Chapter 32

As soon as the surrender at Appomattox had taken place, General Grant despatched a boat from City Point with a message to Sherman announcing the event, and telling him that he could offer the same terms to Johnston. On April 18 Sherman entered into an agreement with Johnston which embraced political as well as merely military questions, but only conditionally, and with the understanding that the armistice granted could be terminated if the conditions were. not approved by superior authority. A staff-officer sent by General Sherman brought his communication to Washington announcing the terms of this agreement. It was received by General Grant on April 21. Perceiving that the terms covered many questions of a civil and not of a military nature, he suggested to the Secretary of War that the matter had better be referred at once to President Johnson and the cabinet for their action. A cabinet meeting was called before midnight, and there was a unanimous decision that the basis of agreement should be disapproved, and an order was issued directing General Grant to proceed in person to Sherman's headquarters and direct operations against the enemy. Instead of merely recognizing that Sherman had made an [503] [504] honest mistake in exceeding his authority, the President and the Secretary of War characterized his conduct as akin to treason, and the Secretary denounced him in unmeasured terms. At this General Grant grew indignant, and gave free expression to his opposition to an attempt to stigmatize an officer whose acts throughout all his career gave ample contradiction to the charge that he was actuated by unworthy motives. The form of the public announcement put forth by the War Department aroused great public indignation against Sherman, and it was some time before his motives were fully understood.

Grant started at daybreak on the 22d, proceeded at once to Raleigh, explained the situation and attitude of the government fully to Sherman, and directed him to give the required notice for annulling the truce, and to demand a surrender of Johnston's army on the same terms as those accorded to Lee. Sherman was, as usual, perfectly loyal and subordinate, and made all haste to comply with these instructions. When he went out to the front to meet Johnston, Grant remained quietly at Raleigh, and throughout the negotiations kept himself entirely in the background, lest he might seem to share in the honor of receiving the surrender, the credit for which he wished to belong wholly to Sherman. The entire surrender of Johnston's forces was promptly concluded. Having had a talk with the Secretary of War soon after General Grant's departure, and finding him bent upon continuing the denunciation of Sherman before the public, I started for North Carolina to meet General Grant and inform him of the situation in Washington. I passed him, however, on the way, and at once returned and rejoined him at Washington.

Hostilities were now brought rapidly to a close throughout the entire theater of war. April 11, Canby [505] compelled the evacuation of Mobile. By the 21st our troops had taken Selma, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, West Point, Columbus, and Macon. May 4, Richard Taylor surrendered the Confederate forces east of the Mississippi. May 10, Jefferson Davis was captured; and on the 26th Kirby Smith surrendered his command west of the Mississippi. Since April 8, 1680 cannon had been captured, and 174,223 Confederate soldiers had been paroled. There was no longer a rebel in arms, the Union cause had triumphed, slavery was abolished, and the National Government was again supreme.

The Army of the Potomac, Sheridan's cavalry, and Sherman's army had all reached the capital by the end of May. Sheridan could not remain with his famous corps, for General Grant sent him post-haste to the Rio Grande to look after operations there in a contemplated movement against Maximilian's forces, who were upholding a monarchy in Mexico, in violation of the Monroe doctrine.

It was decided that the troops assembled at Washington should be marched in review through the nation's capital before being mustered out of service. The Army of the Potomac, being senior in date of organization, and having been for four years the more direct defense of the capital city, was given precedence, and May 23 was designated as the day on which it was to be reviewed.

During the preceding five days Washington had been given over to elaborate preparations for the coming pageant. The public buildings were decked with a tasteful array of bunting; flags were unfurled from private dwellings; arches and transparencies with patriotic mottos were displayed in every quarter; and the spring flowers were fashioned into garlands, and played their part. The whole city was ready for the [506] most imposing fete-day in its history. Vast crowds of citizens had gathered from neighboring States. During the review they filled the stands, lined the sidewalks, packed the porches, and covered even the housetops. The weather was superb.

A commodious stand had been erected on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, on which were gathered a large number of distinguished officials, including the President; the members of his cabinet, who had won renown in the cabinet of Lincoln; the acting Vice-President; justices of the Supreme Court; governors of States; senators and representatives; the general-in-chief of the army, and the captor of Atlanta, with other generals of rank; admirals of the navy; and brilliantly uniformed representatives of foreign powers.

General Grant, accompanied by the principal members of his staff, was one of the earliest to arrive. With his customary simplicity and dislike of ostentation, he had come on foot through the White House grounds from the headquarters of the army at the corner of 17th and F streets. Grant's appearance was, as usual, the signal for a boisterous demonstration. Sherman arrived a few minutes later, and his reception was scarcely less enthusiastic.

