William Conant Church Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, United States Volunteers
During the Wilderness campaign, 1864, when Grant lost an army but saved a nation.|
Grant on Lookout Mountain—1863 at the spot where hooker signaled victory the week before
Wearing epaulets and a sword—quite unusual for him—but calm and imperturbable as of old, with his crumpled army hat, plain blouse, his trousers tucked into his boot-tops, and the inevitable cigar, Ulysses S. Grant stands at a historic spot.
Less than a week before, when the Union soldiers under Thomas, still smarting from their experience at Chickamauga, stood gazing at the Confederate works behind which rose the crest of Missionary Ridge, the Stars and Stripes were thrown to the breeze on the crest of Lookout Mountain.
Eager hands pointed, and a great cheer went up from the Army of the Cumberland.
They knew that the Union troops with Hooker had carried the day in their ‘battle above the clouds.’
That was the 25th of November, 1863; and that same afternoon the soldiers
of Thomas swarmed over the crest of Missionary Ridge while Grant himself looked on and wondered.
When a few days later Grant visited the spot whence the flag was waved, an enterprising photographer, already on the spot, preserved the striking scene.
Seated with his back against a tree, General J. A. Rawlins gazes at his leader.
Behind him stands General Webster, and leaning against the tree is Colonel Clark B. Lagow.
The figure in the right foreground is Colonel William S. Hillyer.
Seated by the path is an orderly.
They have evidently come to survey the site of Hooker's battle from above.
Colonel Lagow is carrying a pair of field glasses.
Less than four months later Grant was commissioned lieutenant-general and placed in general command of the Union armies.|
The man of all men who knew General Grant
best, his friend and chief ally, General W. T. Sherman
, declared that Grant
more nearly than any other man impersonated the American
character of 1861-65, and was the typical hero of our great Civil War.
It is an anomaly of history that a man so distinguished in war should be so unwarlike in personal characteristics as was Ulysses Simpson Grant
, and so singularly free from the ambitions supposed to dominate the soldier.
He sickened at the sight of blood, was so averse to inflicting pain that, as a lad, he never enjoyed the boyish sport of killing small animals, and at no time in his life was he fond of hunting.
Indeed, no more gentle-hearted and kindly man is known to American history, not excepting Abraham Lincoln
Numerous circumstances in the life of Grant
illustrate his consideration for others.
At Vicksburg, Mississippi
, where over thirty thousand Confederates surrendered to him, July 4, 1863, he directed his exulting troops ‘to be orderly and quiet as the paroled prisoners passed’ and to make no offensive remarks.
The only cheers heard there were for the defenders of Vicksburg
, and the music sounded was the tune of Old hundred,
in which victor and vanquished could join.
The surrender at Appomattox, Virginia
, April 9, 1865, was characterized by almost feminine tenderness and tact, and a sympathetic courtesy toward the conquered so marked that an observer was moved to ask, ‘Who's surrendering here, anyway?’
A simple-hearted country lad disposed to bucolic life, so
Grant in 1863—before the first of his great victories
Grant was described in 1861 as a man ‘who knows how to do things.’
In February, 1862, he captured Forts Henry and Donelson, thus opening the way for a Federal advance up the Tennessee River, and was promptly commissioned major-general.
His experience at Shiloh in April, coupled with failures in official routine during the Donelson campaign which were not approved by his superiors, left him under a cloud which was not removed until the capture of Vicksburg, July 4, 1863, revealed capacity of a high order.
The government's plan of conducting the war was then entrusted to him to work out with practically unlimited power.|
unbelligerent that he never had even a ‘spat’ at West Point
, displaying no martial qualities except, perhaps, in his love of horses and in their fearless handling, there was in him no suggestion of the vocation of the soldier.
He entered the Military Academy simply because his father desired that he should do so, and while there he secretly rejoiced because of the report that Congress was proposing to abolish the academy.
The thought of the girl he left behind was constantly with him during his cadet course, though this youthful romance ended in the disillusion which often attends such experiences.
And it was this man, whose personal characteristics were all so unlike those distinguishing the remorseless conqueror, ‘slaughtering men for glory's sake,’ who was selected from among the heroes of our great domestic strife for the appellation of ‘butcher.’
No one of them less deserved this title, for none of them accomplished as great results with a less proportionate loss of life.
The repulse of Lee
, in 1863, was obtained at a cost of 23,000 casualties—3155 killed, 14,529 wounded, 5365 missing—and at the end Lee
marched with his army from the field of battle.
The more complete victory at Vicksburg
, with the surrender of Pemberton
's entire army of 30,000 men, was obtained by Grant
with a casualty list of only 9362, including about 450 missing.
