While I cannot agree with the extravagant estimate of General Grant
in which the popular sentiment of the Northern
people of these United States
holds him-nor with the lower, but still overestimate in which he is held by even clever English critics, I have never been of the number of those who despised him as a General, or who attribute successes coextensive with the greatest theatre of war the world has ever seen-whether we consider the vastness of the country covered by his operations, the number of the battles, or thefierceness and duration of the struggle — to sheer obstinacy and to mere lack.
Whatever the political enemies of General Grant
(I believe he has no personal enemies) may think about him, they cannot deny that his career has been most extraordinary, and that no instance can be found, even in America
, where the fortunes of men fluctuate most suddenly, of such strange, eventful history as his has been.
Born and reared in the simple habits of plain people in a western town, his apppointment as a cadet of the United States Military Academy opened to him his first acquaintance with associates of a higher culture, and his first opportunity to measure himself with those whom it has been his destiny to overwhelm with disasters, or to reward with the highest prizes of their profession.
The Academy was not, however, a sphere in which his peculiar traits could find scope or appreciation, for after the four years course there, he graduated only respectably, and was remembered as a fair mathematiciana very good fellow, and notably the most daring horseman in the riding school.
His feats of horsemanship have probably never been equaled there.
When his turn came to ride at “the leaping bar,” the dragoons in attendance would lift the bar from the three foot trestles, on which it rested, raise it as high as their heads, and he would drive his horse over it without a graze, clearing near six feet! In this alone can I recall any germ of the character which has achieved for him the pre-eminent success he now enjoys.
I next remember him as a quartermaster of the Fourth United States infantry in Monterey
, in the fall of 1846-where he was not yet esteemed more than a very good fellow, with good sense, selfreliant, no bad habits, and a shrewd judgement in horse-flesh.
There I left him in December, 1846, and have never since, to this day, laid eyes upon him; but his career in the United States army, before the war, is fully recorded and well known to all the world.