had been as violent as Stanton
in his censure of Sherman
's terms in North Carolina
. General Grant
told me at the time that the President
a traitor in the presence of the Cabinet
, and that he authorized the publication of the comments of Stanton
which called down on the great soldier the denunciations of the country he had helped to save.
But when it became desirable to make use of Sherman Johnson
could assume a different tone.
He resorted to every inducement of flattery, confidence, and tempting advancement, and offered him in turn the command of the army, the brevet of General, and the position of Secretary of War
, so that he might either cope with, supplant, or surpass Grant
was proof against all his wiles.
's first attempt to pit the great comrades against each other was in the matter of the mission to Mexico
I have already told the story, but some points belong to my present theme.
In October, 1866, the President
to send for Sherman
who was at St. Louis
, but he did not inform the General-in-Chief
of the purpose of the order.
This, however, Grant
suspected, and wrote to Sherman
to come direct to his house.
There he told his friend of the plot of the Administration to send himself out of the country and to put Sherman
in his place in the interim.
Sherman at once waited on the President
and protested against the scheme.
He represented the determination of Grant
to leave the country, the needlessness of sending him, and the danger of insisting.
He even offered himself to go to Mexico
, and in the end he was substituted for Grant
Beyond all doubt it was the earnestness of his urging, the cogency of his suggestions, and above all the discovery of his loyalty to Grant
that changed the purpose of the President
, however, like Grant
at the outset, was completely subordinate in his interviews with the President
and strove to express no opinions offensive to his superior.
A year after these events the time came for Johnson
to report his reasons for the suspension of Stanton
was then on duty at Washington
as president of a board to revise the regulations of the army.
His relations with Grant
were so intimate that they discussed in advance the conduct of Grant
in case the Senate should disapprove the action of the President
On the 11th of January, two days before the Senate decided, Grant
that he would not retain the office of Secretary of War
after the disapproval of the Senate, and Sherman urged him to make known this intention promptly to the President
It was partly because of this urgency of Sherman
went the same day to Johnson
to announce his determination.
It was also Sherman
who first suggested the name of Governor Cox
as a substitute, when Grant
should give up the office, and Grant
to repeat the suggestion to the President
They were thus in complete accord.
Neither, at this juncture, deemed it proper that Stanton
should return to his office.
resumed his place, and his first act was to send a message to Grant
that the Secretary of War
desired to see him. This required Grant
to leave his own office on the opposite side of the street to wait on his superior.
It was, to say the least, an offensive method of announcing that Stanton
was in his seat, especially to the man who had treated him with so much delicacy a few months before, when their positions had been reversed.
to Stanton's house and told him in advance what he meant to do, and afterward sent a formal and highly complimentary letter before he entered upon his functions.
now disliked extremely the behavior of Stanton
, and said so to Sherman
, as well as to his own confidential officers.
The same day Grant
went together to the President
There had already appeared in the journal which served as Johnson
's mouthpiece accusations of Grant
's want of faith, and he was loath to enter the Executive
presence, but he put under foot all personal considerations.
The position of Stanton
was discussed, and it was suggested that Grant
should advise him to resign.
The President maintained that Stanton
's orders to Grant
were not valid while the Secretary
held office against the will of the Head
of the State
, and Grant
replied that if the President
wished him to disobey Stanton
, he should give a written order to that effect.
This order Johnson
did not give.
He wished Grant
to take the responsibility of disobeying, but was himself unwilling to take the responsibility of directing the disobedience.
now held frequent conferences, neither taking any step without the concurrence of the other.
, like Grant
, subordinated all personal feeling at this juncture to the public interests.
He forgot any remains of resentment he may have retained toward Stanton
, and offered to go to him with Grant
to discuss the situation; but for some reason the interview did not occur.
, however, visited Stanton
, intending to recommend him to resign, but he soon perceived that the advice would be useless, and counseled Sherman
not to offer it.
Meanwhile the controversy between Grant
and the President
was approaching a culmination.
received important orders from Stanton
requiring immediate action, and inclosing communications from the Treasury which recognized Stanton
as Secretary of War
; and yet the President
had verbally instructed him to disregard Stanton
On the 24th of January Grant
formally requested that the President
would put into writing these verbal directions.
This was not done, and Grant
was placed in a very embarrassing position.
