; his amnesty proclamation; General Grant's terms to General Lee, substantially extending the benefits of that proclamation to all officers above the rank of colonel; the invitation to the Virginia legislature to reassemble in Richmond by

Page 32 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.