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Recollections of Grant.

S. H. M. Byers.
Looking over my diary to-day, kept when a corporal in Company B, I find this half-faded entry: “This day our corps, the Seventeenth, McPherson commanding, marched from the Mississippi river up to Fort Gibson.” While I was standing by the pontoon bridge watching the boys cross the bayou, I heard somebody cheering, and, looking round, saw an officer on horseback in a major general's uniform. He dismounted and came over to the very spot where I was standing. I did not know his face, but something told me it was Grant Ulysses Grant, at that moment the hero of the Western army. Solid he stood-erect; about five feet eight, with square features, thin closed lips, brown hair, brown beard, both cut short and neat. “He must weigh one hundred and fifty pounds; looks just like the soldier he is. I think he is larger than Napoleon, but not much-he is not so dumpy; looks like a man in good earnest, and the rebels think he is.” And this was the first time I saw Grant. I think I still possess some of the feeling that overcame me at that moment as I stood so near to one who held our lives and, possibly, our country's in his hands. I heard him speaker: “Men, push right along; close up fast, and hurry over.” Two or three men mounted on mules attempted to wedge past the soldiers on the bridge. Grant noticed it, and quietly said, “Lieutenant, send those men to the rear.” Every soldier passing turned to gaze on him, but there was no further recognition. There was no McClellan, begging the boys to allow him to light his cigar by theirs, or inquiring to what regiment that exceedingly fine-marching company belonged to. There was no [343] Pope, bullying the men for not marching faster, or officers for some trivial detail remembered only by martinets. There was no Bonaparte, posturing for effect; no pointing to the Pyramids, no calling the centuries to witness. There was no nonsense, no sentiment; only a plain business man of the republic, there for the one single purpose of getting that command across the river in the shortest time possible. On a horse near by, and among the still mounted staff, sat the general's son, a bright-looking lad of about eleven years. Fastened to his little waist, by the broad yellow belt, was his father's sword — that sword on whose clear steel was soon to be engraved Vicksburg, Spottsylvania, the Wilderness, and Richmond. The boy talked and jested with the bronzed soldiers near him, who laughingly inquired where.we should camp; to which the young field marshal replied: “Over the river!” Over the river! Ah! that night we slept with our guns in our hands; and another night, and another, saw more than one of our division camped beyond and over the river — in that last tenting-ground where the reveille was heard no more forever.

I next saw Grant on May 18th, 1863, and this time at the battle of Champion hills, in rear of Vicksburg. We had crossed the Mississippi river at Grand Gulf, and swung off east and north; had fought the battles of Port Gibson, Raymond, and Jackson, and were overtaking Pemberton's army hastening to the walls of Vicksburg. It was a very hot day, and we had marched hard, slept little, and rested none. Among the magnolias on Champion hills, the enemy, forty to fifty thousand strong, turned on us. Sherman's Corps was already engaged far on the right as we approached the field in that overpowering Mississippi sun. Our brigade was soon in line, on the edge of a meadow, or open field sloping toward the woods, where the enemy were concealed, and steadily firing upon us. We were in that most trying position of soldiers, for regulars even-being fired on without permission to return the shots. We were standing two files deep, bearing as patiently as we could not a heavy, but a steady fire from infantry, while an occasional cannon-ball tore up the turf in front or behind us. A good many men were falling, and the wounded were being borne to the rear of the brigade, close to an old well, whose wooden curb seemed to offer the only protection from bullets on the exposed line. “Colonel, move your men a little by the left flank,” said a quiet, though commanding voice. On looking round, I saw immediately behind us Grant, the commander-in-chief, mounted on a beautiful bay mare, and followed by perhaps half a dozen of his staff. For some reason he dismounted, and [344] most of his officers were sent off, bearing orders, probably, to other quarters of the field. It was Grant under fire. The rattling musketry increased on our front, and grew louder, too, on the left flank. Grant had led his horse to the left, and thus kept near the company to which I belonged. He now stood leaning complacently against his favorite steed, smoking — as seemed habitual with him — the stump of a cigar. His was the only horse near the line, and must, naturally, have attracted some of the enemy's fire. What if he should be killed, I thought to myself, and the army be left without its commander? In front of us was an enemy; behind us, and about us, and liable to overcome and crush us, were his reinforcements. For days we had been away from our base of supplies, and marching inside the enemy's lines. What if Grant should be killed, and we be defeated here — in such a place, and at such a time? I am sure every one who recognized him wished him away; but there he stood-clear, calm, and immovable. I was close enough to see his features. Earnest they were; but sign of inward movement, there was none. It was the same cool, calculating face I had seen before at the bridge; the same careful, half-cynical face I afterward saw busied with affairs of State.

