Reprinted in Edward McPherson (ed.), A Handbook of Politics for 1868 (Washington, DC: Philp and Solomons, 1868), 503.
John Osborne, Dickinson College
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES UNITED STATES, March 16, 1866.
Respectfully forwarded to his excellency the President of the United States, with the recommendation that clemency be extended in this case, or assurance given that no trial will take place for the offence charged against George E. Pickett.
During the rebellion belligerent rights were acknowledged to the enemies of our country, and it is clear to me that the parole given by the armies, laying down their arms, protects them against punishment for acts lawful to any other belligerent. In this case, I know it is claimed that the men tried and convicted for crime of desertion were Union men from North Carolina who had found refuge within our lines and in our service. The punishment was a hard one, but it was in time of war, and upon the enemy; they no doubt felt it necessary to retain by some power the service of every man within their reach.
General Pickett I know, personally, to be an honorable man, but in this case his judgment prompted him to do what cannot well be sustained, though I do not see how good, either to the friends of the deceased, or by fixing an example for the future, can be secured by his trial now. It would only open up the question whether or not the government did not disregard its contract entered into to secure the surrender of an armed enemy.
U. S. GRANT,