ADAM BADEAU ON APPOMATTOX *** In late 1862, Lieutenant Colonel James Harrison Wilson was assigned to General Grant’s staff as topographical engineer. An 1860 West Point graduate, Wilson already had considerable staff experience with Generals Thomas W. Sherman, David Hunter, and George B. McClellan. In time he found that both John A. Rawlins, Grant’s chief of staff, and Grant himself were not entirely satisfied with current staff personnel.
On May 2, 1863, the day after the battle of Port Gibson in the Vicksburg campaign, Wilson first suggested to Grant that he obtain a military secretary. Grant replied that he had been thinking about that himself, and asked if Wilson had someone in mind. Wilson suggested Adam Badeau, asking if Grant recalled seeing him during the Corinth campaign. At first Grant did not, but when Wilson described him as a “short, stoop-shouldered, red-headed fellow who wore glasses,” Grant began to recall “a little pale, blue-eyed man, who wore spectacles and looked like a bent fo’-pence.” Grant soon requested that Badeau be assigned to his staff.
Badeau, the descendant of a Huguenot family, was born in New York City and had a secondary-school education in Tarrytown, New York. He wrote articles for newspapers and, in 1859, published a collection of essays, The Vagabond. The outbreak of the Civil War found him a clerk in the State Department. He accompanied the expedition to Port Royal, South Carolina, as a reporter for the New York Express. As his stay in Port Royal lengthened [pg. 2] and news for New York decreased, he organized and edited a soldier paper, the Port Royal New South, and eventually joined General Thomas W. Sherman’s staff. Even before officially joining the army he served as a volunteer aide on the staff of General Quincy A. Gillmore during the bombardment of Port Pulaski. Although Badeau’s nearsightedness and weakness were severe handicaps in military life, his intelligence and determination were compensations.
Henry Adams, who dined regularly with Badeau in Washington in 1869, described him as “exceedingly social, though not in appearance imposing. He was stout; his face was red, and his habits were regularly irregular; but be was very intelligent, a good newspaper man, and an excellent military historian.” Grant had chuckled for days at the comic sight of Badeau and his saddle lying on the ground after he had ridden his horse between two close-set trees. But Grant also turned to Badeau for his first serious talk about the significance of Appomattox.
The very day Badeau received his orders to report to Grant’s headquarters (May 27, 1863) he received a wound in his foot while accompanying General Sherman in a charge at Port Hudson. During part of a lengthy recuperation in New York City, Badeau was cared for by his old friend Edwin Booth and his brother, John Wilkes Booth. Badeau finally joined Grant at Nashville in February, 1864, shortly before Grant shifted headquarters to the Army of the Potomac. When Grant went east he took with him Rawlins, Badeau, and five other staff officers, none a regular, but the staff was soon augmented by Horace Porter and Orville E. Babcock, both young West Point graduates of considerable promise; Cyrus Comstock, an experienced engineer, rejoining the staff; Frederick Dent, Grant’s brother-in-law and roommate at West Point; and in September, Ely S. Parker, to share the duties of military secretary with Badeau. Between the winnowing away of old members of the western staff and the addition of young military pro [pg.3]fessionals, Grant had a competent and efficient staff by the close of the war.
In the meantime, the career of James Harrison Wilson had advanced with dazzling speed. In the same month in which Badeau joined the staff, Wilson left it to become Chief of the Cavalry Bureau of the War Department. After a few months there, during which he effected a complete reorganization, he led the Third Cavalry Division of Sheridan’s corps through the 1864 Virginia campaigns. In October, he was reassigned to command the cavalry corps under General W. T. Sherman, and Led the last campaign of the war which captured Selma, Montgomery, and Jefferson Davis. At the end of the war, aged 28, he was a brevet Major General of Volunteers.
Wilson never lost touch with Grant’s headquarters nor his interest in the staff. The Princeton University Library has seventy-nine letters from Badeau to Wilson, including the one printed below. Badeau wrote two printed accounts of the last days of the Civil War, neither, however, containing all the details in his letter to Wilson.
Badeau found Grant “as kind as I had anticipated” at their first meeting. The longer he knew Grant the greater grew his admiration. “As for Grant,” wrote Badeau, “I love him better every day. His magnanimity, his unselfishness, his freedom from vanity, his purity place him beyond any character in history.”
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
Washington, May 27 1865.
Dear HarryYour deeply interesting letter containing the account of Jeff Davis’s capture reached me yesterday; I have read portions of it to a great many interested listeners, who found a great deal to admire in the style as well as in the matter. I wish you joy again and again dear Harry, of all your good fortune. All your friends here are prouder of you than ever; all but me. I am proud for you, but I felt just as proud of you years ago, when our intimacy first commenced. I have just read Gen Thomas’s flattering despatch to Gen. Grant, a copy of which was forwarded to you.1 copied the part that would delight Delie and sent it to her. You are very good to write to me so often amid all your engagements. I should have sent you full details of occurrences here had I dreamed that you were so isolated. I have however been away the last three weeks myself, on the [pg. 4] Mississippi, but got back in time to witness the review of Sherman’s army. Of course the occasion was magnificent and inspiring beyond any spectacle of modern times. The General and Shezmm seem to be as true friends as ever. Sherman put his arm around Grant’s waist, after the review, but while every body was still on the platform. And indeed Sherman now owes Grant more than ever. Public opinion stands thus. The condemnation of Sherman’s act is universal, but in consideration of his brilliant services the country is willing to forgive and forget it. Grant’s wonderful magnanimity in throwing the mantle of his protection around his ambitious subordinate is equal to the generosity he displayed to Lee. What a wonderful man he is. His goodness is greater than his greatness. History presents no such character in all her crowded pages. Sherman seems determined to make a fight with the Sec., and the more he and his partisans stir the matter the worse it will be for his fame. He cannot be defended, only excused or rather pardoned. I have no doubt whatever that I have already told you the actuating cause of his conduct. Every [man] about the General, agrees with me. He of course will not see it. But Sherman is full of fascinations, and I can concieve of nothing more interesting than to hear him tell for hours the story and incidents of his campaigns.
I like Mr. Johnson’s looks and manner very much. He impressed me as a man of character and ability; also of much dignity. All that I know of his action since his advent to power, also impresses me favorably. He does not display that bitterness which is attributed to him. He is bitter only to that pestilent doctrine which has caused all of our trouble–state sovereignty, and has no mercy for that. The General thinks he (G) has every reason to be satisfied with the support that Johnson gives him. Mrs. Grant is living in Washington, at Halleck’s former residence.
You ask me to tell you every thing, but it is two months since I have really written up to you; and the crowd of events through which I have passed in that time would take me a month more to tell of. I cant describe the campaign, with its wonders. Let me remember two or three things which you would like to know, and then I’ll tell you a little about the surrender, Lee, and Richmond. I’m afraid twill all be stale though before it reaches you. Yet only at your urgent and repeated request that I go back to it now.
First, about the news just now. We havnt heard definitely today from Kirby Smith; but expect to hear of his surrender, daily. Lee has not taken the oath, but his three sons have. W. H. Lee is raising vegetables and brought a load to market the other day. Lee is willing to take the oath, but thinks his precepts will have more weight, if not preceded by his example. The developments of the conspiracy fasten guilt very plainly upon prominent people in Canada and Richmond. Judge Campbell is especially implicated: yet I had a conversation with him in Richmond about the assassination in which he reprobated it strongly. I urged him to get up a card or something of that sort but he didnt take to the suggestion, though he said he had no objection to the use of his name. Lee too told me that he was indignant that the attempt should be made to saddle the advisor of this upon the south.
