[Much was written about U. S. Grant by the early newspapers. A series of articles written in the July 30th issue of the Winfield Courier concerning Grant, after his death was announced, made me realize why he was so revered by citizens of our country at that time. I have put in the series of articles in this one issue. After I completed these, I consulted the following book, THE CIVIL WAR DICTIONARY, REVISED EDITION, BY MARK M. BOATNER III, 1987. It gives a more complete picture of the career of this amazing man. MAW]
Winfield Courier, Thursday, July 30, 1885.
MT. McGREGOR, July 23, 8:08 a.m.--General Grant died at 8:08 a.m., surrounded by all his family. He passed out of life peacefully and without evident pain. Before his death he left the choice of a burial spot to Colonel Fred K. Grant.
MT. McGREGOR, July 23.--Shortly before eight o'clock this morning, while the family were preparing for breakfast and the doctors were discussing the patient's chances on the piazza of the cottage, Henry, the nurse, who was with the General, stepped hurriedly out of the sick room, and going to where the doctors were, informed them that he thought the end was near. The doctors hastily went to the room. At a glance they took in the situation. They quietly ordered the nurse to summon the family at once. Mrs. Grant, Jesse Grant and wife, U. S. Grant, Jr., and wife, and Mrs. Colonel Grant instantly answered the summons. Mrs. Sartoris, noticing the doctors hurriedly going to the room, followed them, and was the first member of the family present. Colonel Fred was now the only member of the family absent, having strolled around the grounds.
The servants were sent in search of him but he entered the sick room before anyone succeeded in bringing him the news of his father's approaching dissolution. Colonel Grant took a seat at the right side of the bed, placing his left arm on the pillow above his father's head. Close by the bedside sat Mrs. Grant, intensely agitated, but bravely suppressing her emotions and striving to be calm. She leaned upon the bed with her elbow, and gazed with eyes blinded with tears into the General's face. There was, however, no sign of recognition on his pallid face. He was breathing fast with slight gasping respirations. Mrs. Sartoris leaned on the shoulder of her mother and witnessed with pent-up emotion the ebb of life in which she had constituted the element of pride. The scene was a quiet one, and the General passed peacefully, painlessly into another world. A little distance behind Mrs. Grant and Mrs. Sartoris stood the three physicians, Douglas, Shrady, and Sands, silent spectators of the scene which but for their efforts would doubtless have occurred months ago. Jesse Grant and U. S. Grant, Jr., stood opposite their mother at the other side of the bed, near the foot of the cot. Close by Jesse was N. E. Dawson, the General's confidential secretary and stenographer. At the foot of the bed stood Mrs. U. S. Grant, Jr., by her side was Mrs. Colonel Fred Grant and Mrs. Jesse Grant. These three gazed down into the face of the General, while their eyes became suffused with tears. Thus surrounded died the hero.
MOUNT McGREGOR, July 23.--As far as is known, the last words uttered by the General were a request for a glass of water at three o'clock.
MT. McGREGOR, July 23.--Grant's remains will be removed to New York after being embalmed. When the body reaches that city, the family will decide as to whether a post mortem examination will be made. The family is desirous that the funeral should take place in Washington, but it is not yet decided upon. The General before his death named three places, at any one of which he would like to be buried. He however concluded to leave the choice of the burial spot to Colonel Fred Grant, with the proviso that the place selected be such a place as will permit the burial of Mrs. Grant by his side. The local undertaker will have charge of the immediate details of the funeral until the remains have been shipped to New York.
MT. McGREGOR, July 23.--The cottage where the last few days of the country's hero, General Grant, have been passed, is surrounded with dense crowds, most of whom have come from miles about to see the body of him, whom they worshiped as a hero during his life time. Colonel Fred Grant, Drs. Shrady, Douglas, and Sands have been in consultation this morning as to the best place of burial. It is now believed that the little mound on the ground of the Soldiers' Home, near Washington, will be selected. The body of the dead General will be taken to New York and will lie in state there.
WASHINGTON, July 23.--The following telegram was sent early this morning.
WASHINGTON, July 23.--To Mrs. U. S. Grant, Mt. McGregor: Accept this expression of my heartfelt sympathy at this hour of your great affliction. The people of the nation mourn with you, and would reach if they could, with kindly comfort, the depths of sorrow which is yours alone, and which only the pity of God alone can heal.
WASHINGTON, July 23.--The President, a few minutes past eleven o'clock this morning, issued the following proclamation.
