Ulysses S. Grant




The Macon, Missouri, Tuesday, January 24, 1917

Louisa Boggs (1824-1917)

Below is an interview with Louisa Boggs that was printed along with her obituary.

Among the treasured possessions of Mrs. Boggs are many letters from General Grant, some of which were written to her while he was president of the United States, and in which he spoke of her as "Dear Cousin Louisa." Mrs. Boggs lived in St. Louis for many years and resided there with her husband during the war.

Some years ago Edgar White, the well known magazine writer and newspaper man of this city, interviewed Mrs. Boggs, who retained until the last her sprightly mental vigor, and secured from her an interview from which he wrote a most excellent article, largely concerning her recollections of General U.S. Grant. Following are the closing paragraphs of this article, which contain one of the letters she received from the man who was once president of the United States:

"I received a number of letters from the General during the war. They discussed in a loving way his wife, children and his friends in St. Louis. He went into detail concerning the great work in which he was engaged. For all an outsider might know he was quietly working out some ordinary business matter. In one of his letters to me, he closed by remarking that he had a 'big contract on hand' and was looking forward with pleasure to the family reunion when he got through. The 'big contract' was the annihilation of Lee's army. The letter was written during the terrible campaign in the Wilderness.

General Grant's letters were in harmony with his social life. When he was home on a visit he rarely discussed the tremendous problems that were confronting him. He took the greatest, most tender interest in the children and would devote most of his time to discussing with them how they were getting along in school and other matters connected with their progress. Of course there were during these times great numbers of visitors constantly calling to see him, but I rather think these visitors bored him. Not far from our house was a large, rather imposing three story building. Most people who came out in search of General Grant would select that at a venture, because it was much larger than our house. The lady, a Mrs. Taylor over there told me one day that she had a good mind to put up a sign something like this: 'General Grant doesn't stop here.'

A regiment of soldiers marched along 15th Street one hot, dusty day, their bayonets glistening in the sunlight, and making a fine appearance. Fred, then a boy of 14, and keenly interested in all military matters, was in the front yard as the soldiers went by. One of them stopped and asked if they might have a drink of water. Fred instantly rushed into the house, seized bucket and cups, went to the well and pumped the water for the thirsty soldiers. He mixed among the troopers, handing them cups and refilling them. They thanked him and resumed their march. When Fred came into the house I asked him if he had told the soldiers that he was General Grant's son. 'Why no, Cousin Louisa,' he said, 'I wouldn't do that.' Fred was just like his father in respect to his modesty. He was a thoughtful, serious boy and very sensible.

General Grant never told any of us what he hoped to do, not even when his largest campaigns were under way. We gathered our war news from the papers, not from what he told us. I do not recall that he was ever visited while in our house at St. Louis by a news reporter requesting an interview. He may have talked with the newspaper men, but doubtless they got very little from him if he did. He was one of the closest men concerning the war that you could imagine. You mustn't get an idea that General Grant was morose in those days. He was kind and courteous to all, and enjoyed social intercourse with friends in his quiet way. He had a sense of humor too. I never heard him use an oath or a slangy expression, nor have I heard men who knew him say he did.

If there was any particular subject upon which General Grant could have been said to be deeply interested aside from his military career it was his family. He was the most devoted and loving man I ever met and as loyal to them as he was to his country."

Mrs. Boggs is still in touch by correspondence with the surviving members of General Grant's family. Most of her letters received from General Grant during the war she has given to friends as keepsakes. Following is a copy from one received while the Union army was at Culpepper Court House getting ready to deliver the terrific blows which were destined to end the southern Confederacy.

"Headquarters Armies of the United States, Culpepper C.H., Va., Apr. 24, 1864

Dear Cousin,

Julia has gone to New York City and will probably remain a couple of weeks before going to St. Louis. In the meantime I shall not hear from the children unless they write to me direct. I wish you would urge them all to join in letters to me every week. I feel anxious to hear from them always and then it improves them quite as much to write letters as to study their lessons. How do Buck and Nellie progress in their German? I hope they will place me in their debt, the fine gold watches I promised when they learned to speak the language.

Jesse has cut his eye teeth mingling with Washington society. He has become independent and a great favorite with both the ladies and gentlemen at Willard's hotel. He is still very anxious to get back to St. Louis to go to school.

Kiss all the children for me and the young ladies too if you like. I should like to see you all very much but I have a big contract on hand to complete before I can expect to indulge in any such pleasure.
Please write to me yourself also.

Yours truly
U.S. Grant"



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