At nine o'clock the signal-gun was fired, and the legions took up their march. They started from the Capitol, and moved along Pennsylvania Avenue toward Georgetown. The width and location of that street made it an ideal thoroughfare for such a purpose. Martial music from scores of bands filled the air, and when familiar war-songs were played the spectators along the route joined in shouting the chorus. Those oftenest sung and most applauded were, “When this cruel war is over,” “When Johnny comes marching home,” and “Tramp, tramp, tramp! The boys are marching.” [507]

At the head of the column rode Meade, crowned with the laurels of four years of warfare. The plaudits of the multitude followed him along the entire line of march; flowers were strewn in his path, and garlands decked his person and his horse. He dismounted after having passed the reviewing-stand, stepped upon the platform, and was enthusiastically greeted by all present. Then came the cavalry, with the gallant Merritt at their head, commanding in the absence of Sheridan. The public were not slow to make recognition of the fame he had won on so many hard-fought fields. Conspicuous among the division commanders was Custer. His long golden locks floating in the wind, his low-cut collar, his crimson necktie, and his buckskin breeches, presented a combination which made him look half general and half scout, and gave him a daredevil appearance which singled him out for general remark and applause. When within two hundred yards of the President's stand, his spirited horse took the bit in his teeth, and made a dash past the troops, rushing by the reviewing officers like a tornado; but he found more than a match in Custer, and was soon checked, and forced back to his proper position. When the cavalryman, covered with flowers, afterward rode by the reviewing officials, the people screamed with delight.

After the cavalry came Parke, who might well feel proud of the prowess of the Ninth Corps, which followed him; then Griffin, riding at the head of the gallant Fifth Corps; then Humphreys and the Second Corps, of unexcelled valor. Wright's Sixth Corps was greatly missed from the list, but its duties kept it in Virginia, and it was accorded a special review on June 8.

The men preserved their alinement and distances with an ease which showed their years of training in the field. Their movements were unfettered, their step was elastic, [508] and the swaying of their bodies and the swinging of their arms were as measured as the vibrations of a pendulum. Their muskets shone like a wall of steel. The cannon rumbled peacefully over the paved street, banks of flowers almost concealing them.

Nothing touched the hearts of the spectators so deeply as the sight of the old war-flags as they were carried by-those precious standards, bullet-riddled, battle-stained, many of them but remnants, often with not enough left of them to show the names of the battles they had seen. Some were decked with ribbons, and some festooned with garlands. Everybody was thrilled by the sight; eyes were dimmed with tears of gladness, and many of the people broke through all restraint, rushed into the street, and pressed their lips upon the folds of the standards.

The President was kept busy doffing his hat. He had a way of holding it by the brim with his right hand and waving it from left to right, and occasionally passing his right arm across his breast and resting the hat on his left shoulder. This manual of the hat was original, and had probably been practised with good effect when its wearer was stumping east Tennessee. As each commander in turn passed the reviewing-stand, he dismounted and came upon the platform, where he paid his respects to the President, was presented to the guests, and remained during the passage of his command.

A prominent officer of the engineer brigade, while riding by, led to a slight commotion on the platform. He wore a French chasseur cap, which he had had made of a pattern differing from the strict regulation head-gear in having an extra amount of cloth between the lower band and the crown. As he came opposite the President and raised his sword in saluting, he paid an additional mark of respect by bowing his head. At the same moment the horse, as if catching the spirit of its rider, [509] kicked up behind and put down its head. This unexpected participation of the horse in the salute sent the officer's head still lower, and the crown of his cap fell forward, letting out the superfluous cloth till it looked like an accordion extended at full length. The sight was so ludicrous that several of us who were standing just behind the President burst out into a poorly suppressed laugh. This moved him to turn squarely round and glare at us savagely, in an attempt to frown down such a lack of dignity before, or rather behind, the Chief Magistrate of the nation.

For nearly seven hours the pageant was watched with unabated interest; and when it had faded from view the spectators were eager for the night to pass, so that on the morrow the scene might be renewed in the marching of the mighty Army of the West.

The next day the same persons, with a few exceptions, assembled upon the reviewing-stand. At nine o'clock Sherman's veterans started. Howard had been relieved of the command of the Army of the Tennessee to take charge of the Freedmen's Bureau, and instead of leading his old troops he rode with Sherman at the head of the column, his armless right sleeve giving evidence of his heroism in action.