By the President of the United States. A proclamation: The President of the United States has just received the sad tidings of the death of that illustrious citizen and ex-President of the United States, General Ulysses S. Grant, at Mt. McGregor, in New York, to which place he had lately been removed in an endeavor to prolong his life. In making this announcement to the people of the United States, the President is impressed with that magnitude of the public loss of the great public leader who was in the hour of victory magnanimous, amid disaster serene and self-sustained, and who in every station, whether as soldier or chief magistrate, twice called to power by his fellow countrymen, trod unswervingly the pathway of duty undeterred by doubts.
The country has witnessed with deep emotion his prolonged and patient struggle with a painful disease, and has watched by his couch of suffering with tearful sympathy. The destined end has come at last. His spirit has retired to the Creator who sent it forth. The great heart of the Nation that followed him, when living, with love and pride, bows now in sorrow above him dead, tenderly mindful of his virtues and great patriotic services. In testimony of respect to the memory of Grant, it is ordered that the Executive Mansion and departments at Washington be draped in mourning for a period of thirty days, and all public business shall on the day of his funeral be suspended. The Secretary of War and Navy will cause orders to be issued for appropriate military services at his funeral.
ALBANY, N. Y., July 23.--Governor Hill has just issued the following proclamation.
"By the Governor of the State of New York, executive chamber: Ulysses S. Grant, twice elected President of the United States, the defender of the Union, the victorious leader of soldiers and General on the retired list of the army, is dead. To the last he was a true soldier, strong in spirit, patient in suffering and brave in death. His warfare is ended. After the close of his official life and following that notable journey around the world, when tributes of esteem from all nations were paid him, he chose his home among the citizens of our State, and died upon our soil in the county of Saratoga, overlooking the scenes made glorious by revolutionary memories. It is fitting that the State which he chose as his home should especially honor his memory. The words of grief and tokens of sorrow by which we mark his death shall do honor to the offices which he held and proclaim that praise which shall ever be accorded those who serve the Republic." In conclusion he requested all business houses to close on the day of Grant's funeral.
WASHINGTON, July 23.--The news of General Grant's death has cast a gloom over the entire community. At a Cabinet Council it was decided to order all departments closed on Grant's burial day. All flags are at half mast, and the Capitol building is being draped in mourning. Letters of condolence were sent to the family today by the President, Secretary of War Endicott, and Postmaster General Vilas.
Ulysses Simpson Grant was born at Point Pleasant, O., April 27, 1822. His ancestors were Scotch. His parents in 1823 removed to the village of Georgetown, O., where his boyhood was passed.
At the age of seventeen General Grant entered the Military Academy at West Point. He had been christened Hiram Ulysses, but the Congressman who procured his appointment, by mistake, wrote him down as Ulysses S. Grant. The authorities at West Point and the Secretary of War were petitioned by the young cadet to correct the blunder, but no notice was taken of the request. Ulysses S. Grant had been recorded and Ulysses S. Grant he remained. The study in which he showed the most proficiency was mathematics. He graduated in 1843, twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine, and was commissioned Brevet Second Lieutenant, and assigned to the Fourth Infantry.
In the summer of 1845 the regiment was ordered to Texas to join the army of General Taylor. He was commissioned Lieutenant September 30. His first battle was at Palo Alto, May 8, 1846, and he subsequently took part also in the battles of Resaca de la Palma and Monterey, and the siege of Vera Cruz. In April, 1847, he was made Quartermaster of his regiment, and after the battle of Molina del Rey, September 8, 1847, he was appointed on the field First Lieutenant for his gallantry. He was specially mentioned in Colonel Garland's report of the battle of Chapultepec, and was breveted captain, his commission dating from that battle. After the capture of the City of Mexico, Grant returned with his regiment and was first stationed at Detroit and afterwards at Sackets Harbor.
In 1848 he married Miss Julia T. Dent, daughter of a merchant in St. Louis and the sister of one of his classmates. In 1852 he accompanied his regiment to California and Oregon, and in 1852 was commissioned Captain. In 1854 he resigned his commission in the army and removed to Gravois [?] near St. Louis, where he opened a farm. There his daughter, Nellie, now Mrs. Sartoris, was born. In 1859 he removed to Galena, Illinois, and engaged in the leather trade with his father and brother, Orville.
