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A Soldier’s Friend

June 2019

Our article “The Sinister Corps of William O. Bourne” (June/July, 1979) told the story of The Soldier’s Friend and the penmanship contests which that newspaper held for Civil War veterans who had lost their right arms in battle. Harper’s Weekly has provided a footnote. William Jewett, a Harper’s artist, spotted General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife on board the New York & Jersey City ferry in 1867. As usual, they were traveling incognito. Keeping his silence, Jewett quietly sketched the above tableau and added a few words about it: “While General Grant remained in the cabin of the boat,” Jewett wrote, “he was approached by one of those disabled veterans … selling the newspaper known as The Soldier’s Friend . The General drew from his pocket a $5 greenback and quietly handed it to the astonished soldier. The latter was in doubt what to do until the General, with a nod, dismissed him. As he turned away, the soldier … recognized his old leader, and would have spoken; but a glance from the General silenced him and he bowed and passed on.”