NEW HEADQUARTERS *** On September 16, 1964, the files of the Grant Association arrived at the Morris Library of Southern Illinois University. One week earlier, the Board of Directors had voted to transfer headquarters from the Ohio State Museum.
John Y. Simon, executive director and managing editor, has joined the department of history at Southern Illinois while continuing his work for the Grant Association.
The Grant Association was organized in 1962 by the Civil War Centennial Commissions of Illinois, New York, and Ohio. It will complete work on the Grant Papers with the assistance of Southern Illinois University, the Illinois State Historical Society and Library, and other Illinois groups.
The Grant Association expects to have the first volume of the collected works of Ulysses S. Grant ready for publication next year. This volume will include all existing Grant correspondence from his youth to the outbreak of the [pg. 2] Civil War. All Grant letters will eventually be published in a series of approximately fifteen volumes.
The Grant Association is also preparing a new edition of Grants Memoirs and a comprehensive bibliography. It has published a Grant Chronology and will maintain the quarterly Newsletter.
WHAT HIS ENEMIES SAID OF GRANT *** The last newsletter contained the first installment of comments on his grandfather gathered by Major General Ulysses S. Grant 3rd. Below are extracts from a speech delivered on April 27, 1892 by Colonel John S. Wise, son of Governor Henry A. Wise of Virginia, and an officer in the Confederate Army.
Surely no Southerner would take more pleasure than I do in honoring the memory of General Grant, and no place could be more congenial than the city of Philadelphia.My experiences here, at the close of the war were rather unique. I escaped the surrender of General Lee by being the bearer of despatches from him to Mr. Davis. Hearing of Lee’s surrender I journeyed southward and joined Johnston’s army, surrendering with it at Jamestown, and being temporarily out of employment, my military ventures having somewhat miscarried, I came at once to Philadelphia, took up my domicile at the house of General Meade, who married my mother’s sister, foraged on the enemy, and reviewed from time to time, the returning armies of the Union.
Thus, in about two months, I had been in two Confederate and one Union army, and you will understand by that circumstance that I am not sectional or partisan in the [pg. 3] views I entertain as to the events then transpiring….
Dropping this view of personal reminiscence, and bearing in mind the lateness of the hour, let me say as a very humble representative of the Confederate soldier, that, in my judgment, the time has come, and a sufficient period has elapsed for the subsidence of passion, for people on both sides to realize much that they could not appreciate when inflamed by the angry passions of war. I think we may now philosophise somewhat as to the causes and the results of the great struggle which made Grant famous.
As nothing came out as I expected it would I sometimes amuse myself by thinking of what might have happened.
In the first place did it ever occur to you that any man who was on either side in that struggle might easily have been upon the other side?
That sounds absurd but it is not. Think how many Northern men were South and how many Southern men were North, merely through force of the accidental circumstances surrounding them at the outbreak of hostilities. Robert E. Lee and George H. Thomas, were Lieutenant-Colonel and Major respectively, of the same regiment. Both considered long and patiently which side they would take, and where their duty lay. On every theory of probabilities Lee was the man who would remain with the United States Army, and Thomas would go South. By every tradition Lee was a Federalist. The fame of his family had been earned in building up and sustaining the glory of the Union, for which his own blood had been shed in Mexico. He was the pet of General Scott, Commander-in-Chief of the Union Armies, and no favorite of Davis, or Bragg or Hardee, the leaders of the Confederacy. Above all, he was identified in every way with the feelings of that closest of all corporations in America, West Point, and had been taught to yield first allegiance to the Union. Thomas remained in the North. Lee went South. There was no telling, at that time, on which side men would fetch up. Pemberton [pg. 4] and Lovell, both Northern men, cast their fortunes with the South….
The Confederate soldier has come to know Grant as the conscientious, brave, pertinacious upholder of the Union cause, who, fighting to the death for his convictions, was free from all bitterness, and who, when his point had been fully carried, was anxious to forgive and to forget, and to build anew the fabric of fraternal love, without one reminiscent taunt or reproach.
I heard the distinguished Secretary of the Interior speak of Grant as he knew him in his youth. Like him, when I was a boy I knew Grant. But we made his acquaintance in different ways. I first heard his drums beat in the early morning as his interesting army lay in the mists that hung about the beleaguered lines of Petersburg. We believed him to be a mere military butcher, so recklessly bent on carnage that we even hoped his own troops would turn against him for their remorseless slaughter.
I have seen his legions move forward to our assault. I have seen them repulsed, and again have fled before them. He is my old and honored friend, our dearest foe. While war was flagrant we did not fully understand him. It was not until we surrendered to him that we realized how much of noble magnanimity and generosity was mingled with the stern, bloody pluck which crowned him victor.
It was a genuine surprise to see his old foemen, when, almost before they had completed their surrender to him, he seemed more anxious to feed his prisoners from the rations of his own men than he was to secure his captives.
When we expected harsh orders we heard the command that we retain our horses and our sidearms.
When civil prosecutions of our officers were attempted it was our old foe Grant who stood in the breach and demanded that his parole be respected.
And so as the years rolled by the Confederate soldier in his poverty learned to draw near to Grant as his friend, in full assurance that whoever else should chide him for his past there was one great generous heart who held the grimy Johnny Reb as second only to his own brave boys in blue, in right to claim his loving care and tenderness.
Thus it is, Mr. Chairman, that I, not as a citizen of the dead Confederacy, or with any lurking regret as to its fate, but as a true and loyal and loving citizen of the United State of America claim share in this demonstration with privilege of doing honor to myself and to my people, in honoring the memory of Grant.
We have the happiest, the freest, the best nation, that the sun shines upon in his course.
None love it more. None are truer in their allegiance. None more honestly earnest in the hope that it shall be united for all time to come–than the men from whose opposed ranks Grant carved his noble fame, the soldiers of the dead Confederacy.
NEWS NOTES *** The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War has contributed $800 to the Grant Association to further its publishing projects. *** At a meeting held on September 11, the National Historical Publications Commissions approved the following: “RESOLVED that the project for the publication of the papers of Ulysses S. Grant under the auspices of the Ulysses S. Grant Association and Southern Illinois University is regarded by the National Historical Publications Commission as a well-conceived documentary publication deserving of professional and financial assistance from all, in a position to give it.” *** Northwestern [pg. 6] University Press has published Grant, Lee, Lincoln and the Radicals: Essays on Civil War Leadership, edited by Grady McWhiney. This is the product of a Civil War Centennial Symposium at Northwestern and contains a discussion by Bruce Catton of “The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant” in which Grant’s flexibility and clear overall view of the war explain his success. “The complaint that Grant succeeded only because he had superior numbers is pointless,” says Catton: “The superior numbers were part of the equation all along. It was Grant who took advantage of them…” The symposium also included “The Generalship of Robert E. Lee,” by Charles P. Roland; “Devils Facing Zionwards,” by David Donald; and “Lincoln and the Radicals: An Essay in Civil War History and Historiography,’ by T. Harry Williams. Vice President of the Grant Association. *** Lincoln’s Gadfly, Adam Gurowski, by Le Roy H. Fischer, published by the University of Oklahoma Press, is the first biography of this leading Civil War radical. Fischer, who began his scholarly career by editing Grant’s letters concerning his St. Louis farm, received the 1963 Literary Award of the Pennsylvania Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion for his study of Gurowski. *** Charles D. Tenney, Vice President of Southern Illinois University, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Grant Association. Fred J. Milligan has resigned. George W. Adams, Chairman of the Department of History of Southern Illinois University, has been elected to the editorial board.