Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War

By Benjamin P. Thomas; Harold M. Hyman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIII
THEY MUST MUSTER ME OUT

AFTER Appomattox, Grant had feared that Stanton might try to dominate him in the internal affairs of the Army. For his part, Stanton was at first worried that the immensely popular Grant would bypass him in the way that prewar commanding generals had flanked former War Secretaries. By the end of 1865, however, though they had a few minor disagreements, the two men settled into a comfortable and complementary relationship. Grant made the commanding general's office more important than the war office in army administration, as it had been in prewar days--a development which Stanton favored in the interest of peacetime efficiency.

Stanton relied on Grant's opinions on basic army policy and military relations with the public. They agreed fully on problems of demobilization, army reorganization, surplus property disposal, civilians' claims against the military, and the desirability of army rather than Interior Department jurisdiction over the western Indians. Together, Stanton and Grant proposed early in 1866 that Congress establish a new permanent provost bureau in the War Department to deal with recruiting and desertion matters. But when the matter became enmeshed in a personal feud between General Fry and Congressman Conkling, and Grant shied away from a contest with the powerful legislator, Stanton followed his lead and let the matter drop. Years later, Grant remembered how "every day . . . we grew better and better friends."1

____________________
1
Young, Around the World, II, 358; Grant to Stanton, Jan. 29, 1866, Stanton MSS; Badeau, Grant, 86; Hesseltine, Grant, 66-7; Fry, The Conkling and Blaine-Fry Controversy in 1866 ( New York, 1893), 17, 158-9; Stanton to House Military Affairs Committee, Feb. 19, 1866, Sec. War Correspondence File, Box 317, RG 107; and same toGrant, March 15, 1866

-471-

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