tv The Civil War Ulysses S. Grants Memoirs CSPAN November 20, 2018 4:24am-5:43am EST
and you all as well to make this conference so incredible each year. i'm james broomall, and assistant professor of history as well as the director of the study for the civil war. it gives me incredible pleasure to introduce a very distinguished panel for today's roundtable discussion reflecting on grants memoirs. a man who in some ways knees knows introduction. it's brooks simpson, the asu foundation professor of history at arizona state university. he is the author of numerous books, including "u.s. grant: triumph over adversity,"" the reconstruction presidents," "the civil war in the east," and "reconstruction."
dr. simpson is currently working on the second volume of his biography of u.s. grant titled " ulysses s. grant: the fruits of victory 1865-1885." ceded to the far end is an author as well as chief historian in fredericksburg, virginia. as mr. don hennessy. he is the author of four books, including "return to bull run," which was named a main selection by the history book club. extensivelyworked in park interpretation and has given tours over america's battlefields for many years. i'm sure some of you have been to those tors. i think a 2005 i worked for john at fredericksburg, which was a tremendous pleasure. seated immediately to my left is jennifer m murray, who was recently appointed assistant professor of history at obama state university so congratulations. [applause]
her most recent publication is "on a great battlefield, the making and management of gettysburg national park from 1933 to 2013, which the university of tennessee press published into a 14. -- in 2014. i'm sure some of you know it quite well. she is currently working on a biography of george gordon meade. prior to her appointment at lsu, murray taught at the university of virginia and worked as a ranger here at gettysburg national military park for remarkably nine summers. is the author of 18 books, including most recently, "lincoln's mercenaries: economic motivation among union soldiers," due for release by lsu press in november 2018. some of his additional publications include lincolns
autocrat, a place called appomattox, and the last depot, which won the lincoln prize as well as the douglas freeman history award. ofis working on a biography fitzjohn porter. bit onng to project a what we are try to accomplish you today -- here today and layout a bit of a foundation. at the very end of joan was magisterial work, "american hero, american myth," she puts a twist on the very famous groucho marx question that he would post on "you bet your life." who is really buried in grant's tomb? she asked is it a democratic hero? is it a butcher general? is it a corrupt politician?
and what she is getting at are the varied interpretations that grant has enjoyed over the course of not only his lifetime but in subsequent years. i think in many ways that there is an enduring popular idea that grant was a butcher, that he was a corrupt politician, but i think as our panelists today are going to offer, there is a much more nuanced portrayal of grant. as we will discuss, grant himself actively constructed and cultivated that vision, starting in 1885 that was explicitly his family and financial ruin on the brink of humiliation. he starts an 11 month task and completes it one week before his death. that is of course the writing of a nearly 1100 page personal memoir. it's an absolutely remarkable accomplishment. during the time it sold incredibly well. in subsequent years, it enjoyed great literary acclaim.
wilson, stein, edmund and a number of other scholars have attested to its great merit. today grant will be our subject but through the lens of his personal memoirs. to start things off and this is indeed a conversation, i'm going to post just a very general question to our audience, meaning the four of you. we will talk later. challengest are the associated with using memoirs versus more timely sources written during the civil war itself? what are the challenges associated with using memoirs? >> i'd be happy to start. have a head start on you, answered this question added seminar at chambersburg 20 years ago. john simon was there and fact. i think he answered the question
first. who is the best memoirist to read for the civil war? you said forced porter. then who is the worst memoirist? and i said horace porter. i suppose i'm notorious for mistrusting memoirs, but then i am a mistrustful person i suppose. people are trained to look their best in her memoirs. they often don't remember faithfully what they felt that the time. i mentioned that the other day in reference to a fellow who indicated a different motivation for having an listed. enlisted. memory and personal and political motives have a tremendous impact on the ability of memoirs. james: anyone else care to comment? >> i'm on an anti-memoir kick.
