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Review: Unique Civil War Biography

Deckman 09 Jan 03 - 11:04 PM
JedMarum 09 Jan 03 - 11:06 PM
Deckman 09 Jan 03 - 11:39 PM
Little Hawk 09 Jan 03 - 11:42 PM
Kim C 10 Jan 03 - 05:03 PM
Stephen L. Rich 10 Jan 03 - 05:45 PM
JedMarum 11 Jan 03 - 04:53 PM
Little Hawk 11 Jan 03 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,colwyn dane 11 Jan 03 - 09:47 PM
Deckman 11 Jan 03 - 09:50 PM
Stephen L. Rich 11 Jan 03 - 11:32 PM
JJ 12 Jan 03 - 09:47 AM
JedMarum 12 Jan 03 - 10:04 AM
JedMarum 13 Jan 03 - 10:10 AM
Kim C 13 Jan 03 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 13 Jan 03 - 04:30 PM
JedMarum 13 Jan 03 - 04:49 PM
GUEST 13 Jan 03 - 08:22 PM
JJ 14 Jan 03 - 08:54 AM
JedMarum 04 Feb 03 - 11:13 AM
Cornflake 04 Feb 03 - 04:18 PM
JedMarum 05 Feb 03 - 09:35 AM
Kim C 05 Feb 03 - 12:56 PM
Irish sergeant 07 Feb 03 - 03:25 PM
Kim C 07 Feb 03 - 04:18 PM
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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Deckman
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 11:04 PM

Oh Dear! The spelling Police have caught me ... again! bob


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: JedMarum
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 11:06 PM

Wilmer McLean moved away after the first battle of the war destroyed his home - he setteled where the war would never reach, and they wound up using the living room of his new (safe) house for the surrender ceremony...

a bit of irony, eh?


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Deckman
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 11:39 PM

Yes, I would say so! Thanks for the posting. Bob


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Little Hawk
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 11:42 PM

I think it was most unfair to the South when Lincoln removed Burnside as supreme commander. That lad deserved another chance to prove himself!

- LH


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Kim C
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 05:03 PM

Burnside would have been better off had he stuck to haberdashery.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 05:45 PM

The problem with all of the general appointed to that post before Grant was that none of of them actually did anything except to drill, move the troops about a bit, and burry thier noses in military strategy histories.

Stephen Lee


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: JedMarum
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 04:53 PM

Not only did they do nothing, they worked to hold donw those who did! The skills to rise to the top of a peacetime military were certainly NOT the skills needed to rise to the top of a wartime military! The Army of the Potomac certainly proved that, prior to US Grant's rise. The Federal victory was NOT simply a matter of Northern might, power and resources. Grant built a wining military AND political strategy, and was effective (not flawless) at directing its execution.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Little Hawk
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 05:22 PM

Yep. Grant was a disaster in peacetime, but he knew how to fight a war. The key with most people is situating them in the right place at the right time, I suppose.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: GUEST,colwyn dane
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 09:47 PM

I suspect the attributes a winning general was expected to have didn't apply to Grant; he was no Halleck or Hardee who both wrote manuals on military tactics/war or no McClellan who had his well trained army but was afflicted many times with "a dose of the slows". In boxing terms Grant,perhaps,was more like a Joe Louis type of boxer - going forward to seek out the opponent - "he can run but he can't hide" - with all guns concentrated and blazing away at the target.

Charles Francis Adams was the US minister to the UK between 1861-5 and whilst there his son Henry acted as his private secretary.
The autobiographical work "The Education Of Henry Adams" contains this appreciation of Grant and Lee.


Adams did not feel Grant as a hostile force; like Badeau he saw only an uncertain one. When in action he was superb and safe to follow; only when torpid he was dangerous. To deal with him one must stand near, like Rawlins, and practice more or less sympathetic habits. Simple-minded beyond the experience of Wall Street or State Street, he resorted, like most men of the same intellectual calibre, to commonplaces when at a loss for expression: "Let us have peace!" or, "The best way to treat a bad law is to execute it"; or a score of such reversible sentences generally to be gauged by their sententiousness; but sometimes he made one doubt his good faith; as when he seriously remarked to a particularly bright young woman that Venice would be a fine city if it were drained. In Mark Twain, this suggestion would have taken rank among his best witticisms; in Grant it was a measure of simplicity not singular. Robert E. Lee betrayed the same intellectual commonplace, in a Virginian form, not to the same degree, but quite distinctly enough for one who knew the American. What worried Adams was not the commonplace; it was, as usual, his own education.Grant fretted and irritated him, like the Terebratula, as a defiance of first principles. He had no right to exist. He should have been extinct for ages. The idea that, as society grew older, it grew one-sided, upset evolution, and made of
education a fraud. That, two thousand years after Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, a man like Grant should be called--and should actually and truly be--the highest product of the most advanced evolution, made evolution ludicrous. One must be as commonplace as Grant's own commonplaces to maintain such an absurdity. The progress of evolution from President Washington to President Grant, was alone evidence enough to upset Darwin.


Perhaps Grant was too simple to be understood by folk from a different background - such as Henry Adams who after all came from a family which had a presence in US politics since the Revolution.
I'm a Big fan of Grant the fighter.
Regards
CD.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Deckman
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 09:50 PM

Hmmmm? Very interesting!


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 11:32 PM

colwyn dane -- thanks for posting that.

Little Hawk -- Quite right. I'm just at the point in "Grant & Lee..." just after Grant has been stuck with the aftermath of the stock swindle. Before and after the war Grants life was a mess.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: JJ
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 09:47 AM

The true measure of Grant's courage came later, when he fought off cancer long enough to finish his memoirs and leave his family provided for.

A few years ago I visited Grant's Tomb (on Riverside Drive in New York City) and asked the ranger there what the official answer was to the question, "Who is buried in Grant's Tomb?"

He replied, "No one is buried in Grant's Tomb. The General and Mrs. Grant are entombed there."


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: JedMarum
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 10:04 AM

CD - thanks very much for that text. I read it woth great enjoyment!

I understand Adam's point about evolution - but relaize that he failed to understand that evolution does not progress in a single straight line! In fact, I would say that Grant rise actually demonstrates 'survival of the fitest" very well indeed! Though, in this case we are not talking aout the evolution of education and culture as it is developed in a single human being and his position. It is rathter shown that across a given society, the man most suited to rise t the top will have the abilities required to bring success - in this case, win the damn war! The rebellion was not going to go away on its own, the rebels were going to figh to the death, the fact that the union had more war making machinery was not going to win the war - it had to be fought, fought hard, fought long and it had to be a complete and utter vistory. The generals at the head of the Union prior to Grant, just didn't have what it took to win under those circumstances. Grant did not have the spit and polish education or social skills - perhaps not even the intelligence that Adams presumed were necessary to prove a superior achievment of evolution - but he did know what was required to win the war.

Great thoughts here, all. Good insights, LH


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 10:10 AM

I think I've run out of places to look for my questions above (who were the CSA troops at Charlestown WN in Oct of 1862). At least, I've exhausted my on-line research options. I may have to go downtonw to the Dallas library.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Kim C
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 03:10 PM

Jed, I am still looking, if I find anything I will give you a holler.

Grant the Civilian was simply Too Nice of a Guy. He trusted too many people and because of it, he lost a lot of money personally, and his presidential administration was dirty. Everybody loves a war hero, but they don't always make the best presidents.

Something about him that I find personally endearing is that he didn't want his wife, Julia, to have her crossed eye corrected. He said he liked her exactly as she was. :-)


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 04:30 PM

Have any of you Civil War buffs out there taken the time to read Grant's memoirs? Well worth the time it takes and wonderfully written besides-- Gertrude Stein disgreed with the Adamses & called it the best prose ever written in English. Besides-- the circumstances under which it was written are themselves incredible-- Grant had just been betrayed by a business associate and was close to penniless, and had just learned he had throat cancer and it was inoperable. He wrote those after he could no longer speak, racing against time to leave his family provided for. And he finished them.
And if this weren't enough, somebody named Ev Ehrlich recently wrote a book called Grant Speaks -- purporting to be the discarded first draft of Grant's memoirs-- and the more you know about the Civil War the more you'll laugh. (Gotta write Ehrlich and thank him. He deserves better than to have his book on remainder tables, which is where i found my copy)
Kim, I think I agree with you about Grant the civilian. But as a nation we're lucky we had him as a general.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 04:49 PM

Yes Pete, we spoke of grant's memoirs earlier in the thread, and I agree hi memoirs were well worth reading.

Thank Kim. I'll hope you can find something.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 08:22 PM

Jed et al
I read,some years back,the two volume set of memoirs,which had a Public Library acceptance date stamp of 1890 or so,and which included a facsimile of the Grant/Lee surrender document.
Grant's memoirs,1952 edition,are online
here.
In chapter 18 Grant describes a valuable lesson he learnt very early in the CW when moving against Colonel Thomas Harris and his force; if not exactly a revelation then a point of view he had not realised before.

JJ
Your post about Grant's Tomb made me reach for my books and in an autobiographical work by General Grenville M. Dodge found a chapter about the dedication ceremony of the tomb - Dodge was the Grand Marshal of the dedication parade.

