A Lincoln Family Visit


March 27th, Gen. Sherman arrived at City Point for a conference with Gen. Grant, and found the President there also. His march from Atlanta to Savannah, and subsequent progress northward, had made him the favorite of the hour, and every one was glad to meet him. I cannot better describe his visit perhaps than I did to Mr. A. D. Richardson in the winter of 1867-8, for use in his Personal history of U. S. Grant, pages 455-7: “Several general officers met him at the wharf and escorted him to headquarters where many more awaited him. ‘How are you Grant?’ ‘How are you Sherman,’ with cheery smiles on the face of each, comprised about all formal salutations. Sherman said: ‘I didn’t expect to find all you fellows here. You don’t travel as fast as we do.’

“No time was spent in compliments. Sherman sat down in Grant’s stockade cabin with the general and his staff, and asked for a map. He was given to poring over maps. ... A large one was brought, and Sherman began to point out what he proposed to do. His plan was to bring his army up to Weldon, where it would be within supporting distance and could either join Grant, or go west to Burke’s Station to intercept Lee. When Sherman was through Grant said: ‘Well Sherman, I am going to move up to Dinwiddie on the 29th, and think that will force Lee out of his lines to give me battle there, which will be all I want; or so weaken his lines that I can attack him.’

“ ‘A big banter A big banter,’ said Sherman, ‘but we can make things perfectly sure.’

“ ‘Well,’ said Grant, ‘if we don’t succeed here, probably I can keep him from drawing back till you come up.’

“Sherman remained two days. Grant’s fear was that Lee might escape and join Johnston. He was anxious that the Army of the Potomac, which had fought so many battles for such slight compensations, should win a final triumph. To every suggestion from Sherman, or others, that the western army should be brought to cooperate in defeating Lee, he invariably replied, in substance as follows: ‘No. Some western men, or commands, would taunt this army with: “We had to come to your assistance before you could whip Lee, or end the war.” It will be better for the future peace of the country that the Army of the Potomac should finish the job.’ Mr. Lincoln, who at first favored Sherman’s joining Grant, was greatly impressed by the latter’s reasoning, and heartily approved it.”