how youhink about construct your own life in your own mind, your memory of it, we do that pretty carefully in fact. we categorize our lives in certain phases. we assign characteristics to those phases. we define certain aspects of our lives in great and simple ways when in fact we all know that those periods of our life were much more complicated than we portray them, that in doing what we do with our memories, we are forgetting a great deal in choosing to do that. i'm constantly struck -- and i would love to see someone do a eventon how memory of an evolves from its initial recording, when that is recorded in a letter, diary, or
contemporaries -- contemporary , and thecument benefits of becoming a wiser person. there's clarity and understanding, but in terms of understanding an event or person , we have to be very careful to reckon is that memoirs are carefully constructed to reliev e the person doing the remembering of the angst oftentimes of their own missteps , but also as bill mentioned, took her tray the person in the most positive light. we do that to ourselves. we all know the difficulties of our lives, but we choose to portray it to ourselves oftentimes in the most positive light. i'm a little bit suspicious of memoirs, but i do think grant's are an exceptional case and of incredible historical importance
. we have a lot to talk about today and no one can introduce brooks simpson, but he does need clarification which is why he is here today. [laughter] brooks: thank you, john. [laughter] i think however the power of grant's memoirs is that he tells the story, but he tells it in such a way that for many of you, you think it is the story. he is very careful what he forgets. he doesn't stress certain issues. example,o mention, for of grants relationship with alcohol and the memoir. there is very little about his disappointments and the rough times he had with other people. he settle scores. it is very much a personal statement, but it's done so well and contrast to many of the other memoirs of the american civil war that you come away from it saying that he has told
you the story not only as he would like you to hear it, but as he would like you to remember. that is one of the powers of that memoir. people continue to refer to that memoir as a factual account of everything that went on and not nitpick whether this was right or this was wrong. the fact of the matter is rant is telling you his story and it becomes the story. that i think is a tribute to his talent as a writer, that he is able to draw you into looking at the world the way he looked at it. comment: the first to or anti-memoir -- two comments were anti-memoir comment and we are here to talk about grant's memoirs and exposing caution of them. you have to take into time when the memoirs were written. era andthe lost cause grant is responding to criticism of his presidency after
reconstruction and the creation of the lost cause. you have to do that with secondary historians as well. we are all products of our time in which we write very much a product of that. memoirss comment about kind of changing over time, think about james long street. if you want to look at long streets memories as they changed over time, he is the best example of that. look at the writing in july of 1863 and what he is saying about the battle of gettysburg and look at long street subsequently and how his memories of gettysburg change as a tremendous example of the point of changing memories and landscapes over time. isanother thing about grant it is a virtual deathbed testimonial from an american hero. it is a memoir with an expect hopediting audience who it would validate their understanding of the past, and
to a large degree it did. the circumstances that begot it are exceptional. affordaw and society great significance to things that happen on the deathbed as they relate to the admission or narration of past events. reason itrt of the assumes such a lofty place in ,ur society and in our culture and grant's memoirs do hold a place in our society, is in part because of the circumstance of that. they are deathbed testimonial. >> the deathbed aspect of testimony is usually regarded most importantly as for its truthfulness. at that time, you are going to meet your maker and you didn't
want to go with a lie on your lips. that necessarily applies to grant because she sosed some men -- he missed many omissions that were possible. the real importance and is theion due the memoir heroic nature of it as an effort to support his family, but also he was trying to salvage everything he had done in his life and present it in a positive fashion at a time when your view of grant was largely still influenced by your politics. james: i think one of the goals today is to recover the layer of grants reputation over time. to get that conversation started , how did theoff what said
release of the personal memoirs start shaping grant's persona. how did his contemporaries receive it? what myths did he construct? memoirs come out during the first wave of civil war recollection. a public with a voracious appetite for the accounts, usually from prominent figures in the war. -- centurymagazine magazine battling leaders of the civil war become required reading for anyone who wants to understand the first generation of public absorption in terms of who did what to whom and where during the american civil war. people start to establish their narrative line. i would say most debates about civil war military history had
already taken place by the turn-of-the-century. the outlines were already established. we are just elaborating on them, for in some cases reenacting them more than anything else. grant is at that time venerated as a great american hero, but you can see there are cracks in the edifice on the top of the building grant's tomb. it takes 12 years to build because they had problems financing it. as americans try to venerate the past and the timeline ms. forward to the future, grant, unlike other military figures, had a postwar career and he may enemies as well as friends. some of those enemies carried over from wartime animosity to postwar animosity. things become a little bit more complex. as you're honoring grant, the nation is already sliding into a way to deal with the issue of reconciliation between why
people by giving confederates therir due. people who did not fight in the war help to harvest their own reputation on a reconciliation. joshua chamberlain for example. john b gordon. let's bring ourselves together by saying it's a misunderstanding between brothers. happened, but we are friends again. grant, there is a reconciliation the goes on and grant's passing. the memoirs were dedicated to the american soldier and sailor, not a union soldier in sailor. grant was trying to remind people, remember with this war was about. the comment about the confederate father this great gallantry for the worst cause imaginable. he is trying to walk that tight rope he had walked for the 20
years after appomattox in the first place. it challenges a reconciliation asked the with the wharf -- reconciliationist view of the war. >> what if there had been a volume three? >> one of the masterful thing is grant does not talk -- with one --mption that exceptions with one exception, he doesn't talk about his presidency. he had talked about his presidency during his trip around the world. john russell young had talked to grant. grant had been very frank. do so an active political figure. people talk about him running for president more time in 1880. togetherer has to come with a summary statement of what his presidency meant. what were his regrets.