Sheridan was the fighter of the campaign. Twas his personal influence over his men that decided the fight at Five Forks. We had not been successful the day before; his own cavalry had been fighting infantry and compelled to retire before the very force which had just come from whipping Warren; Sheridan took the same troops, the 5th corps, and his own command, and overwhelmed the enemy. Then Grant rose to those magnificent proportions which he always develops in an emergency: After all his experience in assaulting works, after the year since Culpeper, it required more courage than any other man could show to order an assault all along our lines. But when he got the full news of Sheridan’s success, he did not wait a moment to con [pg.5]sider or consult; ran into his tent, wrote two or three lines; first ordering an assault that night (twas near 9 P. M.) but the corps commanders could not get ready; and then he designated daybreak as the hour. He hadn’t a doubt that we should get inside. After this, there was no pause, no hesitancy, no doubt what to do. He commanded Lee’s army as much as he did his own; caused and knew beforehand every movement that Lee made, up to the actual surrender. The marching of the troops contributed to the last and complete result as much as the fighting. There was no let up; fighting and marching, and Grant negotiating and fighting all at once. This accounts for the change in Lee’s views; at the beginning of the correspondence you remember, he said he didnt agree with Grant that surrender was inevitable, and he didn’t think so on the very morning that it occurred. Then Grant had him completely surrounded: Meade was chasing him on one road, and Sheridan with Ord and the 5th Corps were sent to head him off; outmarched him and got around him; so that after the surrender, Grant who was with Sheridan, communicated with Meade on the shortest line, thro Lee’s army. I was present at the interview which terminated in the surrender. Lee behaved with great dignity and courtesy, but no cordiality; he seemed depressed, and talked but little. Grant was perfect in his demeanor, because completely simple and natural. Lee made no demands whatever, accepted whatever Grant suggested. He asked what terms the General would allow him; Grant said the surrender of men and public property, officers and men to be paroled. Lee acquiesced, and Grant says that while putting on paper these terms, he was so touched by Lee’s absence of hauteur, in his complete acquiescence, that he inserted the paragraph allowing officers to retain their side arms and personal property. Lee then asked whether the horses of the men were to be given up, stating that in his army they were personal property. Grant said the terms included them. Lee acknowledged this, when Grant said he would not change the terms, but would instruct his officers who superintended the paroling, to allow the men to retain their horses. So that they could take them home to work their farms. Lee said this would have a very good effect.
Next day the Gen started out for a ride into the Rebel lines, with his staff, but the pickets had no instructions to allow us to enter, and an officer was sent up to Gen Lee. He came in person to the front, and he and the General had an interview of an hour and a half. Lee had nobody with him but an orderly; Grant had Sheridan Gibbon, Griffin, Merritt, and his own staff; all kept aloof in a sort of semi-circle around Grant, too far to hear the conversation. Twas on a hill just between the two armies. Both armies were in full sight. I had not got such a view of the Rebels since we left Culpeper. Appomattox is on this hill right in a long valley; on the two opposite sides of the valley lay the two armies, completely in sight of each other. Their conversation developped Lee’s views very fully. He was for peace, submission, giving up slavery and state sovereignty as having both been decided by the war. Grant was for clemency. Sheridan, Ingalls & Seth Williams got permission from Lee to go over inside of his lines meanwhile, and got back about as the interview terminated. With them came Longstreet, Gordon, Heth, Wilcox, Picket, W. H. F. Lee and others to pay their respects to Grant. All behaved with more than courtesy and cordiality. One officer said to Grant “Gen, I want to congratulate you on having wound us up” Heth told me the saddest day of his life was that on which he received his commission from Richmond; “Except yesterday”; others expressed a wish for reunion. Twas a most remarkable meeting. Ord heard me express my views at hdqrs about the policy to be carried out, and asked the Gen. to send me to Richmond with him. This was done, and I was at once sent to all the prominent people there.2 Campbell, the Mayor, the judges, members of the Rebel Congress and others; all were thoroughly [pg. 6] whipped in feeling; expected to take the oath, but preferred waiting for state action. That notion still lingered; but they were soon informed that there would be no state action recognized till the individuals purged themselves of their guilt of treason. All was going on well till the terrible crime, which changed the tone of public feeling at the North. I staid a week or ten days in Richmond till Hafleck came, when I asked to be relieved, and went to the Gen in North Carolina. I had a long interview with Lee; who told me he had been opposed to Secession “till his state went out,” the old, old story; that he thought then and thinks now, “we should be better off as one country than as two.” His sons have taken the oath; one of them brought a load of vegetables to market the other day in Alexandria. Longstreet has taken the oath without knowing what it would avail him. Lee is willing to do so, but thinks he can do more good by still postponing the act. You know about the fox who lost his tail. I think the soldiers no matter how high in authority will all escape punishment. The reaction in public feeling is subsiding; vengeance is no longer demanded in such furious language. Davis however will undoubtedly pay the penalty of treason; and I am glad of it. I doubt if there are any other executions: disfranchisement, exile and confiscation will be meted out to some of the principal political leaders, and that will be all Negro suffrage is to be the next question. The quarrel about Sherman also assumes larger proportions than I like to see. I have written you a mass of indigested matter, just as I thought of anything you would like to know. I approve the tone of your orders, and your whole conduct during and after the armistice. It reflects credit on your sense as well as your heart. Posterity will acknowledge your patriotism as well as your soldierly qualities. How delighted I am that the brilliant part you have played, occurred just at the close of the war, and is therefore sure to be remembered better than exploits equally splendid of an earlier date. I hope one of these days to tell for the world what I have known about you, Harry, and make others share not only my admiration for your military genius, but my appreciation of your manliness and nobility of character which these traits never fail to extort, when they are known. There are few more superb exhibitions of these in history, my boy, than I have been loving and admiring for years in my Left Arm
I told the Gen. & Rawlins about your recommendations. They are both anxious to receive them. They havn’t reached here yet. I’ll see during the summer whether I cant pay you a visit. Just now, I dont like to ask it. I have never asked for absence except on account of sickness: there has been too much need of that sort, you know. God bless you
I was away when your staff officer was here3
- On May 23, General George H. Thomas had referred to “his own personal gallantry and ability, together with the efficient condition of his command and the eminent services lately performed by this body of heroes…” O.R. I, xlix, 2, 882-883.
- Three days after the surrender, Badeau was assigned to duty as president of the Relief Commission of Richmond, a major job since following the fall of the city some 15,000 people were in need of assistance. O.R. I, xlvi, 3, 724, 882-884.
- We are indebted to Alexander P. Clark, Curator of Manuscripts, Princeton University Library, for permission to print this letter.
[pg. 7] GENERAL GRANT AND GENERAL PRENTISS *** As soon as the Civil War began, Governor Richard Yates of Illinois realized both the strategic importance and the vulnerability of the southern tip of his state. The earliest Illinois volunteers were sent to Cairo, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, under the command of Benjamin H. Prentiss, a lawyer from Quincy and Mexican War veteran, who was appointed a colonel. When more troops arrived in Cairo, including full regiments commanded by colonels, Yates advanced Prentiss to brigadier general.
When Prentiss was appointed a colonel, Grant was still nominally in the leather business in Galena. Prentiss had advanced to brigadier general when Grant was named a temporary mustering officer. But Governor Yates had no authority to appoint brigadier generals; only President Lincoln could do this. When Prentiss’ appointment was confirmed by Congress in midsummer 1861, Grant stood on the same list of brigadier generals with appointments to date from May 17; in fact, Grant stood a few notches higher because of his previous rank of captain in the regular army.
These technicalities were probably far from General John C. Fremont’s mind when he sent Prentiss to take command at Ironton, Missouri, where Grant was already stationed. When Grant arrived in St. Louis, however, Fremont learned that he had accidentally superseded him by a junior officer. Grant was sent to Jefferson City for a week, then returned to southeast Missouri. [pg. 8] It was General Prentiss’ turn for initiation into the mysteries of rank.
The following account of the incident is a portion of an unpublished autobiography of General Benjamin H. Grierson of Jacksonville, Illinois, made available through the courtesy of the Illinois State Historical Library and Mrs. M. L. Frank of Jacksonville, a grandniece of General Grierson. The account was written long after the events described, but is based closely on long letters written at the time to Mrs. Grierson.
