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Note in Letter Book, Headquarters Armies of the United States.

This last letter of General Lee was not delivered at the outposts of General Hancock until after 10 o’clock, the hour fixed by General Lee for the expiration of the armistice. Notwithstanding, the rebel pickets were drawn in as proposed, and a burial party sent out shortly after 8 o’clock, but as our pickets had received no instructions on the subject, the party was captured. On the report of these facts, General Grant has just sent the subjoined letter to the rebel commander.


Cold Harbor, Va., June 7, 1864—10.30 a. m.

General R. E. Lee, Comdg. Army of Northern Virginia:

I regret that your note of 7 p.m. yesterday should have been received at the nearest corps headquarters to where it was delivered after the hour that had been given for the removal of the dead and wounded had expired. 10.45 p. m. was the hour at which it was received at corps headquarters, and between 11 and 12 it reached my headquarters. As a consequence, it was not understood by the troops of this army that there was a cessation of hostilities for the purpose of collecting the dead and wounded, and none were collected. Two officers and six men of the Eighth and Twenty-fifth North Carolina Regiments, who were out in search of the bodies of officers of their respective regiments, were captured and brought into our lines owing to this want of understanding. I regret this, but will state that as soon as I learned the fact I directed that they should not be held as prisoners, but must be returned to their commands. These officers and men having been carelessly brought through our lines to the rear, I have not determined whether they will be sent back the way they came or whether they will be sent by some other route.

Regretting that all my efforts for alleviating the sufferings of wounded men left upon the battle-field have been rendered nugatory,

I remain, &c.,

U. S. Grant




Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Vol. 36, Part 3, p. 666.


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 June 8