Heavy as were the losses during the year which preceded the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, they were less than the aggregate loss, including ‘missing,’ of previous commanders of the Army of the Potomac in unsuccessful attempts to accomplish the same result in the same field.
's total of killed and wounded was 19,597 less than the average number killed and injured annually by the railroads of the United States
during the four years ending 1910.
Those who ‘control the destiny of to-morrow’ are those who are the most apt in learning that, in great matters, it is
The close-set mouth, squared shoulders and lowering brow in this photograph of Grant, taken in December, 1862, tell the story of the intensity of his purpose while he was advancing upon Vicksburg—only to be foiled by Van Dorn's raid on his line of communications at Holly Springs.
His grim expression and determined jaw betokened no respite for the Confederates, however.
Six months later he marched into the coveted stronghold.
This photograph was taken by James Mullen at Oxford, Mississippi, in December, 1862, just before Van Dorn's raid balked the general's plans.|
This photograph was taken in the fall of 1863, after the capture of the Confederacy's Gibraltar had raised Grant to secure and everlasting fame.
His attitude is relaxed and his eyebrows no longer mark a straight line across the grim visage.
The right brow is slightly arched with an almost jovial expression.
But the jaw is no less vigorous and determined, and the steadfast eyes seem to be peering into that future which holds more victories.
He still has Chattanooga and his great campaigns in the East to fight and the final magnificent struggle in the trenches at Petersburg.|
necessary to disregard personal considerations and to keep the mind open to the suggestions from within; who are not blinded by what has been well described as ‘the pride of self-derived intelligence.’
succeeded because his specially trained faculties and especially adapted experiences were obedient to larger suggestions than those of personal ambition and self-glorification.
This explains Grant
, as it explains Lincoln and Washington.
, as his colleagues at the Military Academy were accustomed to call him, because of the ‘U. S.
,’ Uncle Sam, in his name; ‘ “Sam” Grant
,’ as one of those same colleagues once said, ‘was as honest a man as God ever made.’
Honest, not merely in a pecuniary sense but in all of his mental processes, and in this simple honesty of his nature we find the explanation not only of his greatness but of the errors into which he fell in the attempt to deal with the subtleties of human selfishness and intrigue.
It was characteristic of Grant
's mental processes that he always thought on straight lines, and his action was equally direct and positive.
He was not so much concerned with the subtleties of strategy as with a study of the most direct road to the opponent's center.
One of the chief perplexities on the field of battle is ‘the fog of war,’ the difficulty of divining the movements of the foe, by which your own are to be determined.
was less confused by this than most commanders, keeping his adversary so occupied with his own aggressive movements that he had little opportunity to study combinations against him. He was fertile in expedients; his mind was always open to the suggestions of opportunity, and it was his habit to postpone decision until the necessity for decision arose.
recognized earlier than others the fact that, if his own troops were lacking in the military knowledge and training required to make them a facile instrument in his hands, his antagonists were no better equipped in this respect.
He saw that the best training for the high-spirited and independent
volunteers he commanded was that of the battlefield.
If action involved risk, inaction was certain to produce discontent and even demoralization, while the fatalities of the camp were those chiefly to be dreaded, for microbes were more deadly than bullets.
His early successes were due to the application of his methods to conditions as he found them, without waiting for their improvement.
When he met the battalions of Lee
, then trained and seasoned by three years of war, the struggle was protracted, but in the end he triumphed through his policy of vigorous and persistent attack, bringing a contest which had then extended over three years of inconclusive fighting to a final conclusion in one year.
was born, April 27, 1822, in a little one-story cottage on the banks of the Ohio River
, at Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio
His grandfather, captain Noah Grant
, was a Connecticut soldier of the army of the Revolution who, in 1800, settled on the Connecticut Reservation
His mother, Hannah Simpson
, was of a sterling American family of pioneers, noted for integrity, truthfulness, and sturdy independence of character.
She was a noble woman of strong character, and it was from her that the son inherited his remarkable capacity for reticence, tempered in him by an occasional relapse into the garrulity of his father.
If he was incapable of indirection in thought or speech, he could be silent when speech might betray what he did not wish to have known.
among his friends, when occasion served, he was a fluent and interesting talker.
He never gossiped, never used profane or vulgar language, was charitable and generous to a fault, and considerate in his treatment of all. He was good-natured and fond of his joke.
Uncomplaining self-control was characteristic of both mother and son, as was also equability of temper and ‘saving common sense.’
to estimate Grant
correctly, it is necessary to consider him apart from the personal influences by which he was swayed,
In the autumn of 1863—Grant's changing expressions
although secure in his fame as the conqueror of Vicksburg, Grant still has the greater part of his destiny to fulfil as he faces the camera.