General Prentiss, who was anxious to have me continue with him during the war, had endeavored to obtain, by the assistance of General Fremont, a commission for me from the War Department with the rank of captain. He was assured by General Fremont that he should have command of the troops both at Cairo and in south-east Missouri. Being the commander, as he understood it, of even more than a Division he thought himself entitled to an aide-de-camp with the rank of major and was determined that I should have that grade if he could obtain it for me. So soon as the troops could be equipped and properly supplied with transportation it was the intention to move southward to Greenville, Wayne County, Mo., to attack the rebels, said to be there under command of General Hardie [Hardee], and supposed to be 6000 in number….On arrival of General Prentiss at Ironton he found General Grant pushing things as well as he could with the force available. Fremont liking Prentiss had resolved to increase his command and on the promises heretofore mentioned had sent him to Ironton. Grant supposed himself relieved but Prentiss claiming superiority under Fremont’s orders Grant asked leave to go to St. Louis to consult with Fremont on the subject and Prentiss of course cheerfully gave his consent. General Fremont finally ascertained that Grant did rank Prentiss and saw that it was a great blunder to have brought those two officers into collision. Grant not wishing to go back to Ironton to supersede Prentiss was sent temporarily to Jefferson City and soon afterwards assigned to Prentiss’ old command at Cairo and vicinity, a change which proved fortunate for the former and correspondingly detrimental to the interests of the latter…. [Prentiss was later ordered to move from Ironton to Jackson, Missouri. Grierson’s account of the march is omitted.]
When General Prentiss was ordered on that expedition he supposed it was to head the great movement southward, but when he arrived at Jackson he found Colonel Marsh, with troops already there, who, upon receiving his orders informed him he already had them from General Grant and could not of course obey two commanders. General Prentiss was appointed a Brigadier-General of Illinois State Troops on the 8th day of May, 1861, and received his commission on that day. His appointment of Brigadier-General of Volunteers was dated May 17th, the same date as General Grant’s and General Prentiss believed himself entitled to precedence on account of his commission as Brigadier-General received from the Governor of Illinois, but on account of General Grant’s previous service in the United States Army, he was by the War Department, placed above him in the order of appointment and was therefore superior to General Prentiss in rank, as well as many other [pg. 9] officers who were appointed General Officers at that time. General Prentiss immediately proceeded to Cape Girardeau to meet General Grant and it was early in September when the interview herein related took place which resulted in a wide breech between those two officers and the subsequent removal of General Prentiss to a distant command. I was the only other person present on that occasion. I did my utmost to maintain peace between those gallant and ambitious officers. I believed that my friend and commander, General Prentiss, to a certain extent justifiable in his cause, but could not be insensible to the intemperance with which he urged his claims. Seeing that General Prentiss was laboring under great excitement, I had determined at all hazards to prevent any serious collision between him and General Grant. At the commencement of the interview a staff-officer who accompanied General Grant, hearing loud talking in the room opened the door as if to enter. General Grant turning towards him raised his hand and indicated that he wished him to remain outside. Seeing this I at once proposed to General Grant to withdraw also, as I then presumed he might prefer to be alone with General Prentiss. General Grant however immediatedly said that he desired me to remain. I had already been endeavoring to quiet General Prentiss and to secure an understanding and an arrangement which would be satisfactory to both officers. Although my position was, under the circumstances, an embarrassing one, I believe my coolness and presence of mind was a fortunate thing for all parties immediately concerned, as well as for the cause in which we all felt so deep an interest.
General Prentiss having, as has been seen, a reasonable expectation of being the first in command in that part of the country and leader of the main expedition southward, was exceedingly exasperated at finding himself subordinate to General Grant, as can readily be understood. General Grant, however, offered the most favorable arrangement possible to General Prentiss, promising him opportunities to do and troops to do with, but nothing could assuage General Prentiss who became very violent and abusive. General Grant was very patient and magnanimous; told General Prentiss he did not want to interfere with him; offered to place him in command of the movement southward and to let him have all the men necessary, and in short aid him to the utmost in every way in his power to insure the success of the expedition. General Prentisa persistently refused to be appeased, and relying on General Fremont’s regard for him believed he could carry his point. He refused absolutely to take orders from General Grant; returned to Jackson in great anger; turned over his command to Colonel John Cook of the 7th Illinois Infantry, and then went to his tent, laid down on his bed and there dictated a letter to General Fremont, giving a statement of the whole transaction and interview between himself and General Grant and sent me to deliver it to General Fremont at St. Louis. I started immediatedly to carry out instructions but on my arrival at General Fremont’s Headquarters I found that the General was just starting to make a call on Prince Napoleon. I succeeded in presenting the papers to his private secretary, however, and arranged to return in the after-noon for an answer. Upon so returning I unfortunately found that Prince Napoleon was there returning General Fremont’s call, which of course made it necessary to arrange for the interview to take place the next morning. Before leaving headquarters I learned from the secretary that General Prentiss had already been ordered to St. Louis, where he arrived at 6 o ‘clock, a.m., the next day. His presence of course relieved me from further action in the matter. He called on General Fremont at the hour fixed upon, but found him so much occupied in giving orders for the shipment of troops that he had to make a further [pg. 10] appointment to meet him later in the day, and while he was having that interview I occupied my time in writing an account of those extraordinary occurrences to Mrs. Grierson. General Prentiss had, under excitement, on the spur of the moment, tendered his resignation but after the conference with General Fremont he was induced to withdraw it on the assurance that he would be assigned to an adequate command. The whole affair was unfortunate for General Prentiss and in my judgment it was a very great mistake, under all the circumstances, for him to refuse to receive orders from General Grant. Had he remained at his post he would have had every opportunity afforded him for distinction. Fremont could not sustain him against a higher power and Prentiss was finally ordered into north Missouri where the rebels carried on a sort of gurilla warfare which amounted to nothing. He had a large section of country and a large nunber of troops but they were so scattered and the rebels so disinclined to concentrate and attempt any great movement, that the command was a very undesirable one as nothing but the most petty and desultory warfare was possible. My remonstrances with General Prentiss were earnest, and for a time seemed persuasive, but unfortunately failed in the end and it is probable that the result was afterwards regretted by General Prentiss himself. My relations with General Grant during this unfortunate quarrel were perfectly satisfactory notwithstanding my loyalty to my superior and friend General Prentiss….
Prentiss came under Grant’s command again on April 1, 1862, at Pittsburg Landing. There he was placed in command of newly arrived reinforcements and with these withstood the attack of the Confederates at Shiloh five days later. When the rest of the Union army pulled back, Prentiss maintained a stubborn defense of the Hornets’ Nest until he and the remainder of his command were captured late in the afternoon. He had sold his command to buy time for Grant.
Prentiss was exchanged after six months and soon reassigned to Grant, who stationed him at Helena, Arkansas, during the Vicksburg campaign to prevent Confederate reinforcements from the Trans-Mississippi reaching Vicksburg. On the very day Vicksburg surrendered Prentiss defeated a Confederate army twice the size of his own.
Prentiss resigned his commission that fall to resume his law practice in Quincy. That there was no ill-feeling was shown later when President Grant appointed Prentiss a federal pension agent, and shown once more when Grant discussed their earlier difficulties in his Memoirs.
[pg. 11] General Prentiss made a great mistake on the above occasion, one that he would not have committed later in the war. When I came to know him better, I regretted it much. In consequence of this occurrence he was off duty in the field when the principal campaign at the West was going on, and his juniors received promotion while he was where none could be obtained. He would have been next to myself in rank in the district of southeast Missouri, by virtue of his services in the Mexican war. He was a brave and very earnest soldier. No man in the service was more sincere in his devotion to the cause for which we were battling; none more ready to make sacrifices or risk life in it.