Sherman, unknown by sight to most of the people in the East, was eagerly watched for, and his appearance awoke great enthusiasm. His tall, spare figure, war-worn face, and martial bearing made him all that the people had pictured him. He had ridden but a little way before his body was decorated with flowery wreaths, and his horse enveloped in garlands. As he approached the reviewing-stand the bands struck up “Marching through Georgia,” and played that stirring air with a will. This was the signal for renewed demonstrations of delight. When he had passed, he turned his horse into the White House grounds, dismounted, and strode [510] rapidly to the platform. He advanced to where the President was standing, and the two shook hands. The members of the cabinet then stepped up to greet him. He took their extended hands, and had a few pleasant words to say to each of them, until Stanton reached out his hand. Then Sherman's whole manner changed in an instant; a cloud of anger overspread his features, and, smarting under the wrong the Secretary had done him in his published bulletins after the conditional treaty with Johnston, the general turned abruptly away. This rebuff became the sensation of the day. There was no personal intercourse between the two men till some time afterward, when General Grant appeared, as usual, in the role of peacemaker, and brought them together. Sherman showed a manly spirit of forgiveness in going to see Stanton in his last illness, manifesting his respect and tendering his sympathy.

Sherman's active mind was crowded with the remembrance of past events, and he spent all the day in pointing out the different subdivisions of his army as they moved by, and recalling in his pithy and graphic way many of the incidents of the stirring campaigns through which they had passed.

Logan, “Black jack,” came riding at the head of the Army of the Tennessee, his swarthy features and long, coal-black hair giving him the air of a native Indian chief. The army corps which led the column was the Fifteenth, commanded by Hazen; then came the Seventeenth, under Frank P. Blair. Now Slocum appeared at the head of the Army of Georgia, consisting of the Twentieth Corps, headed by the gallant Mower, with his bushy whiskers covering his face, and looking the picture of a hard fighter, and the Fourteenth Corps, headed by Jefferson C. Davis.

Each division was preceded by a pioneer corps of negroes, marching in double ranks, with picks, spades, [511] and axes slung across their brawny shoulders, their stalwart forms conspicuous by their height. But the impedimenta were the novel feature of the march. Six ambulances followed each division to represent its baggage-train; and then came the amusing spectacle of “Sherman's bummers,” bearing with them the “spoils of war.” The bummers were men who were the forerunners, flankers, and foragers of the army. Each one was often his own commanding officer. If a bummer was too short-sighted to see the enemy, he would go nearer; if he was lame, he would make it an excuse to disobey an order to retreat; if out of reach of supplies, he would wear his clothes till there was not enough of his coat left to wad a gun, and not enough of his shirt to flag a train. He was always last in a retreat and first in an enemy's smoke-house. In kindling his camp-fire, he would obey the general order to take only the top rail of the neighboring fences, but would keep on taking the top rail till there were none of the fences left. The trophies of his foraging expeditions which appeared in the review consisted of pack-mules loaded with turkeys, geese, chickens, and bacon, and here and there a chicken-coop strapped on to the saddle, with a cackling brood peering out through the slats. Then came cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, crowing roosters, and in one instance a chattering monkey. Mixed with these was a procession of fugitive blacks-old men, stalwart women, and grinning piccaninnies of all sizes, and ranging in color from a raven's wing to a new saddle. This portion of the column called forth shouts of laughter and continuous rounds of applause.

Flowers were showered upon the troops in the same profusion as the day before, and there was no abatement in the uncontrollable enthusiasm of the vast assemblage of citizens who witnessed the march. [512]

Comparisons were naturally instituted between the Eastern and Western armies. The difference was much less than has been represented. The Army of the Potomac presented a somewhat neater appearance in dress, and was a little more precise in its movements. Sherman's army showed, perhaps, more of a rough-and-ready aspect and a devil-may-care spirit. Both were in the highest degree soldierly, and typical representatives of the terrible realism of relentless war.

At half-past 3 o'clock the matchless pageant had ceased. For two whole days a nation's heroes had been passing in review. Greeted with bands playing, drums beating, bells ringing, banners flying, kerchiefs waving, and voices cheering, they had made their last march. Even after every veteran had vanished from sight the crowds kept their places for a time, as if still under a spell and unwilling to believe that the marvelous spectacle had actually passed from view. It was not a Roman triumph, designed to gratify the vanity of the victors, exhibit their trophies, and parade their enchained captives before the multitude: it was a celebration of the dawn of peace, a declaration of the reestablishment of the Union.

