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Grant Writes Home
October 1973 | Volume 24, Issue 6
These letters, in short, reveal (irant with the varnish off. Whatever he may have looked like Io the embattled Confederates across the lines, to the people who knew him he was a doting family man, dedicated to his small children and eternally devoted to his wife. He wanted to be back home, at this stage of the war he was a bubbling optimist who believed the South would rave in after one more defeat, and he hoped to be stationed either on the Mississippi River or (of all places) on the Atlantic seacoast so that his wife and at least one or two of his children could join him. He was not at all the terrible (irant of tradition.
So here are the letters. Read them and get acquainted with a Grant you had not known before.
Pittsburg, Ten. April 8th 1862
D EAR J ULIA ,
Again another terrible battle has occured in which our arms have been victorious. For the number engaged and the tenacity with which both parties held on for two days, during an incessent fire of musketry and artillery, it has no equal on this continent. The best troops of the rebels were engaged to the number of 162 regiments as stated by a deserter from their camp, and their ablest generals. Beaurigard commanded in person aided by A. S. Johnson, Bragg, Breckenridge and hosts of other generals of less note but possibly of quite as much merit. Gen. Johnson was killed and Bragg wounded. The loss on both sides was heavy probably not less than 20,000 killed and wounded altogether. The greatest loss was sustained by the enemy. They suffered immensly by demoralization also many of their men leaving the field who will not again be of value on the field. [The Confederates were about half as numerous as Grant estimated, but the casualties were worse—some thirteen thousand on the Union side and more than ten thousand on the Confederate. General Albert Sidney Johnston was the Confederate commander, with Braxton Bragg and John C. Breckinridge as prominent subordinates. After his death he was succeeded by General P. G. T. Beauregard.]
I got through all safe having but one shot which struck my sword but did not touch me.
I am detaining a steamer to carry this and must cut it short.
Give my love to all at home. Kiss the children for me. The same for yourself.
Good night dear Julia.
U LYS .
Pittsburg Ten April 15th 1862
D EAR J ULIA ,
I am now living in camp about half a mile from the river preparing my army for the field. Gen. Halleck is here in command of the whole, Buell & myself commanding our seperate armies. I am looking for a speedy move, one more fight and then easy sailing to the close of the war. I really will feel glad when this thing is over. The battle at this place was the most desperate that has ever taken place on the Continant and I dont look for another like it. I suppose you have read a greatdeel about the battle in the papers and some quite contradictory? I will come in again for heaps of abuse from persons who were not here.
I sent you Simps watch and bought me a plain silver one. Also sent my citizens clothing, all of which no doubt has been received.
I have just learned that a boat was going down the river today and Orly [Orlando H. Ross, Grant’s cousin] is waiting to take this. Orly is doing very well and saving his money. I sent you $205.00 by express the other day. Did you get it?
We have had the most incessent rains here ever known I expect. The roads are now almost impassable and until they improve we cannot move. Give my love to all at home. Kiss the children for me and accept the same for yourself.
U LYS .
Pittsburg Landing, Ten. April 25th 1862
M Y D EAR W IFE ,
Again I write you from this place where I verily believe it has rained almost continuously since the begining of the year. No doubt we will leave here so soon as the roads become passable. I however am no longer boss. Gen. Halleck is here and I am truly glad of it. I hope the papers will let me alone in future. If the papers only knew how little ambition I have outside of putting down this rebellion and getting back once more to live quietly and unobtrusively with my family I think they would say less and have fewer falshoods to their account. I do not look much at the papers now consequently save myself much uncomfortable feeling.
I would have written you before but as I was writing to father I made that answer for one letter to you. I will enclose with this a letter from Gen. [Charles F.] Smith who I fear will not live many days. He was my old Commandant whilst a Cadet and a better soldier or truer man does not live. I want the letter saved. [Smith died that very day from an infected leg.]
I am afraid the money you let White have will be lost. Give yourself no trouble however over spilt milk.—I sent you $200.00 by express not yet acknowledged. Will send you some more soon. 1 also sent Simp’s watch which is not yet acknowledged.
Kiss all the children for me. When you hear of me being on the Mississippi river you can join me leaving the children at home. Give my love to all at home.
Col. Riggin is not with me. All the rest of my Staff are however. Hillyer & Lagow will be Colonels. Rawlins is a Maj. and ought to be a Brig. Gen.