NEWS NOTES *** The Grant Association has been awarded a medallion and certificate by the United States Civil War Centennial Commission. The presentation was made by Fred Schwengel, vice chairman of the commission, at a meeting of the Chicago Civil War Round Table. Newton C. Farr, a director of the Grant Association, accepted the award. *** Let Us Have Peace: The Story of Ulysses S. Grant, by Howard N. Meyer, is a recent publication of the Collier Books branch of the Macmillan Company. Although published in a series of history books for teenagers, there is nothing condescending about either the style or the ideas. With some twenty per cent of the text treating Grant’s life before the war, forty per cent the war itself, and another forty per cent the years beyond Appomattox, this is one of the best proportioned Grant biographies. Meyer emphasizes Grant’s dislike of war, and deals more with his character and personality than his generalship. Sympathetic to Radical Reconstruction, he believes that Grant’s role in the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment was his supreme achievement. “I insist,” Meyer has written, “that Grant has been misjudged in the consensus of our ‘trained’ historians, who have obscured his greatness as a pacifist and citizen soldier and distorted his contribution as a stubborn opponent of Andrew Johnson’s evil course.” *** Another new book which discusses Grant and the Fifteenth Amendment is William Gillette’s The Right to Vote: Politics and the Passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, published [pg. 12] by the Johns Hopkins Press. Gillette argues that the amendment established impartial rather than universal suffrage in order to gain needed support from moderate Republicans and that the primary goal was enfranchisement of the Negro in the North where a few more Republican votes might carry closely contested pivotal states. Beyond that, however, the amendment also carried “the source and the vision of political equality…as capable of growth as the capacity of Americans to mature.” It was in this light that Grant regarded ratification of the amendment as “the most important event that has occurred since the nation came into life.”
[pg. 13] GENERAL GRANT AT THE “CAREY VESPERS” *** Those who knew Grant well often spoke of him as a gifted conversationalist, thus mystifying those who knew only his brief public speeches and laconic official communications. It was apparently true, Nonetheless, that when Grant was with a congenial group he did most of the talking, by mutual consent. One such congenial group gathered in Philadelphia on June 25, 1865, to meet Grant at the home of the respected economist, Henry C. Carey. Those in attendance were social and business leaders of Philadelphia, and Grant could feel certain that his remarks would not be made public. Henry Carey Baird’s notes on the conversation, made shortly after it took place, were put aside for nearly a quarter century before he revised them into a narrative. By that time, 1889, Grant had been dead for four years, and the historical importance of what he had said justified their publication. Baird had a title page for his account printed but for some unknown reason decided against publication.
Henry Carey Baird was the son of Captain Thomas J. Baird, a West Point graduate who commanded the arsenal at Bridesburg, Pennsylvania. At sixteen, he entered the Philadelphia publishing firm of Carey & Hart, managed by his uncle, Henry C. Carey. Although Baird later had his own publishing house, his chief interest was the study of economics. He became a prolific pamphleteer in support of his own theories and those of his uncle. His fervent support of a high protective tariff brought him into the Republican Party, [pg. 14] but his belief that currency should be based upon real wealth and business needs rather than precious metals later took him temporarily to the Greenback Party.
So far as can be determined, Baird had no purpose in transcribing Grant’s conversation other than making an accurate historical record. Those statements which can be checked against other records hold up well, and the tone is similar to the Grant interviews by John Russell Young, as well as Grant’s own Memoirs. Baird’s own feelings, which appear in “Recollections of General Meade,” are not apparent in his account of Grant’s conversation. The original Baird manuscript is in the Edward Carey Gardiner collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. We are grateful to Henry Cadwalader, director of the society, for permission to use it.
TO WHICH IS ADDED A BRIEF NOTE OF RECOLLECTIONS OF GENERAL MEADE.
BY HENRY CAREY BAIRD.PREFATORY
The “Vespers” of my late kinsman Henry C. Carey as he facetiously called them, were the Sunday afternoon gatherings at his house, 1102 Walnut Street, which took place during nine or ten months during each year, for nearly, if not quite, twenty five of the latter years of his life, which closed October 13th. 1879.He was always at home after five or half past five O’clock, every Sunday, except during the summer months; and his friends to the number of half a dozen or more, called and sat about the large round table in his back parlor, where hock wine was served, and finally about 8 0’clock, coffee, when the company usually broke up.
When any distinguished stranger was known to be in town, he was likely to be invited to come to the “Vespers”, by Mr. Carey or was brought [pg. 15] by some friend, and thus many men of eminence during the last quarter of a century of Mr. Carey’s life met at his festive board. There he used to say, “We discuss everything and settle nothing”. And so it was, all prominent questions of the day being there earnestly discussed.
The following notes of the Vespers at which General Grant took part, are now written out, almost verbatim, from lead-pencil notes made by me within forty eight hours after the event and still preserved.
Philada. July 4, 1889. H. C. B.
On Sunday afternoon June 25, 1865, I received from Mr. Carey a note inviting me to come to his “Vespers” to meet General Grant and “listen to his silence”. A few minutes after 7 P. M. I arrived there and immediately on entering the room was introduced to General Grant, who had been there about 15 minutes, and who, at once on shaking hands with me, introduced me to Col. [Adam] Badeau his aide de Camp.
There were present besides General Grant and Col. Badeau [,] Col. Horace Porter, Henry C. Carey, Morton McMichael, John Tucker, George H. Boker, Judge John C. Knox and Daniel Smith, Jr.
I found General Grant very pleasant and most communicative, indeed very talkative, and I shall endeavor to record his conversation with as much accuracy as possible. This conversation was desultory and the result of questions asked him by various gentlemen present and I cannot pretend to give it in the order in which it took place.
Some reference having been made, by some one to General [Gouvernour K.] Warren, General Grant gave the following account of his having been relieved by General Sheridan, on the field of battle in the recent operations;–
General Sheridan having in his earlier operations against Lee’s right flank, been unsuccessful, most officers would have fallen back and left the field, coming to me and telling me how and why it was that they had been defeated; hut Sheridan, he added, did no such thing. Instead of this, he fell back before the enemy, slowly contesting the ground, inch by inch, in such a manner that the ground was given up only at the rate of half a mile an hour–he sending me word what the actual position of things was. I then sent the 5th Corps to his aid and wrote him that if Gen. Warren failed him, to relieve him without a moments hesitation, and to order him to report to me–that the present was no time to consider the feelings or our regard for any man, that the public good alone must be consulted.1
General Warren did not move his command as soon as he should have done or as General Grant had expected, and in fact had still not yet set out when really he should have been up with and ready to co-operate with Sheridan. Col. Porter suggested that a bridge had been destroyed which cost some delay to which Gen. Grant said “Yes, that was properly the cause of some delay.”
After being relieved, General Warren reported, as ordered, to General Grant, saying “General, a very unpleasant circumstance has taken place. General Sheridan has relieved me of my command and ordered me to report to you”–evidently as General Grant observed, not knowing that he had anything to do with it.
[pg. 16] “Yes”, replied General Grant “I had anticipated that you would fail General Sheridan, and in view of such an event, I had given him orders to relieve you, and but for General Meade, who saved you, I would have relieved you a few days after crossing the Rapidan”, going on to say “General Warren, you seem to think, there is no other general in the Army but yourself. You never receive an order that you do not send back and say how you think the thing should be done, and that others should do so and so, and the consequence is that you never move in time. You have no confidence in your superiors, nor have you any in your subordinates. You have three as fine division commanders as any man could desire, and you never allow them to execute a movement themselves, but must always yourself see to it. The consequence is, while you are attending to the one division and get into a fight with it, you get licked–the other two divisions looking on all the while. No man can command more than one division at a time unless he has confidence in some one else”.2
The conversation was continued by General Grant in regard to General Sheridan, and it being suggested by Judge Knox that Sheridan was simply good to execute a movement previously determined upon and planned, General Grant said; “No, he is equal to anything–even to the chief command of the Armies of the United States, and had he once been placed in that position, he would never had been relieved of it”. He then stated that when Sheridan was in the Valley and before he had moved, he went there to talk with him and see about his moving and tell him how to do it. Sheridan on being asked what his plans were, at once brought out his maps and showed Grant how he could move and what would be the result of it, and the entire movement, as subsequently made was in accordance with his, Sheridan’s plans. He asked whether he could bring up his trains in 48 hours. “Yes sir” said he “in twenty four”; and they were brought up the next day.