over his successes and the like. mcpherson'sith jim "battle cry of freedom." it is critical the line ends in 1865. with theed in 1877 wounded and dead from the hamburg massacre or from the colfax massacre of 1873, the dissenting sour note at the end, that's a different story from the triumphant story we get in battle cry of freedom when we also get in grant's personal memoirs. >> thus far john has mentioned this is very much the construction of self going on in the memoir. brooks alluded to the fact grant is working to make reconciliationis perspectivet. casting himself as narrator? how is himself as victorious union general over the course of
his work? >> one way perhaps is the division of the two volumes. to get you two victories instead of one. toneso takes a very subtle in both his praise and criticism. as my wife repeatedly reminds me, that is much better than being acerbic. at edwinhis shots carefully but incisively if you read into them. i think that is the case with his criticism and his praise throughout the book. the memoirs, like every memory is constructed carefully. i think it is also one of the
reasons it works so well is it is grant. is very much his personality. it is extremely revealing about his mental processes and how he made decisions and managed people, which is one of the fascinating aspects of the war as a relates to some of the great leaders. lincoln. if you are want the primer and managing difficult people, read abraham lincoln's collected works. he has the patience and a skillet that that most of us to manage people could only dream of ever possessing. is focus onlicity, what is next rather than his deliberation of what is past reminds me of my college football coach. all he did was think about the next play. there was no time to think about what just happened.
grant was very much like that. always forward-looking. moment,t least in the regretting or criticizing or spending a lot of time looking backwards. always forward. for me one of the reasons the memoirs succeed so well is that they reveal him in his essence, which was to take complicated things and reduce them to workable problems. we have professions in this country who spend almost all their energy trying to convince us what they do was way more complicated than we could ever imagine it to be and therefore we need a higher those people who can minnesota's -- hire those people who can manage those complicated things. grant's focus was on breaking things down into its essential elements.
least, hey, for me at is in many ways a model thinker and in many ways a model manager as well. >> with interesting about some of his discussion is you would get the idea that starting in 18 -- he began to think about his past and the shadow of death penng that he finally puts to paper and described what he describes. what is interesting, and i see this with basically every single other grant biographer is that grant had already told his story once. exalted through adam the dough deau, published a three volume military history of u.s. grant. grant gave his remarks on them as they came out.
it was the official biography of grant's military career. is interesting how a lot of things that later on i would point out as being mishaps in grant's memoirs first appear in bedeau's history. famous statement and many traditional civil war histories that after the battle of shiloh grant was convinced the confederacy was in this for the whole game. they would be a tough, bitter opponent and you have to escalate and odor to defeat them. his letters home, including letters to juliet say after shiloh one more battle and we are going to go home. until grant'sot occupation duty and western tennessee dealing with the white population that he begins to say this is more serious than we thought it was going to be, but that is not something you want to feature at that time.
you focus on the confederate fighting man and not of the resilience of the confederate civilian population resisting occupation. that is a different story. people -- it is clearly contradicted by grant's phone correspondence and personal experience at the time. what is interesting is when you go back and read bedeau, and i challenge you are grant biographers have read him, that is with that comment first appears. he plays a role in the writing of the memoirs. everyone is so anxious about preserving grant's authorship edau was hired as a fact checker and researcher. sometimes you're only as good as the stuff coming into you. this is a four the official record came out. grant have already
worked on this narrative once. bedeau is to the understood when grant for his memoirs whatever overshadowit would bedeau's book. if you know from the grant papers that grant was supervising every single chapter and modifying judgments not only for his memory but also for the political necessity. he said ease up on ben butler. not because been brother was such a great general, buddies now a prominent republican. -- but he is now a prominent republican. it shaped a lot of what he wanted to write about the military events of the past. bedeauber member adam today.