Whatever there may have been in his feelings there was no effort to conceal; there was no pretence, no trick; whatever that face was, it was natural. A man close by me had the bones of his leg shattered by a ball, and was being helped to the rear. His cries of pain attracted the attention of Grant, and I noticed the half-curious, though sympathizing shades, that crossed his quiet face as the bleeding soldier seemed to look toward him for help. Men have often asked if Grant were personally brave in battle. Bravery, like many other human qualities, is comparative. That Grant was fearless in battle would be hard to say. If he possessed true bravery, he also possessed fear. Brave men are not fearless men. The fools, the excited, and the drunken, are they who, fearless and unasked, run on to death. Where duty was, imposed or assumed, Grant feared not to stand, and his sang froid was as marked, and not more necessary, in the presence of bullets, as it afterward was in the presence of popular clamor and senseless political reproach. He was eminently and above all things a cool man, and that, I take it, was, in the exciting times in which he lived, the first great key to his success. He was not made hilarious by victory, nor was he depressed by defeat. His services had not been forced upon the country, nor was he oblivious to his country's claims. He recognized simple duty, and his worst enemies envied the ardor with which that duty [345] was performed. 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. “Forward!” came a second order, all along the line-“Forward! Double quick!” Everybody shouted “double quick,” as the noise was becoming terrific. We had forgotten to fix bayonets! what forgetfulness! and again the screaming was, “Fix bayonets! 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 [346] is gone — has run! What shall I do?” “Here's the place,” I said, “pitch in!” and pitch in he did. He was of metal, that boy, and kept his place with the bravest veteran in the line. Hotter and hotter grew the fight, and soon this same boy cried: “Look-look behind us,” and, sure enough, the regiment to our left had disappeared, and we were flanked.

“ Stop! halt! surrender!” cried a hundred rebels, whose voices seem to ring in my ears to this very day. But there was no stopping, and no surrender. We ran, and ran manfully. It was terribly hot, a hot afternoon under a Mississippi sun, and an enemy on flank and rear, shouting and firing. The grass, the stones, the bushes, seemed melting under the shower of bullets that was following us to the rear. We tried to halt, and tried to form. It was no use. Again we ran, and harder, and farther, and faster. We passed over the very spot where, half an hour before, we left Grant leaning on his bay mare and smoking his cigar. Thank God! he was gone. The dead were still there, and the wounded called pitiably to us to halt and help them as we ran headlong to the rear. Like ten thousand starving and howling wolves the enemy pursued, closer and closer, and we scarcely dared look back to face the fate that seemed certain. Grant had seen it all, and in less time than I can tell it a line of cannon had been thrown across our path, which, as soon as we had passed, belched grape-shot and canister into the faces of our pursuers. They stopped, they turned, and they, too, ran, and left their dead side by side with our own. Our lines, protected by the batteries, rallied and followed, and Champion hills was won, and with it was won the door to Vicksburg. Three army corps had taken part in the fight-Sherman's, McClernand's, and McPherson's. One division of the enemy passed us and got to our rear, thus escaping being captured with the thirty thousand who surrendered on that birthday of the nation in 1863.

