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division of the Seventeenth Corps, on the extreme right, gradually moved around on the enemy's flank, and had nearly reached the bridge over Mill Creek, Johnson's only line of retreat now left open. To prevent Mower from being overwhelmed by a superior force of the enemy, Sherman ordered his skirmishers to attack along the whole line, while Mower regained his connection with his own corps. During the night, the enemy retreated on Smithfield, leaving his pickets, with many unburied dead, and his wounded men in the field hospitals to fall into Sherman's hands. Pursuit was made for two miles beyond Mill Creek, on the morning of the 22d, and then suspended. Johnston had been completely foiled in his main attempt, and decisively beaten. Slocum reported his total losses at the battle of Bentonville, in killed, wounded and missing, as 1,247. Howard's entire losses numbered only 399— making an aggregate Union loss of 1,646. The Rebel dead, buried by our forces, numbered 267, and his entire loss in prisoners was 1,625-making an aggregate of 1,892. Johnston must have lost heavily, in addition to the foregoing, in his attacks on the left wing, on the 19th.
Sherman had now fuil possession of Goldsboro, accomplishing his purpose, and his forces thus combined constituted an army irresistible by any force that could be brought against him. He had now communications by the two railroads, rapidly put in running order, with the seaboard at Beaufort and Newbern.
Before Petersburg, Gen. Meade had continued to keep a strong hold upon Lee, breaking his communications, and The effective fighting extending the Union lines on the left. under Gen. Sheridan, in the Shenandoah Valley, had rendered the longer maintenance of any large force there unnecessary. The Sixth Corps had returned to Petersburg not long after the decisive engagements in the late autumn, and was assigned a position on the left, affording the opportunity for a further advance of Meade's lines toward the Southside railroad. The most important movement undertaken by the Army of the Potomac since the movement on the Weldon road under Warren and Gregg, in December, was that which resulted in
the battle of Hatcher's Run, on the 6th and 7th of February, and by which the Rebel communications by the Boydton Plank road were broken. The Fifth, and a portion of the Sixth Corps, were engaged in this movement, the Third division of the Fifth Corps suffering heavily. Its aggregate loss in killed and wounded was 594. The losses in the Sixth Corps, acting mainly as a supporting column, were slight.
It was now manifest that the main Rebel armies under Lee and Johnson were becoming inextricably involved in the toils of Grant and his Generals. Only some unforeseen cause, or some serious blunder, could long delay the final termination of the struggle. A conference was now held at City Point, between President Lincoln, Lieut.-Gen. Grant, and Gens. Meade, Sherman, and other leading commanders, on the 27th of March. The closing movements were now fully considered and planned, with incidental discussions of the general policy to be pursued in the final exigencies; and the several Generals returned to their commands, prepared to strike the last blows, and confident of their effect.
To President Lincoln, saddened and worn by four years of a strife so relentless and painful, the prospect of peace near at hand was inexpressibly gladdening. To each of the warworn Generals, the culmination of all his cares and toils in a grand choral triumph, was a joyful hope that made music in his heart, as he moved away to his closing task.
Close of President Lincoln's First Term.-Order to Gen. Grant in regard to Peace Negotiations.-The Fourth of March.-Inauguration Ceremonies.-Mr. Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address.- Contrasts.-Cabinet Changes.-Indisposition of the President.-His Speech at the National Hotel on Negro Soldiers in the Rebel Armies.He Visits Gen. Grant's Headquarters.-The Military Situation.Conference with his Chief Generals.-Movement of the Forces under Meade and Sheridan.-Fighting near Dinwiddie Court House.Sheridan's Victory at the Five Forks.-Attack of Wright and Parke on the Lines before Petersburg.-The Sixth Corps Carry the Enemy's Works.-Petersburg Evacuated.-Pursuit of the Enemy.-Richmond Taken.-Dispatches of Mr. Lincoln.-The Nation's Joy.-Lee's Army Closely Pressed.-Captures at Sailor's Creek.-Surrender of Lee.— Mr. Lincoln at Richmond.-His Visit to the City Point Hospital.His Return to Washington.-Peace Rejoicings.-Speeches of Mr. Lincoln.-Important Proclamations.--Demand on Great Britain for Indemnity.--Closing Military Movements.-Reduction of the Army.--Mr. Lincoln's Last Meeting with His Cabinet.-Celebration at Fort Sumter.