nobody reads his book, but in terms of the military narrative, got the personal feelings for the childhood experiences, etc., there are other things not in the book. he would barely recognize he was deeply in love with his wife from his memoirs. it is very much a public memoir and not a private memoir. there are some telling personal stories. by and large it is what grant want to to see, not necessarily a confessional memoir. it is much more of a very controlled -- i will let you see this because the story until you know is going to serve a purpose later on. it is a very conscious narration and a creation of self that is engaged in this. this is a first draft. $500,000 in royalties up this book. posted what brooks simpson gets in royalties off his book. >> close.
point, hebedeau claims authorship for this, doesn't he? has a falling out with grant when people speculate and he encourages that in a lot of ways that he and accurate grant's memoirs. that relationship is volatile at the end. >> not quite. ofnt nearly died at the end 5.rch or early april of 188 bedeau volunteers to read the rest of the memoirs and publish them as if they were grant's. clearly privately he is beginning to tell people what is going on in such a way as to leave the impression he is the ghost writer of the memoirs. bedeau is preening over generosity which is also self-interested brought a vast reaction from grant that bedeau
is fired. the reason the second volume takes along to appear is because fred grant, the general's eldest sons who was a problem child himself, for a grant rewrote -- fred grant rewrote everything he could to erase any sign that bedeau had been a contributor to the narrative. , given up.argued let the book come out. stop messing with it anymore. we have had this authoritative version of grant's memoirs but we have a lot of the detailed literary analysis about changing from draft a draft in the publication that would show the changes. bedeau at a go to court just to get the money he had been promised as a fact checker and ultimately does get it, but it became one of the first issues of aspersion on the book. who really wrote grant's memoirs?
forget he was very grant's to mb. nobody is. the body's are buried above arend that b -- bodies buried above ground. i like to go ahead and throw a grenade in their disease gets hit. hit. there to see who gets we have to understand the degree to which the actual account of how this memoirs were constructed are a little messier than we like to see upon recollection. analysis done no close of the literary style, and it has been some years since i read the memoirs and i did not reread them for this. research i didf do for this session, which
turned out to be a failure, was to look for some evidence of grant having suffered from ambiguous writing of some kind. so many historians have repeatedly said his orders were so clear. his writing was so clear. i am so accustomed to finding some of our most renowned historians have simply repeated each other's findings without doing much research into the depths of it that i went through the official records looking for ore sort of inadvertent deliberate ambiguity in his orders. i could not find any. perhaps that is a testimony to the accuracy of the assessment of his writing.
my recollection is the simplicity of the style was consistent through the two volumes. i never really suspected that he had a ghostwriter. i was simply impressed -- i think the official records act on volume 12 about the second bull run campaign. it was an publication when he died. i was impressed with the relative accuracy of most of his official recollections of orders and movements. >> too quick things. speaking of bedeau, once bedeau writes, that is a precedent that must be invited. -- the abided.
think about your own stories in your life and how you remember and how you recount them. point where you told the story so many times and have seen a picture or watched video of yourself as a child. you don't really remember whether you're recalling the event or whether you are remembering what you've heard, said were seen since the event -- said or seen since the event. bedeau is the intervening milestone between grant's experiences and his memoirs. i think brooks' idea of an analysis of how these changeover time and what impact bedeau has on the memoirs is very interesting. i will draw out an example. that is a famous turn in the wilderness on may 7 where the union soldiers are groping to
the darkness and there are fires burning all around. they come to the intersection. you take your intersection on the bar plank road, which ever one, and they turned to the right. what do they do? they cheer. the story appears for the first time in bedeau. grant retells it. porous border retells it -- horace porter retells it. this is a testimonial to the work of memoirs and letters. if you go back to things that are written in the span of the battle itself, i have not been able to find a single reference to that episode occurring with that understanding that these men were cheering this new direction in the war effort. it was dark. it was the middle of the night. they had no idea what roads there on. they did cheer grant during the day. i think they sensed there was a
new direction, not literal, but the general direction of the war effort. by what theypired were experiencing, the they lamented the cost of the whole thing. the localizing of this idea, this moment that grant is here and things will be new has been reduced to this turn at an unnamed intersection of virginia in the middle of the night. i have been able to find no evidence from that time that it actually happened. go to memoirs, and wants bedeau -- once bedeau and correct amount, it is repeated endlessly. i was looking for it and i have not been able to find it yet. referencedbeen obviously to some degree, especially by brooks. has theites the war mechanician of great power and intelligence.
