March 2, 1865 -- Lee offers to discuss terms of surrender with Grant

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oldreb

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And President Abraham Lincoln refused to allow this to occur until the Confederacy surrendered. It would take another month of fighting before Lee and Grant would meet to discuss the terms of surrender. And the Confederacy, if you mean the government, still had not surrendered.

Now, why did old Abe take this position?

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eopfrank

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I suppose to show how serious he was that they surrender or face the consequences. I am only guessing, but Lincoln, as I have been reading and really noticing, was very stubborn. I also read him being a nice guy and very generous at times, but when he feels strongly about something, there is no compromising. He did compromise politically at times, like promoting someone for political reasons, but for the most part- he wanted to have his way. But I respect him for that because there was no room for giving in during those serious times. As I want President Bush to be more stern on the war on terror and even Israel to be more stern with the palestinians. I mean, either defeat them, or give them their own state. Either one or the other because if it keeps going this way there will be much more bloodshead than if they make a decision.

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oldreb

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Probably. IN March, 1865, around the 4th or 5th, Robert E. Lee sent word to U. S. Grant that he wished to meet and discuss terms of surrender. Lincoln got wind of this request and informed Grant that no such discussions would occur until the South had surrendered and the slaves were freed. That would lead to one more month of bloody fighting.

How's that?

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unionblue

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Ron, from the book, "A Stillness At Appomattox", by Bruce Catton, page 333, should explain why nothing came of Lee's/Davis's peace offer. It didn't offer anything. Here's the line from the book.

"For anti-climax, the conference came to nothing. One side insisted on an independent Confederacy and the other side insisted on a restored Union, and the conferees presently were reduced to nothing much more than an interchange of expressions of personal good will."

Don't see Lincoln or the North giving up on their goal to preserve the Union at this point in the war, do you?

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unionblue

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Ron, one more passage from the same book by Catton, page 334. Just shortly after the peace conference:

"Lincoln meanwhile called a cabinet meeting and coolly proposed that the Federal government offer to the Southern states four hundred million dollars in six per cent government bonds, as compensation for the property values which would be destroyed by emancipation, on condition that the Southern states return to the Union within two months. The Cabinet was stunned and slightly indignant. In vain Lincoln pointed out that if the war lasted only another hundred days it would cost all of the money he was now proposing to spend. No one would agree that this was the way to get peace and reunion, and at last Lincoln put away the draft of his proposal, saying: "You are all opposed to me."

Strange that such an offer would be made, even at this late stage in the war. What was he up to do you suppose?

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unionblue

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Ron, my apologies, but I seem to have confused an earlier peace offer by Jeff Davis in January of 1865 for the one you have said Lee offered in March. Or are we both talking about the same thing?

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unionblue

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Ron, sorry about the multiple posts but just got finished with some reading and I found that instead of Lee offering to talk terms during March of 1865 it was instead some peace commissioners sent by Jeff Davis to meet with Lincoln and Seward to see whether they could not agree on terms to end the war.

Alexander Stephens was the head of the commission sent to confer with Lincoln "for the purpose of securing peace to the two countries."

By the time Grant got the message, consulted Washington, and made arrangements to get the commissioners through the lines, it was the afternoon of Jan. 31.

As far as I can tell, Lee made no offer for terms or such and Grant first wrote him on April 7, 1865 with a formal note to be delivered to Lee inviting him to surrender.

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oldreb

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Well, friend Neil, multiple posts or not, you are not correct in this.

Here are my references.

Thursday, March 2nd, 1865:
Gen. Lee wrote a message to Gen. Grant, proposing a meeting to attempt resolving the present "unhappy difficulties" by a military convention.
Grant demurred saying he had not authority to hold such a conference, there must have been something misunderstood. Dealing with the south in such a manner would, in effect, be a recognition of it as a soverign military force -- a separate nation's military power. This was the same ploy used at the "peace committee" meeting with Lincoln at Hampton Roads, when Confederate Vice-President Stephens suggested that the NOrth and South jointly throw Napoleon III out of Mexico.

Friday, March 3rd, 1865 ---
Lincoln wrote a message, signed by Stanton, directing Grant "to have no conference with General Lee unless it be for the capitulation of Gen. Lee's army...you are not to decide, discuss, or confer upon any political question. Such questions, the President holds in his own hands; and will submit them to no military conferences or conventions. Meantime you are to press to the utmost, your military advantages." This signal order laid the policy for for the generals in the surrender to come, although the message was sent only to Grant and not to Sherman.

references: "The Civil War Years", Sterling; "The Civil War Day by Day", E. B. Long
 

unionblue

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Ron, thank you for the reference, as I had no idea such an offer had been made by Gen. Lee. Seems to me Lincoln was just stating the facts. No recognition of the South as a political entity and it is true from a military stand point that only the President can decide the political issues and Grant in the chain-of-command could only obey his commander-in-chief and carry out his orders.

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unionblue

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Ron, checked out the book, "The Civil War Years" by Robert E. Denny and found your reference. It was pretty much the way I thought, Grant could not make any negotiations with Lee because it still involved recognizing the Confederacy as a nation. Lincoln was not going to entertain that, not after all the Union had been through to get to this stage. It just seems to me the South, through Lee and Davis, were just trying to win by talking what they couldn't win on the battlefield.

Just an opinion, oldreb,
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