Tuesday, March 4, 2008

ON THIS DAY: Wednesday, March 5, 1862

“I don’t now see it”

Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant has just received General Halleck’s March 4 telegram relieving him of command of a major expedition and accusing him of failing to provide regular reports. Grant replies, “I am not aware of ever having disobeyed any order….I have reported almost daily the condition of my command and reported every position occupied.”

Good soldier that he is, however, Grant wastes no time on strident protest, calmly devoting most of his letter to current conditions in his area. He concludes, “You may rely on my carrying out your instructions, in every particular, to the very best of my ability.”

To Julia, however, he is more candid. Grant’s wife has always been his emotional anchor and safe harbor. After enduring a visit from his father, Jesse Root Grant (pictured above), and once again finding him impossible to please and quick to criticize, Grant writes, “I feel myself worse used by my own family than by strangers and although I do not think father, of his own accord, would do me injustice, yet I believe he is influenced, and always will be, to my prejudice.”

Poor Grant. Halleck’s humiliating order had arrived during the father’s visit to his son’s headquarters. Of that order, Grant writes his wife, “I am in a very poor humor for writing. I was ordered to command a very important expedition up the Tennessee River and now an order comes directing one of my juniors to take the command whilst I am left behind here with a small garrison.

“It may be all right but I don’t now see it.”

ELSEWHERE IN THE CIVIL WAR: In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts, one of Lincoln’s “political generals,” leads a force toward Stonewall Jackson in Winchester. In Washington, President Lincoln asks Secretary of State Seward to summon a Cabinet meeting at 7 p.m. It is thought the topic was Lincoln’s proposal to offer compensation to slave owners to free their slaves.

IT’S COMING SOONER THAN YOU THINK: April 12, 2011—less than 3½ years from now!—will be the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1861, April 12 was the day Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

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