He stated that Sheridan had never been placed in any position that he did not fulfill its duties and requirements well–until he was Quarter Master of General Curtis’s Army, that Army had never been able to keep itself supplied. On being asked, why Curtis had relieved Sheridan, he said he did not know unless it was owing to the fact that Sheridan would not let the teams be used for transporting cotton.3 He said that at Chattanooga, Sheridan had command of a division in Gordon Granger’s Corps, but that he would have preferred having Sheridan in command of the Corps.
He told me that he did not relieve [Alfred] Pleasanton from the command of the Cavalry because he considered him a failure, but because he regarded Sheridan as an abler officer.
Being asked, how many men he had under him when he crossed the Rapidan, he replied 123,000 of all arms, including officers, and said that though he outnumbered Lee, the latter had the advantage of being in his own country, generally on the defensive, and had no communications to keep up, while he, Grant, was under the necessity of doing so. He said that when be went into a fight he considered that Lee could actually bring as many men into it as he could. He said that never after the battle of Spottsylvania, had the rebel army the courage to show fight in the open field–that there he had given them a fair chance, but they had not embraced it. At Cold Harbor, the rebels knew that he had withdrawn [pg. 17] three of his corps from the front and yet they did not then dare to attack the two remaining corps in their works.
Judge Knox remarked, that he had heard the President say that any other General would have fallen back over the Rapidan after the first battle. General Grant replied that he started out with the intention of riot coming back without first taking Richmond and that he never contemplated doing otherwise, adding “When I saw that Butler had shut himself up in a bottle (Bermuda) I thought it would take a good while but I felt satisfied it could be done.* I knew that all that was necessary was to stick at them.”
Mr. Carey having said, that it was a pity, for Butler that he was so anxious to make a military reputation and was not content to be and enjoy the reputation of a military governor, Grant replied, he might have enjoyed such a reputation among persons at a distance but would not have done so among those near to him; that he had done a great many things for which no justification could be found, and then called attention to the case of Chaplain Hudson, who had been imprisoned by Butler in a bull-pen for 65 days, for what he had written in regard to him.4 “Never punish a man for writing against you.”
Mr. Boker said on the contrary, send him pens ink and paper and invite him to go ahead. General Grant acquiesced in this view. He added that Butler even while under his command and eye, was doing things which were only by accident being found out by some newspaper paragraphs.
In regard to Butler’s failure at Fort Fisher, General Grant said no instructions were given to make an assault. On the contrary, it was said, if it is found too strong to assault, let the position be fortified, and let the operations go on for a siege, just as Richmond is besieged. It will be a victory even to have made a landing.
In regard to the final operations which led to the surrender of Lee’s Army he said that it had been his idea, when Warren was sent to reenforce Sheridan that the former should be thrown round in such a manner as to strike the rebels who had advanced against Sheridan and cut them off from the main body of the rebel army.
When he found that Sheridan had been, with the aid of the 5th. Corps, successful in crushing the rebel right, and taking, as he did so large a number of prisoners, he felt satisfied that Lee’s Army would, to a great extent, fall into his hands and he knew that all was over with Lee, though he did not then expect to be able to capture the entire Army.
When he first wrote Lee demanding the surrender of his Army, he had riot at that time the rebel Army in such a position as to make certain of [pg. 18] capturing it entire if Lee did not surrender it. Subsequently, however, and at the time that Lee did agree to the surrender he had him in such a position that escape was impossible. In regard to his conference with Lee and the surrender he said that Lee agreed to his terms so promptly, and he behaved so well, that he felt no desire even strictly to force him to comply with the exact conditions agreed upon. So when he sat down to write out the formal agreement he–Grant–added the provision allowing the rebel officers to retain their side arms, horses, and private property. Gen. Lee took up this paper and on reading it and finding these additional and generous provisions, seemed very much pleased and remarked “This will have a very good effect on our Army”.
Subsequently Lee remarked “There are a great many men in our Army who own their own horses, do the conditions of surrender include these in such a manner that the men will be able to retain these?” To this Grant replied “No” and Lee in again looking over the paper said “Yes it is so”. General Grant remarked however that the horses would be of no consequence to the Government and would be of great advantage to the men, especially to those who were farmers, and he would arrange it by giving directions to his officers superintending the surrender to allow all men who owned their horses to retain them. Either General Grant or Col. Badeau stated that when these, conditions were subsequently known in the rebel army the men gave three cheers–in fact as all three officers present agreed, there was more enthusiasm manifested in the rebel army than in our own. On the following day, as General Grant stated, numerous rebel officers came to his Headquarters to pay their respects to him and to thank him for the very magnanimous terms he had granted them and he added that some of the officers, Generals among the rest, stated that no circumstances could ever again induce them to take up arms against the United States after such treatment. Cal. Badeau stated that Fairfax of, I think, Longstreet’s staff, came to Headquarters on that or the following day and complimented Grant upon his extraordinary master-stroke in giving such terms, for, added he, “You have laid our army out” or words to that effect.5 I asked Gen. Grant whether the effect of these terms was not very great upon General Johnston’s army, and he said it certainly was.
General Grant stated that in one of his conferences with Lee the latter had told him that had he consented to meet him–Lee–some weeks before for a conference that there need not have been one more drop of blood shed. To this General Grant replied, that it was impossible by the very terms of his–Lee’s–invitation for that conference to take place as he did not propose anything but a “settlement of all questions between the two Governments” and that it would have been an actual acknowledgment of their Government, and in treating with them, as a separate Government, we should have rendered ourselves actually liable for their debts.6 In this acknowledgment we would be doing exactly what we had always before refused to do.
In regard to General Sherman he explained some points in Sherman’s agreement with Johnston which placed that agreement in a somewhat different light from that generally regarded by the public. He said that Sherman was led in a great measure to grant the terms which he did on account of the publication made in the Richmond papers, apparently by authority, inviting the late rebel legislature to assemble in that city and reorganize the Government of the State; that he knew the President [pg. 19] had been in Richmond and he presumed that affairs were to be reorganized in all the states by the State Governments. That Sherman did not at the time of granting these terms, know that that invitation had been withdrawn and disavowed. He also stated that Sherman had said to him, that the agreement was drawn up very hastily, and he admitted in going over it with him that it would have been well if certain expressions–pointing them out–had been otherwise worded. Grant said that it was a great oversight of his, and he regretted it very much, that when he saw the publication, as I understood of the dispatches of Halleck and possibly Stanton, that he did not send word to Sherman to keep quiet and all would be right in a few days. He considered that it was a great mistake for Sherman to get into the squabbles he had gotten into with the Secretary of War and General Halleck; but hoped that the effect on the public mind would pass away. He said: “Sherman is very impulsive” and he added that he was a very pure man.
I asked him if he had ever seen a letter of General [James B.] McPherson’s written just before McPherson’s death, giving his estimate of the characters of Grant and Sherman. He said that it had been sent to him. I remarked that he seemed to have hit Sherman’s character very well. The question was then asked whether Sherman and McPherson were friends, and he replied that they were.