It was the old device—to make some one else do the unauthorized work and take the responsibility, by which Johnson
was to profit without burning his fingers.
At the same time the imputations of bad faith were continued against Grant
Finally, on the 28th of January, Grant
renewed his request for written instructions to disobey Stanton
, and in the same letter he categorically denied the assertion of any promise on his part to remain in office after the Senate re-instated Stanton
This brought matters to a head.
Within two days Sherman
was offered the position of Secretary of War
As soon as it became certain that Grant
could not and would not be used, the crafty politician turned to the next in command.
On the 30th of January Sherman
had a long interview with Johnson
, in which the President
proposed either to oust Stanton
by force, or to remove him legally by submitting Sherman
's name to the Senate as Secretary of War
But to both these measures Sherman
On the 31st he wrote a letter to the President
, full of wisdom, patriotism, and eloquence, a copy of which he gave to Grant
In this he said: ‘To bring me to Washington
would put three heads to the army —yourself, General Grant
, and myself; and we would be more than human if we were not to differ.
In my judgment it would ruin the army, and would be fatal to one, or two, of us.’
‘With my consent,’ he said emphatically, ‘Washington
The next day the Board of Officers, of which Sherman
was president, concluded its labors, and he set out immediately for St. Louis
, to avoid, if possible, being caught in the political storm.
cajoled him, tempted him, and flattered him, but in vain.
Repeatedly the President
that he wanted Sherman
, but Sherman
as often declined to remain; and Johnson
did not order him to stay.
On the 31st of January, the day after offering Sherman
the position of Secretary of War
sent a letter to Grant
, recapitulating in detail and ratifying all the charges that had hitherto been only anonymously made.
On the 3d of February Grant
replied, denying every one of Johnson
's assertions, and charging the President
outright with an attempt to destroy his character before the country.
forthwith issued an order for Sherman
to return to Washington
, but with his usual vacillation, in a day or two rescinded it. On the 12th of February, however, the order was renewed, and Sherman
was directed to assume command of a new military division created for the occasion, with headquarters at Washington
notified him of this by telegraph, and Sherman
replied: ‘Were I prepared, I should resign on the spot, as it requires no foresight to predict such must be the inevitable result in the end.’
now sent to the Senate the nomination of Sherman
for the brevet of General, which would enable the President
to place him in command of the army instead of Grant
, but Sherman
instantly telegraphed to his brother in the Senate to oppose the confirmation.
The same day he wrote a second letter to the President
, which he forwarded through Grant
himself he said: ‘I never felt so troubled in my life.
Were it an order to go to Sitka
, to the devil, to battle with rebels or Indians
, I think you would not hear a whimper from me. . . . My first thoughts were of resignation, and I had almost made up my mind to ask Dodge
for some place on the Pacific Railroad, . . . and then again various colleges ran through my memory, but hard times and an expensive family have brought me back. . . . If it were at all certain that you would accept the nomination of President
in May, I would try and kill the intervening time and
then judge of the chances, but I do not want you to reveal your plans to me till you choose to do so.’
It was hard to drive Sherman
out of the army or compel him to oppose his friend—to force these men into such positions, who had done what they had for the country—all for the sake of enabling Johnson
to triumph over the will of the people who had won in the war—Johnson too, who was only by chance, or by assassination, in his place.
The strain between Grant
was terrible; the feeling, pitiable.
's letter to the President
was as emphatic as that to Grant
He declared: ‘If I could see my way clear to maintain my family I would not hesitate a moment to resign my present commission and seek some business wherein I could be free from these unhappy complications that seem to be closing about me.’
He implored a revocation of the order, and continued: ‘By being placed in Washington
I will be universally construed as a rival to the General-in-Chief
, a position damaging to me in the highest degree.
Our relations have always been most confidential and friendly, and if unhappily any cloud of difference should arise between us, my sense of personal dignity and duty would leave me no alternative but resignation.
I shall proceed to arrange for it as rapidly as possible, so that when the time does come, as it surely will, if this plan is carried into effect, I may act promptly.’
He ended by pronouncing ‘the blow one of the hardest I have sustained in a life somewhat checkered by adversity.’
Neither the feeling nor the conduct of Sherman
at this crisis can be fully appreciated without remembering that he did not approve the course of Congress in many respects, and would certainly have preferred a more lenient policy toward the South
But questions like these were now far in the background, and the devices of Johnson
were such as Sherman
never could have indorsed.
