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Title: Our Standard-Bearer
       The Life of General Uysses S. Grant

Author: Oliver Optic

Release Date: March 12, 2014 [EBook #45118]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by

William T. Adams,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

Electrotyped at the Boston Stereotype Foundry,

No. 19 Spring Lane.


The Illustrious Soldier,


President of The United States from March 4, 1869,











This Volume




In this volume my friend Captain Galligasken has been permitted to tell his story very much in his own way. As I fully and heartily indorse his positions, fully and heartily share in his enthusiasm, my task has consisted of nothing more than merely writing the book; and I assure the reader that I have enjoyed quite as much as my friend the captain the pleasant contemplation of the brilliant deeds of the illustrious soldier. There is something positively inspiring in the following out of such a career as that of General Grant; and when I declare that the enthusiasm of Captain Galligasken is nothing more than just and reasonable, I do it after a careful examination of the grounds on which it is based; after a patient, but exceedingly agreeable, study of the character of the man whom we have jointly eulogized; and after instituting a critical comparison between the general and the mighty men of the present and the past. I have twice read all that I have written, and I find no occasion to add any qualifying words, and no reason to moderate the warm enthusiasm of the captain.

As the candidate for the presidency of the dominant party in the land, all of General Grant's sayings and doings will be subjected to the closest scrutiny by his political opponents. All that he has said and all that he has done will be remorselessly distorted by savage critics. Partisan prejudice and partisan hatred will pursue him into the privacies of life, as well as through every pathway and avenue of his public career; but Captain Galligasken joins me in the confident belief that no man has ever been held up to the gaze of the American people who could stand the test better; hardly one [6]who could stand it as well. In his private life the general has been pure and guileless, while in his public history he has been animated by the most noble and exalted patriotism, ever willing to sacrifice all that he was and all that he had for the cause in which he embarked.

The study of the illustrious hero's motives and character has been exceedingly refreshing to me, as well as to my friend Captain Galligasken, as we analyzed together the influences which guided him in his eventful experience. We were unable to find any of those selfish and belittling springs of action which rob great deeds of more than half their glory. We could see in him a simplicity of character which amazed us; a strength of mind, a singleness of heart, which caused us to envy Sherman and Sheridan the possession of such a man's friendship. Unlike most eminent men, whose very greatness has induced them to shake off more or less of the traits of ordinary humanity, our illustrious soldier is a lovable man—an attitude in which we are seldom permitted to regard great men. He stands in violent contrast with the bombastic heroes of all times—modest, gentle-hearted, and always approachable. There is none of the frigid reserve in his manner which awes common people in the contemplation of those exalted by mighty deeds or a lofty position. Captain Galligasken says all this upon his honor as a soldier and an historian; and from my own personal stand-point I cordially indorse his opinion, which, in both instances, is derived from actual experience.

Captain Galligasken was somewhat afraid of the politicians, and not a little nervous at the possible manner those of the party to which he never had the honor to belong might regard his enthusiasm. I have taken the liberty to assure him that his enthusiasm is legitimate; that he has never manifested it except on suitable occasions; that the fact always specified in connection with the glowing eulogy amply justifies his praise. I was willing to go farther, and to insist that it was impossible for the politicians of his own or any other party to resist the conclusions, or withhold the homage, after the facts were admitted.


And this matter of facts, the unclothed skeleton of reliable history and biography, is a point on which my friend Captain Galligasken is especially sensitive. Our library of reference in the agreeable task we have jointly performed included all the works bearing on the subject now extant in the country. We have used them liberally and faithfully, and, animated by a desire to set forth "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" in regard to the illustrious soldier, the Captain feels entirely confident that he has produced a reliable history of all the important phases in his life. He has plentifully besprinkled his pages with anecdotes, some of which have never been related before, for they are the most telling illustrations of individual character.

We jointly acknowledge our indebtedness to General Adam Badeau's "Military History of Ulysses S. Grant," at once the most interesting and exhaustive work on the subject which has yet been issued, and which Captain Galligasken insists that every patriotic lover of the truth should read; to "Ohio in the War;" to "Grant and his Campaigns," by Professor Coppée, who had peculiar facilities for the performance of his task; to Howland's "Grant as a Soldier and a Statesman;" to Swinton's "Army of the Potomac;" to General Shanks's "Personal Recollections of Distinguished Generals;" and, in a less degree, to other volumes. Captain Galligasken is especially desirous of acknowledging his obligations to his friend Pollard, author of "The Lost Cause,"—though he thinks Grant is the chief author of the lost cause,—not only for the citations he has taken the liberty to make from the book, but also for some of the heartiest laughs he ever had in his life. We tender our personal thanks to those kind friends—whose names we are not even permitted to mention—for facts, suggestions, and anecdotes.

When our enterprising and discriminating publishers insisted upon just this Life of General Grant,—which I should not have been willing to undertake without the indispensable aid of my cheerful friend the captain,—we gladly accepted the agreeable task; but I noticed that Captain Galligasken appeared to be disturbed in his mind about something. I asked [8]him what it was. He replied by asking me what possible excuse a humble individual like himself could offer for inflicting upon the patient, much-enduring community another Life of General Grant, who was even then more fortunate than a cat, for he had more than "nine lives." I bade him tell the reason, and he did.

"Because I can't help it," he replied; "because I desire to have the people of the United States see General Grant just as I see him. He has been nominated by the National Republican party as its candidate for the presidency, on a platform which every patriot, every Christian, heartily indorses, and which is the sum total of the general's political creed. I wish, if I can, to do something for his election; and I am fully persuaded that all the people would vote for him if they understood the man. I am no politician, never held an office, and never expect to hold one; but I believe in Grant above and beyond all party considerations. I respect, admire, and love the man. I glory in his past, and I am confident of his future. I honestly, sincerely, and heartily believe every word we have written. Nothing but the election of Grant can save the nation from the infamy of practical repudiation, from the distractions which have shaken the land since the close of the Rebellion, if not from another civil war and the ultimate dissolution of the Union. I hope the people will read our book, think well, and be as enthusiastic as I am."

It affords me very great pleasure, again and finally, to be able to indorse my friend Captain Galligasken. He is sincere; and before my readers condemn his enthusiasm, I beg to inquire how they can escape his conclusions. All we ask is a fair hearing, and we are confident that the people who sustained Grant through the war will enable him to finish in the presidential chair the glorious work he began on the battle-fields of the republic.

Oliver Optic.

Harrison Square, Mass.,
      July 11, 1868.



Wherein Captain Galligasken modestly disparages himself, and sets forth with becoming Enthusiasm the Virtues of the illustrious Soldier whose Life he insists upon writing.15
Wherein Captain Galligasken delineates the early History of the illustrious Soldier, and deduces therefrom the Presages of future Greatness.26
Wherein Captain Galligasken "talks Horse," and illustrates the Subject with some Anecdotes from the Life of the illustrious Soldier.36
Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the illustrious Soldier to West Point, and dilates admiringly upon the many excellent Traits of Character which the Hero exhibited there.46
Wherein Captain Galligasken accompanies the illustrious Soldier to Mexico, and glowingly dilates upon the gallant Achievements of our Arms from Palo Alto to Monterey.56
Wherein Captain Galligasken marches with the illustrious Soldier to the Halls of the Montezumas, and glowingly describes the brilliant Campaign in Mexico.66
Wherein Captain Galligasken goes with the illustrious Soldier to the Farm near St. Louis, and observes his Career through various Misfortunes, till he is included in the Firm of Grant & Sons.76
Wherein Captain Galligasken discourses upon the breaking out of the Rebellion, and describes the noble and modest Behavior of the illustrious Soldier.86
Wherein Captain Galligasken has Something to say about Citizen Soldiers, and follows the illustrious Soldier into the Field in Missouri.96
Wherein Captain Galligasken relates a pleasing Anecdote of the illustrious Soldier, and shows how and why he captured Paducah.106
Wherein Captain Galligasken describes the Battle of Belmont, and further illustrates the military Qualities of the illustrious Soldier, as exhibited in that fierce Fight.117
Wherein Captain Galligasken rehearses the persistent Efforts of the illustrious Soldier to obtain Permission to attack Fort Henry, and follows him to the Capture of that important Position.128
Wherein Captain Galligasken states the Results of the Victory at Fort Henry, and attends the illustrious Soldier in the Investment of Fort Donelson.138
Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the illustrious Soldier to the Victory at Fort Donelson, and points out the Nature and Extent of that splendid Achievement.148
Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the illustrious Soldier through the Period of his temporary Disgrace and triumphant Vindication to the opening Scenes at Shiloh.158
Wherein Captain Galligasken views the illustrious Soldier in the Battle of Shiloh, and corrects some popular Errors in regard to that savage Fight.170
Wherein Captain Galligasken finishes the Battle of Shiloh, and sympathizes with the illustrious Soldier in his unmerited Disgrace while he is waiting, waiting, before Corinth.180
Wherein Captain Galligasken treats of the Corinth Campaign, and admiringly calls Attention to the splendid Abilities of the illustrious Soldier as a District Commander.191
Wherein Captain Galligasken shows how six Months were spent around Vicksburg by the illustrious Soldier, and how the President rather liked the Man, and thought he would try him a little longer.201
Wherein Captain Galligasken illustrates the Temperance Principles of the illustrious Soldier, and proceeds with him on his conquering Path to the Capital of Mississippi.211
Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the illustrious Soldier through the Campaign in Mississippi to the Siege and Surrender of Vicksburg.223
Wherein Captain Galligasken sums up the magnificent Results of the Capture of Vicksburg, and starts with the illustrious Soldier for Chattanooga, after his Appointment to the Command of the combined Armies of the Tennessee, the Cumberland, and the Ohio.234
Wherein Captain Galligasken details the Means by which the illustrious Soldier relieved the Army of the Cumberland, and traces his Career to the glorious Victory of Chattanooga.246
Wherein Captain Galligasken has Something more to say about the glorious Campaign of Chattanooga, and illustrates some of the personal Characteristics of the illustrious Soldier.259
Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the illustrious Soldier to Washington, where, after enduring many Hardships, he is commissioned Lieutenant General in the Army of the United States.272
Wherein Captain Galligasken has Something to say about the illustrious Soldier's Views of Strategy, and follows him across the Rapidan into The Wilderness.284
Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the Campaign of the Army of the Potomac, and the illustrious Soldier announces that he shall fight it out on that Line, if it takes all Summer.296
Wherein Captain Galligasken describes in brief Detail the Siege of Petersburg and Richmond, and attends the illustrious Soldier to the End of the Campaign at Appomattox Court House.310
Wherein Captain Galligasken has a few Words to say about Lee's Surrender, and demonstrates to his own and his Reader's entire Satisfaction, that the illustrious Soldier is not an accidental Hero.323
Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the illustrious Soldier in his Career after the War, relates several Anecdotes of him, and respectfully invites the whole World to MATCH HIM.337


Our Standard-Bearer;
Life of General Ulysses S. Grant.


Wherein Captain Galligasken modestly disparages himself, and sets forth with becoming Enthusiasm the Virtues of the illustrious Soldier whose Life he insists upon writing.

Who am I? It makes not the least difference who I am. If I shine at all in this veritable history,—which I honestly confess I have not the slightest desire to do,—it will be only in the reflected radiance of that great name which has become a household word in the home of every loyal citizen, north and south, of this mighty Republic; a name that will shine with transcendent lustre as his fame rings along down the grand procession of the ages, growing brighter and more glorious the farther it is removed from the petty jealousies of contemporaneous heroes, statesmen, and chroniclers.


What am I? It does not make the least difference what I am. I am to chronicle the deeds of that illustrious soldier, the providential man of the Great Rebellion, who beat down the strongholds of Treason by the force of his mighty will, and by a combination of moral and mental qualifications which have been united in no other man, either in the present or the past.

What was Washington? God bless him! A wise and prudent statesman, a devoted patriot, the savior of the new-born nationality.

What was Napoleon? The greatest soldier of the century which ended with the battle of Waterloo.

What was Andrew Jackson? The patriot statesman, who had a will of his own.

What were Cćsar, Wellington, Marlborough, Scott? All strong men, great soldiers, devoted patriots.

What is the Great Captain, the illustrious hero of the Modern Republic? He is all these men united into one. He has held within the grasp of his mighty thought larger armies than any other general who is worthy to be mentioned in comparison with him, controlling their movements, and harmonizing their action throughout a territory vastly larger than that comprised in the battle-grounds of Europe for a century.

Washington was great in spite of repeated defeats. Grant is great through a long line of brilliant successes. Napoleon won victories, and then clothed himself in the scarlet robes of an emperor, seated himself on a throne, and made his country's glory only the lever of his own glory. Grant won victories not [17]less brilliant, and then modestly smoked his cigar on the grand level of the people, diffidently accepting any such honors as a grateful people thrust upon him.

As I yield the tribute of admiring homage to Washington that he put the Satan of sovereign power behind him when he was tempted with the glittering bait, I am amazed that Grant, the very idol of a million veteran soldiers, permitted his sword to rest in its scabbard while his recreant superior, by the accident of the assassin's bullet, dared to thwart the will of the people whose ballots had elevated him to power. I can almost worship him for his forbearance under the keenest insults to which the sensitive soul of a true soldier can be subjected, that he did not smite his cunning traducer, and did not even appeal to the people.

Who am I? If I am seen at all in this true narrative of a sublime life, I beg to be regarded as the most humble and least deserving of Columbia's chosen sons, but standing, for the moment, on a pedestal, and blushingly pointing to the historic canvas, whereon is delineated the triumphal career of the Great Man of the nineteenth century; the successful General, towering in lofty preëminence above every other man, who in the days of darkness struck a blow for the redemption of the nation; the fledged Statesman, who, without being a politician, apprehended and vitalized the chosen policy of the sovereign people. I am nothing; he is everything.

I am an enthusiast!

Is there nothing in The Man, sublimated by glorious deeds, elevated by a conquering will far above his [18]fellows, almost deified by the highest development of godlike faculties,—is there nothing in The Man to quicken the lazy flow in the veins of the beholder? Can I, who marched from Belmont to Appomattox Court House, by the way of Donelson, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Spottsylvania, Petersburg, and Five Forks, who have, since the collapse of the rebellion, gazed, in common with the Senators and Representatives in Congress, the Governors of the states, the President, and the heads of the departments of state, the sovereign people, with friends and with foes of the regenerated country,—can I, who have gazed with the most intense interest at the little two-story brick building in the nation's capital, where smoked and labored the genius of the war, to see what that one man would do, to hear what that one man would say,—can I gaze and listen without realizing the throb which heaves the mighty heart of the nation? I felt as they felt, that there was only one man in the land. It mattered little what senators and representatives enacted in the halls of Congress, if he did not indorse it. It mattered little what the Nation's Accident vetoed, if he but approved it. It was of little consequence what rebels north or rebels south planned and plotted, if only this one man frowned upon it. Reconstruction could flourish only in his smile. If a department commander ambitiously or stupidly belied his war record, and attempted to bolster up with this diplomacy the treason which he had put down with his sword, the howl of the loyal millions was changed into a shout of exultation, if the one man in the little two-story brick building in Washington only nodded [19]his disapproval of the course of the recreant. That man has been the soul of the people's policy of reconstruction. Conscious that he was its friend, it mattered not who was its enemy; for foes could delay, but not defeat it.

Can I be unmoved while I look at The Man? When I behold a huge steamship, the giant of the deep, threading its way through night and storm over the pathless ocean, from continent to continent, herself a miracle to the eye, I wonder. When I see the electric telegraph, flashing a living thought from farthest east to farthest west, and even along its buried channel in the depths of the storm-tossed ocean, I wonder. Can I gaze unmoved upon the Man, the Fulton, the Morse, from whose busy brain, lighted up by an inspiration from the Infinite, which common men cannot even understand, came forth the grand conception of these miracles of science?

I am an enthusiast. I cannot gaze at the spectacle of a nation rent and shattered by the most stupendous treason that ever fouled historic annals, restored to peace and unity, without a thrill of emotion. I cannot follow our gallant armies in imagination now, as I did in reality then, in their triumphal march from the gloom of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville to the glorious light and sunshine of Vicksburg and Five Forks, from death at Bull Run, to life at Fort Donelson, without having my heart leap with grateful enthusiasm.

In the ghastly midnight of disaster, when the nation's pulse almost ceased to beat in dread and anxiety for the fearful issue, we had men—hundreds of thou[20]sands, millions of men, the bravest and truest soldiers that ever bore a musket. Thousands and tens of thousands of them sleep beneath the bloody sod of Antietam, in the miry swamps of the Chickahominy, and under the parching soil of the southern savannas, where they sank to their rest with the field unconquered above them. There they slumber, each of them a willing sacrifice, if his death brought the nation but one hair's breadth nearer to the final redemption, or could add one ray to the flood of light which the peace they prayed for would shed upon the land beloved.

There was no lack of men, and pure patriots prayed for a leader. They sighed for a Washington, a Napoleon, a Wellington, to guide their swelling masses of ardent warriors from the gloom of disaster to the brightness of victory. Chiefs, mighty in battle, pure in purpose, skilful in device and execution, reared their banners successively at the head of the valiant hosts, then drooped and fell, as the hot blast of jealousy swept over them, or they became entangled in the silken meshes of adulation. In none of these did the soldiers find their true leader, though they fought fiercely and fell in horrid slaughter under all of them.

It was only when the soul of the mustered hosts was fired by the sublime fact of a worthy leader, and their muscles nerved by the will of a mighty champion, that the thundering march of victory commenced, and the triumphal car of the conqueror swept like a whirlwind through the war-stricken South. Then treason trembled, tottered, few. Then the infatuated [21]leaders of rebellion wailed in terror, and fled from the halter that dangled over their heads. Then the one man of the war towered like a giant above his fellows. Then he stood forth as the nation's savior, and a generous people placed the laurel on his brow.

I am an enthusiast as I review the history of my country from 1862 to the present time. I watched with McClellan in the oozy swamps of Virginia, when he feared to risk his popularity by striking an avenging stroke at the exposed foe, and I joined in singing the pćan of victory with Grant after Five Forks, when the final blow had been given to the rebellion. Therefore am I enthusiastic.

The people acknowledged the greatness of Grant's military genius, the tremendous power of his will, and the unflinching earnestness of his patriotism. Then, while salvos of artillery throughout the loyal land proclaimed the victory to the astonished nations, we hailed Grant as our standard-bearer.

If I am enthusiastic, so are the people, to their honor and glory be it said. I shall only ask to be their mouthpiece, assured that I cannot exceed their estimate of the hero. What he was in the storm of battle, he is in the calm pursuits of peace. What he was among the soldiers, he is among the citizens. As he possessed the unlimited confidence of the "boys in blue," so has he the unlimited confidence of the people. They are full of gratitude to him for the past, full of trust in him for the present, and full of hope in him for the future. In a tone more enthusiastic, and a voice more united than ever before since the days of Washington, the people have declared that [22]Grant shall still be our standard-bearer, and I am more enthusiastic than ever.

Presumptuous as it may be in one so humble and little deserving as I am to intrude himself upon the public eye, I insist upon giving my views of the life of General Grant. I claim to know all about the distinguished subject of my story—which is no story at all, inasmuch as every word of it, so far as it relates to the general, is only the living truth, as I understand it. Even if my kind and courteous readers should deem me a myth, I shall only have won the obscurity I covet, and succeed in concentrating their attention upon the illustrious man whose immortal name I reverently utter, and whose undying deeds I seek to illustrate.

I wish to say in the beginning, that I hold it to be the sacred duty of the historian to tell the truth; so far as in him lies. For this reason I have taken the trouble, in this initial chapter of my work, to explain at some length the grounds of my individual enthusiasm in speaking and writing of the illustrious subject of this memoir. The fact, and my view of the fact, are two essentially different things. I shall state facts as I find them; and whatever view my indulgent reader may entertain in regard to me and my views, I assure him, on the honor of an historian, that all my statements are true, and worthy of the utmost credit.

Others may not be willing to agree with me in all respects in my estimate of particular events or incidents in the life of my illustrious subject, though I am [23]persuaded there can be no essential difference in our view of the sum-total of the general—that he must stand unchallenged as the greatest man and the greatest soldier of the nineteenth century, if not of all time. A proper regard for the sacred truth of history compels me to make this declaration, which I do without the fear of a denial.

I have been very much pained to observe that my friend, Mr. Pollard, author of "The Lost Cause," has arrived at an estimate of the merit of our distinguished general, which is, in some respects, different from my own. Perhaps my valued contemporary was unable to derive the necessary inspiration from his subject to enable him to do full justice to the shining abilities of some of the heroes who, unfortunately for The Lost Cause, were on the other side of the unpleasant controversy. Doubtless Mr. Pollard meant well; but it is painful to find that he has, in some cases, exhibited symptoms of prejudice, especially towards General Grant, who does not seem to be a favorite general with him. I notice also on his pages a degree of partiality towards General Lee which greatly astonishes me. After a careful examination of Mr. Pollard's voluminous work, I am surprised and grieved to find that he actually regards Lee, in the matter of soldier-like qualities and in generalship, as the superior of Grant!

I confess my surprise at his singular position; but in view of the fact that he is writing the history of "The Lost Cause"—lost, the world acknowledges, through the active agency of General Grant,—I am [24]disposed to palliate, though not to excuse, my friend's departures from the sacred line of historic truth. Mr. Lee is doubtless a very amiable and kind-hearted gentleman, though we must protest against his inhumanity to the Belle Island prisoners; but I object to any comparison of him, as a general, with Grant. When Mr. Pollard shall have time to go over the ground again, he will see his blunders, and, being an honest man, he will have the hardihood to correct them. Then "The Lost Cause" will be to him, as to the rest of mankind, a monument of the folly and wickedness of those who engaged in it, a solemn warning to traitors and conspirators, and the best panegyric of the true hero of the war which a rebel pen could indite.

Though, as I said before, it makes no difference who or what I am, it will be no more than courtesy for me to satisfy the reasonable curiosity of my readers on these points, before I enter upon the pleasant task before me. Though one of my ancestors, some ten generations back, was born in the parish of Blarney, in the County of Cork, Ireland, I was not born there. Sir Bernard Galligasken—whose name, shorn of its aristocratic handle, I have the honor to bear—was one of the earliest known, at the present time, of our stock, and emigrated to Scotland, where he married one of the Grants of Aberdeenshire. My more immediate progenitor came over in the Mayflower, and landed on Plymouth Rock, for which, on this account, as well as because I love the principles of those stalwart men of the olden time, I have ever [25]had the most profound veneration. Early in the present century my parents removed from Eastern Massachusetts to the Great West.

I was born at Point Pleasant, Ohio, April 27, 1822. By a singular coincidence (on my side) was born in the same town, and on the same day, Hiram Ulysses Grant.



Wherein Captain Galligasken delineates the early History of the illustrious Soldier, and deduces therefrom the Presages of Future Greatness.

I respectfully subscribe myself a cosmopolitan, not in the sense that I am a citizen of the world—God forbid! for I am too proud of my title as an American citizen to share my nationality with any other realm under the sun. I am cosmopolitan in the "everywhere" significance of the term; and it has been a cause of sincere regret to me that I could only be in one place at one time; but I ought to be content, since I always happened to be in sight or hearing of the illustrious subject of my feeble admiration.

Point Pleasant is a village on the Ohio, twenty-five miles above Cincinnati, celebrated for nothing in particular, except being the birthplace of General Grant, which, however, is glory enough for any town; and passengers up and down the beautiful river, for generations to come, will gaze with wondering interest at its spires, because there first drew the breath of life the immortal man who has been and still is Our Standard-Bearer.

Many people have a fanatical veneration for blood as [27]such. I confess I yield no allegiance to this sentiment, for I expect to be what I make myself, rather than what I am made by my distinguished ancestor, Sir Bernard Galligasken. But those who attach any weight to pedigree may be reasonably gratified in the solid character of the progenitors of General Grant. He came from the Grants of Aberdeenshire, in Scotland, whose heraldic motto was, "Stand fast, stand firm, stand sure!" which, by an astonishing prescience of the seers of the clan, seems to have been invented expressly to describe the moral and mental attributes of the illustrious soldier of our day.

Matthew Grant was a passenger in the Mary and John, and settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1630. The American citizen, whose pride tempts him to look beyond the Pilgrim Fathers for glorious ancestors, ought to have been born in England, where pride of birth bears its legitimate fruit. Grant came in a direct line from one of these worthies; but I never heard him congratulate himself even on this fortunate and happy origin. Noah Grant, a descendant of the stout Puritan, emigrated to Connecticut, and was a captain in the Old French War. He was killed in battle, in 1756, having attained the rank of captain. His son, also taking the patriarchal name, was belligerent enough to have been killed in battle, for he was a soldier in the revolutionary war from Lexington—where he served as a lieutenant—to Yorktown, the last engagement of that seven years' strife. This faithful soldier was the general's grandfather. He had a son named for Mr. Chief Justice Jesse Root, of Connecticut, who was the father of Our Standard-Bearer.


Jesse Root Grant was born in Pennsylvania, but when he was ten years of age his parents removed to the Western Reserve of Ohio. He was apprenticed to a tanner at Maysville, Kentucky, when he was sixteen, and set up in business for himself at Ravenna, Ohio, when he was of age; but severe illness compelled him to relinquish it for a time. In 1820 he settled at Point Pleasant, and married Miss Hannah Simpson. Here, in a little one-story house, still in existence, was born the subject of our story.

The house in which Peter the Great lived at Sardam while he worked at ship-building is still preserved, enclosed within another, tableted with inscriptions, and protected from the ravages of time for the inspection of future ages. I wonder that some ardent patriot has not already done a similar service to the little structure in which was born a greater than Czar Peter, and one whose memory will be cherished when the autocrat of the Russias is forgotten.

The house is a mere shanty, which was comfortable enough in its day, with an extension in the rear, and with the chimney on the outside of one end. It was a good enough house even for so great a man to be born in, and compares very favorably with that in which Lincoln, his co-laborer in the war, first drew the breath of life. It has become historic now, and the people will always regard it with glowing interest.

Grant's mother was a very pretty, but not pretentious, girl; a very worthy, but not austere, matron. She was a member of the Methodist church, with high views of Christian duty, especially in regard to [29]her children, whom she carefully trained and earnestly watched over in their early years. Her influence as a noble Christian woman has had, and is still to have, through her illustrious son, more weight and broader expansion than she ever dreamed of in the days of her poverty and toil.

A year after the birth of the first born, Jesse Grant, then a poor man, though he afterwards accumulated a handsome property, removed from Point Pleasant to Georgetown, Ohio, where he carried on his business as a tanner; and as he tanned with nothing but oak bark, and did his work in a superior manner, his reputation was excellent. I am hard on leather myself, but my first pair of shoes was made of leather from the tannery of J.R. Grant, and they wore like iron. It has been observed that this leather, made up into thick boots, was more effectual than any other when applied by the indignant owner to the purpose sometimes necessary, though always disagreeable, of kicking an unmannerly and ill-behaved ruffian out of doors. Though I have not had occasion to test Mr. Grant's leather in this direction, I am a firm believer in its virtue.

I cannot say that, as a baby, Ulysses had any fore-shadowings of the brilliant destiny in store for him. It is quite possible that his fond mother regarded him as a remarkable child, if the neighbors in Georgetown did not. Certainly, in this instance, she was nearer right than loving mothers usually are, and is entitled to much credit for the justness of her view on this interesting subject. I am confident that the infant Hercules displayed some of the energy of [30]which has distinguished his manhood—that he declined to be washed, and held on to dangerous play-things, with greater tenacity than children of tender years usually do. Still, the sacredness of historic truth does not permit me to assume that he displayed any of the traits of a great general, except the embryo of his mighty will, until he had attained his second year, when the first decided penchant for the roar of artillery manifested itself on a small scale.

My friend Mr. Pollard alludes to the incident in his valuable work on The Lost Cause, though, I am pained to observe, in a tone of disparagement quite unworthy of him, as a "Yankee affectation." As he seems to have no scruples in telling strange stories about Stonewall Jackson, Jeb. Stuart, and other Southern worthies, I am compelled to attribute this incredulity and ridicule to a foolish prejudice. Though I happened to be present when the event occurred,—a cosmopolitan then, as now,—I was in the arms of my maternal parent, and being only two years old at the time, I am unable to vouch for its truth on my own personal recollection; but the father of General Grant has confirmed it.

"Let me try the effect of a pistol report on the baby," said a young man to the anxious parent in the street, on the fourth of July, where great numbers of people were gathered.

"The child has never seen a pistol or a gun in his life," replied Mr. Grant; "but you may try it."

The hand of the baby was placed on the trigger, and pressed there till the lock sprang, and the pistol went off with a loud report. The future commander-in-chief hardly moved or twitched a muscle.


"Fick it again! fick it again!" cried the child, pushing away the weapon, and desiring to have the experiment repeated.

"That boy will make a general; he neither winked nor dodged," added the inevitable bystander, a cosmopolitan like myself, who is ever at hand on momentous occasions.

To me, the trait of character exhibited by the child is not so much the type of a taste for the rattle of musketry and the odor of gunpowder as of a higher manifestation of soldier-like qualities. After weary days and long nights of the thunder of cannon at Donelson, when ordinary generals would have been disgusted and disheartened by continued failure, Grant persevered, not knowing that he had been beaten, and in tones full of grand significance, though in speech more mature, he repeats his order,—

"Fick it again! fick it again!"

When canal, and squadron, and repeated assaults had failed to reduce Vicksburg, and friend and foe believed that the place was invulnerable, Grant seemed to shout,—

"Fick it again! fick it again!"

When, after the terrible onslaught of the Union army at the Wilderness, no advantage seemed to have been gained, and the time came when Grant's predecessors had fled to recruit in a three months' respite, the heroic leader only said, in substance,—

"Fick it again! fick it again!"

At Spottsylvania he hurled his army again at the rebel host, and then fought battle after battle, never completely succeeding, but never turning his eye or [32]his thought from the object to be gained: he still maintained his baby philosophy, and still issued the order of the day, which was, practically,—

"Fick it again! fick it again!"

That celebrated telegram, sent to Secretary Stanton, which thrilled the hearts of the waiting people as they listened for the tidings of battle, and which was a most significant exponent of the man's character and purpose, "I shall fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer," was only another rendering of his childish exclamation,—

"Fick it again! fick it again!"

Fort Donelson, Vicksburg, Richmond, the Rebellion itself, were fully and completely "ficked," in the end, by the carrying out of his policy. It is an excellent rule, when a plan does not work in one way, to "fick" it again.

Grant's father was too poor at this time to send him to school steadily, for the boy was an industrious fellow, and had a degree of skill and tact in the management of work that rendered him a very useful assistant. He went to school three months in winter till he was eleven, when even this meagre privilege was denied him, and his subsequent means of education were very limited. But his opportunities were fully improved, and he heartily devoted himself to the cultivation of his mind. He was the original discoverer of the fact that there is no such word as "can't" in the dictionary; and it appears never to have been added to his vocabulary. Grant's dictionary was a capital one for practical service; and if some of our generals had used this excellent edition, [33]their own fame and the country's glory would have been thereby promoted.

It affords me very great pleasure to be able to testify, in the most decided manner, that Grant was a patriot in his boyhood, as well as in the later years of his life. As an American youth, he had a just and proper reverence for the name of Washington, which is the symbol of patriotism to our countrymen. Grant's cousin from Canada came to live with his uncle for a time in Georgetown, and went to school with the juvenile hero. This lad, though born under the shadow of the Star-spangled Banner, had imbibed some pestilent notions from the Canadians, and had the audacity to speak ill of the immortal Washington. This was not the only time that Americans from Canada have assailed their native land, nor was this the only time that Ulysses had the honor of fighting the battle directly or indirectly against them. On the present occasion, in spite of the oft-repeated admonition of his pious mother to forgive his enemies and not to fight, he pitched into the renegade and thrashed him soundly, as he deserved to be thrashed. I never spoke ill of Washington, but I should esteem it a great honor to have been thrashed by Ulysses S. Grant in such a cause; and doubtless his cousin, if still living, and not a Canadian, is proud of his whipping.

Grant appears not to have been a brilliant horse-trader, at least not after the tactics of jockeys in general, though in this, as in all other purposes, he carried his point. At the age of twelve his father sent him to buy a certain horse—and it ought to be [34]remarked that his worthy sire seems to have had as much confidence in him at that time as the sovereign people of the present day manifest in him. He was instructed to offer fifty dollars for the animal; then fifty-five if the first offer failed, with the limit at sixty. Ralston, the owner of the horse, wished to know how much the youthful purchaser was authorized by his father to give for the animal. Ulysses, with a degree of candor which would have confounded an ordinary jockey, explained his instructions in full, and of course the owner asked the maximum sum for him.

Though the youth had "shown his hand," he was not the easy victim he was supposed to be. He positively refused to give more than fifty dollars for the horse, after he had seen and examined him. He had made up his mind, and the horse was purchased for that sum. I think Grant bought out the Rebellion in about the same way; for while he was ready to pay "fifty-five," or even "sixty," for the prize of a nation's peace and unity, the rebels came down at the "fifty."

Grant was a good boy, in the reasonable sense of the term, though he did not die young. I never heard that he made any extravagant pretensions to piety himself, or that any one ever made any for him, though he attended church himself regularly, and had a profound respect for religious worship. He was a sober, quiet little fellow, indulged in no long speeches then any more than now. He was a youth of eminent gravity, rather an old head on young shoulders, and I am only surprised that neither his parents nor his instructors discovered in him the germ of greatness. As the child is father to the man, all [35]the records of his early years concur in showing that he exhibited the same traits of character then as now.

The phrenologist who examined Ulysses' "bumps," and declared that "it would not be strange" if he became the President of the United States, exhibited more intelligence than others within the ring; but I am provoked with him that he did not state the case stronger; for if there is anything at all in phrenology, the gentleman ought to have been confident of this result. Any man may become President, as the stupendous accident of the present generation has shown, but every man is not fit for the place. It is vastly better to be qualified to fill the high position, than it is even to fill it. As Grant was the providential man of the war, so shall he be the providential man of the peace that follows it in the highest office within the gift of the people. No accident can cheat him out of his destiny, which he willingly accepts, more for the glory of the nation than of the individual.



Wherein Captain Galligasken "talks Horse," and illustrates the Subject with some Anecdotes from the Life of the illustrious Soldier.

The horse is a noble animal, and it is by no means remarkable that a bond of sympathy has been established between great men and good horses. I have noticed that distinguished generals are always mounted on splendid steeds—a fact of which painters and sculptors have availed themselves in their delineations, on canvas or in marble, of the heroes and mighty men of history. Bucephalus, the war-charger of Alexander the Great, seems to be almost a part of the Macedonian conqueror; Washington, in the various equestrian attitudes in which he is presented to the admiring gaze of the people by the artist, appears to gain power and dignity from the noble steed he rides; and scores of lesser heroes, dismounted and detached from the horse, would, so far as the eye is concerned, slip down from the pedestal of grandeur to the level of common men. Though it is sometimes unfortunate that the limner's idea of the man is better than of the horse, it will be universally acknowledged that the gallant steed adds dignity and grace to the hero.

Although it has not yet been the good fortune of the [37]American people to behold any worthy equestrian delineation of our illustrious soldier, either on canvas or in marble, yet the popular ideal would represent him as a sort of Centaur—half horse and half Grant. While I am by no means willing to acknowledge that every man who "talks horse" is necessarily a great man, it is undeniable that great military geniuses have figured attractively and appropriately in intimate association with this intelligent and noble animal. The inspired writers used the horse to add grandeur and sublimity to their imagery, and St. John's vision of Death on the Pale Horse thrills the soul by the boldness of the equestrian attitude in which it places the grim destroyer.

The centaur which the American people idolize is not an unworthy combination, and neither the man nor the horse loses by the association. From the time the embryo hero could go alone—if there ever was a time when he could not go alone—Grant fancied the horse; Grant loved the horse; Grant conquered the horse.

Bucephalus was offered for sale to Philip by a Thessalian horse-jockey. He was a glorious horse, but neither groom nor courtier could handle him. So fierce was his untamed will, that the king ordered the jockey to take him away; but Alexander, grieved at the thought of losing so fine a steed, remonstrated with his father, who promised to buy him if his son would ride him. Alexander did ride him, and the horse became his war-charger in all his campaigns.

In his early and intimate association with the horse, young Grant exhibited the force of his immense [38]will, even more effectively than his Macedonian prototype.

When children of seven "talk horse," they do so at a respectful distance from the object of their admiration, with a lively consciousness that the animal has teeth and heels. At this age Grant demonstrated his enterprise by operating with a three-year-old colt. I do not profess to be a great man, as I have before had occasion to remark, or to possess any of the elements of greatness; but I do like a horse, while I am free to say I should as soon think of teaching an African lion to dance a hornpipe as to meddle with a three-year-old colt. However good-natured the creature may be, he has an innate independence of character, which makes him restive, and even vicious, under restraint. I never break colts.

Georgetown, where we lived in those early days, was about seven miles from the Ohio. One day Grant's father went to Ripley, a small town on the river, and remained there all day. The juvenile centaur had an idea on that occasion, which for a seven-year-old, may be regarded as an emphatically brilliant one. On the place was a three-year-old colt, which had been used under the saddle, but never attached to a vehicle of any kind. It required some confidence on the part of the youth to think of harnessing this unbroken animal; yet he not only conceived the idea, but actually carried it out. He put the collar on the three-year-old for the first time, attached him to a sled, and hauled wood with him all day. At eight years of age he was the regular teamster on his father's place. At ten he used to drive a [39]span of horses to Cincinnati, forty miles distant, and return with a freight of passengers, but with no adult to direct or control him.

The pony trick at the circuses which travel over the country is not a new thing; and when a call was made for a boy to ride the fractious little beast, trained to throw the daring youngster who had the hardihood to mount him, for the amusement of the gaping crowd, Ulysses used to be a regular volunteer. I never offered my services, because I had a proper respect for the unity of my corporeal frame. Grant, bent on overcoming some new obstacle, was always on hand, and always as sure to succeed as he was to undertake any difficult feat.

On one occasion a peculiarly vicious little rascal of a pony was attached to one of these shows which exhibited in our town. Grant, as usual, was the only youngster who had the pluck to venture upon the difficult feat of riding him. He mounted the little villain, and away he darted with the speed of the lightning, resorting to all manner of mean tricks to dismount his bold rider. Round the ring he whirled, flying rather than running, and increasing his efforts to unhorse the determined youth, who sat as steadily as though he had been the veritable, instead of the figurative, Centaur. Grant carried too many guns for that pony.

A large monkey, included in the programme of the performance, was next let loose, to assist in dismounting the rider. The little demon sprang up behind the volunteer equestrian, and away dashed the pony at redoubled speed. The intelligent but excited au[40]dience shouted with laughter, but the youth was unmoved either by the pony, the monkey, or the storming applause of the crowd. He could neither be bullied nor coaxed from his position. Then the gentlemanly master of the ring caused the monkey to mount the shoulders of the intrepid youngster, and hold on at his hair. Away went the pony once more, and a new effort was made to throw the unconquered young horseman. The crowd shouted and roared with renewed energy as the scene became more ludicrous and more exciting; but Grant's nerves were still steady, and his face still wore its resolute, unmoved expression. As usual with those who attempt to throw him, somebody besides Grant had to give in. He was too much for pony, monkey, and ring-master combined.

I am well aware that I am enthusiastic; I have made full confession of my enthusiasm, and I am not ashamed of it; but I cannot help regarding this exciting incident as a type of events in the subsequent career of that bold rider. When he mounted the pony to ride into Fort Donelson, he was not to be shaken from his seat; he went in. That same pony—after all sorts of vicious attempts to pitch him into the Mississippi, or heave him over into the swamps—carried him safely into Vicksburg, after almost as many turns around the ring and the ring-master—one Pemberton on this occasion—as in the circus at Georgetown.

On a still larger scale, with one Jefferson Davis as ring-master, he was induced to mount the emblematic pony of the army of the Potomac, an exceedingly [41]well-trained steed, which, however, had succeeded in throwing all his previous riders. Little Mac went round the ring very handsomely, and so far as the pony was concerned, proved himself to be master of the situation; but the monkey, which, in this case, appeared to be his personal reputation, too dear to be risked upon any issue short of absolute certainty, was too much for him, and he was unhorsed. His immediate successors held on well for a brief period; but the monkey of jealousy, insubordination, or vanity, very soon gave them a wretched tumble, even before the crowd had ceased to applaud.

Grant had ridden too many horses to be overwhelmed by this pony. The ring-master kept his eye on the daring rider, expecting soon to see him pitched off by the pony, with the assistance of the monkey. He started from the Wilderness one day, and every device was used to unseat him; but he did not move a muscle when the ring-master cracked his whip, or even when the monkey perched upon his shoulders. He fought it out on that line, and brought up at Appomattox Court House. The ring-master gave up, and closed the performance.

Doubtless Grant would have made a capital circus-rider, for he appears to have had a taste for daring feats with horses. At five years of age he began to stand up on the bare backs of the horses as he rode them to water to the White Oak River. When he was nine, he would stand on one foot, with the horse at the top of his speed, only holding on by the rein. A neighbor's boy was unfortunately killed in his attempts to keep up with him, though he did not seek [42]to imitate him in his circus proclivities by standing on the back of the animal.

Grant was a perfect breaker of horses, for the independent, self-willed creature soon learned that he had a master in the youth; but he would do this kind of business only for his own amusement. He appears to have had an instinctive nobility of character, which would not assimilate with anything like the horse-jockey or the horse-trainer. Though he had a remarkable tact, in his boyhood, for teaching a horse to pace, he regarded it as degrading to follow the art as a calling. While he was always willing to work, and had a just regard for the dignity of labor, he was sensitive about engaging in anything of doubtful utility or questionable respectability. A trick was resorted to by his father to induce him to teach a neighbor's horse to pace: though, in a ride of thirteen miles and back, he accomplished the feat, and returned the animal to the owner a perfect pacer, he discovered the subterfuge of which he had been made the victim, and he would never again train another.

At the age of twelve the embryo hero was very small in stature, but he seems to have indulged in big ideas even then. Mr. Grant had a contract to build the Brown County jail, and the little fellow promised to haul all the logs of which the structure was to be composed, if his father would buy a certain large-sized horse, to which the youth had taken a fancy. His father assented, but did not suppose the boy would be able to endure the fatigue for more than a week, and hired a man to take his place when he was worn out. But he did not wear out; he had a habit of never [43]wearing out, for he imparted the firmness and solidity of his will to his slight frame. The hired man followed the team for a few days, and then declared that the boy was more competent than himself to handle the big horse.

That hired man reminds me of a certain general who followed Grant around for a time, ready to take his place, or give it to another, thinking the "big horse" was too much for his subordinate to manage, and who finally took the field in person; but he was obliged to acknowledge in the end, as the other hired man had, that Grant could handle the "big horse" better than he could.

For some reason the men who were hewing the logs in the woods for the jail did not go to work as usual one day, and there was no one to load the timber for the enterprising youth. There was only the alternative of returning to town without any logs, or of loading them himself. The latter expedient would have been sufficiently impossible to deter an ordinary boy from attempting the task. The sticks were very large and heavy, and even the gang of men used levers and handspikes in loading them. But here was Grant standing before Donelson or Vicksburg, with this team,—before the logs, I should say,—and he had either to do a miracle or return logless to his father. If there had been no particular difficulty in the undertaking, perhaps he would not have felt compelled to do it; as it was, he felt obliged to do it, if only as an illustration of his character.

A tree had been felled on the spot, the trunk resting on the branches, and the butt on the ground, forming [44]a convenient inclined plane. The big horse was hitched to the end of the timbers, and three of them were successively "snaked" up on the trunk of the fallen tree, till their ends were high enough to permit the wagon to be backed under them. Taking a long chain, so as to enable the horse to work beyond the vehicle, he whipped the end of it around each stick in turn, and hauled it into the wagon, harnessed up again, and drove to the site of the jail.

I maintain that this was a great achievement for a boy of twelve, very small at that; and the people in the neighborhood talked about it as such, just as they did, years after, about the capture of Vicksburg. The youth had a great deal of engineering skill, and a quickness of perception which enabled him to profit by every favorable circumstance within his reach—a faculty which has contributed in no small degree to his success as a great commander. He was a boy of expedients. The accident of that felled tree, prompt as he was to profit by it, was by no means essential to his success. It was certainly wise to use the inclined plane, which he found ready for service; but if it had not been there, Grant would have made one, or loaded the logs in some other way. He would no more have gone off without them than he would have returned from Vicksburg or Richmond without capturing the city.

There is a sort of unexpectedness about Grant, which he began to develop as a boy. He does just what the beholder does not anticipate, surprises by sticking to anything, when, according to ordinary rules, one ought to give up, or confounds by a course [45]of action hitherto unheard of. He holds on to the pony when he ought to be thrown; he comes home with a load of logs when he ought to have come home empty; he accomplishes many a feat in which he ought to have failed, according to the every-day rules of life. He was fond of playing marbles, which seems to be the only strictly boys' amusement in which he indulged. He bet half a dozen marbles with a school-mate that he would jump twenty-five feet at a single leap, selecting his own ground for the feat. If I had been there, I should have taken that bet, for it seemed as impossible for a little fellow like him to do it, as it did to capture Vicksburg.

Grant went to a perpendicular bluff, having the requisite height, and jumped down at one leap,—for if the terms of the wager had required it, it would hardly have been convenient to make two leaps of it. Though he went down to his middle in the mud below, he won the bet. Doubtless he came out of the slough rather the worse for the leap, so far as personal appearance was concerned, but his plight only assures us that he looked before he leaped, as he always did, for hard pan, or a solid rock, might have been trying even to his nerves, in a jump of twenty-five feet.

In my opinion Lee was as much astonished to see Grant on the south side of Richmond as the boy with whom he made the bet was to see him jump perpendicularly instead of horizontally.



Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the illustrious Soldier to West Point, and dilates admiringly upon the many excellent Traits of Character which the Hero exhibited there.

Tanning, even with oak bark, and the strong stimulus of the paternal example, had no charms to young Grant. Though it was a very honorable and useful occupation, he was remorselessly opposed to it; not because he was a dandy, and it soiled his hands, nor because he was fastidious, and the odor was unpleasant, but because he had no taste for the trade. It presented nothing but the dull routine of a mechanical employment, with no difficulties to be overcome, and with no variety to enliven it. Whenever his father suggested that they should grind bark, he would start for the village without a word of reply, and hire a boy to take his place in the tannery, while he earned the money to pay him in some more congenial way.

Grant and his father appear to have agreed remarkably, notwithstanding their dissimilarity of tastes on the subject of tanning. The giant will was under judicious control, and was not exerted in opposition to the paternal inclination. He seems to have been [47]obedient to his parents, even while his own wishes and tastes were in violent antipathy to theirs. On one occasion, when there was a scarcity of hands in the tannery, his father told him he must have his help in the beam-room. He obeyed, and went to work, but not without renewedly expressing his dislike of the business. He told his father that he would work at it, if he wished him to do so, until he was of age, but not a day after that time.

This important period was the turning-point in the career of the young man, and the country is indebted to Mr. Grant for his judicious handling of the difficulty before him. He did not blindly and wilfully oppose the boy's inclination, even after he had voluntarily signified his intention to be guided by his father's wishes, at the expense of his own individual tastes. Perhaps, in my unbounded admiration for the man, I am hasty in catching at analogies; but I cannot help seeing the germ of another soldierly attribute in the disposition which young Grant displayed on this occasion—the quality of obedience, without which the soldier is nothing. Though possessed of a mighty will, Grant has never been known to disobey the lawful commands of his superior, however disagreeable they were to him.

Mr. Grant fully realized that it was time for his son to have some definite views in regard to the future; and instead of compelling the boy to bend his back over the beam in the tannery, against his settled inclination, he simply replied to his complaint that he did not wish him to follow the business if he did not like it, and could not choose it as his permanent occupa[48]tion. The worthy patriarch was prudent in his treatment of the case, I repeat; and though I am not old enough to entitle my words to be regarded as the oracles of a sage, I commend his example to the attention of all ambitious parents who expect their sons to become great generals or presidents.

The father asked the discontented youth what employment he thought he would like. Ulysses evidently had not considered this grave matter in all its bearings, for he was not prepared to mention the particular calling which would suit him best, though he indicated three things, each as dissimilar to the others as it could be.

He would like to be a farmer; a "down-the-river trader," or "to get an education." It was not convenient to establish him as a tiller of the soil; and his father apparently regarded being a "down-the-river trader" as a disreputable occupation—probably as something akin to a Yankee pedler who sells wooden nutmegs; and the money it would cost to give him a liberal education could not readily be spared from the tannery, which, in former days, kept the larger portion of its capital soaking in the vats for months. But the question was a serious one, and though it could not be realized at that time, the welfare of a great nation, as well as the destiny of an unformed youth, rested upon the issue.