Grant passed along the lines, after the fight, as we stood in the narrow roads, waiting to pursue the enemy to their works at Vicksburg. Every hat was in the air, and the men cheered till they were hoarse; but, speechless, and almost without a bow, he pushed on past, like an embarrassed man hurrying to get away from some defeat. Once he stopped, near the colors, and, without addressing himself to any one in particular, said: “Well done!” It was midnight before we halted for the night; and then, before lying down we called the roll, and found how many comrades were left coldly sleeping under the magnolias of Champion hills. My best friend was killed, and our mess had three that night instead of the six who had shared our rations in the morning at reveille. In a few weeks [347] Vicksburg was added to the victor's crown. The siege, though not especially long, had been severe. On the 22d of May, Grant, under the impression that the enemy had been demoralized by their defeat at Champion hills, gave ear to the general cry of soldiers and officers to “storm the works.” On the 19th, we had assaulted and failed. For days the batteries had been receiving enormous additions of ammunition, and, all the morning of the day designated for the attack, Vicksburg trembled under the most terrific cannonade from every gun on the line. Men were detailed to spring before the advancing line, with ladders and planks to aid us in getting over ditches. It was a forlorn hope-this little party of brave men, advancing with their ladders to certain death. At the given signal, the storming lines uncovered, and, advancing, were met by the most terrible crashing of musketry. The ditches were deep and wide, and the earthworks, bristling with red-mouthed cannon, were very high. At places, too, the enemy were outside of the breastworks, hidden behind bags of sand, from which they, with safety to themselves, delivered a galling fire. Others, again, during the night, had dug holes more than breast-deep, in which they stood, as the line advanced, and picked off, at ease, our men with ladders.

Still, in face of all this, and in the heat of a broiling sun, our troops advanced to the very ditches, only to be driven back by a fire that no body of soldiers could withstand. It was of no use; we were attempting the impossible. Many lives were being sacrificed, and nothing gained. Some of the breastworks we could not have entered from the front, even had there not been an enemy within. On the afternoon of the same day, we attempted the charge again, with the same result. Afterward, when Vicksburg was ours, I walked, time and again, over the very ground where we had so desperately fought, and looked at the forts which we had sought to storm, reflecting on the extreme madness of the undertaking. The result of the attack, however mortifying it must have been to Grant himself, did not lessen his cool and fixed determination to possess Vicksburg before a step in any other direction should be taken. Silently, this one feeling was communicated to every soldier of his army. There were no loud proclamations, orders, or manifestos as to what would next come. There were no promises of victory to the North, no threats of humiliation to the South; but every soldier knew that, as we had intrenched before Vicksburg, we would stay there until the city had surrendered. There was no doubt, no fears. We knew that our commander was a man of business, with certain regular, fixed methods and determinations, and that, just then, it was his [348] particular business to take that particular town. So, we said, as we lay in the rifle-pits: “Let us make ourselves comfortable; for here we stay till the last enemy in our front has become our prisoner.”

But Grant was not the only commander at Vicksburg with cool pluck, brave heart, and fixed determination. Logan, the fearless; the accomplished McPherson, the Bayard of the West, were there; and Sherman, the brilliancy of whose deeds were soon to eclipse even those of his great commander. What restless energy was there-what pluck among both officers and men. How-many the incidents of daring — of risk, sacrifice, and of camp humor, even on the “ragged edge” of danger. Sometimes a flag-of-truce came out-often on business intent, to collect the wounded, or bury the dead; but an occasional one as a “feeler,” to learn incidentally, or perhaps directly, if there was still hope. It was told of Sherman how one of these flag-of-truce officers one day asked the grim general, in a haughty tone, “How long he calculated it would take the Yankees to reduce the heroic city?” The prompt reply was: “You don't know me, perhaps. My name is Sherman. My enemies in the North sometimes call me ‘Crazy Sherman;’ but, in my sane moments, I have said this war may last seventeen years yet; and I know of no place where I should so soon spend seven of them as right here, before Vicksburg.” The rebel said “Good day,” and returned to the forts, where it was soon whispered round that, with such a man besieging them, the city was doomed.