There were, indeed, many honorable and loyal men who believed that the course
originally indicated by the President
, would have been more fortunate for the country, and at this distance of time all can see instances in which Congress might have acted with greater wisdom; but the crooked arts and iniquitous machinations of the obstinate, cunning, malicious man at the head of the Government
can recommend themselves neither to patriots nor men of honor at the North or South, Democrats or Republicans.
They cost the country dear.
The shot of Booth
did more harm to the South
than to the illustrious martyr who received it, or to the unhappy maniac by whose hand Lincoln
, as well as Sherman
, was tortured by the petty craft of him whom Fate had thrust into a position where he could tyrannize over natures greater than his own. Grant
now appealed to Sherman
to write out his recollections of the famous interview with the President
, at which Sherman
had been present, in order to counterbalance the assertions of Johnson
On the 18th of February the General-in-Chief
wrote again to his friend, calling for his support in the attacks upon his honor:
Your letter to the President which you informed me by telegraph on Friday last had been mailed through me, has not yet come to hand.
It may come to-day.
The course you have pursued has given immense satisfaction so far as I have heard any expression of opinion.
The dispatch you sent to Senator Sherman has not been published, but it is understood to be the ground of his action in the Senate.
You see by the papers Mr. J. has been expressing surprise at your action, saying that his course was understood between you before you left, and that you did not seem to disapprove it. Of course I do not expect to make any use of the letters which you have written, in my own vindication, but I thought your letter to the President might set you right in the estimation of people who do not know you as well as I do, and might possibly suppose from the fact that you had been in Washington and in direct communication with the President, that you had consented to aid him in his plans to offer me an indignity.
would be very glad to have you here if the public was not losing by bringing you away from where you are, and if not for the annoying position it would place you in. I have heard that Mr. Johnson said to some of his intimate friends that he intended to have you and me knock our heads together.
Your intimation that you would resign under any circumstances has called out an expression that you should not be placed in a position to make it necessary, even if it took legislation to prevent the contingency.
This of course is an individual expression of opinion.
But I would say under no circumstances tender even a contingent resignation.
You do not owe Mr. Johnson anything, and he is not entitled to such a sacrifice from you. Please present my kindest regards to Mrs. Sherman and the children.
The scrupulous care with which in all this crisis Grant
's wishes, and strove to do nothing to commit him further than he chose, is shown in the following letter of the 22d of February to Senator Sherman
The National Intelligencer of this morning contains a private note which General Sherman sent to the President while he was in Washington, dictated by the purest kindness and a disposition to preserve harmony, and not intended for publication.
It seems to me that the publication of that letter is calculated to place the General in a wrong light before the public, taken in connection with what correspondents have said before, evidently getting their inspiration from the White House.
As General Sherman afterward wrote a semi-official note to the President, furnishing me a copy, and still later a purely official letter sent through me, which place him in his true position, and which have not been published, though called for by the ‘House,’ I take the liberty of sending you these letters to give you the opportunity of consulting General Sherman as to what action to take upon them.
In all matters where I am not personally interested I would not hesitate to advise General Sherman how I would act in his place.
But in this instance after the correspondence I have had with Mr. Johnson, I may not see General Sherman's interest in the same light others see it, or that I would see it in, if no such correspondence had
I am clear in this, however: the correspondence here inclosed to you should not be made public, except by the President, or with the full sanction of General Sherman.
Probably the letter of the 31st of January, marked confidential, should not be given out at all.
was deterred by Sherman
's protestations, by the refusal of the Senate to confirm the brevet, and by the fear that he would damage himself if he insisted further.
Doubtless, too, he suspected that Sherman
would not prove very serviceable, if forced so much against his will into the uncoveted position.
On the 19th of February, therefore, the President
that he would not be ordered to Washington
Two days afterward, without consulting the Senate, Johnson
and appointed Lorenzo Thomas
, the Adjutant-General
of the Army, Secretary of War ad interim
. The same day a resolution was offered in the House of Representatives that Andrew Johnson
of the United States
, be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.
On the 24th of February the resolution was adopted.
Points suggested by General Sherman
in answer to the President
's letter to General Grant
, of January 31, 1866: