General Grant in New York Pre: 1887

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Soon after his appointment as Lieutenant General in the army, General Grant visited New York. It was said he could not hold communication with the army without interruption at Washington, as his telegrams were tampered with. He came unattended and unheralded. He was some days in New York before the people knew of his arrival. it was by his order that the telegraph and press were silent. He passed most of his time in the private apartments of Mr. Stetson In his social habits he has the simplicity of a child, is unostentatious, and makes friends everywhere.

His Arrival.

He reached the Astor House at midnight. A party of gentlemen had secured a private parlor, and ordered a dinner without regard to cost. It was spread in the most elegant style of the Astor. The party were impatiently waiting for the call to dinner. Young Charles Stetson entered the room, and said, "Gentlemen, I am sorry to disturb you, but I must have this room, and the dinner as it stands. I can make no explanations now. I will make it all right with you tomorrow." Stunned and disappointed, the party separated, and General Grant and his friends sat down to the magnificent dinner.

An Adjutant General's Story

While the general was at the Astor, the adjutant general under Governor Yates was in the rotunda. As General Grant passed him to go to dinner, he said to some friends, "When I look at that man I can scarcely believe my senses. Three years have made a great change in his position and prospects. I gave him the first appointment that he had during the war. His antecedents were not such as to hope a great deal from him. He obtained no employment for a long while. At the earnest solicitation of his friends, and by Governor Yates's command, I appointed him to a clerkship in my office. He made a very poor clerk. We should not have kept him but for the outside pressure. He seldom said anything, engaged in conversation with but few persons, and seemed rather stupid than otherwise. Governor Yates had raised a regiment, which was a sort of pet with him. It was very mutinous, and no man could control it. One day Captain Grant came up to me, and in a quiet way said, 'I wish you would give me the command of that regiment. I think I can manage it. After much persuasion Governor Yates consented.

Grant put the regiment immediately on a march. On halting, the chief mutinous spirit walked deliberately out of the ranks. Grant had him immediately seized, pinioned, and sent tot he rear under guard. Several symptoms of insubordination were developed on the march. They were met at once and severely punished. The tramp the regiment took was fifty miles. The column was then turned, and marched back. The colonel then addressed the boys, telling them what they could depend upon while he held command. He knew how to treat good soldiers and reduce refractory ones. Those who had behaved themselves he gave leave of absence; those who behaved ill he put to unpleasant police duty and on guard. He told the regiment that he should deal kindly with all who did their duty; 'but, said he, 'if you do not obey orders, I will march you one hundred miles on the next trip and shoot every mutinous man found in the ranks.'"

How The General Got Into The Army.

In the incident just detailed we see the first step in General Grant's military career. At the opening of the rebellion, "Mr. Grant," as he was then called, resided at Galena. he had been educated at West Point at the public expense. He was with General Scott in Mexico as lieutenant, but all unknown to the commanding general. In Galena he was connected with his father's tam-yard. He was a plain, matter-of-fact sort of man, with little force, as it was supposed, attracting no particular attention any way. The flag had been shot away from Sumter. it had been blown out of the rebel cannon at Memphis. Our armies had done but little, and the prospect for the future was not brilliant. One morning Mr. Grant called on Mr. Washburne, a member of Congress who resides at Galena, and said to him, "Mr. Washburne, I do not feel right in regard to my position while the war is going on in defense of the Union. I am not doing my duty, and I cannot sleep nights. I am doing nothing. I have been educated at the nation's expense. I am not lifting a finger to aid her in this dark hour. I am no politician. I don't know what I can do. I feel as if I was fit for something, if I can only find my place." Mr. Washburne was about visiting Springfield to hold an important consultation with Governor Yates, and he invited his neighbor to accompany him.

On the morning of the fourth day after their arrival, Mr. Grant called at the rooms of Mr. Washburne. Mr. Grant said, "Mr. Washburne, I don't seem to be wanted here. Nobody knows me. There is nothing for me to do, and I am going home." "Hold on a day longer," said Mr. Washburne. An important consultation was held in the chamber next morning. At Mr. Washburne's request Mr. Grant was called in. He held an interview with the state authorities for about thirty minutes. He made a plain, common-sense, soldierly statement. With the word, as with the sword, he cut the Gordian knot of their difficulties. he pointed out the straight path in which they could walk without trouble. He then left the room. Governor Yates exclaimed, "Good God, Washburne, who is this man? I have learned more about troops in thirty minutes than I knew before in all my life. All I can do for him now is to put him on my staff. he must not be lost to the national cause."

His first business was at the state barrack, where he was to prepare troops for march when the governor should call for them. Things had been loosely done at the state rendezvous and seldom were men ready when called for. The governor used to send his order for men a week or two in advance. His first requisition was for a thousand men, fully equipped, to be at the state capital on a given day at the hour of noon. Promptly on the hour a colonel reported tot he adjutant general, and much to his astonishment, as the men were not wanted for several days. They found that Grant obeyed orders. he was ready at any hour for any emergency. The state barrack became a model for the army. Letters from the War Department, commendatory of the troops, praising their discipline and their fine equipment, reached Governor Yates. Such a man as Grant could not long remain in a subordinate position. He was commissioned as colonel of one of the finest regiments that left Illinois.

General Scott on General Grant

When General Grant first began to loom up as a military man, when he was gaining his first victories, not only fighting battles, but spoiling the enemy, he attracted general attention. it was the time when Mr. Lincoln referred to him as one of the most promising officers in the army, some one said, "Mr. President, Grant drinks." "Does he?" said Mr. Lincoln. "I wish I knew what whiskey he drinks. I would have some ordered for the other generals in the army." About this time I called on General Scott, who was then residing at Delmonico's. In referring to the war, General Scott said, "I never knew a war of this magnitude that did not throw to the surface some eminent military character. Our war so far has produced no such person. We have had splendid fighting and brilliant engagements, but we have not crippled the enemy, and have carried away no success. Both armies have retired in good condition, ready to renew the conflict next day. A war would be perpetual in which the enemy was not worsted, crippled, and his means of renewing the conflict destroyed. I don't know," he said, "but what I ought to make an exception in favor of that young man who is out on the Mississippi. He seems to know how to fight. He not only gains victories, but cripples the enemy. So far, certainly, he is the hero of the war."

Mr. Lincoln Recalls Him

To suit the soldiers who compose the home guard, who took care of the "spoils," filled the civil offices, and gave Mr. Lincoln daily instructions about running the government, General Grant's movements before Vicksburg were too slow. A strong pressure was brought to bear on Mr. Lincoln to remove him. All sorts of stories were told about his habits, his military incapacity, and his life as a soldier. Mr. Lincoln yielded, and an order for the removal of General Grant from the command of Vicksburg was made out at the War Department, and countersigned by the president. The adjutant general was sent on to relieve General Grant. He reached the headquarters about noon. The commanding general was form his post. The adjutant general took the opportunity to make himself acquainted with the situation. He had a soldier's eye, and a spirit free from jealousy. He saw at a glance how matters stood. General Grant had been telegraphed to, and he knew what had been done, and for what purpose the adjutant general was at his post. On his return, the commanding general frankly said to the adjutant general, "I know what you are here for. I don't want to see your orders till tomorrow. Give me twenty-four hours, and I will give you Vicksburg." Said the adjutant general, "You are entitled to it. I see the difficulties you have had to contend with. You are the eve of triumph. To carry out my orders will be to throw the cause back six months. I will leave you for twenty-four hours. If I am cashiered for disobedience to orders, I will accept it for the good of the country." At noon the next day the wires quivered in all directions with the thrilling news that Vicksburg had fallen. The adjutant general had now his peace to make with the President. He had disobeyed his superiors. His orders were peremptory and imperative. He was to remove General Grant, and do it at once. But he had not only not removed General Grant, but left him in command. The order for his removal was reposing quietly in his pocket. He found Mr. Lincoln in high glee over the brightening prospects of the national cause. He laughed at the fears of the officer, and said to him, "You would have deserved to be shot if you had obeyed your orders."

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Website: The History
Article Name: General Grant in New York Pre: 1887
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Sunshine and Shadow in New York by Matthew Hale Smith. Hartford: J.B. Burr and Hyde, 1868.
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