The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: April-September 1861 - Vol. 2

By John Y. Simon | Go to book overview
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Preface

T. HARRY WILLIAMS

IT WAS late July, 1863, and the loyal states were ringing with praises of U. S. Grant, the conqueror of Vicksburg. But one man was somewhat irked at the hero—General Ambrose E. Burnside, who had lent Grant a corps for the campaign against the river fortress and felt that he had contributed something to its success. Burnside did not want any public credit for his cooperation, but now that the operation was concluded he thought that he should get his troops back. They had not been returned, however, and he finally complained to Washington about the matter. What seemed to irritate him above all else was that he could secure no information as to the whereabouts of his corps.

The issue was deemed to be of sufficient importance to be laid before President Lincoln, who wrote Burnside a soothing letter. Grant had undoubtedly meant to return the troops but had probably found some use for them and had forgotten to tell the government, Lincoln explained. The President added: "Gen. Grant is a copious worker, and fighter, but a very meagre writer, or telegrapher."

Lincoln probably wrote the above sentence with relish. He was taking a dig at Burnside and other generals of his type, of whom there were many in the Civil War—the generals who were better with their pens than with their swords, who wrote much and fought little, who asked in letter after letter for more and more troops and then in other letters made excuses for not accomplishing anything with the troops they had received. Grant was not this kind of general, Lincoln told a friend. "He doesn't worry and bother me," the President said. "He isn't shrieking for reinforcements all the time. He takes what troops

-xv-

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