Mr. Boker remarked: “Well just to think of Jack Magruder “surrendering”! “Oh!” said General Grant “there is nothing in him”. He then gave with great spirit, the following characteristic anecdote of Gen. John B. Magruder. When the latter was in the army of the United States he was a Captain of Artillery, with two brevets, Major and Lieut. Col. which he had received during the Mexican War. The law then was that an officer performing the duties of his brevet rank was entitled to pay in accordance with that rank. Magruder was stationed for two or three years in California at a “double rationed post”, and thus having the command of a Major he drew Major’s pay. Subsequently thinking it would be a good thing to draw the difference between the pay of Major and that of Lieut. Col. he forwarded his claim to the War Department and it was disallowed. Jeff. Davis was at that time Secretary of War. He and Magruder had been class-mates at West Point and were old friends. Magruder subsequently visiting Washington, called at the War Department and seeing Davis said: “Mr. Secretary I have called in regard to that account of back pay” Davis replied that the account had been examined and disallowed. Magruder said: “I think Sir I can throw such light upon it as will cause you to reconsider the decision”. Davis now became very angry and insisted that the case would not again be opened. Magruder replied: “Mr. Secretary, No man is considered infallible except the Pope and even we Protestants do not believe him to be”. This put Davis in a great rage, and Magruder said: “Well Mr. Secretary I shall resign”. Davis at once changed his tone and said: “Colonel what are you going to resign for?” “Why sir because, I may then some day become Secretary of War, I see that a damn sight greater fools than I are made Secretary”
Some remark having been made that the officers in Fort Sumter had all been very fortunate I remarked that Hall a lieut. of Artillery had not been promoted7 and that Seymour–General Truman–had not been fortunate. General Grant at once said Seymour is a very intelligent, [pg. 20] accomplished officer, but he is a failure, and is such for the reason, that he is such a thorough theorist, adding; “If I saw that Seymour took ground in favor of any particular view, that would be with me evidence conclusive that it could not be done”. He then went on to speak of Seymour having written a letter in which he said, that Fort Fisher could not be taken; and that some delay having taken place in the publication of the letter, it did not appear until the time, or even after, the taking of Fort Fisher.
I remarked to General Grant that I had been a reader of Army Registers for nearly 20 years, my father having been a graduate of West Point, and that it was very curious to look at the Register of 1846 now and see his name down as second lieutenant. “Yes” said he “I believe there were but two below me at that time”. He was then in the 4th. Infantry and informed me that, in the early part of the Mexican War, he was in Capt. Geo. A. McCall’s Co.
Mr. Carey having remarked that recent letters from Montreal indicate that public sentiment in Canada was fast ripening for annexation to the United States and that it would be almost impossible for the English Government to keep Canada from coming in, Gen. Grant asked: “What good it could possibly do us to have her?” Mr. Carey replied, none that he could see. General Grant then said: “An attempt of Canada to come into the Union I would consider a cause for war with England, and I would fight her until she agreed to keep 100,000 men in Canada to keep her from coming in”. He then told a story of Captain Charles H. Larnard 4th. Infantry when at Monterey, Mexico, illustrative of his own position in regard to England and Canada. He said that at that time they had in the army a number of Texan troops which were the most unmanageable of soldiers and were always giving trouble. Captain Larnard said to Grant one day: “People think this a very cruel war. For my part I would carry on this war against Mexico until she agreed to take these Texans and keep them and make the Rio Colorado the boundary between the United States and Mexico”.
Colonel Badeau it was I think who remarked: “Gentlemen, none of you who have not been in the South, can form any idea how completely they are whipped”. To this General Grant assented and conversed further on the subject. Mr. McMichael told General Grant that he had seen somewhere in the newspapers the statement that he had written a letter or made a speech in which he announced himself as in favor of negro suffrage; and desired to know if he had done so. His reply was: “Any one, any one, who states that such is the case tells a lie.”
Conversation turning upon the President–Johnson–General Grant expressed a high opinion of him, and said that it was impossible that a man, without being possessed of great ability, could while unable to read or write at the age of 20 rise to such a position, especially having as he had, all the disadvantages of living in a slave state.
General Grant was asked how he explained the apparent fact that Jeff Davis had made no effort to escape during the truce which followed Sherman’s and Johnson’s negotiations. His reply was that he thought it arose from Davis’s obstinacy–that he really would not believe then, that it was possible, for his power to be crushed. He said that we were actually telegraphing, in cipher to General [James H.] Wilson, over Davis’s head, about him and using their operators, before he was taken.
[pg. 21] General Grant’s idea was, that the regular army should consist of 120,000 men, and he considered that regiments of two battalions, like our old Infantry regiments, were the proper form of organization for such a country as ours.8 He thought that the three battalion regiments were a good organization for European countries.
The great feature of Mr. Carey’s “Vespers”, was the German hock wine which he gave his guests, he having been a member of The Hock Club, originally formed in Philadelphia probably 30 years before the time of which I make this record. This club imported its wine from Germany, as Mr. Carey did up to the close of his life. In the midst of all of us, who were drinking wine, General Grant drank nothing whatever, until, at the end of the evening, as was usual, coffee was brought on the table, and of which he drank a cup.
BRIEF NOTE OF RECOLLECTIONS OF GENERAL MEADE.After the close of the war, I repeatedly met General Meade, and held quite friendly, almost familiar relations with him, materially increased by the fact that my brother Edward had been his Assistant Adjutant General during the whole of Meade’s career as a Brigadier General; and the further fact of my deep interest in the Army, its history and its personnel, extending back to the opening of the Mexican War in 1846.
My brother had the most intense, indeed enthusiastic, admiration of General Meade, and regarded him, in every sense, the peer of any general of the late war–Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Thomas, or any one else. Of the soldierly qualities of my brother General Meade had a very high opinion, and on one occasion said to me: “I have never known a man who had greater capacity for handling troops in action than your brother; and if he had been in the line instead of the staff he would have come out of the war a Major General”.9 These were, I believe, precisely and exactly his words; which naturally made a deep impression on my mind, although the statement but went to confirm the universal testimony I had had from men who had served with Edward. This of course, coming from so high a source, was the greatest compliment I had ever heard paid to him as a soldier. That he fully deserved it, there can be no question.
General Meade once told me that he was obliged to spend half his time in defending his own reputation, and I believe that there was no general of the war who had performed great and important services and did such work as he did to whom so great injustice has been done.
Having heard from some one that Generals Meade, Hancock, and others had protested against the murderous character of General Grant’s operations in the campaign of 1864, I once asked General Meade if there was any foundation for this statement, and he denied that there was. He said that there had never but once been any disagreement between General Grant and himself, and that was before the Army of the Potomac, in 1864, crossed the Rapidan. “I wanted” as General Meade said “to move by the right flank, while General Grant wished to move by the left.” “He said ‘General Meade, I wish you to understand that this Army is not to manoeuvre for position’.”
To this General Meade replied: “General Grant, you will find that you have a consummate general to fight, and that you will have to [pg. 22] manoeuvre for position.” Then, as General Meade added to me: “The Army never did anything but manoeuvre for position; and it never got it”–which was a fact. But the American people having been convinced that General Grant was, as a soldier, well nigh infallible, the man who would vindicate the judgment or the fame, or both, of any other General, at the slightest suspicion of expense to the judgment or the fame of General Grant or even of General Sheridan could never get a public hearing. Such is the justice, the injustice, or the stupidity of so called public opinion, afraid of the overthrow of its idols by the presentation of the truth. When before an audience in Brooklyn, N. Y. I myself, suggested that the ways of resumption by contraction, as practiced by [Hugh] McCulloch, [John] Sherman and [James A.] Garfield were selfish, I was hissed because I had ventured to question the infallibility, the perfection of their idol, Garfield.
My friend, Col. James C. Biddle, who was long, during the war, a member of General Meade’s Staff, has assured me that General Grant never came into the presence of General Meade, without an apparent feeling of awe–induced, as he believed, by Meade’s superior dignity and refinement.10 He also told me that General Grant was never quite satisfied and free from anxiety when General Meade was absent from the Army of the Potomac, and that on one occasion he had recalled Meade, when “on leave” on a visit to his family in Philadelphia, before his leave had expired. Col. Biddle has also stated to me that the people labored under the impression that General Meade did not want to fight; which was not so. On the contrary, while he wanted to fight, and while he had command of the Army of the Potomac, before General Grant took chief direction in Virginia, Meade was hampered and controlled by General Halleck–that he himself, Col. Biddle, had once gone to Washington with the request from General Meade to General Halleck, that he be allowed to move against Lee, but that the request had been refused.