Before him lie the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and the slow investment of Petersburg.
This series forms a particularly interesting study in expression.
At the left hand, the face looks almost amused.
In the next the expression is graver, the mouth close set. The third picture looks plainly obstinate, and in the last the stern fighter might have been declaring, as in the following spring: ‘I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.’
the eyes, first unveiled fully in this fourth view, are the unmistakable index to Grant's stern inflexibility, once his decision was made.|
In the autumn of 1864—after the strain of the Wilderness campaign
here is a furrowed brow above eyes worn by pain.
In the pictures of the previous year the forehead is more smooth, the expression grave yet confident.
Here the expression is that of a man who has won, but won at a bitter cost.
It is the memory of the 50,000 men whom he left in the Wilderness campaign and at Cold Harbor that has lined this brow, and closed still tighter this inflexible mouth.
Again, as in the series above, the eyes are not revealed until the last picture.
Then again flashes the determination of a hero.
The great general's biographers say that Grant was a man of sympathy and infinite pity.
It was the more difficult for him, spurred on to the duty by grim necessity, to order forward the lines in blue that withered, again and again, before the Confederate fire, but each time weakened the attenuated line which confronted them.|
for he was a man of unusual domesticity, and tenacity of friendship not always distinguished by perspicacity in discerning character.
to the sincere but unobtrusive piety of his mother, Grant
owed a reverence for religion which he displayed throughout life and which supported him during that last desperate struggle with death, ending at Mount MacGREGORregor, New York, on July 23, 1885.
his belief in the invisible powers was the hidden current of the great soldier's life.
It explains alike his calmness in victory and his unfaltering courage in defeat.
There was no shock of battle so fierce, no episode of the combat so exciting that could disturb his impassible demeanor.
‘I have had many hard experiences in my life,’ he once said to the writer, when chatting in front of his camp-fire at Petersburg
, ‘but I never saw the moment when I was not confident that I should win in the end.’
if he was not blinded by a sense of his individual importance, there was no lack of self-confidence in Grant
He had a just estimate of his own abilities and a correct understanding, as a soldier, of the work for which his abilities and experiences had fitted him. If he did not possess what is usually regarded as the temperament of the soldier, there was no lack of the training or experience of the soldier.
If not a brilliant student, according to the standards of West Point
, he made a faithful use of the opportunity which that institution gave him for a military training.
In his class-standing he held a middle place with others of the graduates most distinguished in our Civil War; a relatively higher place than Jefferson Davis
, James Longstreet
, William J. Hardee
, and others of the South
; and than Sheridan
, and other leaders of the Northern
no soldier of like rank was more distinguished in the War
, then a lieutenant.
It is no small achievement for a subaltern to be brought into the lime-light
Grant in June, 1864—a summer day at City Point while great events were hanging in the ballance
Third from the left sits General Grant at his headquarters at City Point, on a high bluff at the junction of the James and the Appomattox rivers.
At this moment his reputation hangs in the balance.
In the three successive battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor, he has lost 49,000 men, but the still-trusting North hurries fresh men and vast supplies to the front.
Always unassuming in appearance, General Grant had changed in this photograph to his summer garb.
The General's blouse, like the others, was of plain material, single-breasted, and had four regulation brass buttons in front.
It was substantially the coat of a private soldier, with nothing to indicate the rank of an officer except the three gold stars of a lieutenant-general on the shoulder-straps.
Judging from the experience of the past few weeks, the outlook for the future was far from bright.
Yet here Grant sits serene, undaunted, confident that no army with ever lessening resources can stand the weight of metal and men which he has been hurling for many weeks against Lee.|
of publicity, as Grant
was by mention in General orders commending him for acts of special distinction in battle, showing both intelligence and daring.
meeting General Grant
not long after his return to military life, Henry Villard
reported that ‘there was certainly nothing in his outward appearance or in his personal ways or conversation to indicate the great military qualities he possessed.
Firmness seemed to me about the only characteristic expressed in his features.
Otherwise, he was a very plain, unpretentious, unimposing person, easily approached, reticent as a rule, and yet showing at times a fondness for a chat about all sorts of things.
This ordinary exterior, however, made it as difficult for me, as in the case of Abraham Lincoln
, to persuade myself that he was destined to be one of the greatest arbiters of human fortunes.’
, who saw him at this time, discovered in him ‘the soldierly qualities of self-poise, modesty, decision, attention to detail.’
had never been brought into contact with men of public reputation and had no influential friends to push his fortunes when the Civil War
opened to him an opportunity.