Who shall say that an inspiration higher than his own thought did not suggest to the anxious father the idea of sending his son to West Point? It was a happy solution of the problem; and what was better still, it suited the boy "first rate." The idea was prompt[49]ly followed up. Mr. Grant wrote to the Hon. Thomas L. Hamer, the representative in Congress of the district in which he resided. The letter reached the member only on the day before his term of office expired, when his right to nominate a cadet to the Military Academy would cease. Fortunately the mail was faithful to its sacred duty on this occasion, and bore the missive to its destination in season to save Grant from becoming a farmer or a "down-the-river trader," and in season to have him appointed, not alone as a cadet, but as the savior of the nation; for that nomination was the germ of the event which gave us the man that crushed the Rebellion.

As I think of the condition of my country when the rising sun of Grant's genius pointed him out to the people as the only fit leader for the armies of the Union, I tremble to think of the results which must have followed a single day's delay of that momentous letter! The providential man was providentially guided to his brilliant destiny.

The bugbear of an examination for admission to West Point, though it then included only reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic to decimal fractions, had more terrors to the young aspirant for military honors than the capers of a three-year-old colt. He was not prepared by any special training for such an ordeal; and a young man, who had previously been appointed by Mr. Hamer, had twice failed to pass, his ill success keeping the place open for Grant. The opportunities of the newly-appointed cadet had been very limited, and it would hardly have been to his discredit if he had failed to come up to the require[50]ments of the institution. But he did not fail; with all his concentrated energy of purpose guiding and strengthening him, he could not fail; and on the 1st of July, 1839, at the age of seventeen, Grant was duly admitted to the Military Academy to prepare himself for the glorious future which God and his country had in store for him. And then

"The great Ulysses reached his native shore,"

and entered upon the career of which we have not yet seen the full fruition.

"What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet;" and Grant by any other name would have fought and conquered just as well; but it was only by a singular accident that the newspapers have had the opportunity to make such a varied play upon the initials of his name, which in themselves were sufficiently suggestive to excite the attention of the specials as far back as the victory at Fort Donelson. U.S. Grant demanding and insisting upon unconditional surrender after a savage fight of three days was certainly a coincidence worthy of remark. Perhaps, after the momentous and prolonged discussion in regard to the baby's name soon after Grant was born, it was a great pity, when one had been selected, that it did not "stick" to the end; but it was doomed to be reconstructed, apparently that the initials might have a suggestive and patriotic significance.

His father, mother, grandfather, and grandmother, discussed the important matter, and he was called Hiram Ulysses. Hiram was his grandfather's propo[51]sition, simply because it was a pretty name, in his opinion. His mother's step-mother appears to have dabbled in classic lore, and to have read the Odyssey. She had a warm admiration for the hero of that remarkable tale, and insisted that the infant should have the name of Ulysses. As in the eternal fitness of things, this was an appropriate name, posterity will commend the taste, if not the prescience, of the venerable lady.

In making the nomination, Mr. Hamer sent in the name of "Ulysses S. Grant," confounding his name with that of the applicant's brother and mother. While at West Point the interloping S. stood for Sidney. Grant made two attempts to have the matter set right, but the Fates were against him. It seemed to be foreordained that the United States and himself should be so far synonymous as to be designated in the same manner; and he accepted his "manifest destiny," only causing the S. to stand for Simpson, in honor of his mother, instead of for Sidney.

Mr. Hamer, who had conferred so distinguished a favor upon Grant and the nation in nominating him to a cadetship, did not live to realize the magnitude of the service he had rendered to his country and the applicant. In the Mexican war he went into the army himself, as did not a few of the politicians of the country. He distinguished himself at Monterey, but finally succumbed to the treacherous climate of the low lands. Grant was his nurse and his friend in his final sickness, and rendered to him the last kind offices of the living to the dead. The illustrious soldier was always faithful in his friendships, never forgetting a favor or forsaking a friend.


As there is "one glory of the sun, and another of the stars," it was not appointed unto Grant to be everything that is grand in humanity. Indeed, the very grandeur of the man consists in the harmonious development of all his faculties, rather than in the striking preëminence of a few, towering in lofty sublimity at the expense of all the others. He is not lacking in any essential quality of a great man, and his greatness is a combination of all the noble traits of character, instead of the morbid development of a few. He was not a great scholar. It was not his ambition or his destiny to be a Newton, a Humboldt, a Milton, or an Irving. The elements of a brilliant scholar would have shut him out from the distinction he has achieved.

Grant's previous intellectual training had not prepared him to rival in scholarship those in his class who had been over the course before. The district school in a country town had been the limit of his advantages. The class which commenced the course with him was composed of eighty-seven members, only thirty-nine of whom were graduated. The routine and discipline of the institution are exacting and severe; and it is very much to any young man's credit that he goes through at all. The statistics show that the cadets fall out by the wayside, as the lines draw taut upon them. A majority of Grant's class went by the board, and No. 39—the lowest in rank who was graduated—seems to have been a better fellow than forty-eight others who "caved in," some of them, doubtless, from weakness of body, but most of them for the want of pluck. But Grant was not the unhappy No. 39, who [53]by contrast appears in an unpleasant position at the foot of the class, though, as I have shown, he was really a plucky fellow. Grant was graduated the twenty-first in his class, which is certainly a very creditable position.

I confess my surprise, when I consider the fact that Grant's attainments, when he entered the Military Academy, were hardly up to those of the ordinary second class in our grammar schools, while some of his classmates were graduates of colleges, and most of them had been over a part of the regular course before,—I confess my surprise that he was not No. 39, instead of No. 21. In spite of the giant will, and his developed pluck, it is a miracle that he was not of the number of those who fell out of the class during the four years' course. Certainly it is vastly more to his credit to have been able to graduate at all, than for many of the happy score who stood above to win their high rank. To have outdone eighteen of his companions in that unequal race was worthy the energy and perseverance of the man.

He went through the entire course of his class, for no option was then allowed to the cadets in the choice of studies. He exhibited himself to the best advantage in the mathematics, and in the departments of tactics and engineering obtained his highest marks in these branches, thus early developing his military mind.

At West Point I had a warm admiration for Grant, though none of us were wise enough to predict his brilliant future. I am astonished that we did not, for the Grant of to-day was the Grant of West Point. [54]He was the same modest, anti-sensational, unenthusiastic being that he is now. He was the boldest and apparently most reckless rider in the ring; but he always came out right then as now. He was not a dandy in any sense of the word; and though he appeared to have no regard for the elegance of his attire, he was always scrupulously neat, and paid a proper respect to the amenities of society in his personal appearance. He effectually dodged that period in the life of a young man when dress is the most important subject of consideration.

I could not help admiring the embryo general, for though he did not court popularity, and seemed to be entirely indifferent to it, he was one of the most popular of the cadets. The qualities of his mind and heart were of the highest order, and no student was able to point to a low or mean trait in his character. Bold, daring, and energetic, without the slightest display, without even uttering a boast, or exhibiting a particle of egotism, what wonder that he was the idol of his fellow-students!

"Methinks Ulysses strikes my wondering eyes!"

He never betrayed a trust reposed in him by friend or foe, was careful of the rights of others, and his word was as good as his bond. He was utterly forgetful of himself, never seeming to be conscious that he was of any particular consequence to others. In a word, he was then, as he is now, an honest, honorable man, true to himself, true to others. The sum of human greatness in personal character can include nothing more.


I say that he was careful of the rights of others. While I shall have occasion to demonstrate this trait in his character,—which is really one of the most noble and beautiful that can adorn the human mind,—on a larger scale in the course of this true narrative, let me say that it was the foundation of his popularity at West Point. He was never concerned in the disgraceful practice of "hazing," which can amuse only a mean, low, and tyrannical character. When he went to West Point he carried a letter of introduction to a cadet, who explained to him some of the tricks of the institution played off upon new-comers. On the first night a young gentleman entered his room and informed him that it was customary to assign a lesson of twenty pages, to be committed to memory while the student was nervous under the excitement of his admission, to test his firmness and energy. Grant assured the assumed officer that it was all right, turned over and went to sleep, while his roommate labored all night over the bogus task.

Grant's initials suggested for him the name of "Uncle Sam" at West Point; but his sober, steady demeanor, which gave him a sort of my-uncle bearing and dignity, was quite as much implicated in the nickname as the accidental letters that preceded his patronymic. He was a good fellow, by the popular vote of his companions; and none but such were entitled to the distinction of a nickname.

Having completed his four years' course, he was graduated in 1843, at the age of twenty-one. He was appointed to the Fourth Regiment of Infantry, with the brevet rank of second lieutenant.



Wherein Captain Galligasken accompanies the illustrious Soldier to Mexico, and glowingly dilates upon the gallant Achievements of our Arms from Palo Alto to Monterey.

My distinguished ancestor, Sir Bernard Galligasken, was a fighting man, and was knighted for meritorious services in the loyal cause in Ireland. My respected progenitors in the New World were engaged in the French and Indian wars, and fought their way through the Revolution with credit to themselves. I inherited the military taste; but I do not mention this fact, or introduce the warlike record of my worthy ancestors, to add one jot or tittle of glory to their fame or my own, but simply to convince the reader that I have the soul to appreciate the military prowess of the illustrious soldier in the cheering light of whose brilliant deeds I am content to be ignored, eclipsed, obscured.

Grant's rank at the Military Academy consigned him to the infantry; for the best scholars of the graduating class are assigned to the more desirable arms of the service—the engineers, cavalry, artillery. But to the soldier of such transcendent abilities as those of the illustrious hero, it mattered but little to what [57]branch he was sent. His rising star was eventually to confound all the puerile distinctions of particular arms, and to grasp them all in one comprehensive idea. He was sent to the infantry, as if to place in his path more obstacles to be overcome.

When those above him had been assigned to places in the army, all the vacancies were filled, and Grant was added as a supernumerary officer to the Fourth Infantry, with only brevet rank, there to wait till an opening was made, in those "piping times of peace," by resignation or death. His regiment was stationed in Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis. It was dull music here for ambitious young men, full of life, and thirsting for distinction in their chosen profession; but Grant had the happiness to soften the rigor of his captivity by a pleasant episode. Frederick T. Dent, his classmate at the Military Academy, who was also assigned to the Fourth Infantry, resided in the vicinity of the barracks. The young officers were friends, and Grant was invited to the house of Dent's family, where he won the esteem and respect which have ever been accorded to him.

On the mind and heart of Miss Julia T. Dent, the sister of his professional friend, he impressed himself even more strongly than upon those of others. They were engaged; but it was not until five years later that the happy parties were married.

After a residence of a year in the vicinity of St. Louis, Grant was ordered with his regiment to Louisiana. In 1845, as the Mexican imbroglio began to assume shape and form, the Fourth was ordered to Corpus Christi to observe the movements of [58]Mexican army concentrating on the frontier. Here he was commissioned as a full second lieutenant in the Seventh Regiment; but he was so strongly attached to the officers of the Fourth that he asked permission of the War Department to be retained in it; and his request was granted.

I am willing to confess, that, owing to my political predilections, I had not much heart in the war that was then brewing; but I was a soldier whose only duty is obedience. Grant, on the contrary, had no such scruples. His political faith fully and heartily indorsed the war, and he went into it calmly, resolutely, unflinchingly, and from a sense of duty higher even than that of soldierly obedience. I honor a man who has principles, and who has the courage to stand by them, even though he has the misfortune to disagree with me.

Corpus Christi is situated at the mouth of the Rio Nueces, between which and the Rio Grande was the disputed territory, nominally the bone of contention between the United States and Mexico. General Taylor, in command of about four thousand troops at Corpus Christi, was ordered to advance to the Rio Grande. He accordingly posted himself opposite Matamoras, having his base of supplies at Point Isabel, on the Gulf, and erected defensive works to cover his army. Ampudia and Arista, the Mexican commanders, signified that the advance of General Taylor into the disputed territory was an act of war, and that hostilities would be commenced.

Unfortunately for the Mexicans, they were commenced, and a body of dragoons under Captain Thorn[59]ton was surprised by an overwhelming force of the enemy, and all of them killed, wounded, or captured. Our blood was up then, and we had no disposition to discuss any fine political points. All my scruples vanished, for the Mexicans had taken the initiative in the conflict, and struck down American soldiers. Their army crossed the Rio Grande, and Taylor, suspecting that Ampudia intended to attack his base of supplies, hastened to the relief of Point Isabel. Having reënforced the garrison, and assured himself of its ability to hold the place, he prepared to return to Fort Brown.

During his absence the Mexicans crossed the river again, and attacked the fort. General Taylor started early in the morning, admonished by the sound of the guns at Fort Brown that assistance was needed there. Lieutenant Grant was in the column, with his regiment. At noon we came in sight of the Mexicans drawn up in order of battle at Palo Alto. General Taylor immediately formed his line for the conflict, and for the first time in thirty-one years an American army was drawn up before a civilized foe. Lieutenant Grant was there—in the first battle of the last half century, as he was in the last one.

Taylor formed his line half a mile from the enemy, and the battle was fought mainly with artillery. Night gathered over the combatants in the same relative position. While the Mexicans had been fearfully slaughtered by the weight and range of the American guns, the loss on our side was insignificant in comparison with theirs. The enemy retired in the darkness, and we encamped on the field of battle.


Compared with the mighty actions of the late Rebellion, or even with those which followed it in the Mexican war, Palo Alto was a trivial affair, and I dwell upon it only as the occasion in which the illustrious soldier first drew his sword in actual conflict, in which he was first under the fire of an enemy. This was his baptismal battle, and there is no difficulty in believing that he behaved like a true soldier.

We slept upon the field, as we have slept upon many a field since, but only to awake to another and fiercer battle the next day. The enemy had taken up a strong position near Resaca de la Palma, three miles from Fort Brown. Whatever may be said of the Mexicans, judged by the measure of their success in the war of 1846, they were by no means a contemptible foe. They were not deficient in military science, and they stood their ground bravely, as the vast numbers of them slain in the various battles fully attest. At Resaca they were well posted in a ravine, with their flanks protected by an impenetrable jungle of scrub oaks. The battle opened with artillery, but the enthusiasm of both sides would not permit it to be continued at long range, and infantry and cavalry made some handsome charges. The Mexicans fought with dogged courage; but, in spite of this, and of the fact that they were three to our one, they were utterly defeated and routed.

The Mexican artillery was handled by General La Vega, a brave and skilful fellow, and did us much mischief. Taylor ordered Captain May, of the dragoons, to charge upon this battery, which was so gallantly done that the feat has passed into history. He [61]was supported by the infantry, and the entire Mexican line was shattered by the onslaught. The demoralized foe fled in terror, leaving their guns and ammunition on the field, a prey to our conquering arms. La Vega, who had no talent for running away, was taken prisoner. When the night of the second battle-day closed upon the scene, not a single Mexican soldier was to be found on the east side of the Rio Grande.

General Taylor fought his battles thoroughly, and in this school of conflict Lieutenant Grant took his first lessons in actual warfare. His quaint criticism that the army of the Potomac "did not fight its battles through" conveys a vivid impression of his views on this important subject. After blood and treasure have been freely expended to procure a military success, nothing can excuse the commander from following out the results of victory to the utmost extent within his means. This was the practice of "Old Rough and Ready" in the Mexican war. He "fought his battles through," as Resaca, Monterey, and Buena Vista fully testify, thus making a wise and economical use of the resources intrusted to his keeping. Grant is a greater general than Taylor ever was, and it would not be respectful to say that he followed the example of the worthy veteran; but the experience of this period doubtless assisted in the preparation of the man for the gigantic work he was to accomplish eighteen years after.

Three months later in the year the army of General Taylor crossed the Rio Grande, and marched upon Monterey. On the 20th of September he appeared before the city with an army of six thousand men, to [62]attack a position strong in its natural and artificial defences, and garrisoned by ten thousand troops. The conditions of successful warfare, as usually recognized by prudent commanders, were nearly reversed against the American army. Instead of having two or three to one of the garrison in force, they were nearly outnumbered in this numerical ratio. But the attack was promptly commenced, not by the slow and tedious process of regular siege operations, but by a direct assault, without wasting a single day. The battle opened on the morning following the arrival of the troops, and continued with unabated spirit during the day. Several fortified heights were carried before night, and the soldiers rested only to renew the assault the next day.

The Bishop's Palace, a strongly-fortified position in the rear of the town, and the last to yield, was gallantly carried by the force under the brave General Worth. On the third day of the fight the lower city was stormed with the most tremendous fury, the troops burrowing through the stone walls of the houses in their progress, and the defenders of the place were all driven within the citadel of the town before night again settled down upon the unequal fight. Penned in by their furious assailants, the Mexicans had no hope in continuing the resistance after the misfortunes which overtook them. Ampudia, the general in command of the city, submitted a proposition for terms which resulted in the surrender and evacuation of the town.

Thus, in three days, Monterey, a city so strong in position, and so well defended that its commander [63]might have confidently defied a besieging army of double the force of that which sat down before its walls, was carried by repeated assaults. This was another of the training fields of Lieutenant Grant. The walls of the houses within the city were strongly built, affording ample defensive positions from which the Mexican soldiers could safely annoy the Americans. From the windows they fired down upon their assailants, disputing the possession of each dwelling with the most dogged tenacity.

In the midst of this irregular strife, while the foe in the windows were remorselessly shooting down the daring soldiers in the streets below, the ammunition of the brigade to which Lieutenant Grant was attached was nearly exhausted. It was an unpleasant position to be in, without powder and ball to keep the enemy at bay; and it was therefore necessary to send for a fresh supply, which could only be obtained by traversing a distance of four miles. But who should be the messenger to ride or walk beneath those death-dealing muskets in the windows, which were showering storms of bullets at every blue-coat which appeared in the streets below? The service was so fraught with peril, if not with certain death, that the general in command was not willing to issue a peremptory order for any one to undertake the mission. He called for a volunteer.

It is hardly necessary to say that, while the brigade contained a Grant, a volunteer for any desperate service would not be wanting. The lieutenant stepped forward, and was despatched on the important errand upon which nothing less than the safety of the command [64]depended, without considering the ultimate success of the movement in progress. Grant was a bold rider, and full of expedients. He had been among the Indians of the western country, and was willing in this emergency to profit by one of their feats of horsemanship. Mounting a spirited horse, he attached one of his feet to the back of the saddle, grasping the animal's mane with the other, and permitting himself to hang down by the horse's flanks, so that his body shielded the intrepid equestrian from the bullets of the foe, who occupied the windows of only one side of the street. Hanging to his steed in this perilous attitude, he dashed off on his errand, at the highest speed of his charger, passing in safety through the destructive fire. He succeeded in bringing in a load of ammunition, guarded by a sufficient escort to insure its safety.

The capture of Monterey was a splendid feat of our arms, however it may have been cast into the shadow by the subsequent achievements of our army in Mexico. History presents a record of but few parallel victories, obtained in such a brief period, against all the disadvantages of the enemy's strong position, and with such a great disparity of numbers. The result was not because the Mexicans did not fight bravely and persistently, for they held their ground while the dead and wounded were piled high around them. The skilful officers and the trained soldiers of warlike France, exulting in her military prowess, won no such fields as Monterey and Buena Vista. While seven thousand of the Mexican soldiers in the city were regulars, Taylor's army was composed in part of raw volunteers, who had never snuffed the smoke of battle.

Grant as the Messenger to procure Ammunition.

Page 64.


The Americans were brave, but they could hardly be more so than the Mexicans, who had the additional stimulus of standing upon their own soil, fighting for their native land. We cannot find the secret of success in the superior bravery of our troops, and I can only attribute it to the high character, the daring courage, and the matchless skill of our officers. A few such tried and trusty spirits as Grant would leaven any army, and render it capable of performing seeming miracles.

President Pierce, himself a general in the war with Mexico, as a representative in Congress, years before, spoke and voted against the appropriations for the Military Academy at West Point, being heartily opposed to the institution. As a soldier in this brief and decisive contest, he had an opportunity to behold the representatives of the Academy in the storm of battle, and in the active operations of the siege and the march. He saw that West Point fought out that bloody war, and won that series of brilliant victories; and it is creditable to him to have acknowledged his error in this matter, however unrepentant he may be over other and more glaring blunders.

Soon after the battle of Monterey, Lieutenant Grant's regiment was sent to Vera Cruz to swell the grand army which was to march directly to the Halls of the Montezumas.



Wherein Captain Galligasken marches with the illustrious Soldier to the Halls of the Montezumas, and glowingly describes the brilliant Campaign in Mexico.

General Winfield Scott was a great soldier, and his Mexican campaign gave him a European reputation, chary as the critics of the old world are in the bestowment of praise upon American celebrities. He was never popular as an individual, for his qualities of mind and heart were not of the winning sort. His military skill must stand unchallenged, and his operations in Mexico will always attest his ability. A greater than Scott arose to obscure and eclipse his fame as a commander; but if the midday sun darkens the lustrous star, yet shall the star shine on bright as ever, its light paled only by the mighty contrast.

Scott was a well-trained, a prudent, and a skilful soldier. Like Taylor, he fought his battles thoroughly; and, after throwing out two or three brilliant geniuses in the art of war, he compares favorably with any of the great captains of ancient or modern times. He was the peer of Wellington, Marlborough, and the galaxy of able generals whom Napoleon gathered [67]around him; and his fame as a soldier will be cherished by the American people to their remotest posterity.

General Scott's bloody but brilliant and successful campaign was to be the next training school of Lieutenant Grant; and to have been a witness of the skilful strategy and the terrible fighting included in that memorable march from Vera Cruz to Mexico was to obtain an experience of war and an insight into its mysteries which could not fail to be of incalculable value to the future chief of the armies of the Union. Grant was twenty-five years of age when he landed at Vera Cruz. Among the eager young officers whose souls were fired with the military spirit, he was but a unit. As a second lieutenant, however bravely and faithfully he discharged his duties, there was no opportunity for him to attract attention beyond the limit of his own brigade. He was training for the future rather than living for the present.

Scott landed at the head of twelve thousand men to make the conquest of Mexico. His first objective point was the famous Castle of San Juan de Ulua, the dragon which guarded Vera Cruz, and lay in the path of the little army to the capital. On the 12th of March, 1847, the investment of the city was completed. Ten days later the batteries opened fire upon the castle and city; and after four days of the most incessant hammering, an assault by the besieging army was planned; but the governor of the city proposed to surrender. In just twenty days after the little army landed, the Stars and Stripes floated victoriously over the city, and over the invulnerable castle.


The amazing rapidity with which the siege operations were carried forward confounded the enemy. With the bitter experience of Monterey as a specimen of the spirit of the assailants, they were not disposed to go through the form of attempting to repel an assault. The dragon in the path of the victorious army was demolished, and the road to Mexico was open to the conquerors. Preparations were made immediately for the grand march to the Halls of the Montezumas.

On the 1st of April Lieutenant Grant was appointed quartermaster of the Fourth Regiment—a position requiring peculiar abilities in the incumbent. He was selected for this important office because he was a careful, substantial, and energetic person; and he continued to fill it to the entire satisfaction of his superiors until the close of the war.

Early in April the advance was sent forward on the road to Jalapa. Santa Anna, routed at Buena Vista, had gathered together another army of fifteen thousand men, and intrenched himself in a strong position on the heights of Cerro Gordo, effectually commanding the only passage through the mountain gorges to the capital. Six days after the appearance of the advance before this formidable position, Scott, with the main army, arrived. The stronghold was immediately stormed, and after a series of brilliant operations the position was carried. Three thousand prisoners and forty-three bronze guns were captured, besides seven standards and Santa Anna's private baggage.

Signor Jimen, in the official journal of Mexico, defended the generalship of Santa Anna, and innocently attributed the terrible defeat to "inevitable misfortune, [69]the result of the tactics of the invaders." The Mexicans were flanked by the passage of a portion of the American forces through a ravine which had never before been crossed, and which was deemed impassable. The "tactics" were doubtless the sore trial of the Mexicans, and when I think of the material of which our officers were composed, I am hardly supprised at the magnitude of their achievements. Scott believed in councils of war, and had the benefit of the united thought of his brilliant officers.

By this time, Grant, having been engaged in his fifth battle, was almost a veteran; and in this daring warfare was the training process carried on in his mind; in this arena of brilliant strategy was his military education perfected, and his experience enriched by an observation vouchsafed to only a few.

The army, having beaten down the obstacle at Cerro Gordo, continued on its march towards the capital, occupying Jalapa and Castle Perote on its way. At Puebla the little force was so reduced by sickness, death, and the expiration of the term of volunteer enlistments, that the veteran general no longer deemed it prudent to advance. His numbers had dwindled down to five thousand; and he rested here, in the heart of Mexico, with his handful of men, for three months, until reënforcements swelled his army to eleven thousand—an insignificant force for the conquest of the country.

About the middle of August this little army reached the vicinity of the capital. The city of Mexico is situated on Lake Tezcuco, and is approached over impassable marshes and lagoons by long causeways and [70]bridges. The nature of the country was favorable to an effective defence of the place, especially as the Mexicans had at least four times as many troops in service as their invaders. Located outside of these causeways, and guarding the approaches of the city, were the strongholds of Chapultepec and Churubusco, and the heavy batteries of San Antonio and Contreras, all of them mounting about a hundred pieces of artillery. They were surrounded by morasses, by headlong steeps and rocks heaved into fantastic irregularities by volcanic action. The Mexicans confidently relied upon these natural additions to the strength of their works, and regarded their positions as impregnable.

Turning aside from the national road, by which he had marched to Ayolata, and which here presented too many difficulties for the remaining fifteen miles of his journey, Scott made a detour around Lake Chalco, and approached the city from the south. On the 20th of August the battery on the height of Contreras was captured by an impetuous assault, which occupied but seventeen minutes. The garrison of San Antonio evacuated their position, being cut off from the line of defence by the fall of the supporting works.

Four miles nearer to the city of Mexico, and commanding the road, frowned upon the invaders the strong fortification of Churubusco, where the main body of the enemy's army had been concentrated for an obstinate resistance; but on the same day the stronghold was battered down, and the Mexicans were driven to their only remaining fortress of Chapultepec. All day long Scott's gallant army had been fighting [71]three times their own numbers, lodged in what had been deemed impenetrable works; but their arms were victorious at every point.

After a delay of more than two weeks in receiving and declining some absurd terms for an armistice, offensive operations were resumed by General Scott. The plain on which the city of Mexico is situated is studded with volcanic heights, projecting up from the morasses and lava fields. On one of these eminences, two miles from the city, stood the strong castle of Chapultepec, its base one hundred and fifty feet above the average level of the ground. It had a front of nine hundred feet, which bristled with guns, manned by a picked force, commanded by one of the ablest Mexican officers. This huge work stood, like another dragon, to protect the entrance to the principal causeway leading to the city. Behind it was a powder mill, called El Molino del Rey, which was fortified and occupied by troops, and constituted the principal outer defence of the castle. It was necessary that this position should be first captured, and the duty was assigned to General Worth, of whose command the Fourth Infantry formed a part.

The assault was a desperate one, and Worth lost one fourth of his troops in the action, so obstinate was the defence by the Mexicans, who had reached their "last ditch," and fought with corresponding valor. The position was carried, and in the sharp battle Grant won his first recorded laurel. "Captain Brooks and Lieutenant Grant, with a few men of their respective regiments, by a handsome movement to the left, turned the right flank of the enemy, and the [72]barrier was carried. Second Lieutenant Grant behaved with distinguished gallantry on the 13th and 14th." This is the language of the official report of Major Francis Lee, commanding the Fourth Infantry at the time.

I have said that Grant had been appointed quartermaster of his regiment. As the officer in charge of the baggage trains of the force, well-established precedents permitted him to remain in charge of them during the fierce conflict, and thus to escape the personal peril of being under fire. It would not have been dishonorable, or an imputation upon his courage, for him to do so; but to his honor and glory be it said, that he never took advantage of his non-belligerent position. He always joined his regiment when it was summoned to the strife, and "behaved with distinguished gallantry" on all occasions. For his conduct on this eventful day he was promoted to the rank of full first lieutenant.

The Castle of Chapultepec was bombarded, and then carried by storm, after the walls had been breached. In the complicated details of the final attack the Fourth Infantry acted a worthy part. Grant assisted in serving a howitzer, mounted on the top of a convent, by which the enemy was considerably annoyed. It was a novel position for an infantry officer; but this was not the first, and by no means the last, time he was where he was least expected to be found—in front of the enemy. Colonel Garland, commanding the First Brigade on this occasion, officially says, "I must not omit to call attention to Lieutenant Grant, of the Fourth Infantry, who acquitted himself most [73]nobly upon several occasions under my own observation."

The result of that gallant attack shows that all the officers behaved well; so well that Grant and one other only are mentioned out of the whole First Brigade, and the quality of the deeds which called forth the generous compliment of his superior may be judged from this fact. All had been brave to recklessness, all had been earnest and persevering; but it was the nature of Grant, even then, to surpass the bravest, the most earnest and persevering. In General Worth's report of the battle, he also speaks in commendation of the gallant lieutenant. For Grant's honorable mention he received the brevet rank of captain, to date from the day of the battle of Chapultepec.

With this strong fortress fell the city of Mexico; and during the night which followed its capture, the remains of the army of Santa Anna, with the civil officers of the government, fled to a place of safety. On the following morning, Scott and his gallant little army marched into the capital. The American flag floated proudly over the walls of the national capital, and Mexico was conquered; victory had constantly perched upon our banners, and we stood in the Halls of the Montezumas, where we were permitted to repose in peace after the battle summer through which we had just passed.

Grant remained in the city of Mexico while the negotiations for peace were in progress. As usual, he had a very spirited horse, for he never rode any other when one could be obtained. A Mexican gentleman, with whom he was on terms of friendly intimacy, de[74]sired to borrow this animal for a ride. Grant feared that the worthy señor could not handle the fiery steed; but it was not prudent to decline the request, for the Spanish nature of the applicant would take offence, and misjudge his motives in the refusal. The Mexican mounted the horse, but, when he had ridden a short distance, was thrown off and instantly killed.

Long ago I came to the conclusion that it is not safe for any man to attempt to ride Grant's horses, in a literal or a figurative sense.

Grant's mission in Mexico was finished. In that rapid and brilliant campaign from Vera Cruz to the capital, he had practically learned the lesson of war, and prepared himself for the great work he was to accomplish at a later period of his life, when West Point was to be divided between the opposing armies, when the most brilliant genius and the most determined energy alone could win victories. The importance of this season of actual duty in the field, in all the details of siege, march, and garrison duty, can hardly be over-estimated. In the war of the Great Rebellion he came into the field a trained soldier, with the teachings of experience stored up for use in a broader sphere of action than he or any of his companions in arms had yet dreamed of.

After the ratification of the treaty of peace between Mexico and the United States, our forces evacuated Mexico, and Captain Grant was sent to New York with his regiment, where its companies were detached and sent to the forts on the northern frontier. Grant and his company were first stationed at Detroit, and then transferred to Sacketts Harbor. In 1848 he was [75]married to Miss Dent, in conformity with the engagement made five years before, to which both had religiously adhered.

The treaty of peace with Mexico had given us California, and coincident with the acquisition of the territory, gold was discovered there in such quantities as to attract an immense immigration, and it was necessary for the government to send out troops for the protection of the swarming hosts, both from themselves and from the Indians. The Fourth Infantry was sent to Oregon in 1851. The battalion in which Grant served was stationed at Fort Dallas, where the illustrious soldier obtained some further experience of Indian warfare.

He was separated from his family, and in this wild region shut out from any employment worthy his nature, and apparently from all hope of rising either as a citizen or a soldier. It would have been surprising if Grant had not been discontented. He was a man of deeds, emphatically a man of action; but there was nothing to be done worthy his ambition.

In 1853 he was promoted to a full captaincy; but this advancement could not relieve him from the tedium of such a stupid life, and the following year he resigned his commission, to enter upon a new and untried career in civil life.



In which Captain Galligasken goes with the illustrious Soldier to the Farm near St. Louis, and observes his Career through various Misfortunes, till he is included in the Firm of Grant & Sons.

Captain Grant had been in the army eleven years. He was engaged in the first and the last battle of the Mexican war; indeed, he had taken part in every action of any importance, except Buena Vista. This was his practical training for the great work of his life, developing his faculties and storing his mind with an experience which was to bring forth its rich fruits on the historic battle-fields of the Great Rebellion.

In the wilds of the Pacific slope,—

"In the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound
Save his own dashings,"—

the impatient soldier unbuckled his sword, and laid it aside. The weapon was rusting in its scabbard, and the proud spirit which had worn it honorably through a fierce war, waged upon a foreign soil, chafed under the inaction to which it was condemned in that far-off region. It was not the sphere for a great mind.


It is a notable fact, that when the bugle-blast of stern necessity rallied the soldiers of the Republic around her banners, to save her from destruction, some of the choicest spirits came out from the walks of civil life, whither they had fled from the dulness of an inactive life in the army. Such were Grant, Sherman, Burnside, Hooker, McClellan, and many others.

At the age of thirty-two, after having been devoted exclusively to military pursuits for fifteen years, Grant left the army to engage in new and untried enterprises. This was an important step of his life, but I humbly believe it was as necessary to the perfect development of the man as any other which he had taken. It was an evidence of his characteristic energy, and of the confidence he had in himself, which was displayed in so remarkable a manner in the most trying days of the Rebellion.

I am not disposed to magnify the deeds of the illustrious soldier,—they need no such office at mine or any man's hands,—or to praise his conduct in the glowing light of subsequent events; but I maintain that the act of resigning his commission in the army required no small degree of moral courage. The government had educated him at its own expense, and provided for him during the term of his natural life. If his had been the dull, stupid, inert character, this lot would have satisfied him. He was placed out of the reach of want in the present and the future; and the deaths and resignations in the army would have materially improved his condition if he quietly submitted to his fate.


His total pay as a captain of infantry amounted to nearly a thousand dollars a year; and it was as sure as the rising and setting of the sun. This was the certainty before him; and only a man of energetic purposes, with great confidence in his own abilities, would have turned from it to strike out a new path in the tangled maze of worldly affairs. From his boyhood he had been absorbed in the pursuits of his military career, and their practical application in the field and on the march, with a limited knowledge of business; and I repeat that it required no little moral courage to abandon the certainty and grapple with the uncertainty.

I am aware that a different explanation of Grant's resignation has been rumored through the country, and the vile slander that he had become addicted to intemperate habits has been circulated over the land. It has even been said that his resignation was prompted by a significant warning from the War Department. I am amazed that such an idle story should ever have obtained even a momentary credence. It is as impossible that Grant could ever have been a drunkard as that he could ever have been a coward. "He that ruleth his spirit is mightier than he that taketh a city." Under all circumstances, in the fierce storm of battle, as in the quiet of the social circle, he always maintained the most perfect control of himself. If he ever used the intoxicating cup to excess, he must have known it himself; and to know that he had a dangerous habit was to conquer it.

Look at the inflexible will of the man, as displayed at Donelson and Vicksburg! Look at him, meek and [79]modest, in the midst of the storm of applause that everywhere greeted him after his mission had been accomplished! Look at him, calm and immovable, when, in the intricacies of the Vicksburg campaign, he outsped the thought and the prudence of his military compeers, and the impatient people began to howl even at him! Could such a man be the slave of his own appetite? The man himself is the best evidence of the falsity of the rumor.

I say I am amazed that this silly story should ever have been harbored for a moment by any one, except an enemy of his country; but I am still more amazed when I realize that this is the only blemish which lukewarm friends and over-critical enemies have been able to cast upon the character of the distinguished soldier. It is the prerogative of greatness to be the mark of slander's poisoned arrows. Napoleon was accused of crimes enough to banish him forever from the pale of human sympathy; Wellington and Marlborough escaped not the blast of calumny; Jefferson was charged with the most loathsome immoralities; and even Washington was systematically traduced by over-zealous partisans. It is a miracle, therefore, that Grant has only been held up to obloquy for the one offence of intemperance, and that the most absurd and improbable one which could possibly have been devised.

Grant retired from the army for the same reason that hundreds of others have done so, in time of peace—because it did not afford a sufficient scope for his talents and energy. He returned to St. Louis, where the family of his wife resided. Mr. Dent gave [80]his daughter, Mrs. Grant, a farm at Gravois, about nine miles from the city, and on this place Grant located himself with his family, consisting now of his wife and two children. He built a house of hewn logs, working on the structure with his own hands, thus drawing upon the experience he had acquired in his youth. His native energy made him a hardworking man. His domain included extensive timber lands, and he attempted to better his condition by the sale of wood in the city of St. Louis. He was not above his business, nor in any sense one of those dandy agriculturists called "gentleman farmers." He employed men to chop the wood, but he carted it to the city and sold it himself. He kept two teams, one of which he drove himself, while his little son had inherited enough of his father's horse nature to be competent to manage the other.

Grant was as thoroughly democratic in his manners as he was in his politics. He wore an old felt hat, a seedy blouse coat, and prudently tucked his trousers' legs into the tops of his boots. He appeared to be—what he was—a simple, honest woodman. His habits were plain, and he lived on the most economical scale; indeed, his means would not permit him to live in any other manner. Those who had dealings with him knew him as an honest, upright man, faithful in the discharge of all obligations.

Grant always remembered and cherished his true friends. One day in St. Louis, whither he had come with his team, he heard that Professor Coppée, one of his classmates at West Point, was in the city. In his homely rig, with the whip in his hand, he waited [81]upon his early friend at the hotel, where were also General Reynolds, General Buell, and Major Chapman. The "honest woodman" was asked to step to the bar and take a drink. "I will go in and look at you, for I never drink anything myself," replied he.

If Grant ever drank anything, this would have been an occasion, when, meeting old friends and classmates, after a separation of years, he would have been little likely to decline the social glass. I was not present on this occasion, but Professor Coppée publishes the incident himself, and of course there can be no doubt of its truth. Other officers, who were frequently with him, declared that he drank nothing stronger than cold water; and, for my own part, I consider him eligible to the office of Grand Worthy Patriarch of the National Division of the Sons of Temperance, or any other position in which entire abstinence from all that can intoxicate is the essential qualification.

But Grant was not a successful man as a farmer. His previous training and experience did not fit him for this calling. It was not his sphere, and it was no discredit to him that he was not successful in it. He was not the man to lie supinely down and moan over his misfortunes. If one expedient failed, he tried another, in his own affairs as well as in those of the army. If a thing did not work right, it was his habit to "fick" it again. In the neighboring city, to which he moved, he resorted to several methods of eking out his failing subsistence. He tried auctioneering; but, though he had the ability to "knock down" a mighty rebellion, he was not equally fortunate in mere commercial pursuits. He had not the skill to exag[82]gerate, nor the oily tongue to win the heart of a doubting customer.

He was an applicant for the position of engineer under the city government, but his petition for appointment was "respectfully declined." His efforts to establish a remunerative business as a real estate agent were equally unfortunate. At the same time he hung out his shingle as a "collector." At this period his fortunes were at dead low tide, and not always did he know on one day where his subsistence for the next was to come from. He seemed to be foraging in an enemy's country, which had already been drained of its supplies. He was too poor to hire an office, and an obliging young lawyer, not burdened with clients, gave him desk room for the conducting of his scanty business.

But he had not much use even for desk room, and the number of his customers did not wear out the patience of his accommodating host. Grant was still out of his sphere; he had none of those mental qualifications which fit a man to be a successful "dunner." With all his pluck and persistence he could not worry a poor or a dishonest debtor up to the point of payment. He failed in this; the tide ran against him, and life became a bitter struggle. He obtained a place in the custom-house, which he held for two months, when the collector, who had given him the appointment, died, and he was obliged to leave. His hour of triumph had not yet come.

While Fortune seems to have entirely deserted the illustrious soldier in the civil walks of life, she had been more constant with his father, who had become [83]prosperous enough to extend his business to Galena, Illinois, where he had established a branch leather store, conducted by two of his sons. As the worthy sire was now in easy circumstances, it seemed to be necessary to do something to redeem the failing fortunes of his oldest son. I am willing to state, on my own individual responsibility, that before he was invited to take a position in the store, or a share in the business, at Galena, there was an anxious inquiry by the prosperous father and sons into the capacity of Grant to fill the position to which he was to be assigned. It was even somewhat doubtful, at that time, whether the man who had the genius to control the movements of a million soldiers, had the business ability to entitle him to admission into the firm of "Grant & Sons."

The brilliant campaign in Mexico, gallant conduct at Monterey and Chapultepec, and turning the enemy's right flank at El Molino del Rey, hardly added much to the accomplishments of a suitor for the honors of the leather trade. It was asked whether fifteen years' service in the military had not disqualified him in some measure for mercantile pursuits; whether the idleness to which he had been condemned after the peace—idleness only as a civilian views it—had not impaired his native energy, and robbed him of some of the force and skill which had characterized his early years; whether he had not displayed so little ability at "getting ahead" on his own hook, as to render him at least a doubtful person to be associated with the prosperous firm.

It is as creditable to the good judgment as it is to [84]the kindly hearts of "Grant & Sons" that these considerations had no weight with them, and in 1860 he was admitted as a partner to the firm. The end of the night of misfortune and futile struggles had come, and the dawn of a prosperous day opened upon the retired soldier. Grant took kindly to his new occupation, and, in spite of his antecedents on the battle-fields of Mexico, and his connection with so "nobby" an institution as the regular army, he still continued to be a plain, modest man. He devoted himself to the leather business with the same energy that he devoted himself to the capture of Vicksburg. He was regarded in this sphere as a sound, solid, common-sense man, with excellent judgment.

He went to work in the leather trade as he did in the army, and in his farming operation, with industry and perseverance. He was not a great talker, but when he spoke he meant something. The solidity of his character was apparent in the firm lines of his face, and he was a man who produced an impression both by his words and his looks; and for this reason he made a good salesman. He was but little known in Galena, taking no pains to extend the circle of his acquaintance.

This was the position which Grant occupied at the breaking out of the Rebellion. I am not a fatalist, but I do believe that Providence adapts means to ends in the affairs of men. I am entirely satisfied that the illustrious soldier needed his experience in the civil pursuits of life to prepare him for the great mission whose successful accomplishment gave him a wreath of glory brighter than ever adorned the brow [85]of any other mortal man. Even his misfortunes, and his struggles against the cold current of poverty, were a necessary discipline and preparation for the man. Without them he could not have been what he is, and what he will yet become; for of all the atoms of experience is agglomerated the character of the man.

Thus prepared by the brilliant campaign of Mexico, thus prepared by the events of his civil life, and thus prepared by the discipline of adversity, stood Grant in the leather store at Galena, when the thunder of Sumter's guns struck upon his listening ears.



Wherein Captain Galligasken discourses upon the breaking out of the Rebellion, and describes the noble and modest Behavior of the illustrious Soldier.

Until Treason opened its treacherous batteries on Fort Sumter, Grant had been a Democrat. His sympathies, though he seldom expressed himself on political topics, were with the conservative party. Abolition and abolitionists, as such, had no place in his regard, and the Republican party he viewed with all the disfavor of a sturdy Democrat. His father had been a Democrat before him, and so far as he had any political associations, they were of this faith.

In those months of dire forebodings, of anxious waiting, and of fruitless attempts to patch up a compromise, which intervened between the election of Lincoln in November and the breaking out of hostilities, Grant had been in favor of conceding to the South all its rights, even as they were interpreted by a Democrat who lived and breathed and had his being in compromise. It cannot be said or thought that the illustrious soldier embarked in an anti-slavery war. The terrible conflict was precipitated by the [87]madness of the South in opening its guns upon a national fort.

For months the country had been waiting with breathless interest for the issue of the political complications which grew out of the secession of South Carolina and the states which followed her reckless example. Patriots north and patriots south were not willing to believe that the horrors of civil war were to be enacted in the land they loved. Even the "fire-eaters" of the South, while they looked daggers, used none. There was no spirit of prophecy in the country which foresaw the stupendous conflict that ensued. Men hoped and believed that some happy event would turn aside the impending storm. The South expected that its noisy bluster and its parade of arms would intimidate the North; and the cooler North thought that the hot blood of the South would cool itself in the lapse of time. Both were mistaken.

The fiery Southrons ostentatiously made their preparations for a conflict which they did not believe would take place, and the North, if not unmoved, yet exercised a degree of forbearance which appeared like indifference, in the face of this parade of hostile demonstrations. The government was paralyzed by the unwonted situation; but it did not raise a finger to disturb or check the hostile operations of the rebels. The constitution and the laws were set at nought; forts, arsenals, and dock-yards were seized; the nation's property was plundered, and its honored flag insulted and trailed in the dust; but the sword of justice still rested in its scabbard. Southern fanatics howled, stormed, and blustered; yet the government [88]only waited—waited till the fiery zeal of the South appeared to be in danger of wasting itself before the purposes of its leaders were accomplished.

It was necessary that something should be done to "fire the Southern heart," and rekindle the enthusiasm of the people, which was waxing cold under the forbearance of an insulted government. Fort Sumter was bombarded; lines of batteries encircling the devoted work poured in their rain of shot and shell, and battered down the walls of the fortress, defended by only a handful of men. Skilful officers, educated at the public expense to defend the government against which they were now raising their parricidal hands, conducted the cowardly enterprise, with the flower of Southern chivalry gathered in thousands under their command, to a successful issue. The triumph was theirs, the glory and the endless shame in one foul deed.

The South sang the pćan of victory, achieved with an odds of a hundred to one in its favor, and the Southern heart was fired. By the same deed another heart was fired. The North rose as one man to resent the base outrage, the cowardly assault. The last moment when compromise was possible, passed away with the report of the first gun aimed at Sumter. That gun awoke the slumbering North, and in every peaceful hamlet the drum-beat of preparation sounded, beginning on the St. Croix and ending far west of the Mississippi. The news that the first blow had been struck flashed through the land, silent between hope and fear, and kindled an enthusiasm which had no bound or limit. Traitors north and traitors south were marked [89]men from that thrilling hour. There was no voice but for the nation's honor and the nation's defence, in the onslaught of a treacherous foe.

For years the military spirit in the people had been repressed and discouraged. The soldier was regarded as an obsolete necessity, and the profession of arms had become absolutely disreputable in many parts of the country. Except here and there one who had served in the Mexican war, and a superannuated veteran of 1812, there was not a soldier in the land who had any experience of actual warfare. Half a century had elapsed since the fact of war in their own midst had been realized by the people, and all their traditions were of peace and prosperity.

But in spite of their peaceful antecedents, in spite of the seeming indifference with which they had regarded the gathering storm, they flew to arms. Without any concert of action, without any startling proclamations to rouse their sleeping energies, they rallied beneath the banner of the country, and the spectacle of a united North was held up to the view of the astonished South. The proclamation of the president calling for seventy-five thousand men—an unheard-of army within our peaceful borders—immediately followed the tidings of the shock of actual conflict. The government had come out of its lethargy with the people, and both were in hearty sympathy.

To Galena came the tidings from Fort Sumter, and to Galena came the proclamation of President Lincoln. We were thrilled by the treacherous deed of those who were henceforth to be our foes. We were [90]thrilled by the note of preparation which sounded at the same time. Our hearts beat the quickstep which was reverberating through the entire North, and from the depths of our souls we thanked the patriot president for his prompt and decided action. With an indignation which was characteristic of the man, Captain Grant read the newspaper which contained the story of the nation's dishonor. The lines which delineate on his face the force of his will seemed to deepen as he realized the fact that the first blow had actually been struck. In that cowardly army which had rained shot and shell upon a little worn-out band of regular soldiers for thirty-three hours were some of his classmates and companions in arms on the bloody fields of Mexico. They had been friends, but now they were enemies.

There was no halting or hesitation in the man. The blows which battered down Sumter reached his great heart. His country was in peril, and his patriotic soul responded to the call for her defence. He made no noisy demonstrations, but calmly and resolutely fixed his purpose and declared his intentions. There was no foam or fury in his manner; nothing was said and nothing was done to create a sensation, though the man who had won laurels in the hard-fought battles of Mexico might have been excused, on such an occasion, for a little display or a little pomposity; but that was not Grant. Actuated only by a sense of duty to his country, and not at all by a desire to serve himself or to win the honors of the profession he had first chosen, he was as gentle and modest as the humblest civilian.


The soldier, especially the trained and experienced soldier, was a mighty man in those days. The whole country was rising in arms, and his influence was potent. The nation wanted him, and his profession, maligned and treated with contempt before, suddenly elevated him above the sphere of politicians and statesmen. Grant was a soldier, and the fact that he was a graduate of West Point, and had seen service in the field, made him a man to whom others looked up with respect and admiration in the new dispensation which necessity preached to the people.

I dwell with pride and pleasure upon the deportment of Captain Grant at this exciting period. To me there was something sublime in his absolute self-negation. His antecedents, his military record, entitled him to a high position in the volunteer army which was then gathering. It would not have been immodest for him to write to the governor of Illinois, asking a position as a major general in the mustering host. He did nothing of the kind; he asked for no position. He did not thrust his rank in the regular army, which he had earned by hard fighting, into the faces of civil or military officials. He claimed nothing.

"Uncle Sam has educated me for the army," said he to a friend. "Though I have served him through one war, I do not feel that I have yet repaid the debt. I am still ready to discharge my obligations. I shall therefore buckle on my sword, and see Uncle Sam through this war, too."

The obligation could not be forgotten, for Grant never permitted the remembrance of a favor to be obliterated from his heart; but high above even [92]this sacred duty was that which he owed to his stricken country, then writhing in the gripe of the monster of Treason. The purpose which gave to the United States the greatest commander the world has ever seen was formed; but he did not blow a trumpet before him in the streets of Galena, and say to the people, "Lo, here I am, a soldier trained to arms and fit to be your chief. Behold me—a hero from Monterey and Chapultepec. Make me your leader, and send me to battle at the head of your men, and I will win great victories for you."

Not thus spoke Grant: save in the privacy of his narrow social circle, he spoke not at all; and even when his mighty prowess and his brilliant victories had made him famous, the people came to the shop windows of Grant & Sons to ascertain which of the firm was so effectually tanning rebel hides, so little was he known, and so little had he paraded himself before the citizens of the place.

Though like him I had been to West Point; though like him I had seen the glories of Palo Alto, Resaca, Monterey, and the fourteen battles of Scott from Vera Cruz to Chapultepec; though like him I had retired from the army,—I could not regard myself as of so little consequence as he did. I felt that nothing less than the commission of a brigadier would be a proper appreciation of my record and my profession. I am sorry to be obliged to confess that I placed myself where the gaze of the multitude might rest upon me; but alas! they did not see me. I was not the providential man of the Great Rebellion, and the microscopes of the people failed to bring me into view. [93]But my own position enables me to see more clearly that of the illustrious soldier of whose deeds I am the admiring chronicler.

Grant exhibited no ambitious spirit—he was at work for the nation, not for himself. He said nothing in public—the people of Galena hardly knew the sound of his voice; but there, in the streets of his town, he raised the standard of the loyal cause, and invited the hardy and patriotic men of the place to rally for its defence. In less than a week after the news from Fort Sumter had arrived, he was drilling a company; but he did not claim even the rank to which he had risen in the regular army, the cause, and not himself, being still uppermost in his thought.

The company proposed to elect him to this highest office within their gift. Doubtless he would have accepted the position, but a gentleman with more ardent aspirations for military glory frankly acknowledged his desire to obtain this place; and Grant declined the honor. He stepped out of the way to accommodate another, but he consented to go with the company to Springfield, the capital of Illinois. He was accompanied on his journey by the Hon. E. B. Washburn, who introduced him to Governor Yates. The chief magistrate did not appear at first to be profoundly impressed by the captain, and did not take much notice of him.

Grant was determined to use a laboring oar in the work before the loyal country, and he wrote to the adjutant general of the army at Washington. He did not apply for a position as brigadier, but simply stated that he had been educated at the public expense at [94]West Point; and as the country was in peril, he considered it his duty to place whatever skill and experience he had acquired at the disposal of the government, offering his services in any capacity in which they might be needed. This modest offer brought no response from the War Department.

While Grant was waiting for the moving of the waters, he visited Cincinnati, where McClellan, who had been appointed a major general of volunteers by the governor of Ohio, was organizing his forces. The "Little Napoleon" of the first years of the rebellion had served with Grant in Mexico, and they had become acquainted there. Both were in Worth's brigade at the siege of Vera Cruz, and both had been honorably mentioned for gallant conduct at Chapultepec and El Molino del Rey.

Grant was seeking a position in which he could make himself useful to the country. He twice called at the headquarters of General McClellan, but failed to see him on either occasion. He thought it possible that his old comrade in arms might offer him a place on his staff, which appears to have been the highest aspiration of the great commander at this time. Failing to see McClellan, he returned to Springfield.

While he was waiting at the capital, Governor Yates sent for him, and wished to inquire whether he knew how many men belonged in a company, how many companies in a regiment, and what officers were required in such an organization—questions which seemed to have been especially perplexing to the earnest and loyal chief magistrate of the state. Grant assured him that he understood all about such matters; [95]that he had been educated at West Point, and had served eleven years in the regular army. This straight-forward reply helped the governor out of his annoying dilemma, and Grant was invited to take a seat at the capital and officiate as adjutant general, in which capacity he served for several weeks during the hurry of sending off the troops, rendering the most valuable assistance from his familiarity with the details of military organizations.

Though the future hero had made no parade of himself or his accomplishments, several regiments desired to elect him as their colonel; but for reasons of his own, which do not appear,—though I suspect that his military prejudice against electing officers was the strongest one,—he declined all these overtures. One who knew him better than others suggested to the governor that he should appoint him to some regiment, without previously consulting him. The suggestion was acted upon, and Captain Grant was appointed colonel of the Twenty-first Regiment of Infantry. The commission was promptly accepted, and Colonel Grant hastened to Mattoon, where the regiment was in camp, and assumed the command.



Wherein Captain Galligasken has Something to say about Citizen Soldiers, and follows the illustrious Soldier into the Field in Missouri.

The "thinking bayonets" of the United States army, in a merely disciplinary point of view, were not at first the best of material of which to make soldiers. To a vastly greater extent than any other armies which have been gathered since the foundations of the earth were laid, they were composed of intelligent, educated men. They could read and write, and were competent to do their own thinking, and to form their own judgments. They had ideas of their own in regard to the war, and the means of carrying it on.

The men in the ranks, as well as those with warrants and commissions in their pockets, were, without many exceptions, the graduates of the free schools which are the greatest glory of the nation. They read the newspapers, the potent educators of the people. They were the village politicians, the schoolmasters, the printers, the intelligent mechanics, the merchants, ministers, lawyers, and doctors of the country. There was no pursuit or profession in the land which was not represented in the volunteer army.


All of them were thoroughly imbued with the spirit of our democratic institutions. Each man in the rank and file of the grand army, as a citizen, was the peer of the president, the governor of his state, or of the mightiest man of the nation. Any infraction of their rights they were ready to resent and resist. Regarded, therefore, as the mere insensate humanity of which an army is composed, they were not the most hopeful material. Blindly to obey without question, heavily to be hampered with the details of what seemed to them needless restrictions and regulations, meekly to ignore their own will, and follow unchallenged the will of another, was a condition of life for which their education and habits had not prepared them. They were willing to fight to the death, but to become mere stupid machines, moved by their officers, was at first hardly within the scope of their democratic philosophy. Even while they acknowledged the necessity of strict discipline, and advocated its enforcement, the details of the daily routine pinched them severely.

The officers of the regular army were rigid disciplinarians. Those who had been in the service had been accustomed to different and coarser material than that which formed the volunteer army. Their men had never had a voice in choosing their officers, whose responsibility was in the direction of the War Department, and not at all in the direction of the force they commanded. It had been their province to command, as it had been that of their men to obey, not only on the battle-field, but in all the minutić of the camp and the garrison. One of [98]these soldiers could be punished for neglecting to button his coat on parade, or to clean the spot of rust from the barrel of his musket; for being two inches short of the regulation step, or for a degree of variation in the angle of his feet in the line. Men who had left the plough in the furrow on the farm which they had paid for and owned, to fight the battles of the republic, were at least impatient under such restraints.

Efficient regular officers, however popular they became on the field of battle, were in perhaps a majority of instances exceedingly obnoxious to the troops in camps of organization and discipline. With the democratic ideas of the soldiers, with their republican notions of equality, it was hardly possible that it should be otherwise; for the transition of the citizen from his social rank in the city and the village to the ranks of the army was a violent and radical change to him. Doubtless, in many cases, these West Point officers were martinets, and, "armed with a little brief authority," were unnecessarily arbitrary and severe; but it was not these alone who were stigmatized as "tyrants" and "oppressors."

Without discipline, even down to the minute details of which a civilian can have no adequate conception or appreciation, an army is inefficient, and in a measure useless. The regular officers justified themselves before the enemy, if they did not sooner, not alone in the merit of their fighting capacity, but in those obnoxious details of discipline.

Grant was a regular army officer, a strict but prudent disciplinarian. Several regiments desired to [99]elect him as their colonel, which amply vouches for his popularity before he had come into direct and intimate contact with the volunteer force. There was magic in the idea of having a commander who had not only received a regular military education, but who had won a reputation on the field of battle. It was a guaranty of the future welfare of the regiment. To maintain this respect, and keep up this popularity during the actual enforcement of arbitrary and disagreeable military regulations, was a vastly greater achievement.

The Twenty-first Illinois Infantry was a body of three months troops. In this, even more than in many other regiments, the democratic ideas of equality, so pernicious in a military organization, were prevalent to such an extent that the colonel, whose place Grant had been appointed to fill, could not manage it. Peculiar circumstances were involved in the relations of the commander and the troops; and when it is considered that the lesson of the necessity of discipline had not yet been learned, it is hardly proper to blame either party. The regiment was then in a demoralized condition, but it was composed of splendid material, and its subsequent record proves that its men were apt scholars in the school of discipline as well as in that of actual conflict.

They were proud to have a regular army officer as their leader; but when he made his appearance before them, his rather rusty clothes, and plain, matter-of-fact manner, excited their ridicule. However they soon stumbled against his iron will, and promptly realized that they had a commander who had been [100]in the habit of being obeyed, and who intended to be in the present instance. He was not a showy man, and not one who was disposed merely to play soldier. They saw that he meant fight, and meant discipline.

Colonel Grant marched his regiment to Caseyville, where he drilled the men for four weeks, transforming them from a mob into one of the best disciplined bodies of troops in the country; indeed, the Twenty-first became noted for its drill and discipline. It was no easy thing at that time, when the private in the ranks regarded himself as the equal of the colonel, and was unwilling, even in his military relations, to sacrifice his own individual will,—it was no easy thing to bring order and regularity out of the chaos of equality and confusion. But Grant accomplished this, and more than this; and he did it so skilfully and adroitly that no heads were broken, and no man was persuaded into the belief that he was no longer an American citizen.

Grant has been nominated to the highest office in the gift of the people—a position which will make him the peer of emperors and kings; and it is important to deduce from his record the evidence of his fitness for this splendid elevation. An iron will, unmodified by other noble traits of character, is an element of weakness rather than of strength, for a merely obstinate man at the helm of state is a discordant and dangerous element. A strong will, sustained and dignified by high aims and genuine principle, is a godlike attribute; without true principle and high aims, it reduces the man to the vilest brute level: it makes him a Nero or a Caligula.


I am filled with admiration when I think of the excellent manner in which Grant managed this regiment, and raised it from disgrace and inefficiency to honor and usefulness. I do not hazard much in declaring, that, under the circumstances, it was one of his most skilful achievements. Then he was without influence; there was none of the magic in his name which time and victory have wreathed around it; his reputation as an officer hardly equalled that of hundreds of others around him. He took a disorganized, turbulent regiment, recruited it in a few days up to the maximum standard, and, in spite of all the disadvantages in the material and the surrounding circumstances, raised it to the highest state of discipline. His prompt and perfect success demonstrates his superior executive ability. He won the hearts of his men, so that they reënlisted for three years. He had entire control over them, and his influence was unbounded.

He was obliged to educate his command up to his ideas of discipline, to exterminate their republican notions of equality, so far as they interfered with complete military subordination, and to inspire their bosoms with the true spirit of a patriot army. It does not appear that he achieved this miracle by blind, injudicious severity. His modesty and his firmness were yoked together to carry him through the emergency. He used tact and skill, as well as force, in harmonizing the discordant materials, and soon blended the whole in symmetrical union, and welded himself to the mass by a bond of sympathy, a chain of influence, which none of the accidents of hard [102]service could break. To me this marvellous influence which he obtained over his men, and which he always obtained, however his numbers swelled, is one of the most significant indications of his greatness.

The American people are no man-worshippers; I say it advisedly and confidently. They are generous in their regard, and no earnest patriot can ever want encouragement; but they judge men by the quality of their services. They praise and applaud, perhaps extravagantly, when a man does a noble deed; but they worship the deed rather than the man. General McClellan was for a time the idol of the soldiers and the idol of the people. They cheered and shouted for him, and hailed him as their young Napoleon; but when he failed to answer their reasonable expectations, they dropped him, and buried him forever and forever. So would they have done with Grant, and Sherman, and Thomas, and Sheridan, if they had failed them in the hour of trial; and so will they yet do, if they are recreant to their high estate, or false to the principles to which the people hold them.

No man has been more honored or praised in his sphere than Andrew Johnson; and none has been more thoroughly detested, despised, and cast out. It was not the man they worshipped; it was the principle of which he was the representative. No man in all the country has a personal influence which can save him from obloquy when he deserts his colors or fails in his duty. Glory and honor to the people who faithfully cling to their heroes and statesmen while they are true to their principles! Glory and honor, also, to the people who sternly pull down and cast [103]out their heroes and statesmen, whatever high eminence they may have gained, when they are recreant to the trust imposed in them! Thus do our republican institutions operate, that no amount of personal popularity can save the great man from his doom when he is guilty of treachery or unjustifiable failure. They do not worship the man; if they did, they would cling to him through his shame and infidelity.

Neither the soldiers nor the people blindly worship Grant. It always has been, and still is, possible for him to fall. If he should prove false to the principles of which an overwhelming majority of the people hold him up as the representative, both soldiers and citizens would remorselessly trample him under their feet, and forget that he had ever been their idol. I say, then, that his remarkable popularity, its steady blaze in the past, and its constant brightening, are the best evidences of his solid abilities, of his unflinching devotion to principle, of the purity of his patriotism.

I know what the people would do with him if he should fail them; but in the light of his glorious record through a period of seven of the most eventful years in the history of the country, I feel that it is as impossible for him to be recreant in thought or in deed as it is for the sun to cease shining. I dwell fondly on the early days of his military career in the Rebellion, for then, before Fame had twined his laurel, or success had inspired him, we find that every act he performed, every order he issued, every movement he made, is fit to be recorded in the temple of his fame. Those who are looking up to him, on the [104]dazzling height to which his genius and his high principle have borne him, may be instructed by a review of his relations with the Twenty-first Illinois Regiment. They may see the man there, as well as at Vicksburg and Appomattox Court House.

Colonel Grant was drilling his men at Caseyville, when there was a rumor that Quincy, on the Mississippi River, was in danger from the guerrilla rebels of Missouri. He was ordered to the exposed point, and, in the absence of transportation, marched his regiment one hundred and twenty miles of the distance. From Quincy he was ordered over the river into Missouri, for the protection of the Hannibal and St. Joseph's Railroad; and Brigadier General Pope, then in command of the forces in that section, stationed him at Mexico, forty miles north of the Missouri River.

On the march to this place, the Twenty-first passed through a small village whose principal establishment was a grocery, at which the principal article on sale was whiskey. It was a melancholy fact that many of the citizens now transformed into soldiers had acquired a villanous habit of imbibing this fiery fluid, so destructive to good discipline. Some of the troops stole out of the line, and filled their canteens with the liquor at this shop, and, lacking discretion as well as correct personal habits, were soon reeling from the effects of their frequent potations. Without any violent demonstrations of indignation, which many men would have deemed necessary on such an occasion, Colonel Grant halted his regiment, as if to afford the men a brief rest. Without giving any one an oppor[105]tunity to suspect that anything was the matter, he passed along the lines, and examined each canteen. Whenever he detected the odor of whiskey, he coolly emptied the contents on the ground, "without note or comment." The intoxicated ones he ordered to be tied behind the wagons, and kept there till they were animated by higher views of military discipline. Whiskey and all intoxicating liquors were rigidly excluded from his camp.

Grant was always on time himself, and required promptness and punctuality in all his officers. He never blustered, or seemed to be in a hurry. He insisted that everything should be done at the appointed time. One morning the colonel was walking about the camp, smoking his pipe, when he discovered a company drawn up at roll call. It was half an hour after the required time, and Grant quietly informed the officer that it was no time to call the roll, and ordered him to send his men immediately to their quarters. He was promptly obeyed, and the delinquent was punished for his want of punctuality. The colonel resumed his pipe and his walk, as though nothing had happened. This quiet, undemonstrative way was effective, and the offence was not again repeated.

Careful and particular in the minor details of duty, his regiment was brought up to the highest degree of discipline; but it was quite as much the manner as the substance which attracts attention.



Wherein Captain Galligasken relates a pleasing Anecdote of the illustrious Soldier, and shows how and why he captured Paducah.

Several regiments were engaged in Northern Missouri in guarding railroads and repressing guerrillas, and it was necessary that they should act in concert. Grant was the junior in rank of the other colonels; but as they had a reasonable delicacy in issuing orders to one who had been educated at West Point, and who had seen service on the battle-field, the commander of the Twenty-first was appointed acting brigadier.

In the latter part of July the chaplain of his regiment informed Grant that he had been appointed a Brigadier General of Volunteers. He was quite surprised at the intelligence, for he had made no application for the promotion, either directly or through any of his friends. The appointment was obtained by Mr. Washburn, who had introduced him to Governor Yates. This gentleman exhibited a high appreciation of the abilities of Grant, and it could not but be a happy thought to him, in the light of subsequent events, that he had been instrumental in bringing forward the illustrious soldier, though I doubt not that, without [107]the aid of any influence in his favor, he would in due time have soared to his proper level.

As a regimental commander, Colonel Grant made his mark; for he always did everything well. He was acting in this capacity in order to serve his country, and not as a stepping-stone to future eminence. He discharged his duties earnestly and faithfully in this comparatively humble sphere, as though he had already reached the height of his ambition. He gave his men an example of the most rigid simplicity of manners. He rarely wore a uniform, except on parade, and was above any vain show of "fuss and feathers." Nothing ever moved him so that his emotion came to the surface, and when informed that he had been appointed a brigadier, he was as undisturbed as though the matter did not concern him.

In his regimental experience, where he was more directly and intimately connected with the soldiers, he labored zealously to promote their welfare, morally and spiritually, as well as in a military point of view. He manifested a lively interest in the observance of the ordinances of religion among the men. He encouraged the chaplain in his efforts to keep the spirit of the gospel alive in the troops. He insisted upon having divine services in his camp, and used his influence to secure the attendance of all under his command. He regularly attended worship himself, except when prevented by his duties from being present.

One day, at the mess table of the regiment, when the officers were all seated, Colonel Grant remarked that it was his custom, when at home, to invite any clergyman, who was present in his house, to ask [108]blessing at the table, adding that a blessing was as much needed in the camp as at home, and, if it was agreeable to the views of his officers, he would like to have the chaplain ask a blessing every time they sat down to eat.

The rebel General Jeff. Thompson, at the head of a horde of partisan cutthroats, went through a portion of the State of Missouri where Grant was located, committing petty outrages, and issuing absurd proclamations, probably in imitation of Governor Gamble, who seemed determined to fight out the battle with paper manifestoes. Grant, at the head of a small force, marched in pursuit of the marauder.

It is said that Washington was utterly devoid of humor, and that he was not known to have made more than one joke in his lifetime. When Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, suggested that the standing army of the United States should be limited to four thousand men, Washington moved that no enemy should invade the country with a larger force than four thousand. While it must be acknowledged that Grant is not a joker, he is not without the element of humor in his composition. Some of his punishments are ludicrous and amusing, though they are always judicious and effective.

During the campaign in Missouri, while Grant was marching after Jeff. Thompson, his advance consisted of a body of Indiana cavalry, commanded by one Lieutenant Wickfield, a man of expedients, especially when suggested by an empty stomach. At noon this force arrived at a farm-house, which looked sufficiently thrifty to assure the campaigners that its larder would [109]supply wherewith to correct the vacuum which prudent nature loathes. Wickfield, with two of his inferior officers, dismounted and entered the dwelling.

Though the great country for which Grant was fighting had yet hardly heard his name, he was sufficiently well known in this locality to wield a powerful influence. Wickfield realized that the potent name of the brigadier would be enough to induce the people to bring forward the best the house afforded, and he had the impudence to declare that he was Brigadier General Grant. The name was indeed a tower of strength, and the best that the larder contained was set before the hungry guests. They ate not merely all they wanted, but all they could, and asked how much was to be paid for their entertainment. The farmer's folks seemed to think it was a sufficient honor to have fed a live brigadier, and they declined payment. The officers went on their way, rejoicing in the plenty that filled their stomachs.

The main body of the army halted a few miles from this house, to rest for a time; Grant rode forward, and came to the house in which the officers of his advance had been so sumptuously regaled. He was not so ethereal as to be above the necessity of eating; and, indulging in a course of reasoning similar to that of Wickfield, he rode up to the front gate of the house, and asked the occupants if they could prepare him a dinner.

"No," responded the mistress of the house, in tones gruff and unamiable; "General Grant and his staff have just been here and eaten up everything in the house, except one pumpkin pie."


"Humph," said Grant, in his stoical manner, without exhibiting any surprise at the singular intelligence. "What is your name?"

"Selvidge," answered the woman.

"Will you keep that pie till I send an officer for it?" added Grant, throwing a half dollar to her.

"Yes, I will," she replied, picking up the money; and Grant rode off, doubtless thinking that he did not realize any benefit from the dinner which the brigadier and his staff had eaten, for he was probably willing to believe that the impostor had not taken his name in vain.

That evening, when the force had gone into camp for the night, the several regiments were ordered to appear on parade at half past six o'clock, with particular instructions that every man should be present. The order was a very unusual one, for dress parades on the march were not required, and a decided sensation was created in the army. Some thought the enemy were upon them, and various explanations of the strange order were suggested, though none of them were correct. At the appointed time the parade was formed, ten columns deep, and nearly a quarter of a mile in length. The ordinary ceremonial of the dress parade was punctiliously performed, and then the assistant adjutant general read the following luminous order:—

"Headquarters, Army in the Field.

"Special Order, No. 112.

"Lieutenant Wickfield, of the —— Indiana Cavalry, having on this day eaten everything in Mrs. Selvidge's [111]house, except one pumpkin pie, Lieutenant Wickfield is hereby ordered to return with an escort of one hundred cavalry, and eat that pie also.

U.S. Grant,

Brigadier General Commanding."

As no one, or any body of men, ever presumed to disobey an order of General Grant, at seven o'clock Lieutenant Wickfield, with his escort of one hundred men, filed out of the camp, amid the derisive cheers of the entire army. The escort unite in their testimony that he consumed the whole of the pie, and, so far as they were able to judge, are willing to affirm that he enjoyed the treat, especially as sufficient time had elapsed since his dinner to enable him to do so with impunity.

Grant's commission as a brigadier general reached him August 7, though it was antedated May 17. In harmony with his antecedents thus far, which placed him neither first nor last, he was the seventeenth on a list of thirty-four original appointments in the grade to which he was assigned. Though Mr. Washburn had been forward in procuring his appointment, Grant was unanimously recommended by the Illinois delegation in Congress—not one of whom he knew personally before the commencement of the outbreak, and not one of whom had the slightest idea of the magnificent grant they were making for the nation.

At the time of General Grant's appointment, the Western Department, which included all the region between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains, [112]with the State of Illinois and such parts of Western Kentucky and Tennessee as might be in possession of the national arms, was under command of General Fremont. For his own convenience, the chief of this department divided his territory into sub-districts; and on the 1st of September Grant was ordered to the command of the South-east Missouri District, including Western Kentucky and Tennessee. On the 4th of the month he established his headquarters at Cairo.

General Grant was now in a position to make himself felt, and he began to gaze out upon the broad field of Southern aggression before him. He was on the actual dividing line between loyalty and rebellion, prepared to defend the one and invade the other. Governor Magoffin, of Kentucky, had made his sensational reply to the call for troops, that his state would furnish none for the "wicked" purpose of subduing her sister Southern States, and had issued his proclamation of neutrality, which meant nothing but rebellion, as proved by the subsequent conduct of the man. There could be no neutral state between the fiery South and the indignant North.

Cairo was a point of the utmost importance to the loyal cause, as a depot of supplies, as a gunboat rendezvous, and as a strategetic position. The Mobile and Ohio Railroad extended through the western part of Tennessee to the northern line of that state, where it diverged into three branches, terminating respectively at Hickman, Columbus, and Paducah, connecting these places with all the principal cities of the South, each of which might form a base of [113]operation for offensive movements on the part of the rebels.

Neutrality in Kentucky meant rebellion. It was proclaimed in the interests of the South, but it was not, and could not be, respected by either party. It was first violated by the rebels, who failed to sound the notes of indignation when Bishop General Polk marched his army into the state and seized upon Hickman and Columbus. General Grant had studied his maps faithfully, and fully comprehended the situation, not only in its present but in its future significance. Polk was in full march upon Paducah, the possession of which would give the rebels the control of the navigation of the Ohio and the entrance of the Tennessee, at the mouth of which the town is located.

Grant was wide awake, and a few days after he had established his headquarters at Cairo he completed his hasty preparations for the capture of Paducah, and started late in the evening with two regiments and a light battery, with two gunboats—the naval force of his district having also been placed under his direction. Arriving at his objective point the next morning, he landed his force, and took possession of the town, the rebels under Tilghman hastily evacuating the place while the national troops were landing.

Paducah was a strong secession town. Recruiting officers from the rebel army were enlisting its citizens to fight against the Union even when Grant landed. The prompt movement was a necessity, and Grant made it without the order of his superior officer, [114]though he notified Fremont of the purposes of the enemy, and asked his permission to check them; but he started before this permission reached him. He also announced his purpose to the legislature of Kentucky, then in session at Frankfort, but neither did he wait for their permission. A few hours of delay would have defeated the objects of the expedition. He was prompt, and thus saved the West from the mortification and disaster of having the Ohio closed.

The inhabitants of Paducah were in full sympathy with the Rebellion. They believed in the neutrality of Kentucky, even while they harbored and assisted in recruiting a rebel force in their midst. Grant issued a proclamation, in which he informed them that he came not as an enemy, but as their fellow-citizen, to respect and enforce the rights of all loyal citizens. He declared that he had nothing to do with opinions, and should deal only with armed rebellion, its aiders and abettors. He could not help mingling a little of his quaint humor with the solid declarations of the document; adding, that whenever it was manifest the people of Paducah were able to defend themselves, maintain the authority of the government, and protect the rights of loyal citizens, he should withdraw the forces under his command. It was not their style to defend themselves from rebels, or to maintain the authority of the government, so that the necessity of withdrawing the force was not realized.

Grant remained in the town only till noon. Having garrisoned the position, he returned to Cairo, where Fremont's permission to capture Paducah, if [115]he felt strong enough, awaited him. He had already felt his strength, however, and Bishop Polk had been effectually checkmated. Grant immediately took possession of Smithland, at the mouth of the Cumberland River; and though he was not in position to order a forward movement himself, he seems to have been preparing the way for the triumphal march of the Union armies, which ended only when the hordes of treason laid down their arms at the feet of him who now opened the gates of their wide domain.

It was of the highest importance that these places should be held, and Grant placed General Charles F. Smith in command of the position, with a brigade of the most reliable troops. This man was his beau idéal of a soldier, and the regular army officers regarded him as one of its most able and accomplished veterans. It is said that he had incurred the displeasure of General Scott, who neither forgave nor forgot; otherwise he might have been assigned to the position taken by McClellan. He was a stern and unyielding disciplinarian, with little or none of the tact which had characterized Grant's treatment of this difficult problem, and his severity soon embroiled him with the volunteers. Politicians and newspapers cried him down, and his sins were blazoned at the War Department. He was in imminent peril of being sent in disgrace into the shade before he had fought a single battle. But Grant understood him, and saved him; and "Paducah Smith" at Fort Donelson, leading the fiercest charge, bareheaded and inspired, justified himself and his steadfast friend. Grumblers and slanderers were shamed and silenced.


Grant's wonderfully correct estimate of men has proved to be one of the secrets of his success; and here, in the first year of the Rebellion, and before he had been a week in command of this district, he began to demonstrate in this direction not only his fidelity to a friend, but his firmness in the good cause.



Wherein Captain Galligasken describes the Battle of Belmont, and further illustrates the military Qualities of the illustrious Soldier, as exhibited in that fierce Fight.

With such a man as Smith at Paducah, placed there, and kept there, by General Grant, the outlets of those great rivers, the Tennessee and the Cumberland, which led down into the very heart of the Rebellion, were safe. We looked to Grant—we, within the narrow sphere he then occupied—for another movement, for some brilliant and well-conceived operation, which would gladden the hearts and strengthen the arms of the men of the loyal cause; but we looked in vain, for he was not the commander of a department, and was held back by General Fremont. But Grant was busy, and not a moment of his precious time was lost, however it may have been turned aside from its highest usefulness. The hardy and enthusiastic volunteers from the North-west were poured in upon him until he had about twenty thousand. He employed himself in perfecting their organization and improving their discipline.

Columbus, which had been fortified and held by Polk and Pillow, was every day increasing its strength [118]and importance. It had closed the Mississippi, and every point in Grant's district was continually menaced by it. He desired to "wipe it out," and applied to Fremont for permission to do so, declaring that, with a little addition to his present force, he would take the place. His application was not even noticed, and the rebels were permitted to strengthen their works, and afford all the aid they could to the turbulent hosts in Missouri.

In the mean time the rebel General Price had captured Lexington, but abandoned his prize at the approach of Fremont, and retreated to the south-western part of the state, where he remained, confronted by a small force of national troops, gathering strength for another hostile movement towards the north. Polk, who was in command of Columbus, occasionally sent troops over the river to Belmont, on the opposite bank, from which they marched to re-enforce Price. The safety of the Union army before him required that this channel of communication should be closed, or at least that the enemy in Missouri should be prevented for a time from receiving further assistance.

General Grant was therefore ordered to make a movement which should threaten Columbus, and thus compel Polk to retain his force. Accordingly, he sent Colonel Oglesby towards the point he was to menace, and also directed General Smith at Paducah to march towards Columbus, and demonstrate in the rear of that place. The point to be gained was simply to prevent reënforcements from being sent over the river, for Grant was prohibited from making an attack upon the threatened point.


Belmont was partially fortified. It was a camp for rebel troops, from which they could conveniently be sent to coöperate with Price or Jeff. Thompson, and a depot of supplies gathered up in Missouri and Arkansas, where they could be readily sent over to Columbus. On the evening of November 6, Grant started down the river with a fleet of steamers, under the convoy of two gunboats, to demonstrate on a larger scale against the enemy's stronghold. He had with him a force of thirty-one hundred men, comprising five regiments of infantry, two squadrons of cavalry, and a section of artillery. The movement was not intended as an attack, even upon Belmont, at the beginning. His troops were exceedingly raw, some of them having received their arms only two days before.

The fleet continued down the river about ten miles, and Grant made a feint of landing on the Kentucky side, remaining at the shore till the next morning, to give color to the idea that, with Smith, he intended to attack Columbus. But during the night he ascertained that Polk was crossing large bodies of troops to Belmont, with the evident intention of pursuing Oglesby. Then the intrepid general decided to "clean out" the camp at Belmont. This was literally what he intended to do, and as every man's success ought to be measured by his intentions, it is very important that this fact should be fully comprehended. It is absurd to suppose that a military man of Grant's experience proposed to take and hold the place. He had every reason to believe the enemy had double his force, and he knew that they were well provided with [120]steamers and gunboats, and could send over reënforcements rapidly; and he was also aware that Belmont was covered by the guns of Columbus. Against this odds, and under these circumstances, he could not for a moment have entertained the idea of securing a permanent advantage. He contemplated only a bold dash, which was sufficient to accomplish the object of the expedition.

The little army was landed at Hunter's Point, three miles above the rebel works, and just out of the range of the Columbus batteries. The line was formed, and, with Grant in the advance with the skirmishers, moved forward. It soon encountered the enemy, and drove them before it. The action waxed warmer and warmer as the lines of national troops advanced, and the contest became very severe. Grant still kept in front, animating the soldiers by his heroic example, in utter contempt of anything like danger. His horse was killed under him, and he was in peril from first to last; but his gallant behavior stimulated the civilian colonels under him, and they stood up squarely to the work before them. Thus led, the raw soldiers from Illinois behaved like veterans, and fought with the utmost desperation. The contest continued for four hours, at the end of which time the Union troops had driven the rebels foot by foot to their works; and then, charging through the abatis which surrounded the fortifications, forced the beaten foe to the river. Several hundred prisoners and all the rebel guns were captured, and the camp broken up.

Grant had reached his objective point, and his success was thorough and complete. He had accom[121]plished all he proposed, and it only remained for him to retire from the field, which was of course as much a part of his original intention as was the attack. As the hour of prosperity is often the most dangerous, so was the moment of victory the most perilous to these gallant troops. Their success seemed to intoxicate them, and instead of pursuing their advantage upon the rebel force, sheltering themselves beneath the bluff of the river, they went about plundering the deserted camp. Their colonels, no better disciplined, indulged their vanity in making Union speeches.

General Grant discovered that the enemy was sending steamer loads of troops across the river, to a point above the camp, to intercept his retreat; and he was anxious to get back to his transports before they arrived. He attempted to form his lines again, but the men were too much disorganized to heed orders. The general then directed his staff-officers to set fire to the camp, in order to check the plunder. The smoke attracted the attention of the rebels at Columbus, who opened fire upon the Unionists. Shot and shell brought them to a sense of their duty; the line was formed, and they marched towards the steamers, three miles distant.

The defeated rebels, under the bank of the river, having been reënforced by the arrival of three regiments from Columbus, marched to a point which enabled them to intercept the victorious army. An officer, on discovering the fact, dashed furiously up to the cool commander, and in a highly-excited tone cried, "We are surrounded!"

"Well, if that is so, we must cut our way out, as [122]we cut our way in," replied Grant, apparently unmoved even by this tremendous circumstance.

His troops were brave men, but such a disaster as being surrounded suggested to their inexperience only the alternative of surrender, and, under many commanders, such a result must have been inevitable. What paralyzes the soldier often produces the same effect upon the leader; but Grant was not "demoralized." No apparent reverses could exhaust his unconquerable pluck; he never despaired, and worked up a situation out of which another could make nothing but defeat, until he brought forth victory.

"We have whipped them once, and I think we can do it again," added Grant, in the midst of the confusion which the unpleasant prospect caused.

The troops discovered that Grant had no idea of surrendering, and they gathered themselves up for a fresh onslaught. The confusion was overcome, and the little army charged the enemy, who fought less vigorously than earlier in the day, and were again forced behind the bank of the river. But, as fresh troops were continually arriving from Columbus, there was no time to be wasted, and Grant pressed on for his transports. There was no unseemly haste, certainly nothing like a rout, or even a defeat. Everything was done in as orderly a manner as possible with undisciplined troops.

Grant's Escape.—Page 123.

Grant superintended the execution of his own orders in the embarkation of his force; and, when most of them were on board of the steamers, he sent out a party to pick up the wounded. In the morning he had posted a reserve in a suitable place for the pro[123]tection of the fleet, and as soon as the main body were secure on the decks of the transports, Grant, attended by a single member of his staff, rode out to withdraw this force. This guard, ignorant of the requirement of good discipline, had withdrawn themselves, and the general found himself uncovered in the presence of the advancing foe. Riding up on a hillock, he found himself confronting the whole rebel force, now again increased by fresh additions from the other side of the river. It was a time for an ordinary man to put spurs to his steed; but Grant had an utter contempt for danger. He stood still for a moment to examine the situation, during which he was a shining mark for rebel sharp-shooters. He wore a private's overcoat, the day being damp and chilly; and to this circumstance alone can his miraculous escape be attributed.

He was looking for the party he had sent out in search of the wounded, and realized that they had been cut off by the foe. Turning his horse, he rode slowly back to the landing, so as not to excite the attention of his uncomfortable neighbors, who were pouring a galling fire into the transports. The steamers suffered so much from this destructive hail of bullets, that they had cast off their fasts, and pushed away from the bank, leaving the general behind in the midst of the foe. Seeing how the thing was going, Grant put spurs to his horse, forcing the steed on his haunches down the bank, just as one of the steamers was swinging off from the shore. A plank was thrown out for him, up which he trotted his horse, in the midst of a storm of rebel bullets.

The field being clear of national troops, the gun[124]boats opened a fierce fire upon the rebel ranks, now within fifty or sixty yards of the shore, mowing them down with grape and canister in the most fearful slaughter. The fire of the rebels was fortunately too high to inflict any serious injury on the troops in the transports, and by five in the afternoon they were out of range.

The next day Grant met, under a flag of truce, an old classmate from West Point, then serving on General Polk's staff. He related his personal experience at Belmont, stating that he had encountered the rebel line when alone. The rebel officer expressed his surprise.

"Was that you?" exclaimed he. "We saw you. General Polk pointed you out as a Yankee, and called upon the men to test their aim upon you; but they were too busy in trying their skill upon the transports to heed the suggestion."

I point with admiration to the conduct of General Grant during that entire day. As an example of coolness and courage, he stands unsurpassed, and even unrivalled. It was thrilling to behold him, in the midst of the trials and discouragements of that hard-fought field, the life and the soul of the whole affair. He was the only trained soldier on the field, for even General McClernand, who was daring enough to have had three horses shot under him, had no actual experience of battle. His men, and especially his officers, were undisciplined, and the whole affair rested upon his shoulders. But the brave fellows followed his example, and the victory was made sure.

The material results of the battle were one hundred [125]and seventy-five prisoners, two guns carried off and four spiked on the field, and the total destruction of the enemy's camp.

Of the force engaged, Grant had thirty-one hundred and fourteen men, according to his official report. General Polk declared that, at the beginning of the battle, Pillow had five regiments, a battery, and a squadron of cavalry; and that five more regiments were sent across the river during the fight. The rebel force, therefore, must have been double that of the Unionists; and probably the disparity was still greater.

My friend Mr. Pollard, with his usual cheerful assumption, called the battle of Belmont a Confederate victory! Or, stating it a little more mildly, a defeat in the beginning changed in the end to an overwhelming victory! Did this amiable rebel ever hear of an army defeated by an "overwhelming victory," carrying off their captured guns and prisoners, embarking leisurely in their steamers, and retiring while the victors were being mowed down in swaths? Grant lost four hundred and eighty-five men in killed, wounded, and missing; while Mr. Pollard demolishes his own "overwhelming victory" by acknowledging a rebel loss of six hundred and forty-two, which was probably below the actual number.

The moral results of the battle, which cannot be estimated in captured guns and prisoners, were even more satisfactory. Belmont, as settling a question of prestige, was the Bunker Hill of the Western soldiers. It gave them confidence in themselves, and prepared the way for Donelson and Shiloh. It pre[126]vented the forces of Jeff Thompson and Price from being augmented.

The unmilitary conduct of some of the colonels, gallantly as they fought, exposed them to merited rebuke. It is said that Grant himself expected to be deprived of his command for fighting this battle, and for not effecting his retreat more promptly, having been delayed, as I have shown, by the want of proper support from these commanders of regiments, who did not control, or attempt to control, the excesses of the men. One of them, fearful that the same fate was in store for him, waited upon Grant to ascertain the prospect. He obtained no satisfaction, for the general thought the lesson ought to work in his mind.

"Colonel —— is afraid I will report his bad conduct," said Grant to one of his friends, when the repentant and anxious officer had departed.

"Why don't you do it?" demanded the other. "He and the other colonels are to blame for their disobedience, which had nearly involved you in a disaster."

"These officers had never been under fire," replied the magnanimous hero. "They did not understand how serious an affair it was, and they will never forget the lesson they learned. I can judge from their conduct in the action that they are made of the right stuff. It is better that I should lose my position, if it must be, than that the country should lose the services of five such gallant officers when good men are scarce."

Grant did not lose his command; and the future [127]justified the belief of Grant, for three of the five colonels won an enviable distinction in subsequent battles.

That was Grant! It was the imperilled nation, and not his own glory, for which he was fighting.



Wherein Captain Galligasken rehearses the persistent Efforts of the illustrious Soldier to obtain Permission to attack Fort Henry, and follows him to the Capture of that important Position.

General Grant gained no immediate credit for his brilliant action at Belmont. The objects of the movement were not understood, and as the victorious army did not retain the position it had won, the general public regarded it as a defeat. The balance of injury was against the rebels, and in favor of the national arms. Grant gained all, and more than all, he intended. He had no occasion to be forgiven for Belmont. It was his first battle in the Rebellion, and the first of the unbroken line of victories he achieved which gladdened the heart of the nation from time to time.

Grant was always generous, even to magnanimity. His report of the battle bestows the warmest praise upon those who deserved it. There was none of that petty, sixpenny jealousy in his composition which belittled some other able generals, and which in a few instances seriously interfered with the progress of the Union arms. He had no occasion to decry others in order to magnify himself. He was willing to let [129]his fame take care of itself. He did everything for the cause, nothing at all for himself. He was too magnanimous to mention the indiscretions of the officers who, through lack of experience, imperilled the day, for they were errors of the head, and not of the heart.

A few days after the battle of Belmont, Fremont was superseded by Halleck. The change did not injure the immediate prospects of Grant, though for two months the general was employed only in organizing and drilling troops, some of which were for service in his own district, and some were intended for other parts of the department, and he was permitted to make no forward movement. For the old name the new commander substituted the District of Cairo, and changed its limits so as to include the portion of Kentucky west of the Cumberland River.

During this period of comparative inaction, flags of truce frequently passed between Cairo and Columbus, and interviews between the generals in command of the posts took place. General Polk seems to have been a very hospitable gentleman, and at the close of each conference invariably brought out his wine to treat his guests. It was not unusual to propose a toast, and on one occasion the bishop general offered one which he declared all could drink. The glasses were filled,—Grant's with water, of course,—and Polk gave, "To General Washington—" He paused there, and the company raised their glasses to their lips, and were in the act of honoring the great name, when the proposer of the sentiment added—"the first rebel."


"That was scarcely fair, general," interposed Grant, who had nearly finished his glass; "but I will be even with you some other time."

It would have been called a Yankee trick if it had been perpetrated by any other than a chivalrous Southern soldier. Two weeks later, another flag was sent down the river, and Grant accompanied it. When the business of the interview was completed, Polk attended to the rites of hospitality as usual. Grant turned the conversation into the favorite channel of rebel politicians by introducing the subject of state rights. The Southern officers were suffered to express themselves fully on their pet theme, without any serious attempt to controvert their positions. As he rose to take his departure, Grant proposed, a sentiment in which he said all could agree—"Equal rights to all—" He duplicated the pause which Polk had made on the previous occasion, until the party had partially emptied their glasses, when he added—"white and black."

"Now, general, I think I am even with you," continued Grant, in his quiet, unimpressible manner; and the reverend general was obliged to own that he had been flanked in his own manœuvre.

Columbus was the western extreme of the rebel line of defence, which at that time included nearly the whole length of the Potomac River in the East. The enemy had built Fort Henry on the Tennessee River, and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland, and occupied Bowling Green, near the centre of the State of Kentucky. The line which included these points was the boundary which actually separated the terri[131]tories in possession of the combatants. It was the strategic line of the rebels, on which they had placed their defences, concentrated their armies, and gathered their supplies, both for aggressive movements to the North, and to prevent a Union force from penetrating to the South. Bowling Green, on a branch of the Green River, was at the junction of the two lines of railroad from Memphis and from Nashville. Fort Henry and Fort Donelson were near the Memphis road, protecting it from Union raiders, and supplied by it with men and provisions, as well as by the two rivers.

The Gibraltar of the West, as Columbus was called by the rebels, mounted one hundred and forty guns, was abundantly supplied with men and material, and its railway connections afforded every facility for reënforcing it in case of necessity. It closed the Mississippi against the Union steamers and gunboats.

Fort Henry, the first connecting link in the rebel line of defence, was a strongly-built fortification on the right bank of the Tennessee, mounting seventeen guns, and provided with accommodations for fifteen thousand men.

Fort Donelson, on the left bank of the Cumberland, was a more elaborate work, mounting forty guns, and with quarters for twenty thousand troops. These two forts effectually closed the rivers on which they were located, and were only twelve miles apart, so that they could coöperate with each other in cases of emergency. A strong rebel army at Bowling Green completed the defence, and an advance by land was as impracticable as by water. The problem which the [132]Western military commanders were called upon to solve was, how to break through this line.

The question seems to have worried Grant to no inconsiderable degree, and he studied the matter attentively during the winter. In January, by order of General Halleck, he sent out a heavy force under General Smith, in the direction of Columbus, to aid a movement on the part of General Thomas in another part of the state, and to examine the ground. No fighting was done, and the soldiers suffered severely from cold; but the object of the expedition was gained, for Thomas defeated the rebels at Mill Springs, where the result would have been different if reënforcements had been sent from this quarter to the enemy.

During the winter, the gunboat navy of the West was largely augmented and improved, under the admirable supervision of Commodore Foote. Ordinary river steamers were shorn of their top works, and their hulls converted into iron-clad batteries, which promised to render efficient service in operations on the navigable streams of the West. The brave old salt was ably seconded by Halleck and by Grant, both in building and in manning his fleet.

General Smith, on his return from the reconnoissance in force, reported to Grant that the capture of Fort Henry was feasible. The general of the district was ready at an early day to solve the problem of breaking the rebel line of defence. He had kept his eye and his thought on this operation; and while the movement was demanded by McClellan, then general-in-chief, Halleck appears hardly to have turned his attention in that direction; certainly he had taken no active measure to carry out the purpose.


I am not willing to say that Grant at this time had devised a plan for extended operations towards the South, but I am confident that he was studying his maps and measuring the comparative resources of the two armies long before his superiors had any definite ideas on the subject. I firmly believe that to him belongs the conception of that grand military movement which he so gloriously carried forward in person.

On the return of Smith from his expedition, Grant forwarded his report to General Halleck, and a day later, by permission, visited the headquarters of the commander of the department at St. Louis, in order to obtain permission to attack Fort Henry. Halleck was one of the high and mighty men, and his refusal was abrupt and sharp. Grant was no orator. He proffered his request in the fewest words that would express it; and he did not attempt to sustain his views by an argument. He was wounded in his feelings by the curtness of his superior, and returned to Cairo with the unpleasant impression that his commander regarded him as a tyro, capable of perpetrating the grossest military blunder.

But Grant had Fort Henry on the brain, and, in spite of his repulse, he could not be satisfied to leave with his superior the responsibility of neglecting to improve what he regarded as a golden opportunity. In the latter part of January he telegraphed to Halleck that, with his permission, he would take and hold Fort Henry, establish and hold a large camp there. A day later he followed up his application with a letter, demonstrating the practicability of the proposed enterprise, and showing the advantage to be gained [134]by a prompt advance. His application was warmly seconded by Flag-officer Foote; and this time the desired permission was obtained. Grant was happy then; he had overcome the coldness of Halleck, and it only remained for him to justify his predictions.

Grant was on the most intimate terms of friendship with Foote, and these two gallant and devoted men worked harmoniously together to achieve a success. There was no bickering between them about precedence, for both of them sought only to serve the cause in which they had embarked. Halleck's detailed instructions arrived on the 1st of February, and, in view of the experience of others, it is almost a miracle that there was not a delay of a month, or at least of a week. Grant was a prompt man, and in spite of all the precedents made and provided for the occasion, he actually started from Cairo on the day after his orders reached him. His force, embarked in transports, consisted of seventeen thousand men, and Commodore Foote's squadron was composed of seven gunboats, only four of which, however, were iron-clads.

On the 4th of February the expedition arrived at the scene of operations. Grant had given McClernand the advance, and this officer landed his troops about eight miles below the fort. But the commanding general did not quite comprehend the situation, and he was not the man to work in the dark when light could be obtained. Going on board of one of the gunboats, he directed its captain to steam up the river, and under the guns of the fort, in order to draw its fire and test its weight of metal. The rebels fired [135]upon the daring intruder, and a shot went through the steamer. The purpose of the general was gained, and he returned to his forces below, reembarked them, and again landed them just out of the reach of cannon shot, the range of which he had practically demonstrated.

