north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Essay:
     As General William T. Sherman moved into Raleigh in April 1865 to further his campaign against General Joseph E. Johnston’s army, he received news that Johnston wished to negotiate a cessation in the fighting in order to speed the end of the war. Sherman accepted the offer and sent news to General Ulysses S. Grant, among others, stating that he would do so with the same stipulations that Grant had previously given to General Lee and promising not to alter or complicate the issues surrounding the surrender. In a letter to Grant on April 12, Sherman wrote, “I have this moment received your telegram announcing the Surrender of Lee’s Army. The terms you have given Lee are magnanimous and liberal. Should Johnston follow Lee’s example I shall of course grant the Same.”

     Sherman, however, did not closely follow Grant’s example, resulting in a rejection of his terms and an unexpected visit to Raleigh by Grant on April 24-27. Following his negotiations with Johnston, Sherman, who had made the terms “conditional,” sent the agreement to Grant. Grant conferred first with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and then read it aloud to President Andrew Johnson and his cabinet. The President and the Secretary rejected the agreement out of hand. Both of them felt that Sherman had taken too many liberties regarding civil matters in his negotiations. Grant secretly was ordered to Raleigh to resolve the matter.

     Grant’s arrival at the Governor’s Palace in Raleigh early in the morning on April 24 was unforeseen by Sherman. In the hours immediately following Grant’s arrival, Sherman cancelled his previous offer and called for Johnston’s surrender under the same terms Grant had negotiated with Lee. Johnston was given forty-eight hours to accept the offer.

     Despite his orders to stay to oversee the continued fighting, Grant prepared to leave Raleigh, confident in Sherman’s handling of the affair. When Sherman received a request from Johnston to meet to re-negotiate the terms of the agreement on April 26, Grant stayed in Raleigh while Sherman and a delegation headed to Bennett Place for the talks. Later that night Grant signed the final surrender papers that had been agreed upon earlier. Grant’s visit to Raleigh ended unceremoniously the next morning when he and his contingent quietly left Raleigh to deliver the agreement to Washington.


References:
Brooks D. Simpson and Jean V. Berlin, ed., Sherman’s Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman 1860-1865 (1999)
Mark L. Bradley, This Astounding Close: The Road to Bennett Place (2000)
Elizabeth Reid Murray, Wake: Capital County of North Carolina (1983 )
Ulysses S Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, II (1886)
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