His skill as a drill-master was discovered by accident, and this secured an opportunity for him to go to the Illinois
capital with the Galena
company he had been drilling.
He attracted the attention of Governor Yates
and was given a clerical position in the adjutant-general
's office in filling out army forms.
When his appointment as colonel to an unruly volunteer regiment followed, he at once gave proof of the education he had acquired at West Point
and his experience of fifteen years service in the regular army.
in executing his first orders to take the field, he astonished his superiors by marching his regiment across country instead of moving it comfortably by rail.
And when the laggards of the regiment were compelled to march in their stocking feet
Grant—on his first trip North
the war is over.
Grant has received in a magnanimous spirit, rarely paralleled in history, the surrender of Lee. Here he appears in Philadelphia on his first trip North after the war. His bearing is that of a man relieved of a vast responsibility, but with the marks of it still upon him. He is thinner than the full-chested soldier in the photograph taken in 1863, after the fall of Vicksburg.
His dress is careless, as always, but shows more attention than when he was in the field.
He looks out of the picture with the unflinching eyes that had been able to penetrate the future and see the wisdom of the plan that proved the final undoing of the Confederacy.|
at the hour designated, they learned that ‘6 A. M.’ with their new colonel meant six o'clock in the morning.
Another revelation came when they first faced him on parade, and their vociferous demands for a speech were met by the terse reply, ‘men, go to your quarters.’
thus, in various ways, they learned from day to day that they were in the hands of a man who understood the trade of war.
it was precisely because he was a master-workman at his trade that Grant
was able to make his personal qualities effective when opportunity was given him. He was limited by the imperfections of the instruments he had at hand and was subjected to criticism accordingly, as at Shiloh
, April 6, 1862, where his failure to protect his Camp is explained by a fear lest a display of apprehension might demoralize troops misled by the ignorant cry of ‘spades to the rear,’ which then filled the air. They would have regarded defensive measures as an evidence of weakness and cowardice, and confidence is an essential factor in the management of raw troops, of which both the armies were then composed.
They had at that time advanced but one stage beyond the condition of an armed mob, only partially responsive to the skilled handling of the educated and trained soldier.
previous to the battle of Pittsburg Landing
, as Shiloh
is also called, Grant
had given proof of his energy and his promptness in taking the initiative in the occupation of Paducah, Kentucky
, September 6, 1861; in the comparatively trifling affair at Belmont, Missouri
, November 7, 1861; and in his important success in the capture of Fort Donelson
on the Cumberland River, Tennessee
, in February, 1862, where he had the efficient assistance of the gunboats, under Flag-officer Foote
These successes increased his confidence in himself, as back came the echo of exultant popular approval when the country saw how capable this man was of accomplishing great results with troops lacking in arms, equipment, transportation, and supplies, as well as in organization, but who
Grant in 1865—the zenith of his career
behind Grant in 1865 lay all his victories on the field of battle; before him the highest gift within the power of the American people— the presidency.
He says in his memoirs that after Vicksburg he had a presentment that he was to bring the War to a successful end and become the head of the nation.
Grant's sturdy, persistent Scottish ancestry stood him in good stead.
He was a descendant of Matthew Grant, one of the settlers of Windsor, Connecticut, in 1635, and a man of much importance in the infant colony.
His American ancestors were fighting stock.
His great-grandfather, Noah Grant, held a military commission in the French and Indian War, and his grandfather, also named Noah, fought in the Revolution.
Henry Ward Beecher summed up the causes of Grant's meteoric rise from store clerk in 1861, to president in 1869, as follows: ‘Grant was available and lucky.’
his dominant trait was determination.|
comprehended the significance of his foe's weakness in the same respects.
had learned that if he did not run away his antagonists were likely to do so, and he had ascertained the potency of the formulas with which his name was associated: ‘no terms except unconditional and immediate surrender,’ and ‘I propose to move immediately upon your works.’
this met the temper of the time, impatient of strategy and paper plans and demanding tangible results.
the circumstances which led to Grant
's resignation from the army, July 31, 1854, however they might have been explained by those who knew him best, had created a distrust of him in the minds of his military superiors, Halleck
, so that he was left wholly dependent upon works accomplished for his recognition by the North
and at Washington
He neither sought nor obtained favor from his superiors; he made no complaint of insufficient support, as so many did, but doggedly pursued a consistent course of doing the best he could with what the War Department placed at his disposal, learning from his successes and profiting by his mistakes as well as by those of the foe.
there was one who was superior to this professional distrust of Grant
, and that was Abraham Lincoln
He had found a man who could accomplish, and the fortune of that man was thenceforth secure in the hands of the chief executive.
fully realized that the country had entered upon a long and desperate struggle, and he shaped his course accordingly.
