Lincoln's exchanges with Grant, August 1864, regarding the burning of houses
and the destruction of private property.
From Abraham Lincoln to Ulysses S. Grant, August 14, 1864
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
[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.]
From Ulysses S. Grant to Abraham Lincoln, August 17, 1864
ABRAHAM LINCOLN - PAGE 7
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.
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
U S Grant
[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.)