Julia Dent Grant revealed that when General Grant and herself were in Europe they paid a visit to the tomb of Ferdinand and Isabella, both lying side by side in the tomb. The thought of the royal couple sleeping side by side for centuries appealed to Grant and turning to her, he said, "Julia, this is the way we should be in death."

The Grant monument was dedicated on April 27th, 1897. The parade of three divisions marched from Madison Square to the tomb, about four miles, and was then the largest parade ever seen in New York. It took five hours, closed in solid column, passing the review stand. The day was a cold, windy, uncomfortable day, but the police estimated that over 'three million of people' lined the sidewalks.
President McKinley gave an address and then General Horace Porter delivered the following oration [I post it as it was described by Dodge as 'a remarkable one, one of the finest probably ever delivered in this country.']:

"Most of the conspicuous characters in history have risen to prominence by gradual steps, but the senior of the Triumvirate, whose features are recalled to us today, came before the people with a sudden bound. Almost the first sight caught of him was in the blaze of his camp-fires and the flashes of his guns those wintry days and nights in front of Donelson. From that time unitl the closing triumph at Appomattox the great central figure of the war was Ulysses S. Grant. As light and shade produce the most attractive effects in a picture, the singular contrasts, the strange vicissitudes of his eventful life surround him with an interest which attaches to few characters in history. His rise from a obscure Lieutenant to the command of the veteran armies of the great Republic; his transition from a frontier post of the untrodden West to the Executive Mansion of the nation; his sitting at one time in a little store in Galena, not even known to the Congressman from his district; at another time striding through the palaces of the old world with the descendants of a line of kings rising and standing with uncovered heads in his presence. These are some of the features of his marvellous career which appeal to the imagination, excite men's wonder and fascinate all who make a study of his life.
He was created for great emergencies. It was the very magnitude of the task which called forth the powers which mastered it. In ordinary matters he was an ordinary man; in momentous affairs he towered as a giant. When performing the routine duties of a company post there was no act to make him conspicuous above his fellow officers, but when he wielded Corps and Armies the great qualities of the Commander flashed forth, and his master strokes of genius stamped him as the foremost soldier of his age. When he hauled wood from his little farm and sold it in St. Louis his financiering was hardly equal to that of the small farmers about him but when a message was to be sent by a President to Congress that would puncture the fallacies of the inflationists and throttle, by a veto, the attempt of unwise legislators to cripple the finances of the Nation, a State paper was produced which has ever since commanded the wonder and admiration of every believer in sound currency. He was made for great things, not for little things. He could collect fifteen millions from Great britain in settlement of the Alabama claims; he could not protect his own personal savings from the miscreants who robbed him in wall street.
If there is one word which describes better than any other the predominating characteristic of his nature, that word is loyalty. He was loyal to his friends, loyal to his family, loyal to his country, and loyal to his God. This trait naturally produced a reciprocal effect upon those who were brought into relations with him and was one of the chief reasons why men became so loyally attached to him. Many a public man has had troops of adherents who clung to him only for the patronage dispensed at his hands, or being dazzled by his power, became blind partisans to a cause he represented, but perhaps no other man than General Grant ever had so many friends who loved him for his own sake, whose affection only strengthened with time, whose attachment never varied in its devotion, whether he was General or President or simply a private citizen.
Even the valour of his martial deeds was surpassed by the superb heroism he displayed when fell disease attacked him; when the hand which had seized the surrendered swords of countless thousands was no longer able to return the pressure of a comrade's grasp, when he met in death the first enemy to whom he ever surrendered. But with him death brought eternal rest, and he was permitted to enjoy what he had pleaded for in behalf of others - for the Lord had let him have peace."

Is Grant's Tomb still a popular tourist attraction?

After the war Dodge was associated with Grant in various enterprises,such as the railway from the City of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, and he writes:"...of that peculiar make-up which let small matters go without attention, but in any crisis would rise to command it. He was so modest and so simple that his greatness was absolutely forced upon one from his very acts."

What I can make out from all of this is that Grant was an extraordinary man by being a great soldier and an ordinary man.

Regards
CD


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: JJ
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 08:54 AM

I never understood the Civil War in the west until I read Grant's memoirs. Twain called them the finest military memoirs since Julius Caesar's, but then, Twain was Grant's publisher!

Grant's Tomb is rather out of the way (at Riverside Drive and 122nd Street) and tourists will not stumble over it by accident, but they still come.

Across the street from Grant's Tomb in Sakura Park is a statue of Gen. Dan Butterfield, the man who wrote "Taps," by Gutzon Borglum, who later carved Mt. Rushmore.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: JedMarum
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 11:13 AM

I have found some answers to the questions I posted above ("looking for background info"), in case there is still some interest on the subject.