The enemy were fully alive to the peril which menaced them, and made every preparation for a desperate resistance. Additional troops were ordered up by the railroads, and reserves from Fort Donelson stationed where they could be available. The Tennessee had overflowed its banks, and the country for miles around was inundated. Fort Henry was completely surrounded by water, and the movements of both armies were made with difficulty. But Grant, no more dismayed by flood than by fire, gave orders to post his troops so as to intercept any departures or arrivals of the enemy.

Before the investment of the fort, intelligence of the anticipated arrival of a large rebel force compelled Grant to hasten the attack, and at eleven o'clock, on the 6th of February, the army marched towards the rear of the fort, and the gunboats steamed up the river to engage the batteries. The intrepid old sea-dog opened fire upon the works, and in an hour and a half knocked them all to pieces, silencing every gun. General Tilghman surrendered to Commodore Foote without conditions; but only the commander, his staff, and sixty men were captured, the main body of the rebel army having been sent to Fort Donelson.

The floods of water and the miry condition of the roads prevented the army from reaching the rear of [136]the fort in season to be of any service. The cavalry was sent in pursuit of the fleeing rebels, but they had gone too far to be overtaken. General Tilghman, it appeared, did not share the confidence of his superiors in the invulnerableness of his works, and early in the morning he had posted his entire garrison, with the exception of a force sufficient to work his guns, at some outworks two miles distant, and out of the reach of the shot and shell from the gunboats, where they could be hastened to a place of safety. Before the result of the battle with the gunboats was known, these forces were sent away, and no different action on the part of the Union general could have captured them.

The victory was a decided one, though the army was prevented from sharing in the glory of capturing the fort. The result filled the government of the Confederacy with dismay. One of its strong gates had been battered down, and the Tennessee was open to the navigation of those pestilent gunboats, which had already become the terror of Rebeldom. Prompt to assure the leaders of the Confederacy of the disaster which had overtaken them, Flag-officer Foote sent three of his "pets" up the river, which proceeded as far as Florence, Alabama, destroying the railroad bridge twenty-five miles above Fort Henry, capturing large quantities of stores, and burning many steamers and other boats.

The effect of this success was promptly realized in the sudden evacuation of Bowling Green; and thus two of the rebel strongholds were struck down by the same blow. But the full advantage of this capture [137]was not to be realized until the Union army was ready to move in force towards the south. The victory was an easy one, very much to the astonishment of the naval and the military officers in command. Certainly the position was of importance enough for the Confederacy to have staked more upon it than it did.

Grant's idea was triumphant, and he received the reward of his persistent application to capture the fort, and ample compensation for his harsh rebuff, in the consciousness that he had initiated one of the grandest movements of the war—grand in its ultimate results, which his far-seeing eye had already discovered, rather than in the present glory of its accomplishment.



Wherein Captain Galligasken states the Results of the Victory at Fort Henry, and attends the illustrious Soldier in the Investment of Fort Donelson.

The capture of Fort Henry was as inspiring to the national troops as it was discouraging to the rebels. General Grant telegraphed to Halleck that he had taken Fort Henry, and he announced his intention to serve Fort Donelson in the same way. Not a word had been said before about the strong work on the Cumberland, and Grant had no instructions from his superior on this point. Halleck made no reply to his despatch, though he notified General Buell of the expected attack.

The idea of capturing Donelson was Grant's from its inception to its culmination in the surrender. He had no definite information in regard to the fort, but he formed his plan, not only to attack but to capture it. It seems to have been written down in his mind from the commencement that there was to be no failure. The flood and the continued heavy rains delayed the movement, and the troops were obliged to fight with the waters to save their scanty supplies.

General Halleck used every exertion to supply Grant with troops and material, but he did not order [139]the movement, or even express any hopes or opinions in regard to it. He simply suffered it to proceed, yielding all the assistance required of him; but it would have been curious to know what he would have said if the enterprise had proved to be a failure. Halleck sent minute orders in regard to the disposition of Fort Henry, instructing Grant to hold it, intimating that he would send picks and shovels to strengthen the work, and directed that the guns should be changed so as to meet an attack from the land; but he does not mention Donelson. He repeats his instructions very carefully on the 10th of the month, again kindly offers to send the picks and shovels, and assures the rising hero that large reënforcements would soon join him; but he is thoroughly non-committal on the subject of Fort Donelson.

For my own part, I am thankful that he was so; for I am convinced that any man with a genius for war inferior to that of the illustrious soldier would have been a marplot if he had meddled with the matter. Grant was willing to take the responsibility; and doubtless the singular silence of his superior suggested to him his fate in case of failure.

Grant did not wait for any of the additional force promised; and while the solemn autocrat in St. Louis was prating about picks and shovels, and matters which a volunteer who had seen service for a week understood as well as he, the bold brigadier in command hurried up Commodore Foote, who was waiting for the gunboats he had sent up the river. He was impatient to be on the move, and chafed like a leashed tiger at the delay; for the news kept com[140]ing in that the rebels were continually strengthening Donelson.

On the 11th the commodore started with his fleet for the Cumberland, protecting transports conveying six regiments of troops and the supplies for the entire force. On the same day McClernand, with the advance, moved out a few miles towards the point of attack. The next morning, Grant himself, with the main body of the army, consisting of fifteen thousand strong, marched from Fort Henry, leaving twenty-five hundred men in garrison there.

The roads were inundated, and it was impossible to transport tents and baggage. But few wagons were taken, and the only food carried was in the haversacks of the soldiers. In order to understand the difficulties in the way of the gallant commander, it should be remembered that this movement was made in the month of February. The country was flooded with water, rendering the roads almost impassable, and requiring that many streams should be bridged. But without tents or baggage, the confident general moved on to do the mighty work before him. At noon he arrived at his destination, and proceeded to post his troops. Grant's information in regard to the fortress was so meagre and indefinite that he could only promise to issue the necessary orders in the field. This was the task now before him.

Fort Donelson was one of the most elaborately constructed systems of works which yet frowned on the path of the Union army. It was built on a group of hills, the highest of which were not less than a hundred feet above the level of the river. It consisted [141]of a nest of forts, thrown around the principal one, mounting, with the addition of the field guns of the batteries, sixty-five pieces. The country in which it was situated was rough, and densely wooded. The approaches to the works were rendered difficult by ingeniously-contrived abatis. Above and below the fort was a stream, overflowing its banks, and protecting the right and left of the rebel line. Water batteries on the river effectually guarded the approaches in that direction. The fort was garrisoned by twenty-one thousand men. For a week the rebels had been at work, day and night, increasing its defences, and calling in reënforcements from the vicinity.

Grant went to work with his usual promptness, and before night had surrounded the fort, so far as the overflow of the streams would permit. McClernand's division was on the right, Smith's on the left. There were but three educated officers on the field—Grant, Smith, and McPherson; all the rest of the force were volunteers, most of whom had never seen a battle, and some had been in the service but a very brief period.

The gunboats did not arrive the next day, as expected, but the time was occupied in perfecting the investment of the place, and in feeling of the enemy. Some smart skirmishes occurred, but nothing of importance to either side resulted from them. A gallant attempt was made by McClernand to capture a battery, but it failed. At night Grant's line extended for three miles along a series of hills parallel to the enemy's line. The reënforcements did not arrive, and Foote's squadron was not heard from. The weather changed [142]from heavy rain to intense cold, and the thermometer fell nearly to zero. The troops suffered fearfully from cold; for without tents, and without sufficient clothing, they bivouacked in line of battle, sleeping, if they slept at all, on their arms. The rebel pickets were within easy range, and no fires could be built. Some of the raw troops had even thrown away their blankets in the toilsome march through the mud. Before morning a driving storm of hail and snow set in, horribly increasing the sufferings of the troops.

What a terrible price was paid for the integrity of this blessed Union! What an awful sacrifice for the liberty in which we now rejoice! I tremble when I think of the horrors of that dreadful night, in the snow, and the sleet, and the piercing cold, where the devoted patriots lay under the fire of the enemy! All night long the rebel pickets fired, and the groans of the wounded and the dying mingled with the howls of the storm. All the horrors of war seemed to be blended together in one discordant mass—hunger, cold, and all the torturing agony of suspense and anxiety. From what I know of Grant, I am sure he suffered the most, for the tortures of his men were his own; but peace and freedom were the glittering prize for which he fought and endured the bitter anguish of that horrid night. I wonder that even his iron will did not yield in the presence of the calamities which were there heaped upon him and his men; for he endured all that the humblest soldier endured. Besides the burden they had to bear, he carried the responsibility of the enterprise upon his shoulders; but he was as confident as he [143]was patient and self-sacrificing. For the glorious cause in which he had embarked, he endured all which that awful period had in store for him.

Glory, honor, and an immortal name to the man who had the fortitude to endure the horrors of that terrible night! I am amazed as I view him, the thinking power of the expedition, resolutely maintaining his bold front through the accumulated miseries of that gloomy trial-hour! Think of the man who had the hardihood to beleaguer a fortress garrisoned by twenty-one thousand men with fifteen thousand, and to stand by them confidently through such a storm and such a night! It was watching and waiting for the morning. Conscious of his comparative weakness, Grant sent a messenger to Fort Henry for the garrison which had been left there.

In the gloom of the early morning came glad tidings to the anxious commander, and to his suffering force. A gunboat was coming up the river, and its presence heralded the approach of the fleet, with reënforcements and with supplies for the half-famished men in the line. Though abundant rations had been issued to the troops, they were improvident, in their inexperience, both of food and clothing. The warm, humid air of the preceding day had been oppressive to them, and they had lightened their burden, reckless of the future. The sudden change of the weather and the delay of the fleet subjected them to terrible hardship. Many of the wounded and others were frozen to death in the line.

General Lew Wallace and the garrison from Fort Henry, arrived, and were immediately placed [144]in the centre of the line of investment. The transports came up to a point three miles below the fort, landed their troops, who were added to the line encircling the fort, increasing the besieging force to twenty-two thousand. During the entire day, an irregular fire of sharp-shooters was kept up by the rebels, and at times the artillery played briskly upon the national lines. This was on the second day of the siege, Friday, the 14th of February.

Early in the afternoon, six gunboats, only four of which were protected by armor, opened fire upon the fort, and continued to pour in shot and shell for an hour and a half. The water batteries had the advantage of a high position in this conflict, which enabled them to throw plunging shot at the gunboats. Commodore Foote was severely wounded, fifty-four of his men killed or wounded, two of his craft disabled, and the others crippled by the vigorous fire of the rebels. Twenty guns had acted upon the little squadron, which could use only twelve in reply. Two of the iron-clads were drifting helplessly down the river, and the others were so disabled that it was impossible to continue the action any longer. Sorely against his will, the gallant commodore was compelled to withdraw from the unequal contest. It was Grant's plan to take the fort by storm on the land side, as soon as the result of the naval combat warranted the step. As it failed, he was obliged to remain inactive. He feared to attempt to carry the place by assault with untrained troops, but he did not for a moment lose his confidence in the ultimate result.

Another night of freezing cold succeeded, and the [145]snow and the sleet, in unison with the rebel guns, pelted the patriot host. The sufferings of the preceding night were repeated, and increased by the weakened condition of the men. Grant felt for his suffering troops, but he seemed to be insensible to cold and fatigue himself, even after the long-continued strain of ceaseless action and sleepless nights upon his frame. At two o'clock on the morning of Saturday he received a note from Commodore Foote, who was disabled by his wound, soliciting an interview with him on board of the flag-ship. Before daylight Grant visited the St. Louis, and the flag-officer informed him that he should be compelled to return to Cairo and refit his squadron, and suggested that Grant should hold his line until the gunboats could return to his assistance.

While this conference was in progress on board of the St. Louis, the rebels massed their troops at the right of the Union line, and made a tremendous sally upon the besiegers. The soldiers fought like tigers for hours in this unequal strife. All of McClernand's division was hotly engaged. A brigade which had been posted on the extreme right, after bravely holding its ground against overwhelming odds, fell back after suffering terribly. McClernand, sorely pressed, was hardly holding his ground, and sent to Wallace in the centre for aid. Messengers were hurried to the headquarters of General Grant, but he was still on board of the flag-ship. Wallace was afraid to weaken the centre without orders from his chief; but at last, when McClernand declared that his flank was turned, and his whole division in peril of being cut to pieces, [146]he marched to his assistance, drove back the rebels, and changed the fortunes of the day.

In his turn Wallace charged upon the rebel line; but he also was forced back, and it seemed as though the enemy had massed nearly his whole force on his left. The fighting was of the most determined and desperate character, but no decided result to either side ensued. The rebels were endeavoring to force their way through the Union line, but they were defeated in their purpose, and the national troops still held their position.

About nine o'clock, as Grant was returning from his anxious conference with the naval commander, an aid gave him his first information of the furious assault which had been made upon his line. Learning from General Smith—who was in command of the left, and had not been engaged—the situation on the right, he ordered him to make instant preparations for an assault with his whole force. Sudden and startling as the intelligence was to him, he was ready for the emergency, and before he had visited the scene of action his plan was formed. His splendid genius fathomed the truth, and he was prompt in his remedy. Where other commanders in that trying moment would have summoned a council of war, he stood boldly up and confronted the difficulty alone. The gunboats had failed him, and there was no hope but in the army.

Leaving Smith, he dashed on to the scene of the severest conflict. The rebels, disappointed in their attempt to break the Union line, were slowly retiring. The prospect there was disheartening in the extreme. [147]The raw troops, bravely as they had fought, were in disorder. The heavy loss of officers was severely felt, and confusion reigned in the ranks. The men were discouraged, and, in a measure, demoralized. It was Grant's mission to inspire them anew, and to bring order out of confusion. It was reported to him that the rebels had come out with knapsacks and haversacks to continue the battle for an indefinite period.

"Are the haversacks filled?" asked Grant; and, upon examination of some of the prisoners who had been taken, it was found that they were supplied with rations for three days. "They mean to cut their way out," added Grant, "and have no idea of staying here to fight us. Whichever party attacks first now will whip, and the rebels will have to be very quick if they beat us."

Thus Grant rose above the presages of evil which surrounded him, and thus breathed new confidence into the sinking hearts of his troops. Thus he put far from him the evil omens of the hour, and, by his vigorous measures and his personal presence, prepared to turn the discouraging circumstances which environed him into the channel of victory.

The rebels appear to have comprehended the situation in front of them; for Pillow was so confident they had cut a path through the national line, that he telegraphed to Nashville, "On the honor of a soldier, the day is ours." He did not know what manner of man he was who commanded the national forces.



Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the illustrious Soldier to the Victory at Fort Donelson, and points out the Nature and Extent of that splendid Achievement.

General Grant, having reassured his men on the right, dashed off to the left again, where Smith and his fresh troops were preparing for the assault. On their way he and his staff gladdened the hearts of the soldiers by declaring that the attempt of the rebels in the morning was not an ordinary sally; that they were becoming desperate, and desired only to cut their way through the line to a place of safety. At this stage of the battle, when a portion of the army was discouraged and disheartened, this was certainly a bold assumption, but it had an inspiring effect upon the men; they re-formed their lines, and moved towards the front.

In the midst of these preparations Grant sent a request to Commodore Foote to have all his gunboats appear before the enemy, declaring that a terrible conflict during his absence had demoralized a portion of his command. He added that, if the gunboats did not appear, the fact would encourage the enemy, and still further dishearten his own troops, and that he [149]was obliged to order a charge "to save appearances." The naval commander complied with the request so far as he was able, and sent two of his squadrons up the river, where they demonstrated a little at long range.

McClernand and Wallace were directed to renew the attack on the right as soon as Smith charged upon the left. The latter, who had been accused of secession tendencies during his temporary unpopularity at Paducah, had now an opportunity to set himself right before the country, and to overwhelm his defamers. He formed his line, and made one of the most impetuous and gallant charges recorded during the war. In front of him the rebel right had been reduced in force to mass the troops for the assault in the morning, and before the equilibrium could be restored, Smith forced the enemy's line, and, in the face of a galling and destructive fire, made his way up the hill, over the intrenchments, gaining full possession of the key to the fort.

On the right the troops of McClernand and Wallace, in spite of what they had suffered in the morning, behaved handsomely, and drove the rebels from the ground in front of them, regaining the guns which they had lost in the morning. But the greatest advantage derived from their heroic conduct was in keeping the enemy engaged, and thus preventing them from reënforcing their right, where Smith was working out the real solution of the problem of capturing the fort.

Night closed upon the hard-fought battle-field before the day was won; but the advantage was clearly [150]and decidedly with the national troops. Smith still held the position he had won, and another half hour of daylight would have enabled him to carry the entire works. Again the suffering soldiers bivouacked on the frozen ground, which they had so gallantly won from the enemy, spending the night in sleepless anxiety, for the desperate fortunes of the foe tempted him to reckless expedients. But the light of a brilliant victory was beginning to dawn upon them, and hope rendered the hours less heavy, the cold and weariness more endurable. Grant, who had watched and waited through the long hours of the preceding night, without a moment of rest, and who, by night and by day, had been straining every nerve for a fortnight, slept a few hours in a negro cabin on the field, but ready at any instant to answer the summons to battle.

Within the rebel camp the results of the day's operations had carried dismay and despair. Floyd, who was the chief in command, called together his officers for consultation. It was agreed that the situation was hopeless, and that escape or surrender was the only alternative. They discussed the feasibility of cutting their way out of the fort; but, as such a reckless movement would involve the loss of three fourths of the command, the more humane and prudent of this remarkable conclave decided that it should not be undertaken. The other alternative was surrender; but Floyd, who had stolen the public property while holding his position of trust under the United States government, and dreaded a halter if captured, declined in his own person to be given up. He declared [151]his intention to escape with the Virginia troops he had brought with him, and he turned over the command to Pillow, the next in rank. This gentleman decided to imitate the example of Floyd, and passed it along to Buckner. They had solved the problem to their own satisfaction, the two highest in command deserting their troops, and escaping by a steamer up the river. Nothing better could have been expected of Floyd, or even of Pillow, and both of them were consistent with their treacherous natures. Buckner was a gentleman and a soldier. After bravely defending his position to the best of his ability, he was obliged to surrender, and he performed the disagreeable duty like a man.

Buckner immediately sent a messenger to Grant, asking for terms of surrender; but, while the negotiation was in progress, he permitted Floyd and Pillow to sneak off with about three thousand of the troops, amid the execrations of those who remained. Grant was ready to renew the conflict when the white flag was raised on the battlements of the fort. Buckner proposed an armistice till noon, which seemed to suggest a very complicated arrangement of details in regard to terms. In reply, Grant wrote a very brief note, acknowledging the receipt of the rebel general's communication, and adding, "No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works."

If General Buckner had never been formally introduced to General Grant, this little note would have been a full-length photograph of the man. The unfortunate rebel replied, accepting the terms, though not without [152]taking occasion to protest against them as ungenerous and unchivalrous, and to remind the conqueror of "the brilliant success of the Confederate arms yesterday." Grant, with a generous regard for the feelings of Buckner, hastened to the headquarters of the latter, at Dover. The two generals had been companions at West Point and in the old army, and Grant displayed a tenderness for the sensitive nature of the defeated soldier which is highly creditable to him. He assured him he did not wish to subject him to any unnecessary mortification, but while all public property must be yielded up, the officers would be permitted to retain their side arms and their personal property.

They breakfasted together and talked over the affair, thus happily ended for one, thus disastrously ended for the other. During the interview which followed, Buckner alluded to the inferior force of his adversary at the commencement of the siege.

"If I had been in command, you wouldn't have reached Fort Donelson so easily," said he, with a natural desire to explain the cause of his misfortune.

"If you had been in command, I should have waited for reënforcements, and marched from Fort Henry in greater strength; for I knew that Pillow would not come out of his works to fight, and I told my staff so, though I believed he would fight behind his works."

Grant knew not only the men upon his own side, but those on the other. He weighed and measured both Floyd and Pillow, and made his calculations accordingly. He did nothing in the dark, bold and daring as his movements were. He read human [153]character with almost infallible accuracy, and it appears that his splendid victory at Donelson was gained as much by his knowledge of the men whom he had to fight, as by his sudden and wonderful seizing of an advantage. He knew nothing of the obstinate battle which had been fought while he was on board of the gunboat, until he was informed of the fact after he came on shore. On the instant he ordered Smith to prepare for an assault. He saw the weak point of the enemy, as well as the disordered state of his own right. Here was his stroke of genius. In that he conquered, for the assault he ordered on the moment gave Smith the key to the fortress.

In this tremendous battle he exhibited the highest qualities of a man and a soldier, and showed that he was equal to any position to which he might be assigned. When the news of the fall of Fort Donelson reached Washington, Secretary Stanton immediately recommended Grant's promotion to the rank of major-general of volunteers. President Lincoln nominated him to the Senate on the same day, and he was instantly confirmed. The secretary of war seized eagerly upon the brilliant qualities of the man who had worked out this victory, and held him up to the admiration of the country, as he deserved to be held up, adding that "the true organization of victory, and military combination to end this war, were declared in a few words by General Grant's message to General Buckner: 'I propose to move immediately on your works'" And the noble secretary clung to the successful general during the rest of the war.

Sixty-five guns and fifteen thousand prisoners were [154]the spoils of war to the victor at Fort Donelson—a whole army of captives, such as the North had not known before. On the last day of the fight, Grant had twenty-seven thousand men, and the rebels had above twenty-one thousand, so that the disparity in numbers between the combatants was by no means so great as that in position, which favored the rebels.

As the steamers with the rebel prisoners were about to start for the Ohio River, Buckner, who was very proud of his soldiers, asked Grant to go and see his own brigade. The victorious general accepted the invitation, and the prisoners crowded around him, respectfully but curiously anxious to see their captor. Buckner informed them that Grant had treated them very handsomely, and begged them, if ever the fortunes of war reversed the circumstances, to treat him, or any of his troops, as kindly and magnanimously as he had used them. Grant has a large heart, which I have several times before indicated in mentioning his relations with his friends and benefactors. It is demonstrated even more forcibly in his generous conduct to his enemies, or, rather, the enemies of the loyal cause; for until envy and jealousy developed them, it does not appear that he had any others.

The country rang with Grant's praise. A new light had loomed up in the firmament of the war, and people hailed the glorious star. His initials now meant "Unconditional Surrender"—the only terms which he could offer to men in arms against their own country. The victory at Donelson was the most important and the most suggestive one which had yet [155]gladdened the loyal heart. It was regarded as the beginning of a new order of things; and well do I remember the confident prediction of one who weighed Grant well, that he would yet be President of the United States.

General Halleck appears to have been a stumbling-block in the path of both Grant and Sherman. There was a dirty vein in his nature, which contrasts strongly with the generosity and magnanimity of the hero of Fort Donelson. While McCullum, Halleck's chief of staff, congratulated him upon the splendid result of his "brilliant leadership," and others high in command followed his example, Halleck himself sent no letter of commendation to the conqueror, but telegraphed to Washington that "Smith, by his coolness and bravery, when the battle was against us, turned the tide and carried the enemy's outworks. Make him a major-general. You can't get a better one. Honor him for this victory, and the whole country will applaud." Thus said Halleck.

Buckner congratulated Smith on his gallant charge, after the surrender. "Yes, it was well done," he replied, "considering the smallness of the force that did it. No congratulations are due to me. I simply obeyed orders." Thus said Smith himself, with the ring of honor which swells the heart of a true soldier. The government practically decided that the victory belonged to General Ulysses S. Grant. He was promptly confirmed as a major-general, and "the whole country applauded."

While the people rapturously shouted forth their joy at the signal success of our arms at Forts Henry [156]and Donelson, they hardly comprehended the magnificent results of these victories. The strong positions of the rebels at Bowling Green and Columbus were flanked, and the enemy were compelled to evacuate them. The Gibraltar of the West, strengthened with so much labor and expense, could no longer be held, and its garrison was transferred to Island No. 10, down the river, leaving the Mississippi open to the northern line of Arkansas. The Tennessee and Cumberland rivers were also open, and the dreaded gunboats penetrated to the interior of the Confederacy. Nashville fell, and was speedily occupied by the national troops, while the rebel armies and the rebel legislature fled to safer localities.

At this period in Grant's eventful history, while he was beating down the rebel stronghold, General William T. Sherman stepped prominently upon the stage. He had rendered efficient service to Grant, as a subordinate of Halleck, in urging forward reënforcements, and after the victory warmly congratulated him. Grant replied in a feeling letter, in which he made use of this sentence, so characteristic of the man's motives: "I care nothing for promotion so long as our arms are successful, and no political appointments are made." They had been together one year at West Point, Sherman being graduated three years earlier than Grant; but in their mutual sympathy, appreciation, and kindness at this trying period of the war, really commenced the friendship of these two remarkable men. Before any brilliant lustre had been shed upon the name of either, they were united by a bond which no circumstances could weaken, and by [157]an association so intimate and tender as to become the solace of each in the hour of adversity. It was certainly a poetical friendship, faithful and genuine, by which the nation, as well as the individuals themselves, have been benefited.



Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the illustrious Soldier through the Period of his temporary Disgrace and triumphant Vindication to the opening scenes at Shiloh.

The great strategic line of the rebels in the West had been broken; all its strong places had been taken or evacuated; and the network of railroads in Kentucky and Tennessee was in possession of the national troops. The new line of defence was along the railroad extending from Memphis on the Mississippi to Charleston on the Atlantic. As the rebels had fought for Nashville at Fort Donelson, and lost it, so they indicated their intention to fight for Memphis at Island No. 10.

It was of the utmost importance to the Confederacy that the new line of defence should be held, in order to control one of the principal means of communication with the Atlantic States, by which the army and the people were to be supplied with food. This line included several important railway junctions, from which roads extended down to New Orleans and Mobile. From Chattanooga a road passed through Eastern Tennessee, then in possession of the rebels, to Virginia, being the most direct route to Richmond; and [159]another went to Atlanta, where lines diverged to the east, west, and south, by which all the southern and eastern cities of the Confederacy were reached.

The new defensive line was established, and strengthened with all the men and material which the resources of the Confederacy would admit. The ablest and most experienced generals in its service were sent to the command of the rebel armies there. The presence of both Albert Sidney Johnston and Beauregard attested the importance with which the rebel leaders regarded this line; for, driven from it, another move to the south would drive them down to within two hundred miles of the Gulf of Mexico. This line had now become the objective point of the Union generals in the West.

On the day following the surrender of Fort Donelson, General Grant issued his first order, taking command of the new military district of West Tennessee, whose limits, however, were not defined in his appointment by General Halleck. General Smith, whom Grant still regarded as his "right-hand man," and whom he had already strongly recommended for promotion to the rank of major general, was sent fifty miles up the Cumberland, to occupy Clarksville. The timid counsels of Halleck restrained and annoyed the commander of the new district. His superior was constantly prating about the risk of a general battle, and urging extreme caution.

General Buell, in command of the Department of the Ohio, who had occupied Bowling Green, now moved forward and occupied Nashville. As Grant's district limits had not been defined, he visited Nash[160]ville for the purpose of consulting Buell in regard to this subject and the disposition of the troops of the two armies.

In the mean time, by the order of General Halleck, Grant was engaged in organizing an expedition to go up the Tennessee River, to attack the rebel line of defence, and cut the communications at Corinth, Mississippi—the junction of the Mobile and Ohio with the Memphis and Charleston Railroads. While these preparations were in progress, Halleck sent a growling complaint to Washington, which I cannot help transcribing here, though more to show the excellent spirit of Grant under the most terrible provocation, than to exhibit the littleness of Halleck:—

"I have had no communication with General Grant for more than a week. He left his command without my authority, and went to Nashville. His army seems to be as much demoralized by the victory of Fort Donelson as was that of the Potomac by the defeat of Bull Run. It is hard to censure a successful general immediately after a victory; but I think he richly deserves it. I can get no returns, no reports, no information of any kind from him. Satisfied with his victory, he sits down and enjoys it without any regard to the future. I am worn out and tired by this neglect and inefficiency. C.F. Smith is almost the only officer equal to the emergency."

Grant seems to have been better satisfied with his victory than Halleck was.

Up to this time Grant had not received even a hint that his conduct was not approved by his superior, and it is doubtful whether Halleck meant that he [161]should know it until the crushing blow fell upon the head of the conqueror. His significant mention of General Smith in his snarling, ill-natured communication to the general-in-chief at Washington sufficiently indicates his purpose. The next day Grant was ordered to place Major General Smith in command of the Tennessee expedition, and remain at Fort Henry himself. He was shelved, and in disgrace! With this order came the first indication he had received of the cause of his superior's displeasure. "Why do you not obey my orders to report strength and position of your command?" was the snapper at the end of the despatch.

Grant replied that the order should be obeyed; that he was not aware of having ever disobeyed an order from Halleck's headquarters. He had certainly never intended such a thing. He had reported almost daily the condition and position of his troops. In conclusion, he declared that he would carry out all instructions to the extent of his ability.

To this Halleck replied, repeating some of the allegations of his letter to the general-in-chief, declaring that his going to Nashville was a matter of very serious complaint at Washington, and that he was advised to arrest Grant on his return! The hero defended himself from the charges, showing conclusively that he had performed his whole duty. He stated that he had done all he could to get returns of the strength of his command; that every move was reported daily to the chief of staff at St. Louis; that he had averaged more than one letter a day since he left Cairo; and that his visit to Nashville was solely for [162]the good of the service, not to gratify any desire of his own. "I have done my very best to obey orders, and to carry out the interests of the service," he wrote. "If my course is not satisfactory, remove me at once. I do not wish in any way to impede the success of our arms." In conclusion, he asked to be relieved from further duty in the department.

Halleck continued to pour in repeated rebukes and censures, and Grant reiterated his application to be relieved. Among other things, he alleged that Grant had permitted marauding, in violation of the orders issued to prevent such irregularities. The general replied by referring his superior to his own orders to suppress marauding, and by pointing out to him the fact that he had arrested and sent to St. Louis several officers for the offence indicated.

Grant was under a shadow, so far as his military superiors were concerned, though the people knew very little about the difficulty at the time. He was in disgrace. The man whom the loyal nation was lauding to the skies was actually tottering beneath the disapprobation of his commanding officer. Halleck had based a portion of his severe censure upon an anonymous letter! He appears to have been too willing to take up a cause of complaint, though Grant had bitter enemies in those who were jealous of his rising fame. It appears almost incredible that Halleck, at such a time, when the hero's name was on every tongue, should have preferred his severe charges and uttered his galling reflections to the authorities at Washington, without having previously investigated them, or even intimating to the subject of his displeasure that he was suspected of misconduct.


It looks as though Halleck, after the strong representations—or, rather, misrepresentations—he had made to Washington, expected a peremptory order to remove Grant, and appoint Smith in his place. It seems, if this was his desire and anticipation, that he had been reckoning without his host. Perhaps, if he had not been a timid man, he would have done the foul deed himself. Instead of the order wished for came one of a different sort:—

"Headquarters of the Army,}

Adjutant General's Office,}

Washington, March 10, 1862.}

"Major General H.W. Halleck, U.S.A.,

Commanding Department of the Mississippi:

"It has been reported that soon after the battle of Fort Donelson, Brigadier General Grant left his command without leave. By direction of the president, the secretary of war directs you to ascertain and report whether General Grant left his command at any time without proper authority, and if so, for how long; whether he has made to you proper reports and returns of his forces; whether he has committed any acts which were unauthorized, or not in accordance with military subordination or propriety, and if so, what.

L. Thomas, Adjutant General."

It was evident that before Grant could be sent into obscurity, even for a time, a searching investigation into the conduct of the culprit was to be had. The president and the secretary of war were not willing [164]blindly to consign the hero of Fort Donelson to obloquy and disgrace. Mr. Stanton only a few days before had thrillingly defined the "organization of victory," as set forth in the words of Grant; and he was not prepared to have the author of that electric sentence shoved out of the line of attack. He insisted upon knowing what wicked deeds Grant had done, and Halleck had permission only to "ascertain and report." He did "ascertain;" but as only five days intervene between the date of the order and that of his reply, it is not probable that he found it necessary to push his inquiries to any great extent. He did "report," as follows:—

"Headquarters, Department of the Mississippi,}

St. Louis, March 15, 1862.}

"Brigadier General L. Thomas,

Adjutant General of the Army, Washington:

"In accordance with your instructions of the 10th inst., I report that General Grant and several officers of high rank in his command, immediately after the battle of Fort Donelson, went to Nashville without my authority or knowledge. I am satisfied, however, from investigation, that General Grant did this from good intentions, and from a desire to subserve the public interests. Not being advised of General Buell's movements, and learning that General Buell had ordered Smith's division of his (Grant's) command to go to Nashville, he deemed it his duty to go there in person. During the absence of General Grant and a part of his general officers, numerous irregularities are said to have occurred at Fort Donelson. These [165]were in violation of the orders issued by General Grant before leaving, and probably, under the circumstances, were unavoidable. General Grant has made the proper explanations, and has been directed to resume his command in the field; as he acted from a praiseworthy although mistaken zeal for the public service in going to Nashville and leaving his command, I respectfully recommend that no further notice be taken of it. There never has been any want of military subordination on the part of General Grant, and his failure to make returns of his forces has been explained, as resulting partly from the failure of colonels of regiments to report to him on their arrival, and partly from an interruption of telegraphic communication. All these irregularities have now been remedied.

H.W. Halleck, Major General."

But it did not take even five days for Halleck to arrive at the conclusions set forth in this letter; for two days before its date he declined to relieve Grant from his command. "Instead of relieving you," he said, "I wish you, as soon as your new army is in the field, to assume the immediate command, and lead it on to new victories." He seems to have discovered, rather late in the day, that General Smith was not "almost the only man equal to the emergency."

During this unpleasant period, while he was in disgrace at Fort Henry, Grant conducted himself with signal prudence and discretion. He was patient and submissive to authority. His replies, though sometimes sharp and strong, are always dignified and [166]manly. He was even willing to be sacrificed for the good of the cause; and, while acting as a sort of adjutant general to his own subordinate in rank, he labored diligently in forwarding the preparations for the expedition up the river. Though he had been virtually superseded by Smith, he congratulated that officer upon his richly-deserved promotion, offering him every assistance in his power—conduct in strong contrast with that of others under analogous circumstances.

General Smith was the commandant at West Point while Grant was a cadet in that institution. The former pupil had felt a peculiar awe for his old commander, and acknowledged how unpleasant it was to give him an order. But Smith, perceiving the embarrassment of his superior, explained his position with becoming delicacy. "I am a subordinate now, and I know a soldier's duty. I hope you will feel no awkwardness about our new relations." Grant never had a more gallant or a more obedient officer, though he was sixty years of age. The exposure he underwent at Donelson brought on the dysentery, and he died at the camp up the river.

While Grant was under the shadow of Halleck's mighty displeasure, Smith had gone up the river, and taken a position at Pittsburg Landing, only twenty miles from Corinth, where the railroad from Mobile connected with the Memphis and Charleston line. Grant hastened to this place, and assumed the command of the forces. Injustice and petty tyranny had not goaded him to a single act of disobedience, or tempted him to lay aside the noble dignity of his bear[167]ing. He had conquered in the moral battle which he fought with envy and malice, and returned to his command with the laurel of this victory on his brow.

I see him now, dignified, but not triumphant, in his mien, manly and resolute as ever, but with no tinge of vanity in his looks, his words, or his manners. I see him now, as he received the hearty congratulations of the true and trusty soldiers who were too noble to be envious. He had endured a bitter trial, and the sympathy of a true friend, like Sherman, was sweet to him. But not long could such a man as Grant dally with private griefs or private joys. The cause he loved was still in peril. The rebels were straining every nerve to counteract the operations of the national army. At Corinth they were gathering an overwhelming force to crush the army at Pittsburg Landing, and the restored commander could not waste a moment. Promptly he examined into the condition of his forces, and within an hour after his arrival he issued orders for their immediate concentration, for they were scattered about at several localities in the vicinity.

Grant, though relieved from disgrace, was still tethered by the will of his tyrant at St. Louis, who continually hampered him with instructions and prohibitions. His hands were tied; he was only a second in command. He was forbidden to do anything which should bring on a general battle, and was required merely to stand on the defensive. Though he was too good a soldier to disobey his orders, either in the letter or in the spirit, he chafed under the restraint. He had views of his own which he desired to carry out. Every day the strength of the enemy at Corinth [168]was increasing, and Grant was not permitted to do anything until the arrival of Buell, who was leisurely marching in that direction with forty thousand men.

Grant arrived at Pittsburg Landing March 17; but he established his headquarters at Savannah, nine miles below, in order to superintend the organization of troops arriving from Missouri, and because this point was more convenient for him to communicate with Buell. He visited the army daily, and kept himself thoroughly acquainted with all the details of the camp. But a question of rank having been raised at the front, he decided, two days before the great battle, to remove his headquarters to Pittsburg Landing, in order to obviate the difficulty. As he was about to carry out his purpose, he received a message from Buell, requesting him to remain at Savannah, where he should arrive on the following day, April 4. It was of the utmost consequence that he should see the commander of the army of the Cumberland at the earliest possible moment, for there had been frequent skirmishes along the line, and the period of actual operations could not be much longer delayed, even to please the autocrat at St. Louis.

Grant, having made his arrangements to meet Buell at Savannah on the 6th of April, went up to the camp. He rode to the front with Sherman, and both of them agreed that there was no danger of an immediate attack, though there had been a heavy reconnoissance by the enemy. As Grant was riding back to the Landing, his horse stumbled and fell, throwing his rider beneath him, and severely injuring him. He suffered great pain for several days, and was partially disabled for a week.


On Saturday, April 5, the cavalry of the rebels was very bold, but still it was not believed that a battle was imminent. The advance of Buell's army, in command of Nelson, arrived at Savannah on this day, and was sent up the river by General Grant, to a position five miles from Pittsburg Landing, on the other side of the Tennessee, in readiness to reënforce the army at the front. Grant was all ready to go to the scene of the expected battle, and only waited to keep his engagement with Buell.



Wherein Captain Galligasken views the illustrious Soldier in the Battle of Shiloh, and corrects some popular Errors in regard to that savage Fight.

In approaching the battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing, I find myself coming to a point which envy, jealousy, and misrepresentation have battered against with the utmost fury. No action of the war has been so little understood, none so grossly misstated, none so thoroughly and maliciously criticised. It was one of the severest, if not the severest conflict of the whole war; but more doubt and uncertainty seem to hang over it than over any other event connected with the history of the national arms during the rebellion. There is no good reason that its facts should be so grossly perverted, nor that any of its details should be concealed, or apologized for.

Viewing General Grant as the central figure in this tremendous conflict, every word he spoke was the right word, every movement he made was the right one. I find nothing in his conduct that needs to be excused, nothing to be explained, and nothing to be undone. As in every other battle of the war in which he was engaged, he was heroic, self-possessed, skilful, and, by his personal influence and exertions, saved the [171]hard-fought field on the first day. I do not mean to say that no mistakes were made; only that Grant did not make them. It is one of his crowning triumphs that he counteracted the errors of others, that he saved the army from the full consequences of the blunders, disobedience, and tardiness of subordinates, and of the partial demoralization among the raw troops. I am only surprised that we were not overwhelmed and driven into the Tennessee, instead of holding the ground at the end of that awful fight, which began at daylight and continued until night.

The national troops were posted on a line three miles in length, extending from a creek on the right to another on the left, each of which had overflowed its banks and effectually protected the flanks of the army. The Union troops numbered at the beginning of the battle thirty-three thousand men. At Crump's Landing, four miles distant, was General Lew Wallace's division of five thousand more.

The rebel troops were reported by Beauregard to be over forty thousand; but there were some discrepancies in his statements which render it probable that he magnified the results of the first day by understating his force. The forward movement of the Union army into the first heart of the Confederacy had startled the rebel leaders, and they had decided to make a gigantic effort to overwhelm the daring invaders. For this purpose General A.S. Johnston, the most accomplished soldier in the enemy's ranks, was sent to the scene of operations, with the most reliable troops in their army. Beauregard, who, in spite of his sensational style, was a very able soldier, whose name carried a prestige no [172]other rebel chief had won, was the leading spirit of the battle, while Hardee, Bragg, and Polk, all educated military men, were in command of divisions. On the other side, only Grant and Sherman were trained soldiers.

The Confederacy was smarting under its overwhelming defeat at Donelson. The boasted superiority of Southern soldiers had been disproved, and, in addition to the necessity of saving the rebel cause from the disaster of having its railway communications severed, lost honor and lost prestige were to be recovered. Never was an army more thoroughly stimulated to valor and desperation than that which was hurled upon the national lines at Pittsburg Landing. A stirring appeal had been issued by General Johnston, in which he inflamed the zeal of the soldiers to the highest pitch, pointing out to them the bitter results of defeat, all of which were fully realized in the ultimate issue. Everything which could rouse the men to desperation in the approaching fight was done with unsparing energy. Thus goaded to madness by the hopes and fears of the future, the confident army of the Mississippi marched out of Corinth, under Johnston, three days before the great battle.

The Union generals were on the alert, and during the three days that the armies confronted each other there was much heavy skirmishing. On the morning of Sunday, the first day of the battle, Prentiss, in the centre of the line, sent out a regiment at three o'clock to reconnoitre the position of the enemy. He had doubled his pickets on Saturday, thus carefully guarding himself against the possibility of a surprise. On [173]Friday, the day on which he was injured by the fall of his horse, Grant was at the front with Sherman, to make sure that every preparation had been made to receive a sudden attack, though none was yet expected.

At five o'clock in the morning the regiment Prentiss had sent out engaged the advance pickets of the rebels, which Beauregard declares was the commencement of the fight, when Johnston gave orders to begin the movement. My excellent friend Mr. Pollard, in "The Lost Cause," says, "The magnificent army was moving forward to the deadly conflict; but the enemy"—the national troops—"scarcely gave time to discuss the question of attack, for soon after dawn he commenced a rapid fire on the Confederate pickets."

Some envious, hypercritical Union men made the astonishing discovery that Sherman, the old soldier, who had been skirmishing for three days with the enemy, was surprised; but happily the rebels themselves have not found it out to this day. If ever an army was wide awake at an early hour in the morning, that army was Grant's at Shiloh. When the enemy came, they found the nationals in force at the camps, and in their advanced positions, and "in strong force along almost the entire line," according to their own acknowledgment.

The onslaught was as fierce and terrible as the zeal of Johnston's inflammatory appeal. The troops of Prentiss were raw and inexperienced; they gave way, but formed again within their camp. Sherman's troops were also new, and failed him in the critical moment, though it was hardly to be wondered at that [174]any troops should yield before that impetuous assault of superior numbers. But the weak places in the line were strengthened, and the ground was doggedly disputed, after the recoil of the first tremendous shock. The battle raged with horrid fury along the entire line.

Grant himself was at Savannah, in accordance with his engagement. He was taking an early breakfast with his staff in order to be in readiness to ride out and meet the commander of the army of the Ohio. The scene of hostilities was nine miles distant, and the sound of the booming guns reached his anxious ears. He wrote a hasty note to Buell, informing him that the battle had begun, and that, instead of meeting him, he must hasten up the river to join his forces.

Taking a steamer at the shore, he sped on his way to the scene of the strife, only stopping a moment at Crump's Landing, to leave his orders with General Lew Wallace, in anticipation of an emergency. Hurrying on, he arrived at Pittsburg Landing at eight o'clock, and instantly dashed to the front, as fast as horse could carry him. The condition of the battle was not hopeful, but Grant went to work with his accustomed zeal and energy. Messages were sent to Wallace and Nelson to hasten forward their troops; wagon loads of ammunition were ordered up to the front, stragglers and panic-stricken files of men were reorganized, and every effort made to save the day.

Some six or eight thousand men were demoralized by the savageness of the conflict; but in spite of this mortifying fact, the line remained unbroken: indeed, only once during the day was it penetrated. Thinned [175]as it was by the misconduct of a fourth part of the troops, it still permitted no opening for the enemy. The contest had become a hand-to-hand fight, in which personal prowess and valor were to win the day. It was only a question of pluck and endurance. Grant was everywhere, encouraging the faithful, and stimulating the recreant.

Anxiously did the hard-pressed line wait the coming of the expected reenforcements; but neither Nelson nor Wallace appeared in season to render any efficient service. Step by step, inch by inch, the national line was forced back, until darkness suspended the conflict. Johnston had fallen; Beauregard was in command; and again and again did he hurl his forces against the Union line: still it remained firm to the last, and still it held the battle-field in spite of the ground it had lost.

My friend Pollard almost curses Beauregard for not striking the final blow in this sharp battle; but doubtless that distinguished rebel knew what he was about better than any civilian could teach him. He was fond enough of display and sensation to finish up the battle if it had been possible. He had found, after fighting the national forces from early dawn, what it was made of, and, with the remotest hope of driving the army of Grant into the river, he would not have given the order to withdraw beyond the enemy's fire.

Though a portion of the army of the Tennessee misbehaved before the enemy, it was not routed, nor, as an army, demoralized. Technically, according to Sherman, it had gained the victory: it had certainly repulsed the attack. It had not been driven into the [176]river, and there was no thought of surrender. No transports were sent for; no attempt to bridge the river was made, in order to retreat and escape. The fiery zeal, the mad enthusiasm, of the Confederates had carried them through one of the severest fights of the war. The advantage, but not the victory, was with them. It was a drawn battle.

As the conflict was suspended, Grant gave orders for his army to attack on the following morning. Before Buell's main army was heard from, even before Nelson's division had crossed the river, he had decided to renew the fight at an early hour the next day, making the attack himself! It was wicked for my friend Pollard to reproach his friend Beauregard for not annihilating such a man; for not giving the finishing blow to an army which was at that moment making its calculations to attack with the next daylight.

After dark, in the midst of a pelting storm, almost worn out by the heavy burdens of that day, and still suffering from the injuries he had received by the fall of his horse, Grant went to the headquarters of each general of division, assigned to him his position, and gave him particular orders for the resumption of the battle at daylight. At midnight he had completed his rounds, and returned to the Landing, where he lay down upon the soaked ground, with his head on a stump for a pillow, and slept soundly till morning. He was completely drenched with the rain, but he was confident of the victory on the morrow, and no discomfort was too great for him to endure in the holy cause in which he had embarked.

While he slept, the two gunboats in the river kept [177]up their fire over his head, throwing shells into the rebel lines. It is a popular idea that these gunboats saved the Union army from total destruction; that without them the heroes of that hard-fought battle would have been obliged to surrender, or be driven into the river. The men saved and protected themselves by their strong right hands, though doubtless the gunboats rendered considerable assistance. Even Pollard, who generally has a proper respect for these terrible engines of war, says their fire was terrific in sound, but did no damage.

A mile from the camp the wounded of the army lay in the agony of their suffering. Nothing could be done for them, for they were within the enemy's line. The exhausted troops slept on their arms, pelted by the fierce tempest of the elements at night, as they had been by the bullets of a savage foe through all the long day. They were safe, or they could not have slept. Most of them had performed miracles of valor, in strong contrast with the cowards who had fled.

Sherman had been wounded several times, and had three horses shot under him. He had fought his own division and that of an inexperienced general near him. His personal influence, backed up by his personal heroism, had kept the line firm and united under the fierce onslaughts of the enemy. Grant commended him on the battle-field for his noble exertions, and there can be no doubt that, in the morning, Sherman had saved the day.

At half past four in the afternoon, after the conflict had been raging almost incessantly for twelve hours, [178]it reached the culminating point of its fierceness. Grant sat on his horse, calm, unmoved, and grand in his thoughtful silence. The cannon roared fearfully on the left, and seemed to be approaching nearer, as though the rebels were successful in their attempt to flank the entire position, so as to cut off the retreat of the nationals.

"Doesn't the prospect begin to look gloomy?" said an officer at his side, just as another was killed within a few feet of him.

"Not at all," replied Grant, quietly. "They can't force our lines around these batteries to-night—it is too late. Delay counts everything with us. Tomorrow we shall attack them with fresh troops, and drive them, of course."

During the night, Buell's divisions arrived, were ferried over the river, and placed in line for the battle of the next day. It is almost a pity that it can never be known what Grant would have done without these reënforcements, though, for my own part, I am entirely satisfied that the result would have been the same. I am quite sure that he had impressed himself upon his officers and men in such a manner as to win the victory by the plan he had laid down. His genius would have found a way to overcome all obstacles, for his will was as resolute at night as in the morning.

After the battle, General Buell, in a kindly way, indulged in some criticisms on Grant's policy of fighting with the Tennessee in his rear.

"Where could you have retreated if you had been beaten, general?" asked Buell.


"I didn't mean to be beaten," replied Grant.

"But suppose you had been beaten in spite of all your exertions."

"Well, there were all the transports to convey the remains of the command across the river."

"But, general, your whole number of transports would not accommodate more than ten thousand men, and you had thirty thousand engaged," persisted Buell.

