have any military books, and never had any, except the West Point
No doubt Grant
might have profited by some additional study, but none at all was far better than so much as to have dwarfed his mind into that of an imitator of former commanders.
The development of great military ability in Grant
, as the result of his own experience and independent thought,—that is, the independent development of his own native military genius,—is by far the most interesting part of his history.
In short, the great lesson taught by our own experience is that elementary military training should be universal, because every young man may be called upon to perform the duties of a soldier; that general military reading, and habits of independent thought upon all great military subjects, should be cultivated by all who aspire to any high place in life, because they may be called upon to discharge the highest possible duties of good citizens in peace or in war, namely, those connected with the national defense; that due preparation for defense ought to be made without delay, and the requisite means kept always ready; and, above all, that the best method of making the quickest possible effective use of those means ought to be fully matured and understood by all who may be called upon to execute the orders of the government.
It now seems to me amazing that the affairs of an enlightened nation could have been so badly managed as to leave the secession issue in doubt almost to the last moment of a four years contest, as it is now well known it was. Probably the one saving fact in all those years was that the young soldiers of the republic—and they were nearly all young then—knew little and cared less about the wrangling of self-seeking politicians and visionary doctrinaires in the rear, but fought steadily on to the end, never doubting for a moment the final triumph.
I have never been able to recall a single instance of doubt