General Hartman Bache, a brother-in-law of Meade, and an older officer than the latter, expressed to me the opinion, during the war, that no other officer of the Army, had by study and industry, since his first entrance into the military service of the United States, improved himself more than General Meade.
2. Cf. Emerson Gifford Taylor, Gouverneur Kemble Warren (Boston and N. Y., 1932), 228.
3. Sheridan attributed his removal to the intrigues of an assistant quartermaster and his own refusal to purchase horses stolen in the area. Sheridan, Memoirs, I, 133-5.
* [from pg. 17] Col. Horace Porter of General Grant’s staff told my friend Capt. S. V. Benet, U. S. Ord. that General Grant called his staff together just before crossing the Rapidan and told them he thought it no more than right, to tell them he intended to move in a few days and that he proposed to reach Petersburg. On being asked how he would go, whether by the right flank or the left he could not say, that would remain for the daily movements and events to develop. He did not pretend to say that if he found a weak spot, he would not strike for Richmond, but that he had determined that Lee’s communications with the South should no longer remain open. [note by Baird. Cf. Horace Porter, Campaigning With Grant (N. Y., l997), 36-8.]
4. See Henry Newman Hudson, A Chaplain’s Campaign with Gen. Butler (N. Y., 1865).
[pg. 23] 5. John W. Fairfax served as assistant adjutant and inspector general on Longstreet’s staff.
6. Lee’s offer of March 2, 1865, and Grant’s reply of March 4 are in Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, I, xlvi, 2, 824-5.
7. Second Lt. Norman Jonathan Hall was promoted to first lieutenant after Sumter and served as colonel of the Seventh Michigan Infantry from 1862 to 1864. He returned to the regular artillery as captain and resigned with that rank in February, 1865.
8. The regular army in December, 1860, consisted of 16,367 men. In April, 1865, it was 22,310. It never reached even half the size Grant speaks of until the Spanish-American War.
9. Edward Carey Baird enlisted as a sergeant in 1861 and resigned as a major in 1865.
10. Baird sent a copy of his paper to Morton McMichael, a Philadelphia newspaperman who had been present at the “Carey Vespers.” McMichael replied that he had heard Grant say something in Philadelphia which clearly indicated that Grant was not awed by Meade. Letter in Edward Carey Gardiner Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
NEWS NOTES *** General Grant by Matthew Arnold with a Rejoinder by Mark Twain, edited with an introduction by John Y. Simon, is an April publication of Southern Illinois University Press. Arnold, the most influential English critic of the day, published a long essay on Grant in order to bring the Memoirs to the attention of English readers. Although Arnold admired Grant’s character and style, he included some reflections on his grammar which angered many Americans. “When we think of General Grant,” said Twain, “our pulses quicken and his grammar vanishes: we only remember that this is the simple soldier who, all untaught of the silken phrase-makers, linked words together with an art surpassing the art of the schools, and put into them a something which will still bring to American ears, as long as America shall last, the roll of his vanished drums and the tread of his marching hosts.” *** The Grant house in Georgetown, Ohio, was recently purchased by Judge and [pg. 24] Mrs. George T. Campbell of Georgetown. Here Ulysses Grant lived for more than fifteen years before his enrollment at West Point. Judge Campbell regretted the unavailability of “funds to do anything about the home in spite of its importance in the life of this great American soldier and United States President.” He acquired the property as a first step toward establishing a “Grant Homestead Museum.” *** Thomas H. Pitkin’s Grant the Soldier is a recent publication of Acropolis Books (Colortone Building, 2400 17th St. N. W., Washington, D. C., 20009). Pitkin recently retired from the National Park Service where, as Supervisory Historian in the New York City area, he was responsible for Grant’s Tomb. The book has been published for the Eastern National Park & Monument Association which augments the services of the National Park Service. In eighty-eight pages of rather large print (and more than thirty black and white illustrations), the story of Grant is told through selected passages from various eyewitnesses. Some selections are taken from such familiar sources as Grant’s own Memoirs and Horace Porter’s Campaigning with Grant; others which come from obscure books and manuscripts will repay examination by specialists.
[pg. 25] AN INCIDENT OF VICKSBURG *** Included in the collection of comments on his grandfather gathered by Major General Ulysses S. Grant 3rd is an account which originated with the wife of Confederate Brigadier General Thomas Pleasant Dockery. The son of an Arkansas planter instrumental in constructing the first railroad in the state, Dockery entered the Confederate army as a colonel of Arkansas infantry. He commanded a brigade of Vicksburg where he was captured and later fought in Arkansas. Mrs. Dockery’s account of the release of her husband appeared originally in the Vicksburg Commercial and was reprinted in The Magazine of American History, XIV (1385), 313-4.
On the 5th of July, 1863, a Southern planter and Mrs. Dockery, of Arkansas, slowly made their way to General Grant’s head-quarters, in the rear of Vicksburg. The day before the long, tedious siege ended in the surrender of the Confederate forces to General Grant. All was, therefore, in confusion and bustle, but the Union soldiers were in excellent humor, and offered no opposition to the progress of the two visitors to see the “old man,” as they loved to call their commander. Mrs. Dockery was the wife of a Confederate brigadier-general who took part in the defense of the city. During the siege she had remained eleven miles in the rear of Vicksburg with the planter and his family. She could hear the fearful cannonading all during the long combat, and at times the reports of the cannon were as rapid as the notes of a quick tune on a violin. As soon as the city surrendered, she determined to hear the fate of her husband, so she persuaded the planter to get an old dilapidated buggy left on the place by some of the straggling soldiers, and with harness improvised with old straps, ropes, and strings, and a mule caught on the highway, to attempt the trip to General Grant’s head-quarters.The mule pulled the buggy and its two occupants along the hot, dusty road at a lively pace, and by eleven o’clock Grant’s shady retreat, about three miles to the rear of Vicksburg, was reached. His head-quarter tents were pitched just a little to the north of the old Jackson road, on a ridge thickly covered with dense shade trees. As soon as the guards were reached, a sergeant informed the two they could proceed no further, as he knew General Grant [pg. 26] would not see them. Mrs. Dockery, with tears in her eyes, begged the soldiers to go to Grant and tell him that a lady in great distress wished only to see him just “one little minute.” The officer went into the General’s tent, remained only one instant, returned, and invited Mrs. Dockery and the planter to walk in. They left the buggy with the guards, and tremblingly approached Grant’s tent. What was their agreeable surprise to be cordially invited by Grant himself to be seated. Before hardly a word was spoken Grant instructed an orderly to serve his guests with cool water, and insisted on Mrs. Dockery taking an easy-chair, which he vacated for her. As soon as Mrs. Dockery could command language, she poured into the General’s ears her fears that her husband was wounded or dead, and asked for a pass to go to Vicksburg and learn what was his fate. Grant replied, almost word for word, as follows: “Madam, General Grant has issued an order that there shall be no passing to and from Vicksburg, and he cannot set the example of violating his own orders.”
Mrs. Dockery was in tears when she said: “Oh, my God! what shall I do?”
A smile almost passed over Grant’s face as he replied: “Oh, don’t distress yourself; I will take it upon myself to get news from your husband. He must he a gallant fellow to have won such a devoted wife.”
“But when will you find out for me? Can you not see this suspense is almost killing me?” replied the lady.
“Right now,” said Grant; “and you shall be my guest until my orderly can fly to General Pemberton’s head-quarters and get the news.”
Grant instantly instructed one of his aids to write a note to General Pemberton and inquire of him whether or not General Dockery, of Bowen’s division, had escaped unharmed, and all the news about him, as Mrs. Dockery was at his head-quarters exceedingly anxious to know. While the orderly was gone General Grant’s dinner was served, and Mrs. Dockery and the planter dined with him and his friends. There were perhaps twenty generals, colonels, majors, aids, and others at the table, but not one of them spoke a word that could wound the feelings of the General’s guests. The General himself was exceedingly agreeable, and instead of talking about war, or anything pertaining to it, devoted himself to getting all the information he could about the South and its productions. No cotton planter ever evinced more interest in cotton than did the great soldier to whom a strong city had surrendered the day before.