THE morning of the 4th of March, 1865, was dark with clouds and rain. The previous stormy night Mr. Lincoln, with the members of his Cabinet, remained at the President's room, in the north wing of the capitol, until a late hour, considering and signing bills which came thronging upon him, in the usual manner, during the closing hours of a Congress soon to be dissolved. The President had a somewhat care-worn look, but a cheerfulness of manner, manifesting itself in occasional pleasantry, or in the relation of some suggested incident or anecdote, as was his wont in his most seriously earnest moods. He had a genial word for occasional visitors, and a ready ear, as always, for whatever had any fair claim to his attention. Without a word as to the morrow, or as to the momentous hours of an eventful term of service now just
closing, his furrowed face spoke to the casual observer of sober thoughts, not unmingled with conscious satisfaction, in looking back upon the work of the four years of his unceasing watchfulness and assiduity in the service to which his country had called him. Some talked hopefully of brighter hours for the intended pageant of the coming day. To him, long used to more real and penetrating storms, the passing shadows and mists of a day seemed of no concern. More inspiring were the thoughts of an abiding calm and of the lasting sunshine of peace. But, again, he knew that with the close of the desolating strife. of armed men in the field, a new struggle was to begin-one that must precede and accompany the evolution of order and repose from the chaos existing throughout the rebellious districts. For had he not clearly enunciated, four years ago, this undeniable truth: Suppose you go to war, you can not fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides, and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical questions as to terms of intercourse are again upon you." In the angry commotion, excited by self-willed agitators, these persuasive words had passed unheeded. Battle had come, and had done its fearful work. The aggressors were about to yield to the national power they had defied. The "questions" at issue were already settled in part, yet much remained for the clear head, kind heart, and strong hand of the re-elected Chief Magistrate of the people.
While the President was thus waiting at the capitol, there came to the Secretary of War a telegraphic dispatch from Gen. Grant, announcing that the Rebel Gen. Lee had sought an interview with the Lieutenant-General, for the purpose of arranging terms of peace. It is now known that Lee had for several months despaired of any final success in the unholy work which he had deserted the United States Army to engage in, and that he prudently desired to end the war, accepting the best terms that could be made. This was a proposition to which Davis himself, then, as at the last moment, could only speak of with impatience. From his message to the Rebel Congress, however, it appears that the telegram to Gen. Grant, just mentioned, was sent with Davis' knowledge. He avers
that one of his Commissioners at the Hampton Roads Conference, suggested to President Lincoln that his objections to treating with the "Confederate Government," or with any State by itself, might be avoided by adopting the method sometimes employed of a military convention, to be entered into by the commanding generals of the armies of the two belligerents-almost a precise foreshadowing of the mode subsequently suggested to Gen. Sherman by Johnston and Breckinridge. This suggestion, Davis distinctly says, was not accepted by Mr. Lincoln. In the same message, Davis alleges that advances were afterward made by Gen. Ord to Longstreet, intimating the possibility of arriving at a satisfactory adjustment by means of a military convention, and that if Lee desired an interview on this subject, it would not be declined, if Lee were clothed with authority to act in the premises. He further states that Lee wrote to Gen. Grant, on the 2d of March, informing him that he was vested with the requisite authority for such negotiation.
It was Lee's letter, thus referred to, that formed the subject of Gen. Grant's dispatch to President Lincoln. This dispatch, Mr. Stanton informs us, was submitted to Mr. Lincoln, who, after pondering a few minutes, took up his pen and wrote with his own hand the following reply, which he submitted to the Secretary of State and Secretary of War. It was then dated, addressed, and signed by the Secretary of War, and telegraphed to Gen. Grant:
WASHINGTON, March 3, 1865, 12 P. M. Lieutenant-General Grant:
The President directs me to say to you that he wishes you to have no conference with Gen. Lee, unless it be for the capitulation of Gen. Lee's army, or on some minor and purely military matter. He instructs me to say that 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. EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.