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 Post subject: About Grant
PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:37 pm 
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The following is taken from the 1905 book, Echoes of the Civil War As I Hear Them, by Michael H. Fitch, Brevet Colonel of Volunteers, Twenty-first Wisconsin Infantry. For a goodly part of his service in the Civil War Fitch served as a staff officer, occupying a number of various duties. One of these found him as the Inspector General of the First Division, XIV Corps, Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Major General Richard Johnson. Fitch recalled a sight-seeing excursion of which he was a part and in which he noted some interesting items concerning Grant.

"Grant, sometime after the battle of Missionary Ridge, was anxious to ride over the battle-field of Chackamauga. So one morning General Johnson said to me, 'I am going with Generals Grant and Thomas over the Chickamauga battle-field and would like to have you go along.' I was very glad to accept. We rendezvoused at General Thomas' headquarters, and rode via Rossville and through the gap, then down the Lafayette road. This route brought us first to the left of our lines where our division lay on that memorable Sunday. As Grant gazed at the bullet riddled trees in front of that line, the only remark he made on the battle-field which I heard was, 'These trees would make a good lead mine.'

"There were in the party, General Grant, General Thomas, General R. W. Johnson and General W. F. Smith, known as 'Baldy Smith.' There must have been many other general officers and numerous staff officers, but these are all I can remember. Grant rode his cream-colored horse and Smith kept close to his side. Neither had on any sword, but Smith carried a common stick about the size of a small cane. As we crossed a creek before arriving at the battle-field, the horses all stopped to drink. Grant pulled out his match-box and lighted a cigar. While he was doing this, his horse let fly with his hind foot at Smith's horse. Whereupon Smith hit Grant's horse across the rump with his stick and at the same time made some familiar remark to Grant about riding such a vicious horse. I was looking intently at Grant at the time and was struck with his perfect stolid indifference. He never for an instant changed the position of his hand or head in lighting that cigar, nor said a word, nor did he seem conscious of the episode, though his horse moved up suddenly. I thought it very characteristic of his qualities as a soldier."


Fitch returned to the Twenty-first Wisconsin as its Lieutenant-Colonel in February of 1864 and ultimately led the regiment right on through the Atlanta Campaign until the end of the war, seeing his last action at Bentonville and participating with the Twenty-first in the Grand Review in Washington City.

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 Post subject: Re: About Grant
PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 4:11 pm 
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Recent scholarship (i.e. "The Man Who Saved the Union" by H. W. Brands, among others) concerning Grant has begun to reexamine him as a general and President. At the time of his death he was extremely well thought of in the United States and with the rest of the world. Ex-Confederates participated in his funeral and a magnificent tomb was built to honor him (if in New York City well worth the trip). A far cry from the butcher, drunkard, and inept President he was painted as beginning in the 1920's.

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 Post subject: Re: About Grant
PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:29 am 
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I think Sherman said it best himself:

"It will be a thousand years before Grant's character is fully appreciated. Grant is the greatest soldier of our time if not all time... he fixes in his mind what is the true objective and abandons all minor ones. He dismisses all possibility of defeat. He believes in himself and in victory. If his plans go wrong he is never disconcerted but promptly devises a new one and is sure to win in the end. Grant more nearly impersonated the American character of 1861-65 than any other living man. Therefore he will stand as the typical hero of the great Civil War in America."

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 Post subject: Re: About Grant
PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:33 am 
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Aye, also a song for you Yankee boys!! :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQL_EQi3M3o

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 Post subject: Re: About Grant
PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 2:03 am 
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Thanks for that song, Scott! First time I've ever heard of it, and according to the lyrics it had to have been written sometime either before or after Antietam, when McClellan's continued presence with the army was questionable.