brooks adjusted some of the more difficult parts of the war that are left out. i simply put a question that, does grant make winning the civil war to easy? -- too easy? >> no, because then he would not be a great general. the idea is to say we had challenges. some challenges reflected a few things that there was an invited north during the war. the union cause did not always enjoy the support it might have in retrospect. rose: recollection -- rose-colored recollection. at critics of his generalship, and takes little knits with each critic. the -- if you don't
damnsome waterloo moment, close things, you are not a great general. if you roll over them from the beginning, that is it. the confederates fought well. this is one of the troubles i have with lee's scholarship. do is beat to mediocrity. lee?does it say about you have to make the opponent look able. grant will do this. because about terrain at fort dix and. -- dixon. there were challenges and we overcame them. it is a quest story as well. fore criticize grant leaving stuff out. he doesn't talk about his drinking. it doesn't talk about several orders he issued, lots of
things. we might wonder at that. maybe the dishonesty of that, but i would point to a couple of his admissions and what did they do. for example, in his one sentence about the battle of coal harbour , it has been taken by generations of people and spun into a legend, a myth about grant. his one sentence about it has defined cold harbor in the public mind since the war for generations. he was president. he understood what he said would be parsed and scrutinized. of course he was careful about that. the wisdom of that is, to me, evidenced in what has been done with the few missteps he
conceded to. brooks, other than the cold harbor emission, is there anything else? >> the fault at vicksburg on may 22. him withy has proven respect to his own self interest right in being guarded. fans onve two hockey our panel. i know almost of a rebel sport. one of our panelists asked the question i vaguely understand. job wouldapproaches the 1982 islanders on the 20 -- or the 2016 penguins? hopefully we have some hockey fans in the audience they get it. how was his approach to the job reflected in these two teams? >> islanders won the stanley cup
in 1983. it was 35 years ago. it was a long time ago, which classifies as memoir. advisement when brooks starts talking. >> the pittsburgh penguins never won the stanley cup until they acquired the services of islanders center. idea what this question is supposed to mean. years -- war took four i would not ask that kind of question. the civil war took four years. you need someone to win for four years in a row that would complete the job. not someone for just one year or two years. would have choked in the 30 year or fourth year. washington capitals fans, you finally did something right. as an islander fan out to thank you for stopping me. -- stopping the penguin juggernaut. self-inflicted wounds, but you
had to keep on winning and winning one year is one thing and winning two years. years,e. lee won for two but he surrendered to the guide appomattox to won for four. >> where all enlightened by that. >> especially no. now another thing with our hockey team. >> i thought they were a little birds that walked around. >> we have often wondered. tolet's turn a little bit some of the more -- what we can learn from these memoirs. i think we can head home with the points that, calculate use these memoirs as a window to understand grants understanding of warfare? had it is memoirs enlighten us understoodrant the process of waging war? >> i wonder if more can't be
drawn from his recounting his experience in the mexican war r then in the civil war. and the civil war he is for most of the time the central figure. war,nk his impression of which were clearly delineated in those early chapters. exploitationof the of -- exploitative military practice. >> i think we touched on this a little bit. you get a sense of grant having a lot of respect for his enemy. grant's memoirs, one of the greatest attributes is how fair it is. it is not the whining petulance bc and a lot of the other post-civil war memoirs. an example of that is grant
recounting the cnet appomattox when he goes out and meets lee. the surrenders and is back to making in line. there is a celebration by all these union soldiers and they start the fire their guns in the air. grant tells them to stop. he has this great recounting of how he felt when he went to see robert e. lee and the war had come to an end. he did not want to celebrate because he understood while the font for the wrong cause and grant is clear on secession and slavery, he did not want the to be humiliated. grant is a very prideful, respectful 19th-century general that plays out in the civil war. >> i think bill is right. during the mexican-american war, grant saw people killed her next to him. grant saw friends killed right next to him. there is an intimacy of combat you will not talk about later on with a commanding officer.
's description of the battlefield at shiloh after the battle, the bodies strung across thickattlefield were so you could walk from one into the field to the other aggressively walking across the bodies. we rarely have in the civil war memoir by a commanding officer this reflection that maybe during combat --grant does talk about this -- you are wrapped up in directing people here and there in responding to enemy initiatives and issuing orders. you can detach yourself from the horrors of war, but afterwards walking across the battlefield in seeing what has happened, many times at your own direction is a sobering and humbling moment. today,we we can go from this building out to the fields.