"Well, if I had been beaten, transportation for ten thousand would have been abundant for all there would have been left of us."

Such was the spirit of the man in the midst of the gigantic difficulties which surrounded him. Demoralized troops, the tardiness of his reënforcements, and the incapacity of some of his officers, failed to overwhelm him. He rose above all obstacles, and looked confidently to victory, even in the darkest hour of that desperate fight.

It ought to be added, in justice to our army, that "straggling" was not confined to their ranks. The enemy suffered quite as much from this evil, in spite of Johnston's stirring appeal. Bragg, in his report, mentions the fact that the rebel ranks "were thinned by killed, wounded, and stragglers, amounting in the whole to nearly one half our force." The unparalleled length and severity of the contest may, to some extent, explain this defection on both sides. But the result of the day proved that, in pluck and endurance, the Northern army was the equal, if not the superior, of its rival.



Wherein Captain Galligasken finishes the Battle of Shiloh, and sympathizes with the illustrious Soldier in his unmerited Disgrace while he is waiting, waiting, before Corinth.

The rebels had no intimation of the arrival of Buell's army, and though they had lost one half of their force in the battle of the first day, they stood their ground. If my innocent friend Mr. Pollard really believed that it only required a smart dash to finish the army of the Union, he must severely censure Beauregard for not following up his advantage, not knowing that Buell had effected a junction with the army of the Tennessee. If Beauregard himself believed the sensational report he wrote of the battle, he would have made haste to drive his beaten foe into the river. He was an early riser on emergencies like this, but he does not seem to have had any fears that Grant would attempt to escape in his alleged broken and helpless condition!

The rebel general knew better than he wrote, and his actions speak louder than his words. He had lost half his army, according to his own confession, which was a much greater loss in proportion to the force engaged than the national army sustained. He had [181]been repeatedly repulsed during the preceding day, and he was in no hurry to resume the conflict.

The battle of Monday commenced on the left and centre by the advance of Nelson's fresh troops. The rebels fought well, notwithstanding the fatigues of the previous day, and gallantly disputed every inch of ground. The scene of Sunday was repeated, with the results reversed. Slowly and steadily the Confederates were forced back, until all the lost ground had been recovered. General Buell was in the field, and exhibited the most conspicuous gallantry and skill.

At two o'clock in the afternoon the repulse of the rebels was complete, and they had been driven from the battle-field. Before dark they were five miles from Grant's front line on Sunday morning. Towards night a regiment of Union troops was hard pressed by the enemy, in their efforts to capture a certain position which it was desirable to possess. The rebels, intent upon holding the point, had brought a heavy force to bear upon their assailants, and the regiment had begun to give way. Grant saw the struggles of the overmatched Union men, and deemed it of the highest importance to capture the position.

An Ohio regiment, marching across the field, attracted his attention. He immediately halted it, and, leading the way himself, ordered the men to charge in support of the overpowered force. They recognized Grant, and shouting with enthusiasm, promptly obeyed the command. He led them into the battle himself, more exposed in person than any private in the ranks. The breaking line, seeing their general bringing assistance to them in this impressive manner, [182]close up their files, and with thundering cheers the two regiments went into the fight, driving the enemy before them, and securing the last position on the field.

The battle was ended, and the day was won. Grant, desirous of fighting the battle "through," expressed his wishes to two of Buell's division commanders; but they protested that their men were exhausted by their long march, and were in no condition to pursue the fleeing host, and Grant was reluctantly compelled to content himself with the finale he had already achieved; though a portion of Sherman's command followed the rebels a short distance on the road to Corinth.

The entire loss of the national army in this bloody fight, in killed, wounded, and missing, was twelve thousand two hundred and seventeen. This number included the loss in the army of the Ohio. Beauregard reported his total loss at ten thousand seven hundred; but he made a mistake in his footings somewhere. Both he and Bragg declare that the rebels could put only twenty thousand of the force they reported on Sunday into the field for the second day's battle, which leaves a like number to be accounted for on the first day's engagement. His loss was heavy on the second day. He must have had at least fifteen thousand stragglers and deserters, according to his own statements, or his loss was much greater than he reported.

According to General Sherman, who ought to be regarded as the highest authority, the battle of Shiloh was fought for prestige. The rebels had marched out of Corinth, three days before, with the finest army [183]they could gather, with the ablest and most experienced officers in their service in command, to overwhelm the "Northern hordes." They had fought with a pluck and persistency, nay, with a savage ferocity, which certainly had not been equalled at that time, and has not since been surpassed. They were met with a correspondent obstinacy on the part of the national forces.

"It was a contest for manhood," says Sherman—"man to man, soldier to soldier. We fought and held our ground, and therefore counted ourselves victorious. From that time forward we had with us the prestige. The battle was worth millions and millions to us by reason of the fact of the courage displayed by the brave soldiers on that occasion; and from that time to this, I have not heard of the first want of courage on the part of our Northern soldiers."

Thus said Sherman; and what he said Grant felt, as he showed in every movement he made. To have lost that battle would have been to lose vastly more than the field on which it was fought, and the attendant military advantages which it secured. The grand lesson which all our commanders had to learn was taught in this tremendous battle—that, where the two armies were so equally matched in the material of which their soldiers were composed, and in the military skill which their officers brought into the field, great victories were to be achieved only by hard fighting.

I have often heard Grant called a "butcher." I have often heard it revilingly said of him that he won his battles by mere brute force. On my honor and [184]conscience as a soldier and a student of the solemn lessons of history, I believe that Grant, in the matter of the expenditure of human life, was the most economical commander which the War of the Rebellion produced. When he fought a battle, he won a victory from the very first to the very last. He did not waste a single precious life in all his campaigns. The manes of no slaughtered hero can rise up against him, saying, "You sacrificed me in a vain and foolish battle, wherein nothing was gained, but much was lost. By your timidity and weakness, by your vacillation and penny-wise wisdom, you gave that to the enemy for which I fought and died." Not thus can the ghost of the murdered patriots reproach Grant.

If five thousand noble and brave men died to win Shiloh and the prestige which lighted up our banners from that glorious day, they also died to save twenty thousand who would have been sacrificed in a more protracted struggle, without that inspiration of victory which blazed along the path of the army to Vicksburg, to Atlanta and Chattanooga, and which was borne from the West to the East with the glorious hero who had kindled it in the souls of the soldiers.

In giving up the lives of thousands of willing heroes he saved the lives of tens of thousands. This was true economy, and this was Grant's policy, solemnly chosen, after a broad view of the situation and the fullest consideration of the awful responsibility which rests upon the commander of an army. I believe he covenanted with the nation, before God, wisely and prudently to expend the blessed lives placed in his keeping. He is a gentle and humane man, incapable of [185]revelling in the flow of blood. I repeat emphatically that every life lost beneath his victorious banner was a life which purchased its share in the nation's redemption and peace.

As I have said before, no battle has been more thoroughly misrepresented than that of Shiloh. In spite of the heroic and masterly operations of Grant, in spite of the success which crowned his arms, he was systematically vilified and abused. My blood boils with indignation as I think of it, that he, the brilliant soldier, the most successful commander even then upon the arena of battle, should be foully and basely maligned by his inferiors and his superiors. It is mortifying to think that his stanch friend, but former political opponent, Mr. Washburne, found it necessary to defend the hero of Fort Donelson and Shiloh on the floor of Congress, though it is pleasant to know that he did it effectually and enthusiastically—in just such a spirit as I would have done it had I been there.

Grant was accused of bad generalship, of incompetency, of being a butcher, a drunkard, and a sheep-stealer, for aught I know. His generalship was certainly of a different order from that which had been exhibited to the waiting nation by the commanders of the Union, who marched, countermarched, felt of the enemy, and then retired to recruit for three or six months, rarely fighting a battle, unless compelled to do so by the pertinacity of the enemy. It was Grant's policy to attack, and not wait to be attacked—his policy from the beginning to the end; and with what success it was attended is known now if it was not then.


Cowards and poltroons who had deserted the ranks at Shiloh told exaggerated tales of the misfortunes of the battle. They were frightened and demoralized—Grant was not. Those who believed in carrying on war as a game of chess is played stood aghast at the real battle which the hero fought. But his mode of operations will appear so decidedly advantageous in contrast with that which immediately followed under the leadership of one who believed only in "brilliant strategy," in chess-board movements, that it is not necessary to dwell upon his defence.

Kid-glove critics, civilian correspondents of newspapers, and the advocates of the checker-board theory, howled because Grant established his camp on the left, instead of the right, bank of the Tennessee—on the same side as the enemy, instead of on the opposite side. Certainly the eastern shore was the safe side; but the invincible conqueror went down in Tennessee for the purpose of capturing Corinth, and breaking the line of the rebel railroad communication, and he had no idea of posting himself where he could not get at the enemy. He knew very well that he was able to defend himself; and when he fought the great battle, though the enemy brought it on, he fought it for the possession of Corinth; and if he had had his own way, he would have taken Corinth within a fortnight after Shiloh. The position was selected by General C.F. Smith, the veteran soldier; it was indorsed and retained by Grant; and the result fully justifies his course.

The personal habits of the hero were maliciously stated to be bad. It was affirmed that he was a [187]drunkard—that he was intoxicated in the field. Mr. Washburne was able to say at that time, "There is no more temperate man in the army than General Grant. He never indulges in the use of intoxicating liquors at all. He is an example of courage, honor, fortitude, activity, temperance, and modesty; for he is as modest as he is brave and incorruptible."

I have before shown that Grant was not surprised—for if his army had been surprised, the fault would have been as justly chargeable to him as though he had been personally present on the ground. He had been to the front himself the night before and examined the situation; he had placed Sherman—the tried and the true as he knew him then—in the most advanced position. Grant himself says, "As to the talk of our being surprised, nothing could be more false. If the enemy had sent us word where and when they would attack, we could not have been better prepared."

It was undeniable that the brave general, the successful commander, was again under a cloud. All the false rumors were in time disproved; but if there had been no malignant, jealous enemies, dreading a total eclipse of their own farthing candles in his department, the country would have believed in Grant after Shiloh, as they did after Donelson. An effort was made to relieve him entirely from command, and to extinguish the star which was steadily rising.

General Halleck painfully went through the necessary form of thanking Generals Grant and Buell for their conduct at Shiloh, and immediately repaired to the scene of operations to take command of the united [188]armies of Grant and Buell in person, now called "The Grand Army of the Tennessee." It was largely reënforced, and numbered one hundred and twenty thousand men. It was divided into three corps, under Thomas, Pope, and Buell, with McClernand in the reserve. Grant was nominally in command of the Tennessee district; but his army was placed beyond his control, and orders were transmitted to his subordinates without any knowledge on his part of their purport.

Grant was second in command, without power or influence in the camp. Halleck consoled him with a sarcastic bit of philosophy, declaring that the second in command, in case the chief was killed, ought not to be embarrassed with the immediate control of a body of troops. Grant did not appreciate the situation, and evidently believed that there was no danger of his superior's falling in battle. The man who had won Donelson and Shiloh so heroically could not be winked entirely out of sight, or doubtless he would not have been permitted to retain even a complimentary position. Grant was practically in disgrace, and was so regarded in the army. His situation was intensely disagreeable, and nothing but his unselfish devotion to the cause prevented him from retiring in disgust from the field where he was insultingly ignored.

The grand army of the Tennessee, under Halleck, felt its way, behind a series of intrenchments, to a position in front of Corinth, using up six weeks in a progress of fifteen miles. Probably Beauregard at Corinth had seventy thousand men, though he stated his force as below fifty. The grand army was evi[189]dently superior in numbers, and both officers and men were anxious to strike a blow, confident of their ability to annihilate the rebel army. It made our blood boil to see these glorious opportunities slipping away from us. Halleck only waited and waited for the rebels to come out and attack him; but Beauregard had been educated up to the point of prudence by Grant, and he stuck to his works as closely as Halleck did. In a word, while Grant was shelved as a second in command, the farce of Manassas was repeated to the satisfaction of the admiring rebels, and to the disgust and mortification of the loyal people.

But Grant was not idle, cipher as he was in the army. He watched the enemy, and found, with unerring skill, the weak point in their line of intrenchments. He shared the general feeling of impatience which pervaded the army, and ventured to suggest to General Halleck that an assault at the point indicated, followed up by a general movement, would be successful. Halleck scouted the idea, and crustily told Grant that when his suggestions were wanted, they would be called for.

All this time Beauregard was studying up a plan to escape without the knowledge of the besiegers. On the 30th of May, after the grand army had been nearly two months rusting in inactivity, the cunning rebel made a deceptive movement, and the mighty general, hoodwinked and deceived, deeming an attack imminent, drew up in line of battle his vast army, the largest ever gathered in the West, and made elaborate preparations to defend himself. But not a gun opened upon him, not a rebel was to be seen.


Beauregard, with wonderful skill and prudence, had fled from the toils of the overwhelming force on his front, leaving his wooden guns on the ramparts where they had confounded General Halleck. Corinth was evacuated, and the wily rebel had saved his army! General Halleck marched in triumph into Corinth!



Wherein Captain Galligasken treats of the Corinth Campaign, and admiringly calls Attention to the splendid Abilities of the illustrious Soldier as a District Commander.

During the quiet repose of the grand army of the Tennessee before Corinth, events of vast importance had transpired in the West and South. Island No. 10 had been captured by the indomitable flag-officer Foote; New Orleans had been taken by the tremendous operations of Farragut. In the East, Fort Pulaski had been battered down, Fredericksburg captured; Fort Macon had fallen, following Burnside's success in North Carolina; and Huntsville, Alabama, was occupied by General Mitchell. McClellan had at last commenced a hopeful forward movement with the army of the Potomac. With vast armies in the East and in the West, with strong naval forces ascending and descending the Mississippi towards its obstructed points, the national cause looked exceedingly promising as the summer of 1862 opened. But the promise was not realized. The summer sun glared on many a lost battle in the East, though the conquest was uninterrupted in the West.

Halleck made no efficient pursuit of the enemy after [192]they had abandoned Corinth. Beauregard had been successfully hiding his weakness from his prudent checker-board adversary, and, understanding his man, outwitted him completely and handsomely. Grant had fought and won Corinth, whether it was occupied in a week or in two months. He had taught the vaunting rebels a lesson by which Halleck was too willing to profit, as he peacefully pursued his siege operations till the 1st of June. Buell was a prudent man, and he was sent out to catch the retreating and demoralized foe. Pope had been despatched on the same errand; but their united forces accomplished nothing. During this time, Grant remained at Corinth. The grand army was then broken up, and Buell sent in the direction of Chattanooga. From Shiloh the vast army marched up the hill and then marched down again, in humble imitation of the King of France in the nursery rhyme. Nothing was done except what Grant had accomplished.

By the continued successes of the flotilla on the Mississippi, Memphis, after a brilliant naval engagement, fell into the hands of the Union force. Grant, as the commander of the Tennessee district, established his headquarters at this city. Pope was ordered to Virginia, to supersede Fremont, where he established his celebrated "headquarters in the saddle."

McClellan had gradually felt his way down to the vicinity of Richmond, when the rebels, out of patience with him, fell upon his forces, and drove him to the shelter of the gunboats on the James, after his glorious army had fought some of the most brilliant defensive battles of the war. The country cried out against [193]him for this delay, derided his use of the pick and shovel, and unhorsed him because he neglected his opportunities. While he was still resting from his hard-fought but useless battles, the government removed him from his position of general-in-chief, and assigned General Halleck to his place, probably on account of his brilliant operations before Corinth, where he had played through the farce of "regular approaches," though with none of the tragic features which attended it before Richmond.

Halleck was now in power, and one of his first acts, even before he left for Washington, was to offer the command of the army of the Tennessee to Colonel Allen, a quartermaster. This gentleman, who was to be promoted to the required rank, to enable him to accept the command, had the good sense to decline it, and Grant was permitted to retain his position. He was deprived of nearly his entire force, and left to maintain a defensive position. He made his headquarters at Corinth, protecting the railroad communications, and holding what had before been gained. He spent the summer in this manner, though with enough to do to keep him busy, for he was continually harassed and threatened by the enemy under Van Dorn and Price.

Halleck, in his new capacity of general-in-chief, had his hands full in attending to McClellan and Pope. Grant seems to have been forgotten, and was thereby permitted to manage the affairs of his district without being hampered with instructions. The North was in danger of invasion in Maryland, rendered possible by the disastrous battles of Pope, and in Ohio by [194]the rebel army under General Bragg, who had out-generaled the prudent and deliberate Buell. In these emergencies, Grant's men were taken from him, till the smallness of his force afforded even him no little anxiety.

Van Dorn, in command of the rebels in this section, ordered Price to seize Iuka, which was done. Van Dorn himself was four days' march to the south-west, threatening Corinth. Grant wished to overwhelm Price at Iuka, without exposing Corinth to capture by Van Dorn. He sent out two columns, one under Rosecrans and the other under Ord, to accomplish this purpose. A sharp battle followed, but the intention to capture Price's army failed, on account of a delay of one of the columns in reaching the point of attack. The rebels escaped, and effected a junction with Van Dorn.

Placing Rosecrans in command of Corinth, Grant established his headquarters at Jackson, Tennessee, where he could better control the affairs of his district. On the 2d of October, the rebels united all their forces in this vicinity, and attacked Corinth, making a good fight, and gaining decided advantages; but in the end they were defeated, and the place saved. The force of the enemy was double that of Rosecrans, who behaved with distinguished gallantry. The defensive works which had been erected under Grant's direction proved to be of immense service, and showed that the general who had been severely criticised for neglecting them before knew when and where to use them—knew when they were necessary, and where they were a hinderance.


Grant had marked out this campaign himself; and though the battle of Corinth had been fought, and the rebels defeated, there was to be a sequel to the affair. Reading the intention of the foe to attack his strong place, he sent McPherson with a brigade to the assistance of Rosecrans; but he arrived only in season to witness the conclusion of the fight, being obliged to make a detour in order to effect his junction. Grant, with his usual confidence in the success of his combinations, had also sent Generals Ord and Hurlbut, each with a brigade, to punish still further the audacious foe in his retreat. He had notified Rosecrans of his plan, and directed him to follow up the retreating enemy vigorously, as well to insure his complete discomfiture, as to save either Ord or Hurlbut from being separately overwhelmed by a superior force. But these two commanders had joined their brigades, and Ord posted the whole so as to cover a bridge on the Hatchie River.

Van Dorn's column pushed on, and its advance crossed the bridge, when Ord's force attacked vigorously, and immediately routed it. A battery of artillery and several hundred men were captured, and the advance scattered, many of the rebels being drowned in their attempt to cross the river. Ord held the bridge, but had not strength enough to attack the entire rebel army, which he compelled to retrace its steps, and seek another bridge six miles distant. Unfortunately, Ord was wounded in the conflict, and Hurlbut, who succeeded to the command, did not deem it prudent even to harass the fleeing rebels in the rear or on the flanks.


Rosecrans permitted his men, weary after their two days' hard fight, to rest till the next morning, when he started to obey Grant's order. Then he mistook his road, marched eight miles in the wrong direction, but he corrected his error, and marched towards the Hatchie. He was behind time, having disregarded the order of Grant to march the day before, arriving at the bridge, where the rebels had crossed, just as the rear-guard was going over. Had he obeyed his orders, he would have fallen on Van Dorn's rear, while his front was engaged with Ord; and nothing could have saved the rebel army from total destruction. Grant decided that the favorable moment had passed, and he ordered Rosecrans back to his post.

These movements relieved West Tennessee from any further peril at the present time. The rebels had been whipped at Iuka, at Corinth, and at the Hatchie. All these movements and all these victories were achieved under the direction of Grant. The success of these operations was gratifying, though not all it would have been if the general had selected his own subordinates, as he did subsequently in a wider sphere. If Grant had any fault as a soldier in the field, it was the result of the amiability of his character, which prompted him to save the feelings of others, even at the expense of his own reputation. He was not always obeyed, because he was not a stormy and demonstrative man, because he did not bluster and put on airs. There was nothing personally imposing or grand in him, and the officers of the army estimated him too low—so low that some of them evaded his orders.


But Grant could be terribly severe, terribly just, when the emergencies of the service demanded, when his devotion to the glorious cause he had espoused required it. During his brief sojourn in Memphis, which was the very hotbed of treason and treachery, he breathed the spirit of loyalty to the government into the souls of the rebels, who did not scruple to carry on war by divers underhand methods within the still hostile city. No letters not examined by the provost marshal could be carried out of town without subjecting the offender to arrest. Arms and ammunition were prohibited from being taken out of the city, or carried within it, on severe penalty. As these orders failed to suppress the illicit traffic with foes outside of the lines, all passes were refused, except to such as took the oath of allegiance, or parole. As Confederate officers and soldiers found opportunities to communicate with their families in Memphis, thereby obtaining important military information, the families of all such were banished beyond the lines. This order included the connections of other specified persons in the Confederate government, and there was not much room left for rebel sympathizers to operate.

As a check upon guerrillas, who were doing much mischief, Grant authorized reprisals upon the personal property of those in the vicinity who were in sympathy with the rebellion, to an extent sufficient to remunerate the government for all losses by their depredations. A bitter partisan organ, the Memphis Avalanche, which published incendiary and treasonable articles, was promptly suppressed. He took possession of unoccupied premises belonging to persons [198]absent and in arms against the government, rented them, and paid the proceeds into the treasury of the United States. For the benefit of the fugitive negroes, who crowded into his lines, he issued humane and just orders, particularly defining the manner in which they should be employed and paid. Persons from the South who were willing to bluster, but not to fight, for the Confederacy, and hastened to Memphis to escape the remorseless rebel conscription, were made liable to draft.

In dealing with the troops under his own command, Grant was just and humane; but "bumming" and marauding on private account were prohibited. When the soldiers, in some instances, disobeyed the strict orders on this subject, the value of property taken or destroyed by them was charged to the account of their regiment, and deducted from their pay, if the offenders could not be discovered.

In dealing with civil affairs, in the multitudinous details which come within the scope of a department commander, he displayed a decided talent and ability to adjust the most difficult matters. He always knew where he was, and what to do. For every difficulty he had a remedy; for every infraction of law or discipline he had a check. In the management of the trying affairs of a military district, which has so frequently proved to be the severest demand upon the wisdom, skill, and patience of the soldier holding it under martial law, he displayed the highest order of ability. His judgment, tact, and discretion would have been more than creditable in one who had spent a lifetime in the study and practice of the principles [199]of political economy, or who had served a long apprenticeship as a magistrate. Without being a politician, he was a statesman.

But Grant had hardly made his mark yet, and, except as the hero of Donelson and Shiloh, he was scarcely known to the country, before which he was soon to stand as the foremost man of his time. I watched Grant at Memphis, I watched him at Corinth and at Jackson, as he controlled the difficult details of his department, kept the rebel civilians in subjection, and directed his forces to certain conquest, and I would rather have been Ulysses S. Grant than my illustrious ancestor Sir Bernard Galligasken, whose knightly prowess and whose glittering title had early tickled my imagination. Even then I loved the man, and almost adored him, as I realized that a brilliant destiny was in store for him.

As far back as May, 1862, when McClellan had only proved that he was great as the organizer of an army,—and it must be conceded that he has not since proved any more than this,—my excellent friend Mr. Washburne, in his noble speech in Congress, deemed it expedient to use these remarkable words: "Let no gentleman have any fears of General Grant. He is no candidate for the presidency." Surely with only the lustre of Donelson and Shiloh reflected upon him, he never thought of aspiring to that magnificent position. Why was it necessary, when the illustrious soldier had only taken a couple of steps towards fame, to make this astounding declaration? Was it seen even then that he was a probable or a possible candidate in the future? The noble-minded [200]and patriotic representative made this declaration to save Grant from the persecution of the wire-pullers, whose friends, the possible candidates, would be damaged by the appearance of a new aspirant, who, with a fitness for the office, added thereto the merit of availability. It was well for the politicians to take the bull by the horns, but they might as well attempt to nullify the laws of nature as to defeat the will of the people.

Grant had then no thought of being president. His modesty, if nothing else, would have forbidden the aspiration. He was a pure patriot then, as he is now; and the only consideration with him was to suppress the rebellion. He never "pulled the wires," even for a brigadier's commission, which was not above the ambition of thousands of fourth-rate politicians. He was ready to serve the country in any capacity, obeyed his orders, and quietly submitted to disgrace and insult for the good of the cause. The people are not blind. They see and know their man.



Wherein Captain Galligasken shows how six Months were spent around Vicksburg by the illustrious Soldier, and how the President rather liked the Man, and thought he would try him a little longer.

The second line of rebel defences had been broken. Memphis, Corinth, and the towns on the Tennessee River, in Northern Alabama, connecting links in the chain, were in possession of the national forces. But Buell had failed in his expedition to East Tennessee. He had made no impression upon Chattanooga; he had been beaten at Perrysville, and had been superseded by Rosecrans.

After the departure of General Halleck from the West to act as general-in-chief, Grant was left virtually in charge of the department of the Tennessee, and discharged all the duties of that important position. On the 16th of October, 1862, he was formally assigned to the command, and near the close of the month issued his order to that effect, and defined the limits of his jurisdiction. Very soon after, he proposed to Halleck to commence a movement upon Vicksburg; and this was the first mention which had been [202]made by either of them of this important point. But Grant meekly and modestly added that he was ready to do with all his might whatever his superior, should order, and without criticism, which, I humbly submit, was a magnificent position for a man of his enlarged and comprehensive views to take, for most of our generals believed they were nothing unless they were critical. He was a grand exception, and we do not, in a single instance, outside of the line of his duty, find him analyzing and carping at the operations of others.

Vicksburg was now the objective point, for Halleck gave the commander of the department of the Tennessee full power and permission to carry out his own plans and purposes in his own way. From this time there was no clashing between the two generals. They heartily supported each other, as Grant had always been willing to do, and Halleck afforded him every assistance and encouragement in his power. It is possible that he had received a new revelation in regard to the abilities of the hero of Donelson and Shiloh; that Grant's exhibition of his skill in constructing earthworks at Corinth had won the heart of the general-in-chief, or that his handsome strategic movements in the operations which had included Iuka, Corinth, and the Hatchie had demonstrated the fact that he was not a mere bull-dog thirsting for blood, and without any perception of military tact and skill. It was rather late for Halleck to learn this; but to his honor and glory let it be said, that he no longer permitted himself to be a stumbling-block in the path of his subordinate; that he fairly and squarely sustained him in his grand enterprises.


From the beginning of the war the Confederacy had been fully alive to the vital importance of the Mississippi River. From Columbus to the Gulf it had been fortified and protected by every means which the skill and resources of the South could afford. Forts Jackson and St. Philip guarded its lower part, and covered New Orleans; though these were nullified by the daring of Farragut, and the city fell early in the war. But there were half a dozen other "Gibraltars" on its long line—Columbus, Island No. 10, Fort Pillow, Memphis, Vicksburg, and Port Hudson. Foote had used up Island No. 10, after the rebels were compelled to evacuate Columbus. Fort Pillow and Memphis had yielded before the persuasive force of the naval squadron, and only Vicksburg and Port Hudson were left to dispute the passage of the great river. Between these two points the enemy, depending almost wholly upon Texas for its supplies of cattle, ferried them over, and by the line of railroads from Vicksburg to Charleston, not yet approached by the national arms, were enabled still to send food to all their armies in the east and south.

Bold Farragut had passed the batteries at Port Hudson with his squadron, and sailed up to Vicksburg, more than five hundred miles from the Gulf. Here he had bombarded the strong works which protected the city; but as they were planted on high bluffs, all the advantage was in favor of the enemy, and the result was not a success. The troops which accompanied him under General Williams attempted to open the canal, which was to form a new bed for the river, and enable the fleet to pass the city. But [204]this scheme also failed, and though a part of the squadron ran the gantlet of the batteries, and joined the naval force above the city, the expedition was obliged to return to New Orleans to escape the diseases incident to the climate.

About the 1st of November Grant initiated his movement in the direction of Vicksburg. Commencing on the line of defence which had just been wrested from the rebels, there was a railroad extending from Memphis to Grenada. Fifty miles east of Memphis, from near La Grange, on the railroad extending east and west, was another line to the south—the Mississippi Central—which also went to Grenada, where the two roads meeting extended to Jackson, forty miles east of Vicksburg, and thence to New Orleans. Both of these roads crossed the Tallahatchie River, a branch of the Yazoo, which flowed into the Mississippi a few miles above Vicksburg. Grant's plan was to move down upon these lines of railway, depending upon them in his rear for supplies.

Pemberton, who was in command of Vicksburg and the forces which were covering it in the State of Mississippi, was holding the railroad, and made the Tallahatchie River his line of defence. On the 4th of November, Grant took possession of La Grange, near the Central Railroad, driving the Confederate advance to Holly Springs, about twenty miles farther south.

While Grant moved in this direction, Sherman started from Memphis, and another force was moved out from Helena to coöperate with him. Grant proceeded on the railroad, captured Holly Springs, and [205]made it his depot of supplies, placing it in charge of Colonel Murphy. Continuing on his victorious path, the enemy abandoned Abbeville, and the line of the Tallahatchie, without a battle, and were finally driven into Grenada, with the Yallabusha River as their line of defence. Here the commander proposed to hold the rebels, and send an army from Memphis to make the direct attack upon Vicksburg. For this purpose Sherman was sent back, with directions to organize the expedition, and procure the coöperation of the squadron under Admiral Porter.

Sherman executed his orders with his usual decision. With one hundred and twenty-seven steamers, and a flotilla of gunboats for his protection, he went down the river, and debarked his force at Johnston's Landing, near the mouth of the Yazoo.

In the mean time, Van Dorn fell upon Holly Springs, surprised the garrison, and captured the place, with all the supplies which had been accumulated for the support of the advancing army. Colonel Murphy, in command, made no resistance whatever. By this sad and unexpected blow, inflicted by the imbecility or treachery of a single officer, the entire plan of the campaign was defeated. Grant, with his army, was in the heart of the enemy's country. His communications were cut in several places behind him; his base of supplies was lost, and his stores destroyed. The success of the experiment of subsisting upon the enemy had not been demonstrated then, and sorely chagrined and disappointed, the progressive general was obliged to retrace his steps. It was a bitter day to him. Murphy was promptly dismissed [206]from the army, without even the formality of a court martial.

Sherman, having no knowledge of the disaster which had crippled Grant, attacked the enemy's positions, and gained some advantages; but the rebels were reënforced by the withdrawal of the army in the rear of Vicksburg, and he reëmbarked his forces, abandoning the attempt. At this point General McClernand appeared, and superseded Sherman, who then took command of one of the corps of the army of the Mississippi, as it was from that time designated. The great bugbear of Grant's military existence, "a political general," was thrown into his path, and though this act of the president sorely grieved him, he made the best of the circumstances.

His grand calculation had failed through the dastardly cowardice and imbecility of Murphy; but Grant was still serene in his disappointment, as he was in his triumphs, and immediately set himself at work to "fick it again". He was conscious of the magnitude of the enterprise he had undertaken, and of the difficulties which lay in his path. After all the minor "Gibraltars" had melted away before the victorious arms of the Union, Jeff. Davis declared that Vicksburg was the Gibraltar of the Mississippi. So thoroughly had it been fortified, with battery behind battery, with every conceivable approach guarded, with the heights for miles around the city bristling with guns, the president of the Southern Confederacy was perfectly confident that the place was invulnerable. Above and below the city the country was intersected with bayous, lakes, and rivers, and the land so [207]low that it hardly afforded a foothold for an army. Every rood of high ground in the vicinity was occupied by the rebels, and covered with defensive works.

Grant knew all this, and he made up his mind to capture Vicksburg. Frowning heights studded with guns, fortifications overrunning with obstinate soldiers, swamps and morasses, could not deter him. "I cannot tell exactly when I shall take Vicksburg," he said, "but I mean to stay here till I do, if it takes thirty years." This was the spirit of the man. He had actually begun the job, and he was determined to carry it through. Towards the close of the year 1862 he issued orders for the reorganization of his army, having matured the system himself.

On the 1st of January, 1863, the president issued the Emancipation Proclamation, taking that greatest and most decisive step of the war. It was contrary to Grant's political antecedents, but he gave the measure his hearty support. Many generals did otherwise, and opposed in spirit, if not in fact, the policy of the government in using negro troops. Grant issued an order in relation to this subject, directing his subordinates to afford every facility for the organization of negro regiments, requesting them "especially to exert themselves in carrying out the policy of the administration, not only in organizing colored regiments and rendering them efficient, but also in removing prejudice against them."

Grant's force in the department of the Tennessee, in January, was one hundred and thirty thousand men. Fifty thousand of these he sent down the river into camp at Milliken's Bend and at Young's Point. [208]Admiral Porter coöperated with him, having a fleet of sixty vessels of all classes. On the 29th of January he arrived at Young's Point himself, and assumed the control of operations against Vicksburg, in spite of a protest on the part of McClernand, who gave Grant a great deal of trouble in one way and another.

Grant was then face to face with the great problem of the day, the solution of which would cut the Confederacy in two, and separate the east from the cattle plains of Texas, from which its armies were fed. No point was accessible from which he could operate. There was not the remotest possibility of making a successful attack in front of the city. The point was to reach a position in the rear of the place, where there was standing room to conduct siege operations.

The country was flooded with water, and the troops were frequently inundated in their camps. The perils and difficulties of the gigantic enterprise were patent to all; but the troops were mostly veterans, and they worked with zeal and patience. The president had considerable confidence in the Vicksburg canal, and, though Grant had but little hope of its success, or little confidence in its value if completed,—as the lower end of it was covered by rebel batteries,—he labored patiently upon it for two months.

His next plan was to flank the water communications of Vicksburg by a navigable course by Lake Providence, through a series of bayous and rivers, to the Wachita, and thence to the Red River, by which a passage could be obtained for light steamers to the Mississippi, four hundred miles below. It was an immense undertaking, which nothing but American [209]enterprise would have considered, but which American enterprise would have accomplished if it had been possible. It was not possible, and the plan was abandoned.

A similar attempt was made on the east side of the Mississippi, but rather as a means of entering the Yazoo to destroy the rebel steamers which had gathered there, and to break up gunboats in process of construction on its shores. There had formerly been a steamboat route through Moon Lake, Yazoo Pass, the Coldwater and Tallahatchie Rivers, to the Yazoo; but as the influx of water from the great river above inundated the whole region annually, a strong levee had been built by the state to protect the country, and the passage was thus closed. This levee was cut through, and after the most incredible exertions in removing obstructions placed in the stream by the rebels, and cutting an opening through the overhanging branches, a fleet of light gunboats and transports penetrated to the Yallabusha, where its farther progress was interrupted by a battery called Fort Pemberton, which could neither be battered down nor drowned out. With difficulty the expedition was extricated from its perilous position, and though Grant had entertained a hope from its first success that he should be able to transport his troops and supplies by this route to the rear of Vicksburg, he was compelled to abandon the idea.

Still another attempt was made to secure the position by entering the Yazoo, which our gunboats held near its mouth, passing through Steele's Bayou and several streams into the Big Sunflower, and thence into [210]the Yazoo again. This attempt was made in conjunction with the Yazoo Pass movement, and while General Ross, in command of the military expedition connected with it, was shut up in the swamp. General Grant gave his personal attention to these enterprises; but all of them were impracticable in their nature, and had to be abandoned. All the troops and vessels were brought off in safety; and if nothing was gained, nothing was lost, even in time, for the country was so flooded with water, that operations, except in boats, were difficult, if not impossible.

The nation had been watching these experiments with intense interest. When they failed the people began to be impatient. Demands were made for the removal of General Grant from his command. Again was he accused of incompetency, of drunkenness. Not a success of any importance had been obtained for the national cause since his own victories at Iuka and Corinth. Even the president appeared to be dissatisfied, and Grant knew that he was in imminent peril of being displaced. Some of his best friends deserted him, and one of them voluntarily demanded his removal; but the president replied, "I rather like the man. I think we'll try him a little longer." But Grant was still confident of ultimate success; he was approaching the mighty idea by which Vicksburg was to be brought down.



Wherein Captain Galligasken illustrates the Temperance Principles of the illustrious Soldier, and proceeds with him on his conquering Path to the Capital of Mississippi.

I do not account it a great misfortune to the country, certainly not to Grant himself, that canal and side routes had failed; for success by any of them could hardly have been achieved any sooner than by the brilliant scheme finally adopted. But the people complained, the great generals complained, the president complained. There was a general murmur against Grant, and influence enough was brought to bear against him to have overwhelmed any common man. I pause in astonishment and wonder when I think that he did not turn in disgust from the grand enterprise. The people, the generals, the politicians were maligning him; even the good and patient president was dissatisfied, and put him on probation, rather than strengthened public confidence in him. Halleck, as generous now as he had been cynical before, mildly expressed his confidence that Grant would do all that was possible to open the Mississippi. Even the rebels, satisfied with the strength of their Gibraltar, contemptuously dared their persistent foe, and [212]derided him for his failures. They jeeringly hoped he would not attempt to disturb the natural features of the globe.

But Grant said never a word in his own defence; he only kept his eye on the prize, and declared that he would yet take Vicksburg. He smoked his cigar, studied his maps, listened to the reports of spies and others who brought him information; but he deigned not a word of reply to the slanders in the newspaper, or to those which were carried to the ears of men in power. He neither authorized nor permitted any of his friends to speak for him. He knew that truth was mighty, and must prevail; and confident of the rectitude of his own motives, of the purity of his own life, he could afford to let results, rather than windy harangues, approve him and his conduct before the country. I marvel that he was not overwhelmed, when I consider the weight of influence brought to bear against him; that he had the moral courage to stand up before that storm of obloquy and complaint. I cannot help adducing a few of the evil traditions of the day, to show how cruelly he was abused.

A lady in Memphis lamented the drunken habits of General Grant, declaring that she had seen him carousing with two boon companions, so tipsy that he was obliged to steady himself by holding on to a chair; that when he spoke to her, in answer to her petition, his speech was thick and incoherent! She added that the general was ashamed to see her the next day, and sent his surgeon to attend to her business. A gentleman who listened to her statements immediately informed her that, as one of the "boon companions" [213]to whom she alluded, he had dined with the general that day, had spent three hours in his presence, and was with him when she entered. He was confident that Grant had drank nothing stronger than Mississippi water, and that he was perfectly sober and clear-headed during the interview.

A letter from a respectable and reliable Union man in the West was sent to a newspaper office for publication, alleging that, on a certain occasion, General Grant and his staff went from Cairo to Springfield in the special car of the president of the Illinois Central Railroad, that on the way all the party got drunk, and Grant was the drunkest of all. It so happened that the president alluded to was present in the office when the letter was received. He promptly pronounced it a malignant falsehood. He had taken charge of the party himself, and provided the special car, because it contained conveniences for eating, sleeping, and working. Dinner was provided, and wine was served for such as used it, but Grant drank tea only; to his certain knowledge, he tasted no wine or liquor, and nobody was drunk on the car.

Grant, in the winter following the Corinth campaign, worn out with watching, anxiety, and continued activity, lay sick at a hotel in Memphis. His wife was with him, and was much concerned about the state of his health. One morning she joined the ladies in the parlor, seeming very much depressed. She said the surgeon had just been to see Mr. Grant, as she called him, and declared that he would not be able to go much farther if the patient did not stimulate. "And I cannot persuade him to do so," she [214]added. "He says he shall not die, and will not taste a drop of liquor on any consideration." In less than a week he was on his way to Vicksburg.

On board of the headquarters boat at Milliken's Bend, Grant was studying his maps and plans in the ladies' cabin, wholly absorbed in the mighty thought of planning a campaign. He heeded nothing that transpired around him, and no one ventured to interrupt him. For hours he sat in this thoughtful mood, and his friends feared that his mental labors would overwhelm his physical frame. McPherson at last had the temerity to speak to him, and presenting a glass of whiskey, invited him to join the party in a few toasts, to shake off the burden upon his mind.

"Mac, you know that your whiskey will not help me to think," he replied, looking up with a smile. "Give me half a dozen of the best cigars you can find, and if the ladies will excuse me for smoking, I think by the time I have finished them, I shall have this job pretty nearly planned."

He continued his labor; the lines on his face deepened again; the company left him smoking and brooding over his maps and plans; but not a drop of liquor passed his lips.

"I have some fine brandy on the boat," said a gentleman to him during the operations at Vicksburg, when Grant seemed to be exhausted by his cares and his labors; "I will send you a case or two of it."

"I am greatly obliged to you," replied the general; "but I do not use the article. I have a big job on hand, and though I know I shall win, I know I must do it with a cool head. Send the liquor [215]you intend for me to my hospital in the rear. I don't think a little will hurt the poor fellows down there."

None for himself, strained in mind and muscle by cares and toils that would have overcome any other man; but a blessed thought for the poor wounded ones whom he had led to victory over the couch of pain and death!

At a celebration of Washington's birthday before Vicksburg, the company, of whom Grant was one, indulged freely in champagne, drinking patriotic toasts, suggested by the day. The general pushed aside a glass of the sparkling beverage intended for his use, and took up a glass of Mississippi water.

"This suits the matter in hand," said he, glancing at the opaque fluid in the glass. "Drink this toast: God gave us Lincoln and Liberty: let us fight for both."

President Lincoln quaintly hinted his disbelief in the popular rumors of Grant's intemperance, when, after the battle of Shiloh, he said, "I wish all our generals would drink Grant's whiskey."

Before Vicksburg Grant stood alone. The government and the people were more than doubtful of the result. McClernand, Hunter, Fremont, and McClellan were mentioned as his successors. Senators and representatives urged Grant's removal, and one of his corps commanders was plotting for his place. Still he was struggling for success, while friends wavered, and enemies cried out against him. To his heavy load of cares and trials was added this heaviest burden of all—the dread of being removed before he could carry [216]out the great design which had been born in his busy brain.

This great design set at nought all the formulć of the military schools, and was in violation of all the known laws of strategy; but it was not a new idea. Long before canals and operations, in accordance with the recognized rules of warfare, had been discarded as impracticable, he had cherished it as a last resort. The military engineers of the Confederacy were at least the equals, as scientific men, of those of the Union. With every means and material in abundance, they had fortified Vicksburg on the most approved plans, and, aided by the immense natural advantages of the position, had succeeded in building up a "Gibraltar" which could not be captured. To them the issue was no less than the very existence of the Confederacy; for, cut off from its supplies in Texas, its conquest was only a question of time. These engineers made sure that they had not deceived themselves. They piled up defences, and extended their batteries, until Gibraltar and Sevastopol were beggared in their strength in comparison with Vicksburg.

Doubtless, measured by the ordinary rules of military security, and by the ability of any force governed by the recognized canons of warfare, the Confederate engineers were fully justified in their perfect confidence. All the communications behind Vicksburg were in their hands. No base of supplies could be established below or in the rear of the stronghold. Impenetrable swamps and morasses defended it above, for they afforded no resting place whereon an [217]army could stand. The fortified heights of Walnut Hills frowned for miles above the submerged lands on the Yazoo. The whole strength of the Rebellion was in the rear of the city, and armies could be rushed in upon a hostile force gathered there, by the railroads. To any other man than Grant it would have been a hopeless task; but he set at nought the rules of war under which Vicksburg was safe.

He announced his plan to his generals. They were startled. All opposed it. He intended to march through a portion of Louisiana to a point on the Mississippi, below Vicksburg, cross the river, and strike the Gibraltar in the rear. The gunboats were to run by the batteries, and assist in the operations below. The scheme was full of peril. To transport the army below Vicksburg was to separate it from any base of supplies; in short, to cut his own communications, to place himself in just the situation which the rebels would have selected for him. He did not call a council of war, and argue the question with his generals; he simply made up his mind to do it. Sherman, Logan, McPherson, Wilson, all opposed the plan when it came to their knowledge.

Sherman, his cherished friend, his indomitable supporter in whatever he did, whether he agreed or not with his chief, declared that the only way to take Vicksburg was by going back to Memphis, and following up the movement which they had attempted the preceding autumn. But Grant was confident that a backward movement would be fatal to himself, that the country would not endure anything that looked like another reverse, and he adhered to his own plan. [218]Sherman then wrote out a formal paper, setting forth the advantages of his own plan very ably, and in close accord with all military rules, and sent it to Grant's chief of staff. It was given to the general, and he read it carefully, and then put it in his trousers pocket. As Sherman had requested in the paper, he made no reply to the argument; in fact, never mentioned it. Weeks after, when prominent men in the army gave Sherman the credit of the plan, he stated these facts.

The disapproval of his ablest generals could not deter Grant from his purpose. Even Sherman, as careful of the reputation of his chief as of the glory of the cause he had espoused, failed to shake his inflexible will. The army was marched and ferried from Milliken's Bend to De Shroons' Landing, three or four miles below Grand Gulf. The gunboats, with a fleet of barges laden with provisions for the troops, ran the gantlet of the Vicksburg batteries with comparatively slight loss. Such a bold movement appalled the crews of the transports, and only a few of them were willing to undergo the exposure. But Grant appealed to the army, wherein were to be found the representatives of every trade and profession. And engineers, firemen, pilots, and deck hands were superabundantly supplied. Through the rain of shot and shell they passed, and the army and the navy were gathered together again in the enemy's country. A new era in the campaign had been inaugurated.

Porter bombarded Grand Gulf without success, but he ran by its batteries, and was in readiness to pro[219]tect the transports, in which the army was to be conveyed across the river. The troops were embarked, and it was intended to proceed down the river until high ground should be found for the landing. A negro gave information that a good road led from Bruinsburg, ten miles below Grand Gulf, to the interior. At this point, therefore, the troops were landed April 30. The army was in the State of Mississippi, with only very scanty means of obtaining supplies from above Vicksburg. Three days' rations were served out to the men, upon which they were required to subsist for five days.

The movement was intended in the beginning as a surprise to the enemy, and was fully proved to be such. There were two rebel armies to be dealt with—that of Pemberton, in and around Vicksburg, and that of Joe Johnston, at Jackson, the capital of the state, fifty miles distant. The object was to get between these two forces, and prevent them from effecting a junction. The national army was in hot haste, and Grant's struggles to gain a moment of time are full of interest. Red tape was cut, forms were dispensed with, and the meagre supplies of the army were hurried forward with the utmost despatch.

On the 1st of May, Grant attacked and defeated the enemy at Port Gibson, the first point which disputed his passage to the interior, before reënforcements could be sent from Grand Gulf, capturing six guns and six hundred and fifty prisoners.

While these operations were in progress, General Grant had organized the celebrated raid of Grierson, which passed through the rebel country from [220]La Grange to Baton Rouge, spreading consternation on every side. Sherman, who had not yet come down from Milliken's Bend, also made a demonstration in favor of the movement at Haines's Bluff, which prevented troops from being sent down to Grand Gulf.

In this desperate enterprise, hardly more than wagons enough to transport the ammunition could be allowed. No tents or baggage could be carried, but the men submitted without a murmur to the hardships and privations incident to a hurried march in an enemy's country. Grant stood on the same level in this respect as the humblest soldier. His entire baggage for six days was a tooth-brush! He had neither a clean shirt, an overcoat, nor a blanket; no horse, orderly, or camp chest. He slept upon the ground, with no covering but the sky and the stars, and lived on soldier's rations.

The battle for Grand Gulf and the base of supplies was fought at Port Gibson. The place was evacuated, and Porter took possession of it. The rebels were pursued to the Big Black River. The position was secure, and Grant had time to breathe for a moment. He visited Grand Gulf, went on board of a gunboat, borrowed a shirt, and sat up till midnight writing despatches. He attended personally to all the details of the campaign. He ordered Sherman to come forward, giving him the minutić of rations to be brought.

It had been his purpose, up to this time, as it had been the expectation of the government, that he [221]would secure a position below Vicksburg, open the river to Port Hudson, and coöperate with General Banks in the reduction of that important point. After its capture, with the Mississippi open to supply the two armies, they were to unite and besiege Vicksburg. But he had made some progress, and was ready to fight the battle on which the safety of the stronghold would depend. He knew that Johnston was on his way to Jackson, and that reënforcements were pouring into that place from the south. But Banks could not reach Port Hudson till the 10th of May, and the delay would weaken the national force while it strengthened that of the rebels. He decided finally to pursue his own plan, and without any hesitation he pushed on towards Jackson.

Cutting loose from his base of supplies, he marched into the interior, subsisting his army on the country. Sherman, with his corps, had joined him, but this veteran was fearful of the result of the audacious movement. Grant did not inform the general-in-chief of his plan, and the government was appalled at his boldness. Grant was alone, but he was self-possessed and sanguine.

