1865 April 29: Sherman’s Surrender “Blunder”
These articles come from the April 29, 1865, issues of The Polk County Press and The Prescott Journal.
From The Prescott Journal:
Gen. Sherman’s Surrender.
The most exciting item of news received this week is the agreement for suspension of hostilities between Sherman [William T. Sherman] and Johnston [Joseph E. Johnston]. Its terms utterly surprise and confound everybody. At a time when Sherman could dictate his own terms, he permits the enemy to dictate terms, contrary in their tenor to the established policy of the Government.—Immediately on the arrival of Sherman’s messenger at Washington, a cabinet meeting was held at which his action was disapproved by the President [Abraham Lincoln], Sec. of War [Edwin M. Stanton], Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] and every cabinet officer. Gen. Grant, accompanied by Sheridan [Philip H. Sheridan], immediately started for North Carolina to repair, as much as possible, the evil effects of Sherman’s action.
Gen. Sherman’s great services to the Union cause and the general confidence placed in him, both as a soldier and statesman, preclude hasty censure, but his action is an enigma, and the cause of deep regret to every one not a rebel at heart. We trust something may yet come to light, which shall, in a measure, explain or excuse it.
From The Polk County Press:
Just when the military horizon is brightest, a General in whom the people have learned to place implicit confidence, has failed them. Yes, a hero of many battles, a brave soldier and a chieftan [sic] in whom the nation trusted—whom his soldiers loved and honored—has fallen. Sherman has blundered ! The wiles of the trio traitors, Breckinridge, Joe Johnson [sic:] and Jeff. Davis [Jefferson Davis], have done what the armies of Hood [John Bell Hood], Johnson [sic: perhaps Albert Sidney Johnston] and Bragg [Braxton Bragg] utterly failed to do—they have shelved Sherman.
On the 18th inst., near Durham’s Station, in the State of North Carolina, the rebel General Johnson [sic], John C. Breckinridge and Gen. Sherman met, and terms of surrender of the rebels agreed to, upon certain conditions, proposed BY THE ENEMY, subject to the approval of their respective principals, Jeff. Davis, and the President of the United States.
These terms were forwarded to the War Department, and were such that they were immediately disapproved by the President and his entire Cabinet, and Gen. Grant . We have not time nor space to speak of the terms offered these traitors by Gen. Sherman, but that they were such as could not be entertained by the Government, any intelligent man who reads them can at once see.
They assume to settle the whole matter of the rebellion, set aside the laws of Congress, and override the orders of the President and Secretary of War, and Gen. Grant.
On the 21st a Cabinet meeting was held and Gen. Grant and Gen. Sheridan were immediately ordered to North Carolina to attend to matters, and Sherman was instructed to resume offensive operations at once.
But the worst is not told. During the time occupied with these negotiations, Jeff. Davis has improved the opportunity to escape, and is said to have made his way into Texas, and will make for Mexico, then he will escape to Europe, taking as plunder a large amount of specie.
We defer further mention of this matter until next week, when we will lay before our readers the entire details. Upon the reception of the news of Gen. Sherman’s action gold rose to 1:51 [$1.51], but upon the action of the Cabinet becoming known fell again to 1:45 [$1.45].