Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

XL
ENDORSEMENTS OF THE PRESIDENT

GENERAL John E. Wool had served with distinction as a major of infantry in the War of 1812, as well as later in the war with Mexico. Although he was already seventy-two when South Carolina fired on Sumter, he volunteered and took an honorable part throughout the war.1 And now in September, 1866, at the age of seventy-eight, he was still eager "to preserve the Union." Together with other distinguished Union officers, he came forward to rally the disorganized supporters of Andrew Johnson's cause by bringing together a "soldiers and sailors convention." It met on September 17th in Cleveland,--two days after the President's return to Washington.2

As delegates there came many who had won imperishable names upon the field of battle.3 Some were outspoken Democrats, some were Republicans, but into this convention they had come neither as Democrats nor Republicans, but Americans. Among them all there was no more gallant figure than that of General George Custer. Graduating from West Point in 1861, he had joined his regiment on the battlefield of Bull Run. In October, 1863, at the age of twenty-four, his shoulders shone with the two stars of a major-general! At Woodstock and Yellow Tavern, and afterwards at Dinwiddie and Five Forks, he won fame. But it was in the decisive battle of Cedar Creek that his gallantry had been most conspicuous.4

Custer was precisely a man after Andrew Johnson's heart, and this singularly gallant young cavalryman found in the President the qualities to rally all of his enthusiasm. He had accompanied the Presidential party on the "Swing Around the Circle." At Louisville, while an old Revolutionary soldier was boarding the train to greet the President, some Radicals standing about, uttered derisive groans. Hearing these, Custer stepped out on the plat-

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