General Grant now stood in the front rank of the world's greatest captains. He had conquered the most formidable rebellion in the annals of history. The armies under his immediate direction in Virginia had captured 75,000 prisoners and 689 cannon; the armies under his general command had captured in April and May 147,000 prisoners and 997 cannon; making a total of 222,000 prisoners and 1680 cannon as the achievement of the forces he controlled.1

Most of the conspicuous soldiers in history have risen [513] to prominence by gradual steps, but the Union commander came before the people with a sudden bound. Almost the first sight they caught of him was at Donelson. From that event to the closing triumph of Appomattox he was the leader whose name was the harbinger of victory. He was unquestionably the most aggressive fighter in the entire list of the world's famous soldiers. He never once yielded up a stronghold he had wrested from his foe. He kept his pledge religiously to “take no backward steps.” For four years of bloody and relentless war he went steadily forward, replacing the banner of his country upon the territory where it had been hauled down. He possessed in a striking degree every characteristic of the successful soldier. His methods were all stamped with tenacity of purpose, originality, and ingenuity. He depended for his success more upon the powers of invention than of adaptation, and the fact that he has been compared at different times to nearly every great commander in history is perhaps the best proof that he was like none of them. He realized that in a sparsely settled country, with formidable natural obstacles and poor roads, and in view of the improvement in range and rapidity of fire in cannon and small arms, the European methods of warfare and the rules laid down in many of the books must be abandoned, and new means devised to meet the change in circumstances. He therefore adopted a more open order of battle, made an extensive use of skirmish-lines, employed cavalry largely as mounted infantry, and sought to cultivate the individuality of the soldier instead of making him merely an unthinking part of a compact machine. He originated the cutting loose from a base of supplies with large armies and living off the invaded country. He insisted constantly upon thorough cooperation between the different commands, [514] and always aimed to prevent operations of corps or armies which were not part of a joint movement in obedience to a comprehensive plan. His marvelous combinations, covering half a continent, soon wrought the destruction of the Confederacy; and when he struck Lee the final blow, the cooperating armies were so placed that there was no escape for the opposing forces, and within forty-seven days thereafter every Confederate army surrendered to a Union army. He had no hobby as to the use of any particular arm of the service. He naturally placed his main reliance in his infantry, but made a more vigorous use of cavalry than any of the generals of his day, and was judicious in regulating the amount of his artillery by the character of the country in which he was operating.

His magnanimity to Lee, his consideration for his feelings, and the generous terms granted him, served as a precedent for subsequent surrenders, and had much to do with bringing about a prompt and absolute cessation of hostilities, thus saving the country from a prolonged guerrilla warfare.

He was possessed of a moral and physical courage which was equal to every emergency in which he was placed. He was calm amid excitement, patient under trials, sure in judgment, clear in foresight, never depressed by reverses or unduly elated by success. He was fruitful in expedients, and had a facility of resource and a faculty of adapting the means at hand to the accomplishment of an end which never failed him. He possessed an intuitive knowledge of topography, which prevented him from ever becoming confused as to locality or direction in conducting even the most complicated movements in the field. His singular self-reliance enabled him at critical junctures to decide instantly questions of vital moment without dangerous delay in [515] seeking advice from others, and to assume the gravest responsibilities without asking any one to share them.

His habits of life were simple, and he enjoyed a physical constitution which enabled him to endure every form of fatigue and privation incident to military service in the field. His soldiers always knew that he was ready to rough it with them and share their hardships on the march. He wore no better clothes than they, and often ate no better food. There was nothing in his manner to suggest that there was any gulf between him and the men who were winning his victories. He never tired of giving unstinted praise to his subordinates. He was at all times loyal to them. His fidelity produced a reciprocal effect, and is one of the chief reasons why they became so loyally attached to him. He was never betrayed by success into boasting of his triumphs. He never underrated himself in a battle; he never overrated himself in a report.

General Sheridan, in his “Memoirs,” says of his chief, in speaking of the later campaigns: “The effect of his discomfitures was to make him all the more determined to discharge successfully the stupendous trust committed to his care, and to bring into play the manifold resources of his well-ordered mind. He guided every subordinate then, and in the last days of the rebellion, with a fund of common sense and a superiority of intellect which have left an impress so distinct as to exhibit his great personality. When his military history is analyzed after the lapse of years, it will show even more clearly than now that during these, as well as his previous campaigns, he was the steadfast center about and on which everything else turned.”

General Longstreet, one of his most persistent foes on the field of battle, says in his reminiscences: “General Grant had come to be known as an all-round fighter [516] seldom, if ever, surpassed; but the biggest part of him was his heart.” And again: “As the world continues to look at and study the grand combinations and strategy of General Grant, the higher will be his reward as a soldier.”

While his achievements in actual battle eclipse by their brilliancy the strategy and grand tactics employed in his campaigns, yet the extraordinary combinations effected, and the skill and boldness exhibited in moving large armies into position, should entitle him to as much credit as the qualities he displayed in the immediate presence of the enemy. With him the formidable game of war was in the hands of a master.

1 These figures relate to the final capture were of course much larger. campaign alone. The whole year's--Editor.

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