- Historic Sites
The Fascinating Memoirs Of A Civil War Reporter
•“Three Years with Grant”•
October 1955 | Volume 6, Issue 6
As a newspaper correspondent with the Union armies in the Civil War, Sylvanus Cadwallader occupied a position of privilege such as few journalists have enjoyed before or since. He had orders from General Grant permitting him to pass any lines at any hour of the day or night and to commandeer any transportation, up to and including an Army transport, for his personal use.
Cadwallader’s extraordinary privilege had its origin during the Vicksburg campaign in a steamer on the Mississippi River when he saved General Grant from public disgrace as a drunkard. From that day on he lived virtually as a member of the general’s staff. His memoirs, written years later, present a new, intimate picture of the famous general which is not only a lively human-interest document but a highly important contribution to history.
Cadwallader’s memoirs were never published, and for years the manuscript lay, unnoticed, on the shelves of the Illinois State Historical Library at Springfield. The late Lloyd Lewis found it there in 1945, exulted that it contained “quantities of wonderful stuff,” and prepared to use it in his projected biography of General Grant—a work which his untimely death prevented him from completing. More recently, Benjamin P. Thomas re-discovered the manuscript, brought it out into the light of day, and edited it for publication.
Three Years with Grant will be published by Alfred A. Knopf on October 24, and a portion of it is herewith presented for the first time. Some of the material dealing with the Vicksburg campaign was used by Earl Schenck Miers in The Web of Victory , which was published by Knopf last spring.