wonderfully manicured, verdant green battlefields. beautiful pictures and the like. we forget by july 3 this field in 1863, the human carnage and the animal carnage across this field was horrific. sometimes i think we see war as one of those times we encounter were games without bodies. you look across at this field, you should have been horrified and nauseated. it's amazing people could continue to go on given that was going on. people.all these you have 51,000 people killed, wanted or missing in this area. -- wounded or missing in this area. that is a tremendous amount of human carnage and the ability of the spirit to deal with that is
something we might want to reflect on. grant talks about that in his description of the shiloh battlefield, the bloodiest single battle and american history with the casualty count that with a total american military losses from previous wars to shame. >> the other side of that is his kind of -- not clinical but straightforward recounting the battle is really detached from reality of the purpose of warfare on battlefields. to put as many pieces of metal as you can into the bodies of other human beings. i would suggest maybe some of his detachment is his careful narration that is fed into this perception of him as a butcher. he does not mention it. he oversaw in the overland campaign the greatest carnage that was seen during the
american civil war. he was acutely aware of that fact. he was acutely aware too of the fact the great question of 1864 was, for the nation bear those losses long enough to allow for a rim lincoln distill -- for abraham lincoln to still when the election and make progress to win the war that lincoln would be reelected? that is a horrible calculus to have to make. it is very clear. there are memoirs of him at the wilderness at one point sitting on his cot and sobbing. i don't know if that is -- i'm curious what you would think of that, brooks. i have not looked at all the sources. i think his decision not to include that sort of thing has left him open and vulnerable to this continued perception of him as an uncaring, attached,
clinical butcher. hed, clinical butcher. >> it makes a very smart decisions as a commander. i was hoping you and your fa fellow panelist might speak as to how political considerations shaped grant's strategic decision-making processes. >> is strategic decision-making processes -- 1864, robert e. lee 's report said it grant ever crosses the james river, in only be a matter of time. the fact is grant did not have all the time he needed to have. the had to produce victories that appealed to northern public opinion in a timely fashion to secure lincoln's reelection. one thing that is interesting about the issue of politics is
political affiliation continues to run to the memoirs. the subtext would be the republican. don't let them back in. he is willing to acknowledge there were some generals with democratic affiliations who nevertheless were successful during the war, but there is a relentless anti-democratic, anti-copperhead -- he is much angrier at democrats that he is had white southerners for what they're doing. if you want to save the fruits of victory, the sacrifice of so many, vote republican. as he's doing this, or writing the memoirs the democrats win the white house with grover cleveland. the cleveland presidency is about what the civil war is about now that the white house is in democratic hands. and amay have been a whig
douglas democrat, but starting in 1864 he is a rock river ribic and -- rock republican. political loyalties became obvious to me as i followed the course of john porter's request for assistance in achieving some sort of exoneration for what was really a political hit in 1862. he was also quite sympathetic, although not particularly generous to burnside in his memoirs because burnside was by then a republican. he was dead so there was nothing he could do about getting him reelected. he -- i think he could've been a lot harsher and certainly would have been harsher in 1864. aide porter and
when he ultimately said was a just effort to obtain some sort reputation.of his he waited until he was out of the presidency to do that and that he didn't abruptly. -- did it abruptly. >> how have these political considerations you feel shaped grant's assessment of other officers? you hinted at this a little bit. is there a bias that overwhelmed elements of his assessment of other officers and politicians? was the rather neutral and fair? -- or was he rather neutral in fair? e tended to damn certain officers with praise, especially at the end.
he had a great deal to say during the course of the memoirs about phil sheridan that i think probably should have been a little harsher. generally -- the fairness came through as potentially just more subtle praise or criticism. he simply wasn't going overboard with any of them. the clutch of officers he mentioned towards the end of his praisestruck me as faint but also faint criticism. and fair consequentially. jim mention of working on a biography of george gordon meade. memoirsut the grant's i'm looking to see how evaluates meade., and he's kind of not in
a lot of ways. he is not very critical of meade in 1864-1865. meade is devoid for many real criticism and grant's correspondence, which is not how meade right about grant. looking at meade's relationship with grant, margaretta hates grant. you can see this vitriolic feeling that mrs. meade has for grant the issue does not think grant this properly helping her husband's reputational giving him due credit he is deserving of. by and large, meade, industry a lot of other officers. the war and situation is the most poignant of help grant to find his reputation with his subordinates, but i think he is fair across the board to all of his subordinates in his memoirs. to me the mostr
interesting thing about his writing about his subordinates is what they really say about grant himself. variousook at his statements about various officers, they have clear themes that clearly appeal or don't appeal to him. tend to be attracted to people who have similar values and worldviews, i think. i went through and made a little list. it is kind of interesting list. burnside, he says he is unfit for command of an army that he quickly adds no one knew this better than him. burnside admitted that. he also said he always admitted his blunders. grant did not mean that in a flattering sort of way. he meant that as a criticism of burnside. poker -- he is the harshest of , said he was a
dangerous man in a subordinate to his superiors. of stanton, he carried nothing for the feelings of others. it was more pleasant for him to disappointing gratify. you think as i do say that lincoln gained influence by making him feel it was a wizard to serve him. -- a pleasure to serve him. in distressed him to disappoint others. and he goes on to your buddy stanton. hancock,'s genial disposition made him friends. it won the confidence of troops serving other him. he refers to this genial disposition. the way to interact with people. grant was not the most personable or open sort of guy, that unit was a harsh -- but neither was he harsh.