Sherman's statement about Grant was made in 1885, fully twenty years after the conclusion of the war. If that sounds redundant, I only do so because of the particular phrase Sherman used in his description, "the American character of 1861-65." The phrase strongly implies that in Sherman's mind there was both needed and generated a particularly unique character for the war at hand that was reflective of the American way of life in times of supreme duress and challenge, a character that was not ordinarily required in times of peace, and which Grant possessed to the fullest above so many others. As we may look rearwards to find that sterling, American character displayed in varying degrees by so many others in that conflict, both North and South, few other names come close to contending with that of Grant, Thomas being one of them. (Thomas and Lee died in 1870, so Sherman was safe in qualifying his statement with "...no other living man.") We may speculate about the differences in the character displayed by the various commanders, but it is totally correct to state that without the war (and any previous notoriety in the Mexican War), most of them would have occupied no more than a page or two in the mundane history of peacetime. I think that Sherman well understood that.

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 Post subject: Re: About Grant
PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:40 pm 
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No problem and indeed, I seems to be set around that period. Of course the height of the Irish Brigade's success was under him and shortly after at Fredericksburg, though still a solid force by Gettysburg, their ranks were much depleted and Thomas Meagher was gone, so some of the luster was gone too. But God Bless Father Corby, as he would absolve the lads of the Emerald Isle for their sins before they went to fight. Like most of the famous "styled units" by the end f the war, most were gone or decimated, as was the pageantry and romance for the war too.

The mention of the dates, is actually a part of the quote, I quoted the full text, not just the famous verse of it. I do agree with you that Grant has those few skills needed in such a time and there are few who could be at the same level as him in those regards. I think Sherman's other famous quote speaks to that characters well:

"I am a damned sight smarter man than Grant. I know more about military history, strategy, and grand tactics than he does. I know more about supply, administration, and everything else than he does. I'll tell you where he beats me though and where he beats the world. He doesn't give a damn about what the enemy does out of his sight, but it scares me like hell. … I am more nervous than he is. I am more likely to change my orders or to countermarch my command than he is. He uses such information as he has according to his best judgment; he issues his orders and does his level best to carry them out without much reference to what is going on about him and, so far, experience seems to have fully justified him."

To win a war like this you need different characters at different levels and the Union was able to find them as the war went on and the South was able to lose them just as well or not promote them because of patronage, favorites or bigotry. Don't get me wrong, I know I am a CSA officer in the Club, but the CSA had so many more problems as the war went on, that Union had too, but managed to mitigate. The blame falls with many and both sides, not just with those who individuals here and in the textbook like to use as the scapegoats. Despite what people may feel here, there are no marble men from this War or any war.

I am a big supporter of Thomas by the way. Often overlooked, but in those times that mattered, he got the job done, that so many couldn't do the way he did. I do agree with you, many of these men would of been forgotten had the war not happened. Lincoln might of been a good Senator in Congress, Lee may have risen to Governor of VA and Grant would of been known for the best saddles in Galena. But fate propelled them to the heights of humanity.

I have always loved what Shelby Foote said of Grant: ""Grant the general had many qualities but he had a thing that's very necessary for a great general. He had what they call "four o'clock in the morning courage." You could wake him up at four o'clock in the morning and tell him they had just turned his right flank and he would be as cool as a cucumber."

Also: "Grant, after that first night in the Wilderness, went to his tent, broke down, and cried very hard. Some of the staff members said they'd never seen a man so unstrung. Well, he didn't cry until the battle was over, and he wasn't crying when it began again the next day. It just shows you the tension that he lived with without letting it affect him"....."Grant, he's wonderful."

I think one of the big reasons why so many people are drawn to this conflict, as we see ourselves and our own personal struggles in so many of these men, maybe not just one, but maybe many of them. That they give hope in times of darkness. That's what history is all about. :)

Me gots another Irish Brigade song for you all :D

"The Irish Volunteer" - sung by David Kincaid

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yavz9rzaOSY

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Commanding Officer & Chief of the Armies (CoA) of the Confederate States of America (CSA)

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