[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 Commercialand 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.”