Imágenes de páginas

were standing near a stove, the former in his old blue army overcoat, when the conversation took a war direction. Says Mr* Vincent, "It then continued so long as to make me nervous lest I should be too late for my engagement, and my unprofessional judgment could not pronounce upon the correctness of his opinions* But now that so much history has been made, I refer with wonder to his comprehensive statements of the magnitude the rebellion would assume; the positions it would assume and the means necessary for its dislodgements. He spoke quietly, but it was with the knowledge of a master. He comprehended the vastness of the coming war."

Governor Yates, in his last annual message, thus narrates the entrance of Captain Grant into the service of the State:

"Prominent among the many distinguished names who have borne their early commissions from Illinois, I refer, with special pride, to the character and priceless services to the country of Ulysses S. Grant. In April, 1861, he tendered his personal services to me, saying 'that he had been the recipient of a military education at West Point, and that now, when the country was involved in a war for its preservation and safety, he thought it his duty to offer his services in defense of the Union, and that he would esteem it a privilege to be assigned to any position where he could be useful.' The plain, straightforward demeanor of the man, and the modesty and earnestness which characterized his offer of assistance, at once awakened a lively interest in him, and impressed me with a desire to secure his counsel for the benefit of volunteer organizations then forming for government service. At first I assigned him a desk in the Executive office; and his familiarity with military organization and regulations made him an invaluable assistant in my own and the office of the Adjutant-General. Soon his admirable qualities as a military commander became apparent, and I assigned him to command of the camps of organization at 'Camp Yates,' Springfield, < Camp Grant,' Mattoon, and 'Camp Douglas,' at Anna, Union county, at which the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 18th, 19th and 21st regiments of Illinois volunteers, raised under the call of the President of the 15th of April, and under the 'Ten Regiment Bill,' of the extraordinary session of the Legislature, GOV. Yate's On Geant. 179

convened April 23, 1861, were rendezvoused. His employment had special reference to the organization and muster of these forces—the first six into United States, and the last three into the State service. This was accomplished about the 10th day of May, 1861, at which time he left the State for a brief period, on a visit to his father, at Covington, Kentucky.

"The 21st regiment of Illinois volunteers, raised in Macon, Cumberland, Piatt, Douglass, Moultrie, Edgar, Clay, Clark, Crawford and Jasper counties, for thirty-day State service, organized at the camp at Mattoon, preparatory to three years' service for the government, had become very much demoralized, under the thirty days' experiment, and doubts arose in relation to their acceptance for a longer period. I was much perplexed to find an efficient and experienced officer to assume command of the regiment and take it into the three years' service. I ordered the regiment to Camp Yates, and after consulting Hon. Jesse K. Dubois, who had many friends in the regiment, and Col. John S. Loomis, Assistant AdjutantGeneral, who was at the time in charge of the Adjutant-General's office, and on terms of personal intimacy with Grant, I decided to offer the command to him, and accordingly telegraphed Captain Grant, at Covington, Kentucky, tendering him the Colonelcy. He immediately reported, accepting the commission, taking rank as Colonel of that regiment from the 15th day of June, 1861. Thirty days previous to that time the regiment numbered over one thousand men, but in consequence of laxity in discipline of the first commanding officer, and other discouraging obstacles connected with the acceptance of troops at that time, but six hundred and three men were found willing to enter the three years' service. In less than ten days Col. Grant filled the regiment to the maximum standard, and brought it to a state of discipline seldom attained in the volunteer service, in so short a time. His was the only regiment that left the camp of organization on foot. He marched from Springfield to the Illinois river, but, in an emergency requiring troops to operate against Missouri rebels, the regiment was transported by rail to Quincy, and Col. Grant was assigned to the command for the protection of the Quincy and Palmyra, and Hannibal and St. Joseph railroads. He soon distinguished himself as a regimental commander in the field, and his claims for increased rank were recognized by his friends in Springfield, and his promotion insisted upon before his merits and services were fairly understood at Washington. His promotion was made upon the ground of his military education, fifteen years' services as a Lieutenant and Captain in the regular army (during which time he was distinguished in the Mexican war), his great success in organizing and disciplining his regiment, and for his energetic and vigorous prosecution of the campaign in North Missouri, and the earnestness with which he entered into the great work of waging war against the traitorous enemies of his country. His first great battle was at Belmont, an engagement which became necessary to protect our Southwestern army in Missouri from overwhelming forces being rapidly consolidated against it from Arkansas, Tennessee, and Columbus Kentucky. The struggle was a desperate one, but the tenacity and soldierly qualities of Grant and his invincible little army, gave us the first practical victory in the West. The balance of his shining record is indelibly written in the history of Henry, Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, The Wilderness, siege of Richmond, and the intricate and difficult command as Lieutenant-General of the armies of the Union—written in the blood and sacrifices of the heroic braves who have fallen, following him to glorious victory— written upon the hearts and memories of the loyal millions who are at the hearth-stones of our gallant and unconquerable "Boys in Blue." The impress of his genius stamps our armies, from one end of the Republic to the other; and the secret of his success in executing his plans, is in the love, enthusiasm and confidence he inspires in the soldier in the ranks, the harmony and respect of his subordinate officers, his own respect for and deference to the wishes and commands of the President, and his sympathy with the government in its war policy.

