Obituary of Frederick Dent Grant

From Report of the Sixth Reunion of the Grant Family Association at the Breevort House, Manhattan, New York City, Feburary 27, 1914, ed. by Frank Grant and Elihu Grant (Westfield, Mass.: n. p., 1914), pp. 26-29.

Frederick Dent Grant

Frederick Dent Grant, soldier and U. S. minister, was born in St. Louis, Mo., May 30, 1850, son of Ulysses S. and Julia (Dent) grant. His father was the eighteenth president of the United States. His early days were passed in the military posts of Fort Wayne, Mich., Sackett's Harbor, N. Y., and near Jefferson Barracks, Mo., where his father was stationed. After the latter's resignation from the army, the family lived in St. Louis, Mo., and Galena, Ill., and young Grant attended the common schools of the latter town until the outbreak of the civil war. He accompanied the 21st Ill. volunteer infantry, of which his father was colonel, in its march across that state to relieve the troops in northern Missouri, then threatened by a Confederate force under Benjamin Harris. When the regiment reached Quincy, Col. Grant sent the boy home, but he rejoined his father at Cairo, after the battle of Belmont and stayed with him until the campaign of Forts Henry and Donelson. At the commencement of the march to Fort Donelson, he was sent to school at Covington, where he remained until the fall of Corinth. In the spring of 1863, he rejoined Gen. Grant at Young's Point, La., and accompanied him in the Vicksburg campaign, where he was for the first time under fire. He was on the same boat with his father during the naval battle of Grand Gulf. In the battle of Port Gibson, he was in action with Powell's battery, being slightly wounded, and later accompanied the 7th Ill. in the advance that drove the enemy from the field. Subsequently he took part in the skirmishes of the Suspension Bridge, Bayou Pierre, and Grindstone Fork, and the battle of Raymond. He was with Tuttle's division in the assault on Jackson and was led by curiosity to enter the city in advance of the Federal troops and before the Confederate force had evacuated the place. In later years, he was accustomed to refer humorously to what he called his single-handed capture of Jackson. After the surrender of the Mississippi capital, he remained with his father until the battle of Champion's Hill and subsequently took part in the charge of Lawler's brigade at Black River bridge, where he was wounded in the leg. He was with his father during the siege of Vicksburg, and after the evacuation of the city was sent North on account of illness. During the whole Vicksburg campaign, he had served unofficially on his father's staff and his conduct, in view of his extreme youth, was remarkably cool and courageous. On recovering from his illness, he joined his father at Nashville, Tenn., and accompanied him to Washington, when the elder Grant was commissioned lieutenant-general by Lincoln. His health would not permit him to take part in the Wilderness campaign, so he attended school at Burlington, N. J., until 1866, when he was appointed at-large to the West Point Military Academy. Upon being graduated in 1871, he waived the usual privilege accorded to graduates of naming the regiments they prefer lest the granting of his request might be attributed to influence. But he was one of the most expert horsemen that ever attended West Point, and for that reason he was appointed to the cavalry and assigned to the Fourth regiment. After his graduation, he obtained leave of absence and accepted a position as civil engineer on the Union Pacific Railway, in which capacity he assisted in various surveys across the continent and in the construction of part of the Colorado Central road in Clear Creek canyon. In the fall of 1871, he went to Europe as aide-de-camp to Gen. Sherman, and on his return, joined his regiment in Texas. During the winter of 1872 and 1873, he commanded the escort of the surveying parties on the Texas Pacific road across the Llano Estacado. In March, 1873, he was appointed to the staff of Gen. Phil Sheridan, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and in the same year was with Gen. Stanley on the Yellowstone expedition. In the following year, he was with Custer on the Black Hills expedition. Obtaining a leave of absence in 1877, he accompanied his father on his memorable trip around the world, and after his return, served in the Bannock Indian War of 1878, and on the various expeditions, on one of which he followe[d] Victoria's Apache band for 500 miles into New Mexico. In 1881, he resigned his commission and started in business in New York. During the last days of the life of Gen. U. S. Grant, his son, Fred, was his constant companion and aided in the compilation and preparation of his autobiography. After his father's death, he re-entered business