Our army occupied the anomalous position of being besiegers and besieged at the same time. Pemberton's army was in front of us in the works, while the army of his confederate, Johnston, almost surrounded us from behind, and was vigilant in seeking either an opportunity to break through and join the forces in Vicksburg or lend them a helping hand in getting out. Many were the adventures, grim sports and escapes we had as we lay for weeks between these two lines of the enemy. The noise of the bombardment was constant, the click of the rifles on the line of pickets never ceased day or night, and many were the deceptions practiced by the pickets of both armies as they stood within speaking distance of each other to induce a show of “heads” above the long lines of rude rifle-pits. I remember how, one day, I and two of my companions fired for an hour at a rebel who kept for ever hopping up and down behind the sand bags and calling constantly, “Try again, will you, Mr. Yankee?” Finally the figure mounted up in full view, when we discovered we were cheaply sold, as the daring rebel was a stuffed suit of old clothes on a pole, while the mockery came from the real rebel, safe behind [349] the sand bags. Another one, more reckless, however, placed himself in the open embrasure of a low earthwork for a moment, and shouted “Fire I” In an instant he lay stretched dead in the embrasure. An effort was made by his comrades to pull away his body, but shots were constantly fired into the opening at every one daring to show himself for an instant. They tried to pull the body away with poles, but in vain; the firing increased almost to the dignity of an action, and finally a battery Joined in the conflict over the poor corpse which, darkness hiding the combatants, they were at last able to secure. I have thought since then, owing to the risks run on his behalf, that the poor man was possibly not dead after all, but sadly wounded, and lying there under the hot sun dying — with help so near and yet so powerless to save.

But incidents though as dangerous, touching the ludicrous, also occurred. I recall how a young Federal sergeant foolishly insisted on exposing himself to the fire of the enemy by creeping over the earthwork and surveying the lines with an opera-glass, borrowed during his raids from some planter's house. The captain had repeatedly and vainly warned him against his recklessness, till one sunny morning, while engaged in his usual observations with glass to eye, a bullet fired from an unlooked — for quarter smashed the glass in his hand. Our boys, seeing he was not killed, but rejoicing at the warning, gave cheers for the rebel who fired the shot. It was a close shave, but our sergeant was cured of reckless curiosity. Another incident, not less ludicrous, occurred the morning on which we assaulted the works of Vicksburg. I had been detailed to bring cartridges to my regiment, which had advanced out of the hollow in which it lay and over the brow of the hill under a heavy fire. The firing was still going on, but the regiment lay down unharmed, when cartridges were called for. I went back, but found the boxes of a 1,000 “58s” too heavy to carry, and so strapped two of them over the back of a strong mule, and started to the front. I walked and led the mule, while a companion followed, administering a wagon-whip from behind. On emerging from the breastworks it was necessary to hurry over a little rise in full. view of the enemy. It was but a dozen rods to a spot of safety in the hollow. We took a good start at a run, and emerged into full view of the forts, not a hundred rods away, when the beast, true to his instincts, took it into his head at this particular crisis to stop stock-still. Persuasion, pulling, whooping, separate or combined, helped nothing. There he stood, fixed as the general of the army himself, and apparently ten times as cool. What could be done I Bullets were whizzing about our heads and [350] ears, two had skinned up the boxes on the mule's back, and the next moment some sharpshooter might, and certainly would, pick us off forever. We couldn't run; the ammunition was pressingly needed. It was too hot to remain there, and go we could not. Again my comrade whipped, both shouted, and I pulled and tugged till, suddenly, halter and bridle both slipped over the mule's head. Free from restraint, he was disposed to run, and run he did-but fortunately in the right direction. We, too, ran faster, possibly, than did the mule. He was caught in the right place, unloaded and tied to a bush, where, in a few hours, when the line fell back, he was left standing as an outpost, being probably seized upon and eaten by the hungry soldiers of Pemberton's army. I have often wondered since then how that mule was accounted for at Washington. Was he reported stolen, captured, or simply

Died on the field of honor?

During the long weeks of the siege, the common soldiers saw Grant daily; not exhibiting himself for the sake of being cheered and cheaply glorified, but patiently examining the little details necessary to the safety and comfort of the army. Near my regiment was an Ohio battery of brass six-pounders, and it was not uncommon to see the commander walk over and aim the guns himself or watch with intense interest the effect of some particular shot. His.own tents, though not as exposed, were as close to the lines of the enemy as were the huts of the soldiers on duty. He was commanding his troops from the front, not from the rear. He lived in his army, and was himself not only its director, but a part of it. He was a private soldier in command, a corporal in the uniform of a general. Enormous quantities of ammunition had been furnished the batteries, and Grant proposed celebrating the anniversary of the nation by pouring hot lead into Vicksburg. Pemberton certainly expected as much, and offered to surrender in time. What days those were to us, the common soldiers of the army, as we lay in the trenches of Vicksburg! It was here that I got my first commission, and, in a very few days, the first order I had the honor of reading to a regiment of bronzed soldiers in line contained the words:

Vicksburg has capitulated. At ten to-morrow morning, July 4th, 1863, the garrison, thirty thousand in number, will march outside the works and surrender their arms.

