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Title: On the Trail of Grant and Lee
Author: Hill, Frederick Trevor, 1866-1930
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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By Frederick Trevor Hill

To Howard Ogden Wood, Jr.


During the early years of the Civil War someone tauntingly asked Mr.
Charles Francis Adams, the United States Minister to England, what he
thought of the brilliant victories which the confederate armies were
then gaining in the field. "I think they have been won by my fellow
countrymen," was the quiet answer.

Almost half a century has passed since that reproof was uttered, but
its full force is only just beginning to be understood. For nearly fifty
years the story of the Civil War has been twisted to suit local pride or
prejudice in various parts of the Union, with the result that much which
passes for American history is not history at all, and whatever else it
may be, it is certainly not American.

Assuredly, the day has now arrived when such historical "make-believes"
should be discountenanced, both in the North and in the South. Americans
of the present and the coming generations are entitled to take a common
pride in whatever lent nobility to the fraternal strife of the sixties,
and to gather equal inspiration from every achievement that reflected
credit on American manhood during those years when the existence of the
Union was at stake. Until this is rendered possible by the elimination
of error and falsehood, the sacrifices of the Civil War will, to a large
extent, have been endured in vain.

In some respects this result has already been realized. Lincoln is no
longer a local hero. He is a national heritage. To distort or belittle
the characters of other men who strove to the end that their land "might
have a new birth of freedom," is to deprive the younger generations of
part of their birthright. They are entitled to the facts from which
to form a just estimate of the lives of all such men, regardless of

It is in this spirit that the strangely interwoven trials of Grant and
Lee are followed in these pages. Both were Americans, and widely as they
differed in opinions, tastes and sympathies, each exhibited qualities
of mind and character which should appeal to all their fellow countrymen
and make them proud of the land that gave them birth. Neither man, in
his life, posed before the public as a hero, and the writer has made no
attempt to place either of them on a pedestal. Theirs is a very human
story, requiring neither color nor concealment, but illustrating a
high development of those traits that make for manhood and national

The writer hereby acknowledges his indebtedness to all those historians
whose scholarly research has made it possible to trace the careers of
these two great commanders with confidence in the accuracy of the facts
presented. Where equally high authorities have differed he has been
guided by those who, in his judgment, have displayed the most scrupulous
impartiality, and wherever possible he has availed himself of official
records and documents.

The generous service rendered by Mr. Samuel Palmer Griffin in testing
the vast record upon which these pages are based, his exhaustive
research and scientific analysis of the facts, have given whatever of
authority may be claimed for the text, and of this the writer hereby
makes grateful acknowledgment. To Mr. Arthur Becher he is likewise
indebted for his careful studies at West Point and elsewhere which have
resulted in illustrations conforming to history.

Frederick Trevor Hill.

New York, September, 1911.



      I.--Three Civil Wars . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   1
     II.--Washington and Lee . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
    III.--Lee at West Point  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     IV.--The Boyhood of Grant . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
      V.--Grant at West Point  . . . . . . . . . . . .  24
     VI.--Lieutenant Grant Under Fire  . . . . . . . .  35
    VII.--Captain Lee at the Front . . . . . . . . . .  44
   VIII.--Colonel Lee After the Mexican War  . . . . .  52
     IX.--Captain Grant in a Hard Fight  . . . . . . .  59
      X.--Grant's Difficulties in Securing a Command .  67
     XI.--Lee at the Parting of the Ways . . . . . . .  75
    XII.--Opening Moves  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  83
   XIII.--Grant's First Success  . . . . . . . . . . .  93
    XIV.--The Battle of Shiloh . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
     XV.--Lee in the Saddle  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
    XVI.--A Game of Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
   XVII.--Lee and the Invasion of Maryland . . . . . . 133
  XVIII.--The Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg . . . . 141
    XIX.--Lee Against Burnside and Hooker  . . . . . . 148
     XX.--In the Hour of Triumph . . . . . . . . . . . 163
    XXI.--Grant at Vicksburg . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
   XXII.--The Battle of Gettysburg . . . . . . . . . . 180
  XXIII.--In the Face of Disaster  . . . . . . . . . . 193
   XXIV.--The Rescue of Two Armies . . . . . . . . . . 201
    XXV.--Lieutenant-General Grant . . . . . . . . . . 213
   XXVI.--A Duel to the Death  . . . . . . . . . . . . 224
  XXVII.--Check and Countercheck . . . . . . . . . . . 238
 XXVIII.--The Beginning of the End . . . . . . . . . . 248
   XXIX.--At Bay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 256
    XXX.--The Surrender  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269
   XXXI.--Lee's Years of Peace . . . . . . . . . . . . 280
  XXXII.--The Head of the Nation . . . . . . . . . . . 294

List of Illustrations

  Illustrations in Color

  Grant running the gauntlet of the Mexicans at Monterey
    in riding to the relief of his comrades . . Frontispiece
            September 23, 1846.

  Lee with Mrs. Lewis (Nellie Custis) applying to General
    Andrew Jackson to aid in securing his cadetship at
    West Point . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10

  Grant on his horse, "York," making exhibition jump in
    the Riding Academy at West Point . . . . . . . . . .  32
               June, 1843.

  Lee sending the Rockbridge battery into action for the
    second time at Antietam or Sharpsburg  . . . . . . . 144
            September 17, 1862.

  Lee rallying his troops at the Battle of the
    Wilderness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 232
                May 6, 1864.

  Grant at the entrenchments before Petersburg . . . . . 260
                March, 1865.

  Illustrations in the Text

  Signature of Grant on reporting at West Point  . . . .  25
    (From the original records of the U. S. Military

  First signature of Grant as U. S. Grant  . . . . . . .  27
    (From the original records of the U.S. Military

  Grant's letter demanding unconditional surrender of
    forces at Fort Donnelson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103

  Diagram map (not drawn to scale) showing strategy of
    the opening of the Battle of Chancellorsville, May
    1 and 2, 1863  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157

  Diagram map (not drawn to scale) showing Grant's series
    of movements by the left flank from the Wilderness
    to Petersburg  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229

  Facsimile of telegraphic message drafted by Lieutenant-
    General Grant, announcing Lee's surrender, May 9,
    1865 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275

  Lee's letter of August 3, 1866, acknowledging receipt of
    the extension of his furlough  . . . . . . . . . . . 283

Chapter I. -- Three Civil Wars

England was an uncomfortable place to live in during the reign of
Charles the First. Almost from the moment that that ill-fated monarch
ascended the throne he began quarreling with Parliament; and when he
decided to dismiss its members and make himself the supreme ruler of
the land, he practically forced his subjects into a revolution.
Twelve feverish years followed--years of discontent, indignation and
passion--which arrayed the Cavaliers, who supported the King, against
the Roundheads, who upheld Parliament, and finally flung them at each
other's throats to drench the soil of England with their blood.

Meanwhile, the gathering storm of civil war caused many a resident of
the British Isles to seek peace and security across the seas, and among
those who turned toward America were Mathew Grant and Richard Lee. It is
not probable that either of these men had ever heard of the other, for
they came from widely separated parts of the kingdom and were even more
effectually divided by the walls of caste. There is no positive proof
that Mathew Grant (whose people probably came from Scotland) was a
Roundhead, but he was a man of humble origin who would naturally have
favored the Parliamentary or popular party, while Richard Lee, whose
ancestors had fought at Hastings and in the Crusades, is known to have
been an ardent Cavalier, devoted to the King. But whether their opinions
on politics differed or agreed, it was apparently the conflict between
the King and Parliament that drove them from England. In any event
they arrived in America at almost the same moment; Grant reaching
Massachusetts in 1630, the year after King Charles dismissed his
Parliament, and Lee visiting Virginia about this time to prepare for his
permanent residence in the Dominion which began when actual hostilities
opened in the mother land.

The trails of Grant and Lee, therefore, first approach each other from
out of the smoke of a civil war. This is a strangely significant fact,
but it might be regarded merely as a curious coincidence were it not for
other and stranger events which seem to suggest that the hand of Fate
was guiding the destinies of these two men.

Mathew Grant originally settled in Massachusetts but he soon moved to
Connecticut, where he became clerk of the town of Windsor and official
surveyor of the whole colony--a position which he held for many years.
Meanwhile Richard Lee became the Colonial Secretary and a member of
the King's Privy Council in Virginia, and thenceforward the name of his
family is closely associated with the history of that colony.

Lee bore the title of colonel, but it was to statesmanship and not to
military achievements that he and his early descendants owed their fame;
while the family of Grant, the surveyor, sought glory at the cannon's
mouth, two of its members fighting and dying for their country as
officers in the French and Indian war of 1756. In that very year,
however, a military genius was born to the Virginia family in the person
of Harry Lee, whose brilliant cavalry exploits were to make him known to
history as "Light Horse Harry." But before his great career began, the
house of Grant was represented in the Revolution, for Captain Noah Grant
of Connecticut drew his sword in defense of the colonies at the outbreak
of hostilities, taking part in the battle of Bunker Hill; and from that
time forward he and "Light Horse Harry" served in the Continental army
under Washington until Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.

Here the trails of the two families, AGAIN DRAWN TOGETHER BY A CIVIL
STRIFE, merge for an historic moment and then cross; that of the
Grants turning toward the West, and that of the Lees keeping within the
confines of Virginia.

It was in 1799 that Captain Noah Grant migrated to Ohio, and during the
same year Henry Lee delivered the memorial address upon the death of
Washington, coining the immortal phrase "first in war, first in peace
and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

Ulysses Grant, the Commander of the Union forces in the Civil War, was
the grandson of Captain Grant, who served with "Light Horse Harry" Lee
during the Revolution; and Robert Lee, the Confederate General, was
"Light Horse Harry's" son.

Thus, for the THIRD time in two and a half centuries, a civil conflict
between men of the English-speaking race blazed the trails of Grant and

Chapter II. -- Washington and Lee

"Wakefield," Westmoreland County, Virginia, was the birthplace of
Washington, and at Stratford in the same county and state, only a few
miles from Wakefield, Robert Edward Lee was born on January 19, 1807.
Seventy-five years had intervened between those events but, except in
the matter of population, Westmoreland County remained much the same as
it had been during Washington's youth. Indians, it is true, no longer
lurked in he surrounding forests or paddled the broad Potomac in their
frail canoes, but the life had much of the same freedom and charm which
had endeared it to Washington. All the streams and woods and haunts
which he had known and loved were known and loved by Lee, not only for
their own sake, but because they were associated with the memory of the
great Commander-in-Chief who had been his father's dearest friend.

It would have been surprising, under such circumstances, if Washington
had not been Lee's hero, but he was more than a hero to the boy. From
his father's lips he had learned to know him, not merely as a famous
personage of history, but as a man and a leader of men. Indeed, his
influence and example were those of a living presence in the household
of "Light Horse Harry;" and thus to young Lee he early became the ideal
of manhood upon which, consciously or unconsciously, he molded his own
character and life. But quite apart from this, the careers of these two
great Virginians were astonishingly alike.

Washington's father had been married twice, and so had Lee's; each was
a son of the second marriage, and each had a number of brothers and
sisters. Washington lost his father when he was only eleven years old,
and Lee was exactly the same age when his father died. Mrs. Washington
had almost the entire care of her son during his early years, and Lee
was under the sole guidance of his mother until he had almost grown to
manhood. Washington repaid his mother's devotion by caring for her
and her affairs with notable fidelity, and Lee's tenderness and
consideration for his mother were such that she was accustomed to remark
that he was both a son and a daughter to her.

Washington's ancestors were notable, if not distinguished, people in
England; while Lee could trace his descent, through his father, to
Lancelot Lee, who fought at the battle of Hastings, and through his
mother to Robert the Bruce of Scotland. Neither man, however, prided
himself in the least on his ancestry. Indeed, neither of them knew
anything of his family history until his own achievements brought the
facts to light.

Washington was a born and bred country boy and so was Lee. Both
delighted in outdoor life, loving horses and animals of all kinds and
each was noted for his skillful riding in a region which was famous
for its horsemanship. There was, however, a vast difference between
Washington's education and that of Lee. The Virginian schools were
very rudimentary in Washington's day; but Lee attended two excellent
institutions of learning, where he had every opportunity, and of this
he availed himself, displaying much the same thoroughness that
characterized Washington's work, and the same manly modesty about any
success that he achieved.

By reason of his father's death and other circumstances Washington was
burdened with responsibility long before he arrived at manhood, making
him far more reserved and serious-minded than most school boys. This was
precisely the case with Lee, for his father's death, the ill health of
his mother and the care of younger children virtually made him the head
of the family, so that he became unusually mature and self-contained
at an early age. Neither boy, however, held aloof from the sports and
pastimes of his schoolmates and both were regarded as quiet, manly
fellows, with no nonsense about them, and with those qualities of
leadership that made each in turn the great military leader of his age.

Never has history recorded a stranger similarity in the circumstances
surrounding the youth of two famous men, but the facts which linked
their careers in later years are even stranger still.

Chapter III. -- Lee at West Point

As his school days drew to a close, it became necessary for Lee to
determine his future calling. But the choice of a career, often so
perplexing to young men, presented no difficulty to "Light Horse
Harry's" son. He had apparently always intended to become a soldier
and no other thought had seemingly ever occurred to any member of his
family. Appointments to the United States Military Academy were far more
a matter of favor than they are to-day, and young Lee, accompanied by
Mrs. Lewis (better known as Nellie Custis, the belle of Mount Vernon
and Washington's favorite grandchild), sought the assistance of General
Andrew Jackson. Rough "Old Hickory" was not the easiest sort of person
to approach with a request of any kind and, doubtless, his young visitor
had grave misgivings as to the manner in which his application would be
received. But Jackson, the hero of the battle of New Orleans in the
War of 1812, only needed to be told that his caller was "Light Horse
Harry's" son to proffer assistance; and in his nineteenth year, the boy
left home for the first time in his life to enroll himself as a cadet at
West Point.

Very few young men enter that institution so well prepared for military
life as was Lee, for he had been accustomed to responsibility and had
thoroughly mastered the art of self-control many years before he stepped
within its walls. He was neither a prig nor a "grind," but he regarded
his cadetship as part of the life work which he had voluntarily chosen,
and he had no inclination to let pleasure interfere with it. With his
comrades he was companionable, entering into all their pastimes with
zest and spirit, but he let it be understood, without much talk, that
attention to duty was a principle with him and his serious purpose soon
won respect.

Rigid discipline was then, as it is to-day, strictly enforced at West
Point, and demerits were freely inflicted upon cadets for even the
slightest infraction of the rules. Indeed, the regulations were so
severe that it was almost impossible for a cadet to avoid making at
least a few slips at some time during his career. But Lee accomplished
the impossible, for not once throughout his entire four years did he
incur even a single demerit--a record that still remains practically
unique in the history of West Point. This and his good scholarship won
him high rank; first, as cadet officer of his class, and finally, as
adjutant of the whole battalion, the most coveted honor of the
Academy, from which he graduated in 1829, standing second in a class of

Men of the highest rating at West Point may choose whatever arm of
the service they prefer, and Lee, selecting the Engineer Corps, was
appointed a second lieutenant and assigned to fortification work at
Hampton Roads, in his twenty-second year. The work there was not hard
but it was dull. There was absolutely no opportunity to distinguish
oneself in any way, and time hung heavy on most of the officers' hands.
But Lee was in his native state and not far from his home, where he
spent most of his spare time until his mother died. Camp and garrison
life had very little charm for him, but he was socially inclined and,
renewing his acquaintance with his boyhood friends, he was soon in
demand at all the dances and country houses at which the young people of
the neighborhood assembled.

Among the many homes that welcomed him at this time was that of Mr.
George Washington Parke Custis (Washington's adopted grandson), whose
beautiful estate known as "Arlington" lay within a short distance of
Alexandria, where Lee had lived for many years. Here he had, during
his school days, met the daughter of the house and, their boy-and-girl
friendship culminating in an engagement shortly after his return from
West Point, he and Mary Custis were married in his twenty-fifth year.
Lee thus became related by marriage to Washington, and another link was
formed in the strange chain of circumstances which unite their careers.

A more ideal marriage than that of these two young people cannot be
imagined. Simple in their tastes and of home-loving dispositions, they
would have been well content to settle down quietly to country life in
their beloved Virginia, surrounded by their family and friends. But the
duties of an army officer did not admit of this, and after a few years'
service as assistant to the chief engineer of the army in Washington,
Lee was ordered to take charge of the improvements of the Mississippi
River at St. Louis, where, in the face of violent opposition from the
inhabitants, he performed such valuable service that in 1839 he was
offered the position of instructor at West Point. This, however, he
declined, and in 1842 he was entrusted with the task of improving the
defenses of New York harbor and moved with his family to Fort Hamilton,
where he remained for several years. Meanwhile, he had been
successively promoted to a first lieutenancy and a captaincy, and in his
thirty-eighth year he was appointed one of the visitors to West Point,
whose duty it was to inspect the Academy and report at stated intervals
on its condition. This appointment, insignificant in itself, is notable
because it marks the point at which the trails of Grant and Lee first
approach each other, for at the time that Captain Lee was serving as an
official visitor, Ulysses Grant was attempting to secure an assistant
professorship at West Point.

Chapter IV. -- The Boyhood of Grant

Deerfield, Ohio, was not a place of any importance when Captain Noah
Grant of Bunker Hill fame arrived there from the East. Indeed, it was
not then much more than a spot on the map and it has ever won any great
renown. Yet in this tiny Ohio village there lived at one and the same
time Owen Brown, the father of John Brown, who virtually began the
Civil War, and Jesse Grant, the father of Ulysses Grant, who practically
brought it to a close.

It is certainly strange that these two men should, with all the world to
choose from, have chanced upon the same obscure little village, but it
is still stranger that one of them should have become the employer of
the other and that they should both have lived in the very same house.
Such, however, is the fact, for when Jesse Grant first began to earn his
living as a tanner, he worked for and boarded with Owen Brown, little
dreaming that his son and his employer's son would some day shake the

It was not at Deerfield, however, but at Point Pleasant, Ohio, that
Jesse Grant's distinguished son was born on April 27, 1822, in a cottage
not much larger than the cabin in which Abraham Lincoln first saw the
light. Mr. and Mrs. Grant and other members of their family differed
among themselves as to what the boy should be called, but they settled
the question by each writing his or her favorite name on a slip of paper
and then depositing all the slips in a hat, with the understanding that
the child should receive the first two names drawn from that receptacle.
This resulted in the selection of Hiram and Ulysses, and the boy
was accordingly called Hiram Ulysses Grant until the United States
government re-christened him in a curious fashion many years later. To
his immediate family, however, he was always known as Ulysses, which
his playmates soon twisted into the nickname "Useless," more or less
good-naturedly applied.

Grant's father moved to Georgetown, Ohio, soon after his son's birth,
and there his boyhood days were passed. The place was not at that
time much more than a frontier village and its inhabitants were mostly
pioneers--not the adventurous, exploring pioneers who discover new
countries, but the hardy advance-guard of civilization, who clear the
forests and transform the wilderness into farming land. Naturally, there
was no culture and very little education among these people. They were
a sturdy, self-respecting, hard-working lot, of whom every man was the
equal of every other, and to whom riches and poverty were alike unknown.
In a community of this sort there was, of course, no pampering of the
children, and if there had been, Grant's parents would probably have
been the last to indulge in it. His father, Jesse Grant, was a stern and
very busy man who had neither the time nor the inclination to coddle the
boy, and his mother, absorbed in her household duties and the care of a
numerous family, gave him only such attention as was necessary to
keep him in good health. Young Ulysses was, therefore, left to his
own devices almost as soon as he could toddle, and he quickly became
self-reliant to a degree that alarmed the neighbors. Indeed, some of
them rushed into the house one morning shouting that the boy was out
in the barn swinging himself on the farm horses' tails and in
momentary danger of being kicked to pieces; but Mrs. Grant received the
announcement with perfect calmness, feeling sure that Ulysses would
not amuse himself in that way unless he knew the animals thoroughly
understood what he was doing.

Certainly this confidence in the boy's judgment was entirely justified
as far as horses were concerned, for they were the joy of his life
and he was never so happy as when playing or working in or about the
stables. Indeed, he was not nine years old when he began to handle a
team in the fields. From that time forward he welcomed every duty that
involved riding, driving or caring for horses, and shirked every other
sort of work about the farm and tannery. Fortunately, there was plenty
of employment for him in the line of carting materials or driving the
hay wagons and harrows, and his father, finding that he could be trusted
with such duties, allowed him, before he reached his teens, to drive a
'bus or stage between Georgetown and the neighboring villages entirely
by himself. In fact, he was given such free use of the horses that when
it became necessary for him to help in the tannery, he would take a team
and do odd jobs for the neighbors until he earned enough, with the aid
of the horses, to hire a boy to take his place in the hated tan-yard.

This and other work was, of course, only done out of school hours, for
his parents sent him as early as possible to a local "subscription"
school, which he attended regularly for many years. "Spare the rod and
spoil the child" was one of the maxims of the school, and the first duty
of the boys on assembling each morning was to gather a good-sized bundle
of beech-wood switches, of which the schoolmaster made such vigorous use
that before the sessions ended the supply was generally exhausted. Grant
received his fair share of this discipline, but as he never resented it,
he doubtless got no more of it than he deserved and it probably did him

Among his schoolmates he had the reputation of talking less than any
of the other boys and of knowing more about horses than all of them put
together. An opportunity to prove this came when he was about eleven,
for a circus appeared in the village with a trick pony, and during the
performance the clown offered five dollars to any boy who could ride
him. Several of Ulysses' friends immediately volunteered, but he sat
quietly watching the fun while one after another of the boys fell victim
to the pony's powers. Finally, when the little animal's triumph seemed
complete, Grant stepped into the ring and sprang upon his back. A
tremendous tussle for the mastery immediately ensued, but though he
reared and shied and kicked, the tricky little beast was utterly unable
to throw its fearless young rider, and amid the shouts of the audience
the clown at last stopped the contest and paid Ulysses the promised

From that time forward his superiority as a horseman was firmly
established, and as he grew older and his father allowed him to take
longer and longer trips with the teams, he came to be the most widely
traveled boy in the village. Indeed, he was only about fifteen when he
covered nearly a hundred and fifty miles in the course of one of his
journeys, taking as good care of his horses as he did of himself, and
transacting the business entrusted to him with entire satisfaction
to all concerned. These long, and often lonely, trips increased his
independence and so encouraged his habit of silence that many of the
village people began to think him a dunce.

His father, however, was unmistakably proud of the quiet boy who did
what he was told to do without talking about it, and though he rarely
displayed his feelings, the whole village knew that he thought "Useless"
was a wonder and smiled at his parental pride. But the smile almost
turned to a laugh when it became known that he proposed to send the boy
to West Point, for the last cadet appointed from Georgetown had failed
in his examinations before he had been a year at the Academy, and few
of the neighbors believed that Ulysses would survive as long. Certainly,
the boy himself had never aspired to a cadetship, and when his father
suddenly remarked to him one morning that he was likely to obtain the
appointment, he receive the announcement with uncomprehending surprise.

"What appointment?" he asked

"To West Point," replied his father. "I have applied for it."

"But I won't go!" gasped the astonished youth.

"I think you will," was the quiet but firm response, and Grant, who had
been taught obedience almost from his cradle, decided that if his father
thought so, he did, too.

But, though the young man yielded to his parent's wishes, he had no
desire to become a soldier and entirely agreed with the opinion of the
village that he had neither the ability nor the education to acquit
himself with credit. In fact, the whole idea of military life was
so distasteful to him that he almost hoped he would not fulfill the
physical and other requirements for admission. Indeed, the only thought
that reconciled him to the attempt was that it necessitated a trip from
Ohio to New York, which gratified his longing to see more of the world.
This was so consoling that it was almost with a gay heart that he set
out of the Hudson in the middle of May, 1839.

For a boy who had lived all his life in an inland village on the
outskirts of civilization the journey was absolutely adventurous, for
although he was then in his eighteenth year, he had never even as much
as seen a railroad and his experiences on the cars, canal boats and
steamers were all delightfully surprising. Therefore, long as the
journey was, it was far too short for him, and on May 25th he reached
his destination. Two lonely and homesick weeks followed, and then, much
to his astonishment and somewhat to his regret, he received word that he
had passed the examination for admission and was a full-fledged member
of the cadet corps of West Point.

Chapter V. -- Grant at West Point

Grant's father had obtained his son's appointment to the Academy through
the intervention of a member of Congress, who, remembering that the boy
was known as Ulysses and that his mother's name before her marriage was
Simpson, had written to the Secretary of War at Washington, requesting
a cadetship for U. S. Grant. This mistake in his initials was not
discovered until the young man presented himself at West Point, but when
he explained that his name was Hiram Ulysses Grant and not U. S. Grant,
the officials would not correct the error. The Secretary of War had
appointed U. S. Grant to the Academy and U. S. Grant was the only person
they would officially recognize without further orders. They, therefore,
intimated that he could either enroll himself as U. S. Grant or stay out
of the Academy, making it quite plain that they cared very little
which course he adopted. Confronted with this situation, he signed the
enlistment paper as U. S. Grant and the document, bearing his name,
which thus became his, can be seen to-day among the records at West
Point. This re-christening, of course, supplied his comrades with
endless suggestions for nicknames and they immediately interpreted his
new initials to suit themselves. "United States," "Under Sized" and
"Uncle Sam" all seemed to be appropriate, but the last was the favorite
until the day arrived when a more significant meaning was found in
"Unconditional Surrender" Grant.

The restrictions and discipline of West Point bore much more harshly
on country-bred boys in those years than they do to-day when so many
schools prepare students for military duties. But to a green lad
like Grant, who had been exceptionally independent all his life, the
preliminary training was positive torture. It was then that his habitual
silence stood him in good stead, for a talkative, argumentative boy
could never have survived the breaking-in process which eventually
transformed him from a slouchy bumpkin into a smart, soldier-like young
fellow who made the most of his not excessive inches. Still, he hated
almost every moment of his first year and ardently hoped that the bill
for abolishing the Academy, which was under discussion in Congress,
would become a law and enable him to return home without disgrace. But
no such law was passed and more experience convinced him that West Point
was a very valuable institution which should be strengthened rather than
abolished. He had not reached this conclusion, however, at the time of
his first furlough, and when he returned to his more and found that
his father had procured a fine horse for his exclusive use during
his holiday, it was hard to tear himself away and resume his duties.
Nevertheless, he did so; and, considering the fact that he was not fond
of studying, he made fair progress, especially in mathematics, never
reaching the head of his class, but never quite sinking to the bottom.
Indeed, if he had not been careless in the matter of incurring demerits
from small infractions of the rules, he might have attained respectable,
if not high rank in the corps, for he was a clean living, clean spoken
boy, without a vicious trait of any kind. Even as it was, he became a
sergeant, but inattention to details of discipline finally cost him his
promotion and reduced him again to the ranks. At no time, however, did
he acquire any real love for the military profession. His sole ambition
was to pass the examinations and retire from the service as soon as he
could obtain a professorship at some good school or college. At this,
he might easily have succeeded with his unmistakable talent for
mathematics, and it is even conceivable that he might have qualified as
a drawing master or an architect, if not as an artist, for he was
fond of sketching and some of his works in this line which have been
preserved shows a surprisingly artistic touch.

Graduation day at the Academy brought no distinguished honors to Grant,
where he stood twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine, but it did win
him one small triumph. As almost everyone knows, the West Point cadets
are trained for all arms of the service, sometimes doing duty as
infantry, sometimes as artillery and at other times acting as engineers
or cavalry; and during the closing week of the year, they give public
exhibitions of their proficiency before the official visitors. On this
particular occasion the cavalry drill was held in the great riding hall,
and after the whole corps had completed their evolutions and were
formed in line ready to be dismissed, the commanding officer ordered
an extraordinarily high hurdle to be placed in position, and while the
great throng of spectators were wondering what this meant they heard the
sharp command, "Cadet Grant."

A young man of slight stature, not weighing more than a hundred and
twenty pounds, and mounted on a powerful chestnut horse, sprang from the
ranks with a quick salute, dashed to the further end of the hall and,
swinging his mount about, faced the hurdle. There was a moment's pause
and then the rider, putting spurs to his steed, rushed him straight at
the obstruction and, lifting him in masterly fashion, cleared the bar as
though he and the animal were one. A thunder of applause followed as the
horseman quietly resumed his place in the ranks, and after the corps had
been dismissed Grant was sought out and congratulated on his remarkable
feat. But his response was characteristic of the boy that was, and the
man that was to be. "Yes, 'York' is a wonderfully good horse," was all
he said.

A lieutenancy in the engineers or cavalry was more than a man of low
standing in the Academy could expect, and Grant was assigned to the
Fourth Infantry, with orders to report for duty at Jefferson Barracks,
St. Louis, Missouri, at the end of a short leave of absence. The
prospect of active service, far from his native state, was anything but
pleasing to the new officer; but he had come home with a bad cough,
and had he not been ordered to the South, it is highly probable that he
would have fallen a victim to consumption, of which two of his uncles
had already died. The air of Camp Salubrity, Louisiana, where his
regiment was quartered, and the healthy, outdoor life, however, quickly
checked the disease, and at the end of two years he had acquired a
constitution of iron.

Meanwhile, he had met Miss Julia Dent, the sister of one of his
classmates whose home was near St. Louis, and had written to the
Professor of Mathematics at West Point, requesting his aid in securing
an appointment there as his assistant, to which application he received
a most encouraging reply. Doubtless, his courtship of Miss Dent made him
doubly anxious to realize his long-cherished plan of settling down
to the quiet life of a professor. But all hope of this was completely
shattered by the orders of the Fourth Infantry which directed it to
proceed at once to Texas. Long before the regiment marched, however, he
was engaged to "the girl he left behind him" and, although his dream
of an instructorship at West Point had vanished, he probably did not
altogether abandon his ambition for a career at teaching. But Fate had
other plans for him as he journeyed toward Mexico, where the war clouds
were gathering. Lee was moving in the same direction and their trails
were soon to merge at the siege of Vera Cruz.

Chapter VI. -- Lieutenant Grant Under Fire

The movement of the United States troops towards Mexico did not take the
country by surprise. It was the direct result of the action of Congress
admitting Texas to the Union. Ever since it had won its independence
from Mexico, Texas had been seeking to become part of the United States;
but there had been violent objection in the North to the admission of
any new slave state, and this opposition had effectually prevented its
annexation. At the last election (1844), however, a majority of the
voters apparently favored the admission of Texas, which was accordingly
received into the Union, and the long-standing dispute which it had
waged with Mexico as to its proper boundaries was assumed by the United

Texas claimed to own far more territory than Mexico was willing to
concede, but the facts might easily have been ascertained had the United
States government desired to avoid a war. Unfortunately, it had no
such desire, and General Zachary Taylor was soon ordered to occupy the
disputed territory with about 3,000 men. This force, of which Grant's
regiment formed a part, was called the Army of Observation, but it might
better have been called the Army of Provocation, for it was obviously
intended to provoke an attack on the part of Mexico and to give the
United States an excuse for declaring war and settling the boundary
question to suit itself.

Probably, there were not many in the army who thought much about the
rights or the wrongs of the impending war. There had been no fighting in
the United States for more than thirty years, and most of the officers
were more interested in seeing real service in the field than they
were in discussing the justice or injustice of the cause. Grant was as
anxious for glory as any of his comrades, but he cherished no illusions
as to the merits of the dispute in which his country was involved. With
the clear vision of the silent man who reads and thinks for himself,
he saw through the thinly disguised pretenses of the politicians and,
recognizing that force was being used against a weaker nation in order
to add more slave states to the Union, he formed a very positive
opinion that the war was unjustifiable. But though he was forced to this
disagreeable conclusion, the young Lieutenant was not the sort of man to
criticize his country once she was attacked, or to shirk his duty as
a soldier because he did not agree with his superiors on questions of
national policy. He thought and said what he liked in private, but he
kept his mouth closed in public, feeling that his duties as an officer
were quite sufficient without assuming responsibilities which belonged
to the authorities in Washington.

War was inevitable almost from the moment that Texas was annexed, but
with full knowledge of this fact neither the President nor Congress made
any effective preparations for meeting the impending crisis, and when
hostilities actually began, General Taylor was directed to advance under
conditions which virtually required him to fight his way to safety.
Indeed, he was practically cut off from all hope of reënforcement as
soon as the first shot was fired, for his orders obliged him to move
into the interior of the country, and had his opponents been properly
commanded, they could have overwhelmed him and annihilated his whole
force. The very audacity of the little American army, however, seemed
to paralyze the Mexicans who practically made no resistance until Taylor
reached a place called Palo Alto, which in Spanish means "Tall Trees."

Meanwhile Grant had been made regimental quartermaster, charged with
the duty of seeing that the troops were furnished with proper food and
caring for all property and supplies. Heartily as he disliked this task,
which was not only dull and difficult, but also bade fair to prevent him
from taking active part in the prospective battles, he set to work with
the utmost energy. By the time the enemy began to dispute the road,
he had overcome the immense difficulty of supplying troops on a march
through a tropical country and was prepared to take part in any fighting
that occurred. But the Mexicans gathered at TALL TREES on May 8, 1846,
were not prepared for a serious encounter. They fired at the invaders,
but their short-range cannon loaded with solid shot rarely reached the
Americans, and when a ball did come rolling towards them on the ground,
the troops merely stepped to one side and allowed the missile to pass
harmlessly through their opened ranks. After the American artillery
reached the field, however, the enemy was driven from its position
and the next day the advance was resumed to Resaca de la Palma, where
stronger opposition was encountered.

Grant was on the right wing of the army as it pressed forward through
dense undergrowth to drive the Mexicans from the coverts in which
they had taken shelter. It was impossible to give any exact orders
in advancing through this jungle, and the men under Grant's command
struggled forward until they reached a clearing where they caught sight
of a small body of Mexicans. The young Lieutenant instantly ordered a
charge and, dashing across the open ground, captured the party only to
discover that they were merely stragglers left behind by other American
troops who had already charged over the same ground. No one appreciated
the humor of this exploit more than Grant. It reminded him, he said, of
the soldier who boasted that he had been in a charge and had cut off the
leg of one of the enemy's officers. "Why didn't you cut off his head?"
inquired his commander. "Oh, somebody had done that already," replied
the valiant hero.

Slight as the fighting was at Resaca, it completely satisfied the
Mexicans, and for over three months they left the Americans severely
alone. Meanwhile, General Taylor received reënforcements and in August,
1846, he proceeded against the town of Monterey, which the enemy had
fortified with considerable skill and where they were evidently prepared
to make a desperate resistance. Grant was again quartermaster, and
the terrific heat which forced the army to do its marching at night or
during the early hours of the morning, greatly increased his labors and
severely tested his patience. Almost all the transportation animals were
mules, and as very few of them were trained for the work, they were hard
to load and even harder to handle after their burdens were adjusted.
One refractory animal would often stampede all the rest, scattering
provisions and ammunition in their tracks, driving the teamsters to the
point of frenzy and generally hurling confusion through the camp. Even
Grant, who never uttered an oath in his life, was often sorely tried by
these exasperating experiences, but he kept command of his temper and by
his quiet persistence brought order out of chaos in spite of beasts and

His disappointment was bitter, however, when the attack on Monterey
began and he found himself left without any assignment in the field.
Lieutenant Meade, destined at a later date to command the Union forces
at Gettysburg, was one of the officers entrusted with the preliminary
reconnoissance against the city, and when the fighting actually
commenced on September 21st, 1846, the deserted Quartermaster mounted
his horse and rode to the scene of the action, determined to see
something of the battle even if he could not take part in it. He arrived
at the moment when his regiment was ordered to charge against what was
known as the Black Fort, and dashed forward with his men into the very
jaws of death. Certainly "someone had blundered," for the charge which
had been intended merely as a feint was carried too far and scores
of men were mowed down under the terrible fire of the enemy's guns.
Temporary shelter was at last reached, however, and under cover of it
the Adjutant borrowed Grant's horse; but he fell soon after the charge
was renewed and the Colonel, noticing the impetuous Quartermaster,
promptly appointed him to take the fallen officer's place. By this time
the troops had fought their way into the town and the enemy, posted in
the Plaza or Principal Square, commanded every approach to it. As long
as the Americans kept in the side streets they were comparatively safe,
but the moment they showed themselves in any of the avenues leading to
the Plaza, they encountered a hail of bullets. This was serious enough;
but at the end of two days the situation became critical, for the
ammunition began to run low, and it was realized that, if the Mexicans
discovered this, they would sweep down and cut their defenseless
opponents to pieces. Face to face with this predicament, the Colonel
on September 23rd, called for a volunteer to carry a dispatch to
Headquarters, and Grant instantly responded.

To reach his destination it was necessary to run the gantlet of the
enemy, for every opening from the Plaza was completely exposed to their
fire. But trusting in the fleetness of his horse, the young lieutenant
leaped into the saddle and, swinging himself down, Indian fashion, on
one side of his steed so as to shield himself behind its body, he dashed
away on his perilous mission. A roar of muskets greeted him at every
corner, but he flashed safely by, leaping a high wall which lay across
his path and then, speeding straight for the east end of the town,
reached the commanding General and reported the peril of his friends.

Meanwhile the Americans began one of the most curious advances ever
made by an army, for General Worth, finding that he could not force his
troops through the streets leading to the Plaza without great loss of
life, ordered them to enter the houses and break down the intervening
walls, so that they could pass from one adjoining house to another under
cover, directly to the heart of the city. This tunneling maneuver was
executed with great skill, and when the walls of the houses nearest the
Plaza were reached and masses of men stood ready to pour through the
openings into the Square, its astonished defenders gave up the fight and
promptly surrendered the city.

Chapter VII. -- Captain Lee at the Front

Astonishing as General Taylor's success had been, the authorities at
Washington decided, largely for political reasons, to appoint a new
commander, and three months after the battle of Monterey, General
Winfield Scott, the Commander-in-Chief of the United States army, was
ordered to the seat of the war.

It would be impossible to imagine two officers more utterly different
than Taylor and Scott, but each in his own way exerted a profound
influence upon the careers of Grant and Lee. Taylor was a rough,
uncultivated man, fearless, shrewd and entirely capable, but with
nothing to suggest the soldier in his appearance, dress or dignity. On
the contrary, he usually appeared sitting slouchily on some woe-begone
old animal, his long legs dangling on one side of the saddle, the
bridle rein looped over his arm and a straw hat on his head, more like
a ploughman than an officer of high rank. Indeed, he seldom donned a
uniform of any description, and his only known appearance in full dress
occurred during an official meeting with an admiral, when, out of regard
for naval etiquette, he attired himself in his finest array. But this
effort at politeness was not calculated to encourage him, for the
admiral, knowing his host's objection to uniforms, had been careful to
leave his on his ship and appeared in civilian attire.

Scott, on the other hand, was a fussy and rather pompous individual,
who delighted in brass buttons and gold lace and invariably presented
a magnificent appearance. But, like Taylor, he was an excellent officer
and thoroughly competent to handle an army in the field. He was,
moreover, entirely familiar with the material of which the American
army was composed, and his first move on assuming command was to order
practically all the regular United States troops and their officers to
join him near Vera Cruz, leaving Taylor virtually nothing but volunteer
regiments. The Fourth Infantry accordingly parted with its old commander
and reported to Scott, where it was assigned to the division of General
Worth, and for the first time Grant met many of the men with and against
whom he was to be thrown during the Civil War.

It was certainly a remarkable body of officers that Scott gathered about
him at the outset of his campaign, for it included such men as Stonewall
Jackson, Jefferson Davis, McClellan, Joseph Johnson, Jubal Early, A. P.
Hill, Meade, Beauregard, Hooker, Longstreet, Hancock, Thomas and, last
but not least, Ulysses Grant and Robert Lee. Lee had arrived in Mexico
soon after the battle of Monterey, but he had no opportunity for
distinction until the spring of 1847, when preparations were begun
for the siege of Vera Cruz. He had, however, already demonstrated his
ability as an engineer, and with Lieutenant Beauregard who, fourteen
years later, commanded the attack on Fort Sumter, he was entrusted
with posting the American batteries at Vera Cruz. This he did to such
advantage that they made short work of the city which fell into the
invaders' hands, March 29, 1847, after a week's siege. Scott was quick
to recognize the merit of officers, and Lee was straightway attached to
his personal staff, with the result that when the army began its forward
movement most of the difficult and delicate work was confided to his

Scott's object was the capture of the City of Mexico, the capital of the
Republic, and against this stronghold he moved with energy and skill.
At Cerro Gordo the Mexicans opposed him with considerable force, but
maneuvers, suggested by Lee, enabled him to outflank the enemy and drive
them, without much trouble, from his path. Again at Contreras a check
occurred, part of the army having advanced over a well-nigh impassable
country and lost touch with the Commander-in-Chief. One after another
seven officers were dispatched to carry the necessary orders, but all
returned without effecting their purpose. But at midnight, in the midst
of a torrential storm Lee arrived from the front, having overcome all
difficulties--an achievement which Scott subsequently described as "the
greatest feat of physical and moral courage performed by any individual
in my knowledge, pending the campaign."

But Lee was more than merely brave and daring. He was thorough. When
work was entrusted to his care he performed it personally, never relying
on others further than was absolutely necessary, and never resting
satisfied until he was certain that he had accomplished his task. On one
of his most important reconnoissances he rode into the interior of the
country at night to locate the position of the enemy, and after he had
proceeded a considerable distance his guide informed him that if he
went any further he would be a prisoner, for the whole Mexican army lay
directly in his path. He, accordingly, advanced more cautiously, but the
guide again begged him to halt, declaring that he could already see the
enemies' tents lying on the hillside below. Peering through the darkness
in the direction indicated, Lee discovered what appeared to be an
encampment of many thousand men, and for the moment he was tempted to
accept his companion's conclusion that this was the main force of the
Mexicans. Second thoughts, however, convinced him that he ought not to
make a report based upon the eyes of the guide, and, despite the
man's frightened protests, he decided to stay where he was and see
the situation for himself by daylight. But, before the morning fairly
dawned, it was apparent that the supposed army of Mexicans was nothing
but a huge flock of sheep and, galloping back with the news that the
road was clear, he led a troop of cavalry forward and located the enemy
posted many miles away in an entirely different position.

The Mexicans stubbornly, though unsuccessfully, resisted the American
army as it pushed toward their capital, and in the battles which ensued
Lee was so active that his gallant conduct was praised in almost every
dispatch of his Chief, who subsequently attributed much of his success
"to the skill and valor of Robert E. Lee," whom he did not hesitate to
describe as "the greatest military genius in America." Continuous praise
from such a source would have been more than sufficient to turn the
average officer's head, but Lee continued to perform his duties without
showing the least sign of vanity or conceit. Quiet, thoughtful, quick
to take advantage of any opportunity, but greedy of neither honors nor
personal distinction of any kind, he won the admiration of his comrades
as well as the confidence of his superiors, and his promotion, first
to the rank of major and then to that of lieutenant-colonel, was
universally approved.

Meanwhile, Grant had been acquitting himself with high credit in all the
work which fell to his share. He was in no position to render service of
anything like the importance of Lee's, but he did what he was ordered to
do and did it well, being brevetted a first lieutenant for conspicuous
gallantry at the battle of Molino del Rey, September 8, 1847. Again,
on September 13, in the fighting around Chapultepec, where Lee, though
wounded, remained in the saddle until he fell fainting from his horse,
Grant gained considerable distinction by his quick action in relieving a
dangerous pressure on part of the American lines by posting a small gun
in the belfry of a church and galling the enemy with his deadly accurate
fire. It was characteristic of the man that when complimented upon
this achievement and told that a second gun would be sent to him, Grant
merely saluted. He might, with truth, have informed his commanding
officer that the belfry could not accommodate another gun, but it was
not his habit to talk when there was no need of it, or to question the
wisdom of his superior officer. He, therefore, quietly accepted the
praise and the superfluous gun and, returning to his post, resumed
his excellent service. This and other similar conduct won him further
promotion, and on September 14, 1847, when the Americans marched
triumphantly into the Mexican capital, he was brevetted a captain.

The war practically ended with this event and within a year Grant was
married to Miss Julia Dent and stationed at Sackett's Harbor, New York,
while Lee was assigned to the defenses of Baltimore, not far from his
old home.

Chapter VIII. -- Colonel Lee After the Mexican War

It is probable that Lee would have been well content to remain
indefinitely at Baltimore, for his duties there enabled him to be more
with his family than had been possible for some years. To his boys and
girls he was both a companion and a friend and in their company he took
the keenest delight. In fact, he and his wife made their home the center
of attraction for all the young people of the neighborhood, and no
happier household existed within the confines of their beloved Virginia.

It was not to be expected, however, that an officer of Lee's reputation
would be allowed to remain long in obscurity, and in 1852, he was
appointed Superintendent at West Point. A wiser selection for this
important post could scarcely have been made, for Colonel Lee, then
in his forty-sixth year, possessed rare qualifications for the duties
entrusted to his charge. He was not only a man whose splendid presence,
magnificent physique and distinguished record were certain to win the
admiration and respect of young men, but he combined in his character
and temperament all the qualities of a tactful teacher and an inspiring
leader. Quiet and dignified, but extremely sympathetic, he governed
the cadets without seeming to command them and, as at his own home, he
exerted a peculiarly happy influence upon all with whom he came into
personal contact. Among the cadets during his service at West Point were
J. E. B. Stuart, who was to prove himself one of the greatest cavalry
leaders that this country has ever produced, and his elder son, Custis
Lee, who, improving on his father's almost perfect record, graduated
first in his class.

About this time certain important changes were effected in the
organization of the regular army, and the popular Superintendent of West
Point was immediately appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the newly formed
Second Cavalry, with orders to proceed to Texas and protect the settlers
against the attacks of hostile Indians. It was with keen regret that
Lee received this assignment, for, though intended as a promotion, it
removed him from the corps of engineers to which he had always been
attached and obliged him to break all his home ties for what was
practically police duty in the wilderness. Nevertheless, no thought of
resigning from the army apparently crossed his mind. He soon joined
his regiment in Texas, where, for almost three years, he patrolled the
country, ruling the Indians by diplomacy or force, as occasion required,
practically living in the saddle and experiencing all the discomforts
and privations of garrison life at an outpost of civilization.

Almost his only relaxation during this lonely and exhausting service was
his correspondence with his wife and children, and his letters to them,
written in rough camps and on the march, show that his thoughts were
constantly with his home and loved ones. "It has been said that our
letters are good representations of our minds," he wrote his youngest
daughter from Texas in 1857; and certainly Lee's correspondence,
exhibiting as it does, consideration for others, modesty,
conscientiousness, affection and a spirit of fun, affords an admirable
reflection of the writer.

"Did I tell you that 'Jim Nooks,' Mrs. Waite's cat, was dead?" he wrote
one of his girls. "He died of apoplexy. I foretold his end. Coffee
and cream for breakfast, pound cake for lunch, turtle and oysters for
dinner, buttered toast for tea and Mexican rats, taken raw, for supper!
He grew enormously and ended in a spasm. His beauty could not save
him.... But I saw 'cats as is cats' at Sarassa.... The entrance of
Madame [his hostess] was foreshadowed by the coming in of her stately
cats with visages grim and tails erect, who preceded, surrounded and
followed her. They are of French breed and education, and when the
claret and water were poured out for my refreshment they jumped on the
table for a sit-to.... I had to leave the wild-cat on the Rio Grande;
he was too savage and had grown as large as a small sized dog. He would
pounce on a kid as Tom Tita [his daughter's cat] would on a mouse and
would whistle like a tiger when you approached him."

But it was not always in this chatty fashion that he wrote, for in 1856,
when the question of slavery was being fiercely discussed throughout
the country, he expressed his views on the subject with a moderation and
broadmindedness exceedingly rare in those excited times.

"In this enlightened age," he wrote his wife, "there are few, I believe,
but will acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and
political evil in any country. I think it, however, a greater evil to
the white than to the black race; and while my feelings are strongly
interested in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are stronger for
the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in
Africa--morally, socially and physically. The painful discipline they
are undergoing is necessary for their instruction as a race and I hope
it will prepare and lead them to better things. How long this subjection
may be necessary is known and ordered by a wise and merciful Providence.
Their emancipation will sooner result from a mild and melting influence
than from the storms and contests of fiery controversy. This influence
though slow is sure."

Such were the views of Robert Lee on this great question of the day, and
even as he wrote the country was beginning to notice a country lawyer
named Abraham Lincoln, who was expressing almost identically the same
opinions in no uncertain terms.

But the calm advice of Lincoln and Lee did not appeal to the hot-heads
who were for abolishing slavery instantly at any and every cost. In
October, 1859, when Lee was on a short visit to Arlington, John Brown,
whose father had once lived with Grant's father, attempted to take
the whole matter into his already blood-stained hands. It is a strange
coincidence that Lee should have chanced to be in Virginia just at this
particular crisis, and still stranger that the errand which had called
him home should have related to the emancipation of slaves. But the
facts were that Mr. Custis, his father-in-law, had died a few weeks
previously, leaving him as the executor of his will, which provided,
among other things, for the gradual emancipation of all his slaves.
Lee had accordingly obtained leave of absence to make a flying trip to
Virginia for the purpose of undertaking this duty, and he was actually
making arrangements to carry out Mr. Custis's wishes in respect to his
slaves when the news of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry reached
Arlington. Word of this reckless attempt to free the slaves by force
reached him in the form of a dispatch from the Secretary of War,
ordering him to take immediate charge of the United States marines who
were being hurried to the scene of action. He instantly obeyed and,
with Lieutenant J. E. B. Stuart as his second in command, hastened to
Harper's Ferry and, directing his troops to storm the engine-house where
Brown and his followers had taken refuge, effected their capture almost
without striking a blow. Then, after delivering his prisoners to the
proper authorities, he completed his work at Arlington and returned to
Texas and the rough life of guarding the frontier line.

From this duty he was recalled to Washington in March, 1861, when the
Southern States were rapidly forming the Confederacy, the whole country
was in wild confusion and the nation was facing the prospect of a
terrific civil war.

Chapter IX. -- Captain Grant in a Hard Fight

Meanwhile, what had become of Grant? The War Department did not know
and apparently did not care. Jefferson Davis, the Secretary of War,
responded to his father's anxious inquiry that Captain U. S. Grant
had resigned from the army in July, 1854, but that he had no official
knowledge as to why he had taken this action. Mr. Grant, however, soon
learned the facts from other sources, and in his bitter disappointment
was heard to exclaim that "West Point had ruined one of his boys for

It was natural enough that the stern and proud old gentleman should have
blamed West Point for the heart-breaking failure of his favorite son,
but, as a matter of fact, West Point was in no way responsible for what
had occurred. Neither during his cadetship at the Academy nor for some
years after his graduation from that institution had Ulysses Grant
touched wine or stimulants in any form. He had, indeed, tried to learn
to smoke during his West Point days but had merely succeeded in making
himself ill. During his hard campaigning in Mexico, however, he had
learned not only to smoke, but to drink, though it was not until some
years after the war closed that he began to indulge to excess. As a
matter of fact, he ought never to have touched a drop of any intoxicant,
for a very little was always too much for him, and the result was that
he soon came to be known in the army as a drinking man. Had he been at
home, surrounded by his wife and children and busily engaged, perhaps
he might not have yielded to his weakness. But his orders carried him
to lonely posts on the Pacific, many hundreds of miles away from his
family, with no duties worthy of the name, and the habit grew on him
until the exasperated Colonel of his regiment at last gave him the
choice of resigning or being court-martialed for conduct unbecoming an
officer and a gentleman. Face to face with this ugly alternative, he
chose resignation, and the army, officially, knew him no more.

It was not only social and professional disgrace, but financial ruin
which confronted the broken officer as he bade good-bye to his regiment
at its desolate quarters in California, after fifteen years of service
to the army. He was absolutely without money and, at the age of
thirty-two, it was by no means easy for him to begin life all over again
and earn his own living at a new calling. His fellow officers provided
him with enough cash for his immediate wants, and with their help he
managed to find his way back to Sackett's Harbor, New York, where there
was a little money owing him. But he failed to collect this and remained
hopelessly stranded until another officer came to his rescue and
provided him with sufficient funds to take him to his home. This friend
in time of need was Simon B. Buckner, whom he was to meet again under
strange and dramatic circumstances.

It was hardly to be expected, under such conditions, that stern
old Jesse Grant would welcome the home-coming of his eldest son.
Nevertheless, he helped him on his way to his wife and children, and,
sick at heart and broken in health, the young man joined his family and
began a desperate struggle to earn his own living. Mrs. Grant's father
was a slave owner and a sympathizer with the South in the growing
trouble between that section of the country and the North. But the
quarrel had not yet reached the breaking point, and although he did not
approve of his son-in-law's northern views and heartily disapproved of
his conduct, he gave him a start as a farmer and then left him to work
out his own salvation.

Farming was the only occupation at which Grant could hope to make a
living, but he soon found that he did not know enough about this to make
a success of it, and gradually fell back on his youthful experience as
a teamster, hauling wood to the city where he sold it to the railroad
or to anyone that would buy. At this he was fairly successful and,
encouraged by his wife who stood bravely by him, he built a house with
his own hands, which, although it was not much more than a log cabin,
was sufficiently large to shelter his small family. All this time he
was making a hard fight to conquer his drinking habits, but the vice had
taken a terrible hold on him and he could not easily shake it off. It
was only a matter of time, therefore, before his experiment at farming
failed and with the aid of his father-in-law he entered business as
a real estate broker in St. Louis. But for this calling he had no
qualification whatsoever, and after a disheartening experience in
attempting to secure the post of county engineer, he accepted his
father's suggestion that he join his brothers in the leather business
in Galena, Illinois, and retired there with his family in the spring of

The position which his father had made for him was not much more than
a clerkship and the work was dull for a man who had been accustomed to
active, outdoor life; but he was received with tact and kindness, no
reference was made to his past record of failure and all this helped
him to continue the successful struggle which he was making to regain
control of himself and his habits.

Indeed, from the time he began his residence in Galena he already had
the battle well in hand and he fought it out with such grim resolution
that before a year had passed his victory was complete. Scarcely anyone
in the little town knew of this silent struggle for self-mastery.
Indeed, very few people knew anything at all about the newcomer, save
that he was a quiet, hard-working man who occasionally appeared on the
streets wearing a blue army overcoat which had seen rough service. This
weather-stained garment, however, forced Grant to break his habitual
silence, for he fully shared General Taylor's prejudice against a
uniform and felt obliged to apologize for wearing even part of one. So
one day he explained to a neighbor that he wore the coat because it was
made of good material and he thought he ought to use it as long as it
lasted. That was all the citizens of Galena then learned of the record
of the man who had served with high honor in well-nigh every battle
of the Mexican War. Had it depended upon him, their information would
probably have begun and ended there.

During all this time the feeling between the North and the South was
growing more and more bitter, but Galena was a town divided against
itself on the slavery question. Grant himself was a Democrat. If he
was not in favor of slavery, he certainly was not opposed to it, for he
favored Douglas and not Lincoln in the contest for the Presidency, and
Douglas was strongly against any interference with slavery. Indeed, it
is a curious coincidence that at or about the time when Lee's family was
ceasing to own slaves, Grant's family acquired some. Such, however, is
the fact, for on the death of her father, Mrs. Grant inherited several
Negroes and there is some evidence that Grant himself sold or attempted
to sell them.

But, though he was at that time no champion of the black race, Grant was
always a strong Union man, opposed heart and soul to secession. Indeed,
when news of the attack upon Fort Sumter arrived in Galena, he arrayed
himself with the defenders of the flag gathered at a mass meeting held
in the town to form a company in response to the President's call for
75,000 volunteers. Moreover, this meeting had no sooner been called
to order than someone proposed him as chairman, and to his utter
astonishment, he found himself pushed from the rear of the room to the
front and from the front to the platform. Probably few in the audience
knew who or what he was, and his embarrassment was such that for a
few minutes no words came to his lips. Finally, however, he managed to
announce the object of the meeting, warning those who intended to enlist
that they would be engaged in serious business involving hard work
and privation, expressing his willingness to aid in forming the Galena
Company and ending with a simple statement of his own intention to
reënter the army.

There was nothing eloquent about his short speech but it had the tone
of a man who knew what he was talking about, and the audience, availing
itself of his military experience, immediately voted to entrust the
organization and drilling of the volunteers to his care, and from that
moment he never again entered his father's place of business.

Chapter X. -- Grant's Difficulties in Securing a Command

The command of the local company was, of course, offered to Grant as
soon as it was formed, but he declined, believing himself qualified for
somewhat higher rank than a captaincy of volunteers. Nevertheless, he
did all he could to prepare the recruits for active service in the field
and when they were ordered to Springfield, the capital of Illinois, he
journeyed there to see them properly mustered into the service of the

Springfield was a hubbub of noise and a rallying point for well-meaning
incompetence when he arrived upon the scene. New officers in new
uniforms swaggered in every public meeting place, bands of music played
martial airs at every street corner and volunteers sky-larked and
paraded in all sorts of impossible uniforms and with every form of
theatric display. But system and order were absolutely lacking, and the
adjutant-general's office, littered with blanks and well-nigh knee deep
with papers, was the most helpless spot in the welter of confusion. All
the material for a respectable army was at hand, but how to form it
into an effective force was more than anyone seemed to know. The mass of
military forms and blanks intended for that purpose was mere waste paper
in the hands of the amiable but ignorant insurance agent who bore
the title of adjutant-general, and no one of the patriotic mob had
sufficient knowledge to instruct him in his duties. In the midst of all
this hopeless confusion, however, someone suggested that a man by the
name of Grant, who had come down with the Galena Company, had been in
the army and ought to know about such things. The Governor accordingly
sought out "the man from Galena" just as he was starting for his home,
with the result that he was soon at a desk in the adjutant's office,
filling out the necessary papers at three dollars a day, while the brand
new captains, colonels and generals posed in the foreground to the tune
of popular applause.

From this time forward order gradually took the place of chaos and the
political generals and comic-opera soldiers were slowly shifted from the
scene. But scarcely anyone noticed the silent man, hard at work in his
shirt sleeves in a corner of the adjutant's room, and such inquiries as
were made concerning him elicited the information that he was a cast-off
of the regular army, with a dubious reputation for sobriety, who had
been hired as a clerk. But the Governor of Illinois was an intelligent
man, and he was well aware of the service which the ex-Captain of
regulars was performing for the State, and on the completion of his work
in the adjutant's office Grant was given a nominal title and assigned to
visit the various regiments at their encampments to see that they were
properly mustered in. He, accordingly, straightway set to work at
this task, and his brisk, business-like manner of handling it made
an impression upon those with whom he came in contact, for one of the
temporary camps became known as Camp Grant.

Meanwhile, seeing his duties coming to an end without much hope
of further employment, he wrote the following letter to the
Adjutant-General of the United States Army at Washington:


"Having served for fifteen years in the regular army, including four
years at West Point, and feeling it the duty of every one who has been
educated at the Government expense to offer their services for the
support of that Government, I have the honor, very respectfully, to
tender my services until the close of the war in such capacity as may be
offered. I would say in view of my present age and length of service,
I feel myself competent to command a regiment, if the President, in his
judgment, should see fit to entrust one to me. Since the first call of
the President I have been serving on the staff of the Governor of this
State, rendering such aid as I could in the organization of our State
militia, and am still engaged in that capacity. A letter addressed to me
at Springfield, Ill., will reach me."

But the authorities at Washington took no notice whatsoever of
this modest letter, which was evidently tossed aside and completely
forgotten. Indeed, it was so completely buried in the files of the
War Department that it disappeared for years and, when it was at last
discovered, the war was a thing of the past.

This silent rebuff was enough to discourage any sensitive man and Grant
felt it keenly, but he did not entirely despair of accomplishing
his end. He tried to gain an interview with General Frémont who was
stationed in a neighboring state and, failing in this, sought out
McClellan, his comrade in the Mexican War, who had been made a
major-general and was then in the vicinity of Covington, Kentucky, where
Grant had gone to visit his parents. But McClellan either would not or
could not see him. Indeed, he had about reached the conclusion that his
quest was hopeless, when he happened to meet a friend who offered to
tell the Governor of Ohio that he wished to reenter the army, with
the result that before long he was tendered the colonelcy of an Ohio
regiment. In the meantime, however, he had unexpectedly received a
telegram from the Governor of Illinois, appointing him to the command of
the 21st Illinois regiment, and this he had instantly accepted. Had he
known the exact circumstances under which this post was offered him,
perhaps he might not have acted so promptly, but he knew enough to make
him aware that the appointment was not altogether complimentary and it
is quite likely that he would have accepted it in any event.

The facts were, however, that the Colonel of the 21st Regiment had
proved to be an ignorant and bombastic adventurer, who had appeared
before his troops clothed in a ridiculous costume and armed like a
pirate king, and there was such dissatisfaction among both the officers
and men that a new commander was urgently demanded. Of this Grant
already knew something, but he was not advised that the regiment had
become so utterly demoralized by its incompetent leader that it was
nothing less than a dangerous and unruly mob, of which the Governor
could not induce any self-respecting officer to take charge. He had,
indeed, offered the command to at least half a dozen other men before
he tendered it to Grant, and he must have been intensely relieved to
receive his prompt acceptance.

The new Colonel did not wait to procure a new uniform before reporting
for duty, but, hastening to the Fair Grounds close to Springfield where
his troops were stationed, ordered them to assemble for inspection.
But incompetent leadership had played havoc with the discipline of the
regiment, and the men shambled from their tents without any attempt at
military formation, more from curiosity than in obedience to orders.

The new Colonel stepped to the front, wearing a rusty suit of civilian's
clothes, his trousers tucked into his dusty boots, a battered hat on his
head, a bandanna handkerchief tied around his waist in place of a sash
and carrying a stick in place of a sword. Altogether he presented a
most unimpressive figure and it would not have been surprising if a wild
guffaw of laughter had greeted him, but the troops, studying his strong,
calm face, contented themselves with calling for a speech. Then they
waited in silence for his response and they did not have to wait long.

"Men!" he commanded sharply. "Go to your quarters!"

The regiment fairly gasped its astonishment. It had never heard a speech
like that before and, taken completely by surprise, it moved quietly
from the field.

Sentries were instantly posted, camp limits established and preparations
made for enforcing strict discipline. It was not to be supposed that
such prompt reforms would pass unchallenged, but arrests followed the
first signs of disobedience and punishment swiftly followed the arrests.

"For every minute I'm kept here I'll have an ounce of your blood!"
threatened a dangerous offender whom the Colonel had ordered to be tied

"Gag that man!" was the quiet response. "And when his time is up I'll
cut him loose myself."

Before night, all was quiet in the camp of the 21st Regiment of Illinois

Grant was in command.

Chapter XI. -- Lee at the Parting of the Ways

While Grant was thus striving to reënter the army, Lee was having a
struggle of a very different sort. Summoned from his distant post in
Texas, where only an occasional rumble of the coming tempest reached
his ears, he suddenly found himself in the center of the storm which
threatened to wreck the Republic. In the far South seven states had
already seceded; in Washington, Congressmen, Senators, and members
of the Cabinet were abandoning their posts; in the army and navy his
friends were daily tendering their resignations; and his own state,
divided between love for the Union and sympathy with its neighbors, was
hovering on the brink of secession.

The issue in Lee's mind was not the existence of slavery. He had long
been in favor of emancipation, and Virginia had more than once come
so close to abolishing slavery by law that its disappearance from her
borders was practically assured within a very short period. All his own
slaves he had long since freed and he was gradually emancipating his
father-in-law's, according to the directions of Mr. Custis's will. But
the right of each state to govern itself without interference from the
Federal Government seemed to Lee essential to the freedom of the people.
He recognized, however, that secession was revolution and, calmly and
conscientiously examining the question, he concluded that, if force were
used to compel any state to remain in the Union, resistance would
be justifiable. Most Virginians reached this decision impulsively,
light-heartedly, defiantly or vindictively, and more or less angrily,
according to their temperaments and the spirit of the times, but not so
Lee. He unaffectedly prayed God for guidance in the struggle between his
patriotism and his devotion to a principle which he deemed essential to
liberty and justice. He loved his country as only a man in close touch
with its history and with a deep reverence for its great founder,
Washington, could love it; he had fought for its flag; he wore its
uniform; he had been educated at its expense; and General Scott, the
Commander of the army, a devoted Union man, was his warm personal
friend. Patriotism, personal pride, loyalty and even gratitude,
therefore, urged him toward the support of the Union, and only his
adherence to a principle and the claims of his kinsmen and friends

For a time Virginia resisted every effort to induce her to cast her lot
with the Confederacy. Indeed she actually voted against secession when
the question was first presented. But when Fort Sumter resisted attack
on April 12, 1861, and the President called upon the various states
to furnish troops to enforce the national authority, practically all
affection for the Union disappeared and by a decisive vote Virginia
determined to uphold the Southern cause.

At that crisis President Lincoln made a strong effort to induce Lee to
support the Union, for he actually offered him the command of the United
States Army which was about to take the field. The full force of this
remarkable tribute to his professional skill was not lost upon Lee.
He had devoted his whole life to the army, and to be a successor of
Washington in the command of that army meant more to him than perhaps
to any other soldier in the land. Certainly, if he had consulted his own
ambition or been influenced by any but the most unselfish motives, he
would have accepted the call as the highest honor in the gift of the
nation. But to do so he would have been obliged to surrender his private
principles and desert his native state, and it is impossible to imagine
that a man of his character would, even for an instant, consider such
a course. Gravely and sadly he declined the mighty office, and two days
later he tendered his resignation from the service he had honored for
almost six and thirty years.

For this and his subsequent action Lee has been called a traitor and
severely criticized for well-nigh fifty years. But, when a nation has
been divided against itself upon a great issue of government, millions
upon one side and millions upon the other, and half a century has
intervened, it is high time that justice be given to the man who did
what he thought right and honorably fought for a principle which he
could have surrendered only at the expense of his conscience and his
honor. Lee was a traitor to the United States in the same sense that
Washington was a traitor to England. No more and no less. England takes
pride to-day in having given Washington to the world. Americans deprive
their country of one of her claims to greatness when they fail to honor
the character and the genius of Robert Lee.

It was in a letter to his old commander, Scott, that Lee announced his
momentous decision, and its tone well indicated what the parting cost

"Arlington, Va., April 20, 1861.


"Since my interview with you on the 18th inst., I have felt that I ought
not longer to retain my commission in the army. I, therefore, tender my
resignation, which I request you will recommend for acceptance. It
would have been presented at once but for the struggle it has cost me to
separate myself from a service to which I have devoted the best years
of my life and all the ability I possessed. During the whole of that
time...I have experienced nothing but kindness from my superiors and
a most cordial friendship from my comrades. To no one, General, have
I been as much indebted as to yourself for uniform kindness and
consideration.... Save in the defense of my native State, I never desire
again to draw my sword."

Lee was fully aware of the serious nature of the conflict in which
the country was about to engage. Americans were to be pitted against
Americans and he knew what that meant. Wise men, both North and South,
were prophesying that the war would not last more than ninety days,
and foolish ones were bragging of their own powers and questioning the
courage of their opponents, quite oblivious of the adage that when Greek
meets Greek there comes a tug of war. But Lee did not concern himself
with such childish exhibitions of judgment and temper.

"Do not put your faith in rumors of adjustment," he wrote his wife
before serious fighting had begun. "I see no prospect of it. It cannot
be while passions on both sides are so infuriated. MAKE YOUR PLANS FOR
SEVERAL YEARS OF WAR. I agree with you that the inflammatory articles
in the papers do us much harm. I object particularly to those in the
Southern papers, as I wish them to take a firm, dignified course,
free from bravado and boasting. The times are indeed calamitous. The
brightness of God's countenance seems turned from us. It may not always
be so dark and He may in time pardon our sins and take us under his

Up to this time his son Custis, who had graduated first in his class
at West Point, was still in the service of the United States as a
lieutenant in the Engineers and of him Lee wrote to his wife in the same
comradely spirit that he had always shown toward his boys. "Tell Custis
he must consult his own judgment, reason and conscience, as to the
course he may take. The present is a momentous question which every man
must settle for himself, and upon principle. I do not wish him to be
guided by my wishes or example. If I have done wrong let him do better."

Virginia was not slow in recognizing that she had within her borders the
soldiers whom the chief general of the United States described as
the greatest military genius in America, and within three days of his
resignation from the old army, Lee was tendered the command of all the
Virginia troops. Convinced that the brunt of the heavy fighting would
fall on his native state, to whose defense he had dedicated his sword,
he accepted the offer and thus there came to the aid of the Confederacy
one of the few really great commanders that the world has ever seen.

Chapter XII. -- Opening Moves

It was to no very agreeable task that Lee was assigned at the outset of
his command. The forces of the Confederacy were even less prepared to
take the field than those of the United States, and for three months
Lee was hard at work organizing and equipping the army for effective
service. This important but dull duty prevented him from taking any
active part in the first great battle of the War at Bull Run (July 21,
1861), but it was his rare judgment in massing the troops where
they could readily reënforce each other that enabled the Confederate
commanders on that occasion to form the junction which resulted in the
overwhelming defeat of the Union army. This fact was well recognized by
the authorities and, when the situation in western Virginia assumed a
threatening aspect, he was ordered there with the highest hopes that he
would repeat the success of Bull Run and speedily expel the Union forces
from that part of the state.

A more unpromising field of operation than western Virginia could
scarcely have been selected for the new commander. The people of that
region generally favored the Union, and the Federal troops had already
obtained possession of the strongest positions, while some of the
Confederate commanders were quarreling with each other and otherwise
working at cross purposes. For a time, therefore, Lee had to devote
himself to smoothing over the differences which had arisen among his
jealous subordinates, but when he at last began an aggressive movement,
bad weather and a lack of coöperation between the various parts of his
small army defeated his designs, and in October, 1861, the three-months'
campaign came to an inglorious close.

This complete failure was a bitter disappointment to the Confederate
hopes and Lee was severely blamed for the result. Indeed, for the
time being he was regarded as an overrated individual who had had his
opportunity and had proved unequal to the task of conducting military
operations on a large scale. It was not easy to suffer this unjust
criticism to pass unnoticed, but the discipline of the army life had
taught Lee to control his tongue, and he made no protest even when he
found himself removed from the front to superintend the fortifying
of the coast. A small-minded man would probably have retired in sulky
silence under such circumstances, but Lee entered upon his new duties
with cheerful energy, and in four months he devised such skillful
defenses for Charleston, Savannah and other points on the Confederate
coast line, that they were enabled to defy all assaults of the Union
army and navy until almost the close of the war. This invaluable service
attracted no public attention, but it was fully appreciated by the
Confederate authorities, who in no wise shared the popular opinion
concerning Lee's talents. On the contrary, President Jefferson Davis,
himself a graduate of West Point, continued to have the highest regard
for his ability, and in March, 1862, he reappointed him as his chief
military adviser at Richmond.

It was about this time that the roar of cannon in the West attracted the
attention of the country, making it realize for the first time how far
flung was the battle line of the contending armies; and on hard-fought
fields, hundreds and hundreds of miles away from Washington and
Richmond, the mud-splashed figure of Grant began to loom through heavy
clouds of smoke.

It was by no brilliant achievement that Grant regained his standing in
the army. The unruly 21st Illinois had been sufficiently disciplined
within a fortnight after he assumed command to take some pride in
itself as an organization and when its short term of service expired,
it responded to the eloquence of McClernand and Logan, two visiting
orators, by reënlisting almost to a man. Then the Colonel set to work in
earnest to make his regiment ready for the field, drilling and hardening
the men for their duties and waiting for an opportunity to show that
this was a fighting force with no nonsense about it. The opportunity
came sooner than he expected, for about two weeks after he had assumed
command, his regiment was ordered to northern Missouri, and a railroad
official called at his camp to inquire how many cars he would need
for the transportation of his men. "I don't want any," was the bluff
response; and, to the astonishment of the local authorities who, at
that period of the war, never dreamed of moving troops except by rail
or river, the energetic Colonel assembled his regiment in marching order
and started it at a brisk pace straight across country.

But, though he had moved with such commendable promptness, Grant was not
nearly so confident as his actions seemed to imply. In fact, before he
reached his destination, he heartily wished himself back again, and by
the time he arrived at the point where the enemy was expected his
nerves were completely unstrung. It was not the fright of cowardice that
unmanned him, but rather the terror of responsibility. Again and again
he had braved death in battle but now, for the first time, the safety of
an entire regiment depended solely upon him as he approached the summit
of the hill from which he expected to catch sight of his opponents he
dreaded to fight them, lest he prove unequal to the emergency. But,
while he was tormenting himself with this over-anxiety, he suddenly
remembered that his opponent was just as new at his duties as he was and
probably quite as nervous, and from that moment his confidence gradually
returned. As a matter of fact, Colonel Harris, who commanded the
Confederate force, displayed far more prudence than valor, for, on
hearing of the advance of the Union troops, he speedily retreated and
the 21st Illinois encountered no opposition whatever. But the march
taught Grant a lesson he never forgot and, thereafter, in the hour of
peril, he invariably consoled himself by remembering that his opponents
were not free from danger and the more he made them look to their own
safety the less time they would have for worrying him.

It was in July, 1861, when Grant entered Missouri, and about a month
later the astonishing news reached his headquarters that President
Lincoln had appointed him a Brigadier General of Volunteers. The
explanation of this unexpected honor was that the Illinois Congressmen
had included his name with seven others on a list of possible
brigadiers, and the President had appointed four of them without
further evidence of their qualifications. Under such circumstances, the
promotion was not much of an honor, but it placed Grant in immediate
command of an important district involving the control of an army of
quite respectable size.

For a time the new General was exclusively occupied with perfecting the
organization of his increased command, but to this hard, dull work he
devoted himself in a manner that astonished some of the other brigadiers
whose ideas of the position involved a showy staff of officers and a
deal of picturesque posing in resplendent uniforms. But Grant had no
patience with such foolery. He had work to do and when his headquarters
were established at Cairo, Illinois, he took charge of them himself,
keeping his eyes on all the details like any careful business man. In
fact he was, as far as appearances were concerned, a man of business,
for he seldom wore a uniform and worked at his desk all day in his shirt
sleeves, behind ramparts of maps and papers, with no regard whatever for
military ceremony or display.

A month of this arduous preparation found his force ready for active
duty and about this time he became convinced that the Confederates
intended to seize Paducah, an important position in Kentucky at the
mouth of the Tennessee River, just beyond the limits of his command.
He, accordingly, telegraphed his superiors for permission to occupy the
place. No reply came to this request and a more timid man would have
hesitated to move without orders. But Grant saw the danger and, assuming
the responsibility, landed his troops in the town just in time to
prevent its capture by the Confederates. Paducah was in sympathy with
the South, and on entering it the Union commander issued an address to
the inhabitants which attracted far more attention than the occupation
of the town, for it contained nothing of the silly brag and bluster so
common then in military proclamations on both sides. On the contrary,
it was so modest and sensible, and yet so firm, that Lincoln, on reading
it, is said to have remarked: "The man who can write like that is fitted
to command."

Paducah was destined to be the last of Grant's bloodless victories,
for in November, 1861, he was ordered to threaten the Confederates near
Belmont, Missouri, as a feint to keep them from reënforcing another
point where a real assault was planned. The maneuver was conducted with
great energy and promised to be completely successful, but after Grant's
raw troops had made their first onslaught and had driven their opponents
from the field, they became disorderly and before he could control them
the enemy reappeared in overwhelming numbers and compelled them to fight
their way back to the river steamers which had carried them to the scene
of action. This they succeeded in doing, but such was their haste to
escape capture that they actually tumbled on board the boats and pushed
off from the shore without waiting for their commander. By this time the
Confederates were rapidly approaching with the intention of sweeping the
decks of the crowded steamboats before they could get out of range,
and Grant was apparently cut off from all chance of escape. Directly
in front of him lay the precipitous river bank, while below only
one transport was within hail and that had already started from its
moorings. Its captain, however, caught sight of him as he came galloping
through a corn field and instantly pushed his vessel as close to the
shore as he dared, at the same time throwing out a single plank about
fifteen feet in length to serve as an emergency gangway. To force a
horse down the cliff-like bank of the river and up the narrow plank to
the steamer's deck, was a daring feat, but the officer who was riding
for his life had not forgotten the skill which had marked him at West
Point and, compelling his mount to slide on its haunches down the
slippery mud precipice, he trotted coolly up the dangerous incline to

The battle of Belmont (November 7, 1861), as this baptism of fire was
called, is said to have caused more mourning than almost any other
engagement of the war, for up to that time there had been but little
loss of life and its list of killed and wounded, mounting into the
hundreds, made a painfully deep impression. In this respect, it was
decidedly ominous of Grant's future record, but it accomplished his
purpose in detaining the Confederates and he was soon to prove his
willingness to accept defeats as necessary incidents to any successful
campaign and to fight on undismayed.

Chapter XIII. -- Grant's First Success

Up to this time the war in the West had been largely an affair of
skirmishes. A body of Union troops would find itself confronting a
Confederate force, one of the two commanders would attack and a fight
would follow; or the Confederates would march into a town and their
opponents would attempt to drive them out of it, not because it was
of any particular value, but because the other side held it.
"See-a-head-and-hit-it" strategy governed the day and no plan worthy
of the name had been adopted for conducting the war on scientific

But Grant had studied the maps to some purpose in his office at Cairo
and he realized that the possession of the Mississippi River was the
key to the situation in the West. As long as the Confederates controlled
that great waterway which afforded them free access to the ocean
and fairly divided the Eastern from the Western States, they might
reasonably hope to defy their opponents to the end of time. But, if they
lost it, one part of the Confederacy would be almost completely cut off
from the rest. Doubtless, other men saw this just as clearly and quite
as soon as Grant did; but having once grasped an idea he never lost
sight of it, and while others were diverted by minor matters, he
concentrated his whole attention on what he believed to be the vital
object of all campaigning in the West.

The Tennessee River and the Cumberland River both flow into the Ohio,
not far from where that river empties into the Mississippi. They,
therefore, formed the principal means of water communication with the
Mississippi for the State of Tennessee, and the Confederates had created
forts to protect them at points well within supporting distance of each
other. Fort Henry, guarding the Tennessee River, and Fort Donelson,
commanding the Cumberland River, were both in Grant's district, and in
January, 1862, he wrote to General Halleck, his superior officer in St.
Louis, calling attention to the importance of these posts and offering
suggestions for their capture. But Halleck did not take any notice of
this communication and Grant thereupon resolved to go to St. Louis and
present his plans in person. This was the first time he had been in the
city since the great change in his circumstances and those who had known
him only a few years before as a poverty-stricken farmer and wagoner
could scarcely believe that he was the same man. He had, as yet, done
nothing very remarkable, but he held an important command, his name was
well and favorably known and he had already begun to pay off his old
debts. All this enabled his father and mother to regain something of the
pride they had once felt for their eldest son, and his former friends
were glad to welcome him and claim his acquaintance.

Pleasant as this was, the trip to St. Louis was a bitter disappointment
in other respects, for Halleck not only rejected his subordinate's
proposition for the capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, but
dismissed him without even listening to the details of his plan. Most
officers would have been completely discouraged by such treatment, but
Grant had been accustomed to disappointments for many years and did not
readily despair. Meeting Flag-Officer Foote who had charge of a fleet
of gun boats near Cairo, he explained his idea and finding him not only
sympathetic, but enthusiastic, he and Foote each sent a telegram to
Halleck assuring him that Fort Henry could be taken if he would only
give his consent. These messages brought no immediate response, but
Grant continued to request permission to advance until, on the 1st of
February, 1862, the necessary order was obtained and within twenty-four
hours the persistent officer had his expedition well upon its way.

His force consisted of some 15,000 men and seven gun boats, and Halleck
promised him reënforcements, sending a capable officer to see that they
were promptly forwarded. This officer was Brigadier General Sherman who
thus, for the first time, came in touch with the man with whom he was
destined to bring the war to a close. Four days after the troops started
they were ready to attack and the gun-boats at once proceeded to
shell the fort, with the result that its garrison almost immediately
surrendered (February 6, 1862), practically all of its defenders having
retreated to Fort Donelson as soon as they saw that their position was
seriously threatened.

Grant promptly notified his Chief of this easy conquest, at the same
time adding that he would take Fort Donelson within forty-eight hours,
but he soon had reason to regret this boast--one of the few of which
he was ever guilty. Indeed, his troops had scarcely started on their
journey when rapid progress became impossible, for the rain descended
in torrents, rendering the roads impassable for wagons and cannon, and
almost impracticable for infantry or cavalry. Moreover, many of the men
had foolishly thrown away their blankets and overcoats during the march
from Fort Henry and their suffering under the freezing winter blasts was
exceedingly severe, especially as camp fires were not permitted for
fear that their smoke would attract the gunners in the fort. Under these
circumstances the advance was seriously delayed, and it was February
14, 1862--six days after he had prophesied that he would take the
place--before Grant had his army in position. By this time, however,
the gun-boats had arrived and he determined to attack at once, although
Halleck had advised him to wait for reënforcements to occupy Fort Henry,
lest the Confederates should recapture it while his back was turned.
There was, of course, a chance of this, but Grant felt sure that if he
delayed the Confederates would seize the opportunity to strengthen
Fort Donelson, and then 50,000 men would not be able to accomplish what
15,000 might immediately effect. He, accordingly, directed Foote
to bombard the fort at once from the river front and try to run its
batteries. Desperate as this attempt appeared his orders were instantly
obeyed, the fearless naval officer forcing his little vessels into the
very jaws of death under a terrific fire, to which he responded with a
hail of shot and shell.

Grant watched this spectacular combat with intense interest, waiting for
a favorable moment to order an advance of his troops, but to his bitter
disappointment one after another of Foote's vessels succumbed to the
deadly fire of the water batteries and drifted helplessly back with the
current. Indeed, the flagship was struck more than sixty times and Foote
himself was so severely wounded that he could not report in person,
but requested that the General come on board his ship for a conference,
which disclosed the fact that the fleet was in no condition to continue
the combat and must retire for repairs.

There was nothing for Grant to do, therefore, but prepare for a siege,
and with a heavy heart he returned from the battered gun-boat to give
the necessary orders. He had scarcely set his foot on shore, however,
before a staff officer dashed up with the startling intelligence that
the Confederates had sallied forth and attacked a division of the army
commanded by General McClernand and that his troops were fleeing in a
panic which threatened to involve the entire army. Grant knew McClernand
well. He was one of the Congressmen who had made speeches to the 21st
Illinois and, realizing that the man was almost wholly ignorant of
military matters and utterly incapable of handling such a situation, he
leaped on his horse and, spurring his way across the frozen ground to
the sound of the firing, confronted the huddled and beaten division just
in the nick of time. Meanwhile, General Lew Wallace--afterwards famous
as the author "Ben Hur"--had arrived and thrown forward a brigade to
cover the confused retreat, so that for the moment the Confederate
advance was held in check. But despite this, McClernand's men continued
to give way, muttering that their ammunition was exhausted. There were
tons of ammunition close at hand, as the officers ought to have known
had they understood their duties, but even when assured of this the
panic-stricken soldiers refused to return to the field. They were in no
condition to resist attack, they declared, and the enemy was evidently
intending to make a long fight of it, as the haversacks of those who had
fallen contained at least three days' rations. This excuse was overheard
by Grant and instantly riveted his attention.

"Let me see some of those haversacks," he commanded sharply, and one
glance at their contents convinced him that the Confederates were not
attempting to crush his army, but were trying to break through his lines
and escape. If they intended to stay and defend the fortress, they would
not carry haversacks at all; but if they contemplated a retreat, they
would not only take them, but fill them with enough provisions to last
for several days. In reaching this conclusion Grant was greatly aided
by his knowledge of the men opposing him. He had served in Mexico with
General Pillow, the second in command at Fort Donelson, and, knowing him
to be a timid man, felt certain that nothing but desperation would ever
induce him to risk an attack. He also knew that Floyd, his immediate
superior, who had recently been the United States Secretary of War,
had excellent reasons for avoiding capture and, putting all these facts
together, he instantly rose to the occasion.

"Fill your cartridge boxes, quick, and get into line," was his order to
the men as he dashed down the wavering lines. "The enemy is trying to
escape and he must not be permitted to do so!"

The word flew through the disordered ranks, transforming them as it
passed, and at the same time orders were issued for the entire left
wing to advance and attack without a moment's delay. This unexpected
onslaught quickly threw the Confederates back into the fortress, but
before they again reached the shelter of its walls the Union forces had
carried all the outer defenses and had virtually locked the door behind
their retreating adversaries.

From that moment the capture of the imprisoned garrison was only
a question of time, and within twenty-four hours Grant received a
communication from the Confederate commander asking for a truce to
consider the terms of surrender. To his utter astonishment, however,
this suggestion did not come from either General Floyd or General
Pillow but from Simon Buckner, his old friend at West Point, who had so
generously aided him when he reached New York, penniless and disgraced
after his resignation from the army. This was an embarrassing situation,
indeed, but while he would have done anything he could for Buckner
personally, Grant realized that he must not allow gratitude or
friendship to interfere with his duty. He, therefore, promptly answered
the proposal for a truce in these words:

"No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be
accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works."

[NOTE from Brett: The full letter is also shown in Grant's handwriting
which leaves something to be desired. I will do my best to transcribe it

Hd Qrs. Army in the Field Camp Fort Donelson, Feb. 16th 1862

Cmdr. S. B. Buckner Confed. Army.


Yours of this inst. proposing armistice, and appointment of
Commissioners to settle terms of Capitulation is just received. No terms
except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.

I propose to move immediately upon your works.

I am Sir, very respectfully, your obt. svt. [obedient servant], U. S.
Grant Brig. Gen.]

But no more fighting was necessary, for Buckner yielded as gracefully as
he could, and on February 16, 1862, he and the entire garrison of
about 15,000 men became prisoners of war. Generals Pillow and Floyd, it
appeared, had fled with some 4,000 men the night before, leaving Buckner
in charge and as Grant's force had by that time been increased to 27,000
men, further resistance would have been useless.

The capture of these two forts gave the Union forces command of the
Tennessee and the Cumberland Rivers, and to that extent cleared the way
for the control of the Mississippi. It was the first real success which
had greeted the Union cause and it raised Grant to a Major-Generalship
of Volunteers, gave him a national reputation and supplied a better
interpretation of his initial than West Point had provided, for from the
date of his letter to Buckner he was known as "Unconditional Surrender"

Chapter XIV. -- The Battle of Shiloh

Grant did not waste any time in rejoicing over his success. The capture
of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson was an important achievement but it was
only one step toward the control of the Mississippi River, which was the
main object of the campaign. The next step in that direction was
toward Corinth a strategically important point in Mississippi, and he
immediately concentrated his attention upon getting the army in position
to attack that stronghold. Some of his fellow commanders, however, were
extremely cautious and he had to labor for days before he could persuade
General Buell, who was stationed at Nashville, Tennessee, with a large
army, to advance his troops to a point where they could be of service.
But in the midst of this work he was suddenly interrupted by an order
which removed him from his command and virtually placed him under arrest
on charges of disregarding instructions and of being absent from his
department without permission.

These astonishing accusations were caused by his failure to answer
dispatches from Headquarters which had never reached him, and by his
visit to General Buell which had obliged him to travel beyond the
strict limits of his command. The whole matter was soon explained by the
discovery that a Confederate had been tampering with the dispatches in
the telegraph office, but it was exceedingly annoying to Grant to find
himself publicly condemned without a hearing. Nevertheless, it supplied
a very fair test of his character, for he neither lost his temper
nor displayed any excitement whatsoever. On the contrary, he remained
perfectly calm in the face of grave provocation, replying firmly but
respectfully to the harsh criticisms of his superiors, and behaving
generally with a dignity and composure that won the silent approval of
all observers.

Of course, as soon as the facts were known he was restored to his
command with an ample apology, but his preparations for the advance
against Corinth had been seriously interrupted and it was some time
before he again had the work in hand. Nevertheless, within five weeks
of the surrender of Fort Donelson, he was headed toward Mississippi
with over 30,000 men, having arranged with General Buell to follow and
support him with his army of 40,000, the combined forces being amply
sufficient to overpower the Confederates who were guarding Corinth. This
vast superiority, however, probably served to put Grant off his guard,
for on March 16, 1862, his advance under General Sherman reached
Pittsburg Landing, not far from Corinth, and encamped there without
taking the precaution to intrench. Sherman reported on April 5th that
he had no fear of being attacked and Grant, who had been injured the day
before by the fall of his horse and was still on crutches, remained some
distance in the rear, feeling confident that there would be no serious
fighting for several days.

But the Union commander, who had studied his opponents with such good
results at Fort Donelson, made a terrible mistake in failing to do so on
this occasion, for he knew, or ought to have known, that General Albert
Sidney Johnston and General Beauregard, the Confederate commanders
were bold and energetic officers who were well advised of the military
situation and ready to take advantage of every opportunity. Indeed,
their sharp eyes had already noted the gap between Grant's and Buell's
armies and at the moment Sherman was penning his dispatch to his
superior, informing him that all was well, a force of 40,000 men was
preparing to crush his unprotected advance guard before Buell could
reach the field.

It was Sunday morning, April 6, 1862, when the ominous sound of firing
in the direction of Shiloh Church smote Grant's ears. For a few moments
he could not believe that it indicated a serious attack, but the roar
of heavy guns soon convinced him that a desperate battle had begun and,
directing his orderlies to lift him into the saddle, he dashed to the
nearest boat landing and proceeded to the front with all possible speed.
Before he reached the ground, however, the Confederates had driven the
Union outposts from the field in frightful disorder and were hurling
themselves with ferocious energy upon those who still held fast. The
surprise had been well-nigh complete and the first rush of the gray
infantry carried everything before it, leaving the foremost Union camp
in their hands. Indeed, for a time the Federal army was not much more
than a disorganized mob, completely bewildered by the shock of battle,
and thousands of men blindly sought refuge in the rear, heedless of
their officers who, with a few exceptions, strove valiantly to organize
an effective defense.

The tumult and confusion were at their worst when Grant reached the
field and it seemed almost hopeless to check the panic and prevent
the destruction of his entire army. But in the midst of the maddening
turmoil and wild scenes of disaster he kept his head and, dashing from
one end of the line to the other, ordered regiments into position with
a force and energy that compelled obedience. There was no time to
formulate any plan of battle. Each officer had to do whatever he thought
best to hold back the Confederates in his immediate front, and for hours
the fight was conducted practically without orders. But Grant supplied
his gallant subordinates with something far more important than orders
at that crisis. Undismayed by the chaos about him he remained cool and
inspired them with confidence. Not for one instant would he admit the
possibility of defeat, and under his strong hand the huddled lines were
quickly reformed, the onrush of the Confederates was gradually checked
and a desperate conflict begun for every inch of ground.

For a time the victorious gray-coats continued to push their opponents
back and another line of tents fell into their hands. But their advance
was stubbornly contested and knowing that Buell was at hand, Grant
fought hard for delay, using every effort to encourage his men to stand
fast and present the boldest possible front to the foe. Meanwhile,
however, Sherman was wounded, and when darkness put an end to the
furious combat the shattered Union army was on the verge of collapse. So
perilous, indeed, was the situation that when Buell arrived on the field
his first inquiry was as to what preparations Grant had made to effect
a retreat. But the silent commander instantly shook his head and
announced, to the intense astonishment of his questioner, that he did
not intend to retreat but to attack at daylight the next morning with
every man at his disposal, leaving no reserves.

Such was Grant at one of the darkest moments of his career. Behind him
lay the battered remnants of regiments, screening a welter of confusion
and fear; before him stretched the blood-soaked field of Shiloh held
by the confident Confederate host; while at his elbow stood anxious
officers, well satisfied to have saved the army from destruction and
ready to point out a convenient line of retreat. All his surroundings,
in fact, were calculated to discourage him and the intense pain of his
injured leg, which allowed him neither rest nor sleep, was a severe
strain upon his nerves. Yet he would not yield to weakness of any kind.
He was responsible for the position in which the Union army found itself
and he determined to retrieve its fortunes. Therefore, all night long
while reënforcements were steadily arriving, he developed his plans for
assuming the offensive, and at break of day his troops hurled themselves
against the opposing lines with dauntless energy.

Meanwhile the Confederates had sustained an irreparable loss, for Albert
Sidney Johnston, their brilliant leader, had fallen. Moreover, they
had no reserves to meet the Union reënforcements. Nevertheless, they
received the vigorous onslaught with splendid courage and another
terrible day of carnage followed. Again and again Grant exposed himself
with reckless daring, narrowly escaping death from a bullet which
carried away the scabbard of his sword as he reconnoitered in advance
of his men, but despite his utmost efforts the gray lines held fast, and
for hours no apparent advantage was gained. Then, little by little, the
heavy Union battalions began to push them back until all the lost ground
was recovered, but the Confederates conducted their retreat in good
order and finally reached a point of safety, leaving very few prisoners
in their pursuers' hands.

Grant had saved his army from destruction and had even driven his
adversary from the field, but at a fearful cost, for no less than
10,000 Union soldiers were killed or wounded in the two days' desperate
fighting at Shiloh and almost 3,000 had been captured. The Confederates,
it is true, had lost nearly 10,000 men, but their army, which should
have been crushed by the combined efforts of Grant and Buell, was still
in possession of Corinth and had come dangerously near to annihilating
half of the Union forces.

The results of the battle were, therefore, received at Washington
with surprise and indignation; the country at large, horrified at the
frightful slaughter, denounced it as a useless butchery; Halleck hastily
assumed charge of all the forces in the field and from that time forward
Grant, though nominally the second in command, was deprived of all power
and virtually reduced to the rôle of a mere spectator. Indeed, serious
efforts were made to have him dismissed from the service, but Lincoln
after carefully considering the charges, refused to act. "I can't spare
this man," was his comment. "He FIGHTS."

Lincoln intended to imply by that remark that there were generals in the
army who did not fight, and Halleck was certainly one of them, for he
took thirty-one days to march the distance that the Confederates had
covered in three. Indeed, he displayed such extraordinary caution that
with an army of 100,000 at his back he inched his way toward Corinth,
erecting intrenchments at every halt, only to find, after a month, that
he had been frightened by shadows and dummy guns and that the city had
been abandoned by the Confederates. No commander responsible for such
a ridiculous performance could retain the confidence of an army in the
field, and Sherman assured Grant that Halleck would not long survive
the fiasco. This advice was sorely needed, for Grant had grown tired of
being constantly humiliated and had already requested Halleck to
relieve him from duty when Sherman persuaded him to remain and wait for
something to happen.

Something happened sooner then either man expected, for Halleck was
suddenly "kicked up stairs" by his appointment to the chief command with
headquarters in Washington, and on July 11, 1862, about three months
after the battle of Shiloh, Grant found himself again at the head of a
powerful army.

Chapter XV. -- Lee in the Saddle

While Grant was earning a reputation as a fighting general in the West,
Lee had been at a desk in Richmond attending to his duties as chief
military adviser to the Confederate President, which prevented him from
taking active part in any operations in the field. As a matter of fact,
however, there had been no important engagements in the East, for "On to
Richmond!" had become the war cry of the North, and all the energies of
the Federal government had been centered on preparations for the capture
of the Southern capital. Indeed, if Richmond had been the treasure house
and last refuge of the Confederacy, no greater efforts could have been
made to secure it, although it was by no means essential to either the
North or the South and the war would have continued no matter which flag
floated above its roofs. Nevertheless, the idea of marching into the
enemy's capital appealed to the popular imagination and this undoubtedly
dictated much of the early strategy of the war.

At all events, while the opening moves in the campaign for the
possession of the Mississippi were being made, a vast army was being
equipped near Washington for the express purpose of capturing Richmond.
The preparation of this force had been entrusted to General George B.
McClellan whose ability in organizing, drilling and disciplining the
troops had made him a popular hero and given him such a reputation as a
military genius that he was universally hailed as "the young Napoleon."
He had, indeed, created the most thoroughly equipped army ever seen in
America, and when he advanced toward Virginia in April, 1862, at the
head of over 100,000 men the supporters of the Union believed that the
doom of the Confederacy was already sealed.

From this office in Richmond Lee watched these formidable preparations
for invading the South with no little apprehension. He knew that the
Confederates had only about 50,000 available troops with which to oppose
McClellan's great army and had the Union commander been aware of this he
might have moved straight against the city and swept its defenders from
his path. But McClellan always believed that he was outnumbered and on
this occasion he wildly exaggerated his opponents' strength. In fact,
he crept forward so cautiously that the Confederates, who had
almost resigned themselves to losing the city, hastened to bring
up reënforcements and erect defensive works of a really formidable
character. The best that was hoped for, however, was to delay the Union
army. To defeat it, or even to check its advance, seemed impossible,
and doubtless it would have proved so had it not been for the brilliant
exploits of the man who was destined to become Lee's "right hand."

This man was General Thomas Jonathan Jackson, who had earned the
nickname of "Stonewall" at Bull Run and was at that time in command of
about 15,000 men guarding the fertile Shenandoah Valley, the "granary
of Virginia." Opposing this comparatively small army were several
strong Union forces which were considered amply sufficient to capture
or destroy it, and McClellan proceeded southward, with no misgivings
concerning Jackson. But the wily Confederate had no intention of
remaining idle and McClellan's back was scarcely turned before he
attacked and utterly routed his nearest opponents. A second, third and
even a fourth army was launched against him, but he twisted, turned and
doubled on his tracks with bewildering rapidity, cleverly luring his
opponents apart; and then, falling on each in turn with overwhelming
numbers, hurled them from his path with astonishing ease and suddenly
appeared before Washington threatening its capture.

Astounded and alarmed at this unexpected peril, the Federal authorities
instantly ordered McDowell's corps of 40,000 men, which was on the
point of joining McClellan, to remain and defend the capital. This was
a serious blow to McClellan who had counted upon using these troops,
though even without them he greatly outnumbered the Confederates. But
the idea that he was opposed by an overwhelming force had taken such a
firm hold on his mind that he was almost afraid to move, and while he
was timidly feeling his way General Joseph Johnston, commanding the
defenses at Richmond, attacked his advance corps at Seven Pines, May
31, 1862. A fierce contest followed, during which Johnston was severely
wounded, and Jefferson Davis, who was on the field, promptly summoned
General Lee to the command.

It was a serious situation which confronted Lee when he was thus
suddenly recalled to active duty, for McClellan's army outnumbered his
by at least 40,000 men and it was within six miles of Richmond, from
the roofs of whose houses the glow of the Union campfires was plainly
visible. Nevertheless, he determined to put on a bold front and attack
his opponent at his weakest point. But how to discover this was a
difficult problem and the situation did not admit of a moment's delay.
Under ordinary circumstances the information might have been secured
through spies, but there was no time for this and confronted by the
necessity for immediate action, Lee thought of "Jeb" Stuart, his son's
classmate at West Point, who had acted as aide in the capture of John

Stuart was only twenty-nine years old but he had already made a name for
himself as a general of cavalry, and Lee knew him well enough to feel
confident that, if there was any one in the army who could procure the
needed information, he was the man. He, accordingly, ordered him to take
1,200 troopers and a few field guns and ride straight at the right flank
of the Union army until he got near enough to learn how McClellan's
forces were posted at that point.

This perilous errand was just the opportunity for which Stuart had been
waiting, and without the loss of a moment he set his horsemen in motion.
Directly in his path lay the Federal cavalry but within twenty-four
hours he had forced his way through them and carefully noted the exact
position of the Union troops. His mission was then accomplished, but by
this time the Federal camp was thoroughly aroused and, knowing that if
he attempted to retrace his steps his capture was almost certain, he
pushed rapidly forward and, passing around the right wing, proceeded to
circle the rear of McClellan's entire army. So speedily did he move that
the alarm of his approach was no sooner given in one quarter than he
appeared in another and thus, like a boy disturbing a row of hornets'
nests with a long stick, he flashed by the whole line, reached the Union
left, swung around it and reported to Lee with his command practically

That a few squadrons of cavalry should have been able to ride around
his army of 100,000 men and escape unscathed astonished and annoyed
McClellan but he utterly failed to grasp the true purpose of this
brilliant exploit, and Lee took the utmost care to see that his
suspicions were not aroused. Stuart's information had convinced him that
the right wing of the Union army was badly exposed and might be attacked
with every prospect of success, but to insure this it was necessary
that McClellan's attention should be distracted from the real point of
danger. The Confederate commander thoroughly understood his opponent's
character and failings, for he had taken his measure during the Mexican
War and knowing his cautious nature, he spread the news that heavy
reënforcements had been forwarded to Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley.
This he felt sure would confirm McClellan's belief that he had such
overwhelming numbers that he could afford to withdraw troops from
Richmond, and the ruse was entirely successful, for the Union commander
hesitated to advance, and the Federal authorities, hearing of Jackson's
supposed reënforcement, became increasingly alarmed for the safety of

Meanwhile, a courier had been secretly hurried to Jackson, ordering him
to rush his troops from the Shenandoah Valley and attack McClellan's
right wing from the rear while Lee assaulted it from the front. But the
Union right wing numbered fully 25,000 men and Jackson had only 15,000.
So to make the attack overwhelming it was necessary for Lee to withdraw
40,000 men from the defenses of Richmond, leaving the city practically
unprotected. Unquestionably, this was a most dangerous move, for had
McClellan suspected the truth he might have forced his way into the
capital without much difficulty. But here again Lee counted upon his
adversary's character, for he directed the troops that remained in the
trenches to keep up a continuous feint of attacking the Union left wing,
in the hope that this show of force would cause McClellan to look to his
safety in that quarter, which is precisely what he did. Indeed, he was
still busy reporting the threatening movements against his left, when
Lee and Jackson's combined force of 55,000 men fell upon his right with
fearful effect at Gaines' Mill (June 27, 1862). From that moment his
campaign for the capture of Richmond became a struggle to save his own
army from capture or destruction.

The only safety lay in flight but at the moment of defeat and impending
disaster it was not easy to extricate the troops from their dangerous
position, and McClellan showed high skill in masking his line of
retreat. Lee did not, therefore, immediately discover the direction
in which he was moving and this delay probably prevented him from
annihilating the remnants of the Union army. Once on the trail, however,
he lost no time and, loosing "his dogs of war," they fell upon the
retreating columns again and again in the series of terrible conflicts
known as the "Seven Days' Battles." But the Union army was struggling
for its life and, like a stag at bay, it fought off its pursuers with
desperate courage, until finally at Malvern Hill (July 1, 1862), it
rolled them back with such slaughter that a bolder leader might have
been encouraged to advance again toward Richmond. As it was, however,
McClellan was well content to remove his shattered legions to a point of
safety at Harrison's Landing, leaving Lee in undisturbed possession of
the field dyed with the blood of well-nigh 30,000 men.

Chapter XVI. -- A Game of Strategy

While the remnants of McClellan's fine army were recuperating from the
rough handling they had received, Lee was developing a plan to remove
them still further from the vicinity of Richmond. Harrison's Landing
was too close to the Confederate capital for comfort and the breastworks
which the Union commander erected there were too formidable to be
attacked. But, though he could not hope to drive his adversary away
by force, Lee believed that he could lure him from his stronghold by
carrying the war into another part of Virginia. The opportunity to
do this was particularly favorable, for the Union forces in front of
Washington, consisting of about 45,000 men, had been placed under
the command of General John Pope. Pope had served with Grant in the
Mississippi campaign and had begun his career in the East by boasting of
the great things he was about to accomplish, referring contemptuously
to his opponents and otherwise advertising himself as a braggart and a
babbler. He had come, so he told his soldiers in a flamboyant address,
from an army which had seen only the backs of its enemies. He had
come to lead them to victories. He wanted to hear no more of "lines of
retreat" or backward movements of any kind. His headquarters were "in
the saddle" and his mission was to terrorize the foe.

These absurd proclamations pretty thoroughly exposed Pope's character,
but he had been at West Point with General Longstreet, one of Lee's
ablest advisers, and that officer speedily acquainted his chief with the
full measure of his opponent's weaknesses. This was exceedingly useful
to Lee and when he discovered that McClellan and Pope were pulling at
different directions like balky circus horses, while Halleck with one
foot on each was in imminent peril of a fall, he determined to take
advantage of the situation and hasten the disaster.

McClellan, having 90,000 men, wanted Pope to reënforce him with his
45,000, and thus insure a renewal of his campaign against Richmond.
But this, of course, did not suit Pope who wished McClellan's army to
reënforce him and march to victory under his banner. But while each of
the rivals was insisting that his plan should be adopted and Halleck,
who held the chief of command, was wobbling between them, trying to make
up his mind to favor one or the other, Lee took the whole matter out
of his hands and decided it for him. He did not want McClellan to be
reënforced; first, because he was the abler officer and, second, because
he had or soon would have more than sufficient men to capture Richmond
and might wake to a realization of this fact at any moment. From the
Confederate standpoint it was much safer to have Pope reënforced, for he
did not have the experience necessary to handle a large army. Therefore,
the more troops he had to mismanage the better. Moreover, Lee knew that
McClellan would cease to be dangerous as soon as he was obliged to
send any part of his forces away, for, as usual, he imagined that his
opponents already outnumbered him and that the withdrawal of even a
single regiment would place him practically at their mercy.

Carefully bearing all these facts in mind and thinking that it was about
time to force Halleck to transfer some of McClellan's troops to Pope,
Lee ordered Jackson to attack the man who thus far had seen "only the
backs of his foes." But at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, which followed
(August 9, 1862), his enemies would not turn their backs and the fact
evidently alarmed him, for he immediately began shouting lustily for
help. Perhaps he called a little louder than was necessary in order to
get as many of his rival's men as possible under his own command, but
the result was that McClellan's army began rapidly melting away under
orders to hurry to the rescue.

Lee's first object was, therefore, accomplished at one stroke and,
as fast as McClellan's troops moved northward, he withdrew the forces
guarding Richmond and rushed them by shorter routes to confront Pope,
whom he had determined to destroy before his reënforcements reached
the field. Indeed, a very neat trap had already been prepared for that
gentleman who was on the point of stepping into it when he intercepted
one of his adversary's letters which gave him sufficient warning to
escape by beating a hasty retreat across the Rappahannock River. This
was a perfectly proper movement under the circumstances, but in view of
his absurd ideas concerning retreats it opened him up to public ridicule
which was almost more than a man of his character could endure. He
was soon busy, therefore, complaining, explaining, and protesting his
readiness to recross the river at a moment's notice.

But, while he was thus foolishly wearing out the telegraph lines between
his headquarters and Washington, Lee was putting into operation a plan
which would have been rash to the point of folly against a really able
soldier but which was perfectly justified against an incompetent. This
plan was to divide his army, which numbered less than 50,000 men, into
two parts, sending "Stonewall" Jackson with 25,000 to get behind the
Union forces, while he attracted their commander's attention at the
front. Of course, if Pope had discovered this audacious move, he could
easily have crushed the divided Confederate forces in turn before either
could have come to the other's rescue, for he had 70,000 at his command.
But the armies were not far from Manassas or Bull Run, where the first
important engagement of the war had been fought and Lee know every inch
of the ground. Moreover, he believed that all Pope's provisions and
supplies upon which he depended for feeding his army were behind him,
and that, if Jackson succeeded in seizing them and getting between the
Union army and Washington, Pope would lose his head and dash to the
rescue regardless of consequences.

Great, therefore, as the risk was he determined to take it, and Jackson
circled away with his 25,000 men, leaving Lee with the same number
confronting an army of 70,000 which might have swept the field. But its
commander never dreamed of the opportunity which lay before him and he
remained utterly unsuspicious until the night of August 26, 1862, when
his flow of telegrams was suddenly checked and he was informed that
there was something the matter with the wires connecting him to
Washington. There was, indeed, something the matter with them, for
Jackson's men had cut them down and were at that moment greedily
devouring Pope's provisions, helping themselves to new uniforms and
shoes and leaving facetious letters complaining of the quality of the

For a while, however, the Union general had no suspicion of what was
happening, for he interpreted the interference with the telegraph wires
as the work of cavalry riders whom a comparatively small force could
quickly disperse. But when the troops dispatched for this purpose came
hurrying back with the news that Jackson's whole army was behind them,
he acted precisely as Lee had expected, and completely forgetting to
close the doors behind him, dashed madly after "Stonewall," whom he
regarded as safe as a cat in a bag.

The door which he should have closed was Thoroughfare Gap, for that was
the only opening through which Lee could have led his men with any hope
of arriving in time to help his friends, and a few troops could have
blocked it with the utmost ease. But it was left unguarded and Pope had
scarcely turned his back to spring on Jackson before Lee slid through
the Gap and sprang on him.

The contest that followed, called the Second Battle of Bull Run or
Manassas (August 30, 1862), was almost a repetition of the first, except
that in the earlier battle the Union soldiers had a fair chance and on
this occasion they had none at all. Indeed, Lee and Jackson had Pope so
situated that, despite the bravery of his men, they battered and
pounded him until he staggered from the field in a state of hysterical
confusion, wildly telegraphing that the enemy was badly crippled and
that everything would be well, and following up this by asking if the
capital would be safe, if his army should be destroyed. It is indeed
possible that his army would have been reduced to a mere mob, had it not
been for the proximity of the fortifications of Washington, into which
his exhausted regiments were safely tumbled on the 2nd of September,

Thus, for the second time in two months, Lee calmly confronted the
wreck of an opposing host, which, at the outset, had outnumbered him and
confidently planned for his destruction.

Chapter XVII. -- Lee and the Invasion of Maryland

Lee's masterly defense of Richmond, and his complete triumph over
McClellan and Pope had, in three months, made him the idol of the
Confederacy. In all military matters his word was law, while the army
adored him and the people of the South as a whole regarded him with
a feeling akin to reverence. This was not entirely the result of his
achievements on the field. Jackson had displayed an equal genius for the
art of war and in the opinion of many experts he was entitled to more
credit than his chief. But Jackson was regarded with awe and curiosity
rather than affection. He was hailed as a great commander, while Lee was
recognized as a great man.

It was not by spectacular efforts or assertiveness of any kind that Lee
had gained this hold upon his countrymen. He avoided everything that
even tended toward self-display. His army reports were not only models
of modesty, but generous acknowledgements of all he owed to his officers
and men. He addressed none but respectful words to his superiors
and indulged in no criticisms or complaints. He accepted the entire
responsibility for whatever reverses occurred to the forces under his
command and never attempted to place the blame on the shoulders of any
other man. In a word, he was so absolutely free from personal ambition
that the political schemers unconsciously stood abashed in his presence,
and citizens and soldiers alike instinctively saluted the mere mention
of his name.

Never by any chance did he utter a word of abuse against the North.
Even when his beloved Arlington was seized, and the swords, pictures,
silverware and other precious mementos of Washington were carried off,
his protest was couched in quiet and dignified language, well calculated
to make those to whom it was addressed (and later every American) blush
with shame. Likewise in the heat of battle, when wild tongues were
loosed and each side accused the other of all that hate could suggest,
he never forgot that his opponents were Americans. "Drive those people
back," or "Don't let those people pass you," were the harshest words he
ever uttered of his foes.

To him war was not a mere license to destroy human life. It was
a terrible weapon to be used scientifically, not with the idea of
slaughtering as many of the enemy as possible, but to protect the
State for whose defense he had drawn his sword. This was distinctly his
attitude as he watched Pope's defeated columns reeling from the field.
Neither by word nor deed did he exult over the fallen foe or indulge in
self-glorification at his expense. His sole thought was to utilize the
victory that the war would be speedily brought to a successful close;
and, spreading out his maps in the quiet of his tent, he proceeded to
study them with this idea.

Almost directly in front of his victorious army stretched the
intrenchments of Washington but, although he knew something of the panic
into which that city had been thrown by the last battle, he had not
troops enough to risk assaulting fortifications to the defense of which
well-nigh every able-bodied man in the vicinity had been called. The
fall of Washington might perhaps have ended the war, but the loss of the
neighboring state of Maryland and an attack on some of the Pennsylvania
cities, such as Harrisburg and Philadelphia, promised to prove equally
effective. The chances of wresting Maryland from the Union seemed
particularly favorable, for it had come very close to casting its lot
with the Confederacy and thousands of its citizens were serving in
the Southern ranks. He, accordingly, made up his mind to march through
Maryland, arousing its people to the support of the Confederate cause,
and then carry the war into Pennsylvania where a decisive victory might
pave the way to an acknowledgment of the independence of the Southern
States and satisfactory terms of peace.

Thus, four days after Pope's defeat at Manassas saw Lee's tattered
battle flags slanted toward the North, and on September 6, 1862,
the vanguard under "Stonewall" Jackson passed through the streets of
Frederick City, singing "Maryland, My Maryland!" This was the moment
which Whittier immortalized in his verses recording the dramatic meeting
between "Stonewall" and Barbara Frietchie [Note from Brett: The poem
is entitled "Barbara Frietchie" and there is some question as to the
accuracy of the details of the poem. In general, however, Whittier
retold the story (poetically) that he claims he heard ("from respectable
and trustworthy sources") and Barbara Frietchie was strongly against the
Confederacy and was not a fictional character. It is believed that
Ms. Frietchie, who was 95 at the time, was sick in bed on the day the
soldiers marched through, but did wave her flag when the Union army
marched through two days later. A Ms. Quantrill and her daughters,
however, did wave the Union flag as the Confederate soldiers marched
through the town, so there is some thought that the two got combined.];
but, though no such event ever took place, the poet was correctly
informed as to the condition of Jackson's men, for they certainly were a
"famished rebel horde." Indeed, several thousand of them had to be left
behind because they could no longer march in their bare feet, and those
who had shoes were sorry-looking scarecrows whose one square meal had
been obtained at Pope's expense. For all practical purposes Maryland was
the enemy's country, but into this hostile region they advanced carrying
very little in the way of provisions except salt for the ears of corn
that they might pick up in the fields.

The authorities at Washington watched Lee's movement with mingled
feelings of anxiety and relief. They were relieved because he was
evidently not aiming at the national capital. They were alarmed because
the real point of attack was unknown. Sixty thousand men, flushed with
triumph and under seemingly invincible leadership were headed somewhere,
and as the rumor spread that that "somewhere" was Harrisburg or
Philadelphia, the North stood aghast with consternation.

Face to face with this desperate crisis, McClellan, who had been
practically removed from command, was restored to duty and given charge
of all the Union forces in the field. Had he been invested with supreme
authority, at least one grievous blunder might have been avoided, for as
he proceeded to the front, calling loudly as usual for reënforcements,
he advised the evacuation of Harper's Ferry, garrisoned by some 12,000
men who were exposed to capture by Lee's advance on Frederick City.
But Halleck rejected this advice and on September 15, 1862, "Stonewall"
Jackson, with about 20,000 men, swooped down upon the defenseless post
and gobbled up almost the entire garrison with all its guns and stores.
To accomplish this, however, he was forced to separate himself from
Lee, and while McClellan, with over 87,000 men, was protesting that
his opponent had 120,000 and that it was impossible to win against such
odds, Lee's strength had been reduced to about 35,000 and his safety
absolutely depended upon his adversary's fears. It was hardly to be
hoped, however, that McClellan's imagination would cause him to see
three men for every one opposed to him, but such was the fact, and even
when one of Lee's confidential orders fell into his hands, revealing
the fact that Jackson's whole force was absent, he still thought himself

The discovery of this order was a serious blow to Lee, for it not only
exposed his immediate weakness, but actually disclosed his entire plan.
How it was lost has never been explained, for its importance was so
fully realized that one of the officers who received a copy pinned it
in the inside pocket of his coat, another memorized his copy and then
chewed it up and others took similar precautions to protect its secret.

Some officer, however, must have been careless, for when the Union
troops halted at Frederick City, through which the Confederates had just
passed, a private in an Indiana regiment found it lying on the ground
wrapped around some cigars and, recognizing its value, carried it
straight to his superiors who promptly bore it to Headquarters.

Had Lee remained ignorant of this discovery it is possible that
McClellan might have effected the capture of his army. But a civilian,
favoring the South who happened to be present when the paper reached
Headquarters, slipped through the Union lines and put the Confederate
commander on his guard.

Lee had already noted that McClellan was moving toward him at unusual
speed for so cautious an officer and, this was readily explained by
the news that his plans were known and Jackson's absence discovered. He
accordingly posted his troops so that he could form a junction with
the rest of the army at the earliest possible moment and halted in the
vicinity of Sharpsburg near Antietam Creek.

Chapter XVIII. -- The Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg

Had McClellan not absurdly overestimated the number of troops opposed to
him when his army neared Sharpsburg on the 15th of September, 1862, he
might have defeated Lee and possibly destroyed or captured his entire
force. Never before had a Union commander had such an opportunity
to deliver a crushing blow. He had more than 80,000 men under his
control--fully twice as many as his adversary; he had the Confederate
plan of campaign in his hands and such fighting as had occurred with
the exception of that at Harper's Ferry had been decidedly in his favor.
Moreover, Lee had recently met with a serious accident, his horse having
knocked him down and trampled on him, breaking the bones of one hand,
and otherwise injuring him so severely that he had been obliged to
superintend most of the posting of his army from an ambulance. By a
curious coincidence, too, "Stonewall" Jackson had been hurt in a similar
manner a few days previously, so that if the battle had begun promptly,
it is highly probable that he, too, would have been physically
handicapped, and it is certain that his troops could not have reached
the field in time to be of any assistance.

To Lee's immense relief, however, McClellan made no serious attack
on either the 15th or 16th of September, but spent those two days
in putting his finishing touches on his preparations, and before he
completed them that Opportunity "which knocks but once at each man's
gate" had passed him by, never to return.

The battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg began at dawn of the 17th, but by
that time Jackson had arrived and both he and Lee had so far recovered
from their injuries that they were able to be in the saddle and
personally direct the movements of their men. The Confederate position
had been skillfully selected for defense on the hills back of Antietam
Creek and McClellan's plan was to break through his opponent's line,
gain his rear and cut him off from retreat. But Lee, who had closely
watched the elaborate massing of the Union forces for this attempt,
was fully prepared for it and the first assault against his line was
repulsed with fearful slaughter. No subtle strategy or brilliant tactics
of any kind marked McClellan's conduct of the battle. Time and again
he hurled his heavy battalions against his opponent's left, center and
right in a desperate effort to pierce the wall of gray, and once or
twice his heroic veterans almost succeeded in battering their way
through. But at every crisis Lee rose to the emergency and moved his
regiments as a skillful chess player manipulates his pieces on the
board, now massing his troops at the danger point and now diverting
his adversary's attack by a swift counter-stroke delivered by men
unacquainted with defeat. Both his hands were heavily swathed in
bandages and far too painful to admit of his even touching the bridle
rein, but he had had himself lifted into the saddle and for fully
fourteen hours he remained mounted on "Traveller," his famous war horse,
watching every movement with the inspiring calmness of a commander born
to rule the storm.

The situation was perilous and no one realized its dangers more keenly
than he, but not a trace of anxiety appeared upon his face. Only twice
was he betrayed into an expression of his feelings, once when he asked
General Hood where the splendid division was which he had commanded in
the morning and received the reply: "They are lying in the field where
you sent them," and again when he directed the Rockbridge battery to
go into action for a second time after three of its four guns had been
disabled. The captain of this battery had halted to make a report of
its condition and receive instructions, and Lee, gazing at the group of
begrimed and tattered privates behind the officer, ordered them to renew
their desperate work before he recognized that among them stood his
youngest son, Robert.

Very few men in the Confederate commander's position would have suffered
a son to serve in the ranks. A word from him would, of course, have
made the boy an officer. But that was not Lee's way. To advance an
inexperienced lad over the heads of older men was, to his mind, unjust
and he would not do it even for his own flesh and blood. Nor had his son
himself expected it, for he had eagerly accepted his father's permission
to enter the ranks and had cheerfully performed his full duty, never
presuming on his relationship to the Commander-in-Chief or asking favors
of any kind. All this was known to Lee but this unexpected meeting at
a moment when privates were being mowed down like grass was a terrible
shock and strain. Nevertheless, it was characteristic of the man that no
change was made in the orders of the Rockbridge battery, which continued
on its way to the post of danger and, with young Lee, gallantly
performed the work he had called on it to do.

By night the Confederates still held the field, but the struggle had
cost them nearly 11,000 men, reducing their force to less than 45,000,
while McClellan, despite even heavier losses, had more than 74,000 left.
Lee, accordingly, withdrew his army under cover of darkness to another
part of the field and again awaited attack. But McClellan neither
attacked nor attempted anything like a pursuit until his opponent
was safely out of reach, being well satisfied with having checked
the advance of his formidable foe and spoiled his plans. This he was
certainly entitled to claim, for Lee's campaign against Maryland and
Pennsylvania was effectually balked by his enforced retreat.

Indeed, it is quite possible that had McClellan been adventurous he
might have ended the war at Antietam, for the day after the battle he
outnumbered his opponents at least two to one and possessed enormous
advantage in the way of equipment and supplies. But the Union commander,
though he possessed a genius for army organization and knew the art of
inspiring confidence in his men, was no match for Lee in the field, and
he probably realized this. At all events, he displayed no anxiety to
renew hostilities and when urged, and at last positively ordered to
advance, he argued, protested, offered excuses for delay and in fact did
everything but obey.

Weeks thus slipped by and finally Lee himself became impatient to know
what his adversary was doing. He, accordingly, again summoned Stuart and
ordered him to repeat the experiment of riding around the opposing army.
News of this second, almost derisive defiance of McClellan soon reached
the North, for Stuart, swiftly circling his right flank, suddenly
appeared with 1,800 men at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, terrorizing the
country and destroying vast quantities of stores. Stern and indignant
orders from Washington warned the Union Commander that this time he must
not permit the daring troopers to escape. But only a few scouts were
captured, and once more Stuart sped safely back to his chief with full
information as to the strength and position of the Federal lines.

Even this did not arouse McClellan, and two more weeks of inaction
passed before he again set his vast army in motion. But by this time,
the demand for his dismissal had become clamorous and, on November 5,
1862, President Lincoln reluctantly removed him from command.

Chapter XIX. -- Lee against Burnside and Hooker

Lincoln had good reason for hesitating to change commanders, for,
unsatisfactory as McClellan had proved, the President was by no means
sure that any of his other generals would do better. In fact, with
all his defects, there was much to be said in McClellan's favor. As an
organizer of troops or chief of staff he had displayed talents of the
highest possible order, transforming the armed mob which had flocked to
the defense of the Union at the opening of the war into a well-drilled
and disciplined army. That he had not accomplished much with this great
engine of war after it had been constructed, had not been wholly his
fault, for he had never been entirely free from interference at the
hands of incompetent superiors, and he had had the misfortune to be
pitted against a past master of the art of war. Moreover, he had been
called to the chief command at a moment of panic and peril and, if he
had not succeeded in defeating Lee, he had, at Antietam, given the
North the only semblance of victory which it could claim in all its
campaigning in the South. But that one taste of triumph had whetted the
public appetite for more. Despite McClellan's continuous talk about the
overpowering numbers of his foes, the supporters of the Union knew
that they outmatched the Confederacy in men, arms, ships, money, and
resources of every kind. They accordingly insisted that the immense army
which had lain idle in its camps for almost two months after the drawn
battle at Antietam should be set to work.

In response to this popular demand, General Ambrose Burnside was
appointed to take McClellan's place, and a more utterly unfitted man for
prosecuting a successful campaign against Lee could scarcely have been
selected. He himself fully realized this. Indeed, he had already twice
refused the chief command on the ground that he did not feel competent
to conduct a great campaign. But the public, which had become disgusted
with boasters, admired his modesty, and his preparations for carrying
the war again into Virginia were followed with high hopes for his
success. The officers of the army, however, did not share the popular
confidence in their new chief and some of those highest in authority
gave him only a half-hearted support.

But nothing could have saved Burnside's extraordinary campaign. Had he
been assigned to lead a forlorn hope, regardless of consequences, his
plan, if it can be called a plan, might have been justified, but under
the existing circumstances it was reckless to the point of madness. His
first moves, however, were characterized by an excess of caution and so
slowly did he advance that before he was fairly started for the South,
Lee blocked the road, concentrating his whole army on the hills behind
the City of Fredericksburg in a position practically defying attack.

To attempt a direct assault against this fortress-like post was
suicidal, but apparently no thought of maneuvering crossed Burnside's
mind. His one idea was to brush aside the foe. But before he could even
reach him his army had to cross the Rappahannock, a formidable river,
and march over an open plain, absolutely at the mercy of its intrenched
opponents, who could, as one of their artillery officers expressed it,
"comb the ground" with their cannon. Nevertheless, into this death trap
the Union troops were plunged on the 13th of December, 1862, and they
advanced to destruction with a dash and courage that won the admiration
of friends and foes alike. The result was, of course, inevitable. No
human beings could withstand the storm of shot and shell which burst
upon them, and though some of the devoted columns actually reached the
foot of the Confederate breastworks, they could do no more, and over
12,000 men fell victims to the disastrous attack.

For once, Lee was at an utter loss to comprehend his adversary's plan.
He could not believe that this wanton butchery of men was all there was
to the contest. To his mind such an awful sacrifice of human life
would never have been made unless for the purpose of paving the way for
another enterprise absolutely certain of success. But nothing more was
attempted and the battle of Fredericksburg, reflecting the conception of
a disordered brain rather than the trained intelligence of a graduate
of West Point, was added to the already long list of blunders which
prolonged the war.

Burnside brought severe charges against several of his generals for
their failure to support his sorry tactics, and even went so far as to
demand their dismissal from the army. There was undoubtedly some ground
for his complaints, but such obviously incompetent leadership was enough
to demoralize any army, and not long after his crippled battalions
retreated behind the Rappahannock he was relieved of his command,
which was given to General Joseph Hooker, one of the officers he most
seriously accused.

Hooker was familiarly known to the country as "Fighting Joe," a name he
had well earned on many a hard-fought field. He, like his predecessors,
was a graduate of West Point and his record, in many respects worthy of
the best traditions of that famous school, inspired the army with
the belief that it had, at last, found a leader who would pilot it to

Certainly, the new commander was not troubled with Burnside's
self-distrust. His confidence in himself and in his plans was unbounded,
and there was no little justification for his hopes, for his campaign
was well thought out and he had a force of over 130,000 men under his
orders--fully 70,000 more than his adversary could bring into the field.

Lee still lay intrenched on the hills behind Fredericksburg, and there
Hooker ordered General Sedgwick to hold him with part of the army
while he himself, with another and more powerful part, crossed the
Rappahannock River by a ford twenty-seven miles above. By this move he
hoped to get behind Lee and then crush him, as nut-crackers would crush
a nut, by closing in on him with a front and rear attack.

This was not a strikingly original plan. It was in fact merely
a flanking movement on a huge scale, but compared to Burnside's
performance it was highly scientific and the vast superiority of the
Union forces almost insured its success. Hooker was certainly convinced
that he had at last solved the great problem of the war and that Lee was
practically in his power. Indeed, as his flanking army forded the river,
he issued an address of congratulation in which he informed his troops
that they had the Confederates in a position from which they must either
"ingloriously fly" or come out in the open where certain defeat awaited
them. But "Fighting Joe" was soon to learn the folly of crowing until
one is out of the woods, for as he emerged from the forests sheltering
the fords, he discovered that Lee's army had not remained tamely in its
intrenchments, but had quietly slipped away and planted itself squarely
across his path.

For a moment the Union commander was fairly astounded. He had prophesied
that his adversary would fly from Fredericksburg, but he had not
expected him to move so soon or in this direction. Indeed, his
well-matured plans were based on the supposition that Lee would remain
where he wanted him to be until he was ready to spring his trap, quite
forgetting that though it is easy to catch birds after you have put salt
on their tails, it is rather difficult to make them wait while you salt
them. As a matter of fact, Lee had taken alarm the moment his cavalry
scouts reported his opponent's movement towards the fords and, realizing
that he would be caught if he remained where he was, he had rapidly
departed from Fredericksburg, leaving only enough force to occupy
Sedgwick's attention. Even then he was in a precarious position, for
Hooker's flanking army alone outnumbered him and the force threatening
Fredericksburg would certainly start in pursuit of him as soon as it
discovered that the bulk of his army had withdrawn from that city. All
this was equally clear to Hooker after his first gasp of astonishment,
and as he hurriedly ordered Sedgwick to attack Fredericksburg with part
of his forces and to send the rest as reënforcement against Lee, he
confidently believed that his foe had delivered himself into his hands.

But Lee, though cornered, was not yet caught. He had to think and act
quickly but though he had only 45,000 men and Hooker had 70,000 on the
spot, his idea was not to escape but to attack. A close examination
of the opposing lines in front and at the Federal left disclosed no
weakness, but the right beyond Chancellorsville looked more hopeful.
Then a brilliant idea suddenly occurred to his mind. The Union commander
was evidently awaiting or meditating a direct attack and had no fear
except that his prey might escape him. Might it not be possible to keep
him busily occupied in front, while a force stole behind his right wing
and caught it between two fires?

This was precisely what Hooker had been endeavoring to do to him, but
Lee was well aware that what was safe for a large army might be ruinous
for a small one and that his proposed maneuver would require him to
divide his small army into two smaller parts, both of which would be
annihilated if the move was discovered. But capture or destruction
stared him in the face any way, so, learning from a certain Colonel
Welford that a road used by him in former years for transporting
materials to a local furnace could be utilized to swing a considerable
force behind Hooker's right, he determined to take the desperate chance.

The necessary orders were accordingly issued during the night of May 1,
1863, and by daylight the next morning Jackson started off on the
back trail with about 30,000 men, leaving Lee with only 15,000 to
face Hooker's overwhelming array. The success of the whole enterprise
depended upon the secrecy and speed with which it was conducted, but
Jackson had already proved his ability in such work and his men set off
at a brisk pace well screened by vigilant cavalry. It was not possible,
however, wholly to conceal the march, and not long after it began
several quite definite reports of its progress reached Hooker. But
though he duly warned his Corps Commanders to be on their guard against
a flank movement, he himself evidently interpreted it as the beginning
of a retreat. Indeed, by four o'clock in the afternoon of May 2nd
he became convinced that his victims were striving to escape, for he
advised Sedgwick, "We know that the enemy is fleeing, trying to save his
trains." But even as he dispatched this message Jackson was behind at
the Union right and his men were forming in line of battle under cover
of a heavy curtain of woods.

Meanwhile, some of the division commanders at the threatened position
had become disquieted by the reports that a large body of Confederates
was marching somewhere, though just where no one seemed to know. Two
of them accordingly faced their men toward the rear in readiness for an
attack from that direction. But the assurances which reached them from
headquarters that the enemy was in full flight discouraged precautions
of this kind, and when Jackson crept up a neighboring hill to examine
the Union position, he found most of the troops had their backs turned
to the point of danger. In fact, the camp, as a whole presented a most
inviting spectacle, for the soldiers were scattered about it, playing
cards or preparing their evening meal, with their arms stacked in the
rear, little dreaming that one of their most dreaded foes was watching
them from a hilltop, behind which crouched thousands of his men. Every
detail of the scene was impressed on Jackson's memory when he quietly
slipped back into the woods, and for the next two hours he busied
himself posting his troops to the best advantage.

It was six o'clock when the order to attack was given and most of the
Union soldiers were still at their suppers when deer, foxes, rabbits and
other animals, alarmed by a mass of men advancing through the forest,
began to tear through the camp as though fleeing from a prairie fire.
But before the startled soldiers could ask an explanation of this
strange stampede, the answer came in the form of a scattering musketry
fire and the fearsome yells of 26,000 charging men.

The panic that followed beggars description. Regiments huddled against
regiments in helpless confusion; artillery, infantry and cavalry became
wedged in narrow roads and remained hopelessly jammed; officers and men
fought with one another; generals were swept aside or carried forward
on the human waves, hoarsely bellowing orders which no one heeded, while
into the welter the Confederates poured a deadly fire and rounded up
masses of bewildered prisoners. It was well-nigh dusk before even the
semblance of a line of defense could be formed to cover the disorganized
masses of men, but the gathering darkness increased the terror of the
hapless fugitives, who, stumbling and crashing their way to safety,
carried confusion in their wake.

Meanwhile Lee, advised of what was happening at the Union right,
vigorously attacked Hooker's left, and a fierce conflict at that point
added to the general turmoil until the contending forces could no longer
distinguish each other, save by the flashing of their guns. The fighting
then ceased all along the line and both sides busied themselves with
preparations for renewing the struggle at the earliest possible
moment. Jackson, accompanied by some of his staff, instantly began a
reconnoissance of the Union position. He had just completed this and was
returning to his lines when some of his own pickets, mistaking his party
for Union cavalry, fired on them killing a captain and a sergeant. The
Confederate commander immediately turned his horse and sought safety at
another point, but he had not progressed far before he drew the fire of
another picket squad and fell desperately wounded.

General A. P. Hill then assumed command, but fighting had scarcely been
resumed the next morning before he was wounded and Jeb Stuart took his
place. Meanwhile, Hooker had been injured and the next day Lee fiercely
assailed Sedgwick. For the best part of two days the battle raged with
varying success. But, little by little, the Confederates edged their
opponents toward the Rappahannock, and by the night of May 5th, 1863,
Hooker withdrew his exhausted forces across the river.

The battle of Chancellorsville cost Lee over 12,000 men; but with a
force which never exceeded 60,000, he had not only extricated himself
from a perilous position, but had inflicted a crushing blow on an army
of 130,000, an achievement which has passed into history as one of the
most brilliant feats of modern warfare.

Chapter XX. -- In the Hour of Triumph

Great as Lee's reputation had been before the battle of
Chancellorsville, it was immensely increased by that unexpected triumph.
But no trace of vanity or self-gratulation of any kind marked his
reception of the chorus of praise that greeted him. On the contrary, he
modestly disclaimed the honors from the very first and insisted that to
Jackson belonged the credit of the day. "Could I have directed events,"
he wrote the wounded General, "I should have chosen to have been
disabled in your stead. I congratulate you on the victory which is due
to your skill and energy." Indeed, when the news first reached him that
Jackson's left arm had been amputated, he sent him a cheery message,
saying, "You are better off than I am, for while you have only lost
your LEFT, I have lost my RIGHT arm." And when, at last, he learned that
"Stonewall" had passed away, he no longer thought of the victory but
only of his dead comrade and friend. "Any victory would be dear at such
a price," was his sorrowful comment on the day.

Jackson was indeed Lee's "right arm" and his place among the great
captains of the world is well indicated by the fact that a study of his
campaign is to-day part of the education of all English and American
officers. Nevertheless, it was unquestionably Lee's genius that enabled
his great Lieutenant to accomplish what he did, and this Jackson himself
fully realized. "Better that ten Jacksons should fall than one Lee," was
his response to his commander's generous words.

But though Lee had won an international reputation, anyone seeing him in
the field among his soldiers might well have imagined that he was wholly
unaware that the world was ringing with his fame. He steadily declined
all offers to provide comfortable quarters for his accommodation,
preferring to live in a simple tent and share with his men the
discomforts of the field. Indeed, his thoughts were constantly of
others, never of himself, and when gifts of fruit and other dainties for
his table were tendered him, he thanked the givers but suggested that
they were needed for the sick and wounded in the hospitals, where they
would be gratefully received.

"...I should certainly have endeavored to throw the enemy north of the
Potomac," he wrote his wife, "but thousands of our men were barefooted,
thousands with fragments of shoes, and all without overcoats,
blankets or warm clothing. I could not bear to expose them to certain
suffering.... I am glad you have some socks for the army. Send them to
me.... Tell the girls to send all they can. I wish they could make some
shoes, too."

Even the hardships of the dumb animals moved him to a ready sympathy,
and he was constantly planning to spare them in every possible way.

"Our horses and mules suffer most," he wrote one of his daughters. "They
have to bear the cold and rain, tug through the mud and suffer all the
time with hunger."

And again on another occasion he wrote his wife:

"This morning the whole country is covered with a mantle of snow,
fully a foot deep.... Our poor horses were enveloped. We have dug them
out...but it will be terrible.... I fear our short rations for man and
horse will have to be curtailed."

The whole army realized the great-hearted nature of its Chief, and its
confidence in his thought and care is well illustrated by a letter
which a private addressed to him, asking him if he knew upon what
short rations the men were living. If he did, the writer stated, their
privations were doubtless necessary and everyone would cheerfully accept
them, knowing that he had the comfort of his men continually in mind.

War had no illusions for this simple, God-fearing man. He regarded it as
a terrible punishment for the shortcomings of mankind. For him it had no

"The country here looks very green and pretty, notwithstanding the
ravages of war," he wrote his wife. "What a beautiful world God, in His
loving kindness to His creatures, has given us! What a shame that men
endowed with reason and knowledge of right should mar His gifts."

The awful responsibility of his public duty was almost more than any man
could bear, but he had also to endure personal anxiety and sorrow of the
keenest kind. During his absence in the field one of his daughters died,
his wife was in failing health and his three sons were in the army daily
exposed to injury and death. Fitzhugh and Custis had been made generals,
and Robert had been promoted to a lieutenancy and assigned to his elder
brother's staff. Up to the battle of Chancellorsville they had escaped
unharmed, but while the contending armies lay watching each other on
either side of the Rappahannock, Fitzhugh was severely wounded in a
cavalry engagement and Lee's first thought was to comfort and reassure
the young man's wife.

"I am so grieved," ...he wrote her, "to send Fitzhugh to you wounded....
With his youth and strength to aid him, and your tender care to nurse
him, I trust he will soon be well again. I know that you will unite with
me in thanks to Almighty God, who has so often sheltered him in the hour
of danger."

Then came the news that the young General had been captured by Federal
troops who surrounded the house to which he had been removed, and again
Lee sought, in the midst of all his cares, to cheer his daughter-in-law
who was herself becoming ill.

"I can see no harm that can result from Fitzhugh's capture except his
detention.... He will be in the hands of old army officers and surgeons,
most of whom are men of principle and humanity. His wound, I understand,
has not been injured by his removal, but is doing well. Nothing would
do him more harm than for him to learn that you were sick and sad. How
could he get well? So cheer up and prove your fortitude.... You may
think of Fitzhugh and love him as much as you please, but do not grieve
over him or grow sad."

But the young wife grew steadily worse and, when her life was despaired
of, Custis Lee offered to take his brother's place in prison, if the
authorities would allow him to visit his dying wife. But, when this
was refused and news of her death reached Lee, he refrained from all

"...I grieve," he wrote his wife, "...as a father only can grieve for a
daughter, and my sorrow is heightened by the thought of the anguish her
death will cause our dear son, and the poignancy it will give to
the bars of his prison. May God in His mercy enable him to bear the

It was in the midst of such severe afflictions that Lee conducted some
of the most important moves of his campaign, and while family anxieties
were beginning to crowd on him, the condition of his army and the
political situation were already demanding another invasion of the
North. As far as spirit and discipline were concerned, his troops
were never more ready for active service and their numbers had been
so considerably increased during the weeks that followed the battle of
Chancellorsville that by the 1st of June, 1863, he could count on almost
70,000 fairly well-armed men, supported by over two hundred cannon.

But the question of supplying food for this great array was every day
becoming more urgent, and the remark of the Commissary-General that
his Chief would soon have to seek his provisions in Pennsylvania was
significant of the situation. Lee thoroughly realized that the strength
of the Confederacy was waning and that unless some great success in the
field should soon force the Union to make terms, the end of the struggle
was in sight. Great victories had already been won, but always on
Southern soil, and the news that Grant was closing in on Vicksburg
demanded that a supreme effort be made to offset that impending disaster
in the West.

If the Southern army could force its way into the North and there
repeat its triumphs, England and France would probably recognize the
Confederacy and the half-hearted supporters of the Union, already
murmuring against the war, would clamor for peace. With this idea Lee
devoted the month following the battle of Chancellorsville to recruiting
his strength and watching for some move on Hooker's part. But Hooker
remained quietly within his lines, so on June 3, 1863, his opponent,
concealing his purpose, moved rapidly and secretly toward Pennsylvania.

Chapter XXI. -- Grant at Vicksburg

While Lee had been disposing of McClellan, Pope and Burnside, Grant had
remained in comparative idleness near Corinth, Mississippi. He had,
it is true, been assigned to high command in the West when Halleck
was ordered to Washington, but the battle of Shiloh had prejudiced the
authorities against him and his troops were gradually transferred to
other commanders, leaving him with an army barely sufficient to guard
the territory it already held. This treatment seriously depressed him
and with plenty of time to brood over his troubles, he was in some
danger of lapsing into the bad habits which had once had such a fatal
hold upon him. But at this crisis his wife was by his side to steady and
encourage him, and the Confederates soon diverted his thoughts from
his own grievances by giving him plenty of work to keep them at arm's
length. Meanwhile, however, something much more disturbing occurred, for
he suddenly discovered that preparations were being made to place his
long-cherished campaign for the opening of the Mississippi River in
the hands of McClernand, the political General whose conduct at Fort
Donelson had demonstrated his ignorance of military affairs.

That aroused Grant to action and hastily summoning Admiral Porter and
General Sherman to his aid, he started towards Vicksburg, Mississippi,
on November 2, 1862, determined to be the first in the field and thus
head off any attempt to displace him from the command.

McClernand's project was accordingly nipped in the bud, for, of course,
he could not be authorized to conduct a campaign already undertaken by
a superior officer, and the troops which had been intended for him
were immediately forwarded to Grant. Doubtless, the President was not
displeased at this turn of affairs, for although McClernand was a
highly important person in the political world and had rendered valuable
services in raising troops, his defects as a general were widely
recognized, and there had been grave doubts as to the wisdom of
permitting him to attempt so difficult an undertaking as the capture of
Vicksburg. Within a few months, however, there were even graver doubts
as to the wisdom of having entrusted the enterprise to Grant, for by the
end of March, 1863, the general opinion was that no one could have
made a worse mess of it than he was making, and that it was hopeless to
expect anything as long as he was in authority.

As a matter of fact, the immense difficulty of capturing a city such as
Vicksburg had not been realized until the work was actually undertaken.
It was practically a fortress commanding the Mississippi, and whoever
held it ruled the river. The Confederate leaders understood this very
thoroughly and they had accordingly fortified the place, which was
admirably adapted for defense, with great care and skill. In front of
it flowed the Mississippi, twisting and turning in such snake-like
conditions that it could be navigated only by boats of a certain length
and build, and on either side of the city stretched wide swamp lands and
bayous completely commanded by batteries well posted on the high ground
occupied by the town. All this was formidable enough in itself, but
shortly after Grant began his campaign, the river overflowed its banks
and the whole country for miles was under water which, while not deep
enough for steamers, was an absolute barrier to the approach of an army.

Indeed, the capture of the city seemed hopeless from a military
standpoint, but Grant would not abandon the task. Finding traces of an
abandoned canal, he attempted to complete it in the hope of changing the
course of the river, or at least of diverting some of the water from the
overflowed land, but the effort was a stupendous failure almost from
the start. Then he ordered the levees of the Mississippi protecting two
great lakes to be cut, with the idea of flooding the adjacent streams
and providing a waterway for his ships. This gigantic enterprise was
actually put into operation, the dams were removed, and gun-boats were
forced on the swollen watercourses far into the interior until some of
them became hopelessly tangled in the submerged forests and their crews,
attacked by the Confederate sharpshooters, were glad to make their
escape. Week after week and month after month this exhausting work
continued, but, at the end of it all, Vicksburg was no nearer capture
than before. Indeed, the only result of the campaign was the loss of
thousands of men who died of malaria, yellow fever, smallpox, and all
the diseases which swamp lands breed. For this, of course, Grant was
severely criticized and the denunciations at last became so bitter that
an order removing him from the command was entrusted to an official who
was directed to deliver it, if, on investigation, the facts seemed to
warrant it.

But the visiting official, after arriving at the front, soon learned
that the army had complete confidence in its commander and that it would
be a mistake to interfere with him. Indeed, by this time "the silent
General," who had neither answered the numerous complaints against him
nor paid the least attention to the storm of public indignation raging
beyond his camp, had abandoned his efforts to reach Vicksburg from the
front and was busily engaged in swinging his army behind it by a long
overland route in the face of appalling difficulties, but with a grim
resolution which forced all obstructions from his path. Meanwhile, the
gun-boats under Admiral Porter were ordered to attempt to run the
land batteries, and April 16, 1863, was selected as the date for their
perilous mission. Each vessel had been carefully protected by cotton
bales, and the crews stood ready with great wads of cotton to stop
leaks, while all lights were extinguished except one in the stern of
each ship to guide the one that followed.

It was a black night when the Admiral started down the river in his
flagship, and for a while it was hoped that the fleet would slip by
the batteries under cover of darkness. The leading vessels did, indeed,
escape the lookouts of the first forts, but before long a warning rocket
shot into the sky and the river was instantly lit by immense bonfires
which had been prepared for just this emergency, and by the glare of
their flames the gunners poured shot and shell at the black hulls as
they sped swiftly by. Shot after shot found its mark, but still the
fleet continued on its course. Then, after the bonfires died down,
houses were set on fire to enable the artillerists to see their targets,
but before daylight the whole fleet had run the gauntlet and lay almost
uninjured below Vicksburg, ready to coöperate with Grant's advancing

By this time the Confederates must have realized that they were facing
defeat. Nevertheless, for fully a month they stubbornly contested every
foot of ground. But Grant, approaching the rear by his long, roundabout
marches, handled his veteran troops with rare good judgment, moving
swiftly and allowing his adversaries no rest, so that by the 17th of
May, 1863, General Pemberton, commanding the defenses of Vicksburg, was
forced to take refuge in the town. Grant immediately swung his army into
position, blocking every avenue of escape and began a close siege. The
prize for which he had been struggling for more than half a year was now
fairly within his grasp, but there was still a chance that it might slip
through his fingers, for close on his heels came General Joseph Johnston
with a powerful army intent upon rescuing General Pemberton and his
gallant garrison.

If Johnston could come to Pemberton's relief or if Pemberton could break
through and unite with Johnston, they could together save Vicksburg. But
Grant had resolved that they should not join forces, and to the problem
confronting him he devoted himself body and mind. Constantly in the
saddle, watching every detail of the work as the attacking army slowly
dug its way toward the city and personally posting the troops holding
Johnston at bay, his quiet, determined face and mud-splashed uniform
became familiar sights to the soldiers, and his appearance on the lines
was invariably greeted with inspiring cheers. By July, the trenches of
the besieged and the besiegers were so close together that the opposing
pickets could take to each other, and the gun-boats threw shells night
and day into the town. Still Pemberton would not surrender and many of
the inhabitants of Vicksburg were forced to leave their houses and dig
caves in the cliffs upon which the city was built to protect themselves
and their families from the iron hail.

It was only when food of every kind had been practically exhausted and
his garrison was threatened with starvation that Pemberton yielded. On
July 3, 1863, however, he realized that the end had come and raised
the white flag. Nearly twenty-four hours passed before the terms of
surrender were agreed upon, but Grant, who had served in the same
division with Pemberton in the Mexican War, was not inclined to exact
humiliating conditions upon his old acquaintance whose men had made
such a long and gallant fight. He, accordingly, offered to free all the
prisoners upon their signing a written promise not to take arms again
unless properly exchanged, and to allow all the officers to retain their
side arms and horses. These generous terms were finally accepted, and on
July 4, 1863, the Confederate army, numbering about 30,000, marched out
in the presence of their opponents and stacked their arms, receiving the
tribute of absolute silence from the 75,000 men who watched them from
the Union ranks.

Four months before this event, Halleck, the Commander-in-Chief, had
advised Grant and other officers of his rank that there was a major
generalship in the Regular Army for the man who should first win a
decisive victory in the field. The captor of Vicksburg had certainly
earned this promotion, for with its fall the Mississippi River was
controlled by the Union and, in the words of Lincoln, "The Father of
Waters again ran unvexed to the sea."

Chapter XXII. -- The Battle of Gettysburg

The news that Grant was slowly, but surely, tightening his grip upon
Vicksburg, and that nothing but an accident could prevent its capture,
was known to the whole country for fully a week before the surrender
occurred, but it neither encouraged the North nor discouraged the South.
To the minds of many people no victory in the West could save the
Union, for Lee was already in Pennsylvania, sweeping northward toward
Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and even threatening New York. Hooker, in
the field, and Halleck, in Washington, were squabbling as to what should
be done, and the Union army was groping blindly after the invaders
without any leadership worthy of the name.

It was certainly a critical moment demanding absolute harmony on the
part of the Union leaders; but while the fate of the Union trembled in
the balance, Hooker and Halleck wrangled and contradicted each
other, apparently regardless of consequences, and the climax of this
disgraceful exhibition was a petulant telegram from Hooker (June 27,
1863) resigning his command. Had "Fighting Joe" been the greatest
general in the world this resignation, in the presence of the enemy,
would have ruined his reputation, and the moment President Lincoln
accepted it Hooker was a discredited man.

To change commanders at such a crisis was a desperately perilous move,
but the President knew that the army had lost confidence in its leader
since the battle of Chancellorsville and the fact that he could even
think of resigning on the eve of a battle demonstrated his utter
unfitness for the task at hand. It was, therefore, with something of
relief that Lincoln ordered General Meade to take immediate charge
of all the troops in the field, and the new commander assumed the
responsibility in these words, "As a soldier I obey the order placing
me in command of this army and to the utmost of my ability will execute

At the moment he dispatched this manly and modest response to the
unexpected call to duty, Meade knew little of Hooker's plans and had
only a vague idea of where his troops were posted. Under such conditions
success in the coming battle was almost impossible, but he wasted no
time in complaints or excuses, but instantly began to move his forces
northward to incept the line of Lee's advance. Even up to this time,
however, the exact position of the Confederate army had not been
ascertained, for Lee had concealed his infantry behind his cavalry,
which effectually prevented his adversaries from getting near enough to
discover the direction of his march.

Another "cavalry screen," however, covered the Union forces and though
Lee dispatched Stuart to break through and discover what lay behind it,
the daring officer for once failed to accomplish his purpose and Lee had
to proceed without the information he usually possessed. This was highly
advantageous to Meade, for his forces were badly scattered and had Lee
known that fact he might have crushed the various parts of the army
before they united, or at least have prevented some of them from
reaching the field in time. He soon learned, of course, that Meade had
taken Hooker's place, but if he had not heard the news directly,
he would have guessed that some great change had occurred in the
generalship of his opponents, for within twenty-four hours of his
appointment Meade had his army well in hand, and two days later the
rapid and skillful concentration of his force was clear to Lee's
experienced eyes. By this time both armies had passed beyond their
cavalry screens, and on the 30th of June, 1863, the advance of the
Confederate troops neared the little town of Gettysburg.

But Lee was not yet ready to fight, for, although he was better prepared
than his adversary, he wanted to select the best possible ground before
joining battle. By a strange chance, however, it was not Lee but his
bare-footed followers who decided where the battle should be fought, for
as his advance-guard approached Gettysburg one of the brigade commanders
asked and received permission from his superior to enter the town and
procure shoes for his men. But Gettysburg was found to be occupied by
Union cavalry and the next day (July 1st) a larger force was ordered
forward to drive them away and "get the shoes." Meanwhile, the Union
cavalry had been reënforced and, to offset this, more Confederates were
ordered to the support of their comrades. Once more Union reënforcements
were hurried to the front, and again the Confederates responded to the
challenge, until over 50,000 men were engaged in a savage conflict, and
before noon the battle of Gettysburg, one of the greatest battles of
history, had begun.

The men in gray, who thus unwittingly forced the fighting, were veterans
of many campaigns and they attacked with a fury that carried all before
them. The Union troops fought with courage, but General Reynolds, their
commander, one of the ablest officers in the army, was soon shot through
the head and instantly killed, and from that moment the Confederates
crowded them to the point of panic. Indeed, two of Meade's most
effective fighting corps were practically annihilated and the shattered
remnants of the defenders of Gettysburg were hurled through the town in
headlong flight toward what was known as Cemetery Hill, where their new
commander, General Hancock, found them huddled in confusion.

Meade had displayed good judgment in selecting Hancock to take Reynolds'
place, for he was just the man to inspire confidence in the disheartened
soldiers and rise to the emergency that confronted him. But, though he
performed wonders in the way of restoring order and encouraging his
men to make a desperate resistance, it is more than probable that
the Confederates would have swept the field and gained the important
position of Cemetery Hill had they followed up their victory.
Fortunately for the Union cause, however, the pursuit was not continued
much beyond the limits of Gettysburg and, as though well satisfied to
have got the shoes they came for, the victors contented themselves with
the undisputed possession of the town.

Neither Lee nor Meade took any part in this unexpected battle, but Lee
arrived during the afternoon while the Union troops were in full flight
for the hills and, seeing the opportunity of delivering a crushing
blow, advised Ewell, the commanding General, to pursue. His suggestion,
however, was disregarded, and being unwilling to interfere with another
officer in the midst of an engagement, he did not give a positive order,
with the result that Cemetery Hill was left in possession of the Federal
troops. Meanwhile Meade, having learned of the situation, was hurrying
to the scene of action, where he arrived late at night, half dead
with exhaustion and on the verge of nervous collapse from the fearful
responsibilities which had been heaped upon him during the previous
days. But the spirit of the man rose superior to his physical weakness
and, keeping his head in the whirlwind of hurry and confusion, he
issued orders rushing every available man to the front, made a careful
examination of the ground and chose an admirable position for defense.

To this inspiring example the whole army made a magnificent response,
and before the 2nd of July dawned the widely scattered troops began
pouring in and silently moving into position for the desperate work
confronting them. Meade had determined to await an attack from Lee and
he had accordingly selected Cemetery Ridge as the position best adapted
for defense. This line of hills not only provided a natural breastwork,
but at the left and a little in front lay two hillocks knows as Round
Top and Little Round Top, which, when crowned by artillery, were perfect
fortresses of strength. Strange as it may seem, however, Round Top was
not immediately occupied by the Union troops and had it not been for the
quick eye and prompt action of General Warren, Little Round Top, the key
to the entire Union position, would have been similarly neglected.

Lee was reasonably assured, at the end of the first day's fighting, that
his adversary had not succeeded in getting all his troops upon the field
and, realizing what an advantage this gave him, he determined to begin
the battle at daylight, before the Union reënforcements could arrive.
But for once, at least, the great commander received more objections
than obedience from his subordinates, General Longstreet, one of his
most trusted lieutenants, being the principal offender. Longstreet had,
up to this moment, made a splendid record in the campaigns and Lee had
such confidence in his skill that he seldom gave him a peremptory order,
finding that a suggestion carried all the weight of a command. But, on
this occasion, Longstreet did not agree with the Chief's plan of battle
and he accordingly took advantage of the discretion reposed in him to
postpone making an attack until he received a sharp and positive order
to put his force in action. By this time, the whole morning had passed
and every hour had brought more and more Union troops into the field,
so that by the afternoon Meade had over 90,000 men opposing Lee's 70,000

There was nothing half-hearted about Longstreet once he was in motion
and the struggle for the possession of Little Round Top was as desperate
a conflict as was ever waged on any field. Again and again the gray
regiments hurled themselves into the very jaws of death to gain the
coveted vantage ground, and again and again the blue lines, torn,
battered and well-nigh crushed to earth, re-formed and hurled back
the assault. Dash and daring were met by courage and firmness, and
at nightfall, though the Confederates had gained some ground, their
opponents still held their original position. Both sides had paid
dearly, however, for whatever successes they had gained, the Union army
alone having lost at least 20,000 men [Note from Brett: While this is
possible, it is highly unlikely as the total casualties for the three
day battle from the Unionist side were 23,053 according to official
records. Current (circa 2000) estimates are that both sides lost about
9,000 soldiers on this day.]. Indeed, the Confederate attack had been
so formidable that Meade called a council of war at night to determine
whether the army should remain where it was for another day or retreat
to a still stronger position. The council, however, voted unanimously
to "stay and fight it out," and the next morning (July 3rd) saw the two
armies facing each other in much the same positions as they had occupied
the day before, the Unionists crowding the heights of Cemetery Ridge and
the Confederates holding the hills known as Seminary Ridge and clinging
to the bases of Round Top and Little Round Top, to which point the tide
of valor had carried them.

A mile of valley and undulating slopes separated Cemetery Hill from
Seminary Ridge, and their crests were crowded with artillery when the
sun rose on July 3, 1863. But for a time the battle was confined to the
infantry, the Confederates continuing fierce assaults of the previous
evening. Then, suddenly, all their troops were withdrawn, firing ceased
and absolute silence ensued along their whole lines. At an utter loss to
understand this complete disappearance of the foe, the Union commanders
peered through their glasses at the silent and apparently deserted
heights of Seminary Ridge, growing more and more nervous as time wore
on. What was the explanation of this ominous silence? Was it possible
that Lee had retreated? Was he trying to lure them out of their position
and catch them in some giant ambuscade? Was he engaged in a flanking
movement such as had crumpled them to pieces at Chancellorsville?
Doubtless, more than one soldier shot an apprehensive glance toward the
rear during the strange hush as he remembered the terrifying appearance
of Jackson on that fearful day.

But no Jackson stood at Lee's right hand, and suddenly two sharp reports
rang out from the opposing height. Then, in answer to this signal, came
the crash of a hundred and thirty cannon and instantly eighty Union guns
responded to the challenge with a roar which shook the earth, while
the air was filled with exploding shells and the ground was literally
ploughed with shot. For an hour and a half this terrific duel continued;
and then the Union chief of artillery, seeing that his supply of
ammunition was sinking, ordered the guns to cease firing and the
Confederates, believing that they had completely demolished the opposing
batteries, soon followed their example. Another awful silence ensued and
when the Union troops peered cautiously from behind the stone walls and
slopes which had completely protected them from the wild storm of shot
and shell, they saw a sight which filled them with admiration and awe.

From the woods fringing the opposing heights 15,000 men [Note from
Brett: (circa 2000) just under 12,000 men] were sweeping in perfect
order with battle flags flying, bayonets glistening and guidons
fluttering as though on dress parade. Well to the front rode a gallant
officer with a cap perched jauntily over his right ear and his long
auburn hair hanging almost to his shoulders flying in the wind. This was
General Pickett, and he and the men behind him had almost a mile of open
ground to cross in the charge which was to bring them immortal fame.
For half the distance they moved triumphantly forward, unscathed by
the already thundering artillery, and then the Union cannon which had
apparently been silenced by the Confederate fire began to pour death and
destruction into their ranks. Whole rows of men were mowed down by the
awful cannonade, but their comrades pressed forward undismayed, halting
for a moment under cover of a ravine to re-form their ranks and then
springing on again with a heroism unsurpassed in the history of war. A
hail of bullets from the Union trenches fairly staggered them, yet
on and on they charged. Once they actually halted in the face of the
blazing breastworks, deliberately fired a volley and came on again
with a rush, seized some of the still smoking guns that had sought
to annihilate them and, beating back the gunners in a hand-to-hand
conflict, actually planted their battle flags on the crest of Cemetery
Ridge. Then the whole Union army seemed to leap from the ground and hurl
itself upon them. They reeled, turned, broke into fragments and fled,
leaving 5,000 dead and wounded in their trail.

Such was Pickett's charge--a wave of human courage which recorded "the
high-water mark of the Rebellion."

Chapter XXIII. -- In the Face of Disaster

As the survivors of Pickett's heroic legion came streaming back toward
the Confederate lines Lee stood face to face with defeat for the first
time in his career. His long series of victories had not spoiled him and
the hour of triumph had always found him calm and thankful, rather than
elated and arrogant. But many a modest and generous winner has proved
himself a poor loser. It is the moment of adversity that tries men's
souls and revels the greatness or smallness of character, and subjected
to this test more than one commander in the war had been found wanting.
McClellan, staggering from his campaign against Richmond, blamed
almost everyone but himself for the result; Pope, scurrying toward the
fortifications of Washington, was as ready with excuses as he had been
with boasts; Burnside, reeling from the slaughter-pen of Fredericksburg,
had demanded the dismissal of his principal officers, and Hooker hurled
accusations right and left in explaining the Chancellorsville surprise.

But Lee resorted neither to accusation nor excuse for the battle of
Gettysburg. With the tide of disaster sweeping relentlessly down upon
him, he hastened to assume entire responsibility for the result. "It is
all my fault," he exclaimed, as the exhausted and shattered troops were
seeking shelter from the iron hail, and then as calmly and firmly
as though no peril threatened, he strove to rally the disorganized
fugitives and present a bold front to the foe. It was no easy task, even
with a veteran army, to prevent a panic and restore order and confidence
in the midst of the uproar and confusion of defeat, but the quiet
dignity and perfect control of their commander steadied the men, and
at sight of him even the wounded raised themselves from the ground and

"All this will come right in the end," he assured the wavering troops,
as he passed among them. "We'll talk it over afterwards, but in the
meantime all good men must rally."

Not a sign of excitement or alarm was to be detected in his face, as
he issued his orders and moved along the lines. "All this has been my
fault," he repeated soothingly to a discouraged officer. "It is I that
have lost this fight and you must help me out of it the best way you
can.... Don't whip your horse, Captain," he quietly remarked, as he
noted another officer belaboring his mount for shying at an exploding
shell.... "I've got just another foolish horse myself, and whipping does
no good."

Nothing escaped his watchful eyes, nothing irritated him, and nothing
provoked him to hasty words or actions. Completely master of himself, he
rose superior to the whirling storm about him and, commanding order out
of chaos, held his shattered army under such perfect control that had
Meade rushed forward in pursuit he might have met with a decisive check.

But Meade did not attempt to leave his intrenchments and the Confederate
army slowly and defiantly moved toward the South. The situation was
perilous--desperately perilous for Lee. His troops were in no condition
to fight after battling for three days, their ammunition was almost
exhausted, their food supply was low and they were retreating through a
hostile country with a victorious army behind them and a broad river in
their path. But not a man in the gray ranks detected even a shadow of
anxiety on his commander's face, and when the Potomac was reached and
it was discovered that the river was impassable owing to an unexpected
flood, the army faced about and awaited attack with sublime confidence
in the powers of its chief.

Meanwhile Meade, who had been cautiously following his adversary, began
to receive telegrams and dispatches urging him to throw himself upon the
Confederates before they could recross the Potomac and thus end the war.
But this, in the opinion of the Union commander, was easier said than
done, and he continued to advance with the utmost deliberation while
Lee, momentarily expecting attack, ferried his sick and wounded across
the river and prepared for a desperate resistance. Absolute ruin now
stared him in the face, for no reënforcements of any kind could reach
him and a severe engagement would soon place him completely at his
opponent's mercy. Nevertheless, he presented a front so menacing and
unafraid that when Meade called his officers to a council of war all but
two voted against risking an attack.

In the meantime the river began to fall, and without the loss of a
moment Lee commenced building a bridge across which his troops started
to safety on the night of July 13th, ten days after the battle. Even
then the situation was perilous in the extreme, for had Meade discovered
the movement in time he could undoubtedly have destroyed a large part of
the retreating forces, but when he appeared on the scene practically the
whole army was on the other side of the river and only a few stragglers
fell into his hands.

Great as Lee's success had been he never appeared to better advantage
than during this masterly retreat, when, surrounded by difficulties and
confronted by overwhelming numbers, he held his army together and led it
to safety. Through the dust of defeat he loomed up greater as a man and
greater as a soldier than at any other moment of his career.

Even the decisive victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg failed to offset
President Lincoln's bitter disappointment at Lee's miraculous escape,
and had it not been for his success on the field of battle, Meade
would undoubtedly have been removed from the chief command. As it was,
however, he retained his position and for months he lay comparatively
idle, watching his opponent who busied himself with filling the broken
ranks of his army for a renewal of the struggle.

Meanwhile, the Confederate newspapers began a bitter criticism of Lee,
charging that he had displayed bad judgment and worse generalship
in attempting to invade the North. A man of different caliber would,
doubtless, have answered these attacks by exposing some of the officers
whose conduct was largely responsible for the failure of the campaign.
Indeed, the facts would have justified him in dismissing more than one
of his subordinates from the army in disgrace, and had he chosen to
speak the word he might easily have ruined the reputation of at least
one distinguished general.

But no such selfish or vindictive thought ever crossed Lee's mind.
Keenly as he suffered from the abuse which was heaped upon him, he
endured it without a murmur and, when at last he felt obliged to notice
it, his reply took the form of a letter to the Confederate President
requesting his permission to resign.

"The general remedy for the want of success in a military commander is
his removal," he wrote a month after the battle of Gettysburg. "I do not
know how far the expressions of discontent in the public journals extend
in the army. My brother officers have been too kind to report it and, so
far, the troops have been too generous to exhibit it. I, therefore, beg
you to take measures to supply my place, because if I cannot accomplish
what I myself desire, how can I fulfill the expectations of others? I
must confess, too that my eyesight is not good and that I am so dull
that in making use of the eyes of others I am frequently misled.
Everything, therefore, points to the advantages to be derived from a
new commander. A younger and abler man can readily be obtained--one that
would accomplish more than I can perform and all that I have wished. I
have no complaints to make of anyone but myself. I have received nothing
but kindness from those above me and the most considerate attention from
my comrades and companions in arms."

This generous, dignified statement, modest to the point of
self-effacement, instantly hushed all discontent and, before it, even
the newspaper editors stood abashed.

"Where am I to find the new commander who is to possess that greater
ability which you believe to be required?" wrote Jefferson Davis in
reply. "If Providence should kindly offer such a person I would
not hesitate to avail myself of his services. But my sight is not
sufficiently penetrating to discover such hidden merit, if it exists. To
ask me to substitute you by someone more fit to command is to demand an

In the face of this graceful response Lee could no longer urge his
resignation, and after waiting for more than three months for Meade
to attack, he suddenly assumed the offensive and during the next five
months he and Meade maneuvered their armies as two chess experts handle
the pieces on the board. Again and again, Meade swung his powerful army
into a favorable position and, again and again, Lee responded with a
move which placed his opponent on the defensive.

But while this game of check and countercheck was being played, the
North was becoming more and more impatient and events were rapidly
bringing another player to the fore.

Chapter XXIV. -- The Rescue of Two Armies

The defeats and disappointments of the various campaigns in Virginia had
gradually convinced the authorities at Washington that too many people
were trying to direct the Union forces. With Lee there was practically
no interference; but the commanders who opposed him were subject to the
orders of the General-in-Chief at Washington, who was, to some extent,
controlled by the Secretary of War, whose superior was the President,
and after almost every engagement a Congressional Committee, known as
the "committee on the conduct of the war," held a solemn investigation
in which praise and blame were distributed with the best intentions and
worst possible results. All these offices and officials were accordingly
more or less responsible for everything that occurred, but not one of
them was ever wholly to blame. This mistake, however, was at last fully
realized and a careful search began for some one man to whom the supreme
command could be entrusted. But for a long time no one apparently
thought that the Western army contained any very promising material.
Nevertheless, Grant, Sheridan, Sherman and Rosecrans were then in that
army and, of these four; Rosecrans was regarded by many as the only real

Indeed, at the moment when Grant was closing in upon Vicksburg, and
Lee and Meade were struggling at Gettysburg, Rosecrans, who had been
entrusted with the important duty of conducting a campaign to drive the
Confederates out of Tennessee, was fully justifying the high opinions of
his admirers. Between June 24, 1863, and September 9th of that year
he certainly outmaneuvered his opponents, occupying the all-important
position of Chattanooga, and forcing the able Confederate General Bragg
to fall back with more speed than order.

During all this time the North had been insisting that the army should
be placed in charge of some commander who could master Lee, and this
demand had found expression in a popular poem bearing the refrain
"Abraham Lincoln! Give us a Man!" To the minds of many people Rosecrans
had clearly demonstrated that he was "the Man," and it is possible that
his subsequent acts were prompted by over-eagerness to end his already
successful campaign with a startlingly brilliant feat of arms. At all
events, he determined not to rest satisfied with having driven the
Confederates from the field, but to capture or destroy their entire

With this idea he divided his army and rushed it by different routes
over the mountains in hot pursuit of the foe. But the trouble with this
program was that Bragg had not really retreated at all, having merely
moved his army aside waiting for an opportunity to strike. Indeed,
Rosecrans had barely plunged his troops into the various mountain passes
on their fruitless errand before the whole Confederate force loomed up,
threatening to destroy his widely-separated, pursuing columns, one by
one, before they could be united.

This unexpected turn of affairs utterly unnerved the Union General, and
although he did manage by desperate exertions to collect his
scattered army, he completely lost his head when Bragg attacked him at
Chickamauga, Georgia, on the 19th of September, 1863, and before
the savage battle of that name had ended he retired from the field,
believing that his army had been totally destroyed.

Such, undoubtedly, would have been its fate had not General Thomas and
his brave troops covered the retreat, by holding the whole Confederate
army in check for hours and even forcing it to yield portions of the
bloody field. From that day forward Thomas was known as "The Rock of
Chickamauga," but the heroic stand of his gallant men barely sufficed to
save the Union army, which reached the intrenchments of Chattanooga only
just in time, with the Confederates hot upon its trail.

Had Bragg overtaken his flying opponent, he would doubtless have made an
end of him then and there, but it was not altogether with regret that he
saw him enter Chattanooga, for with the roads properly blocked he knew
the place would prove a perfect trap. He, accordingly, began a close
siege which instantly cut off all Rosecrans' communication with the
outside world, except by one road which was in such a wretched condition
as to be impossible for a retreating army. Indeed, the heavy autumn
rains soon rendered it impracticable even for provision wagons, and as
no supplies could reach the army by any other route, it was not long
before starvation began to stare the besieged garrison in the face.

Meanwhile, Rosecrans, almost wild with anxiety and mortification, sent
dispatch after dispatch to Washington describing his condition and
imploring aid, but though he still had an effective army under his
command and plenty of ammunition, he made no attempt whatever to save
himself from his impending doom. Day by day the situation grew more and
more perilous; thousands upon thousands of horses and mules died for
lack of food and the men were so nearly reduced to starvation that they
greedily devoured the dry corn intended for the animals.

All this time the authorities in Washington were straining every nerve
to rescue the beleaguered army. Sixteen thousand men under General
Hooker were rushed to its relief, provisions were forwarded within a
day's march of the town, awaiting the opening of new roads, and finally,
when the stream of frantic telegrams from the front showed that the army
had practically no leadership, hurried orders were forwarded to Grant,
authorizing him to remove Rosecrans, place Thomas temporarily in control
and take the field himself at the earliest possible moment.

This unexpected summons found Grant in a serious condition, for some
weeks earlier his horse had fallen under him, crushing his leg so
severely that for a time it was feared he might be crippled for life,
and he was still on crutches suffering intense pain when the exciting
orders were placed in his hands. Nevertheless, he promptly started on
his desperate errand, traveling at first by rail and steamer and then
in an ambulance, until its jolting motion became unbearable when he had
himself lifted into the saddle with the grim determination of riding the
remainder of the way. Even for a man in perfect physical condition the
journey would have been distressing, for the roads, poor at their best,
were knee deep in mud and a wild storm of wind and rain was raging. Time
and again his escort had to lift the General from his horse and carry
him across dangerous washouts and unaffordable streams, but at the
earliest possible moment they were always ordered to swing him into the
saddle again.

Thus, mile after mile and hour after hour, the little cavalcade crept
toward Chattanooga, Grant's face becoming more haggard and furrowed with
pain at every step, but showing a fixed determination to reach his goal
at any cost. On every side signs of the desperate plight of the besieged
garrison were only too apparent. Thousands of carcasses of starved
horses and mules lay beside the road amid broken-down wagons, abandoned
provisions and all the wreckage of a disorganized and demoralized army.

But if the suffering officer noted these ominous evidences of disaster,
his face afforded no expression of his thought. Plastered with mud and
drenched to the skin, he rode steadily forward, speaking no word
and scarcely glancing to the right or left, and when at last the
excruciating journey came to an end, he hastened to interview Thomas and
hear his report, without even waiting to change his clothes or obtain
refreshment of any kind.

It was not a very cheerful story which Thomas confided to his Chief
before the blazing headquarters' fire, but the dripping and exhausted
General listened to it with no indication of discouragement or dismay.
"What efforts have been made to open up other roads for provisioning the
army?" was the first question, and Thomas showed him a plan which he and
Rosecrans had worked out. Grant considered it in silence for a moment
and then nodded his approval. The only thing wrong with the plan was
that it had not been carried out, was his comment, and after a personal
inspection of the lines he gave the necessary authority for putting
it into immediate operation. Orders accordingly began flying right
and left, and within twenty-four hours the army was busily engaged in
gnawing a way out of the trap.

Additional roads were essential for safety but to gain them the
Confederates had to be attacked and a heavy force was therefore ordered
to seize and hold a point known as Brown's Ferry. This relieved the
situation at once and meanwhile the new commander had hurried a special
messenger to Sherman, ordering him to drop everything else and march his
Vicksburg veterans toward Chattanooga without an instant's delay. The
advance of this strong reënforcement was promptly reported to Bragg, who
saw at a glance that unless it could be stopped there was every prospect
that his Chattanooga victims would escape.

He accordingly determined upon a very bold but very dangerous move.
Not far away lay General Burnside and a small Union army, guarding the
important city of Knoxville, Tennessee, and against this the Confederate
commander dispatched a heavy force, in the hope that Grant would be
compelled to send Sherman to the rescue.

But the effect of this news upon Grant was very different from Bragg's
expectations, for realizing that his adversary must have seriously
weakened himself in sending the expedition against Burnside, he ordered
Hooker, whose 16,000 men were already on hand, to make an immediate
attack with a force drawn from various parts of the army, and on
November 24, 1863, after a fierce engagement known as the battle of
Lookout Mountain, the Union troops drove their opponents from one of the
two important heights commanding Chattanooga.

In this success Sherman had effectively cooperated by attacking and
holding the northern end of Missionary Ridge and Grant determined to
follow up his advantage by moving the very next morning against this
second and more formidable range of hills. Therefore, ordering Hooker to
attack the Confederate right on Missionary Ridge and get in their rear
at that point while Sherman assaulted their left, he held Thomas's
troops lying in their trenches at the front awaiting a favorable
opportunity to send them crashing through the center.

The main field of battle was plainly visible to the silent commander as
he looked down upon it from a hill known as Orchard Knob, and he watched
the effect of the attacks on both wings of the Confederate line with
intense interest. Reënforcements were evidently being hurried to the
Confederate right and left and Hooker, delayed by the destruction of a
bridge, did not appear at the critical moment. Nevertheless, for some
time Sherman continued to advance, but as Grant saw him making slower
progress and noted the heavy massing of troops in his path, he ordered
Thomas's waiting columns to attack the center and carry the breastworks
at the foot of Missionary Ridge.

With a blare of bugles, 20,000 blue-coated men seemed to leap from the
ground and 20,000 bayonets pointed at Missionary Ridge whose summits
began to blaze forth shot and shell. Death met them at every stride but
the charging troops covered the ground between them and the rifle pits
they had been ordered to take in one wild rush and tore over them like
an angry sea. Then, to the utter astonishment of all beholders, instead
of halting, they continued charging up the face of Missionary Ridge,
straight into the mouths of the murderous cannon.

"By whose order is this?" Grant demanded sternly.

"By their own, I fancy," answered Thomas.

Incredible as this suggestion seemed, it offered the only possible
explanation of the scene. No officer would have dared to order troops to
such certain destruction as apparently awaited them on the fire-crowned
slopes of Missionary Ridge. Spellbound Grant followed the men as they
crept further and further up the height, expecting every instant to see
them hurled back as Pickett's heroes were at Gettysburg, when suddenly
wave upon wave of blue broke over the crest, the Union flags fluttered
all along the line and before this extraordinary charge the Confederates
broke and fled in disorder.

Setting spur to his horse, Grant dashed across the hard-fought field and
up the formidable ridge, issuing orders for securing all that had been
gained. An opening wedge had now been inserted in Chattanooga's prison
doors, and by midnight the silent captain had thrown his whole weight
against them and they fell. Then calmly turning his attention to
Burnside, he ordered him to hold his position at every hazard until he
could come to the rescue and, setting part of his victorious veterans in
motion toward Knoxville, soon relieved its garrison from all danger.

With the rescue of two Union armies to his credit Grant was generally
regarded as the most fitting candidate for the chief command of the
army, but by this time it was fully realized that the man who held that
position would have to be invested with far greater powers than any
Union general had thus far possessed. Halleck expressed himself as
only too anxious to resign; Congress passed a law reviving the grade of
lieutenant-general with powers which, up to that time, had never been
entrusted to anyone save Washington, and responded to the cry, "Abraham
Lincoln! Give us a MAN!" the President, on March 1st, 1864, nominated
Ulysses Grant as Commander-in-Chief of all the armies of the United

Chapter XXV. -- Lieutenant-General Grant

Until he arrived in Washington Lincoln had never met the man to whom he
had entrusted the supreme command of the army, and the new General was
a very different individual from those who had been previously appointed
to high rank. Some of his predecessors had possessed undoubted ability,
but most of them had soon acquired an exaggerated idea of their own
importance, surrounding themselves with showy staffs in gorgeous attire,
delighting in military pomp and etiquette of every kind, and generally
displaying a great weakness for popular admiration and applause.
Moreover, all of them, with the exception of Meade, had talked too much
for their own good and that of the army, so that many of their plans had
become known in Richmond almost as soon as they had been formed. Indeed,
they not only talked, but wrote too much, and in discussions with their
superiors and wrangling with their fellow officers more than one proved
far mightier with the pen than with the sword. All this, to a very large
extent, was the fault of the public, for it had made an idol of each new
General, deluging him with praise, flattering his vanity and fawning on
him until he came to regard the war as a sort of background for his own
greatness. Thus, for almost three years, the war was conducted more like
a great game than a grim business, and not until it began visibly to sap
the life blood and resources of the nation did the people, as a whole,
realize the awful task confronting them.

Both sides had begun the conflict in much the same careless fashion, but
the South had immediately become the battle ground, and the horrors of
war actually seen and felt by its people quickly sobered even the most
irresponsible. But from the very first Lee had taken a serious view
of the whole situation. Every word he spoke or wrote concerning it
was distinctly tinged with solemnity, if not sadness, and his sense of
responsibility had a marked influence upon the whole Confederacy. It had
taken the North almost three years to respond in a similar spirit, but
by that time it was ready for a leader who knew what war really meant
and for whom it had no glory, and such a leader had undoubtedly been
found in Grant.

In the evening of March 8, 1864, the new commander arrived in Washington
and made his way, without attracting any attention, to one of the
hotels. There was nothing in his presence or manner to indicate that
he was a person of any importance. Indeed, he presented a decidedly
commonplace appearance, for he walked with an awkward lurch and bore
himself in a slouchy fashion which made him even shorter than he was.
Moreover, his uniform was faded and travel-stained, his close-cropped
beard and hair were unkempt, and his attire was careless to the point
of slovenliness. There was, however, something in the man's clear-cut
features, firm mouth and chin and resolute blue eyes which suggested
strength, and while his face, as a whole, would not have attracted any
particular notice in a crowd, no one in glancing at it would have been
inclined to take any liberties with its owner.

But though Grant had arrived unheralded and unrecognized at the national
capital, he had barely given his name to the hotel clerk before the
whole city was surging about him eager to catch a glimpse of the new
hero and cheer him to the echo. But however much notoriety of this sort
had pleased some of his predecessors, Grant soon showed that he wanted
no applauding mob to greet him in the streets, for he quickly escaped
to the seclusion of his own room. But the same public that had cheered
itself hoarse for McClellan, Pope and Hooker, and then hissed them all
in turn, had found another hero and was not to be cheated of its prey.
Indeed, the newcomer was not even allowed to eat his dinner in peace,
for a crowd of gaping and congratulating enthusiasts descended upon
him the moment he reappeared and soon drove him from the dining room in
sheer disgust.

Possibly the fate of the fallen idols had warned Grant against making a
public exhibition of himself or encouraging the hysterical acclamations
of the crowd, but he was naturally a man of sound, common sense,
entirely free from conceit, and he had no idea of allowing the idle or
curious mob to amuse itself at his expense. He, therefore, quickly made
it plain that he had serious work to do and that he intended to do it
without nonsense of any kind.

Ceremonies and forms with such a man would have been impossible, and
on March 9, 1864, President Lincoln handed him his commission as a
Lieutenant-General, with a few earnest words to which he made a modest
reply, and then, with the same calmness he had displayed in assuming the
colonelcy of the 21st Illinois, he turned to the duties involved in the
command of half a million men.

From that time forward no more councils of war were held at the White
House and no more military secrets were disclosed to the Confederate
chiefs. "I do not know General Grant's plans, and I do not want to know
them!" exclaimed Lincoln with relief. But other people did want to know
them and the newspaper reporters and busybodies of all sorts incessantly
buzzed about him, employing every device from subtle flattery to masked
threats to discover his designs. But Grant knew "how to keep silent in
seven different languages" and no one could beguile him into opening
his lips. Neither had he time nor inclination to listen to other people
talk. His troops were spread over a thousand miles of territory, and
never before had they been under the absolute control of any one man.
With the Army of the Potomac he had had but little practical experience;
of the country in which its campaigns had been conducted he knew nothing
at first hand; with a few exceptions he had no personal acquaintance
with the officers under his immediate command, and there were countless
other difficulties which had to be overcome. He, therefore, had no
leisure for trifling and quickly sent all intruders about their business
while he attended to his own.

The problem involved in a grand campaign was in many respects new to
him, but doing his own thinking in silence, instead of puzzling himself
with the contradictory opinions of other men, Grant reached a more
accurate conclusion in regard to the war than any of his predecessors.
In the first place, he saw that the various campaigns which had been
conducted in different parts of the country would have been far more
effective had they all formed part of one plan enabling the different
armies to coöperate with each other. He, accordingly, determined to
conduct the war on a gigantic scale, keeping the Confederates in the
West so busy that they would not be able to reënforce Lee and giving Lee
no chance to help them. In a word, he intended to substitute team play
for individual effort all along the line.

Again, he saw the capture of Richmond, upon which the Army of the
Potomac had expended all its efforts, would be futile if Lee's army
remained undefeated in the field, and he resolved that Lee and not
Richmond should thereafter be the main object of the campaign. "Where
Lee's army goes, there you will go also," was the substance of his first
order to Meade who virtually became his Chief of Staff, and those who
were straining every nerve to discover his plan and expecting something
very brilliant or subtle never guessed that those nine words contained
the open secret of his whole campaign.

Such, however, was the fact. "I never maneuver," he remarked to his
Chief of Staff; and Meade, who had spent the best part of a year in a
great series of maneuvers with Lee, listened to this confession with
astonishment and dismay, scarcely believing that his superior really
meant what he said. But Grant did mean it. No elaborate moves or
delicate strategy had been employed in any of his campaigns and he
had yet to meet with a serious defeat. To make his first experiment in
maneuvering against such an expert in the science of war as Lee, would
have been to foredoom himself to defeat. With a far smaller force then
either McClellan, Pope, Burnside, Hooker or Meade had possessed, the
Confederate leader had practically fought a drawn battle with them for
three years. His science had not, it is true, been able to overcome
their numbers, but their numbers had not overpowered him. This, as far
as anyone could see, might go on forever.

But Grant knew that the North had long been tiring of the war and that
unless it were speedily closed the Union might be sacrificed in order
to obtain peace. Moreover, he saw that every day the war lasted cost an
enormous sum of money, and that the loss of life on the battle field was
nothing compared to that in the hospitals and prisons, where disease and
starvation were claiming scores of victims every hour.

He, therefore, determined to fight and continue fighting until
he pounded his opponent to pieces, well knowing that almost every
able-bodied man in the South was already in the army and that there was
practically no one left to take the place of those who fell.

This policy, in the minds of many people, proves that Grant was no
general, but merely a brute and a butcher. But history has never yet
revealed a military leader who, having the advantage of numbers, did not
make the most of it. Had Grant been waging war for war's sake, or been
so enamored with his profession as to care more for its fine points than
for the success of his cause, he might have evolved some more subtle and
less brutal plan. But he had no love for soldiering and no sentimental
ideas whatever about the war. Common sense, with which he was liberally
supplied, told him that the only excuse for fighting was to uphold
principles which were vital to the national life and the only way to
have those principles upheld was to defeat those who opposed them and to
do this he determined to use all the resources at his command.

The two men whom Fate or Chance had been drawing together for over two
hundred years were utterly different in appearance and manner, but in
other respects they were singularly alike. Lee was, at the time of their
meeting, already in his 58th year, his hair and beard were almost white,
but his calm, handsome face, clear eyes and ruddy complexion, made him
appear younger than he was. His bearing also was that of a young man,
for his erect, soldierly carriage showed his height to full advantage;
his well-knit figure was almost slight for a man standing over six
feet, and, mounted on his favorite horse "Traveller," he was the ideal
soldier. Grant was barely forty-two years of age, short of stature,
careless in dress and generally indifferent to appearances. His face,
though strong, was somewhat coarse, his manners were not polished and
he had nothing of the cultivation or charm which Lee so unmistakably

But though Grant thus reflected his Roundhead ancestors and Lee his
Cavalier descent, the contrast between them was mainly external. Both
were modest and courageous; both were self-contained; each had his
tongue and temper under complete control; each was essentially an
American in his ideas and ideals; each fought for a principle in which
he sincerely believed, and neither took the least delight in war. Had
they met in times of peace, it is not probable that they would have
become intimate friends, but it is certain that each would have
respected, if not admired the other for his fine qualities, and this was
undoubtedly their attitude toward each other from the beginning of the

Chapter XXVI. -- A Duel to the Death

For nearly two months after Grant assumed command no important move
was attempted by either the Union or the Confederate forces except in
Mississippi. Both sides realized that a desperate struggle was impending
and each needed all the time it could gain to prepare for the coming
fray. Heavy reënforcements were hurried to Grant, until the Army of the
Potomac under his immediate command included over 120,000 men; a hundred
thousand more were assembled at Chattanooga in charge of Sherman; and
two other forces of considerable size were formed to coöperate with
Grant--one being entrusted to General Benjamin Butler and the other to
General Franz Sigel.

To oppose this vast army Lee had less than 65,000 men in the Army of
Northern Virginia and the only other formidable Confederate force in
the field was that commanded by General Joseph Johnston, who, with some
53,000 men, was stationed in Georgia guarding the cotton states and
the far South. If these two armies could be captured or destroyed,
all organized resistance to the Union would be at an end, and Grant,
accordingly, determined to throw his entire weight upon them, sending
Sherman against Johnston, Butler against the City of Richmond and Sigel
against the rich Shenandoah Valley which supplied the Confederate armies
with food, while he himself attacked Lee with an overwhelming force.

Never before had a Union general undertaken a campaign covering such a
vast extent of country and never before had such a united effort been
made to exhaust the armies and the resources of the South. With his own
forces threatened by superior numbers Lee would not be able to reënforce
Johnston with safety and, confronted by Sherman, Johnston would find it
impossible to send assistance to Lee. This promised to bring the war to
a speedy close, and the supporters of the Union redoubled their praises
of the Lieutenant-General as they began to understand his plan. Indeed,
the more he avoided publicity and applause and the more indifference
he showed for popular opinion, the more the newspapers and the general
public fawned upon him, and when, on May 3, 1864, he ordered his armies
to advance, the whole North was fairly aflame with enthusiasm.

It was certainly a momentous occasion. Three years earlier Grant had
been utterly unknown to the country at large and the small group who
acknowledged his acquaintance had regarded him as a rather pitiful
failure, while the Government to whom he had offered his services had
ignored him altogether. Now, at his nod, hundreds of thousands of men
instantly sprang to arms and the most powerful armies that America
had ever seen moved forward in obedience to his will, Sherman marching
southward, Butler creeping toward Richmond, Sigel advancing into the
fertile Shenandoah Valley, and the Army of the Potomac crossing the
Rapidan River to renew its struggle with Lee.

Lee had watched the elaborate preparations of his new antagonist with
keen interest and no little apprehension, for Grant's record as a
fighting man promised a duel to the death and the South had no more men.

The situation was certainly serious but, anxious as he was, the
Confederate commander did not by any means despair. He was familiar with
every inch of the country through which Grant would have to advance and
the chances were that this would, sooner or later, give him not only
the advantage of position, but possibly the choice of weapons. With this
idea he allowed the Union forces to cross the Rapidan unopposed, hoping
that he would soon be able to drive them back and that the river would
then be as valuable as cavalry in hampering their retreat. Just beyond
the Rapidan lay the dense thickets and waste lands of scrub oak
and undergrowth known as the Wilderness, which had witnessed the
Chancellorsville surprise and virtually sealed the fate of Hooker's
army. If the Union forces advanced directly through this jungle, there
was more than a possibility that they might outflank their opponents
and gain the road to Richmond, but Lee scarcely dared hope that
his adversary would attempt so dangerous a route. Nevertheless, he
maneuvered to leave the trap undisturbed, and when he saw the Union
columns entering the forests he felt that they were actually being
delivered into his hands. Once in those tangled thickets he knew that
Grant's artillery and cavalry would be practically useless and without
them his superiority in numbers disappeared. Of course, it would be
impossible to conduct a scientific battle in such a region, for it
would virtually be fighting in the dark, but knowing that his men were
thoroughly familiar with the ground, Lee determined to hurl them upon
the advancing bluecoats, trusting to the gloom and the terrors of the
unknown to create confusion and panic in their ranks.

But the men whom Grant commanded were no longer the inexperienced
volunteers who had been stampeded at Bull Run. They were veterans of
many campaigns and, though they staggered for a moment under the shock
of battle, they speedily rallied and fought with stubborn courage. The
conflict that followed was one of the most brutal recorded in the annals
of modern war. Whole regiments sprang at each other's throats, the men
fighting each other like animals; trees were cut down by the bullets
which tore through them from every direction; bursting shells set fire
to the woods, suffocating the wounded or burning them to death; wild
charges were made, ending in wilder stampedes or bloody repulses; the
crackle of flames rose high above the pandemonium of battle and dense
smoke-clouds drifted chokingly above this hideous carnival of death.
Thus for two days the armies staggered backward and forward with no
result save a horrible loss of life. Once the Union forces almost
succeeded in gaining a position which would have disposed of their
adversaries, but Lee saw the danger just in the nick of time and,
rushing a Texas brigade to the rescue, led the charge in person until
his troops recognized him and forced him to retire.

It was May 7, 1864, when this blind slaughter known as the Battle of
the Wilderness ceased, but by that time nearly 18,000 Union soldiers and
12,000 Confederates lay upon the field. Lee could not claim a victory
but he still held his ground and he felt confident that Grant would fall
back behind the Rapidan River to recuperate his shattered forces. No
Union commander, thus far, had tarried long on Virginian soil after
such a baptism of blood, and when the news that Grant's columns were
retreating reached the Confederate commander he breathed a sigh of
thanksgiving and relief.

To the veterans who had served under McClellan, Pope, Burnside and
Hooker, retreats were a wretchedly familiar experience, but they had not
been long on the road before they realized that they were not retreating
but were marching southward. As the truth of this dawned upon the
disheartened columns they burst into frantic cheers for Grant and
pressed forward with springy steps, shouting and singing for joy.

A less able commander would have been fatally misled by Grant's apparent
retreat, but Lee knew that he might again attempt to swing around his
right flank and edge toward Richmond by way of Spotsylvania, and to
guard against this a body of troops had been ordered to block that road.
Therefore, by the time Grant began his great turning movement, Lee was
planted squarely across his path and another series of battles followed.
Here the Union commander was able to make some use of his cavalry
and artillery, but the Confederates offset this by fighting behind
intrenchments and they repulsed charge after charge with fearful
slaughter. Again, as at the Battle of the Wilderness, the gray line was
pierced, this time at a point known as the "Bloody Angle" or "Hell's
Half Acre," and twice Lee sprang forward to lead a desperate charge to
recover the lost ground. But each time the troops refused to advance
until their beloved leader retired to a point of safety, and when he
yielded they whirled forward, sweeping everything before them.

These charges saved the battle of Spotsylvania for the Confederates. But
though Lee had again blocked his opponent, the fact that he had thrice
had to rally his troops at the peril of his life showed that he had
been harder pressed than in any of his other Virginia campaigns.
Nevertheless, when the last furious attack had been repulsed and Grant
began moving sullenly away, it seemed as though he had at last been
compelled to abandon the campaign. But the wearied Confederates had yet
to learn that their terrible opponent was a man who did not know when
he was beaten, for in spite of his awful losses he had written his
government May 11, 1864, "I propose to fight it out on this line if it
takes all summer," and his army, instead of retreating, continued to
move southward, crossing the North Anna River and circling once more
toward the left flank.

Again Grant was on the road to Richmond, but in crossing the North Anna
River he left an opening between the two wings of his army and before he
could close it Lee threw his whole force into the breach and, completely
cutting off one part of the Union army from the other, held both firmly
in check. This masterly move might have brought Grant's campaign to a
disastrous end, but just as he was planning to take full advantage of
it, Lee fell ill and during his absence from the field Grant made his
first backward move, recrossing the North Anna River and, bringing the
two wings of his army together, rescued it from its perilous position.

The moment he reached a point of safety, however, the persistent
commander recommenced his march by the left flank, sidling once more
toward Richmond until he reached Cold Harbor, only eight miles from the
Confederate capital. Here Lee once more interposed his battered forces,
strongly intrenching them in a position that fairly defied attack. With
any other adversary against him he would have concluded that the game
was won, for by all the rules of war the Union army was completely
balked and could not avoid a retreat. But Grant was a man of a different
caliber from any he had encountered heretofore. In spite of checks and
disasters and unheard-of slaughter he had pushed inexorably forward;
foiled in front he had merely turned aside to hew another bloody path.
To him defeat only seemed to mean delay, and apparently he could not be
shaken from his dogged purpose, no matter what the cost. At Cold Harbor,
however, the Confederate position was so strong that to assault it was
madness, and Lee could not believe that even his grim opponent would
resort to such a suicidal attempt. But retreat or attack offered no
choice to Grant's mind, and on June 2, 1864, the troops were fiercely
hurled against the Confederate works, only to be repulsed with fearful
slaughter. A few hours later orders were issued to renew the assault,
and then postponed for a day.

That delay gave the soldiers an opportunity to understand the desperate
nature of the work that lay before them and, realizing that charging
against murderous batteries and trenches meant rushing into the jaws of
death, they offered a silent protest. Not a man refused to obey orders,
not one fell from his place in the line, but to their coats they sewed
strips of cloth bearing their names and addresses so that their bodies
might be identified upon the field.

This dramatic spectacle might well have warned their commander of the
hopelessness of his attempt, but fixed in his resolve to thrust his
opponent from his path, he gave the fatal order to charge, and twenty
minutes later 3,000 of his best troops fell before the smoking trenches
and the balance reeled back aghast at the useless sacrifice. This
horrifying slaughter, which Grant himself confessed was a grievous
blunder, brought the first stage of his campaign to a close. In but
little over a month he had lost nearly 55,000 men--almost as many as
Lee had had in his entire army, and almost in sight of the spires of
Richmond his adversary held him securely at arm's length.

A wave of horror, indignation and disappointment, swept over the North.
Another campaign had proved a failure. There were, however, two men who
did not agree with this conclusion. One was Grant, pouring over the maps
showing the movements of all his armies. The other was Lee, looking in
vain for reënforcements to fill the gaps in his fast thinning lines.

Chapter XXVII. -- Check and Countercheck

The six-weeks' campaign in Virginia had been quite sufficient to check
all enthusiasm for Grant, but the fact that he was no longer a
popular hero did not trouble him at all. Indeed, he displayed the same
indifference to the storm of angry criticism that he had shown for the
salvos of applause. He had made no claims or boasts before he took the
field and he returned no answers to the accusations and complaints after
his apparent failures. Had he posed before the public as a hero or been
tempted to prophesy a speedy triumph for his army, the humiliation and
disappointment might have driven him to resign from the command. But
he had recognized the difficulty of his task from the outset, modestly
accepting it with no promise save that he would do his best, and he
silently resolved to pursue the campaign he had originally mapped out in
spite of all reverses.

Certainly, he required all his calmness and steadfastness to overcome
his discouragement and disgust at the manner in which the coöperating
armies had been handled. In the Shenandoah Valley Sigel had proved
utterly incompetent and the Confederates, instead of having been driven
from that important storehouse, had tightened their hold upon it.
Moreover, Butler, who was supposed to threaten Richmond while Grant
fought Lee, had made a sorry mess of that part of the program. In fact
he had maneuvered in such a ridiculous fashion that he and about 35,000
troops were soon cooped up by a far smaller force of Confederates who
held them as a cork holds the contents of a bottle; and last, but not
least, the Army of Potomac lay badly mutilated before the impassable
intrenchments of Lee.

In one particular, however, Grant's expectations bade fair to be
realized, for Sherman was steadily pushing his way through Georgia,
driving Johnston before him, and inflicting terrible damage upon the
country through which he passed. As Grant watched this triumphant
advance he silently resolved upon another move. The north or front door
of Richmond was closed and firmly barred. There was nothing to be gained
by further battering at that portal. But the southern or rear door
had not yet been thoroughly tried and upon that he concluded to make
a determined assault. To do this it would be necessary to renew his
movement around his opponent's right flank by crossing the formidable
James River--a difficult feat at any time, but double difficult at that
moment, owing to the fact that Butler's "bottled" force might be crushed
by a Confederate attack while the hazardous passage of the river was
being effected. Nevertheless, he decided to risk this bold stroke, and
during the night of June 12, 1864, about ten days after the repulse at
Cold Harbor, the great movement was begun.

Meanwhile Lee, confident that he had completely checked his opponent,
but disappointed that he had not forced him to retreat, determined to
drive him away by carrying the war into the North and threatening the
Federal capital. That he should have been able to attempt this in the
midst of a campaign deliberately planned to destroy him, affords some
of the indication of the brilliant generalship he had displayed. But
it does not fully reflect his masterful daring. At the outset of the
campaign the Union forces had outnumbered him two to one and its losses
had been offset by reënforcements, while every man that had fallen in
the Confederate ranks had left an empty space. It is highly probable,
therefore, that at the moment he resolved to turn the tables on his
adversary and transform the campaign against Richmond into a campaign
against Washington, he had not much more than one man to his opponent's
three. Nevertheless, in the face of these overwhelming numbers, he
maintained a bold front towards Grant and detached General Jubal Early
with 20,000 men to the Shenandoah Valley, with orders to clear that
region of Union troops, cross the Potomac River and then march straight
on Washington.

It was at this moment that Grant began creeping cautiously away toward
the rear door of Richmond. To keep a vigilant enemy in entire ignorance
of such a tremendous move was, of course, impossible, but the system and
discipline which he had instilled into his army almost accomplished the
feat. Indeed, so rapidly and silently did the troops move, so perfect
were the arrangements for transporting their baggage and supplies,
so completely were the details of the whole undertaking ordered and
systematized, that over a hundred thousand men, infantry, cavalry, and
artillery, with their horses, hospital and wagon trains, and all the
paraphernalia of a vast army virtually faded away, and when Lee gazed
from his intrenchments on June 13, 1864, there was no sign of his
opponent and he did not discover where he had gone for fully four days.

In the meantime, Grant had thrown his entire army across the James
River and was advancing, horse and foot, on Petersburg, the key to the
approach to Richmond from the south, and Butler, whose troops had been
extricated from their difficulties, was ordered to seize it. Petersburg
was at that moment wholly unprepared to resist a strong attack. Indeed,
there were only a handful of men guarding the fortification, the capture
of which would case the fall of Richmond, but Butler was not the man to
take advantage of this great opportunity. On the contrary, he delayed
his advance and otherwise displayed such wretched judgment that the
Confederates had time to rush reënforcements to the rescue, and when
Grant arrived on the scene the intrenchments were strongly occupied.
Notwithstanding this the Union commander ordered a vigorous assault, and
for three days the troops were hurled against the breastworks without
result. The last attack was made on June 18, 1864, but by this time
10,000 Union soldiers had been sacrificed and Lee had arrived in person
with strong support. Grant accordingly, abandoning his efforts to carry
the place by storm, began to close in upon it for a grimly sullen siege.

Meanwhile, General Early, to whom Lee had entrusted his counter-move,
was sweeping away the Federal forces in the Shenandoah Valley with
resistless fury, and suddenly, to the intense surprise and mortification
of the whole North, advanced upon Washington, threatening it with
capture. Washington was almost as completely unprepared for resistance
as Petersburg had been, its defenses being manned by only a small force
mainly composed of raw recruits and invalid soldiers, while outside
the city there was but one body of troops near enough to oppose the
Confederate advance. That little army, however, was commanded by General
Lew Wallace, later the famous author of "Ben Hur," and he had the
intelligence to see that he might at least delay Early by offering
battle and that gaining time might prove as valuable as gaining a
victory. Accordingly, he threw himself across the Confederate's path
and, though roughly handled and at last driven from the field, he hung
on long enough to accomplish his purpose and although his adversary
attempted to make up for lost time by rapid marching he did not succeed.
This undoubtedly saved Washington from capture, for shortly after
Early appeared on the 7th Street Road leading to the capital, the
reënforcements which Grant had rushed forward reached the city, and
before any attack on the intrenchments was attempted they were fully
defended and practically unassailable. Seeing this, Early retreated with
the Union troops following in half-hearted pursuit.

It was the 12th of July, 1864, when, with a sigh of intense relief,
Washington saw the backs of the retreating Confederates, but its
satisfaction at its escape was mingled with indignation against Grant
for having left it open to attack. Indeed, he was regarded by many
people as the greatest failure of all the Union commanders, for he had
lost more men in sixty days than McClellan had lost in all his campaigns
without getting any nearer to Richmond, and by the end of July another
lamentable failure was recorded against him.

In the intrenchments facing Petersburg lay the 48th Pennsylvania
Volunteers, largely composed of miners from the coal regions of that
state. Late in June Colonel Pleasants of this regiment had submitted a
plan whereby his men were to dig a tunnel to a point directly under one
of the Confederate forts, plant a gunpowder mine there and blow a
breach in the defenses through which troops could be poured and the town
carried by assault. The scheme was plausible, provided the tunnel could
be bored and Grant gave his consent, with the result that within a month
an underground passage over 500 feet long was completed, a mine was
planted with four tons of powder and elaborate preparations made
for storming the Confederate works. Grant's orders were that all
obstructions in front of the Union lines should be removed to enable the
troops to charge the moment the explosion occurred, and that they
should be rushed forward without delay until they were all within the
Confederate lines. Accordingly, in the dead of night on July 29th, the
assaulting columns were moved into position and when everything was in
apparent readiness the signal was given to explode the mine. But though
the match was applied no explosion occurred, and in the awful hush that
followed Lieut. Jacob Douty and Sergeant Henry Rees volunteered to crawl
into the tunnel and see what was wrong. To enter the passage at that
moment was almost defying death, but the two men took their lives in
their hands and, creeping in, discovered that the fuse had smoldered
and gone out. They then relit it and made their escape just as a fearful
explosion rent the air and great masses of earth, stones and timbers,
intermingled with human bodies, leaped toward the sky.

For a moment the waiting troops watched this terrifying spectacle
and then, as the cloud of wreckage apparently swerved toward them
threatening to descend and bury them beneath it, they fell back in great
confusion and some time elapsed before order was restored and the charge
begun. But Grant's orders to clear their path had not been obeyed, and
the charging troops had to climb over their own breastworks, causing
more delay and confusion. Finally, however, the leading brigades reached
the great excavation torn by the mine, and there they halted awaiting
further orders. But no orders came, for their terror-stricken commander
had sought safety in a bomb-proof and when his hiding place was
discovered the miserable cur merely mumbled something about "moving
forward" and remained cowering in his refuge. Meanwhile, other regiments
rushed forward, tumbling in upon one another, until the chasm was
choked with men upon whom the Confederates began to pour shot, shell and
canister. From that moment everything was lost and at last orders came
from Grant to rescue the struggling mass of men from the awful death
trap into which they had been plunged, but despite all exertions fully
4,000 were killed, wounded or captured.

Again his subordinates had blundered terribly but Grant accepted the
responsibility and assumed the blame, waiting patiently for the hour,
then near at hand, when he would find commanders he could trust to carry
out his plans.

Chapter XXVIII. -- The Beginning of the End

The right man to conduct the Shenandoah campaign was already in the Army
of the Potomac, but it was not until about a week after the failure of
the Petersburg mine that circumstances enabled Grant to place General
Philip Sheridan in charge of that important task.

Sheridan, like Sherman, had served with Grant in the West and had
developed into a brilliant cavalry leader. Indeed, he was the only man
in the Northern armies whose record could be compared with that of Jeb
Stuart and many other great cavalry commanders in the South. But Grant
felt that Sheridan could handle an entire army as well as he had handled
the cavalry alone and he soon showed himself fully worthy of this
confidence, for from the moment he took over the command of the Union
forces in the Shenandoah Valley, the Confederates were compelled to
fight for it as they had never fought before.

Up to this time, the war had been conducted with comparatively little
destruction of private property on either side. But the moment had
now arrived for harsher measures, for Sherman had occupied Atlanta on
September 2, 1864, and was preparing to march to the sea coast and cut
the Confederacy in two. If Grant's plan of depriving Lee of the fertile
valley to the north was to be put in operation, there was no time
to lose. Sheridan, accordingly, at once proceeded to attack the
Confederates with the utmost vigor, defeating them in two engagements
at Winchester and Fisher's Hill, and following up this success by laying
waste the fields and ruthlessly destroying all the stores of grain and
provisions which might prove useful to Lee's army. For a month or more
he continued to sweep through the country practically unchecked. But
on October 19.1864, during his absence, his army was surprised and
furiously attacked by General Early's men at Cedar Creek, and before
long they had the Union troops in a perilous position which threatened
to end in their destruction and the recapture of the entire valley.

Sheridan was at Winchester on his way to the front from Washington when
the news of this impending disaster reached him and, mounting his horse,
he dashed straight across country for the scene of action. He was then,
however, fully twenty miles from the field and there seemed but little
chance of his reaching it any time to be of any service. Nevertheless,
he spurred forward at a breakneck pace and his splendid horse,
responding gamely, fairly flew over the ground, racing along mile after
mile at killing speed in a lather of foam and sweat, until the
battle field was reached just as the Union troops came reeling back,
panic-stricken, under cover of a thin line of troops who had at last
succeeded in making a stand.

Instantly, the General was among the fugitives ordering them to turn and
follow him and inspired by his presence, they wheeled as he dashed down
their broken lines and, madly cheering, hurled themselves upon their
pursuers. Completely surprised by this unexpected recovery, the
Confederates faltered and the Union troops, gathering force as they
charged, rolled them back with irresistible fury and finally swept them
completely from the field. Indeed, Early's force was so badly shattered
and scattered by this overwhelming defeat that it virtually abandoned
the Valley and Sheridan continued his work of destruction almost
unopposed, until the whole region was so barren that, as he reported, a
crow flying across it would have to carry his own provisions or starve
to death.

Meanwhile, Sherman had begun to march from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia,
where he intended to get in touch with the navy guarding the coast and
then sweep northward to Grant. Behind him lay the Confederate army,
formerly commanded by General Joseph Johnston but now led by General
Hood, a daring officer who was expected to retrieve Johnston's failure
by some brilliant feat of arms. Whether he would attempt this by
following Sherman and attacking him at the first favorable moment
or take advantage of his departure to turn north and play havoc with
Tennessee and the region thus exposed to attack, was uncertain. To meet
either of these moves Sherman sent a substantial part of his army to
General Thomas at Nashville, Tennessee, and swung off with the rest of
his troops toward the sea. Hood instantly advanced against Thomas,
and Grant at Petersburg, closely watching the movement saw a
great opportunity to dispose of one of the Confederate armies. He,
accordingly, ordered Thomas to attack with his whole strength as soon as
Hood reached Nashville, but although the Confederates reached that
point considerably weakened by a partial defeat inflicted on them by
a retreating Union column, Thomas delayed his assault. Days of anxious
waiting followed and then Grant hurried General Logan, one of his most
trusted officers, to the scene of action with orders to take over the
command, unless Thomas immediately obeyed his instructions. In the
meantime, however, Thomas, slow but sure, had completed his preparations
and, hurling himself upon Hood with a vastly superior force, pursued his
retreating columns (Dec. 16, 1864) until they were split into fragments,
never again to be reunited as a fighting force.

It was not until this practical annihilation of Hood that the North
began to realize how far reaching and complete Grant's plans were.
But that event and the Shenandoah campaign made it clear that he
had determined that no army worthy of the name should be left to
the Confederacy when he finally closed in upon Lee, so that with his
destruction or surrender there should be no excuse for prolonging the
war. It was in furtherance of this plan that Sherman left ruin and
desolation behind him as he blazed his way up from the South. The
inhabitants of the region through which he was marching had, up to this
time, been living in perfect security and Sherman intended to make war
so hideous that they would have no desire to prolong the contest. He,
accordingly, tore up the railroads, heating the rails and then twisting
them about trees so that they could never be used again, burned public
buildings and private dwellings, allowed his army to live on whatever
food they could find in the houses, stores or barns, and generally made
it a terror to all who lay in the broad path he was sweeping towards

Grant then had Lee fairly caught. His only possible chances of
prolonging the contest lay in taking refuge in the mountains or joining
his forces with the remnants of Hood's army which had been gathered
together and again entrusted with other troops to the command of General
Joseph Johnston. Had it been possible to do this, nothing practical
would have been achieved, for he had less than 30,000 effective men and
Johnston's whole force did not amount to much more than 30,000, while
Grant, Sherman and Sheridan together had a quarter of a million men
under arms. From a military standpoint Lee knew that the situation was
hopeless, but until the authorities who had placed him in the field gave
up the cause he felt in duty bound to continue the fight to the bitter
end. Had the Union army been his only opponent, it is possible that
he might have succeeded in escaping the rings of steel which Grant was
daily riveting around him. But he had to fight hunger, and from the day
that Sheridan mastered the Shenandoah Valley and Sherman cut off all
supplies from the South starvation stared him in the face.

Meanwhile, his troops, though almost reduced to skeletons and clothed
in rags, confidently believed that in spite of everything he would find
some way of leading them out of Grant's clutches and, inspired by this
implicit faith, they hurled themselves again and again upon the masses
of troops which were steadily closing around them. But though they
frequently checked the advancing columns and sometimes even threw them
back, inflicting heavy losses and taking many prisoners, the blue lines
soon crept forward again, closing up gap after gap with a resistless
tide of men. At last the road to the west leading toward the mountains
beyond Lynchburg alone remained open. But to avail himself of this
Lee knew that he would have to abandon Petersburg and Richmond and he
hesitated to take this step; while Grant, seeing the opening and fearing
that his opponent would take advantage of it, strained every nerve to
get his troops into a position where they could block the road.

Such was the condition of affairs at the end of March, 1865, but neither
the starving soldiers in the Confederate trenches nor the people of
Richmond or Petersburg imagined that the end was desperately near. While
"Marse Robert," as Lee's men affectionately called him, was in command
they felt that no real danger could come nigh them, and their idol was
outwardly as calm as in the hour of his greatest triumph.

Chapter XXIX. -- At Bay

It would be impossible to imagine a more hopeless situation than
that which had confronted Lee for many months. To guard the line of
intrenchments stretching around Petersburg and Richmond for more than
thirty-five miles, he had less than 30,000 effective men, and starvation
and disease were daily thinning their impoverished ranks; the soldiers
were resorting to the corn intended for the horses, and the cavalry were
obliged to disperse through the country seeking fodder for their animals
in the wasted fields; the defenders of the trenches, barefooted and
in rags, lay exposed to the cold and wet, day and night; there were no
medicines for the sick and no great supply of ammunition for the guns.

Perhaps no one but Lee fully realized to what desperate straits his
army had been reduced. Certainly his opponents were ignorant of the real
condition of affairs or they would have smashed his feeble defenses at
a blow, and the fact that he held over a hundred thousand troops at bay
for months with a skeleton army shows how skillfully he placed his men.

But though his brilliant career threatened to end in defeat and
disaster, no thought of himself ever crossed Lee's mind. Regardless of
his own comfort and convenience, he devoted himself day and night to
relieving the suffering of his men, who jestingly called themselves
"Lee's Miserables," but grimly stuck to their posts with unshaken faith
in their beloved chief who, in the midst of confusion and helplessness,
remained calm and resourceful, never displaying irritation, never
blaming anyone for mistakes, but courageously attempting to make the
best of everything and finding time, in spite of all distractions, for
the courtesy and the thoughtfulness of a gentleman unafraid.

His letters to his wife and children during these perilous days reveal
no anxiety save for the comfort of his men, and no haste except to
provide for their wants. At home his wife--confined to an invalid's
chair--was busily knitting socks for the soldiers, and to her he wrote
in the face of impending disaster:

..."After sending my note this morning I received from the express
office a bag of socks. You will have to send down your offerings as soon
as you can, and bring your work to a close, for I think General Grant
will move against us soon--within a week if nothing prevents--and no man
can tell what will be the result; but trusting to a merciful God, who
does not always give the battle to the strong, I pray we may not be
overwhelmed. I shall, however, endeavor to do my duty and fight to the
last. Should it be necessary to abandon our position to prevent being
surrounded, what will you do? You must consider the question and make up
your mind. It is a fearful condition and we must rely for guidance and
protection upon a kind Providence...."

Shortly after this letter was written Lee made a desperate effort to
force his adversary to loosen his grip but though the exhausted and
starved troops attacked with splendid courage, they could not pierce the
solid walls of infantry and fell back with heavy losses. Then Sheridan,
who had been steadily closing in from the Shenandoah, swung 10,000
sabres into position and the fate of Petersburg was practically sealed.
But, face to face with this calamity, Lee calmly wrote his wife:

"I have received your note with a bag of socks. I return the bag and
receipt. I have put in the bag General Scott's autobiography which
I thought you might like to read. The General, of course, stands out
prominently and does not hide his light under a bushel, but he appears
the bold, sagacious, truthful man that he is. I enclose a note from
little Agnes. I shall be very glad to see her to-morrow but cannot
recommend pleasure trips now...."

At every point Grant was tightening his hold upon the imprisoned
garrison and difficulties were crowding fast upon their commander, but
he exhibited neither excitement nor alarm. Bending all his energies upon
preparations for a retreat, he carefully considered the best plan for
moving his troops and supplying their needs on the march, quietly giving
his orders to meet emergencies, but allowing no one to see even a shadow
of despair on his face. Concerning the gravity of the situation he
neither deceived himself nor attempted to deceive others who were
entitled to know it, and with absolute accuracy he prophesied the
movements of his adversary long before they were made.

..."You may expect Sheridan to move up the Valley," he wrote the
Confederate Secretary of War.... "Grant, I think, is now preparing to
draw out by his left with the intent of enveloping me. He may wait till
his other columns approach nearer, or he may be preparing to anticipate
my withdrawal. I cannot tell yet.... Everything of value should be
removed from Richmond. It is of the first importance to save all the
powder. The cavalry and artillery of the army are still scattered for
want of provender and our supply and ammunition trains, which ought to
be with the army in case of a sudden movement, are absent collecting
provisions and forage. You will see to what straits we are reduced; but
I trust to work out."

At last, on March 29th, 1865, Grant pushed forward 50,000 cavalry and
infantry to execute the very move which Lee had outlined and for which
he was as thoroughly prepared as it was possible to be with the men he
had on hand. But to check this advance which threatened to surround his
army and cut off his retreat, he had to withdraw the troops guarding the
defenses of Petersburg, abandoning some of the intrenchments altogether
and leaving nothing much more formidable than a skirmish line anywhere
along his front. Even then he could not stop the onrush of the Union
troops, which, under Sheridan, circled his right on April 1st and drove
back his men in the fierce engagement known as the battle of Five Forks.
With the news of this success Grant promptly ordered an assault against
the intrenchments and his troops tore through the almost defenseless
lines in several places, encountering little or no resistance.

Petersburg was not yet taken, but Lee immediately saw that to protect
it further would be to sacrifice his entire army. He, therefore, sent a
dispatch to Richmond, advising the immediate evacuation of the city. "I
see no prospect of doing more than hold our position here till night.
I am not certain that I can do that," he wrote. But he did hold on till
the Confederate authorities had made their escape, and then on the night
of April 2nd he abandoned the capital which he had successfully defended
for four years and started on a hazardous retreat.

The one chance of saving his army lay in reaching the mountains to the
west, before Grant could bar the road, but his men were in no condition
for swift marching and the provision train which he had ordered to meet
him at Amelia Court House failed to put in an appearance, necessitating
a halt. Every moment was precious and the delay was exasperating, but he
did his best to provide some sort of food for his famished men and again
sent them on their way.

By this time, however, the Union troops were hot upon their trail and
soon their rear-guard was fighting desperately to hold the pursuit in
check. Now and again they shook themselves free, but the moment they
paused for food or rest they were overtaken and the running fight went
on. Then, little by little, the pursuing columns began to creep past
the crumbling rear-guard; cavalry pounced on the foragers searching the
countryside for food and captured the lumbering provision-wagons and the
railroad supply trains which had been ordered to meet the fleeting army,
while hundreds upon hundreds of starving men dropped from the ranks as
they neared the bypaths leading to their homes.

Still some thousands held together, many begging piteously for food at
every house they passed and growing weaker with each step, but turning
again and again with a burst of their old spirit to beat back the
advance-guard of the forces that were slowly enfolding them.

"There was as much gallantry displayed by some of the Confederates in
these little engagements as was displayed at any time during the war,
notwithstanding the sad defeats of the past week," wrote Grant many
years later, and it was this splendid courage in the face of hardship
and disaster that enabled the remnants of the once invincible army to
keep up their exhausting flight. As they neared Appomattox Court House,
however, the blue battalions were closing in on them from every side
like a pack of hounds in full cry of a long-hunted quarry and escape was
practically cut off.

For five days Grant had been in the saddle personally conducting the
pursuit with restless energy, and he knew that he was now in a position
to strike a crushing blow, but instead of ordering a merciless attack,
he sent the following letter to Lee:

"Headquarters Armies of the U.S. "5 P.M. Apr. 7, 1865.