The governor of Mississippi was howling with rage, and begging the "glorious patriots" to hurry to the defence of the state. Steadily the grand army marched in two columns towards the capital. At Raymond a sharp battle was fought, but the enemy was routed, and the victorious column pursued them to Jackson, where the rebels were again defeated. The capital was captured, the railroad destroyed, [222]bridges, factories, arsenals, everything which could be of service to the foe in the war was blown up or burned. Grant, with his staff, rode into the town; his son, then thirteen years old, galloped ahead of the column into the capital.



Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the illustrious Soldier through the Campaign in Mississippi to the Siege and Surrender of Vicksburg.

I am continually prompted to pause in my narrative, and dilate upon the splendid conceptions of Grant, as I see him marching triumphantly over the strongholds of the Rebellion; but the grand facts themselves are enough to overwhelm the imagination. Never was so bold a scheme conceived on a scale so grand; never was one more brilliantly executed. Behold the conqueror issuing his mandates from the State House of the rebel capital of Mississippi! Sternly and resolutely he cuts away the veins and arteries of the Rebellion itself, as he tears up railroads and demolishes mills and public buildings. He is in the very midst of the powers of treason, but he is not dismayed. Far away from his supplies, the rebel stores feed the loyal troops. Dismay and demoralization radiated from his headquarters; and, astounded as the leaders of the Rebellion were, they failed to realize the full extent of the disaster which had befallen them.

Grant had struck the heavy blow in this direction, and, gathering up his forces, he retraced his steps, leaving ruin and desolation behind him. He did not [224]carry on the war on peace principles. Months before he had solved the problem of subjugation. He had gone into the conflict as others did, with an inadequate idea of the work to be accomplished, believing that a few national victories would settle all the questions at issue. But the war was to be a death-struggle. The rebels manifested their hate and spite to a degree never before exhibited by any people. They declared that they never would submit, and their deeds did not belie their words. The question was not to be considered as settled when the national government had demonstrated that it was the stronger party of the two. The "last ditch," and a grave in the Gulf of Mexico, was the howl of the Confederacy. The contest was to be continued not only while large armies could be held together and subsisted, but by guerrillas and partisans burrowing in the mountains after all hope and all other resources had failed.

It was necessary to meet this view with one of corresponding severity. Grant realized the situation. It was his purpose to destroy the armies of the Rebellion, and all the material with which armies could be supplied. He did his work thoroughly, but it was a work of humanity, a saving of life and of treasure. He took a statesman's view of the situation; his solution of the great problem was the only one which could save the country, and which could confine the war within a reasonable period of time. The rebels were courting a war of extermination, but Grant's policy broke the spirit of the people, if not of their leaders.

The victorious general slept in the house in Jackson which Johnston had occupied the preceding night. [225]While the army was at the capital, an act of poetic justice was done, though in violation of orders. A number of Union prisoners had been conveyed by railroad through Jackson some time before. The cattle cars, in which they were transported, stopped in front of the Confederate Hotel, and the thirsty captives begged of its inmates "a cup of cold water only." It was refused, with scurrilous jeers and revilings. These prisoners had been exchanged, and were now in Grant's conquering army. They set fire to the hotel, and burned it to the ground: the tables were turned, and the indignity was avenged.

Johnston retreated towards Canton, and sent despatches to Pemberton, in which he suggested to him the necessity of cutting off Grant's supplies from the Mississippi. Grant had already cut himself off from his base, and was living upon the enemy. He also intimates that it is desirable to "beat" Grant, if he was compelled to fall back for the want of supplies. The rebel general was a long way behind the times, and, like many others, had entirely mistaken his man. He moved over to the north, intending to effect a junction with Pemberton; but the latter defeated the plan by disobeying his orders.

Grant, having obtained accurate knowledge of Pemberton's position, pushed forward to the battle, which was impending. Johnston was in his rear, and it was necessary to use the utmost haste, in order to fight them in detail. The enemy was strongly posted on Baker's Creek, the left of the line resting on Champion's Hill, from which his artillery commanded the plains below. The national forces, nearly exhausted [226]by hard marching, but still buoyant and uncomplaining, approached by three roads, which converged at Edwards's Station.

As our gallant army approached, the rebels on the hill, seventy feet above the plain, opened fire, with shot and shell, from its bald summit, while a deadly fire of musketry blazed from the forest, in which the foe was concealed. The hill was the key of the position, and Hovey pushed on, forcing the enemy back, till he had captured eleven guns and three hundred prisoners. But the rebels massed their men in front of him, and drove him slowly and doggedly back, until the ground gained was lost again.

This was the crisis of the battle; but Grant himself was on the hill, in a position where he could see all that transpired. His plan always was to take advantage of a favorable turn to repair the mischief of an unfavorable one. He sent a brigade to restore the equilibrium, and Hovey held his ground. McPherson had stationed a battery where it was mowing down the rebels in swaths, and they made an attempt to capture it, but were repulsed with severe loss. Logan was sweeping all before him.

Again the foe drove Hovey, whose battalions were worn out by an incessant fight of three hours, and were also out of ammunition. Grant had been hurrying up McClernand all day; but still he did not appear. The tide of battle seemed to have set against the national army; but this was always the hour when its heroic commander was more than himself. The delay of McClernand galled him, and deranged his plans, but could not defeat him. He ordered McPher[227]son to move on the enemy's right flank, and the contest was renewed with redoubled vigor. Logan marched upon the enemy's left. These dispositions, and a sharp attack, broke the rebels, and they gave way the third time. Logan's movement nearly to the rear of the rebel line, had startled Pemberton, and he made haste to save his line of retreat. The Union troops pressed on, and the bloody battle of Champion's Hill was won. It had lasted six hours, and our loss was twenty-five hundred in killed, wounded, and missing. The enemy lost thirty guns, and six thousand men in killed, wounded, and prisoners. It was the severest battle of the campaign, and reflects a brilliant lustre upon the national arms. So fierce was the struggle, that the soldiers christened the bloody height, where so many had fallen, the Hill of Death.

The pursuit of the fleeing rebels was continued until long after dark, Grant and his staff being at the head of the column. In their enthusiasm they outsped the advance of the army. Finding the situation unsafe, they retraced their steps, and the victorious general slept upon the porch of a house which was used as a rebel hospital, disturbed only by the groans of the wounded and the dying within.

That night came to Grant the order of the general-in-chief, directing him to return to the Mississippi, and coöperate with Banks against Port Hudson. Of course it had been written without a knowledge of the facts. The government had been alarmed at his temerity, and expected to hear that he was crushed in the embrace of the rebel armies, which beset him on both sides. But the campaign had been fought [228]and won; and to obey the letter of the order would have been to disobey its spirit. By the boldness of his conception and the rapidity of his execution, he had effectually prevented the junction of the armies of Pemberton and Johnston.

Sherman left Jackson with his corps on the morning of the battle of Champion's Hill, hurried forward by an order from Grant. He reached Bolton the same day, and there heard of the victory. He was ordered to cross the Big Black at Bridgeport, either to turn the enemy's flank or to move up on Haines's Bluff, as circumstances might dictate, for by this time it was desirable to establish a base of supplies.

The main column pushed on towards Vicksburg, and found the rebels posted on a bridge over the Big Black. They had a line of intrenchments, defended by a garrison of four thousand men, with twenty guns. As soon as the pursuing army came up with this formidable obstacle in its path, the line was formed, and a heavy fire opened upon the works, which were finally carried by storm. Our men fought bravely, and the Confederate line broke and fled like sheep. In their terror the rebels on the opposite side of the river set their end of the bridge on fire, before half their force had crossed. The demoralized wretches fled to the river, and attempted to escape by swimming. The fire of the cannon was turned upon them, and the stream was crimsoned with their blood. Seventeen hundred and fifty prisoners, eighteen guns, and five standards were captured in this lively battle.

Bridging the river, Grant pushed on towards Vicksburg, uniting with Sherman, who came by a more [229]northerly route. The two generals rode together to the farthest height, which looked down upon the Yazoo. The high ground they had longed to possess had been reached, and it was to them the promised land. They were elated at the prospect, and Sherman acknowledged that, until this moment, he had not deemed the movement a success.

In just twenty days Grant had marched over two hundred miles, fought five distinct battles, captured eighty-eight pieces of ordnance, and deprived the enemy of the services of thirteen thousand soldiers. He had destroyed the railroad, captured Jackson and Grand Gulf. Never was so brief a campaign productive of such successes. As Sherman congratulated him upon the splendid results he had achieved, he quietly smoked his cigar, but made no vain-glorious reply—no reply at all.

Vicksburg was immediately invested by a line which extended from the river above to the river below the town. The coveted base of supplies was obtained. Pemberton had thirty thousand men—a number fully equal to that of the besiegers—with two hundred cannon. On the 18th of May Johnston advised him that Vicksburg could not be held without Haines's Bluff, and recommended him to save his troops by withdrawing; but Pemberton decided, with the advice of his officers, to remain.

Grant's men were flushed with victory, and desired to storm the works. They were permitted to do so as soon as the line of investment was completed. A heavy attack was made all along the intrenchments, but it was not crowned with success.


The people of Vicksburg were requested to leave the town by the commander of the post: they declined to abandon their homes; but the heavy rain of shot and shell from the national gunboats compelled them to burrow in the sides of the hills for security, and families lived for weeks in these caves. Pemberton hoped to receive assistance from Johnston, who was organizing another army at Canton. The knowledge of this fact prompted Grant to order another assault on the 21st of May. His men were full of fight, and in this respect he was generally ready to gratify them. The most elaborate preparations were made for the great event, and as the prelude to the assault, the guns of the batteries and of the fleet in the river rained a deluge of shot and shell upon the city and its works. The thundering of guns shook the solid earth, and the place was girt with fire. At ten o'clock, after the bombardment had continued for several hours, the assault was made. The entire army pushed forward, and, though prodigies of valor were performed, the result was a failure. The strength of the works was too great to be carried by storm; but the spirit of the soldiers was unabated.

Grant was obliged not only to press forward the siege vigorously, but to keep a lookout upon Johnston in his rear. He was reënforced, so that by the middle of June he had seventy-five thousand troops, one half of whom formed the line in the trenches, while the other half constituted an army of observation, to watch the movements of the enemy in the rear. Grant was untiring in his labors, and felt that he had the place already. He had decided to save his men [231]by regular siege operations. But the glorious day was at hand.

On the morning of the 3d of July, a white flag was displayed on the rebel works, and two officers came out, announcing that they were the bearers of a sealed communication from General Pemberton to General Grant. They were conducted to the most convenient headquarters, and the commander of the Union army notified of the fact. Pemberton proposed an armistice for the purpose of making terms for the surrender of Vicksburg. He stated that he submitted the proposition in order to save the effusion of blood, which must otherwise be shed to a frightful extent, for he felt fully able to maintain his position for an indefinite period.

General Grant replied, by letter, that the effusion of blood could be ended at any time by the unconditional surrender of the city and garrison. He complimented the endurance and courage of the defenders of Vicksburg, and assured the rebel general that they should be treated with respect as prisoners of war; but he had no other terms than unconditional surrender.

General Bowen, the bearer of the letter, desired to see General Grant, who promptly declined to meet him, but consented to see Pemberton himself at three o'clock in the afternoon. The messengers returned to the city, and hostilities were immediately resumed, and continued till noon.

At three o'clock Pemberton, attended by his messengers of the morning, came to the appointed place, in front of McPherson's line. The two commanders met under the shade of a huge oak, within two hundred feet of the rebel line. The works on both sides [232]were crowded with unarmed men, gazing eagerly at the unwonted scene between these lines. The two high officers shook hands, and the other officers were formally introduced to each other.

"General Grant, I meet you to inquire what terms of capitulation will be allowed to me," said Pemberton.

"Those which have been expressed in my letter of this morning," replied Grant.

"Unconditional surrender!" exclaimed Pemberton, haughtily.

"Unconditional surrender," added Grant, quietly.

"Never, so long as I have a man left," protested the rebel general. "I will fight! If this is all, the conference may terminate, and hostilities will be immediately resumed."

"Very well," answered Grant, quietly, as he turned away.

General Bowen proposed that two of the subordinates present should confer together, and suggest terms. Grant did not object, but declined to be bound by any agreement of his officers, reserving it to himself to decide upon the terms. Smith and Bowen retired to consult together, while Grant and Pemberton walked up and down under the tree, engaged in conversation.

The subordinates returned to the tree, and Bowen proposed that the Vicksburg garrison should march out with the honors of war, carrying their muskets and field guns, but leaving their heavy artillery, which it was not convenient for them to carry. Grant smiled at the proposition, and declined it without any [233]hesitation. It was finally agreed that Grant should send his terms to Pemberton before ten o'clock that night, and that hostilities should be suspended till that time.

Grant went to his quarters, and, for the first time, called together a council of war—not to determine how an attack should be made, but how a conquered foe should be surrendered. With the countenance of all his officers but one, Grant submitted the terms, which were, that the national troops should take possession of Vicksburg; the rebel army should be paroled, the officers and men to retain their private property, the troops to march out as soon as the necessary papers had been signed.

After some slight variations the terms were accepted on the morning of the 4th of July; and thus one of the most glorious events of the war occurred on the anniversary of the national independence.



Wherein Captain Galligasken sums up the magnificent Results of the Capture of Vicksburg, and starts with the illustrious Soldier for Chattanooga, after his Appointment to the Command of the combined Armies of the Tennessee, the Cumberland, and the Ohio.

Vicksburg had fallen! The nation was thrilled by the news. Grant's name rang throughout the land. The loyal people blessed him for the mighty deed he had done. The news flashed through the country, kindling up a joyous excitement, such as had not been known since the commencement of the war. The boasted stronghold of the rebels, the veritable Gibraltar of the West, had crumbled and fallen. Possibilities became facts. The decline of the Southern Confederacy had commenced.

Vicksburg had fallen! The news seemed too good to be true, and the waiting patriots of the nation trembled lest the vision of peace which it foreshadowed should be dissolved; but the telegraph flashed full confirmation, and every loyal heart beat firmer and truer than ever before.

Vicksburg had fallen! While the nation raised a pćan of grateful thanksgiving for the victory, and [235]hailed Grant as the mightiest man of the Rebellion, the victorious general seemed hardly to be elated by his brilliant success, or to be conscious that he had achieved anything worthy of note. He smoked his cigar, calm and unmoved by the tempest of applause which began to reach him from the far North. It was hard to tell which was the more amazing—the magnitude of the victory or the modesty of the victor.

On the 4th of July—hallowed anew by this crowning victory—the rebel army marched out of the works it had so bravely defended, stacked their arms, and laid down their colors, returning prisoners of war. Thirty-one thousand six hundred men were surrendered to Grant, including two thousand one hundred and fifty-three officers, fifteen of whom were generals. One hundred and seventy-two cannons were captured with the place. It was the largest capture of men and guns ever made, not only in this war, but in the history of the world. Ulm surrendered to Napoleon, with thirty thousand men and sixty guns; but this event transcended the capitulation of Ulm, which Alison declares was a spectacle unparalleled in modern warfare; more men, and nearly three times as many guns, were taken at Vicksburg.

Grant and his staff, at the head of Logan's division, rode into the city, where the rebel soldiers gazed curiously at their conqueror, but manifested no disrespect; wherein they exhibited a more chivalrous spirit than did their officers. The general rode to the headquarters where the principal rebel officers were assembled. No one extended to him any act of courtesy, or behaved with even common decency. As no one came [236]out to receive him, he dismounted, and walked up to the porch where Pemberton and his high-toned generals sat. They saluted him coldly, but no one proffered him a chair. By the grace of Grant they wore their swords; but not even this fact spurred them up to the simplest act of courtesy.

Pemberton himself was as crabbed and sour as a boor whose hen-coop had been robbed. His manner was morose and ungentlemanly, and his speech cold and curt. At last one of the party, with higher notions of chivalry than his companions, brought a chair for Grant. The day was hot and dusty, and the general asked for a glass of water. He was rudely informed that he could find water in the house. He entered, and searched the premises till a negro appeared, who supplied his want. Returning to the porch, he found his seat had been taken; and, during the rest of the interview, which lasted half an hour, he remained standing, in the company of these conquered rebels, who kept their seats in his presence!

In the light of this remarkable interview, I am inclined to believe that my friend Pollard, who denounces Pemberton as an imbecile, was more than half right in his estimate of the man; for no decent person, under such circumstances, would have been guilty of such flagrant discourtesy, as ridiculous as it was gross.

Grant was a Christian. He did not even resent this incivility. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him." Grant did so, literally; for at this interview Pemberton requested him to supply his garrison with rations. He did not say, "Let the dead bury their dead," as [237]less magnanimous men than he might have done, after the contemptuous impoliteness of the rebels. Grant immediately consented; but probably there was not "chivalry" enough left in the bantam general to feel the heat of the "coals of fire upon his head."

Grant and Pemberton in Vicksburg.—Page 236.

Grant notified Banks, at Port Hudson, of the capture of Vicksburg, and offered to send him an army corps of "as good troops as ever trod American soil; no better are found on any other." Four days after the surrender, Port Hudson followed the example of Vicksburg. This event virtually completed the conquest of treason in the West. The Father of Waters rolled "unvexed to the sea," in the expressive language of President Lincoln. To sum up the results, in the words of Pollard, who is not particularly amiable at this point of his struggles through "The Lost Cause,"—"It was the loss of one of the largest armies which the Confederates had in the field; the decisive event of the Mississippi Valley; and the severance of the Southern Confederacy."

Proudly would I linger over this auspicious event; but the illustrious soldier had done his work, and the deed speaks for itself. His name was written in the annals of his country, never more to be effaced, even if he added not another laurel to his wreath of glory. He had practically ended the war on the Mississippi. On the day before, the great battle of Gettysburg culminated in victory, and the army of Lee was driven, shattered and weakened, from Pennsylvania. The tidings of these two great events spread through the land together, and created universal joy. Almost for the first time in two years, the loyal cause looked [238]really hopeful. The Rebellion had been struck heavily in the East and in the West.

President Lincoln manifested his high appreciation of the conduct of Grant in the following characteristic letter:—

"Executive Mansion, Washington, July 13, 1863.

"Major General Grant.

"My dear General: I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do what you finally did—march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition and the like could succeed. When you got below, and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General Banks; and when you turned northward, east of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right and I was wrong.

A. Lincoln."

Halleck was almost as magnanimous as the president, and sent Grant a very handsome letter of congratulation.

For the brilliant campaign of Vicksburg, Grant was made a major-general in the regular army. He [239]promptly recommended Sherman and McPherson for promotion to the rank of brigadier-general in the regular army, setting forth, in solid, compact arguments, the merits of these distinguished generals. These promotions were promptly made, as well as others which Grant suggested.

Sherman was sent out with a strong force to drive Johnston from the state, which he did most effectually, capturing Jackson a second time in his operations. On his return, the army of the Mississippi was broken up, and sent to Banks, Schofield, and Burnside. But Grant had no opportunity to rest upon his laurels; indeed, he wanted none. He gave his attention to the multiplicity of topics imposed upon him by the needs of his department. He threw all the weight of his position and influence into the task of raising and organizing negro troops. It was his intention to use them to garrison the posts on the river, believing that they would make good heavy artillerists.

He was among the first to acknowledge the value of this class of troops, and to award to them the praise which their valor in the field merited. He went farther than this; for he proposed to protect them from the operation of the savage policy of the rebels in regard to them. He intimated to General Dick Taylor that if he hung black soldiers he should retaliate; but the rebel general repudiated any such policy.

He discussed the question of trade with the enemy with Secretary Chase, and defended his views in opposition to it with dignity and ability. The duties of his department required a degree of statesmanship in their handling which he was found to possess; and [240]the affairs of his jurisdiction were skilfully and prudently administered.

Previous to the separation of the grand army which had achieved the conquest of Vicksburg, Grant had proposed, and even urged, an expedition for the capture of Mobile by the way of Lake Pontchartrain. But the general-in-chief deemed it best to "clean up" the territory which had been conquered, by driving out the rebel forces from Western Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri. The president declared that the enterprise was "tempting," but recent events in Mexico rendered him desirous of establishing the national authority in Texas, so that no foreign foe could secure a foothold there; and he left the project for Halleck to dispose of. Grant felt that the Union was losing a splendid opportunity, for he had no doubt that a blow struck by the Vicksburg veterans at Mobile, before the rebels recovered from the shock of present disasters, would be entirely successful. He had the force, and only desired a couple of gunboats to cover his landing. Probably, if he had been permitted to undertake the venture, he would have succeeded, and the war would have been curtailed at least one year. Judging from analogy, and from the skill and spirit of the man, I am confident he would have make a success of it. I cannot conceive of such a thing as Grant's failing in anything. He might have been temporarily checked and turned back—once, twice, thrice; but he was absolutely sure to carry his point in the end. "Mr. Grant was a very obstinate man," as his good lady remarked.

While Sherman was driving Johnston out of Mis[241]sissippi, Grant sent supplies of food and medicine to the enemy's sick at Raymond. If any man ever demonstrated the true spirit of Christianity, though without any display, Grant did so in his treatment of his own and his country's enemies.

The Thirteenth Corps had been sent down to assist in the expedition up the Red River and into Texas. Grant was anxious to see Banks, in order to arrange a plan by which he might coöperate with him, and he went to New Orleans. While there he was severely injured by being thrown from his horse at a review. The animal was a strange one to him, and was frightened by a locomotive, and rushing against a vehicle, dragged his rider off. He was confined to his bed, and compelled to lie "flat on his back" for twenty days. As soon as he was able to be moved, he returned to Vicksburg, but was obliged to keep his bed until the latter part of September, though he attended to all the business of his department.

During the summer Rosecrans had been operating in Tennessee and Northern Georgia, and had obtained possession of Chattanooga—the most important position between Richmond and the Mississippi. Bragg was manœuvring to cut him off from Nashville, his base of supplies. Grant started large reënforcements, including Sherman's command, to the threatened point. On the 20th of September, Rosecrans was defeated, before any of Grant's army reached him, in the heavy battle of Chickamauga, and compelled to retire to Chattanooga. His army was saved only by the address and bravery of General Thomas, who held his position in the face of an immensely superior [242]force. A delay of ten days in the delivery of Halleck's order to Grant prevented the latter from sending troops in season to be of service.

Early in October Grant was directed, as soon as he was in condition to take the field,—for he was then able to move only on crutches,—to repair to Cairo, and report by telegraph. The order reached him at Columbus, and the next day, feeble as he was, he started for the point indicated, with his staff and headquarters. On his arrival he was instructed to meet an officer of the War Department in Louisville, Kentucky, to receive further orders. He started immediately by railroad, but at Indianapolis he met the secretary of war himself—Mr. Stanton.

A new command, called forth by the emergency, had been created for General Grant—"The military division of the Mississippi," including all the territory south of the Ohio between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi, with the exception of that occupied by Banks. It comprised, besides his own department of the Tennessee, those of the Cumberland, under Rosecrans, and the Ohio, under Burnside, all of which were now placed under his command. Grant had suggested this step a year before, in order to insure harmonious operations.

The secretary of war also carried two other orders with him, one continuing Rosecrans in his command of the army of the Cumberland, and the other removing him, and putting General Thomas in his place. Grant was permitted to make his choice between the two, and without hesitation he preferred the latter. Mr. Stanton accompanied the commander of the new [243]division to Louisville, where it was rumored that Rosecrans was actually preparing to abandon Chattanooga, so closely was he pressed by the rebels, and harassed by the cutting off of his supplies. Grant, by order of the secretary, immediately assumed his command, telegraphing his order to Rosecrans, and assigning Thomas to the army of the Cumberland. He immediately took measures to prevent the apprehended calamity, desiring Thomas to hold Chattanooga at all hazards. The hero who had saved the entire army at Chickamauga replied at once in those memorable words which have been so often quoted, "I will hold the town till we starve."

East Tennessee, that home of the tried and trusty patriots, who had been so long neglected, and who had suffered untold misery, had been occupied by the national troops, and was now held by Burnside. Its safety depended upon the operations in progress at Chattanooga, which was the key-point of the system of railroads radiating to the east and south. It was absolutely necessary for the success of the national arms to hold this place, not only on account of its immense strategic importance, but because nearly all the people of the mountain region in which it is situated were loyal.

When Vicksburg fell, Bragg had been strengthened by the arrival of the troops which had been operating under Johnston in Grant's rear. But Rosecrans had out-generaled Bragg by getting to the southward of him, and threatening his supplies, thus compelling him to abandon Chattanooga. Having been largely reënforced, the rebel general had beaten Rosecrans [244]at Chickamauga, and driven him into Chattanooga, where he had fortified himself, with the intention of holding the position.

Three miles from the Tennessee was Missionary Ridge, a range of hills four hundred feet high, which Bragg made haste to occupy. West of the town was Lookout Mountain, twenty-two hundred feet high, and three miles distant. Under this mountain extended the Nashville Railroad, by which the national army received its supplies. Rosecrans deemed it necessary to abandon this commanding height, which Bragg instantly seized. Planting his batteries upon it, he effectually held the country around it, and entirely cut off all supplies for Chattanooga, except such as could be sent by the mountain passes over sixty miles of rugged roads. Bragg drew his lines around the place from the river above to the river below.

Rosecrans's situation became desperate, for it was practically impossible to supply his troops by the mountain roads. The army was put on half rations, and three thousand sick and wounded were dying for the want of proper nourishment and medicines. Fodder for the horses and mules could not be obtained, and ten thousand of them died. All the artillery horses were sent round through the mountains to Bridgeport, but one third of them perished on the way. In case of retreat, it would be necessary to abandon the artillery, for the want of animals to draw it. To add to the perils of the situation, the ammunition was nearly exhausted. Short of clothing, short of tents, short of food, the condition of the army was deplorable in the extreme. Heavy rains deluged the [245]earth, and the sufferings of the men were intense. It is not to be wondered at that Rosecrans was prepared to resort to so mild an expedient as abandoning the place. Bragg was waiting for starvation, cold, and intense suffering to fight his battle for him. He was unwilling to sacrifice a soldier in an assault, when Chattanooga was sure to fall under the weight of its own miseries. Only in Andersonville and on Belle Island were the sufferings of the troops surpassed.

Such was the terrible condition of the army of the Cumberland when Grant started for the field of action.



Wherein Captain Galligasken details the Means by which the illustrious Soldier relieved the Army of the Cumberland, and traces his Career to the glorious Victory of Chattanooga.

The stoutest heart would have been appalled at the situation in and around Chattanooga. Rosecrans had failed, and the army of the Cumberland was "bottled up" in the town. Grant, still feeble, and unable to move without his crutches, was ordered to extricate the force from its desperate dilemma; and not only to do this, but to save the place itself. One less resolute than he, or equally resolute, but less patriotic and devoted to the loyal cause, might well have exclaimed, "I pray thee have me excused!" Disabled as he was, he might have pointed to his crutches, and let them speak for him. They were not only a good excuse, but a good reason for not going upon such a perilous errand.

Could he have been borne at the head of the victorious veterans of Vicksburg, and gone into the beleaguered and starved town to the musical tramp of a large army, it would have looked more hopeful. But this could not be. Sherman had been started from Memphis with a heavy force—the army of the [247]Tennessee—to assist Rosecrans, and he was still struggling through the country, beset with trials and difficulties. Not with this faithful friend and this tried army could the crippled general march into Chattanooga.

On the 20th of October, Grant started with only his staff for the imperilled point, and arrived at Nashville the same night. Even on his route, invalid as he was, he worked at the solution of the problem which had been given him to solve. He telegraphed to Burnside, foreshadowing his plans, and directing the operations of his subordinate. He requested Admiral Porter to send gunboats up the Tennessee to insure Sherman's safety, and to facilitate the passage of his supplies. To Thomas, in Chattanooga, he suggested the opening of the road to Bridgeport. Without having visited the scene of operations, he knew all about it, and was ready to grapple with the mighty difficulty.

At Bridgeport, on the Tennessee, the general and his party took horses for Chattanooga. The roads were rifted and torn up by the deluge of rains which had poured down the mountain sides. Here and there the highway was but a narrow shelf on the steep mountain side, and the region was strewed with the wrecks of wagons, and the bodies of animals which had died on the route, or had been killed by being precipitated over the steep bluffs. At many points the roads were not in condition to admit of the passage of the party on horseback, and the animals were led over them; Grant, still a cripple, was borne in the arms of his companions.


Thus journeyed the great commander to the front, issuing his mandates for the government of these armies, ordering up supplies, and indicating the means of forwarding them. I say, enthusiastically, that the spectacle of a man in his crippled condition, undertaking such an herculean task, controlling the minutest details, and moving forward confidently to retrieve the most desperate situation which the whole war presented, is sublime. I cannot fully express my admiration with any other term.

It was dark, and the rain poured in torrents, when Grant reached Chattanooga. If he had not quailed at the prospect before, well might he then. The rebels, in greatly superior force, hemmed in the town, save on the north, where the ragged mountain steeps beyond the river were almost as forbidding as the closed-up lines of the enemy. The officers and men were sad, weary, and almost hopeless. Their supplies were nearly exhausted, and there was little hope either in a battle or a retreat. To this scene of his future labors, the disabled and worn-out commander was introduced on his arrival. He did not despair; he was the messenger of hope and ultimate triumph.

On the night of his arrival he requested that Sherman should be placed in command of the army of the Tennessee, and his wish was granted. Hooker's command from the army of the Potomac had been sent down to act with the army of the Cumberland, and was now at Bridgeport. The question of supplies was the first which engaged Grant's attention. Except the town of Chattanooga, the rebels held all the country south of the Tennessee, and frequently [249]invaded the northern shore in cavalry raids, cutting off the Union supplies. A pontoon bridge was stretched across the river at Brown's Ferry, the boats, each carrying thirty men, being silently floated down the river unobserved by the rebel pickets. The operation was conducted in the night, and, being a complete success, a footing was gained on the south bank of the river below the town.

The Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad crossed the Tennessee at Bridgeport, where Hooker, with the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps, was located, and came up to Chattanooga through Lookout Valley, on the south side of the stream, which, being in the hands of the enemy, had cut off the supplies. Hooker was ordered to cross the river, and follow the railroad up to the valley. At Wauhatchie he encountered the rebels, but drove them before him, and reached a point within a mile of the new pontoon bridge on the night of the 28th of October. He was fiercely attacked by Longstreet, but successfully repelled the assault, and Lookout Valley was virtually captured. By this movement a direct road to Bridgeport, to which the railroad from Nashville was in working order, was opened in five days after the arrival of Grant.

Only a week before, Jeff. Davis himself had stood upon the summit of Lookout Mountain, and gazed down upon the Union army shut up in Chattanooga, absolutely sure that in a brief period, without striking a blow, it must surrender to Bragg. The tables were suddenly turned by the matchless skill of Grant. The ammunition and stores poured in upon the desponding [250]army, now reënforced by two corps, and hope and joy supplanted fear and despair. The hungry men were once more fed on full rations, horses were promptly brought up, and the army of the Cumberland was ready to become the assailants again. The rebels were confounded by the sudden change in the situation before them.

Grant arranged the details of conveying supplies to Burnside, five hundred miles up the Cumberland, and thence by wagons, one hundred farther, to Knoxville. He repeatedly urged upon this gallant soldier the imperative necessity of holding East Tennessee, though the government had some doubts in regard to his ability to do so. Grant was only waiting for the arrival of Sherman, with the army of Tennessee, to attack the enemy; but until then he could do nothing. Bragg, to better his own prospects, sent Longstreet, with twenty thousand men and eighty guns, into East Tennessee, and great anxiety was manifested for the safety of Burnside's command. The rebels held the railroad from Chattanooga nearly up to Knoxville, and Grant's force was insufficient to enable him to render any direct aid. Burnside was sorely pressed by the foe, but maintained himself nobly. Grant frequently sent him hopeful messages, and assured himself that East Tennessee would be held.

On the night of the 14th of November, Sherman reported in Chattanooga to his commander. The plan of the great battle which was to relieve Burnside, and compel the enemy "to take to the mountain passes by every available road," had already been [251]formed. The operations were delayed by savage storms, which raised the river, and damaged the pontoon bridges, employed to their utmost capacity in crossing Sherman's troops; but on the 23d the line was formed for the assault.

On the 20th, Grant had received a letter from Bragg, suggesting that if there were any non-combatants in Chattanooga, prudence would suggest their early withdrawal; but this was only a trick, which did not deceive Grant; and two days later he obtained information that Bragg was preparing to evacuate his position on Missionary Ridge.

Thomas's line, composed of the army of the Cumberland, was drawn up in front of the town. Just before it were the rebel pickets in close proximity to those of the national army; indeed, both drew water from a creek which was the dividing line between them. Grant occasionally rode out to this stream to observe the position of the enemy. One day he saw a party of soldiers drawing water. As they wore blue coats, he supposed they belonged to his own force, and he asked them to whose command they belonged.

"To Longstreet's corps," replied one of them.

"What are you doing in those coats then?" demanded Grant, unmoved, when almost any other general officer would have decamped in a hurry, for fear an accident might happen.

"O, all our corps wear blue!" added the rebel spokesman.

Grant had forgotten this fact, and the rebels scrambled up their own side of the stream, little suspicious that they had been conversing with the commander of the united national armies.


The guns in battery along the line opened fire, and the enemy's works on the long range of hills, replied to the vigorous salute. The line of Thomas's army moved forward, and the grand spectacle commenced. It was a magnificent sight, and we who beheld it can never forget the gleam of those twenty thousand bayonets, as the column pressed steadily on. The enemy believed it was only a holiday pageant, and their pickets leaned on their muskets, and watched the brilliant movement. A few shots from the skirmishers scattered these spectators, and the battle commenced. The army of the Cumberland was intent upon wiping out the stain of Chickamauga, and charged impetuously upon the line of rifle-pits before them, capturing them, and carrying Orchard Knoll, a hill of considerable importance for future operations. The enemy had been driven back a mile, and the nationals halted, and fortified the ground they had captured.

On the right was Hooker, occupying Lookout Valley, above which frowned the heights of Lookout Mountain, bristling with rebel cannon. On the creek, in the middle of the valley, extended the line of Confederate pickets; but there was no approach to the mountain on this side. Hooker sent a column round its base to a road which conducted, by a zigzag route, to the summit. The enemy's pickets were captured, and Lookout Creek bridged.

Hooker's troops fought with the utmost bravery, and demonstrated that Eastern soldiers, when well led, were fully the equals of those of the West. They swept everything before them in the fierce struggle [253]that followed. The Union batteries opened, and the rebels replied from the steeps of the mountain, drawing down, as it seemed, the thunder and the lightning from the clouds above, till the hills trembled in the commotion. The column under General Geary, passing through a piece of woods, reached the road which led to the heights above. It was a steep path, and every accessible place was occupied by troops and guns for its defence. But the column dashed up the precipitous slopes, beating down all opposition, capturing guns and men on their way. Onward and upward, in the literal sense of the words, they swept, penetrating the clouds, which soon hid them from the view of those below. Hooker's battle in the clouds was a complete success, and Lookout Mountain was captured. Two thousand prisoners were taken, and the victors in this remarkable contest rested from their labors on the summit. They had "gone up," in the highest sense of the phrase, and the rebels also, in another sense.

Hooker on the right, and Thomas in the centre, had carried out their portion in the grand programme of the battle; so also had Sherman on the left. The enemy had been deceived into the belief that his whole force was to operate in the vicinity of Lookout Mountain, while it was cautiously moved to a concealed position up the river, and in the rear of the town. One hundred and sixteen pontoons were conveyed over the land, and launched in the North Chickamauga Creek, five miles above the mouth of a stream with the same name on the south side of the river. On the night before the grand battle, these boats were loaded with men, and floated down the creek and the Tennessee, [254]until they reached a point immediately below South Chickamauga Creek, where the bridge was to be built over the river for the passage of Sherman's army. All the citizens in the vicinity had been put under guard, so that the enemy might not learn what was in progress.

The boats landed on the south side of the river, the troops disembarked, the enemy's outpost was captured, and a position secured for the beginning of the pontoon bridge. Troops were crossed in boats continually. At noon the bridge was completed; the army crossed, and Sherman commenced the march upon the enemy's positions on the left. The troops were pushed up the hill, and soon gained a commanding eminence, which was immediately fortified, and guns were dragged up for its defence. The rebels opened with artillery upon the unexpected foe, but Sherman was already in possession. A sharp engagement ensued with the infantry, but the enemy soon withdrew, and the northern portion of Missionary Ridge was carried.

The morning of the next day dawned clear and cold, revealing the two armies prepared for the final struggle, in which one was eager to engage, and which the other could not avoid. The rebels were still strongly intrenched on Missionary Ridge, whose summit had an extent of seven miles. Grant took position with his staff on Orchard Knoll, where he could command a view of the entire battle-field. Plainly to be seen on the heights above him were the headquarters of the rebel general.

In accordance with his orders, Sherman began the attack on the left, and closely pressed the Confederate [255]position. Bragg saw his lines yielding, and sent reenforcements from the centre, precisely as Grant intended he should do. Sherman secured a position at the first onslaught, and the battle around him was waged with the most tremendous fury by both sides; but no further advantage was gained. On the right, Hooker was working his way around the rebel flank, and Grant, having been assured that he was in position to do his part of the work, directed Thomas to move forward in the centre, the rebel general having weakened this portion of his line to strengthen his right flank.

The four divisions of the army of the Cumberland, one of which was commanded by Sheridan, made a charge, captured the enemy's rifle-pits at the foot of the Ridge, and took one thousand prisoners. Thirty guns immediately opened upon them with grape and canister, cutting them down in awful slaughter; but it delayed not their march. Steadily they pushed their way towards the crest of the ridge, and, halfway up, encountered another line of rifle-pits, which they charged upon and carried with the same impetuous fury which had marked their first assault.

Grant and Thomas, on the knoll below, watched the fearful fighting, as the column mounted the hill. A portion of it was momentarily checked and turned by the savage fire poured in upon it. Thomas turned to Grant and said, with some hesitation, which revealed the emotion he struggled to conceal in the presence of his chief,—

"General, I—I'm—I'm—afraid they won't get up."


Grant looked steadfastly at the column, waiting half a minute before he made any reply; then, coolly taking the cigar he was smoking from his mouth, he brushed away the ashes before he answered,—

"O, give them time, general," and quietly returned the cigar to his mouth.

They only wanted a few moments more, and gathering up their energies, the men pressed forward with redoubled zeal, and gained the summit of the Ridge. With furious cheers they threw themselves upon the rebel works, and carried them almost instantly. The foe was overwhelmed in his strongest position, which, as Bragg said himself, "a line of skirmishers ought to have maintained against any assaulting force." Whole regiments threw down their arms, and others fled in hot haste down the eastern slope. The artillery was captured, and turned upon other portions of the rebel position. The Confederate line was sundered, and the enemy were thoroughly beaten in forty-five minutes after the order to charge had been given on the plain below.

In the moment of victory Grant appeared upon the Ridge, and, passing along with his head uncovered, received the unanimous applause of the soldiers. They were in a transport of ecstasy over the victory they had won, and gathered around him with volleys of cheers, grasping his hands, and embracing his legs. I wonder not at their enthusiasm, for these men were of the army of the Cumberland, who had been "bottled up" in Chattanooga, to starve and die: and while they hailed the victorious general as the author of the triumph they had achieved, they also hailed him as their own [257]deliverer. He coolly but not insensibly received their grateful plaudits. Without pausing to indulge in any self-glorification, he made the dispositions to complete the victory and pursue the fleeing host of rebels.

Grant and the Soldiers at Missionary Ridge.

Page 256.

The victory was thorough and entire. All the rebel positions had been captured. Forty guns, seven thousand small arms, and six thousand prisoners were taken—the heaviest spoils of any battle fought in the field during the war. The loss of the Union army, in killed, wounded, and missing, was fifty-six hundred and sixteen. The rebel loss in killed and wounded was much less, for they fought with all the advantages of a secure position.

Grant had sixty thousand men, Bragg forty-five thousand; but the elevated situation, and the elaborate intrenchments in which they fought, ought to have rendered them equivalent to twice that force, as the rebel general practically admitted.

The pursuit of the enemy was vigorously followed up, railroads were destroyed, and immense quantities of stores and rations captured, which the rebels could ill afford to lose. Bragg had been entirely confident of his ability to hold his position, and at one time, just before Thomas's troops reached the crest of the hill, he was congratulating his troops upon the victory they had won. While he was thus engaged, the army of the Cumberland broke through his line, and compelled him to run for his life.

During this fierce battle, Phil Sheridan first attracted the attention of Grant, by his bold and daring conduct, no less than by his skilful movements; though the great cavalryman did not know of his good fortune [258]for months. He had simply been "spotted" for future use.

The battle of Chattanooga was ended in a glorious victory for the Union, and one of the saddest defeats of the war to the Confederates—one which put my friend Pollard into "fits," causing him to declare that "the day was shamefully lost."



Wherein Captain Galligasken has something more to say about the glorious Campaign of Chattanooga, and illustrates some of the personal Characteristics of the illustrious Soldier.

In one month from the time of his arrival at Chattanooga, Grant had swept the rebels from the positions they occupied—had achieved a success which the enemy had believed was impossible. A woman, whose home was on the plateau of Missionary Ridge, said to one of our officers, after the battle had been fought, "Before you all came up here, I asked General Bragg, 'What are you going to do with me?' He replied, 'Lord, madam, the Yankees will never dare to come up here.' But it was not fifteen minutes before you were all around here."

I have not the slightest doubt that Bragg was as confident of his safety up to the moment his line was broken as he was of his own existence. Relying on the immense natural advantages of his position, which had been fortified to the extent of human skill, he believed it was as impossible to move his army as it was to move the mountain itself. And it was not a merely blind confidence; for if a man ever had occasion to congratulate himself upon the security of his troops, Bragg had.


Grant's plan for the battle, which was strictly followed out, from beginning to end, in all its details, was a masterpiece of military skill and combination. Without this the brilliant, daring, and resolute assault must have ended in total failure. But it is equally certain that the splendid plan would have failed without the gallant fighting. In fact, Grant commanded both armies on that day, for Bragg was obliged to follow out the results of Grant's combinations.

The battle had continued for three days, extending over an area thirteen miles in length, to say nothing of its perpendicular ascent. Two of the three subordinate commanders who directed operations under him were of his own choosing; and Hooker, without being selected by him, was a man after his own heart, so far, at least, as his promptness and his fighting inclinations were concerned. Yet it is marvellous that nothing went wrong on those eventful days; that all minor difficulties were overcome, and the operations brought into such glorious harmony; but this is as much due to Grant's genius and foresight as the plan itself. He had skilfully and prudently weighed the conditions of success, and while the men fought well, and the generals obeyed their orders, there was no chance for failure.

Even General Halleck, who had no partiality for the hero, and no confidence in him which had not been secured by Grant's wonderful successes, became enthusiastic over this battle. "Considering the strength of the rebel position and the difficulty of storming his intrenchments," said the careful general-in-chief, "the battle of Chattanooga must be considered as one of the [261]most remarkable in history. Not only did the officers and men exhibit great skill and daring in their operations in the field, but the highest praise is also due to the commanding general for his admirable dispositions for dislodging the enemy from a position apparently impregnable. Moreover, by turning his right flank and throwing him back upon Ringgold and Dalton, Sherman's forces were interposed between Bragg and Longstreet, so as to prevent any possibility of their forming a junction."

Halleck was a cautious man, and in no danger of exaggerating the merits of Grant's deeds, so that the non-military public may receive his opinion without any grains of allowance. In the theory of warfare, in his complete knowledge and appreciation of the principles of strategy, however he may have failed in the practical application of the science in the field, the general-in-chief had no superior. He was a writer of no little celebrity, before the war, on military subjects, and is amply competent to pronounce a safe opinion. When a man of his calibre, therefore, steps out of the sphere of the Rebellion for a comparison, and pronounces the battle of Chattanooga "one of the most remarkable in history," the general public, unlearned in the mysteries of military science, may justifiably deduce from his statement the belief that General Grant is one of the most remarkable soldiers the world has ever seen.

History is but little more than a record of wars, battles, and sieges. The characters who figure the most extensively in its chronicles are the warriors of all ages. How stands Grant among them? He has [262]captured more guns and more prisoners than any general in the whole history of the world! The campaign and siege of Vicksburg is without a parallel in the annals of any nation under the sun! Until the American Rebellion Napoleon was the greatest general the world had ever seen. Grant has paled even his star; for Grant has no Waterloo, no disastrous retreat, like that from Russia, in his record.

Not alone in the grandeur of his position as a military genius is Grant great. In his sterling goodness, in his modesty, in his magnanimity, in his perception of character, in his quiet winning way, in his sublime confidence in himself, in his Christian forbearance, in his absolute self-negation, and in his unselfish love of country, he is a great man, even without the laurel of victory upon his brow. When I see him, crippled in body, weakened and physically broken down by long confinement to his bed, hastening on his crutches to the most desperate scene which the annals of this terrible war present; hurrying with the laurel of Vicksburg and Donelson on his brow, without a thought that he was imperilling his splendid reputation in an almost hopeless venture; speeding through tempest and desolation, not at the head of his war-worn and victorious veterans, but alone, to a stricken, half-starved, beleaguered position, from whose overlooking environments the cunning foe was gazing down, while they waited for famine and death to do their certain work; when I see him thus staking his all,—for his all, in a worldly sense, was his brilliant fame,—sacrificing ease, comfort, health, exposing his very life, to save the army, to save Chattanooga, to save the cause,—I can[263]not but ask, What other man has done so much? What other man could, or would?

One of his biographers has said that Grant went to Chattanooga with the reënforcements for which Rosecrans had vainly pleaded; that he went with two armies to the relief of the town. There was time enough, after Grant arrived, to have fought half a dozen battles before even the moral support of either of these forces was available for the relief of the army of the Cumberland. Sherman was struggling through a hostile country, battling with swollen rivers, broken roads, and the storms and tempests of November, a hundred miles away. Hooker was not in a position to lift a finger till the genius of Grant opened the way for his movement. Bragg might have swooped down from his mountain holds and stormed the intrenchments with an overwhelming force at any hour of the day or the night. We only wondered that he did not do it. But he held Lookout Valley, held the river, held the railroad above and below the town, and nothing but his perfect assurance that neither Hooker nor Sherman could get into Chattanooga before the garrison would be starved out prevented him from doing so. No! Grant fought the rebels alone during those five days—the darkest and most perilous in his career. If he had been beaten in the end, if Chattanooga had fallen before either of the two armies arrived, he would still have been entitled to the credit of his most heroic and self-sacrificing conduct.

I repeat, it is not alone the brilliant lustre of his military deeds which calls forth our admiration: his patriotism, his unselfish devotion to the cause, entitle [264]him to the highest place in the regards of the American people.

Occasionally, in the current newspapers of the day, during the Rebellion, we read the astounding statement that General Fitzfizzle was under fire; that a shell exploded on the side of the river where he was; that his staff besought him not to expose his precious person to the deadly projectiles of the enemy. We are sensationally informed that General Fitzfizzle told his officers to retire to a safe place if they were afraid. General Fitzfizzle had evidently screwed his courage up to the sticking point, and during the long period of three whole minutes he was exposed to the bullets of the enemy—until, indeed, his presence was elsewhere required. We tender to General Fitzfizzle the homage of our grateful admiration. We feel that he was a brave man, for he has exposed his corpus to the bullet of the foe. But what has he done for three minutes more than Private McMullen and Corporal Mullinstock have done during the entire battle? Is it heralded in the newspapers that by an effort he has exhibited the mere brute courage which has distinguished thousands of humble privates whose names will never be printed?

It does not appear from any record that Grant ever uttered a sensational remark on the field. The terrible earnestness of the man admitted of no side talk, no silly affectation, no ridiculous farce which could point a paragraph in the papers. He was always in the battle, and always a part of the battle. He chose the position best suited to his purpose for observing the movements of the contending armies. It mattered [265]not whether it was exposed to the enemy's fire or not; he never considered that question. I am not aware that he ever recklessly exposed himself without need, and certainly he never sought a place of safety during the battle. It does not appear that he considered the question of personal safety at all. He was where his presence was required, without regard to peril.

At Belmont he was with the skirmishers in the front line of battle, the first to go on the field, and the last to leave it. At Shiloh he led charge after charge, and was in the thickest of the fight. Hundreds of men behind him, and all around him, fell. He never required an escort, but rode, with his staff, into the hottest of the fight. So continually exposed was he, that the whole army wondered he was not killed. At Ringgold, in the pursuit of Bragg's fleeing army, he rode for half a mile, at a moderate trot, through a storm of shot and shell. He was not thinking of danger—only of the enemy's positions. He was studying the battle, in that moment which would have tried the souls of common men. There was no consciousness at any time on his face that he was doing "a big thing." He was simply in earnest, completely absorbed in the progress of the battle. Where necessity required him to go, he went; if there was a direct road, by that; if not, over the fields, through the woods, swimming his horse through any stream that lay in his path.