There was a shout, a throwing up of hats; then came a silence. “Not true, not true; too good, too good!” cried many. But the [351] colonel said, “Praised be God! It is true; Grant never jests;” and again the woods rang with grateful shouts. Some danced wildly about, all shouting and shaking hands, and a few even rolled on the grass in deliriums of joy, that our nation's birthday should be welcomed in a way like that. As for me, I saw again the boys in blue marching down the court-house steps of my native village, off over the lawn, and away to death and glory. Some of them were then beside me, and joining in the maddening shouts of victory. I could not shout; my heart was too full, my joy too great. That night I wrote in my diary: “This day has rewarded me a thousand times for all the sacrifices, hardships, dangers, and vicissitudes of two years as a private soldier.” I went to my little tent, made of bushes, and writing my mother a letter, told how gloriously Vicksburg was won, and how her boy had helped to take it. I inclosed to her, too, a copy of my commission in one of the fighting regiments, and closed by asking if she were not glad her boy was not too young to be a soldier? Her answer brought me her blessing and her prayer, and I was doubly rewarded.

We at once turned and pursued the enemy in our rear, under Johnston. The Vicksburg prisoners were to go back to a camp of parole, and for days we marched along the country road side by sidelines of the “blue” and lines of the “gray.” It was a strange sightthose two armies that only a few hours before had been hurling destruction and death at each other, now walking in silence, side by side; they to prison, we in pursuit of their retreating comrades; we glowing in victory, they saddened in defeat. There were no jeers as we marched along; no reproaching, no boasting, and no insults. On the contrary, we recognized an honorable foe, crippled but not dead; and many were the little kindnesses received on that strange and silent march, by Pemberton's men, from the boys of Grant's army. Many a ration was divided, many a canteen filled, and many were the mutual, sympathizing wishes that the cruel war might soon be over. I recall how a soldier, observing one of the prisoners foot-sore, weary with the march, and almost fainting, relieved him by taking from him his heavy burden, and fastening it on top of his own, carrying it for miles. The prisoners, seeing the incident, cheered, and I think more than one honest, kindly man of that stranger train was touched to tears. Pemberton rode at the head of his prisoner column, silent and sad. He as well as all the officers of of his army, were in the full gray uniform of the South, and though prisoners, their swords still hung in the scabbards at their sides. Many of them were mounted on the thin steeds that had survived [352] the hunger of the siege. When Grant passed us, and the boys cheered, the curiosity of the rebels was extreme; and I was told that at one point they even joined in the shouts that welcomed him.

In September, I was allowed a short leave of absence to visit my home in the far West. As I went down to the docks, the boat on which I was to have had passage blew up, killing many soldiers and negroes. Later, I got on another steamer, which on our way up the river stuck on a sand-bar for days. My leave was for but a month, and in this vexing way was the time so precious to me being lost. At last I got home, saw my friends, and after eight days there, the only time spent at home during the whole four years war, I hurried back to join my corps, which was then on its march to Chattanooga. There I saw Grant, the last time for many months, preparing for the great battles of Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain. I was under Sherman now, and joining in the charge made by a part of Smith's Division, on the right wing of Bragg's army, was surrounded and captured. It was the last battle of my life. I saw my sword, and pistols, and purse divided among a corporal and two privates, who came near shooting each other on account of the trophies captured from the young Yankee. I also saw, however, from the top of Mission Ridge, the flying enemy, and the grand advance of Thomas' and Sherman's armies. I was a prisoner!