On the 13th of April, 1861, Fort Sumter fell. On the 15th President Lincoln made his call for troops, and on the 19th Grant was drilling a company of volunteers in Galena. Four days later he took it to Springfield. From there he wrote to the Adjutant-General of the army, offering his services to the Government in any capacity in which it cared to make use of him. Grant remained at Springfield and helped to organize the volunteer troops of the State. After five weeks of this work, which his military education had specially fitted him for, Governor Yates offered him the Twenty-first Regiment of Illinois infantry.
He took command of his regiment early in June and marched to Missouri. Reporting to Brigadier General Pope, he was stationed at Mexico, about fifty miles north of the Missouri River. On August 23 he was commissioned Brigadier-General of Volunteers, his commission being dated back to May 17. His first military achievement was the seizure of Paducah, Kentucky, which commanded the navigation of both the Tennessee and the Ohio. At the battle of Belmont, November 7, Grant commanded in person and had a horse shot under him. February 6, 1862, he captured Fort Henry, and ten days later Fort Donelson surrendered to him. His reply to the Confederate General Buckner, in command of Fort Donelson, who sent to him asking terms of capitulation, was eminently characteristic of the great soldier: "No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works." The terms were complied with, and the Stars and Stripes soon fluttered over Fort Donelson.
General Grant was at once promoted to be Major General, and appointed Commander of the District of West Tennessee. Immediately after the capture of Fort Donelson, Grant fell under General Halleck's displeasure, and was removed, but in about a week was ordered to resume his command. The great battle of Shiloh was fought on Sunday and Monday, the 6th and 7th of April, 1862, and resulted in a victory for the Union Soldiers. It was in this engagement that the Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston was killed. At the siege of Corinth, Grant was second in command to General Halleck; and when the latter was called to Washington, Grant was appointed to the command of the Army of the Tennessee. He captured Vicksburg July 4, 1863, and defeated Bragg at Chattanooga in November following. In March, 1864, President Lincoln appointed Grant Commander-in-Chief of the armies in the field, with the rank of Lieutenant-General. On the 17th of that month Grant issued his first general order assuming command of the armies of the United States, and announced that headquarters would be "in the field, and, until further orders, with the Army of the Potomac." At midnight, May 3, Grant began the movement against Richmond, which, after a series of hard-fought battles, resulted in the capture of the Confederate Capital, April 3, 1865. On the 9th of the same month General Lee and his entire command surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
In July, 1866, General Grant was commissioned General of the Army, a grade especially provided for him by act of Congress. August 12, 1887, President Johnson suspended Secretary Stanton from office, and appointed General Grant Secretary of War, ad interim. This office Grant held until January 14, 1868, when he returned it to Mr. Stanton, whose removal the United States Senate had refused to sanction.
At the Republican National Convention held in Chicago May 1, 1868, General Grant was nominated on the first ballot for President. He was elected in the fall, with the late Hon. Schuyler Colfax as Vice-President. In the Republican National Convention held in Philadelphia June 5, 1872, Grant was renominated by acclamation. Henry Wilson, of Massachusetts, being nominated for Vice President. He received a popular majority of nearly 800,000 votes over Horace Greeley, the Democratic nominee.
Shortly after the expiration of his term in 1877, the General and Mrs. Grant made a tour around the world, landing at San Francisco in September of that year. He was received everywhere with the highest consideration, the Governments and peoples of the Old World vying with each other in doing honor to the American soldier and patriot.
General Grant was a very prominent candidate before the Chicago National Republican Convention in 1880, for the nomination for President for a third term, but did not succeed in getting the nomination. Since then he has lived in New York. His financial troubles are too recent to need mention in this connection. In the last hours of the recent Congress, a bill was passed placing the old hero on the retired list of the army, with the rank and pay of General.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, July 30, 1885.
News of the death of General Grant was received with deep feelings of regret by Winfield people. A number of stores and other buildings were draped in mourning. Larger display will likely be made with memorial services. The death of the old hero is the absorbing topic in the home and on the street, and old soldiers bring out their reminiscences. But, buried down deep in every man's heart, is an appreciation of this great character that will last for life.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, July 30, 1885.
Our county officials are all ardent Grant admirers, evidence of which they have shown in mourning decoration. The old war hero's portrait, bust size, is hung over the north entrance, tastefully draped.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, July 30, 1885.
The following estimate of the character of the man whose untimely death the Nation now mourns is from the pen of the editor of the Kansas City Journal.
