previous next


General Grant's tactics evidently succeeded in the West on account of their simplicity. They were not too good for the then undisciplined forces which he commanded. He said to General Sherman, I think it was after the capture of Fort Donelson (I may not give his exact words): ‘I notice at a certain point in our battles that both sides are defeated, but if we only hold on a little after that we whip them awfully.’ There can be no question as to Grant's fine qualities as a soldier. The man who could make such an observation and act upon it with coolness and decision was born for the battle-field; to possess those qualities of mind which constitute the great strategist and tactician—in short, the qualities of a great General—is an entirely different thing. In the tenacity with which Grant followed out a determination once fixed in his mind, perhaps no man has ever surpassed him; but it was an expensive virtue for his soldiers, as the hundred thousand men he lost in Virginia are a witness. Whether he should have been removed after Cold Harbor, a disastrous blunder only equalled by Burnside's at Fredericksburg, is a difficult matter to determine. If he had been, the final result would not have differed much in all probability.

Yet this man, who happened to receive the surrendered sword of Lee, became on that account the supposed hero of the war; received the credit of having suppressed the Confederacy; without education for or experience in civil affairs was made President for eight years; and finally was carried around the earth and exhibited to the nations as the greatest prodigy of the age. The people in their exuberant joy at the return of peace wished for a hero to whom they could pay homage, and, Lincoln being dead, seized upon Grant as the nearest object. Happier for him and for them had he been allowed to continue, like Sherman and Sheridan, quietly at his post of duty. America does not require celebrities of a false lustre to satisfy her pride. ‘There are others who are deserving,’ as Mr. Emerson said.

F. P. S. College Hill, mass., July 4, 1883.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Fredericksburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
Fort Donelson (Tennessee, United States) (1)
College Hill (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
U. S. Grant (4)
W. T. Sherman (2)
Philip Sheridan (1)
Abraham Lincoln (1)
W. H. F. Lee (1)
Emerson (1)
Burnside (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 4th, 1883 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: