events of the war, and Grant
was always ready to relate what he had seen, to tell of his campaigns, to describe the character of his comrades and subordinates.
Before the war he had met most of the men who were now prominent, rebels as well as national officers; either in the old army, or at West Point
as cadets; and the knowledge of their character he thus obtained was extremely useful to him at this time.
He often said of those opposed to him: ‘I know exactly what that general will do;’ ‘I am glad such an one is in my front;’ ‘I would rather fight this one, than another.’
So also with those who were now his subordinates; what he had learned of them in garrison, on the Canada
frontier, or at the West
, before the Indians, or crossing the isthmus of Panama
, in cholera time,— all was of use now. No man was better able to predict what an individual would do in an emergency, if he had known or seen much of him before.
The most ordinary circumstance to him betrayed character; and as we sat around our fire at City Point
, he told stories by the hour of adventures in the Mexican
war, or rides on the prairies, or intercourse with Californian miners, which threw a flood of light on the immense events in which the same actors were now engaged.
And yet he never seemed to observe, and thus unconsciously deceived many who fancied they were deceiving him.
Of course, all listened eagerly and deferentially to what he had to say, but all took part in the conversation: a simple captain could tell his story without interruption from the general--in chief
—save when he asked for a light for his cigar.
Politics at home were often discussed, and unless strangers