Soon after dinner the orderly returned with a note from General Pemberton, stating that General Dockery was in excellent health and would visit his wife as soon as General Grant would permit it. General Grant smiled and said: “YOU shall see him in a day or two; just as soon as we can fix things a little. I’ll not forget your name, and of course will have to remember him.”
When the General’s visitors arose to depart, he assured them be appreciated their call, and taking a scrap of paper wrote on it for the guards to pass Mr. and Mrs. Dockery to their home, and signed his name. Only one picket had to be passed, but the pass looked so much more common than those regularly issued that the guard scanned it closely. When he read Grant’s own signature, he said: “Humph, the ‘old man’ got to writing passes? Let them by.”
It was one morning, a few days after General Pemberton’s surrender, and the Confederate troops were marching out of the fated city. The officers’ wives and families were in conveyances. The victorious Grant stood watching the retiring Confederate army, the habitual cigar in his mouth. A white spitz dog lay curled at his feet. This dog was a pet of the boys at Federal headquarters, and a great favorite of the general himself.As the carriage occupied by Mrs. General Thomas P. Dockery drew near, General Grant caught up the little snow-white dog and handed it in to that lady, saying, gallantly: “Let this be a flag of truce between us, madam, and if my men continue to possess the courage you have shown during the siege, I would not say, ‘I may conquer,’ but ‘I have conquered,’ the South.”
The dog was ever afterward called “Truce,” and soon became as much the pride of the boys in gray as it had been the joy of those who wore the blue.
The little dog belonged to Miss Dockery’s mother and became well known throughout Arkansas. Miss Dockery’s earliest recollections were of “Truce” and her family, all as snowy as herself, fresh from the bath, toddling in on the rich old-fashioned velvet carpet, in the spacious parlors of “Lamartine,” to receive the guests, who always asked to see “Grant’s dog.”
WILLIAM AUGUSTUS POST ON GRANT *** General Grant 3rd has also supplied an extract from a speech made by William Augustus Post while a Democratic assistant district attorney of New York. The Post family gave a copy of the speech to General Grant 3rd.
How was it with Grant? Restorer and preserver of the Constitution. Sitting here in peace, we say his sword won them for us. I say more: His simple–yes, common-place faithfulness, his determined charity as President did as much to save us from the evils that threatened to follow the strife, as did his sword in bringing the strife to its triumphal end. Clear of sight, charitable, faithful and tenacious of purpose, he executed the laws…. The South had no truer friend, the North had no more loyal citizen. The work he did as President of the United States which redounded most to our peace and security may never be spread upon the historic page. Nor will its greatness ever be understood by those who see only the surface of things. It was a work not set forth in proclamations or messages, nor did it appear in the intricacies of policy. It was work restorative of the Constitution.
June 14, 1861The Regiment organized in the 7th Congressional district and encamped at this place, evacuated Camp Grant and left for Springfield today, (Friday,) giving rise to a general feeling of relief on the part of citizens here.
The circumstances which led to this extraordinary movement are to be accounted for only in the fact of the utter incompetency of the Colonel commanding to enforce any system of discipline, by which to preserve the camp from that demoralization incident to a life of idleness in large numbers. Being, in a manner, left free to do as they pleased, and being unfortunately provided with a never-failing sluice of bad whisky in town, the soldiers were not unfrequently riotous and belligerent towards the city authorities, and in several instances inaugurating a reign of terror in our midst. All efforts to advance in proficiency of drill were ignored, and the vast expenditure of time and money in their equipage and sustenance, has been attended by a meagre harvest of good results.
The dislike to the Colonel had become so general among the officers and in the ranks, that when, on Wednesday last, a sense of the regiment was taken through the officers of companies, a great majority were determined to, and did, we understand, invite Cal. Goode to resign. He refusing, through the intervention of parties having at heart the welfare of the regiment, Gov. Yates has ordered it to Springfield, where it will, in all probability be reorganized
Had the proper measures been taken to insure respect and enforce discipline, from the beginning, there would have been little difficulty, as the men were as quiet and well-disposed, we presume, as any other regiment of troops in the State.–But being encouraged in their nightly forays upon neighboring hen-roosts, and in the cultivation of the “largest liberty,” and filibustering generally, a state of demoralization has ensued disgraceful alike to the regiment and the State.
In the name of peace and good order, and of the indignant people of the 7th Congressional district, we insist that Gov. Yates shall, as soon as possible, cause this worse than vacancy in the Colonelcy to be honorably filled, by the appointment or promotion of some competent man.
June 22, 1861
Capt. U. S. Grant, of Galena, and a West Point graduate, has been appointed by Gov. Yates to the command of the Seventh District regiment, in place of Col. S. S. Goode, deposed. Instead of having a Col. Goode, now they have a good Colonel.
[pg. 29] NEWS NOTES *** The Grant Association has received $1,900 from the Illinois State Historical Society. The money, which will forward work in collecting and editing the Grant papers, was voted by the Society at its spring meeting in Carmi, Ill. *** Southern Illinois University Library has purchased a collection of about 250 books and pamphlets concerning General Grant from Richard N. Leekley, a book dealer of Winthrop Harbor, Ill. Director of Libraries Ralph E. McCoy plans to make this collection the cornerstone of a comprehensive collection of printed Grant materials. *** Newspapers across the country recently reported that Madame Julia Cantacuzene of Washington, D. C., had recovered partial vision after ten years of blindness. When her sight returned unexpectedly one morning her doctor called it a miracle. Madame Cantacuzene, the first grandchild of President Ulysses S. Grant and daughter of Frederick Dent Grant, was born in the White House in 1876. After her marriage to Prince Michael Cantacuzene she lived in Russia until the Bolshevik Revolution. When she returned to this country she wrote My Life Here and There (N. Y., 1921), which includes reminiscences of her grandfather. *** Three new mosaic murals financed jointly by the Grant Monument Association and the Nationa1 Park Service were recently dedicated at Grant’s Tomb. The mosaics, each nine feet high and eighteen feet wide, depicting Grant at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Appomattox, are located in half-circle recesses above the sarcophagi of General and Mrs. Grant. Although the mosaics were commissioned last year, they represent the fulfillment of the plans of the original architect of the tomb. Among those who attended the dedicatory ceremonies was Major General Ulysses S. Grant 3rd. *** On May 27 the Library of Congress in a special ceremony accepted from Doubleday and Company a set of research notes compiled by E. B. Long for the use of [pg. 30] Bruce Catton in preparing his Centennial History of the Civil War in three volumes: The Coming Fury (1961); Terrible Swift Sword (1963); and Never Call Retreat (1965). Statistics on the notes are staggering: nine years of research resulted in 25,000 typed pages of 9,000,000 words from 3,500 separate printed and manuscript sources in 110 different libraries and collections. The notes, covering far more material than could be used in the Centennial History, are now available for use in the manuscript division of the Library of Congress. Following the acceptance of the notes, David C. Mearns, Chairman of the Committee on Awards of the U. S. Civil War Centennial Commission, presented Long with the bronze Medallion of Honor for his distinguished contribution to the Centennial. Long, Catton, and Mearns are officers of the Grant Association. *** William L. Burton’s Descriptive Bibliography of Civil War Manuscripts in Illinois has been published for the Civil War Centennial Commission of Illinois by Northwestern University Press. This guide lists materials dated during the Civil War, though not necessarily pertaining to the Civil War or to Illinois, in twenty-seven Illinois libraries. It does not cover private collections, Illinois material located out-of-state, manuscripts of Civil War interest dated after 1865, or archival sources. What is covered, however, is covered in great detail. Even scholars already familiar with Civil War collections in the Illinois State Historical Library and Chicago Historical Society will probably discover new items of interest through the detailed listing of minor collections. “If the Civil War Centennial Commission of Illinois had been responsible for nothing more than this book,” concludes Paul M. Angle in his foreword, “it would have justified its existence.”