Ulysses S. Grant




Mosby, John Singleton. The Memoirs of Colonel John S. Mosby. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1917

John Singleton Mosby (1833-1916)

Mosby, also known as the "Gray Ghost," was a Confederate Colonel during the Civil War.

I first met General Grant in May, 1872. My home was then in Warrenton, Virginia, where I was practicing law. As I was only fifty miles from Washington, I was frequently there, but I had only seen General Grant once - one evening at the National Theatre , when he was in a box with General Sherman, Both men seemed to enjoy the play as much as the gods in the gallery.

In common with most Southern soldiers, I had a very kindly feelings towards General Grant, not only on account of his magnanimous conduct at Appomattox, but also for his treatment of me at the close of hostilities. I had never called on him, however. If I had done so, and if he had received me even politely, we should both have been subjected to severe criticism, so bitter was the feeling between the sections at the time. General Grant was as much misunderstood in the South as I had been in the North. Like most Southern men, I had disapproved the reconstruction measures and was sore and very restive under military government; but since my prejudices have faded, I can now see that many things which we regarded as being prompted by hostile and vindictive motives were actually necessary, in order to prevent anarchy and to insure the freedom of the newly emancipated slave.

I had strong personal reasons for being friendly with General Grant. If he had not thrown his shield over me in 1865, I should have been outlawed and driven into exile. When Lee surrendered, my battalion was in northern Virginia, a hundred miles from Appomattox. Secretary of war Stanton invited all soldiers in Virginia to surrender on the same conditions which were offered to Lee's army, but I was excepted. General Grant, who was then all-powerful, interposed, and sent me an offer of the same parole that he had given Gen. Lee. Such a service I could never forget. When the opportunity came, I remembered what he had done for me, and I did all I could for him.

In November, 1872, I had to go to the Treasury Department on business. To my surprise, General Grant walked in. He shook hands with me and said, "I heard you were here, and came to thank you for my getting the vote of Virginia." Of course, I appreciated General Grant's compliment, although he gave me credit for a great deal more than I deserved. General Grant had also done another thing which showed the generosity of his nature. A few weeks before the surrender, a small party of my men crossed the Potomac one night and got into a fight, in which a detective was killed. One of the men was captured and sent to Fort McHenry. After the war he was tried by a military commission and sentenced to be imprisoned. The boy's mother went to see President Johnson, to beg a pardon for her son; but Johnson repelled her roughly.

In her distress, she went over to the War Department to see General Grant. He listened patiently to her sorrowful story, then rose and asked her to go with him. He took her to the White House, walked into the reception room, and told the President that there had been suffering enough, and that he would not leave the room without a pardon for the young Southerner. Johnson signed the necessary paper.

Often as I went to the White House during Grant's second term, I never failed to see him except once, when he was in the hands of a dentist. In those days, hundreds went to see him for appointments. In spite of all this pressure, he never seemed to be in a hurry. He was the best listener I ever saw, and one of the quickest to see to the core of a question. In once called at the White House about seven o'clock in the evening. The doorkeeper said that the President was at dinner. I gave the man my card and told him I would wait in the hall.

He returned with a message from General Grant, asking me to come in and take dinner with the family. I replied that I had already dined. Then Ulysses S. Grant, Jr. came out and said, 'Father says that you must come in and get some dinner." Of course I went in. At the table, the General spoke of having called that evening on Alexander Stephens, who was lying sick at his hotel. It looked as if our war was a long way in the past when the President of the United States could call to pay his respects to the Vice President of the Confederate States.

A few weeks before the close of Grant's second term, I introduced one of my men to him. "I hope you won't think less of Captain Glascock because he was with me in the war,: I said. "I think all the more of him," the President promptly replied. I once said to General Grant, "General, if you have been a Southern man, would you have been in the Southern Army?" "Certainly," he replied. He always spoke in the friendliest manner of his old army comrades who went with the South. Once, speaking of Stonewall Jackson, who was with him at West Point, he said to me, "Jackson was the most conscientious being I ever knew." He talked a good deal about his early life in the army and gave a description of his first two battles - Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma.

In 1879, during the Grant's tour of the world, I last saw him. I went in a boat to meet him. As I went up the gangway, I recognized him, with his wife and eldest son, standing on the deck. He was the guest of the governor for about ten days. On several days I breakfasted with him and we had many free and informal talks. Once he was giving a description of his ride on a donkey-back from Jaffa to Jerusalem. "That," he said, "was the roughest rode I ever traveled." "General," I replied, I think you traveled a rougher road than that." "Where?" he inquired. "From the Rapidan to Richmond," I answered. "I reckon there were more obstructions on that road," he admitted. I never saw the great soldier again. When a dispatch announced his death I felt had lost my best friend.



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