course, it was necessary to inform himself before replying; if an inquiry was made about troops, or he needed to know something from the quartermaster or the commissary of subsistence
, the proper officer was sent for; but when the despatch simply required a decision, Grant
made the decision, and announced it after the reply was gone.
One great occupation was the study of the rebel newspapers, which often brought the earliest news from distant commands.
They were exchanged for our own on the picket line, almost daily, and the Richmond papers were brought in as regularly as if they had been subscribed for. Prisoners of consequence, or who had important news, were also conveyed to the Headquarters; while of course the highest officers of the army were constant visitors, Meade
most frequent of all. Admiral Porter
, who commanded the squadron on the James
, often consulted Grant
; important personages from Washington
, foreign ministers, senators
, members of the government, officers of foreign armies, were sometimes guests; and the President
himself spent several weeks during the winter at the Headquarters, sleeping on a steamer below the bluffs, while his days were passed familiarly with Grant
and his officers.
He liked, when Grant
was away for an hour or a day, to sit in the adjutant-general
's hut, where despatches came in, and he could receive information promptly.
With his long legs twisted and coiled as if he hardly knew what to do with them, he leaned his chair backwards, and talked, apparently with the greatest freedom, even with junior officers; yet he never said anything except