Briefly; I had found an account in the memoirs of an Irish Brigade soldier of a little girl killed accidentally by federal cannon fire at Charlestown WV in Oct 1962. I wanted to know more about the incident; who were the CSA forces, etc.

I have summarized what I've since learned below:

A reference entitled, "The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies" states that on Oct 16/17 1862 during a Reconnaisance from Harper's Ferry to Charlestown WV - and "a skirmish enroute" the union senior Federal officers present were Generals WS Hancock and JC Caldwell.

The same reference states that Col. Thomas T Munsford was commanding the Second Virginia Cavalry (listed as Second Virginia Infantry in another document). The Second Virginia later became the Fifth West Virginia Cavalry.

Hancock and one of the junior officers present (Maj FA Walker) had some corespondence during these days, and very little to say about the actions - but they did discuss confederate troop locations and movements. They did mention some skirmishing and small numbers of casualties.

I've found Munsford's comments for the same period of time. He made only general comments about the location, over the few weeks he was in command there.

I still have not found any specifics on the incident of the little girl accidentally killed by federal artillary fire. What was her name? Are there any other accounts of the incident? Is there a memorial to her in WV?


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Cornflake
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 04:18 PM

I can't answer the last question but I wanted to comment on what an interesting and civil thread this is. Jeb Stuart was a relation and I have a book about a not-famous ancestor of mine who was killed while serving in the Confederate Army. Lots of his letters to his wife are reprinted in the book. These days many people seem more interested in passing judgment on the Civil War than on understanding it but the comments here haven't been like that. For that, thanks to all.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: JedMarum
Date: 05 Feb 03 - 09:35 AM

Most of us involved in this thread think like you, Cornflake; we want to understand this period of history that so much shaped who we are today, as a nation and as a culture. It is the personal stories of experience that truly interest me, though more the general histories do too.

Thanks for joining the conversation.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Kim C
Date: 05 Feb 03 - 12:56 PM

Jeb Stuart is a hero of mine - I have a book of his letters that I bought somewhere in Virginia. The quality of letter writing at that time seems so much greater than it is now. The book begins with letters that Stuart wrote home when he was away at boarding school as a teenager. He laments the fact he hasn't had a letter from home in awhile, and says something to the effect of "surely you must have some pity on a poor insignificant whelp away from his mammy."

Do you know any 13 year-olds now who would even conceive of such?

People were also not so reserved about their feelings for one another, at least in personal writings. Stuart wrote to his close friend, Custis Lee, "come visit me and you can share my blanket." People look at that now and think it's some kind of sexual overture. It isn't. Blankets were scarce and soldiers, including officers, had to share. It was simply an expression of friendship and hospitality.

Then there were the letters he wrote to his cousin - I believe her name was Nannie Dundee or something like that, and if I remember correctly, she was engaged to marry Heros von Borcke at some point. Anyway - to the modern eye, these very sweet, impassioned letters look as if Stuart was pulling one over on his wife. But it wasn't that at all. Jeb and Flora had lost a baby. He wanted someone to talk to, and believed Flora couldn't bear to talk about the dead child. He didn't want to upset her any more than she was, so he turned to his cousin, and shared his grief with her.

Jed - sometimes incidents like the little girl being shot stay local, for whatever reason. There may be something in the state archives there.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 07 Feb 03 - 03:25 PM

Good afternoon all: A very entertaining thread. It seemed like a goood one to get back on Mudcat with. The interesting thing for me about the Civil War is the fact that the people involved were complex people. The times might have been simpler but the people certainly were not.
   I believe, had the South won the Civil War, the Confederacy would have Balkanized (Split and went their separate ways) I cite a notable Confederate as my proof; "It the South dies you may say it was killed by states rights" Jefferson Davis.
   I do understand why some don't like Sherman. Although I must add that he was thought of far better by Southerners immediately following the Civil War than now. JOsepph E, Johnston caught Pneumonia after going hatless to Sherman's funeral and reasoned sherman would have done the same for him. I certainly can understand about Sheridan. Never cared for him after I discovered that he was the one who came up with "The only good Indian is a dead Indian" remark, (and for the record I am not of Native American extraction.)
Sherman did tell them how the war would proceed and both sides thought he was crazy. (He was actually going to berelieved of duty for a time but Grant vetoed that idea.) More later, Neil


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Subject: RE: Review: Unique Civil War Biography
From: Kim C
Date: 07 Feb 03 - 04:18 PM

Sheridan had what I call Little Dog Syndrome - because he was substantially smaller in stature than his peers, he made a much bigger ass of himself.

If I remember right, what he actually said was, "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead."


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