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“ [394] 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.”

General Grant's reply was modest and also very brief:

Mr. President, I accept this commission with gratitude for the high honor conferred. With the aid of the noble armies that have fought on 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 that Providence which leads both nations and men.

In the informal conversation which followed, General Grant inquired what special service was expected of him; to which the President replied that the country wanted him to take Richmond; and being asked if he could do so, replied that he could if he had the troops, which he was assured would be furnished him. On the following day, Grant went to the Army of the Potomac, where Meade received him with frank courtesy, generously suggesting that he was ready to yield the command to any one Grant might prefer. Grant, however, informed Meade that he desired to make no change; and, returning to Washington, started west without a moment's loss of time. On March 12, 1864, formal orders of the War Department placed Grant in command of all the armies of the United States, while Halleck, relieved from that duty, was retained at Washington as the President's chief of staff.

Grant frankly confesses in his “Memoirs” that when he started east it was with a firm determination to accept no appointment requiring him to leave the West;

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