It is a partial hand that writes this tribute, a friendly heart that dictates it, but it requires both to fitly describe the great character, whose career has closed. Criticism is said to be the business of small minds, and more has been written about the spots on the sun than is devoted to the great orb itself. It requires both friendship and admiration to say it, but it is none the less true for all that, that Ulysses S. Grant is in all that goes to round up a perfect character, the greatest man America has ever produced. In the term great is included everything in the field of action and accomplishment. He was publicly great solely in this respect. He had none of the advantages of birth, wealth, family, or ancestry. His descent was entirely from the common people, from both father and mother--all were and all are farmers and mechanics--nor did he get prestige of either by marriage. What he has, he owed to himself.
At the beginning of the war of the rebellion, there was in all the vast array of patriotic volunteers no more humbler or obscure man than Grant. But from the day he entered on duty to the surrender of Appomattox, he did what he was assigned to do better than was expected of him, or of any man that might have been ordered to the same duty. There was ever about him a reserved force that made more of circumstances than counsels of war anticipated. It is not the purpose here to speak of his campaigns, but of the man. His career cannot be understood without this knowledge of the individual. As a personality he was as exceptional as were his achievements. There was this contrast between Grant and all other generals of the war. Able as were his contemporaries, they were always as great in the bulletins and in the press as in the field. But Grant's modesty, reticence, self-poise, and self-abnegation were such that even after his magnificent career, there was an uncertainty as to whether his successes were due to a genius of war or to a fortuitous combination of circumstances. And just here was the key of his greatness. He was too large in nature to court attention or seek reputation save by deeds performed. His self-reliance was so perfect that it often laid him open to the criticism of indifference. But after the war was over long enough to be looked at in the perspective of a general plan and the movements of the million men divided into half a dozen armies, covering a line of battle more than a thousand miles in length, involving several separate campaigns, but all influential upon the vital point of the military objective, the world could no longer withhold the meed of merit to his matchless genius, and the wonderful resources of a mind that stamped its mastery on the history of the greatest war in the annals of firearms. There is no longer any dispute among military men as to who stands first in the list of great captains; but by common consent, the laurel rests on the brow of Grant. And happily for his fame, for his country, and for posterity, this great preeminence is unmarred by a single personal vice, a single weakness of character, or a solitary alloy of temperament. As is the sphinx among sculptors, so is Grant among historic men, unequaled in magnitude and unmatched in simplicity.
There was one thing about Grant that is one of the highest tests of greatness: those nearest him always esteemed him most. Greatness is often more a thing of perspective than of fact, and out of this has grown the adage, "That no man is great to his valet." The very reverse of this is true as to Grant--those who doubted his greatness were always those who did not know him, while those who estimated him most highly were those nearest to and intimate with him. The truest estimate of his personal character I have yet seen is from one who knew him as intimately as any living man. "His three most prominent and admirable traits were guilelessness of character, even temperament, and great magnanimity." And this same friend says: "That in fifteen years of the closest and most intimate friendship and association, in all my companionship with him, at home and abroad, I never heard Gen. Grant make a remark that could not be repeated with propriety before a room full of ladies."
As another instance of his amiability and consideration, the following is in print. "It may by some be considered a little thing, but it is just in these little things that true nobility of character crops out. Gen. Beale, at whose house Gen. Grant always made his unofficial home in Washington says: 'Often when we would return at night from some reception, tired and sleepy, on his table would be piles of autograph albums a foot or two high, left by children with requests for his autograph. Mrs. Beale would say: 'Come, General, it is time to retire. You are tired and need rest. Don't stop to write in those books tonight, but wait until morning.' 'No,' Gen. Grant would reply, 'I'll do it tonight. These books belong to little children and they will stop for them in the morning and I don't want to disappoint them.' And he would write in every one."
"I will give one more illustration of the personal traits of this illustrious man," says Gen. Beale. "I saw him once while at a white heat of vexation in the library of the White House, put personal prejudices and wishes aside, and do his duty without question. He had been abused and slandered by a certain person to such an extent that he could only recognize him as a personal and bitter enemy. The question arose whether that person should be nominated to the Senate or not for a position. I knew all the circumstances and said to General Grant: 'What are you going to do about it?' 'Do about it?' he repeated. 'I will send his name to the Senate. He has deserved his appointment by his services to his country and no personal ill-feeling on my part shall prevent his obtaining what he deserves.' He sat down, signed the nomination, and it was sent to the Senate at once."