"General R. E. Lee,--Commanding Confederate States Armies.

"The results of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of
further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this
struggle. I feel that it is so and regard it as my duty to shift from
myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood by asking of
you the surrender of that portion of the Confederate States Army known
as the Army of Northern Virginia.

"U. S. Grant,

"Lieut. General."

Meanwhile the retreating columns staggered along, their pace growing
slower and slower with every mile, and at last a courier arrived bearing
Lee's reply.


"I have received your note of this day. Though not entertaining the
opinion you express on the hopelessness of further resistance on the
part of the Army of Northern Virginia I reciprocate your desire to
avoid useless effusion of blood and therefore, before considering your
proposition, ask the terms you will offer on condition of its surrender.

"R. E. Lee,


Grant promptly responded that peace being his great desire, there
was only one condition he would insist upon and that was that the
surrendered men and officers should not again take up arms against the
United States until properly exchanged.

But Lee was not yet ready to yield and continuing to move forward with
his faithful veterans, he sent a dignified reply, declining to surrender
but suggesting a meeting between himself and Grant, with the idea of
seeing if some agreement could not be reached for making peace between
the two sections of the country.

This was not the answer that Grant had hoped for, but he had too much
admiration for his gallant adversary to ride rough shod over him when he
held him completely in his power, and while he gave the necessary orders
to prepare for closing in, he sent another courteous note to Lee dated
April 9, 1865:


"Your note of yesterday is received. I have no authority to treat on the
subject of peace; the meeting proposed for 10 A.M. today could lead to
no good. I will state, however, General, that I am equally anxious for
peace with yourself and the whole North entertains the same feeling.
The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood.... Seriously
hoping that all our difficulties may be settled without the loss of
another life, I subscribe myself, etc.,

"U. S. Grant,

"Lt. General."

The courier bearing this message dashed off and disappeared and the
chase continued, masses of blue infantry pressing forward under cover of
darkness and overlapping the weary columns of gray that stumbled on
with lagging steps. Meanwhile, the morning of April 9th dawned and Lee
determined to make one more desperate effort at escape. Behind him an
overwhelming force was crowding and threatening to crush his rear-guard;
on either flank the blue-coated lines were edging closer and closer; but
in front there appeared to be only a thin screen of cavalry which might
be pierced; and beyond lay the mountains and safety. At this cavalry
then he hurled his horsemen with orders to cut their way through and
force an opening for the rest of the army, who vigorously supported the
attack. It was, indeed, a forlorn hope that was thus entrusted to the
faithful squadrons, but they responded with matchless dash and spirit,
tearing a wide gap through the opposing cavalry and capturing guns and
prisoners. Then they suddenly halted and surveyed the field with dumb
despair. Behind the parted screen of horsemen lay a solid wall of blue
infantry arrayed in line of battle and hopelessly blocking the road.
One glance was enough to show them what Grant's night march had
accomplished, and the baffled riders wheeled and reported the situation
to their chief.

Lee listened calmly to the news which was not wholly unexpected. There
was still a chance that a portion of his force might escape, if he was
willing to let them attempt to fight their way out against awful odds,
but no thought of permitting such a sacrifice crossed his mind.

"Then there is nothing left for me but to go and see Gen. Grant," he
observed to those around him.

But desperate as their plight had been for days, his officers were
unprepared for this announcement.

"Oh, General!" one of them protested, "What will history say of the
surrender of the army in the field?"

"Yes," he replied. "I know they will say hard things of us; they will
not understand how we were overwhelmed by numbers. But that is not the
question, Colonel. The question is, is it right to surrender this army?
If it is right, then I will take all the responsibility."

No response was offered by the little group and turning to one of his
staff, Lee quietly gave an order. A few moments later white flags were
fluttering at the head of the halted columns and an officer rode out
slowly from the lines bearing a note to Grant.

Chapter XXX. -- The Surrender

While Lee's messenger was making his way toward the Union lines,
Grant was riding rapidly to the front where his forces had foiled the
Confederate cavalry. For more than a week he had been constantly in the
saddle, moving from one point on his lines to another and begrudging
even the time for food and sleep in his efforts to hasten the pursuit.
But the tremendous physical and mental strain to which he had subjected
himself had already begun to tell upon him, and he had passed the
previous night under a surgeon's care endeavoring to put himself in fit
condition for the final struggle which Lee's refusal to surrender led
him to expect. The dawn of April 9th, however, found him suffering with
a raging headache, and well-nigh exhausted after his sleepless night he
rode forward feeling more like going to the hospital than taking active
command in the field. He had already advanced some distance and was
within two or three miles of Appomattox Court House, when an officer
overtook him and handed him these lines from Lee:

"Apr. 9, 1865.


"I received your note of this morning on the picket line whither I had
come to meet you and ascertain definitely what terms were embraced in
your proposal of yesterday with reference to the surrender of this army.
I now ask an interview in accordance with the offer contained in your
letter of yesterday for that purpose.

"R. E. Lee,


The moment Grant's eyes rested on these words his headache disappeared,
and instantly writing the following reply, he put spurs to his horse and
galloped on:

"Apr. 9, 1865.

"Your note of this date is but this moment (11:50 A. M.) received in
consequence of my having passed from the Richmond and Lynchburg Road to
the Farmville and Lynchburg Road. I am at this writing about four miles
west of Walker's Church and will push forward to the front for the
purpose of meeting you. Notice sent to me on this road where you wish
the interview to take place will meet me.

"U. S. Grant,

"Lt. General."

The troops under Sheridan were drawn up in line of battle when Grant
arrived on the scene and his officers, highly excited at the favorable
opportunity for attacking the Confederates, urged him to allow no
cessation of hostilities until the surrender was actually made. But
Grant would not listen to anything of this sort, and directing that he
be at once conducted to General Lee, followed an orderly who led him
toward a comfortable two-story, brick dwelling in Appomattox village
owned by a Mr. McLean who had placed it at the disposal of the
Confederate commander.

Mounting the broad piazza steps, Grant entered the house, followed by
his principal generals and the members of his staff, and was ushered
into a room at the left of the hall, where Lee, accompanied by only one
officer, awaited him.

As the two commanders shook hands the Union officers passed toward the
rear of the room and remained standing apart. Then Lee motioned Grant
to a chair placed beside a small marble-topped table, at the same time
seating himself near another table close at hand. Neither man exhibited
the slightest embarrassment and Grant, recalling that they had served
together during the Mexican War, reminded Lee of this fact, saying that
he remembered him very distinctly as General Scott's Chief of Staff but
did not suppose that an older and superior officer would remember him.
But Lee did remember him and in a few minutes he was chatting quietly
with his former comrade about the Mexican campaign and old army days.

It would be impossible to imagine a greater contrast than that afforded
by the two men as they thus sat conversing. Lee wore a spotless gray
uniform, long cavalry boots, spurs and gauntlets, and carried the
beautiful sword given to him by Virginia, presenting altogether a most
impressive appearance; and his tall, splendidly proportioned figure and
grave dignified bearing heightened the effect. His well-trimmed hair and
beard were almost snow white, adding distinction to his calm, handsome
face without suggesting age, and his clear eyes and complexion and erect
carriage were remarkable for a man of fifty-eight. Grant was barely
forty-three, and his hair and beard were brown with a touch of gray,
but his face was worn and haggard from recent illness, and his thickset
figure and drooping shoulders were those of a man well advanced in
years. For uniform he wore the blouse of a private, to which the
shoulder straps of a lieutenant-general had been stitched; his trousers
were tucked into top boots worn without spurs; he carried no sword and
from head to foot he was splashed with mud.

He, himself, was conscious of the strange contrast between his
appearance and that of his faultlessly attired opponent, for he
apologized for his unkempt condition, explaining that he had come
straight from active duty in the field, and then as the conversation
regarding Mexico continued he grew so pleasantly interested that the
object of the meeting almost passed from his mind, and it was Lee who
first recalled it to his attention.

He then called for pencil and paper, and without having previously
mapped out any phrases in his mind, he began to draft an informal letter
to Lee, outlining the terms of surrender. Nothing could have been more
clear and simple than the agreement which he drafted, nor could the
document have been more free from anything tending to humiliate or
offend his adversary. It provided merely for the stacking of guns, the
parking of cannon and the proper enrollment of the Confederate troops,
all of whom were to remain unmolested as long as they obeyed the laws
and did not again take up arms against the Government, and it concluded
with the statement that the side arms of the officers were not to be
surrendered and that all such officers who owned their own horses should
be permitted to retain them.

Lee watched the writing of this letter in silence, and when Grant handed
it to him he read it slowly, merely remarking as he returned it that the
provision allowing the officers to keep their horses would have a happy
effect, but that in the Confederate army the cavalry and artillerymen
likewise owned their own horses. That hint was quite sufficient for
Grant, who immediately agreed to make the concession apply to all the
soldiers, whether officers or privates, observing as he again handed the
paper to Lee that his men would probably find their horses useful in the
spring ploughing when they returned to their farms. Lee responded that
the concession would prove most gratifying to his soldiers, and, turning
to his secretary, dictated a short, simple reply to his opponent,
accepting his conditions.

While these letters were being copied in ink, Grant introduced his
officers to Lee and strove to make the situation as easy as possible
for him. Indeed, throughout the whole interview he displayed the most
admirable spirit, tactfully conceding all that his adversary might
reasonably have asked, thus saving him from the embarrassment of making
any request and generally exhibiting a delicate courtesy and generosity
which astonished those who judged him merely by his rough exterior. But
Grant, though uncouth in appearance and unpolished in manners, was a
gentleman in the best sense of the word, and he rose to the occasion
with an ease and grace that left nothing to be desired.

As soon as the letters were signed the Confederate commander shook his
late opponent's hand and turned to leave the room. The Union officers
followed him to the door as he departed but tactfully refrained from
accompanying him further and attended only by his secretary, he passed
down the broad steps of the piazza, gravely saluted the group of
officers gathered there who respectfully rose at his approach, mounted
his old favorite "Traveller" and rode slowly toward his own lines.

By this time the news of the surrender had reached the Union army and
cannon began booming a salute in honor of the joyful tidings. But
Grant instantly stopped this and ordered that there should be no
demonstrations or exultation of any kind which would offend Lee's men.
In the same generous spirit he kept his men strictly within their own
lines when the Confederates stacked their guns and no one, except the
officers assigned to receive the arms, was permitted to witness this
final act of surrender[1]. He likewise declined to visit Richmond lest
his presence should be regarded as the triumphal entry of a conqueror
or smack of exulting over his fallen foes, and with fully a million
bayonets behind him ready to win him further glory, his foremost thought
was to end the war without the loss of another life. With this idea, on
the morning after the surrender, he sought another interview with Lee.

[1]Since the first edition of this volume was published the writer
has been furnished, through the courtesy of Mr. Jefferson K. Cole of
Massachusetts, with documentary proof that the formal surrender of
what remained of Lee's infantry was made in the presence of the First
Division of the 5th Corps of the Army of the Potomac, General Joshua
L. Chamberlain commanding. Therefore, although it is true that Grant
avoided all humiliation of the Confederates, it is evident that a small
portion of his troops did witness the final act of surrender, and the
statement in the text should be accordingly amended.

Chapter XXXI. -- Lee's Years of Peace

Desperate as their plight had been for many days, Lee's men had not
wholly abandoned the hope of escape, but when their beloved commander
returned from the Federal lines they saw by his face that the end
had come, and crowding around him, they pressed his hands, even the
strongest among them shedding bitter tears. For a time he was unable
to respond in words to this touching demonstration, but finally, with a
great effort, he mastered his emotion and bravely faced his comrades.

"Men," he said, "we have fought through the war together; I have done my
best for you; my heart is too full to say more."

Brief as these words were, all who heard them realized that Lee saw
no prospect of continuing the struggle and meant to say so. He was, of
course, well aware that the Confederates had many thousand men still in
the field, and that by separating into armed bands they could postpone
the end for a considerable period. But this to his mind was not war
and he had no sympathy with such methods and no belief that they could
result in anything but more bloodshed and harsher terms for the South.
A word from him would have been quite sufficient to encourage the other
commanders to hold out and prolong the cruelly hopeless contest, but he
had determined not to utter it.

Grant was firmly convinced that this would be his attitude, but whether
he would actually advise the abandonment of the cause was another
question, and it was to suggest this course that the Union commander
sought him out on the morning after the surrender. This second interview
occurred between the lines of the respective armies and as the former
adversaries sat conversing on horseback, Grant tactfully introduced the
subject of ending the war.

He knew, he told Lee, that no man possessed more influence with the
soldiers and the South in general than he did, and that if he felt
justified in advising submission his word would doubtless have all the
effect of law. But to this suggestion Lee gravely shook his head.
He frankly admitted that further resistance was useless, but he was
unwilling to pledge himself to give the proposed advice until he had
consulted with the Confederate President, and Grant did not urge him,
feeling certain that he would do what he thought right. Nor was this
confidence misplaced, for though Lee never positively advised a general
surrender, his opinions soon came to be known and in a short time all
the Confederate forces in the field yielded.

But though peace was thus restored, the war had left two countries where
it had found one, and to the minds of many people they could never be
united again. It was then that Lee showed his true greatness, for from
the moment of his surrender he diligently strove by voice and pen and
example to create harmony between the North and South and to help in the
rebuilding of the nation. To those who asked his opinion as to whether
they should submit to the Federal authorities and take the required oath
of allegiance, he unhesitatingly replied, "If you intend to reside in
this country and wish to do your part in the restoration of your state
and in the government of the country, which I think is the duty of every
citizen, I know of no objection to your taking the oath."

He denounced the assassination of Lincoln as a crime to be abhorred by
every American, discountenanced the idea of Southerners seeking refuge
in foreign lands, scrupulously obeyed every regulation of the military
authorities regarding paroled prisoners and exerted all the influence
at his command to induce his friends to work with him for the
reconciliation of the country. Even when it was proposed to indict and
try him for treason he displayed no resentment or bitterness. "I have no
wish to avoid any trial that the Government may order. I hope others may
go unmolested," was his only comment. But no such persecution was to
be permitted, for Grant interfered the moment he heard of it, insisting
that his honor and that of the nation forbade that Lee should be
disturbed in any way, and his indignant protest straightway brought the
authorities to their senses.

In the meanwhile, innumerable propositions reached Lee, offering
him great monetary inducements to lend his name and fame to business
enterprises of various kinds, but although he had lost all his property
and was practically penniless, he would not consent to undertake
work that he did not feel competent to perform and would listen to no
suggestion of receiving compensation merely for the use of his name. His
desire was to identify himself with an institution of learning where he
could be of some public service, and at the same time gain the peaceful
home life of which he had dreamed for so many years. As soon as this was
understood offers came to him from the University of Virginia and the
University of the South at Suwannee, Tennessee, but he feared that his
association with a State institution like the University of Virginia
might create a feeling of hostility against it on the part of the
Federal Government, and the Vice-Chancellorship of the Tennessee
university would have required him to leave his native state.

Finally, the Trustees of Washington College offered him the Presidency
of that institution and the fact that it bore the name of the first
President and had been endowed by him straightway appealed to his
imagination. At one time the college had been in a flourishing condition
but it had suffered severely from the war, much of its property having
been destroyed and only a handful of students remained when he was
invited to take charge of its tottering fortunes. Indeed, the Trustees
themselves were so impoverished that none of them possessed even a
decent suit of clothes in which to appear before Lee and submit their
proposition. Nevertheless, one of them borrowed a respectable outfit for
the occasion and presented the offer with much dignity and effect
and Lee, after modestly expressing some doubts as to whether he could
"discharge the duties to the satisfaction of the Trustees or to the
benefit of the country," accepted the office at a merely nominal salary,
closing his formal acceptance of Aug. 11, 1865, with these words: "I
think it the duty of every citizen in the present condition of the
country to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and
harmony and in no way to oppose the policy of the state or general
Government directed to that object."

This was the key-note of his thought from this time forward. "Life is
indeed gliding away and I have nothing of good to show for mine that is
past," he wrote shortly after assuming his new duties. "I pray I may be
spared to accomplish something for the benefit of mankind and the honor
of God."

It was no easy task to reëstablish an institution practically destitute
of resources in a poverty-stricken community struggling for a bare
subsistence after the ravages of war. But Lee devoted himself body and
soul to the work, living in the simplest possible fashion. Indeed, he
refused to accept an increase in his meager salary, which would have
provided him with some of the ordinary comforts of life, on the
ground that the institution needed every penny of its funds for its
development. But though the work was hard he took keen pleasure in
seeing it grow under his hands, and, little by little, the college
regained its prestige, while with the help of his daughters he made his
new home a place of beauty, planting flowers about the little house and
doing all in his power to make it attractive for his invalid wife.

Thus, for five years he lived far removed from the turmoil of public
life, performing a constant public service by exerting a direct personal
influence upon the students who came under his charge, and by doing
everything in his power to reunite the nation. Suggestions were
constantly made to him to enter politics and had he cared to do so, he
could undoubtedly have been elected to the Governorship of Virginia. But
he steadily declined to consider this, declaring that it might injure
the state to have a man so closely identified with the war at its head
and that he could best help in restoring harmony to the country in the
capacity of a private citizen.

During all this time he took an active interest in his sons, encouraging
them in their efforts to establish themselves and earn their own living,
visiting their farms and advising them in the comradely spirit which had
always characterized his relations with them. Indeed, every moment he
could spare from his collegiate duties was devoted to his family,
and his letters to his children, always cheerful and affectionate and
sometimes even humorously gay, expressed contentment and unselfishness
in every line.

At times it required great self-restraint to avoid bitterness toward the
Government, but even when Congress refused his wife's petition for
the restoration of the mementos of Washington, taken from her home in
Arlington during the war, he refrained from making any public protest
and his private comment showed how completely he subordinated his
personal wishes to the good of the country.

"In reference to certain articles which were taken from Arlington..."
he wrote, "Mrs. Lee is indebted...for the order from the present
Administration for their restoration to her. Congress, however, passed a
resolution forbidding their return. They were valuable to her as having
belonged to her great grandmother (Mrs. General Washington) and having
been bequeathed to her by her father. But as the country desires them
she must give them up. I hope their presence at the capital will keep
in the remembrance of all Americans the principles and virtues of
Washington." [These articles were restored to Lee's family by the order
of President McKinley in 1903.]

Toward the individuals, however, who had looted his house and
appropriated its treasures to their own use, he felt rather differently.
But his rebuke to them was written rather more in sorrow than in anger
and it likewise reflects the regard for his country which was ever the
uppermost thought in his mind.

"...A great many things formerly belonging to General Washington,
bequeathed to Mrs. Lee by her father, in the shape of books, furniture,
camp equipage, etc., were carried away by individuals and are now
scattered over the land," he wrote. "I hope the possessors appreciate
them and may imitate the example of their original owners whose conduct
must at times be brought to their recollection by these silent monitors.
In this way they will accomplish good to the country...."

For his first four years at Washington College Lee accomplished his
arduous duties with scarcely a sign of fatigue, but from that time
forward his health began to fail and though he kept at his work, it told
so heavily upon him that his friends at last persuaded him to take a
vacation. He, accordingly, started south with his daughter in March,
1870. Had he permitted it, his journey would have been one continual
ovation, for this was the first time he had traveled any considerable
distance from his home since the war and people flocked to greet him
from all sides with bands and speeches and cart-loads of flowers
and fruits. Indeed, it was extremely difficult to escape the public
receptions, serenades and other honors thrust upon him, and though he
returned to his duties in somewhat better condition, he was soon obliged
to retire to Hot Springs, Virginia, for another rest, from which he
returned toward the end of the summer vacation apparently restored to

Meanwhile he had undertaken various other duties in addition to his
collegiate work and some two weeks after the reopening of the college he
attended a vestry meeting of the Episcopal Church. At this meeting the
subject of rebuilding the church and increasing the rector's salary was
under discussion and the session lasted for three hours, at the close
of which he volunteered to subscribe from his own meager funds the sum
needed to complete the proposed increase of the clergyman's salary. By
this time it was seven in the evening and he at once returned to his own
house, and finding his family ready for tea, stood at the head of the
table as he usually did to say grace. But no words came from his lips,
and with an expression of resignation on his face he quietly slipped
into his chair and sat there upright as though he had heard an order to
which he was endeavoring to respond by remaining at "attention."

Physicians were immediately called who diagnosed the trouble as
hardening of the arteries combined with rheumatism of the heart, and
though their patient never quite lost consciousness, he gradually fell
asleep, and on October 12, 1870, passed quietly away.

Three days later "Traveller," led by two old soldiers and followed by a
small but distinguished assemblage, accompanied his master to the grave
outside the little chapel which Lee had helped to build for the college
which soon thereafter changed its name to Washington and Lee University.

Nothing could have been more grateful to Lee then to have his name thus
associated with that of the man whom he revered above all other men and
upon whom he had patterned his whole life, and in this graceful tribute
he had his heart's desire.

Chapter XXXII. -- The Head of the Nation

While Lee was passing the closing years of his life in tranquility,
Grant was entering upon a stormy career in politics. But before he had
any thought of the honors that lay before him he proved himself a
good friend to the South and a really great American. Toward his late
adversaries he maintained that the true policy was "to make friends of
enemies," and by word and deed he earnestly strove to accomplish that
result, never losing an opportunity to protect the people of the South
from humiliation and injustice. Indeed, if he and some of the other
Union commanders had been given complete authority directly after the
war, the South would have been spared much suffering and the nation
would have escaped some of the evils which inflict it to this day. But
Grant's service to the country, as a whole, was far greater than
that which he undertook on behalf of any particular section, for at a
critical moment he held the destiny of the nation in the hollow of his
hand and a word from him would have subjected the people to a military
control from which they might never have recovered.

At the time of Lee's surrender the United States had probably the most
powerful and the most perfectly equipped army in the world. It was
absolutely at Grant's disposal and there were plenty of excuses for
employing it in the field, had he been ambitious for military glory. An
attack on the French in Mexico or the English in Canada would have been
regarded by many people as perfectly justified by their treatment of the
United States during the Civil War. But no idea of perpetuating his own
power or of making his country a military nation entered Grant's mind.
On the contrary, his first thought was to hasten by every possible means
the disbanding of the mighty army which hailed him as its chief.

At the close of the war that army numbered over a million men. Six
months later only 183,000 remained in the service, and in eight months
more the whole force of volunteers had disappeared. No other great
commander in the history of the world ever strove thus to deprive
himself of power, or with a gigantic instrument of war under his control
thought only of peace. Grant was not the greatest military genius of
the ages, or even of his own time, but when, with a million bayonets
responsive to his nod, he uttered the benediction, "Let us have peace,"
he took a place apart among those Americans whose fame will never die.

One great triumphant pageant marked the success of the Union cause
when the returning armies were reviewed by the President in Washington,
cavalry, infantry and artillery by the tens of thousands passing
down Pennsylvania Avenue for two whole days, presenting a magnificent
spectacle never surpassed in the military annals of any land. But the
same spirit which had actuated Grant in refusing to visit Richmond
caused him to shun any part of this historic parade, and those who
expected to see him on a prancing horse at the head of his veteran
troops had little knowledge of his character. He had never made an
exhibition of himself at any time during the war, and though he was
present on this occasion, he kept in the background and few people
caught even a glimpse of him as the well-nigh endless ranks of blue
swept by in proud array.

For a time the work of disbanding the army obliged him to remain at
Washington, but at the first opportunity he started west to revisit
Galena, Georgetown and the scenes of his boyhood days. But, if he hoped
to renew his acquaintance with old friends without public recognition
and acclaim he was speedily disillusioned, for the whole countryside
turned out to welcome him with processions, banners and triumphal
arches, hailing as a hero the man who had lived among them almost
unnoticed and somewhat despised. Many people had already declared that
he would be the next President of the United States, but when some
prophecy of this kind had been repeated to him, he had laughingly
replied that he did not want any political office, though he would like
to be Mayor of Galena long enough to have a sidewalk laid near his home,
and this rumor had reached the town. The first sight that greeted his
eyes, therefore, as he entered Galena was an arch bearing the words
"General, the sidewalk is laid!" and his fellow townsmen straightway
carried him off to inspect this improvement, at the same time showing
him a new house built and furnished by his neighbors for his use and in
which they begged that he would make himself at home.

It was a proud moment for his father and mother when they saw the son
who had once disappointed them so deeply received with such marks of
affection and honored as the greatest man of his day, and their joy
was the most satisfying reward he was ever destined to obtain. But
gratifying as all these kindly attentions were the returning hero was
somewhat relieved to find that Georgetown, which had largely sympathized
with the Confederacy, offered him a less demonstrative welcome.
Nevertheless, even there curiosity and admiration combined to rob him of
all privacy, and he at last decided to avoid the public gaze by slipping
away for one of those long solitary drives which had been his delight
in boyhood days. But the residents of the village toward which he turned
received word of his coming and started a delegation out to meet him
half way. After journeying many miles, however, without seeing any signs
of the cavalcade they were expecting, the procession encountered a dusty
traveler driving a team in a light road wagon, and halting him asked if
he had heard anything of General Grant. "Yes," he reported, "he's on
the way," and clicking to his horses quickly disappeared from view. Then
someone suggested that perhaps the General might not be traveling on
horseback surrounded by his staff and that the dusty traveler who had
reported Grant as on the way looked somewhat like the man himself. But
the solitary stranger "who looked like Grant" was miles away before this
was realized, and when the procession started on his track he was safely
out of reach. Doubtless, the sight of this unpretentious man in citizen
attire was disappointing to many who expected to see a dashing hero in a
gorgeous uniform, but his dislike of all military parade soon came to be
widely known. His hosts at one village, however, were not well informed
of this, for they urged him to prolong his stay with them in order that
he might see and review the local troops which were to assemble in his
honor, but he quickly begged to be excused, remarking that he wished he
might never see a uniform again.

Certainly there was nothing of the conquering hero or even of the
soldier about him when a little later in the course of his duty, he made
a tour of the South in order to report on its general condition, and in
many places he came and went entirely unnoticed. But though the mass of
the people did not know of his presence, he formed an unusually accurate
estimate of their views on public questions. "The citizens of the
Southern States,..." he reported, "are in earnest in wishing to do what
is required by the Government, not humiliating them as citizens, and if
such a course was pointed out they would pursue it in good faith."
Happy would it have been for the South and for the whole country if
this advice had been followed, but the President and Congress were soon
engaged in a violent struggle over the reconstruction of the seceded
states, and anger, rather than wisdom, ruled the day. In the course
of this quarrel Stanton, the Secretary of War, was removed and Grant,
temporarily appointed in his place (Aug. 12, 1867), held the office
for about five months, thus taking the first step in the long political
career which lay before him.

Ten months later he was elected President of the United States and at
the end of his term (1872) he was reëlected by an overwhelming vote.
Those eight years were years of stress and strain, and his judgment
in surrounding himself with men unworthy of his confidence made bitter
enemies of many of those who had once supported him. He was, however,
intensely loyal by nature and having once made a friend he stuck to him
through thick and thin, making his cause his own and defending him, even
in the face of the facts, against any and all attack. He, accordingly,
assumed a heavy burden of blame that did not rightly rest upon his
shoulders, but in spite of this many people desired to see him again
elected to the presidency and they were sorely disappointed when he
refused to become a candidate. On the whole, he had deserved well of the
country and the people recognized that he had done much to uphold their
honor and dignity, even though he had been too often imposed upon by
unreliable and even dangerous friends.

A long tour around the world followed his retirement from the Presidency
and his reception in the various countries was a magnificent tribute to
his record as a general and a ruler. Meanwhile, an effort was being made
by his friends to secure his nomination for a third Presidential term,
and shortly after he returned home (1880) he was persuaded to enter the
field again. At first he regarded the result with indifference, but as
time wore on he warmed with the enthusiasm of his friends and keenly
desired to secure the honor. But no man had ever been elected three
times to the Presidency and there was a deep-centered prejudice against
breaking this tradition. Grant's candidacy therefore encountered bitter
opposition, and though a large number of his friends held out for him to
the last and almost forced his nomination, General Garfield was finally
selected in his place.

This virtually retired him from politics, and to occupy himself and make
a living he went into business with one of his sons who had associated
himself with certain bankers in Wall Street. Here, however, his
notoriously bad judgment of men and his utter ignorance of the business
world soon brought him to grief, for he and his son left the management
of their firm to the other partners who outrageously imposed upon them
for a time and then left them face to face with ruin and disgrace.

The shock of this disaster fairly staggered Grant, but he bravely met
the situation and stripping himself of every vestige of his property,
including the swords that had been presented him and the gifts bestowed
by foreign nations, strove to pay his debts. But, though reduced to
penury, he was able to prove his entire innocence of the rascality of
his partners and the general verdict of the country acquitted him of any
dishonorable act.

To earn sufficient money for his family in their dire necessity he then
began to write the story of his military life and campaigns, but in the
midst of this employment he was stricken with a most painful disease
which incapacitated him for work and left him well-nigh helpless. At
this crisis Congress came to his rescue by restoring him to his former
rank in the army, with sufficient pay to meet his immediate needs.
Then, to the amazement of his physicians, he rallied, and, though still
suffering intensely and greatly enfeebled, he at once recommenced work
upon his book.

From that time forward his one thought was to live long enough to
complete this task, and to it he devoted himself with almost superhuman
courage and persistence, in the hope of being able to provide for
his wife and family after he had gone. Indeed, in this daily struggle
against disease and death he showed, not only all the qualities that
had made him invincible in the field, but also the higher qualities of
patience and unselfishness with which he had not been fully credited.
Uncomplaining and considerate of everyone but himself, he looked death
steadily in the face and wrote on day after day while the whole nation,
lost in admiration of his dauntless courage, watched at his bedside with
tender solicitude.

At last, on July 23, 1885, the pencil slipped from his fingers. But
his heroic task was done and no monument which has been or ever will
be erected to his memory will serve as will those pages to insure him
immortality, for "Grant's Memoirs," modest as the man himself, have
become a part of the literature of the world.


The following is a partial list of the authorities relied upon in the

Grant's Personal Memoirs; Recollections and Letters of General Robert E.
Lee (Captain R. E. Lee); Life of Robert E. Lee (Fitzhugh Lee); Robert
E. Lee--Memoirs of His Military and Personal History (Long); Military
History of U. S. Grant (Badeau); Grant in Peace (Badeau); R. E. Lee--The
Southerner (Page); Robert E. Lee (Trent); Robert E. Lee and the Southern
Confederacy (White); McClelland's Own Story; Stonewall Jackson and the
American Civil War (Henderson); The Story of the Civil War (Ropes);
The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (Davis); History of
the United States (1850-1877 Rhodes); The Campaign of Chancellorsville
(Bigelow); Personal Memoirs (Sheridan); Memoirs of General Sherman;
Reminiscences of Carl Shurz; From Manassas to Appomattox (Longstreet);
Abraham Lincoln--A History (Nicolay and Hay); The Army Under Pope
(Ropes); The Antietam and Fredericksburg (Palfrey); The Virginia
Campaign of 1864 and 1865 (Humphreys); Chncellorsville (Doubleday); Life
and Letters of Robert E. Lee (Jones); Ulysses S. Grant (Wister); Ulysses
S. Grant (Garland); Campaigning with Grant (Porter); Autobiography of O.
O. Howard.

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