Chad Comello

libraries, culture, typewriters

Tag: Ulysses S. Grant

Lincoln’s letter to Grant: ‘You were right, and I was wrong’

This letter from President Lincoln to Major General Ulysses Grant in July 1863 might be the last documented instance of a president apologizing for anything:

My dear General

I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do, what you finally did — march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port-Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join Gen. Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.

Yours very truly

A. Lincoln

After reading Edmund Morris’s trilogy on the life of Theodore Roosevelt I made TR my new favorite president, but I think I have to revert back to Lincoln.

h/t Michael Wade

Jasper Adalmorn Maltby

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

“A friend of Grant’s is a friend of mine,” said Abraham Lincoln, probably. This quote (were it real) holds true today as we consider Jasper Maltby, an Ohio boy who like 99.9% of the Civil War upper echelon served in the Mexican War in the 1840s, and then moved to Galena, the stomping grounds of pre-glory Ulysses Grant. The Civil War erupted while working there as a gunsmith, leading him to join the 45th Illinois Volunteers, aka the “Washburn Lead Mine Regiment.” He was immediately bumped up from private to lieutenant colonel, which seems like a huge jump. Was Maltby really that awesome, or did they just throw out commissions like hardtack back then?

Regardless, Maltby fought with the 45th at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, and Vickburg, accumulating promotions and wounds concurrently. Also happening concurrently was the service of Jasper’s younger brother, William, who was a Confederate captain and prisoner of war. In one of those meta “civil war within the Civil War” situations, when Jasper found out his brother was imprisoned, he arranged for him to be brought to the newly conquered Vicksburg and placed under his charge. “Love you bro, so much so that I get to order you around again!”

Jasper served out the war in Vicksburg and remained there postbellum as the military mayor until he died in 1867 from yellow fever or cardiac arrest, or from having a too-massive beard. Seriously, look at that thing!

Up next on CCWN, the flip-flopping Amos T. Akerman.

(sources: 1, 2)

Gouverneur Kemble Warren

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

This guy had what you could call a complicated relationship with the Civil War. Before that, though, he graduated from West Point (duh) in 1850, second in his class, and joined the Corps of Topographical Engineers as a brevet 2nd lieutenant. As part of the transcontinental railroad surveys, Warren helped create one of the first comprehensive maps of the western United States, which led him through a big chunk of the unsettled Nebraska Territory before the war.

But at the outset of aforementioned war, Warren was back at West Point as a mathematics instructor when he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 5th New York Infantry. (Sidenote: can you imagine your college math professor leading a infantry regiment into battle?). Promoted to colonel in due haste, Warren and his warriors saw action at the Siege of Yorktown, the Seven Days Battles (where Warren was shot in the knee), the Second Bull Run, and Antietam.

A statue of Warren that sits atop Little Round Top at the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania.

But it was Gettysburg that put a feather in his cap: “realizing the importance” of the Union’s exposed flank at Little Round Top, Warren earned acclaim and a promotion for his part in the defense of that hill on the second day of battle (today being its 149th anniversary). The rest of the war, however, wasn’t as nice to ol’ Gouv. General Philip Sheridan, notoriously fiery and impetuous, removed Warren from command after his regiment didn’t move as quickly as he wanted. Because Sheridan was BFFs with General (and soon-to-be President) Grant, Warren couldn’t do anything but resign his commission after the war and wait until Grant died to get official exoneration from wrongdoing.

As a final insult, Warren died, at 52, before the final report was published.

Up next on CCWN, the thickly political THURLOW WEED.

(sources: 1, 2) (images: 1, 2)

Jubal Early

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

There’s so much Civil War in this guy it makes me want to cry. “Old Jube” (as Robert E. Lee would later come to call him) and his brawny beard fought early and often in the war between the states, but for reasons you wouldn’t suspect from an eventual Southern fire-breather. But before all that silly war stuff, Early graduated from West Point in 1837 ranked eighteenth (like his Union counterpart Rufus Saxton) in his class of fifty. After a brief stint in an artillery regiment, Early took up law for a while before returning to the military for the Mexican War.

But when the war drums started beating in his home state of Virginia, Early was an unlikely opponent of secession; that is until Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to fight the South—that pissed him off mightily. Soon Brigadier General Early was on a greatest hits tour of all the key battles: Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg. He even spearheaded a Lee-ordered run on Washington D.C., which was eventually swatted back by General Grant’s reinforcements. The rest of the war was downhill for Early: defeated by Sheridan, he fled to Mexico and then to Canada, where he wrote his “Lost Cause” tinged memoirs about the “war of independence.”

Lucky for Early, upon his arrival back in the States the Southern-sympathizing President Johnson issued him a pardon, which allowed him to resume his law career.

Up next on CCWN, the glory-bound GOUVERNEUR KEMBLE WARREN.

(sources: 1, 2) (image)

Sylvanus Cadwallader

Couldn’t find a picture of ol’ Syl, so here’s his book cover.

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

Probably my favorite name thus far. A true journalist during a time when mainstream journalism consisted of BRASH, HYSTERICAL HEADLINES!!! and Limbaughesque vituperation, Cadwallader began his newspaper career in Milwaukee before joining the Chicago Times and later the New York Herald as a war correspondent embedded with General Ulysses S. Grant. (He wrote about this time in Three Years With Grant, an acclaimed postwar memoir.) He followed Grant for three years through critical campaigns in Mississippi and Tennessee, during the advance on Richmond, and was present at Appomattox for the peace treaty signing.

He’s also the source of the hotly debated claim that Grant was drunk during the Vicksburg campaign in 1863. Embellishment or fact? Who knows. What we do know is Grant sent Cadwallader a letter in September 1864 commending him for his reporting. Clearly “Unconditional Surrender” Grant wasn’t too upset with him.

After the war, Cadwallader served as a public official in Wisconsin before retiring to California to write his memoir. I haven’t read it yet, but the scant information about him that’s available tells us his journalism was exemplary simply because he wasn’t a fire-breathing partisan like many of his colleagues. A low bar, it seems, but he passed it.

Up next in CCWN, the churlish CLEMENT L. VALLANDIGHAM.

(source: 1)

© 2018 Chad Comello

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