he said he makes friends of those under him by his iteration and he possesses a clear possession of taking the situation in which he is placed at any given time. meade was subordinate to his superiors, a complement. grant practiced that himself as a related to abraham lincoln. his criticisms are often complex, but most complexes of meade. his first idea was to take an idea of the lay of the ground. sometimes he wanted to meet afterwards, which is kind of shaping a pretty harsh criticism and a happy sort of package. i i would urge you to take those and read those and say, what does that say about rant? -- grant? he is highlighting the characteristics he found easy to work with.
sometimes he practiced the facility with the gravity talks about meade. topography in connection to meade. those were important to him. , all of subordination these things are important to him. most of these things he practices himself. assessment of stanton was in my estimation very generous. yet accurate. i find it interesting he hooker forjoe the same attributes he should have criticized phil sheridan. to bean tended subordinate to grant but not other superiors. grant was basically his patron and he was defiant of meade simply because he knew daddy
would take care of him. his assessments of other people may also represent how he attempted to use their reputations to sustain his own. he was so careful about his assessment of lincoln. he said he never interfered with the army. yet he seems to have her gotten his interference with mcclellan and other generals. flay those that are unpopular and to sort of struck the reputations of those that were popular. >> one last comment about sedgwick. he said the government's john sedgwick -- he compliments john sedgwick as a great man, but his ambition was not great. he seemed to drift responsibility.
ambition was something that ized and possessed himself. read those things with a knife what they say about grant more so than about his subordinates. >> wonderful. thank you all. one of the most one of full elements are the questions you yourselves have been asking our specialists and panelists during the course of the past couple of days. and our meeting time i would like to open up the floor specifically at the mics for those who have questions for the panelists about grant, the memoirs, of construction of the past. i would invite you to speak into the microphone clearly. you will have some illuminating answers, no doubt. >> thank you. i read the memoirs along time ago but i recall grant did not discuss the -- when he waited a
couple of days for the troops to take the wounded away. i also recall he stated surprisingly that he thought lee has suffered for more casualties in the overland campaign than he did, which is rather ridiculous. i think it was a two for one ratio. like you think you did that, saying lee suffered more casualties? set don't recall what grant about the casualty ratios. i will talk about the 1870's. jubal early and adam bedeau engaged in a war of words. a flag ofe to have truce after cold harbor, most people see that as two prideful, stubborn men prancing in front of each other at a cost of people between the lines. grant does not mention other things either.
fromrder expelling jews his command at the end of 1862. there is no discussion about that. it is one of the few charges he did respond to in 1868. it will be how he is going to story.e or -- tell that war story. it doesn't reflect on the fact that robert e. lee in 1864 sanction the use of african-american p.o.w.'s working on the frontline st. petersburg. grant had to retaliate by putting confederate troops to work, prisoners to work on union fortifications under confederate -- to respect the fact it was the color of the skin accounted. we are also talking about a man during the second volume is dying of cancer.
asking for a level of literary production from a man who can't get any sleep. it was coughing up half his body and deteriorating day by day. i know plenty of people in pretty good healthy can't write worth a lick. [laughter] every once in a while i reviewed one of the books. [laughter] >> thanks. [laughter] >> in all seriousness, sometimes we ask more from the memoirs that should be sustained by a better understanding of the circumstances under which they are produced. >> that is 11 months. he writes these memoirs and 11 months and finishes his last words any guys three days later. if brooks can read about 11 months, we would have that second volume of the grant biography. >> which was still beat all the
meade biographies of their. [laughter] -- out there. >> regarding the hockey question, is the sharks. -- cups tocu the sharks have? >> its perseverance, just like grant. this is an extension of what john hennessy was talking about. grant reflecting on his officers. the rather memoirs it becomes apparent this strange relationship between grant and george thomas culminates at nashville. there is the threat that thomas is going to be relieved but luckily he was moving so we didn't. readings of the memoirs, which i finished the day before this seems chapter 68, two chapters before the end,
grant suddenly revisits thomas and he seems almost wistful, conciliatory. officers visited other , but he gives thomas a page. i wondered if this was a product of where grant was in his bit of, having a little reconciliation that he wanted to say some nice things after hammering a bit on thomas. think it is one of those things you can be magnanimous in victory and talk about how the other team really tried really hard and they were really good opponents and a run at the best in you. the fact is he sticks to the fact that while thomas was a very successful commander, he was darn deliberate.