"As evidence of the materials of the State of Illinois for war purposes, at the beginning of the war, and a pleasing incident of Grant's career, I refer to an article in the Vicksburg paper, the 'Weekly Sun,' of May 13, 1861, which ridicules our enfeebled and unprepared condition, and says: cAn official report made to Governor Yates, of Illinois, by one Captain Grant, says that after exam


ining all the State armories, lie finds the muskets amount to just nine hundred and four, and of them only sixty in servicable condition.' Now the name of that man, who was looking up the rusty muskets in Illinois, is glory-crowned with shining victories, and will fill thousands of history's brightest pages to the end of time. I know well the secret of his power, for afterwards, when I saw him at head-quarters, upon the march, and on the battle field, in his plain, thread-bare uniform, modest in his deportment, careful of the wants of the humblest soldier, personally inspecting all the dispositions and divisions of his army, calm and courageous amidst the most destructive fire of the enemy, it was evident that he had the confidence of every man, from the highest officer down to the humblest drummer boy in his whole command. His generalship rivals that of Alexander and Napoleon, and his armies eclipse those of Greece and Rome, in their proudest days of imperial grandeur. He is a gift of the Almighty Father to The Nation, in its extremity, and he has won his way to the exalted position he occupies through his own great perseverance, skill and indomitable bravery."

The 31st of July, 1861, Col. Grant was placed in command of the troops at Mexico on the North Missouri Railroad in the North Missouri District, commanded by Brigadier Gen. John Pope. The regiment was marched to Pilot Knob, which it garrisoned; then to Ironton, and then to Marble Creek. On the 23d of August he was promoted Brigadier-General with a commission dating from May 17th. He was half way down a list of thirty-four appointed the same day. He was placed in command of the post at Cairo, with his own brigade and that of Brig. Gen. McClernand. His post included within its jurisdiction the Missouri shore of the Mississippi from Cape Girardeau to New Madrid, Kentucky, which was then enjoying its McGoffin neutrality, and rebel bands from Tennessee crossed the dividing line at pleasure, while they were fortifying Columbus and Hickman on the Mississippi, and Bowling Green on the Big Barren River. General Grant perceiving this, at once seized Paducah, a valuable post at the mouth of the Tennessee River, and within nineteen days he occupied Smithland, at the mouth of the Cumberland river, thus blockading the entrance of the rebel States, furnishing bases for future operations and clearing out the pestilent guerrillas who were attempting to close the Ohio River. The "neutral" citizens of Paducah were ready, with ample stores and secession flags, for the reception of the Confederate forces.

On the 7th of November was fought a bloody and sternly contested battle at Belmont, Missouri, and one which has caused much criticism. The object of the movement is stated by General Grant in his official report to have been "to prevent the enemy from sending reinforcements to Price's army in Missouri, and also from cutting off Columbus reinforcements that I had been instructed to send out in pursuit of Jeff. Thompson." The diversion had, it is affirmed, been ordered by his superior, leaving the time and manner optional with Gen. Grant.

The force consisted of two brigades, the first and second; the first consisting of the twenty-seventh, Col. Buford, thirtieth, Col. Fouke, and thirty-first, Col. Jno. A. Logan, Illinois volunteers, to which was added Capt. Dollins' company of Adams county cavalry, 12 men under Lieut. J. R. Collin, and Taylor's battery Chicago light artillery, six guns, and 114 men, under command of Brigadier Gen. McClernand; the second composed of the Illinois twenty-second, Col. Dougherty, and seventh Iowa, Col. Lauman, under command of Col. Dougherty. The whole force numbered 2,850 men of all arms. The Chicago Evening Journal thus narrates the battle:

"The design was to reach Belmont just before daylight; but, owing to unavoidable delays in embarking, it was 8 o'clock before the fleet reached Lucas Bend, the point fixed upon for debarkation. This is about three miles north of Columbus, Ky., on the Missouri side.

"The enemy were encamped on the high ground back from the river, and about two and a half miles from the landing. From their position they could easily see our landing, and had ample time to dispose of their forces to receive us, which they did with all dispatch. They also sent a detachment of light artillery and infantry out to retard our march, and annoy us as much as possible.

"A line of battle was formed at once on the levee, Col. Fouke taking command of the center, Col. Buford of the right, and Col. Logan of the left.

"The advance from the river bank to the rebel encampment was a running fight the entire distance, the rebels firing and falling back all the way; while our troops gallantly received their fire without flinching, and bravely held on their course, regardless of the missiles of death that were flying thick and fast about them. The way was of the most indifferent character, lying through woods with thick underbrush, and only here and there a path or a rough country road.

« AnteriorContinuar »