What I experienced during more than fifteen months in the prisons of Libby, Columbia, Charleston, and elsewhere, will not be related here. In September, 1864, the Libby prisoners, seven hundred in number, and all officers, were transferred from Charleston to a camp in the woods, on the Congaree river, near Columbia, South Carolina. There seemed but one outlook ahead for us, and that was a lingering death, unless hastened by some attempt to escape. I had got away twice, for a few days at a time, but was recaptured, and my position made even worse than before. In December, Sherman had made that brilliant march to the sea, and in February was engaged in that still more arduous campaign through the Carolinas to Richmond. I learned that his army was approaching Columbia, and for the third time attempted to get away. I escaped the guards, and, aided by an old slave, secreted myself in Columbia, and witnessed the evacuation by the rebels, and the grand entry of Sherman's army. Sherman, with his characteristic kindness, sought out myself and others who had been prisoners, and who had escaped, and cared for the wants of all. I was given, for the time, a place on his staff. What a change it was, from the [353] degradation, the starving, the suffering of a mistrusted prisoner to the headquarters of the most brilliant general of modern times. Sherman was marching northward with an army of ninety thousand men in four columns, on as many different roads, all bearing on some designated point. One day he would ride with this column, the next day with that; but whenever he appeared among the soldiers it was one loud and continued cheer for “Billy Sherman.” Here was the general whom everybody knew, and whom everybody loved. If Grant had been the creator of the Western army, Sherman was its idol. He was, indeed, looked upon as a sort of common property, in which every man in the army had a special and particular interest. I speak knowingly, as one who was a private soldier, and who associated with private soldiers under him. In the tent, in the bivouac, in the rifle-pits, the men's faith in his consummate generalship never faltered. On the march his name was more than respected — it was loved; and whenever he appeared, the knapsacks of the boys grew lighter, the step brisk, and the face bright. It was in this march through the Carolinas I again saw so much of the influence of that presence on the soldiery. It rained nearly all the time; the roads were horrid, and had to be corduroyed with poles and rails half the way; the wagons and the artillery stuck in the mire hourly, and the soldiers had to drag them out with their own hands. Every stream had to be bridged, every quagmire filled, and every mile skirmished with the enemy.

There was not a tent in the army. Even the general slept in the woods, under “plys,” in deserted houses, or lone churches along the way. On right and left, before and behind, was an enemy; quagmires were under foot, and continued rain overhead; yet through all this the boys tugged and fought, and amidst their tugging sang and cheered. It was the magnetism of one really great man. It was “Billy Sherman.” His approach to the line of march was the signal for shoutings that I have heard taken up and repeated for miles ahead. Riding alongside the regiments struggling through the mud or the underbrush at the roadside, he would often speak to the nearest soldiers with some kind and encouraging word. Nor was it unusual to hear private soldiers call out to him, knowing his kind heart would give them no rebuff. At headquarters there; was little pretense, and no show. When evening came a convenient spot in the woods was usually sought out, a few tent plys were stretched, and a rail fire built in front. The mess-chest was opened, and a hasty but substantial meal was enjoyed, amid conversation on almost every topic but the war. On this he was oftenest silent, preferring [354] to keep his own judgment, hopes and fears to himself. He wrote most, probably all, of his own dispatches, leaving his staff little or nothing to do. After supper he studied his maps in the fire-light, or heard the reports from the other columns for the day. He was last in bed at night, and first in the saddle in the morning. Dinner consisted of a light lunch at twelve; all dismounted at the roadside, and an hour's rest brought us again to the saddle. So the days passed, and the enemy was continually pushed or beaten back from each and every chosen position.