He drew the line of distinction between friend and foe more sharply, and, where he found it necessary, directed his warfare against the property as well as the persons of those in arms against him, and their abettors.
Thus he passed another landmark in his progress to final success.
another essential lesson was to be learned.
That came when a colonel, December 20, 1862, surrendered his depot of
Grant in characteristic pose, with his staff in 1864
the indifferent attitude of the General-in-chief is most characteristic.
Grant had begun the investment of Petersburg when this photograph was taken.
Around him are the men who had followed him faithfully through the faith-shaking campaigns of the Wilderness.
He never made known his plans for an advance to anyone, but his calm confidence communicated itself to all who listened to him. In the most critical moments he manifested no perceptible anxiety, but gave his orders with coolness and deliberation.
At the left of the photograph sits General John A. Rawlins, who has foresworn his customary mustache and beard which the next picture shows him as wearing.
He was first aide-de-camp to Grant, then assistant adjutant-general and chief of staff.
Behind Grant, who stands in the center with one hand thrust carelessly into his pocket, sits Lieutenant Frederick Grant, later major-general in the United States Army.
In front of Grant stands Colonel M. B. Ryan, and on the extreme right sits Colonel Ely S. Parker, military secretary, who was a full-blooded Indian, a grandnephew of the famous Red Jacket, and chief of the tribes known as the six Nations.|
supplies at Holly Springs
and compelled General Grant
to subsist his Army of thirty thousand men upon the country for two weeks, his communications with his rear being severed at the same time by Forrest
's enterprising Confederate cavalry.
was preparing to move against Vicksburg
at the time, and the surrender of that place, July 4, 1863, followed a march overland to its rear from Bruinsburg
, April 30, 1863, without supplies for his troops, other than those obtained from the country as he advanced, Grant
carrying no personal baggage himself but a toothbrush.
, who protested most vigorously against this hazardous movement, nevertheless later on applied the lesson it taught him when on his march to the sea, in 1864, he broke through the hollow shell of the Confederacy
and closed it in from the South
, while Grant
advanced from the North
, and crushed the armies of Lee
the surrender of the Southern
armies in April and May, 1865, put an end to military activities, to be succeeded by the contests in the forum of political discussion; the death of Lincoln
and the succession of Johnson
following so immediately upon the surrender of Lee
threw the whole question of the readjustment of political relations between the North
and the South
In spite of his desire and his effort to keep within the limitations of his military function, General Grant
found himself involved in the embittered contests of the reconstruction period, with which he was not fitted to deal either by temperament or training.
the politicians and the political activities of the North
had, during the four years of war, been a constant source of embarrassment to our soldiers striving to conduct war with sole reference to success in the field.
This had intensified the soldier's natural distrust of politicians and political methods, and Grant
had never learned the art of which Lincoln
was the supreme master—that of utilizing the selfish ambitions of men to accomplish great patriotic and public purposes.
During his stormy period of civil administration, Grant
was like a landsman tossing upon an angry sea who makes his port by virtue of the natural drift of the winds and tides rather than through his skill in navigation.
The policies President Grant
advocated during his two terms of office were sound, and if he did not show the politician's skill in availing himself of the varying winds of popular sentiment, he did exhibit a statesmanlike comprehension of the measures promotive of the best interests of the country.
Refusing to be misled by the financial heresies of his time, in spite of the fact that they were advocated by a powerful faction in his own party, he took an uncompromising stand in his first inaugural in favor of paying the public debt in the currency of the world, and vetoed the bill to increase the issues of the simulacrum of coin, of merely local value.
He reduced taxation and promoted economy in Government expenditures and reform in the civil service.
He improved the condition of our Indian wards; he was a sincere friend of Mexico
, against which he had fought in his youth; he strove to cultivate good relations with the Orientals, and he established our intercourse with England
upon the firm foundations of the treaty of Washington
How strange, how eventful, how checkered a career was this of the chief soldier of the Republic
Thirty-two years of unconscious preparation for a great career in the bucolic experiences of his youth, in his training at the Military Academy and in war, followed by seven years of a life which taught the bitterest lessons of humility and self-abnegation.
Next, a rapid advance to a position which made him during more than twenty years a chief among those upon whom the attention of the world was focused; then a further descent into the valley of misfortune, until the final heroic struggle with the conqueror of us all once more centered upon him the affectionate interest of his countrymen and the sympathetic attention of the world.