He was called a born soldier, but was, in fact, nothing of the kind.
He was simply a man of correct methods and a fixed will.
The same methods and the same will would have led men to call him a born railway director, or a born anything to which he had once in good earnest turned his hand.
As a young soldier he had lacked opportunity.
He lived in a land where neither soldiers nor poets were wanted.
There were no wars, no romances, and little history.
If he had tried business a little as a farmer, a tanner, a surveyor, or what not, it was not in good earnest.
It was a makeshift for the occasion.
The war was Grant
's opportunity, and he was at the age and had the disposition to seize it. But his military renown was not of luck alone.
It was earned blow by blow.
We had not waited many minutes at the meadow when an orderly dashed up to Grant
, and handed him a communication.
Then followed an order to move rapidly to the left, and into the road.
The fire grew heavier, and the air seemed too hot to be borne.
came a second order, all along the line-“Forward!
Everybody shouted “double quick,” as the noise was becoming terrific.
We had forgotten to fix bayonets!
and again the screaming was, “Fix bayonets!
I had been selected by the colonel, just as we entered the road, to act as sergeant major, and I now ran behind and along the line, shouting at the top of my voice, “Fix bayonets!”
The orders were not heard, and we were charging the enemy's position with bare muskets.
A moment more and we were at the top of the ascent, and among thinner wood and larger trees.
The enemy had fallen back a few rods, forming a solid line parallel with our own; and now commenced, in good earnest, the fighting of the day. For half an hour we poured the hot lead into each others' faces.
We had forty rounds each in our cartridge-boxes, and, probably, nine-tenths of them were fired in that half hour.
For me it was the first real “stand up and fight,” as the boys called it, of my life.
Of skirmishes, I had seen many, and had been under fire; but this was a real battle, and what Grant
himself might have called “business.”
I tried to keep cool, and determined to fire no shot without taking aim; but a slight wound in the hand ended my coolness, and the smoke of the battle soon made aim-taking mere guessing.
One rebel officer I noticed, through the smoke, directly in front of me on horseback.
That was my mark, and I must have fired twenty times at him before his form disappeared.
I remember how, in the midst of it all, a young lad-he could not have been more than sixteen-came running up to me, and weeping, cried: “My regiment-my regiment ”