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Lincoln's exchanges with Grant, August 1864, regarding the burning of houses and the destruction of private property.

Lincoln's message to Grant 8/14/1864

From Abraham Lincoln to Ulysses S. Grant, August 14, 1864 1

Office U. S. Military Telegraph,
Washington D.C. August 14 1864.

Lieut. Genl. Grant
        City Point, Va.
                        The Secretary of War and I
conceive that you better confer with Gen. Lee
and stipulate for a mutual discontinuance
        and other destruction of private property.
of house-burning.- The time for and manner
of conferences, and particulars of stipulations
jer we leave, on our part, to your convenience
and judgement.

[Note 1 - Transcribed by the this site's Editor and any transcription mistakes are his. Strike-thrus, underlines, and line positions are from the image.]

Grant's Response.

Grant's reply to Lincoln 8/17/1864

From Ulysses S. Grant to Abraham Lincoln, August 17, 1864

In Cipher,

8 P m Aug. 18. 1864.

City Pt Va

9 P m Aug 17, 1864.

I have thought over your dispatch relative to an agreement between Lee and myself for the suppression of incendiarism by the respective armies. 1

Experience has taught us that agreements made with rebels are binding upon us but are not observed by them longer than suits their convenience. On the whole I think the best that can be done is to publish a prohibitory order against burning private property except where it is a military necessity or in retaliation for like acts by the Enemy. Where burning is done in retaliation it must be done by order of a Dept or Army Commander and the order for such burning to set forth the particular act it is in retaliation for.

Such an order would be published & would come to the knowledge of the rebel army. I think this course would be much better than any agreement with Lee. I could publish the order or it could be published by you. This is respectfully submitted for your consideration & I will then act as you deem best.

U S Grant

Lt Genl

[Note 1 Lincoln telegraphed Grant on August 14 that he and the Secretary of War agreed that Grant should confer with Lee and come to an understanding that would curb the destruction of private property by the armies. See Collected Works, VII, 493.] (See above -Ed.)



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