At Fayetteville a tugboat met us in answer to a message sent by one of Sherman's scouts to Wilmington. The general seized the opportunity to report his progress to the Secretary of War, at Washington, and to General Grant, then with his army before Richmond. At the breakfast-table that Sunday morning he announced his intentions, and I was to be the lucky one to go. That night a few of us ran down the Cape Fear river to the sea, and a ship bore me around Cape Hatteras, across to Fortress Monroe, and up the James to Grant. I found him in a little board cabin of two rooms. He stood talking with a delegation of Northern citizens, who had come down ostensibly to encourage the army, but in reality to interfere with the plans of its commander by insisting on giving some pet advice. In those days everybody thought himself fit to command an army, and the newspapers seemed to be all edited by major generals, so full were they of warning instructions, “We told you so's,” etc. I was announced to Grant as a bearer of dispatches from Sherman, whose Army I soon learned had not been heard from since cutting loose from its base at Savannah, the greatest anxiety being felt for its safety the country over. Grant took my hand and conducted me into the little back room, closing the door behind us. The dispatches, which I had sewed up in my clothes, were turned over and carefully read, and I saw with what a glow his face lighted up as he read of the continued successes of his friend and co-commander. He hurried them through again, rose to his feet, and for a moment paced the little room; then suddenly opening the door he called General Ord, who was in the adjoining room, to come in and hear the good news from Sherman. Bad news of some misfortune to Sherman's army had been telegraphed to Richmond by Wade Hampton, of the enemy's army, the day before. The reports had come through the lines to Grant in most exaggerated form. “Glorious!” cried Ord, “glorious! I was beginning to have my fears, but” “Not a bit! Not a bit!” replied Grant. “I knew him. I knew my man. I expected him to do just this, and he has done it.” I was [355] then questioned as to many a detail of Sherman's last movements. “We have been in perfect ignorance,” said Grant, “of all these things; you have brought me the first authentic news. How about Kilpatrick .” And I told him how, a few nights before, this officer had been surprised in bed, and his staff all captured; how he fled to the swamp, rallied his men, and, returning, chased Wade Hampton completely from the road. Grant and Ord both laughed heartily. “And this, then, was the disaster to Sherman's army, of which the rebels had been boasting so loudly. I expected just exactly as much,” said Grant.

Kilpatrick had, in fact, a most laughable adventure with a narrow escape, however, for life. He was at Sherman's headquarters the day after the surprise, and I heard him telling how he was chased, and his staff captured and put up stairs in a house, where they remained while he rallied his men in the swamp, and surprised Hampton in return, and to more purpose, too, than he himself had been surprised. He lost a couple of hundred of prisoners, however, and some horses. But Kilpatrick kept his ground and lived to lead his dashing cavalry on many another field. “How do the men seem off for shoes and for coats?” asked Grant. I replied, if suffering, there was no complaint. At that moment a fierce and sudden cannonade commenced at some point on the enemy's line. An officer was called and ordered off to see what it meant. “It is one of the usual make-believes that we are having daily,” said Grant. I asked if an engagement was expected. He replied it was quite possible at any hour; but his own opinion was that Lee at that very moment might be getting ready to try and escape from Richmond, and that this thundering cannonade was one of his preparatory ruses to attract attention. The correctness of his opinion was proven in a few days, when Lee and his whole army fell back from Richmond, only to be captured at Appomattox Court-House. Grant mentioned that the Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, was there from Washington, and would visit him that evening, and suggested that he should take charge of my other papers and turn them over to him. He was then kind enough to ask about my own personal experiences, especially my life in prison, and if I, too, confirmed the horrible tales of suffering that had met his ears daily. I gave him a list of what we had to eat for months, told him that the prisoners were in rags, that not a single garment had ever been given to them since their capture, and some of them had been in the enemy's hands for eighteen months. He expressed his sorrow; surprise he had none; and added that their sufferings would soon be over, as he believed the war would very [356] soon terminate. “You would like to go home at once, wouldn't you?” he said, again going to the door and asking Rawlins, his chief-of-staff, to have leave of absence and pass made out for me. He signed the papers, and thanked me for my promptness.

It was the last time I ever saw Grant in uniform. I went to my home in the far West. I was, as a soldier, almost alone; yet in a few days I saw the little fragment of the company, of which I had been a member, returning from the war. They were veterans then. I, too, was a veteran. I heard the drums beating, and again I went down to the village, and there saw the “boys” paraded for the last time on the green grass of the court-house yard; on the very spot, indeed, where, four years before, we had been mustered in. There was not so much room required now, as then. Twenty-seven bronzed faces were all that were left of a hundred stout youths who had stood on that same spot but four short years before. There was no cheering now, as then; the silence was painful, almost. Many of the wives, and mothers, and sisters who were there before, were not there again — they could not be. In their desolate homes they sat, and, like Rachel, wept and would not be comforted. Their soldiers had been left behind; had been mustered out on the red battle-field many a day before. I have left my native village since then-I could not stay there. The recollections that always crowded upon my mind when passing the green court yard made it impossible.

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