He did everything with all his might, as if in literal obedience to the Scripture injunction; and though not physically a powerful man, he seemed to be superior to fatigue, hunger, cold, and all the ills to which [266]human flesh is subject. He would ride from breakfast time till two o'clock the next morning without tasting food, and continue this severe exertion until his work was finished—till victory had crowned his operations. He could wear out his staff, who were compelled to attend him, but he did not wear out himself. He was an earnest man, and through the might of his earnestness, he conquered all obstacles, and triumphed over every disadvantage. It was not luck, it was not good fortune, that gave him the battle; it was genius, fortified by hard, persistent labor. If he beat down greater obstacles than any other man, it was because he studied deeper, worked harder, and fought longer than any other.

Grant's task was not yet finished. Burnside was still in peril, a hundred miles away. Granger was sent forward to his assistance, but his movements were too laggard to satisfy the impatience of the heroic chief, and Sherman was started on the war path to supersede him. The army of the Ohio had been hemmed in at Knoxville, and its situation was hazardous in the extreme, though Burnside was fully equal to the emergency. He had only twelve days' provisions left, but he manfully stood his ground. Grant had given him the most effectual relief in driving Bragg away from the valley.

At the time of sending Sherman up the Tennessee, Grant forwarded a despatch in duplicate to Kingston, one copy of which was for Burnside, and the other was intended for, and fell into the hands of, the enemy. Longstreet received his copy; but, before it fell into his hands, he learned that Bragg had fallen [267]back. He therefore determined to attack Knoxville without delay. Fort Sanders, the principal defence of the place, was assaulted, and a fierce struggle ensued, but the rebels were defeated.

After the battle, Longstreet received the despatch which Grant had written for his edification. Finding that Sherman was in the vicinity, he had not a moment to lose, and started in full retreat for Virginia. Burnside and Sherman conferred together in regard to the situation. Longstreet was pursued, but the force was insufficient, and the chase was abandoned. Burnside did not fully appreciate the situation, and sent Sherman back to Chattanooga, retaining only Granger's command. Longstreet was a very able general, and took prompt advantage of the mistake of his antagonist. Finding nothing but a small cavalry force behind him, he turned, defeated it, and marched back into East Tennessee, establishing himself at Russellville for the winter, where the country afforded abundant supplies. If Grant's orders to Burnside had been fully apprehended and carried out, this mortifying result could not have transpired. But the winter had set in, and military operations in that mountain region were impracticable.

The termination of the event was simply mortifying: it in no way affected the grand result of the Chattanooga campaign, which had been victorious in all its details. On the 10th of December, after the enemy had been driven from his strongholds, Grant issued his congratulatory order to the three armies under his command, which has such a ring of true [268]steel in it, that I cannot help holding it up to the admiration of my sympathizing reader.

"Headquarters Military Division of the}

Mississippi, in the Field,}

Chattanooga, Tenn., Dec. 10, 1863.}

"The general commanding takes this opportunity of returning his sincere thanks and congratulations to the brave armies of the Cumberland, the Ohio, the Tennessee, and their comrades from the Potomac, for the recent splendid and decisive successes achieved over the enemy. In a short time you have recovered from him the control of the Tennessee River from Bridgeport to Knoxville. You dislodged him from his great stronghold upon Lookout Mountain, drove him from Chattanooga Valley, wrested from his determined grasp the possession of Missionary Ridge, repelled, with heavy loss to him, his repeated assaults upon Knoxville, forcing him to raise the siege there, driving him at all points, utterly routed and discomfited, beyond the limits of the state. By your noble heroism and determined courage you have most effectually defeated the plans of the enemy for regaining possession of the States of Kentucky and Tennessee. You have secured positions from which no rebellious power can drive or dislodge you. For all this the general commanding thanks you collectively and individually. The loyal people of the United States thank and bless you. Their hopes and prayers for your success against this unholy Rebellion are with you daily. Their faith in you will not be in vain. Their hopes will not be blasted. [269]Their prayers to Almighty God will be answered. You will yet go to other fields of strife; and, with the invincible bravery and unflinching loyalty to justice and right which have characterized you in the past, you will prove that no enemy can withstand you, and that no defences, however formidable, can check your onward march.

By order of Major General U.S. Grant."

This came from the "silent man," who simply never talks without having something to say; but his pen speaks and reveals the man in all the towering grandeur of his lofty patriotism and sublime devotion. In this paper he tells the soldiers what they have done, not what he has done himself. President Lincoln promptly congratulated the general, and all under his command, on the decisive victory, and expressed his profoundest gratitude for the skill, courage, and perseverance with which the work had been accomplished.

Soon after the assembling of Congress, while the brilliant events I have written down were still fresh in the minds of the people, both houses passed a resolution to this effect: "That the thanks of Congress be, and they are hereby, presented to Major General Ulysses S. Grant, and through him to the officers and soldiers who have fought under his command during this Rebellion, for their gallantry and good conduct in the battles in which they have been engaged; and that the President of the United States be requested to cause a gold medal to be struck, with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be presented to Major General Grant."


These victories were so important, and had such a decided influence upon the destinies of the nation, that the hearts of the people were filled with gratitude. The president appointed a day of thanksgiving, and Grant was renewedly hailed as the savior of the country.

He was not dazzled by the elevated position he had achieved. Not a vain-glorious remark escaped his lips; not a particle of vanity was apparent in his looks or his manner. Neither the victories he had won, nor the spontaneous homage of the people, turned his thought from the cause to himself. Early in December, as soon as the campaign was fairly closed, and in the very despatch in which he announced the final results, he renewed his proposition for an expedition against Mobile. He does not ask to go home and receive the plaudits of his fellow-citizens; he does not hint at a moment of respite to enjoy the laurels he had won; he does not even require time to rest his weary frame, and recover entirely from his injuries. He is ready to organize immediately an attack upon Mobile. He mentions his route, and proposes to take it or invest it before the end of the next month. He was still in earnest, but the government were not prepared to authorize the movement.

Burnside had been superseded at Knoxville by Foster, and Grant visited his headquarters to prepare for a movement against Longstreet as soon as the season would permit. Foster was soon relieved at his own request, on account of an old wound, and General Schofield, at Grant's request, was appointed in his place. Sherman was sent to Vicksburg, where he [271]organized the celebrated Meridian expedition, and early in February it started. The rebels were driven out of Mississippi, and its whole railroad system was destroyed or deranged so that it was useless to the Confederacy. The army marched four hundred miles in less than a month, fed upon the country, and returned in better condition than when it started.

In January Grant obtained permission of the War Department to visit St. Louis, where his son was dangerously sick. He travelled without show or parade, and few, if any, found out who he was. At the hotel, on his arrival, he registered his name as "U.S. Grant, Chattanooga;" but the news of his coming soon spread, and he was tendered a public reception and dinner. His son being much better, he accepted the invitation. His speech at the dinner was a line and a half in length. In the evening he was serenaded, and his speech was two lines and a half in length. He had never made a speech, and never intended to do so. The multitude shouted for a speech. "Tell them you can fight for them, but cannot talk to them—do tell them this," pleaded an earnest friend at his side. "I must get some one else to say that for me," replied the general. Of Grant's "silence," I shall have the honor to speak in another place.

During the winter, Grant attended to all the vast details of his large department, and put everything in condition for an early renewal of the contest in the spring, and on the 3d of March he was ordered to Washington.



Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the illustrious Soldier to Washington, where, after enduring many Hardships, he is commissioned Lieutenant General in the Army of the United States.

Grant was not ignorant of the occasion of his summons to Washington. While he had been busily engaged with the duties of his department, the people had been heaping honors upon him. Associations of all kinds, learned and philanthropic, made him an honorary member of their bodies. Ohio and New York voted him thanks in their legislatures. Gifts of every description poured in upon him—cigars and cigar cases, revolvers, books, canes, and other articles, sufficient in number to enable him to establish a private museum, if he had had any taste for "the show business." None of these articles gave him so much pleasure as a brier-wood cigar case, cut out with a pocket knife by a poor soldier, and modestly sent to him as a token of the maker's veneration and regard. A great many babies were named after him at this time, though in this respect it is doubtful whether he ever rivalled his immediate associate on the presidential ticket, the Hon. Schuyler Colfax, who has probably had more babies named after him than any other living man.


It was not safe to speak ill of Grant, so warmly was his name nestled in the hearts of the people; and no one desired to do so except the immediate friends of a few disappointed aspirants for fame on the battle-field. The leather dealer of Galena had actually become the most famous man in America. Only a short time before he went to Washington, he had been honored in the highest degree in St. Louis by the very men to whose back doors he had hauled wood only four years before! The city that "respectfully declined" his petition to be appointed an engineer was eager to give him a public reception, and did yield him all the honors within its power. In three years, by the might of his brilliant genius, he had lifted himself from obscurity to a position which challenged the gaze of the whole nation. But his had not been the struggle of ambition—only the promptings of patriotic duty. A score of more ambitious generals, fighting for a name among men, had risen and fallen during this time.

While this tempest of applause was sounding through the land, Grant was devoting all his energies to the work he had in hand, claiming no honors, asking for no preferments. But a grateful people were not satisfied. Grant was no higher in rank than others; he was in no way distinguished on the roll of the army from those whom he had outrivalled in the career of arms. Just before he had been called to Washington, the bill reviving the grade of lieutenant general in the army had passed both houses of Congress, and had been approved by the president. It was then the highest rank known in our country. The office had [274]been created for Washington, and had been filled by him for the year preceding his death. It was then discontinued, and only conferred by brevet upon Scott in 1855. As Grant rose far above any other general in the lustre of his achievements, it was eminently proper that the distinction should be conferred upon him. He did not ask it, he did not even suggest it or hint at it.

Just before he started for Washington, he sent particular instructions to Sherman, who was then returning from his Meridian expedition, directing him to have his army in readiness for a movement upon Atlanta in the spring, which he expected to conduct in person. With these orders he sent a private letter to his devoted friend, which is too perfect an exponent of the man to be omitted:—

"Dear Sherman: The bill reviving the grade of lieutenant general in the army has become a law, and my name has been sent to the Senate for the place. I now receive orders to report at Washington immediately, in person, which indicates a confirmation, or a likelihood of confirmation. I start in the morning to comply with the order.

"Whilst I have been eminently successful in this war, in at least gaining the confidence of the public, no one feels more than I how much of this success is due to the energy, skill, and harmonious putting forth of that energy and skill, of those whom it has been my good fortune to have occupying subordinate positions under me.

"There are many officers to whom these remarks [275]are applicable in a greater or less degree, proportionate to their ability as soldiers; but what I want is, to express my thanks to you and McPherson, as the men to whom, above all others, I feel indebted for whatever I have had of success.

"How far your advice and assistance have been of help to me, you know. How far your execution of whatever has been given to you to do entitles you to the reward I am receiving, you cannot know as well as I.

"I feel all the gratitude this letter would express, giving it the most flattering construction.

"The word you I use in the plural, intending it for McPherson also. I should write to him, and will some day; but, starting in the morning, I do not know that I shall find time just now.

Your friend,

U.S. Grant, Major General."

I doubt whether a brighter illustration of pure magnanimity can be found in the annals of great men throughout all time and all nations than the spirit manifested by Grant in this letter. I regard him as more truly great in this exhibition of an excellent tone of mind than in even the glorious victories he won; for the most brilliant conquest in the field, without a noble spirit in the hero, only confers partial greatness. I have before said, in speaking of Grant as we saw him at West Point, that he was careful of the rights of others—the sublimest interpretation of the golden rule of Jesus Christ. At the moment when we find the illustrious soldier called to the capital to receive [276]the real laurel he had nobly earned, he seems to pause and ask himself if he is not going to take the reward which in part belongs to others. On the night before he starts, he writes this splendid acknowledgment of his indebtedness to the two veterans who had so devotedly sustained him in his trying campaigns and in the actual shock of battle.

Sherman's letter in reply contains a tried soldier's estimate of Grant. His language is carefully guarded from exaggeration, and I have no hesitation in declaring that he might have made it even stronger, without doing violence to the truth, even in the era of Chattanooga. While I feel that my humble office as a chronicler of the events of a sublime life is overshadowed when such a man as Sherman speaks, justice to the reader compels me to insert the veteran's letter in my work, for his words carry an influence even beyond the inherent truth he utters.

"Dear General: I have your more than kind and characteristic letter of the 4th instant. I will send a copy to General McPherson at once. You do yourself injustice in assigning to us too large a share of the merits which have led to your high advancement. I know you approve the friendship I have ever professed to you, and will permit me to continue, as heretofore, to manifest it on all proper occasions.

"You are now Washington's legitimate successor, and occupy a position of almost dangerous elevation; but if you can continue, as heretofore, to be yourself,—simple, honest, and unpretending,—you will enjoy through life the respect and love of friends, and the [277]homage of millions of human beings, that will award you a large share in securing to them and their descendants a government of law and stability.

"I repeat, you do General McPherson and myself too much honor. At Belmont you manifested your traits, neither of us being near. At Donelson, also, you illustrated your whole character. I was not near, and General McPherson in too subordinate a capacity to influence you.

"Until you had won Donelson, I confess I was almost cowed by the terrible array of anarchical elements that presented themselves at every point; but that admitted a ray of light I have followed since.

"I believe you are as brave, patriotic, and just, as the great prototype, Washington; as unselfish, kind-hearted, and honest as man should be. But the chief characteristic is the simple faith in success you have always manifested, which I can liken to nothing else than the faith a Christian has in his Savior.

"This faith gave you victory at Shiloh and Vicksburg. Also, when you have completed your preparations, you go into battle without hesitation, as at Chattanooga—no doubts, no reserves; and I tell you it was this that made us act with confidence. I knew, wherever I was, that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight place, you would help me, if alive.

"My only point of doubt was in your knowledge of grand strategy, and of books of science and history; but I confess your common sense seems to have supplied all these.

"Now as to the future. Do not stay in Washington; come west; take to yourself the whole Missis[278]sippi Valley. Let us make it dead sure, and I tell you the Atlantic slopes and the Pacific shores will follow its destiny, as sure as the limbs of a tree live and die with the main trunk. We have done much, but still much remains. Time and time's influence are with us. We could almost afford to sit still and let these influences work.

"Here lies the seat of the coming empire; and from the West, when our task is done, we will make short work of Charleston and Richmond, and the impoverished coast of the Atlantic.

Your sincere friend,

W.T. Sherman.

With no trumpet blast to herald his coming, Grant went on his way to Washington, travelling in haste, and mostly by special trains. He courted and sought privacy; but when it was discovered at the railroad stations that he was on the train, the people lustily cheered him, and crowded forward to obtain a sight of the great man of whom all had heard, but whom few had seen. He had never made a "progress" after any of his victories. Even the president had never seen him. He was well known to the soldiers, hardly at all to the civilians.

On his journey he received a telegram from General Halleck, so magnanimous in its tone as to leave not a doubt that the general-in-chief had been born into a new life. Grant was to displace him, but Halleck behaved handsomely; and in his generous appreciation of the illustrious soldier, I shall forever forget that he had ever snubbed and disgraced a greater than [279]himself. The despatch was as follows: "The secretary of war directs me to say that your commission as lieutenant general is signed, and will be delivered to you on your arrival at the War Department. I sincerely congratulate you on this recognition of your distinguished and meritorious services."

On his arrival at the capital of the nation, where he had never spent more than a single day before, he proceeded quietly to Willard's with his son, who accompanied him on the journey. Singular as it may seem, he was not discovered. A vainer man than he would have been disgusted; but Grant so far sympathized with the rebels that he only wished to be "let alone." Without parade or ostentation, he went to the public table to dinner. Here, unfortunately for him, but to the great delight of the guests of the hotel, the secret came out. A member of Congress who was at the table recognized him, and, rising, he announced, to the dismay of Grant, we may well believe, "Gentlemen, the hero of Vicksburg is among us!" The congressman proposed his health, and this was the signal for the most enthusiastic cheering that ever greeted a laurelled hero coming home from the conquest. Grant rose from his chair, and merely bowed his acknowledgments, resuming his seat at the earliest practicable moment; for such a situation was as much worse than the bull-dog guns of Vicksburg as anything he could imagine. He was really a modest man; his conduct was not a Uriah Heep's affectation of humility. He was not insensible to the good opinion of the people, but the extravagant manifestation of it which obtains with our over-demonstrative countrymen was painfully embarrassing to him.


At Vicksburg Grant personally superintended the placing in position of a number of heavy guns. While the soldiers were digging out the embrasure, he stood on the top of the works, smoking his cigar, and coolly whittling a stick—the general inherits the pure tendencies of a New England Yankee from his ancestors. In this situation he was a conspicuous mark for rebel sharp-shooters, but he staid there till the guns were placed to his satisfaction, to the intense admiration of the men, who delight in exhibitions of pluck. I am of the opinion, if Grant had been whittling a stick when he was discovered and applauded at Willard's, he would have cut his fingers; for he is never intimidated except under the fire of a popular demonstration. I declare, upon my honor as a soldier and an historian, that Grant is not indifferent to the praise or blame of his fellow-citizens. I know that he is as keenly sensitive as any man living, though his will enables him to control his emotions. I have myself seen him under a fire of compliments, and studied the expression of his face. He is simply modest, even to diffidence. I never saw another man just like him in this respect. There is nothing awkward or repulsive in his manner.

For my own part, I do not see how any man, whatever big thing he has done, can stand still and take the most extravagant compliments as a matter of course; and of all the great men I ever knew in public life,—and I have known many,—I have been better satisfied with Grant's conduct, in the hour of his triumph, than with that of any other. I cannot describe his mien or manner, because it is indescribable. Kind words move him, and I have seen the glow upon his face, hardly perceptible, it is true, but still there, [281]indicating true greatness of soul, in that he was not "puffed up," or, even worse, was not insensible.

Grant was beset with admirers; but when I consider the quality of a large portion of the crowd which gathers in any public place within the limits of the national capital,—the parasites and sycophants who strive to sun themselves in the smile of a great man,—I cannot wonder that Grant did not open his mouth to speak, even to thank the multitude for their kind appreciation. They beset him behind and before; and a man who could not make a speech on such an occasion was a miracle. "Silence was golden." With great difficulty could he make his way to his private room, where he sought shelter from the onslaught of admirers.

In the evening he went to the White House, to attend President Lincoln's levee. The enthusiasm of the people was tremendous. Poor Grant was never in such a strait in his life. His particular horror seems to have been completely realized on this occasion, and though it was, doubtless, one of the proudest moments of his life, it was at the same time one of the most harassing and discouraging; for the unfortunate general was actually lifted from his feet, and compelled to stand upon a sofa, where all in the room could see him. Cheer after cheer shook the walls of the house, in which President Lincoln heartily joined, standing by the side of the hero, and magnanimously sustaining him in the hour of his greatest trial, as he had at Vicksburg and Chattanooga. In the course of the evening, Grant escorted Mrs. Lincoln around the East Room, and afterwards remarked that "this was his warmest campaign during the whole war."


I heartily sympathize with the sorely-pestered conqueror in what to other men would have been the realization of the acme of human bliss. He blushed and struggled against the awful storm of applause, but he did not do a single ridiculous thing. It was a time when almost any man could have been forgiven for making a fool of himself; but Grant had no vanity to triumph over him in the hour of temptation, and he came out of it as clean and bright as he went in. What is true of him on this specific occasion is equally true of him in all his career. He was no more spoiled by prosperity than by adversity; and the former is infinitely more destructive to public men than the latter. As my late friend A. Ward said of G. Washington, U.S. Grant "never slopped over."

"I hope to get away from Washington soon, for I am tired of the show business already," said the persecuted hero to a friend, as they returned from the levee.

The show business! Shades of the over-flattered heroes of all time, could it be possible that this man had reached an elevation so sublime as to call the sweet savor of approbation by such a name! Others have toiled and struggled for a lifetime to win such a recognition of their greatness, but Grant wished to avoid it! The Rebellion was not yet conquered. On the morrow he was to receive his commission as lieutenant general, and all the armies of the United States were to be placed under his command. He was an earnest man, and his whole being was filled with a sense of the responsibility he was to assume. The destiny of a nation seemed to be placed upon his shoulders; and what wonder was it that he regarded mere applause as distasteful?


I almost tremble as I approach a scene which only the pencil of the artist can fitly describe. In the chamber of the cabinet were gathered, on the 9th of March, the president, the members of the cabinet, and General Halleck, representing the government. General Grant, attended by two members of his staff and his oldest son, was formally received by the president, who addressed the illustrious soldier as follows:—

"General Grant: The nation's appreciation of what you have done, and its reliance upon you for what remains in the existing great struggle, are now presented with this commission, constituting you lieutenant general in the army of the United States. With this high honor devolves upon you, also, a corresponding responsibility. As the country herein trusts you, so, under God, it will sustain you. I scarcely need to add, that with what I here speak for the nation goes my own hearty personal concurrence."

Lieutenant General Grant accepted the commission, and then read his written reply:—

"Mr. President: I accept the commission with gratitude for the honor conferred. With the aid of the noble armies that have fought in so many fields for our common country, it will be my earnest endeavor not to disappoint your expectations. I feel the full weight of the responsibilities now devolving on me; and I know that if they are met, it will be due to those armies, and, above all, to the favor of the Providence which leads both nations and men."

At last the army of the United States, now numbering eight hundred thousand men, had found its true leader, and Grant had found his true position.



Wherein Captain Galligasken has Something to say about the illustrious Soldier's Views of Strategy, and follows him across the Rapidan into The Wilderness.

The earnest man, now occupying the highest purely military office in the United States, meant business; and on the day after he received his commission, he paid a brief visit to the army of the Potomac, in company with General Meade, then commanding it. The next morning he started for the West, and was at Nashville when the order of the president appointing him to the command of the armies of the United States reached him. In a very brief, simple, and business-like order he assumed the command, announcing that his headquarters would be in the field, and with the army of the Potomac.

General Halleck, "at his own request," was relieved from command as general-in-chief, and assigned to duty in Washington as chief of staff of the army. Sherman was appointed to the military division of the Mississippi,—the position made vacant by the elevation of Grant,—and McPherson was placed in command of the army and the department of the Tennessee, thus stepping into Sherman's place. Halleck was "let down" [285]as gently as possible, the order that promulgated these changes including the president's approbation and thanks for the zealous manner in which the late general-in-chief had performed his duties.

In this programme of appointments, of course, the lieutenant general had been consulted; indeed, so far as the force in the field were concerned, they were his assignments. Sherman and McPherson were placed where they could be felt; they were Grant's most intimate friends, made so by their zeal and devotion to the cause which he loved above every other consideration.

Six days after he had assumed the command of the armies of the nation, Grant arrived in Washington with his wife and his oldest son. He was the central figure in the gigantic drama of the American Rebellion. The eyes of the nation were fixed upon him, not alone of the loyal portion, but the jeers and the taunts of the South indicated that the rebels themselves had an interest in the movements of the hero who had wrested from them the dominion of the western portion of the Confederacy. Friend and foe on the other side of the broad ocean regarded him with almost breathless attention, for now the name of Grant flashed over the wires of another continent. His fame was as broad as the world itself.

Well might the lieutenant general have shrunk from the stupendous task imposed upon him by the acceptance of his lofty position. He had undertaken a duty which none had assumed but to fail—most miserably to fail. The prospect before him would have been appalling to an ordinary mind. Standing on the [286]highest pinnacle of fame as a soldier, as Sherman said, "Your reputation as a general is now far above that of any man living," he stepped into the most difficult position that ever a man filled. He was exposed to all the perils of political influence, to all the darts of envy and malice behind him, as well as to all the combinations of a skilful and desperate foe before him. It required no little moral courage, after the failure of McClellan and Halleck, after the almost uniform disasters which had beset the Eastern armies, to undertake the hazardous task of bringing victory out of the elements around him.

Grant was solemnly in earnest. He was inspired with one great thought—the putting down of the Rebellion. His predecessors had indulged in showy reviews; balls and parties had enlivened the tedium of the waiting hours in the camp; and beauty's flashing eye had gladdened the heart of the soldier. In accordance with the traditions of the army, the ladies waited upon Lieutenant General Grant, and suggested a ball as a fitting festivity in connection with the grand review of the army of the Potomac which was proposed. Gently, but firmly, he objected, and declared that "this thing must be stopped." He was not opposed to reasonable pleasures at suitable times, but he pointed out to them the condition of the country in the throes of a death-struggle with treason, and insisted that it was no time for festivities among the army officers. He spoke of the wounded and the dying in the hospitals, and manifested such a simple and genuine sensibility, that the ladies, who were true at heart, promptly abandoned the project.


The grand review took place; yet it was not a holiday show, but a means of acquainting the general with the material of the army which was now to do the principal work in suppressing the Rebellion. It was a splendid army which marched in column before him, and the heart of the great commander was strengthened by the display, not of gilt and feathers, but of numbers, of muscle, of courage.

Although in the spring of 1864 the Rebellion had been cut in two, the sundered parts, like the fabled reptile, were still vital. The Confederacy had been weakened, but by no means overpowered. Its supplies of food had been greatly reduced, but still it maintained large armies in the field. The South, nominally struggling for what it was pleased to call liberty, was the most absolute despotism on the face of the earth, and every energy and resource of the people, willing or unwilling, was turned into the channel of its defence. "The cradle and the grave were robbed" to recruit its armies.

Terrible reverses had befallen the rebel arms, and perhaps impaired the faith of the Southern people in ultimate success; but their spirit was not broken, and still they howled about the "last ditch." Misfortune, instead of bringing thoughts of submission and peace, brought desperation, a mad and fanatical zeal, like that of a band of pirates who fight tenfold more savagely to escape the halter than to win a prize. Ill success, so far from moderating the fury of the rebel soldiers, transformed them into reckless zealots, more dangerous than ever before in the path of an army of civilized men. This is not a theory deduced from the [288]insane protestations of rebel brawlers and newspaper writers, but from the conduct of rebel soldiers on the battle-field; a truth derived from The Wilderness, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg, not from Jeff. Davis and his co-rebel declaimers.

The experience of three years of war had demonstrated that, man for man, the North fought as well, at least, as the South. If at one time pluck and persistency seemed to predominate at the South, the table would be turned at another time. For every rebel victory there was always more than one offset in national triumphs. While everything worth holding in the West had fallen, Richmond maintained its bold front. The army of the Potomac had been tilting at it from the day it was organized; had repeatedly advanced, and as often been driven back. Thus far the national arms had failed to reach Richmond.

While the rebel capital had been the objective point of the North, the national capital had been the objective point of the South. Whenever a Confederate army, flushed with success in Virginia, crossed the Potomac, it was driven back. Lee in Pennsylvania was even more unlucky than McClellan in Virginia. Chickahominy and Malvern were paralleled by South Mountain and Antietam; Fredericksburg by Gettysburg. Between Richmond and Washington, up to the time of Grant's appointment as general-in-chief, the contest had been a "drawn game." Neither side gained any permanent advantage. When the North rushed down to Richmond, it was driven back, shattered and wasted. When the South swept around Washington, it recoiled and went back, leaving its [289]dead, wounded, and prisoners behind. Up to this time the fighting material of both armies was not only about equal, but in generalship and officers the contending forces were well matched. The loyal nation was tired of this marching back and forth, with nothing but the waste of battle to mark the result, and the coming of Grant was hailed as the beginning of a new era.

General Lee was the ablest soldier in the Southern Confederacy, and its hope in the coming shock of battle rested on him. All the available troops of the South were sent to him, and though he was outnumbered, he had the advantage of position; he had "the inside track," which was worth more to him, in a military point of view, than the disparity in force was to Grant. Lee was not only strongly intrenched in his position at the opening of the campaign, but he had been over the ground between the Rapidan and the James time and again, till he knew every foot of ground and every strategic point. Behind him were the earthworks he had prepared in former campaigns, ready built for use.

This was the man, and this the situation, which Grant had to encounter; and he sounded with a new significance the old cry, "On to Richmond!" He agreed with those who came before him that the rebel capital must be taken, and he intended to take it, not by a series of chess-board movements, retiring when the enemy checkmated him, but by "persistent hammering." He assigned to strategy its real value; but strategy had been tried by the cunningest men in the army, and it had failed. Lee was clear-headed, quick, [290]cool, brave, adroit. He made blunders, but so seldom that it was hardly worth while to wait for one.

Strategy, as I, Bernard Galligasken, understand it, is simply the taking advantage of the enemy's mistakes and weak points, without exposing yourself in a similar manner. Suppose two generals, in command of opposing armies, to be absolutely perfect strategists, and each incapable of making a mistake. With the forces equal in numbers, pluck, and endurance, the first general taking position could hold it, in theory, to the end of time. A reënforcement or a mistake alone can change the conditions, and give the victory to either. If Lee would kindly make a bad blunder, it would be easy to whip him; but he profited by his own blunders as well as by those of his enemy. If Grant would obligingly leave a weak point, Lee could drive him out of Virginia.

Strategy and tactics were splendid qualities in Mexico, where the officers of the two armies had been graduated from different military institutions. There strategy overcame all odds, confounding the Mexicans with its brilliant results. On the battle-fields of Virginia, West Point fought on both sides, and the difference in weight and mobility of brain gained victories.

Grant had solved this problem of strategy out of his own and the experience of the unfortunate generals of the army of the Potomac. He believed in strategy as fully and firmly as any general; but the sad spectacle of the splendid army whose movements he was to direct in the closing campaign, marching back, beaten, [291]but undismayed, from Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Chickahominy, assured him that strategy alone could not cut the gordian knot of rebel power.

After the fierce battles of Chattanooga, where skill and science had done their perfect work, Grant was smoking his cigar at his headquarters in Nashville, in company with Quartermaster General Meigs and General W.F. Smith, who had greatly distinguished himself in the engineering operations of the campaign just closed. Smith was pacing the room, absorbed in his own thoughts, and lost to everything around him.

"What are you thinking about, Baldy?" asked Meigs, breaking the silence which had continued for some time.

General Smith was so intensely engaged in his meditations, that he did not notice the question, and made no reply.

"Baldy is studying strategy," added Meigs, turning to Grant with a laugh.

"I don't believe in strategy in the popular understanding of the term," said Grant, very seriously, as he removed the cigar from his lips. "I use it to get as close as possible to the enemy with little loss."

"And what then?" asked Meigs.

"Then? 'Up, guards, and at them!'" answered Grant, with more fire than usual.

His practice was an exemplification of his rule; but he believed that, after strategy had done its utmost, there was, in this war of the Rebellion, a deal of terrible fighting to be done. With this view Grant placed himself where he could direct the movements of the army of the Potomac. Long before he assumed [292]his present office, he had studied the problem, and he was now prepared to act vigorously and in earnest. He purged the army of incompetent men, sternly banished all fancy work from its lines, and gathered himself up for the mighty struggle.

Sheridan was called from the West, and placed in command of all his cavalry. Meade, the hero of Gettysburg, was retained in command of the army of the Potomac. Butler was sent to operate on the south side of the James. Sigel commanded the force in the Shenandoah Valley, which was to protect Washington from a rebel force approaching in that direction. More important than all, Sherman, at the head of the combined armies which Grant himself had commanded at Chattanooga, was to move on Atlanta. Grant had harmonized the various divisions of the army, so that they were no longer to pull "as in a balky team," but all together.

Richmond was the objective point of the army of the Potomac, while Atlanta—of vast importance to the rebels as a railroad centre, and for its founderies, machine-shops, military magazines, and storehouses for supplies—was the point to which the army of the Mississippi was directed. Grant had planned both of these campaigns, and he had thoroughly impressed it upon his subordinates that there was to be no giving up when strategy failed, no turning back, and no conducting war on peace principles. It was the rebel armies which constituted the power of the Confederacy, and these were to be destroyed. When they were used up, strategic points would lose their value.

Through the month of April the busy notes of prep[293]aration for the strife were heard; men and material were gathered together, and nothing was left undone which could add even its mite to the prospect of success. Though the plan of the campaign was kept a profound secret in the breasts of only a few, so that it might not, as often before, be carried to the rebel leaders, yet the people were not blind to the signs of the times. Great bodies of men, and vast supplies of provision and ammunition, were moved to the front, and it was certain that operations on a grand scale were about to be commenced.

Whatever attention Grant had before attracted,—and certainly he had been the "observed of all observers,"—he was now regarded with the most intense interest, which could not but be attended with a certain painful anxiety. All these preparations had been sounded through the land before during the three years of grievous solicitude. That grand army had been ready to move before, with the petted, the trusted, the victorious general at its head. But almost always the tidings of disaster, or, at least, of turning back, came soon after. Was the solemn tragedy to be repeated again? Were those marshalled hosts once more to be forced back, and another great man to be hurled from his high eminence? The people prayed for Grant, prayed for the army, prayed for success. But they believed in their hero. So modest, so gentle, so simple, he was a man to be trusted, and there was more of hope than of fear in their souls. The general-in-chief, unlike his predecessor, had gone into the field, and the people saw how earnest, how confident he was. He made no parade, sounded no trumpet before him, and they felt that God would bless such a man.


The army of the Potomac was on the north side of the Rapidan, while on the south side was the rebel army. Grant's headquarters were at Culpepper Court House. Just before the order was given to move across the river, the president and the lieutenant general exchanged letters which illustrate Grant's position, while his own exhibits the noble manliness of his nature. I must give both.

Executive Mansion, Washington, April 30, 1864.

"Lieutenant General Grant: Not expecting to see you before the spring campaign opens, I wish to express in this way my entire satisfaction with what you have done up to this time, so far as I understand it. The particulars of your plan I neither know nor seek to know. You are vigilant and self-reliant, and, pleased with this, I wish not to obtrude any restraints or constraints upon you. While I am very anxious that any great disaster or capture of our own men may be avoided, I know that these points are less likely to escape your attention than they would be mine. If there be anything wanting which is within my power to give, do not fail to let me know it. And now, with a brave army and a just cause, may God sustain you.

Yours very truly,

A. Lincoln."

"Headquarters Army of the U.S.,}⎞

Culpepper C.H., Va., May 1, 1864.}⎭

"Mr. President: Your very kind letter of yesterday is just received. The confidence you express for the future, and satisfaction for the past, in my military [295]administration, is acknowledged with pride. It shall be my earnest endeavor that you and the country shall not be disappointed. From my first entry into the volunteer service of the country to the present day, I have never had cause of complaint, and have never expressed or implied a complaint against the administration or the secretary of war for throwing any embarrassment in the way of my vigorously prosecuting what appeared to be my duty. Indeed, since the promotion which placed me in command of all the armies, and in view of the great responsibility and importance of success, I have been astonished at the readiness with which everything asked for has been yielded, without even an explanation being asked. Should my success be less than I desire and expect, the least I can say is, the fault is not with you.

Very truly your obedient servant,

U.S. Grant, Lieutenant General."

This reply, so characteristic of the man, is noble in itself, and sublime in contrast with the views of some other generals. "The fault is not with you." Not thus spoke others even before they had failed.

On the 3d of May, General Meade was ordered to cross the Rapidan, and on the following day the passage was effected without opposition. The army entered that desolate region called The Wilderness, and the soldiers, borrowing speech from the Odyssey, might have exclaimed,—

"We went, Ulysses (such was thy command),
Through the lone thicket and the desert land."



Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the Campaign of the Army of the Potomac, and the illustrious Soldier announces that he shall fight it out on that Line, if it takes all Summer.

The river was safely crossed, and the anxiety which the lieutenant general had felt in regard to this movement was removed. It was an entire success. The army train consisted of four thousand wagons, and it required no little accurate calculation to dispose of it with the available roads, without subjecting any portion of it to the liability of capture. Formed in single line, the procession of teams, allowing forty feet to each, would extend about thirty miles, or nearly half way to Richmond. It would require a man of great ability to conduct such a train even ten miles, in a time of profound peace, without throwing it into confusion. The nicest system and the closest coöperation were necessary, in order to keep it in a place of safety, and to prevent its movements from being impeded. Of course this train could not be extended on a single line. It was a part of the calculation of the commanding general to keep this immense procession in a place of safety, and yet have it when and where it was wanted.


But the wagons were only a small part of Grant's solicitude. His army was composed of about one hundred and thirty thousand men—equal to the population of a large city. To have marched this vast body on a holiday excursion from the Rapidan to the James, with no hostile foe to dispute its passage, would be regarded as a stupendous undertaking even for a skilful person. Wellington once observed that there were very few generals in Europe who could march an army of a hundred thousand men through Hyde Park gate without throwing them into confusion. But this vast army on its southern march was to be kept well in hand, and all its movements and positions known to one man. It was to be swung round, marched and countermarched, as a child handles a toy. It required a man of genius to control this cumbrous machine, independently of fighting battles with it. In the hands of an incompetent man, its very numbers would have been its greatest element of weakness.

Not only was Grant directing the movements of this vast army, but he controlled another, hundreds of miles away, nearly as large, and a dozen more of minor magnitude. Civilians who have never witnessed the movements of an army on a large scale can have no adequate idea of the skill required to handle its columns; but it is patent to many of the knowing ones that some of our generals failed for the want of this very ability to move in harmony such vast bodies of men. I gaze with wonder and admiration at the ease and facility with which Grant carried in his mind the details of such a stupendous organization, and moved its parts as the mainspring moves all the wheels of a [298]watch. A man with this ability alone is a miracle of power.

It was the plan of the lieutenant general to flank the army of Lee, and place his forces between the rebels and Richmond, though the success of the campaign was by no means made to depend upon this movement. It would compel the Confederates to abandon their elaborate intrenchments, upon which they had labored for months, either to assault the moving column or to fall back upon the capital. Lee did not allow himself to be flanked, but, abandoning his works, attempted to cut through the national line, while it was yet involved in the intricacies of The Wilderness.

Grant had not intended to fight a battle in this unfavorable spot, though he was ready at all times for the assault. The region was a tangled thicket, where the artillery could not be effectually used, and where it was impossible to manœuvre an army. When he found his subtle foe approaching in force, he made his dispositions for the conflict. The battle commenced at noon, and raged with tremendous fury till night. It was fought with reckless valor on both sides. The rebels were repeatedly massed in heavy columns, and hurled against the Union lines. The tide of battle surged to and fro till the darkness interrupted the fierce strife. No decided advantage was gained on either side, and the two armies, exhausted by the struggle, slept upon their arms.

At dawn the next morning, May 6, the national line was again formed. It was five miles in length, with Sedgwick, commanding the Sixth Corps, on the [299]right, Hancock, with the Second Corps, on the left, while Warren, with the Fifth, and Burnside, with the Ninth Corps, were in the centre. By the arrival of Longstreet, the rebels were reënforced, and Lee began his "hammering" process on the right of the national line, which had been directed to make a general attack. The awful tragedy of the day before was repeated, and both lines at times swayed back and forth. Hancock drove the force in front of him a mile and a half to the rear, capturing many prisoners and five stands of colors; but the advantage was soon lost. From morning till night again, with only an occasional lull, the lines surged like the great waves of ocean—now broken and scattered, but then mounting again with new vigor, and rolling on as though death had no terrors, and life had no pains. Again the sun went down on a field unwon by either contestant in the savage strife. Not a particle of practical advantage was gained by Grant or Lee. The Union army had fought on the defensive, and had repulsed the assault; so far it had been successful. The rebel army had fought on the offensive, intending to drive the national forces back upon the Rapidan, and break up the campaign at the onset. In this it had failed. Furthermore, Grant had succeeded in driving Lee out of his intrenchments.

The loss on both sides exceeded twenty thousand men. The Union loss was much greater than that of the rebels, for the latter were familiar with every foot of the wild region in which the battle was fought, and were thus enabled to take advantage of what were the greatest obstacles in the path of the national troops. [300]The army of the Potomac had reached a crisis in its progress when it had been the rule to retreat and recruit. Indeed, Lee believed he had inflicted injury enough upon his foe to compel him, according to the traditions of the past, to retire and cover Washington. But to his amazement, not to say his horror, he ascertained that Burnside and Sedgwick were in motion, not for the Rapidan, but for Spottsylvania.

Throughout the loyal land, and, we may well believe, the homes of treason also, the most intense anxiety for the result prevailed. The faithful, north of the Potomac, had been educated by the experience of three years to be prepared for disasters in Virginia, and a splendidly-conducted retreat would not greatly have astonished, however much it would have grieved and disappointed them, expecting, as they did, better things of the new general-in-chief. Washington was in a state of the most exciting anxiety and suspense, in which the president and the officers of the War Department shared. Many sat up all night to hear tidings from the bloody battle-field.

Grant, even more thoroughly in earnest than ever before, had given orders, at the outposts of the city's defences, to arrest every man fleeing from the battle-field, and to put in irons every officer who "straggled." Among those who were thus ignominiously shackled were four colonels. Of course these beggarly cowards brought tidings of defeat and disaster, and it was feared in Washington, as it was hoped in Richmond, that the grand army of the Potomac was again in retreat, was again retracing its steps to a safe position on the Potomac. Fear and suspense reigned, not [301]only in the capital, but in all the loyal land. Grant was the last hope of the people, and if he had failed,—he who had beaten down Vicksburg, and scattered the foe at Chattanooga,—the cause would be almost hopeless.

Grant forwarded no sensational despatches, but at the earliest opportunity he sent a truthful statement of the results of his operations. If all that had been hoped of the army was not achieved, the news was satisfactory. The national forces at least held their own; they were not retreating, as General Lee believed and had telegraphed to Richmond. The nation breathed easier, especially when President Lincoln declared by proclamation that "enough was known of the army operations within the last five days to claim our especial gratitude to God." Additional troops were sent forward to fill up the fearful gaps which had been made in the lines by the carnage of battle.

On Saturday, the lieutenant general, so far from being checked or disheartened by his position, felt that he had the advantage of the enemy, and coolly proceeded to carry out his original purpose of flanking the rebel army. He commenced moving his forces to Spottsylvania Court House, fifteen miles from The Wilderness; but the thundering roll of that mighty wagon train was heard by Lee. It assured him that a new movement was in progress, and he quickly discovered its nature. Then commenced a race for the objective point of both. There was considerable skirmishing during this day, but no heavy battle.

Both armies were moving in parallel lines for Spott[302]sylvania Court House, and on several occasions they jostled each other so as to produce smart engagements; but there was no general battle. The advance of the two armies reached their destination at the same time, and the rebels immediately took possession of the strong earthworks which had been previously constructed. Warren, in command of the Fifth Corps, attacked at once; but the enemy was so well protected by his intrenchment that the assault failed. But, reenforced in the afternoon, the attack was repeated, and the foe was driven out of his works, the nationals capturing fifteen hundred prisoners. During the day every corps of the army had been engaged.

Monday was spent in strengthening the position and in preparation for the fight, though there was much skirmishing going on all day. While General Sedgwick was superintending the posting of the guns in front of his corps, a bullet struck him in the face, and he fell, dying immediately. He was a noble man, and a severe loss to the army. On this day also was sent out Phil Sheridan, on that bold raid in which he inflicted so much injury on the rebels, sweeping around Richmond, and menacing its safety. On this expedition he encountered and fought the most celebrated cavalryman of the rebel army,—General Stuart,—who was mortally wounded in the action, and his forces routed.

On Tuesday the general attack upon the rebel line was made. The thunder of five hundred cannons opened the battle, which raged through the long day. Each of the opposing generals had almost uniformly divined the purposes of the other, and there were no [303]important mistakes on either side to be taken advantage of. Both armies fought with the fury of desperation, the rebels having the tremendous advantage of a line of strong works to cover their operations. The front line of intrenchments was captured, but the enemy had others behind it. Though two thousand prisoners were taken, no decided advantage was gained, save that the "hammering" the rebels had received made its due impression.

On Wednesday there was no general conflict, though so closely were the two armies brought together, that frequent skirmishes could not be avoided. On this day, Grant sent a hopeful despatch to Washington, announcing the result of his operations thus far. It was the end of the sixth day of continuous heavy fighting. He believed that the enemy's loss had been greater than his own. He had taken five thousand prisoners in battle, and had lost but few except "stragglers." At the end of this communication he appended that thrilling sentence which has so often been repeated as an eloquent interpretation of the character and persistency of the man: "I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer."

My friend Pollard becomes particularly unamiable at this critical passage in the history of "The Lost Cause," and declares that "Grant was not shamed. The Moloch of the North had not yet been sated." This romancing writer was dissatisfied with poor' Grant, because he would not go back to the Rapidan. McClellan was a good fellow, in his estimation, for he did not keep "hammering," and after he had fought [304]a drawn battle, like that at Antietam, he did not vex the chivalrous Lee by running after him when he "retired." "Grant was not shamed," as McClellan used to be after he had fought a battle. Doubtless Grant ought to have been "shamed," and gone back like a good boy, and not have been so ridiculous as to propose to fight it out on that line, if it took all summer. That "Moloch of the North" was an awful fellow, bound to be "sated" only when the Rebellion fell through.

My dearly-beloved friend Pollard is also vexed at the generalship of Grant, and prates about "the fierce and brutal consumption of human life." I am inclined to think he believes in the checker-board theory of carrying on war; but the sum total of Grant's sins was, that he did not retreat, and give Lee time to recruit and strengthen his position. My friend persistently forgets that these hard knocks in the end used up the rebel army, and introduced him, as a writer, to his subject, "The Lost Cause." Though the end does not always justify the means, it did in this instance, fully and unequivocally. Though the national army had in these six days lost thirty-five thousand men, in killed, wounded, and missing, the destruction in the rebel ranks could not have been greatly less, in spite of the advantages under which it was engaged. If Grant had retired, and left Lee to recuperate the pluck of his army by proclaiming his victory, and to recruit his exhausted forces, the results of these tremendous battles would have been lost to the loyal cause. As it was, they ground in upon the spirits of the rebel army, and produced their proper share of the effect [305]which finally resulted in the overthrow of the Rebellion. Pollard knows very well if Grant had turned back, the Confederacy would have obtained a new lease of life; and he frets because the illustrious soldier would not oblige Lee in this respect.

On Thursday, Hancock made a sudden attack, surprising the rebels, capturing one entire division, two brigades of another, and thirty guns, the number of prisoners being between three and four thousand. This was a decided success. Generals Johnson and G.H. Stuart were captured. Hancock extended his hand to Stuart, whom he had known before, exclaiming, "How are you, Stuart?" But the rebel was haughty and "airy," and replied, "I am General Stuart, of the Confederate army, and under present circumstances I decline to take your hand." "Under any other circumstances I should not have offered it," added Hancock, with coolness and dignity.

The enemy made a desperate effort to recover what he had lost, and the battle became general again; but no permanent advantage was secured. Lee retired to his inner line of intrenchments, which he had strengthened so that a direct assault was not practicable. For a week, while the roads were rendered unfit for use by heavy rains, the two armies confronted each other. Grant watched for an opportunity to turn the enemy's position, but his wily foe as often discovered his purpose. It was manifest that no brilliant results were to be achieved at Spottsylvania, and Grant made up his mind to "fick it again." A new flank movement was begun, and the lieutenant general safely moved his army "on to Richmond," [306]across the North Anna River, where its passage was disputed by the rebels; but they were driven back, and the nationals crossed the stream, posting themselves in a strong position.

In the mean time, Grant had changed his base of supplies from Fredericksburg to White House, on the Pamunkey. Sheridan had returned from his raid, and was rendering efficient service in protecting the supplies with his cavalry, and in reconnoitring the positions of the enemy. Lee, who had been over all this ground before, in the memorable campaign with McClellan, and knew from experience what strong places the region contained, was found to be even more securely placed than before. Grant therefore decided not to attack him in his intrenchments, but, under cover of a feint, recrossed the North Anna, marched along its banks till he reached the Pamunkey, of which the former river is a branch, crossing it near Hanover Court House, only sixteen miles from Richmond.

The rebels still kept up with the movement, occupying their intrenchments made to cover Richmond. They were posted on the Chickahominy, which Grant was obliged to cross if he reached the city. He decided to make the attempt to break the enemy's line at Cold Harbor, where roads were available from White House and to the rebel capital. The attack was made, and one of the severest battles of the campaign followed. Sheridan had taken possession of the place, and the enemy attempted to drive him out. The Sixth Corps went to his assistance, and the spot was held. Two days later, four o'clock in the [307]morning, a general assault was made. The first line of the rebel works was carried by Hancock, but he was forced back with heavy losses. The conflict raged with unabated fury till half past one in the afternoon, when the weary combatants rested from the strife. Grant fortified his line, but it was impossible to carry the rebel strongholds.