These elements of character index true greatness. Gen. Grant was naturally great, and it was so natural to him that he was not aware of it. The true test of mental power is in execution, and Grant commanded more men, planned greater campaigns, fought more great battles successfully, and accomplished larger results than any man in modern history. Surely these tests are ample to justify the claim made for him, as the foremost man of modern times. He was quiet, reticent, and a man of few words; but there are more of his terse sentences that have passed into proverbial use than any other man in history. He wrote rapidly, clearly, and comprehensively, and his short speeches made during his remarkable journey round the world are models of good sense, terse expression, and comprehensive wisdom. In domestic life he was a model husband and father; and in personal friendship, he was true as truth itself. All his so-called mistakes and his misfortunes came from the abuse of this virtue by others--and constitutes not the least claim upon the admiration of his countrymen. He was, too, every fiber of his being, an American, and love of country was to him a religion. It is an honor that will gain in richness as the years come to have enjoyed the friendship of Grant, and there are many who in declining years of life will cherish the recollection of the friendship and confidence of the greatest of all Americans.
Union General. 1822-1885. Ohio. USMA 1843 (21/39); Inf. A man who would probably have been voted at the beginning of the Civil War as "least likely to succeed," Sam Grant emerged as the great military leader of the Union. Undistinguished as a cadet, he finished the Mexican War as a Capt. With two citations for gallantry and one for meritorious conduct. Unable to bear the futility and monotony of postwar military service on the West Coast, lonely for his wife and children, Grant began drinking heavily and neglecting his duty. He resigned in 1854 to avoid court-martial, and went to live in Missouri at the home of his wife (Julia Dent, sister of a classmate). He became increasingly destitute as he failed at number of undertakings. When Lincoln called for volunteers in 1861, Grant offered his services. He was eventually given command of the 21st Illinois, was appointed Brigadier General at the instigation of Congressman Washburne, and given command of a district with headquarters at Cairo, Illinois. After his inauspicious attack on Belmont, Missouri, (November 7, 1861) he gained national attention with his operations at Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, and Vicksburg. Promoted to Lieutenant General (March 9, 1864) after his victories around Chattanooga, he was made General in Chief of the Armies of the United States on March 12, 1864, and took over the strategic direction of the war.
Accompanying Meade's Army of the Potomac, Grant directed the "relentless pounding" of Lee's army in the costly campaign of attrition through the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, the crossing of the James, the siege of Petersburg, and the pursuit to Appomattox.
After the war he remained as head of the army, was named Secretary of War in Stanton's place by President Johnson as part of the latter's test of strength with the Senate.
Elected president by a small popular majority on the Republican ticket in 1868, and re-elected for a second term, Grant's political career, although honest and well-meaning, resulted in an administration that was corrupt and badly managed.
For two years after retiring as President, he made a triumphal tour of the world. In 1880 he frustrated the efforts of influential friends to secure his nomination for a third term in the White House.
In a financial venture in 1884, with the unprincipled Ferdinand Ward, Grant lost his entire savings and was reduced to a state of poverty. To recoup his fortunes he accepted an offer of the Century Magazine to write about his war experiences. This proved so successful that he undertook an autobiography which, honest and straightforward, was completed a few days before his death of throat cancer. The two-volume Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, published by the firm of Mark Twain, sold 300,000 copies and earned $450,000 for his widow; it is considered one of the greatest autobiographies in the English language.
A man whose stature grows with the passage of time, the military epitaph of this enigmatic American general can best be stated in Lincoln's words: "He fights."
Lyman described him as ". . . rather under middle height, of a spare, strong build; light-brown hair, and short, light-brown beard . . . eyes of a clear blue; forehead high; nose aquiline; jaw squarely set, but not sensual. His face has three expressions: deep thought; extreme determination; and great simplicity and calmness."
His favorite, Cincinnati, was given to him by an admirer sometime after the battle of Chattanooga, and carried him throughout the rest of the war. Standing 17½ hands high, this mount was rarely ridden by anyone other than Grant, Lincoln in his last visit to City Point being one of the few exceptions.
Grant had a number of other horses during the course of the war, the first being Jack. He bought this cream-colored horse in Galena at the beginning of the war and rode him as an extra or ceremonial mount until the fall of 1863.
During the actions around Donelson and at Shiloh, Grant had a roan named Fox, and his mount during the Vicksburg campaign, Kangaroo, was a raw-boned and ugly horse left on the field at Shiloh by the Confederates. Grant, who was an outstanding horseman, saw that the animal was a thoroughbred, and after a period of rest and care turned him into a magnificent mount. Also during this campaign he had a black pony named Jeff Davis, captured on the plantation of the brother of the Confederate president.