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[539]

Not by any means the least benefit to be expected from a law authorizing each President to select his chief general, would be the education thus given to officers of the army in respect to the relation in which they stand to the commander-in-chief, and in respect to the reasonable limits of military ambition in a republic where the President is and must be commander-in-chief, whether he is a man of military education and experience or not.

So strongly were these views impressed upon my mind by my studies of the subject, made at the request of General Grant and General Sherman many years ago, that when I became the senior officer of the Army I refrained scrupulously from suggesting to the President or the Secretary of War or anybody else that I had any expectation of being assigned to the command, or regarded myself as having any claim to it. It seemed to me solely a question for the President himself to decide whether or not he wanted me as his chief military adviser and assistant, and it would have been impossible for me to consent that anybody should try to influence his decision in my favor.

The duties of patriotic citizenship in time of war have not always been duly appreciated, even by those most zealous in their loyalty to the government. I would not detract one iota from the honor and fame of the wise, brave, and patriotic statesmen who upheld the hands of the great Lincoln in his struggle against the avowed foes of the Union, and his still harder struggle with professed patriots who wielded national influence only for evil, though under the guise of friends of the Union. But if many thousands of those zealous and ‘truly loyal Union men,’ many of whom I knew, could have managed in some way to get into the ranks and get killed in battle the first year, I firmly believe the Union would have been restored much sooner than it was.

When the people have chosen their chief to lead them

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William T. Sherman (1)
Frederick Dent Grant (1)
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