The battle was fought on the third day of June. The enemy had successfully repulsed the attack, and practically demonstrated that the door of Richmond was not open in that direction. Grant was not dismayed, nor even "shamed;" nor was the "Moloch of the North sated." "On to Richmond" was still the beating of his heart, and still he fought it out on this line. If nothing could be done, it would be useless to stay in the swamps, where disease and death lurked for their victims. Grant promptly decided to "fick it again," and commenced the difficult movement of transporting his vast army to the south side of the James.



Wherein Captain Galligasken describes in brief Detail the Siege of Petersburg and Richmond, and attends the illustrious Soldier to the End of the Campaign at Appomattox Court House.

In my limited space, it would be impossible for me to do anything more than indicate the principal movements of the army. The details are so cumbrous and complicated that they would require a whole volume, and they are not necessary to my purpose in illustrating the character of General Grant.

Doubtless General Lee was aware of the movements of the Union army, for a body of troops, numbering over a hundred thousand, could hardly have been spirited through a hostile region without some tidings of its operations reaching him. But the transfer was made so skilfully and expeditiously that it was practically a surprise. Probably Lee expected to find Grant battering away at his intrenchments at some point between the Chickahominy and the James; but he must have been astonished when he heard of him fifty-five miles distant, menacing his lines on the south side of Richmond.

General Butler, with the army of the James, was at Bermuda Hundred, on the river. He had been [309]directed to capture Petersburg while it was feebly defended. He had made the attempt, but it had failed. He had strongly fortified his position, and kept a rebel force in front of him, thus in part answering the ends for which he had been sent to the south side.

General Lee, finding that Grant was menacing Richmond from a new quarter, hurried his army through the city to confront him in his new position. On the arrival of Grant at Butler's encampment, he immediately sent out another force for the capture of Petersburg, which was an exceedingly important point, covering the railroad connections with the south. The rebels in the intrenchments in front of Butler hastened to the defence of the exposed city, and the vacated works were occupied by Union troops, but they were eventually driven back. The army was drawn up around Petersburg, where the enemy was very strongly intrenched in three lines of works. A vigorous and determined assault was made, but without gaining anything more than a temporary advantage. Burnside got near enough with his black brigades to throw a few shells into Petersburg, but after a bloody conflict he was forced back. The effort was faithfully made, and continued through three days; but the works were invulnerable.

At this point Grant fixed his gripe upon the two cities of Richmond and Petersburg. By his hard fighting he had secured favorable positions to commence his siege operations, which were vigorously followed up till the final event.

Phil Sheridan had been sent off on another raid to destroy the Virginia Central Railroad, and to unite [310]with Hunter, by whom Sigel had been superseded, after his defeat by Breckinridge. He succeeded fully in the first part of his purpose, but could not find Hunter, who had been sent down through the Shenandoah Valley to strike Lynchburg. Twelve miles from Staunton, he encountered Jones's command, fought, and defeated it, taking fifteen hundred prisoners. Hunter united the expeditions of Crook and Averill with his own, and marched upon Lynchburg; but Lee had reënforced its garrison, and he was compelled to retreat, which he did by the way of West Virginia, thus placing his troops out of the field at a time when they were very much needed. This army had been relied upon by Grant to keep back a rebel approach up the Shenandoah Valley towards Washington, while he had coiled the army of the Potomac around Lee's forces south of the James, so that there was no danger of the main body again menacing the national capital.

It makes me even now groan in spirit to recall the failures of Grant's subordinates who were removed from the immediate sphere of his influence; but when I think how charitable the lieutenant general was to them, it is not meet that I should complain. These short comings were galling and vexatious to him, imperilling the mighty plans he had so laboriously built up; but he behaved like a Christian in every disappointment and trial.

Several cavalry raids were organized, which inflicted severe injuries upon the enemy's communications south of Petersburg. The celebrated mine was sprung on the 30th of July, which blew up one of the [311]most important of the rebel forts, involving a battery and the greater part of a regiment in its destruction; but the result, which had promised so well, realized nothing but disaster. As soon as Lee discovered that Hunter was retreating through West Virginia, he sent Jubal Early, with a picked force of twenty-five thousand men, down the Shenandoah Valley, to threaten Washington, and to capture it, if practicable, hoping thus to distract the attention of Grant, and cause him to relax the "anaconda" gripe in which he held the rebel army. This army swept fiercely down the valley, and driving the small Union force in the vicinity before it, crossed the Potomac. Strong bodies of cavalry, under Mosby, rushed through Maryland, plundering Hagerstown and Frederick City, robbing the stores, and extorting money from the people to save their houses from being burned. They destroyed a portion of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and threatened Baltimore and Washington.

General Wallace gathered a force of eight thousand men, and attempted to dispute the passage of Early's army; but as the enemy were three to his one, he was compelled to fall back, though he fought a sharp battle before doing so. Washington and Baltimore were now greatly alarmed, and the citizens were called to arms. The enemy came within five miles of the capital. Grant sent the Sixth Corps, under Wright, and a portion of the Nineteenth, which had just arrived from New Orleans, for its protection. There was some heavy skirmishing near the capital, but the rebels soon retired. Wright was ordered to follow them; and, having overtaken Early, a smart engagement ensued, in which the enemy was defeated.


The Shenandoah region gave the lieutenant general a great deal of trouble. He found that Early had no intention of returning to Richmond, but had established himself in the valley; was gathering the rich harvests there, and sending large supplies to the rebel capital. He visited Hunter in person, and gave him particular instructions to follow Early, and to destroy all supplies; but finding Hunter willing to be relieved, he soon after assigned Sheridan to the Middle Military Division, which included all this section, and all the troops in Washington and its vicinity. The bold cavalryman was not only the most dashing officer in the army, but one of the best and most skilful generals. He soon brought order and harmony out of the confusion and complications which had so disturbed the general-in-chief. Grant cautioned him at first to avoid a general engagement, fearful, in case of defeat, of exposing Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the capital to new incursions.

Sheridan was full of fight, and saw his way clearly to a national victory; but he was too good a soldier to disobey his orders. Grant was willing to give the desired permission, but, not fully understanding the situation, or the views of his subordinate, he made a second visit to the Middle Division, and had an interview with Sheridan at his headquarters, near Harper's Ferry. High as his opinion had before been of the dashing soldier, the lieutenant general seems to have received a new revelation of his character and purposes on this occasion, as his enlarged sphere brought out his capacities; and he found it necessary to give him only that brief and singularly expressive order, [313]"Go in!" Grant adds that he never found it necessary to visit Sheridan again before giving him orders.

Sheridan "went in"! He promptly attacked Early, fought him all day, and beat him thoroughly. The enemy lost five guns, fifteen battle flags, and five thousand prisoners. Not satisfied with this splendid result, he pursued the defeated foe up the valley, till the latter made a stand at Fisher's Hill. Here Sheridan "went in" again, routed Early, drove him from his position, scattering portions of his force among the mountains. Leisurely returning, he posted himself at Cedar Creek to rest his troops after their hard marching and fighting. Here, while Sheridan was absent at Winchester, his army was surprised and badly beaten. The guns were captured, portions of the force routed, and the whole compelled to retreat.

Sheridan was twenty miles from the scene of action; but hearing the distant booming of the guns, he mounted his good horse, and dashed away at a furious speed, and, in the midst of the rout, appeared upon the lost field, his charger reeking with foam. Dashing along the broken lines, then in retreat, he swung his hat in air, shouting furiously to the troops, "Face the other way, boys! We are going back." The stragglers began to rally at this startling presence on the field; and pushing to the main body, he electrified the army with his glorious spirit. "Boys, this would not have happened if I had been here," he called; "we are going back." Dashing here and there like a meteor among the troops, he re-formed the lines, and made his dispositions for a renewal of the battle. Before the arrangements were quite completed the [314]rebels came down upon the lines again for a fresh and overwhelming assault. This time the onslaught was boldly and successfully resisted; and Sheridan, taking advantage of a momentary reeling of the enemy, charged upon them with infantry and cavalry, broke their lines, and thoroughly routed them. All that the rebels had was captured, including the guns and camp equipage which they had taken in the morning.

Sheridan, by his personal presence, by his magnetic influence, and by his unsurpassed military skill, had wrested victory from defeat. The one man had fought the battle, and had won it. For his brilliant achievement, he was made a major general in the regular army, in the place of General McClellan, who resigned to go into politics. Grant ordered one hundred guns to be fired from each of the armies around Petersburg in honor of Sheridan's victory. "Turning what bade fair to be a disaster into a glorious victory," said the lieutenant general, "stamps Sheridan—what I have always thought him—one of the ablest of generals."

Sheridan's victory also stamps Grant as the ablest of generals; for in the selection of his pet he displayed a knowledge of human character and a keen perception of the adaptation of means to ends, the want of which had caused so many other generals to fail. My friend Pollard is made especially mad by this episode in the Shenandoah Valley. He is particularly disgusted with the singular story of "the sudden apparition of General Sheridan on a black horse flecked with foam," though in the same chapter in which he [315]alludes to the incident, he tells a story himself which would have made Baron Munchausen tremble for his reputation.

Sheridan's exploits in the valley, and his destruction of the rebel supplies, put an end to Confederate operations in that quarter. Washington was not menaced again, and the Sixth Corps was sent back to Petersburg to resume its place in the line of investment. The army of the Potomac was still battering away with its siege works at the rebel fortifications. It had extended its line around Petersburg, and destroyed twenty miles of the Weldon Railroad. There was no rest for the troops in the trenches. Every day brought its labors and its battle on a larger or a smaller scale. The sharp-shooters were picking off any man who showed his head above the breastworks. It was ceaseless toil and ceaseless vigilance. Grant was everywhere, on the watch for an opportunity to take advantage of any favoring circumstances. The winter came, and the lieutenant general did not desert the army to engage in the festivities or the excitements of the capital. He still kept his gaze firmly fixed on the prize which would end the Rebellion.

While the general-in-chief had been "hammering" away at the rebel army in Virginia, Sherman, under his direction, had been striking heavy blows at the South. He had fought and flanked his way down to Atlanta, carrying dismay and desolation before his victorious banners. The series of disasters which attended the operations of Johnston caused his removal from the command, Hood taking his place. The "great flanker" punished him even worse than his [316]predecessor, and Hood went into Tennessee, with an army of fifty thousand men, to overwhelm Thomas; but this veteran almost wiped him out, and drove him to the south, with the loss of half his force and more than half his guns and munitions. Farragut thundered into Mobile Bay with his squadron, and, having defeated or sunk the rebel fleet, captured all the forts which covered Mobile. During the winter, Fort Fisher fell, and Wilmington dropped quietly into the hands of the Union forces. To crown the disasters of the Confederacy, Sherman made his grand march to the sea, mowing a wide swath on his passage, and leaving desolation and ruin in his path.

The Confederacy was on its last legs in the spring of 1865, though Lee still held his lines at Petersburg and Richmond. Jeff. Davis was still confident, though his general declared that he was no longer able to make a good fight. Some attempts to negotiate a peace were made, but they failed because the rebels still wanted terms which a conqueror might have asked. Grant had long ago demonstrated that the Confederacy was nothing but a "shell," and it had been broken in a hundred places. Still the rebels held out wherever they had a foot of ground whereon to stand. Still they prated about the "last ditch," and looked confidently, even up to the time of the final disaster, to foreign interference, or to some miraculous interposition of circumstances.

Sherman continued his march, captured Savannah, caused the evacuation of Charleston, and occupied Columbia. Johnston was gathering an army in North Carolina for the purpose of overwhelming him. [317]Grant feared that Lee would desert Richmond, and seek to join the forces of Johnston. Indeed, he had been partly moved by this consideration in the selection of the south side of the James as his field of operations. Richmond, without the rebel army which for four long years had been defending it, would be a showy, but not a substantial prize.

President Lincoln went down to City Point, and visited the national army in its several positions, as well to inform himself practically of the situation as to encourage the soldiers who had so long and so valiantly struggled for the salvation of the nation. The preparations for the final campaign were completed, and the army was to move on the 29th of March; but four days before this time arrived, Lee made his last struggle to escape the gripe of Grant's anaconda, and to realize the indefinite circumstance which was to clear up the horizon of Southern prospects. He massed his troops, and made an impetuous assault on Fort Steadman. The attack was so sudden and violent, that for the moment it was a success, and the rebels were in full possession of the redoubt. But the Union guns were immediately pointed at the work, and a terrible fire poured in upon the enemy. The infantry charged upon the rebels in the fort, now cut off from their retreat, and two thousand of them were compelled to surrender. President Lincoln had been invited to review the troops; but from a hill he was permitted to behold the recapture of the fort, which suited him better, as a spectacle. A general attack was ordered, and the Union line dashed gallantly forward, capturing the enemy's picket line, which they were unable to recover.


About this time Sherman, whose army was at Goldsboro', made a hasty visit to City Point, where he had a consultation with the president, Grant, Meade, and Sheridan, and plans were matured to prevent a junction between Lee and Johnston. The lieutenant general's "hammering" process was now bringing forth its proper fruit in the rebel ranks. Deserters and stragglers from them were thicker than snow-flakes at Christmas. They had learned what Grant was. They had found that he was a fighting general, and they were not willing to be sacrificed to the Moloch of the South, battling for what was already a "Lost Cause." It was confidently believed that Lee was more intent upon the problem of retiring with his army than on that of longer protecting Richmond. His movement upon Fort Steadman was doubtless intended to facilitate his escape.

Grant had no idea of permitting his wily foe to "retire." He was more desirous of capturing the rebel army than of taking Richmond. On the 29th of March—the day appointed for the grand movement—Sheridan was sent out to Dinwiddie Court House, south-west of Petersburg. The left of the main army had been advanced so that Grant's line extended from the Appomattox, below Petersburg, to Dinwiddie. Grant himself was at Gravelly Run, between Sheridan and the left of the main body, watching coolly, but with the most intense anxiety, the development of his programme. Sheridan, in spite of the heavy rains which had rendered the roads impassable for wagons, floundered through the mud with his cavalry to Five Forks, where the enemy was [319]in force. Warren, with the Fifth Corps, extended his lines nearly up to the same point.

Sheridan "went in" with his usual impetuosity, and seized Five Forks. The enemy made a desperate attack upon Warren, and forced him back for a time, though he soon recovered from the shock and held his own. The enemy then turned upon Sheridan, occupying an isolated position, and compelled him slowly to fall back; and he retreated upon Dinwiddie, instead of upon the main line, thus compelling the rebels in their pursuit to extend their line—a piece of strategy which called forth the warmest commendations of his commander. Grant, solicitous for his safety, sent two divisions of the Fifth Corps to Sheridan, who with this aid attacked the rebels on his front, and drove them back to Five Forks again.

At this point the Confederates were in heavy force; but Sheridan made his dispositions with remarkable skill, hurried up the Fifth Corps, and with his cavalry executed a brilliant manœuvre, by which the battle was won, the rebels routed, and six thousand prisoners captured. By this bold and skilful movement, so admirably executed by Sheridan, the right of the rebel line was turned. In support of this operation on the left, Grant ordered a heavy bombardment to be kept up during the entire night of April 1, the day on which Sheridan had fought this decisive action, and at four o'clock the next morning (Sunday) a combined assault was made with perfect success, which was followed up till the enemy broke from his lines, and fled from the lost field, following the road along the south bank of the Appomattox.


Richmond and Petersburg were lost to the rebels!

No tidings of these terrific conflicts had reached Richmond. The people still believed, as Jeff. Davis had taught them, that Richmond could hold out for twenty years before any force operating against it. Lee sent a message to the obstinate "president" of the Confederacy that the battle was lost, and that the army must flee from its strongholds. The despatch was handed to Davis while he was at church. He read it, hastily rose, and went out. He was ghastly pale, and his face revealed the disaster to all who saw it. He was alarmed for his personal safety, and perhaps trembled in view of the halter that hung to the allegorical "sour apple tree," which had been celebrated in song all over the loyal land. Taking a train to the south, he left Richmond, which he was to enter again only as an indicted traitor. That night the city was evacuated in hot haste and set on fire by its late defenders, disappointed and desperate at the grand finale of Rebellion. General Weitzel entered and took possession the next morning. The flag of the redeemed Union waved triumphantly over the capital of Virginia.

Grant was not looking after Richmond just now. I do not know that he made any mention of the place in his documents, but in his despatch to Sherman, on the 5th of April, he says, "Rebel armies are now the only strategic points to strike at." Acting on this view, he ordered the most vigorous pursuit of Lee. Sheridan was sent forward with his cavalry, and the Sixth Corps, now temporarily under his command. He continued to "hammer" whenever an opportunity [321]offered. At Sailor's Creek he struck the enemy a heavy blow, which resulted in the capture of sixteen guns, four hundred wagons, and seven thousand prisoners.

The pursuit then became a hunt. Lee had lost his supplies, or had been cut off from them. On his arrival at Amelia Court House, he was compelled to halt, to rest his men, and gather up food for their support from the country. This delay afforded the Union cavalry time to get ahead of him and destroy the Danville Railroad, his chosen means of retreat to effect a junction with Johnston.

The whole army of the Potomac was concentrated at Jettersville to attack Lee at Amelia, but he had fled, now bent upon reaching the mountains beyond Lynchburg. The pursuit was hurried up, Confederate supply trains captured, and the enemy reduced to desperate straits. Their sufferings were intensely severe, hundreds of them dropping with sheer exhaustion, for the want of rest and food, while the majority were no longer able to carry their muskets. Crossing the river, Lee had dragged his weary way to Appomattox Court House. On the night of April 6, a number of his officers informally met, and agreed that surrender was all that was left to the miserable army, worn out, starved, and thinned by wholesale desertion. One of them informed Lee of their conclusion; but whatever he thought, he did not adopt their suggestion.

The excellent Pollard does not hesitate to hint that Grant was a "butcher;" but it is acknowledged that Lee had no hope of the campaign in which he had engaged a week before, and had only persisted in [322]fighting to please Davis. He waived his own opinion, and fought those bloody battles from Petersburg to Sailor's Creek, when he was satisfied there was no hope. What was he but a "butcher"? Is he not responsible for every life sacrificed at his order after he knew that the strife was hopeless? Lee was a skilful soldier, and if we could wipe out the fact that he was a traitor, that he fought against the government which had educated him to support it, and which he had sworn to defend; if we could forget that his influence might have removed the stains of Andersonville, Belle Island, and other rebel prisons from the annals of the miserable Confederacy; if he had ceased to shed blood when his conscience assured him treason could no longer flourish upon the sacrifice,—we might hold him up as a hero. As it is, he deserves the infamy he has won.

It was left for Grant to obey the promptings of humanity—for the "butcher" to make the overtures to stay the further useless flow of blood.



Wherein Captain Galligasken has a few Words to say about Lee's Surrender, and demonstrates, to his own and his Reader's entire Satisfaction, that the illustrious Soldier is not an accidental Hero.

If Grant had been the "butcher" which the rebels declared him to be, if he had been less magnanimous than he was, he would have compelled rather than "asked" the surrender of Lee's broken army. The Confederate general knew that he was surrounded, and that he was utterly incapable of fighting another general battle. Grant addressed the following letter to him from Farmville:—

"April 7, 1865.

"General: The result of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the Confederate States army known as the army of Northern Virginia.

U.S. Grant, Lieutenant General."


Lee replied, in a note of the same date, that, though he did not entertain the opinion expressed by Grant of the hopelessness of further resistance, he reciprocated the desire to avoid the useless effusion of blood, and asked what terms would be offered on condition of the surrender of his army. Pollard makes Lee say that he was not entirely of Grant's opinion of the hopelessness of further resistance. Pollard admires and glorifies Lee, and aims to soften the affectation of his letter, wherein he ignores the fact that his men were utterly demoralized, starved, unarmed, and unable either to fight or to run. That ridiculous Virginian pride which had sacrificed thousands of lives after the cause of the South was known to be hopeless, was still in the ascendency.

On the 8th Sheridan captured twenty-five guns, four trains of cars with supplies, and a hospital train. Grant replied to Lee's disingenuous note, and, pleading in the interests of peace and humanity, dealing gently with the pride of the fallen Virginian, offered the most liberal terms. Peace being his chief desire, he insisted only on one condition—that the officers and men of the rebel army should, by the surrender, be disqualified for taking up arms again until properly exchanged. He proposed a meeting, to interchange views and regulate terms, thus magnanimously taking upon himself the initiative in what must be so disagreeable to the rebel general.

Lee promptly replied that he had not proposed to surrender—only to ask the terms of Grant's proposition. "To be frank, I do not think the emergency has arisen to call for the surrender of this army," he [325]writes. How a Virginian gentleman, wedded to truth and honor, could make such a statement as this, passes the belief of one who was brought up to be faithful to the homely New England virtues. If the emergency had not arisen, then, in the surrender, Lee was a traitor to the South, as from the beginning he had been to the national government. But he condescends to meet Grant. The lieutenant general declines to see Lee to make a treaty of peace, but he explains that peace will come when the South lays down its arms. On the 9th the rebels made a desperate effort to break through the cavalry which surrounded them, and force a way out of the net into which they had fallen. They were signally defeated, and held in their position. This was the last struggle, and the enemy was in the last corner of the "last ditch." A white flag soon appears in front of the Confederate line. Lee has come to his senses at last, and asks for an interview to arrange the terms of surrender. The emergency has actually arisen at last.

The meeting took place in the house of Mr. Wilmer McLean. It was a grand occasion, worthy the pen of the historian or the pencil of the artist. The grand army of Northern Virginia had been "hammered" till there was almost nothing left of it. Grant had stuck to it from the Rapidan, thirteen months before, until only its shadow was now left, and even that was dissolving before its conqueror.

Lee appeared dressed "more gayly" than usual, wearing the elegant sword presented to him by his friends, strictly observing all the requirements of courtesy. He was formal, precise, and still dignified, [326]notwithstanding the humiliating task he was called upon to perform. Grant wore his ordinary uniform, but carried no sword. The terms of the surrender were agreed upon, and signed by both parties. The rebels were to be paroled, after marching out and stacking their arms. The officers were to retain their side arms, private horses, and baggage. Each officer and man was to be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as he observed his parole, and obeyed the laws in force where he resided.

The rebel general acknowledged the magnanimity of his conqueror in giving him and his army such exceedingly favorable terms—terms which finally saved all included in their provisions from the penalty of treason. Even my friend Pollard begins to see that Grant is a noble-minded, magnanimous man, and praises his conduct without stint or measure. On the 12th the army of Northern Virginia appeared for the last time on the stage as a body. They formed their last parade, stacked their arms, and parked their artillery, to be taken possession of by the Union troops. Grant was not present at this ceremonial, for he was not a man to indulge in any exultation over his fallen foe, and his delicacy was duly appreciated by the rebels. Pollard's testimony, at this point, indicates a just apprehension of the illustrious soldier; a candid recognition of those traits of character which I have tried to exhibit throughout my work; and I cannot do better than quote his words.

"Indeed, this Federal commander had, in the closing scenes of the contest, behaved with a magnanimity and [327]decorum that must ever be remembered to his credit, even by those who disputed his reputation in other respects, and denied his claims to great generalship. He had, with remarkable facility, accorded honorable and liberal terms to the vanquished army. He did nothing to dramatize the surrender; he made no triumphal entry into Richmond; he avoided all those displays of triumph so dear to the Northern heart; he spared everything that might wound the feelings or imply the humiliation of a vanquished foe. There were no indecent exultations, no 'sensations,' no shows; he received the surrender of his adversary with every courteous recognition due an honorable enemy, and conducted the closing scenes with as much simplicity as possible."

Seven thousand five hundred rebels only appeared as the wreck of the army of Northern Virginia, though eighteen thousand "stragglers," hammered out of the line by Grant's persistent pounding, came forward and claimed the benefit of the surrender. After my courteous friend, the author of The Lost Cause, has so kindly furnished me with material for this biography, it pains me to be compelled to raise any further objections to his veracity; but his arithmetic is sadly at fault. He struggles earnestly to convey the impression that Grant, from the Rapidan to Appomattox, was fighting a mere handful of men, which the Union army outnumbered in the ratio of three or four to one; and some of Grant's Northern enemies, or lukewarm friends, have been too willing to use his figures. Pollard says Lee had thirty-three thousand, at both Richmond and Petersburg, in the first months of 1865. [328]He mentions twenty-five thousand five hundred at the surrender, acknowledges that five thousand were taken prisoners in the "shameful misfortune" at Five Forks, and permits us to imply that about the same number were captured at Sailor's Creek,—thus making up thirty-five thousand five hundred, without counting the killed and wounded, though he says of Fort Gregg, that only thirty of two hundred and fifty composing the garrison survived the defence. Long before the fortunes of the day became desperate in the extreme, Pollard groans over heavy losses and numerous stragglers. Undoubtedly the national army did outnumber the rebels. Either General Lee was no general, and was the stupidest fanatic that even the Southern Confederacy contained, or he had at least fifty thousand men under his command, which was by recognized military rules, a fair proportion, fighting behind elaborate fortifications, to the force of the national army. Thirty-three thousand men could not have held his lines twenty-four hours. In my humble opinion, he had from seventy-five to a hundred thousand men. I should cease to respect him as a rebel if he had not, for it would have been inhumanity and butchery for him to stand out with a less number.

Grant immediately sent the main body of the army to Burkville. Sherman received the news of Lee's surrender, and Johnston proposed a meeting to arrange terms for a capitulation. They were drawn up, but sent to the capital for approval. The lieutenant general went immediately to Washington. His mission in the field was ended. His name was on every tongue as the greatest of conquerors. He had given [329]the finishing stroke to the greatest rebellion the world had ever seen. All over the nation the people were rejoicing. Cannon thundered forth the joy of the country, and the old flag was spread to the breeze, tenfold more dear now that it waved again over a united nation.

Grant went on his way quietly to the national capital, with no pomp and parade to announce the progress of the conqueror. He did not even go to Richmond on his way—the city which had been a stumbling-block in the path of the Union armies, now fallen by the might of his genius and his persistency. So quietly did he travel, that it was hardly known he had arrived. He hastened to the War Department, where the indefatigable Stanton heartily congratulated him. The lieutenant general still meant business, though it was now the details of peace instead of those of war. On the morning of the assassination of President Lincoln he attended a cabinet meeting. He suggested to the government that as the war was practically ended, the enormous expenses of the army should be immediately reduced. All drafting and recruiting in the loyal states were suspended, and large reductions were proposed.

It was announced that Grant would attend the theatre in the evening with the president; but having arrived on the day before, he was anxious to see his family, and started for Trenton. Probably the dagger which Booth flourished was intended for the lieutenant general; but Providence had other work for him to do, and he was miraculously spared. On receiving the tidings of the assassination, he returned [330]instantly to Washington, and attended the funeral of his steadfast friend and supporter.

Sherman's arrangement with Johnston was promptly disapproved by the government, and Grant went to Raleigh to smooth the way with his veteran friend to close up this unpleasant business. The surrender was received on the same terms that had been granted to Lee, and on this basis all the remaining armies of the Rebellion laid down their arms. Towards the last of May there was a grand review in Washington, which occupied two days. The brave veterans marched before the chief officers of the government and of the army; then doffed their blue uniform, and became private citizens. This was the last act in the drama of the Great Rebellion, exhibiting the crowning glory of our republic in the facility with which legions of armed men lay aside their military character, and resort to the peaceful occupations of the country.

The war was ended! The thought thrilled the people even more than the fact of hostilities had in the beginning. The reflection was all the more thrilling because the strife had ended in victory. It makes us shudder to think of the condition of the country if it had ended in defeat, if the unconquerable spirit of the North would ever have let it end in such a calamity. The nation realized the blessing which was born of the triumph of the national arms. I can conceive of such a thing as the continuance of the war until both North and South were ruined—until the nation crumbled to pieces by the weight of its own miseries.

From such a fate I honestly, candidly, and con[331]scientiously believe Grant saved his country. There was no other man in all the land to accomplish the work which he performed. There was not another general who had the genius, the moral and mental attributes, for the stupendous task. I earnestly and gratefully recognize the inestimable value of the services even of those who failed to achieve what was expected and required of them. Those gallant men who successively commanded the army of the Potomac lacked some essential requisite in the sum total of character which the emergency demanded. Grant possessed them all, in such singular harmony that he alone could direct the army in the path to victory. All others failed; he alone succeeded.

It is hardly necessary to analyze the means by which he succeeded in his gigantic enterprise. Others turned back from the goal when their strategy failed, when the rules of warfare failed in their application. Grant used his strategy and his tactics to the utmost, and passed them for all they were worth. When they were no longer available, he "hammered" the enemy. When the old rules failed, he made new ones. He was an art and a science unto himself.

I say Grant was the only man who could conquer the Rebellion; the only one who had the elements of success in him. I, Bernard Galligasken, say this, and I speak advisedly, knowing what I say. During the war, men went from the ranks up to generals of division in a couple of years. If any one had any military talent, he went up like a rocket, and, alas! he often went down like one, when he had soared to the ethereal regions whose air he could not breathe and live. [332]Almost all who were heroes in the first year of the war were laid on the shelf before it was half finished. Corporals became colonels, and major generals disappeared from the scene of strife. If there was a skilful and patriotic man in the army, he was raised up; if there was an unskilful one, he was pulled down, whatever height he had attained. The need of the nation was desperate, and it could court or flatter no man who was not successful. For three long years the army was hungry for a competent leader, but found him not. The government longed for a mighty man, and was always ready to give him all the honors and all the power it had, without asking his politics, his religion, his antecedents, or even his nationality. There was a chance for any man who had the needed ability; the army, the people, the government, were ready to take him, when he won his laurel, elevate him to the highest position, go down on their knees before him, obey him, trust him, follow him. The path that Grant trod was open to every soldier, and, indeed, to every civilian.

Where are McClellan, Fremont, Buell, Rosecrans, Pope, Hooker, Burnside? I believe that the country owes them all a debt of gratitude for what they did in the war, and ought to forgive them for what they did not do. All of them were placed in positions to achieve the high eminence which Grant reached. It is no discredit to them that they did not succeed in them. I am not willing to believe that it was their fault that they failed, even while each of them may justly be held responsible for his own mistakes. I only wish to show that each of them had, if not a fair [333]chance, at least the same chance that Grant had; certainly none of them was more maligned, none of them more savagely treated by politicians and evil advisers in Washington. If some of them were not trusted as long as Grant, it was only because they did not exhibit abilities which gave the same promise of ultimate success.

Grant was no accidental hero. I have followed him through the struggles of his brilliant career, and I declare upon my sacred honor as a soldier and an historian, that never a success did he win which he did not work for. Behold him at Donelson, threading his way, in the cold blasts of that bitter storm, among his weary, freezing soldiers, day after day and night after night, wresting victory from the opposing elements! Could it have been an accident that he won that brilliant victory, after the herculean labor he personally performed, after the severe sufferings which he personally endured, after the savage fighting in which he personally engaged? Was it an accident, that, in the midst of disaster, he gave the startling order to charge upon the enemy's strong works, and made fighting men out of soldiers demoralized and defeated? Behold him in the Vicksburg campaign, standing up by the might of his potent will, and against the advice of all his trusted generals, cutting loose from his supplies, and fighting battle after battle, till the foe was driven within his stronghold! Was this success an accident? See him sleeping on the ground with his faithful soldiers, with no covering but the stars; see him marching by day and watching by night, attending to the minutest details of the commissary and the [334]quartermaster! Every success was wrung from opposing elements, and carried through over the most stupendous obstacle. See him, partially disabled, with his head pillowed upon a stump, in the pelting rain, after the hard-fought day at Shiloh, exhausted by his superhuman labors, stealing an hour of rest to keep him alive for the duties of another day—see him, and declare that accidental heroes are not made after this fashion! Go with him, crippled in body, and worn out with suffering on a sick bed, to the gloom of defeat and starvation at Chattanooga! Follow him as he moves about on his crutches through the streets of that beleaguered town, bringing light out of darkness, joy and victory out of misery and disaster. Not thus do accidental heroes soar to sublime heights.

Accidental fortune is not thus constant. To the hero crowned with success, as Grant is, only a lofty patriotism, a sublime devotion to his country, and a splendid genius, can be constant. These desert him never. These triumph over all obstacles, bearing their possessor to the loftiest pinnacle of fame, and, better still, to the highest place in the regards of a free and intelligent people, as they have borne Grant. No accident, no combination of accidents, could have lifted him up, or sustained him a single year.

In the selection of his subordinates Grant won half his success. Cool, unbiassed judgment did its perfect work for him. His singleness of purpose freed him from bias. He raised men up, or he threw them down, only in the interests of the hallowed cause to which he gave his whole mind and heart. No man [335]ever lived, or ever will live, who more entirely sunk himself in the work he had engaged to do. If any high officer stood in the way of the success of the Union arms, he was removed; for Grant always knew his man. He was wholly free from personal prejudice and partiality. He elevated no man who was not fit to be elevated. Of the prominent officers who stood the test of the war, every one was either raised up by Grant, or stood approved by him. Sherman and Sheridan were his protégés; Thomas owed his position as an independent commander to him; Meade and Schofield have to thank him for the high places they hold to-day. He selected them for the great work they did; and while they, in a sense, built him up, he afforded them the opportunity to which their ability entitled them. In building up himself, he built them up; in saving the nation, they saved each other, and won imperishable renown.

"The soldiers and sailors are not all for a sham hero, a creature of fortuitous circumstances," said a noted political general at a convention of which Wade Hampton and Forrest, ex-rebel generals, were members, to say nothing of the Northern traitors who had stabbed the government in the back during the whole course of the war. He alluded to Grant, the nominee of the national party of the Union—our Standard-Bearer in the contest which is to complete the victory won on the Southern battle-fields. This same political general was a brave man—as brave as any negro private whom his fellow-member in the convention butchered at Fort Pillow; but he was the marplot of Grant's Vicksburg campaign. Scores of brave men [336]were slaughtered at Champion's Hill by his criminal delay to obey his superior's orders. At Shiloh, Sherman fought his division for him, because he did not know how himself. The key to this sneer about the "creature of fortuitous circumstances" is found in the fact that Grant removed from command the author of the phrase at Vicksburg, for publishing a stupid, ridiculous, and sensational order, wherein he arrogated to himself the principal glory of the fighting at Vicksburg, whereas he was notoriously dilatory, lax, and incompetent in the discharge of his duties. If the Lord, in his infinite wisdom, permitted any "sham heroes" to be inflicted upon our war-stricken nation, the author of this sentence was the principal of them. It was Grant's chief glory that he conquered in spite of such malignant obstacles in his path. But our glorious Standard-Bearer needs no defence at my hands, and I humbly apologize for bringing this viper of the New York Convention into my story.



Wherein Captain Galligasken follows the illustrious Soldier in his Career after the War, relates several Anecdotes of him, and respectfully invites the whole World to match him.

The war was ended, and far above every other man in the country, civilian or soldier, stood General Grant. In this sublime attitude he was still the same simple-hearted, plain, and unostentatious man. The people, full of admiration and gratitude, rendered every honor to the illustrious soldier which ingenuity could devise. Presents of every description poured in upon him. Two valuable houses, richly furnished, a library, and princely sums of money were given to him, and gratefully received, as tokens of the people's regard. He made several tours of pleasure and business, in which he was everywhere received with the most tremendous demonstrations of applause. There could be no mistaking his hold upon the people. They loved, admired, respected him. But in the midst of these splendid ovations, he was still modest, self-possessed, and dignified.

In 1865 Grant visited the Senate Chamber at Washington. He paid his respects to the senators, and left the room. When he had gone, one of the Democratic [338]members declared that a great mistake had been made in appointing Grant a lieutenant general, for there wasn't a second lieutenant in the home-guard of his state who did not "cut a bigger swell" than the man who had just left their presence! When he was regarded as an available candidate for the presidency during the war, he was approached on the subject by a zealous partisan. He declared that there was only one political office which he desired. When the war was over, he wanted to be elected mayor of Galena! If successful, he intended to see to it that the sidewalk between his house and the depot was put in better order. In one of his excursions in 1865, he visited his former home at Galena. A magnificent reception welcomed him. Triumphal arches greeted him in the streets, in which were blazoned the victories he had won. In that which contained his house and the sidewalk he condemned was one bearing the inscription, "General, the sidewalk is built."

At Georgetown, where his childhood had been spent, and in whose streets he had first smelt gunpowder as a baby, the whole town turned out to see and to greet him with the homage due to the great conqueror. Here he made one of his longest speeches, amounting to something like ten lines! In Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, he was received as no man ever had been before. At West Point, whither he had gone to pay his grateful respects to his alma mater, Lieutenant General Scott, his old commander in Mexico, presented him a copy of "Scott's Memoirs," inscribed, "From the oldest to the greatest General." If Scott's opinion, as a military man, is [339]worth anything to the sceptic, here was his written indorsement of the preëminence of Grant.

Grant made no speeches. In this respect he has been an enigma to the American people. He was a reticent man, in the fullest sense of the word. For my own part, I should as soon think of condemning Abraham Lincoln because he could not, or did not, turn back somersets on a tight rope, as to complain of Grant because he could not, or did not, make speeches. In this respect he does not differ from hundreds of other great men. Washington and Jefferson were very indifferent speech-makers. Napoleon wrote startling bulletins, but never distinguished himself as an orator. Grant's congratulatory orders are full of fire, and, better, full of sound common sense. His reports are replete with wisdom simply expressed, and they are models of compact narration.

I wish to go a step further. I fully believe that Grant's reticence is one of the elements of his greatness. It is impossible for me to think of him as a successful commander, if he had been a brawler, or even a great talker. Most emphatically was his silence, his reticence, "golden." I can point to not less than three generals, high in position, who might have been successful if they had possessed a talent for holding their tongues. But Grant has always said enough, and, better still, done enough, to enable the people to ascertain his opinions on great subjects before the country. His position during the Rebellion, in regard to slavery, negro soldiers, and the general conduct of the war, was not concealed. The people knew just how he stood. His orders are open, unre[340]served; and no man's record more thoroughly commits him to the people's policy than that of Grant. He was one of the first to give effective aid to the government, in enlisting and organizing negro troops—a subject so trying to the nerves of many of the old army officers, that they were either dumb, or arrayed in virtual opposition to the national policy.

During the troubles between the president and Congress, Grant made no speeches, published no opinions on the disputed questions. The president is the constitutional commander-in-chief of the army, and in his purely military capacity, it would have been improper and indelicate for Grant to meddle with the controversy. But who doubted his sentiments? Congress practically gave him the execution of its plan of reconstruction. It made laws, and depended upon him to carry them out. It is enough to know that Congress confided implicitly in him, and that he drew upon himself the hostility, and even the hatred, of the president, by his manly and straight-forward course.

Grant's reticence was one of the elements of his success, I repeat. He kept his plans to himself. Even his subordinate generals were not often permitted to know them in advance of their execution. One of them visited the lieutenant general, intent upon ascertaining the programme of the chief.

"What are your plans, general, for the conduct of the campaign?" asked the inquirer, not doubting that he had a perfect right to know.

"General, I have a fine horse out here; I want you to go and look at him," replied Grant, leading the way out of the tent.


The inquirer was mortally offended at the coolness with which his question was evaded. On another occasion, the editor of a leading political journal, a young man of fine abilities, but having a rather high estimate of his personal consequence, was presented to the lieutenant general. In the course of the conversation, he attempted to draw from the silent hero some political opinion in regard to the South. Grant replied that they had some fine horses down south, and made an enemy of the politician.

In his reticence there was a purpose; but his silence, so far as speech-making is concerned, is the offspring of constitutional modesty. He is not an off-hand speaker. George Francis Train can make a speech, but Grant cannot. Andrew Johnson can talk in public, but even his best friends have had abundant reason to wish that he could not. It is a notable fact that the greatest orators have generally failed to reach the highest positions of honor and trust. Webster, Clay, and Everett, besides being great statesmen, were brilliant men in the forum; yet all of them died without occupying the seat of the president. But Grant is simply not an impromptu speaker. When the occasion requires, he reads his speech, as greater orators than he are compelled to do. Even Everett never spoke without careful preparation, and the elaborate orations he delivered were generally in type before he declaimed them. I have no fears that Grant will fall short of the expectations even of the American people in this respect, when he has been elected to the presidency; but I am equally confident that he will never become a shame and a scandal to the nation on account of his vicious and unconsidered addresses.


When the gold medal, which was voted by resolution of Congress to Grant, after the campaign of Chattanooga, was finished, a committee from the two houses went down to City Point in a special steamer to present the elegant testimonial of the nation's gratitude to the illustrious soldier. The members of the committee waited upon the lieutenant general, and arranged with him that the formal ceremony of the presentation should take place on board of the headquarters steamer, where ample accommodations were made for the party who were to witness the impressive scene. At the appointed time, the committee, with a few invited guests, appeared. The lieutenant general was attended by his staff, and a few other officers of the army, on duty at the post. One of the most interesting features of the occasion was the presence of General Grant's family, including his wife, his son, and daughter. The youngest of the group was Master Jesse, a bright, handsome lad of six summers, who attracted no inconsiderable degree of attention, not only from his relation to the mighty man of the nation, but on account of his personal attributes. The guests were gathered together in the cabin of the steamer where the ceremony was to take place. The spokesman of the committee stepped forward, and in a neat and appropriate address presented the medal.

General Grant's time came then, and, as usual on all similar occasions, he was greatly embarrassed. He could stand undisturbed while five hundred cannons were thundering in his ears, but he seems to have been afraid of the sound of his own voice. All present were curious to know what he would say, and [343]how he would say it, for he had never made an impromptu speech. The general appeared to be slightly agitated as soon as the congressman's speech had been concluded. He began to fumble about his pockets, just as a school-boy does on the rostrum. He was evidently looking for something, and he could not find it. The delay became painful and awkward in the extreme, not only to the general, but to his sympathizing audience; and little Jesse, his son, seemed to suffer the most in this prolonged interval. At last his patience was exhausted, and he cried out,—

"Father, why don't you say something."—Page 343.

"Father, why don't you say something?"

A burst of applause from the assembly greeted this speech, and it was plain that Jesse had said the right word at the right time. Inheriting some of his father's military genius, he had made a demonstration which turned the attention of the company for the time from the embarrassed general, who, taking advantage of the diversion, renewed the onslaught upon his pockets, and brought forth the written paper for which he had been searching. He then read his "impromptu" speech, which was a simple expression of his thanks, set forth in solid phrase, for the distinguished honor which had been conferred upon him. The assembly were then invited to the spacious between-decks of the steamer, where a substantial collation had been prepared for them; and Jesse was not the least honored and petted of the party.

It is sometimes awkward and unpleasant for a man in public life to be unable to make a speech, but experience has demonstrated that it is often ten times more awkward and unpleasant to be able to make [344]one; and better than any other gift can we spare in an American president that of off-hand-speech making. Grant is a thinking man, and his thought is the father of his mighty deeds. His most expressive speech was made to Sheridan: "Go in!" In the army it was the common remark of the soldiers that Grant did not say much, but he kept up a tremendous thinking. In his capacious brain there was room for all the multiplied details of a vast army. His mind contained a map of the theatre of operations, and he knew where everything and everybody was. He understood how the battle was going miles away from his position. At The Wilderness he stood under a tree with General Meade, whittling, as he was wont to do when brooding in deep thought, smoking, of course, at the same time. An aid dashed furiously up to the spot, and announced that one of the corps holding an important position in the line had broken, and been driven from the field. Meade was intensely agitated, for the event indicated nothing but disaster. Grant smoked and whittled as coolly as though there had been no hostile armies on the continent.

"Good God!" exclaimed Meade, as the details were enlarged upon by the messenger.

Still Grant whittled and thought. A minute elapsed before he spoke, in which he seemed to be consulting his mental map.

"I don't believe it," said he, at last, while the messenger of disaster was still in his presence.

The sequel proved that Grant was right, and the messenger direct from the scene was wrong. The battle had surged in upon the national line for a moment, [345]but there was no break, no defeat, no disaster. It has been observed that Grant whittles two ways—from and towards his body. When he is maturing a plan, solving a problem involved in his operations, he whittles towards himself, as if to concentrate within him some invisible magnetism floating in the air around him. But when his mind grasps the solution of the problem, when the plan is formed, he instantly reverses the stick, and whittles from himself. Perhaps to the nation it does not make much difference which way he whittles, while it is patent to the world that he whittled down the Rebellion.

In 1866 Grant was made a full general, the office having been created especially for him. He was not a merely ornamental appendage of the government, but used a laboring oar in his lofty position. He was tender of the people's pockets, heavily drawn upon by the needs of the war. He introduced reforms into the army, largely curtailing the public expense, and exhibiting a spirit of economy which was very hopeful in the people's candidate for the presidency.

The war was ended, and with it slavery and the tyranny of one section over the other. The sword had done its work effectually, and the statesman's task of reconstruction was to be completed—a task hardly less difficult than putting down the Rebellion itself. Then commenced the unfortunate conflict between the president and Congress. The people, through their representatives, had adopted the present policy of reconstruction, sustaining it by their voices, their votes, and their influence. Grant believed in this system, and, so far as his military position would [346]permit, gave his energies to its support. Congress, having full confidence in his integrity and his sound judgment, conferred upon him extraordinary powers. As the commander of all the armies while the South was held in military subjection, he had the power to advance or to thwart the people's policy. He maintained it with all his ability, and thus became the very life and soul of the system. Stanton, the tried and true, in the cabinet, was a check upon the president in his insane attempts to usurp the powers of the legislative branch of the government, and to thwart the expressed will of the people.

At last the president removed him, subject to the approval of Congress, under the tenure of office act, and Grant was appointed secretary of war ad interim. In the lieutenant general's letter to Stanton—his constant friend and tried supporter during the war—he takes the occasion to express his appreciation of the zeal, patriotism, firmness, and ability with which the retiring officer had ever discharged his duty as secretary of war, thus preventing any misunderstanding of his position. In a private letter to the president the general protests smartly and warmly against the removal of Stanton and of Sheridan, the latter in command of the Fifth Military District. This letter was an admirable paper, as plucky as it was cogent in its reasoning; but it had no influence upon the stubborn will of the president. As secretary of war, Grant signalized his brief term by acts of immense importance in the reduction of expenses. On the reassembling of Congress, the Senate declined to acquiesce in the removal of Stanton, and the general immediately sur[347]rendered the office to its legal incumbent. It appeared that the president had no intention of permitting the law of Congress to take its course, but designed to disobey and disregard it. He attempted to make Grant the cat's-paw of his vicious purposes; but the sterling honesty and simple integrity of the illustrious soldier carried him safely through the ordeal. From beginning to end, Grant had resisted all overtures to indorse the president's policy. In the grand "swinging round the circle" of the president, the general had the humiliation of being one of the party, and was heartily ashamed of his company; but in no other respect did he ever go with him or form one of his party. In Grant's letters to "His Excellency," the writer was fully justified before the country.

On the 20th of May, 1868, the National Republican Convention met at Chicago to nominate candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency. It was hardly necessary to nominate Grant, for he had already been fixed upon by the people for their suffrages; but the convention, on the first ballot, unanimously nominated him for this high office. The news of this great event was carried to him at once. He was unmoved by it, but asked immediately for the platform. This he carefully read, and heartily indorsed. The honor conferred upon him so unanimously was the most flattering compliment which had been bestowed upon any man since the time of Washington; but he only asked to know what principles he was expected to represent.

And now my delightful task is ended, though I shall never cease to proclaim the admiration and [348]gratitude with which I regard the illustrious soldier on all proper occasions. As I look upon my poor work, I feel that I have failed to do justice to the sublime subject of my memoir. I cannot express all I feel. From Palo Alto to Appomattox I have followed him in his grand career, and I hold him up as a soldier confidently challenging the whole world,—

Match Him!

In the elements of magnanimity, regard for the rights of others, undeviating honor and truth, I say,—

Match Him!

As the foremost man in putting down the Rebellion, first in war and first in the hearts of his countrymen, I add,—

Match Him!

As a man, cool, resolute, and unflinching in the discharge of every duty, proving, by what he has done, what he is able to do in civil as well as in military life, I say,—

Match Him!


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Transcriber's Notes

The punctuation, including accents, has not been changed. The usage of hyphens has been standardised.

The following changes have been made:

line 2400 The duplicate 'on' has been deleted.
line 2464 compaign is now campaign.
line 6007 immediaely is now immediately.
line 6516 illict is now illicit.
line 10544 contined is now continued.
line 10784 hoplessness is now hopelessness.
line 11585 subblime is now sublime.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Our Standard-Bearer, by Oliver Optic


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