General Grant's “table-talk” has of late excited a good deal of attention and comment in the public press. A number of Northern papers have had severe criticisms of statements in reference to different Federal Generals, but of these we have nothing to say; nor do we propose any detailed reply to his comments on Southern Generals. His disparaging remarks about “Stonewall” Jackson, and his opinion that he would have been badly beaten if Sheridan or “any of our great generals” had been opposed to him, excite a smile and a fervent wish from an old “foot cavalryman” that Sheridan, or even Grant himself, had been in Jackson's front on that memorable Valley campaign. It is useless to speculate on what the result would have been; but we feel every confidence that “Cavalry Sheridan” would never afterwards have awakened the poet's lyre, and that the world would never have had this “table-talk.” His remark, “I have had nearly all of the Southern Generals in high command in front of me, and Johnston gave me more anxiety than any of the others; I was never half so anxious about Lee,” has very naturally raised the question, “When and where was General J. E. Johnston ever in Grant's front?” That great commander, with a very inadequate force, was in Grant's rear, while he was besieging Vicksburg; but with the heavy fortifications which protected him, and in the light of his statement in the next paragraph, that he did not know that “Johnston was coming” until he read his book, it is difficult to see the cause of General Grant's “anxiety.” But the following is, perhaps, the most remarkable of all of the wild statements of this effort to manufacture history:
I never ranked Lee as high as some others of the army, “said the General,” that is to say, I never had as much anxiety when he was in my front as when Joe Johnston was in front. Lee was a good man, a fair commander, who had everything in his favor. He was a man who needed sunshine. He was supported by the unanimous voice of the South; he was supported by a large party in the North; he had the support and sympathy of the outside world. All this is of an immense advantage to a general. Lee had this in a remarkable degree. Everything lie did was right. He was treated like a demi-god. Our generals had a hostile press, lukewarm friends, and a public opinion outside. The cry was in the air that the North only won by brute force; that the generalship and valor were with the South. This has gone into history, with so many other illusions that are historical. Lee was of a slow, conservative, cautious nature, without imagination or humor, always the same, with grave dignity. I never could see in his achievements what justifies his reputation. The illusion that nothing but heavy odds beat him will not stand the ultimate light of history. I know it is not true. The South and North were more nearly matched than you would suppose. The whole population were in the war. The 4,000,000 of negroes were the same as soldiers, because they did the work in the fields which white men would have to do. I believe the South had as many men under arms as the North. What defeated the Southern arms was Northern courage and skill, and this, too, with detraction all around. You cannot imagine how disheartening it was at the time, not only to officers but men.