and became identified with a number of important financial interests. In 1888, he was appointed by Pres. Harrison, minister to Austria, where his success in securing the admission of American products and in protecting American citizens from military duty won for him the highest commendation, and on Cleveland's election to the presidency, he was informed that, unless he insisted, his resignation would not be accepted. He did insist, however, and returned to the United States in 1893. In the following year, he became one of the police commissioners of New York under Mayor Strong's reform administration. When the war with Spain began, he became colonel of the 14th N. Y. volunteers, and on May 27, 1898, was appointed brigadier-general of the United States volunteers. He was honorably discharged on April 15, 1899, and on the same day was re-appointed brigadier-general of volunteers. During the war, he served for a year in Puerto Rico and after the war, he commanded the military district of San Juan. He commanded the 2nd brigade, 1st division, 8th army corps in the Philippine Islands from April to November, 1899. He commanded the troops that found the battles of Big Ben and Binancian. In 1899, he was transferred to the 2nd brigade, 2nd division for the advance into Northern Luzon and covered the flanks and rear of MacArthur's division. Later he was detached to invade the provinces of Batan and Zambilles, which he accomplished after a number of heavy skirmishes. In June, 1900, he was assigned to the command of the 5th district, Northern Luzon, and for the following year was engaged in the severe guerilla warfare, which included the battles of Balahad and Ipo and a number of more or less serious skirmishes. On Feb. 18, 1901, he was commissioned a brigadier-general in the regular army. He was transferred to the command of the 4th separate brigade, Samar and Leyte, in October, 1901, and received the surrender of the last of the insurgents. He was responsible for the subsequent establishment of civil government in those provinces and in this connection showed diplomacy and constructive statesmanship of the highest order and called forth the warm commendation of many of the most prominent men of affairs in the United States. He commanded the Department of Texas, 1902-4; the department of the Lakes, in which he had served under Sheridan, July to September, 1904; the department of the East, 1904-8, being promoted to the rank of major-general in February, 1906; the department of the Lakes again, 1908-10; the department of the East, July 25, 1910, to July 1, 1911; and the eastern division, which embraces the department of the East and the department of the Gulf from its establishment on July 1, 1911; and the eastern division, which embraces the department of the East and the department of the Gulf from its establishment on July 1, 1911, until his death. It was inevitable that Gen. Grant's career should fall under the shadow of his father's reputation. The elder Grant was one of the big figures of this country's history, ranking with the greatest military leaders of all time. That his son should be subjected to the handicap of a constant comparison is natural enough, and that he stood the comparison so well is perhaps the best compliment that could be paid him. But the comparison was, of course, unfair, for even allowing that Frederick Dent Grant possessed his father's genius, he was never confronted with the same big trial and the same big opportunity. Indian fighting and a war, whose result was a foregone conclusion from the beginning, were the extent of his opportunities, and he acquitted himself as brilliantly as the limitations of those opportunities allowed. It required a big test to bring out the great qualities of his father, a similar test that never applied to the son. That under such a test he would have shown equal powers is quite probable. He was a born soldier, with an innate capacity for leadership and a rare faculty of inspiring confidence and affection in his men. His resemblance to his father was so striking in all other respects, both in character and physique, as to intrude itself inevitably on every description of him. A prominent New York business man said of him several years before his death, "What seems to me the best trait in the man is his honest courage and persistency in facing any kind of circumstances without allowing himself to be disheartened. I have known him over twenty years, and the more I see of him, the better I like him." He was married in Chicago, Ill., Oct. 20, 1874, to Ida M., daughter of Henry Hamilton Honore (q. v.), and had two children; Julia, who married Prince Cantacuzene, of Russia, and Ulysses S. Grant, 3d, who is a captain in the Corps of Engineers of the U. S. army. Gen. Grant died in New York City, April 12, 1912.