Original not in General Lee's handwriting but signed by him.
HdQrs C. S. Armies
18th Febry 1865
Lt Gen U S Grant
Comdg U S Armies,
I have received your letter of the 16th isnt: and have submitted your proposition to release citizens held as prisoners by either party to the Secretary of War.
I shall be glad if some arrangement can be made to relieve such persons from unnecessary suffering. I have no knowledge of the facts mentioned in the extract from the newspaper, but will direct inquiry to be made. I gave no order for the arrest of any citizen, and if it be true that those mentioned were taken by any of our forces, I presume they are held as hostages generally for persons of the same class in custody of the Federal Authorities, and not for particular individuals.
R E Lee