he had his own pace of doing things. what is interesting is that is not more revealing about thomas' lack of response to inquiries. they were oil and water to each other. they could not get along, either with the other. thomas despised grant. we talk about memoirs. the best memoirs would be unwritten ones. robert e. lee dying in 1870. george thomas dying in 1870 spared us. 1872, if someone wrote his memoirs. in all seriousness, they never got their shot to say with a felt about things. -- if you want to do somebody in the best way is not to mention them at all.
commentever hear the that the argument dies and then become a footnote. i think the reputations of -- thomas andl lee are shaped by the fact that did not write memoirs even know they had strong opinions about their performance in the war and reasons for victory and defeat. grant can say i have said what i have to say. i understand there are many george thomas fans out there. i will say something very kind and i will let it go at that. which is still, as you said, you detect throughout the memoirs that these two did not always get along and there was such a fundamental clash of personalities that grant would overlook in sherman or sheridan things he would not overlook in thomas. there was no chemistry between them.
>> yes, sir. >> yes. one of the things that always struck me most in the memoirs, at least twice or maybe more times when grant talks about his lack of moral courage. during the mexican war for he says instead of staying with my duties in transport, i went to the battle line. than the famous story about going up the hill as a kernel with his regiment and not knowing with the confederates were doing and being more apprehensive i. i did not have the moral courage to stop and do what i wanted to do. it is something unusual for a general to talk about his lack of moral courage. i wondered if anyone on the panel had any response reflections on what that was said. >> the second story is a really revealing one. i will tell you the story about how i felt.
it is in missouri. he is attacking a place commanded by a colonel thomas harrison. they go to march. grant says this is the first time i commanded men in combat. there and there are responsibilities of command and what is about to happen. his heart is in his throat. he can't go back. then he comes upon the area and the enemy is gone. he said, ok, he was all right and he said from then on in i knew they felt about me the way it felt about them. i never thought before they might be scared of me too, but afterwards he never forgot it. even has he starts by saying i was nervous, fine, understandable. he said i got psychological insight into something that kind of explains where i was afterwards.
sometimesrgue grants overlooked the fact the enemy might have had plans of their own. donelson,on -- fort shiloh. he began a little too cocky about giving the initiative. one of his greatest shortcomings to the fact that sometimes he lightly the enemy more than he might have because of that insight. is it unusual? every once in a while grant would give a little to get more. if i make a mistake -- i can admit three mistakes which makes every thing else i write much more credible. >> i would point out that lee shares a characteristic of focusing on what he could do to the other guy rather than what the other guy could do to him. george mcclellan to just the opposite.
he spent most of his intellectual energy word about the other guy could do to him, and their demise the fundamental difference between the mall. >> thank you. hasne of the things grant been accused of is the idea of him being a butcher and the fact that the only reason he did not defeat -- he defeated lee was because he won a battle of attrition. i spoke to a woman a couple of years ago. she claimed because of grant's -- the casualties grant was willing to sustain that he was "a were criminal." -- a war criminal." i was wondering if you talk about grant's skills as a -- what do ivery say to everyone who says grant was just someone who defeated lee because of attrition?
>> it seems to be attrition was part, if not the plan. it was an incidental addition to the plan. when washington roebling was writing to his girlfriend he said to her in defense of the slaughter that was going on that the fighting is the aim. that is the goal. there were some senior subordinate to thought that was the plan. certainly it helped to defeat lee, simply trying to get around his flank. if that works, fine. if not, he would be weaker at each attempt which might be why he said nothing about any thetude he had about attrition that cold harbor being benefit.
he was trying to dodge that reputation. the two went hand-in-hand to the extent he muted the attrition he was highlighting his generalship. dramaticallyt how the presence of grant changed the nature of war and virginia. 1864, an individual soldier might have been under fire for eight hours in a year. actually under fire in combat. may 12, 1864, some of them are under fire for 12 to 14 hours in a day. while that pace is not continued relentlessly, it continues commonly. it is reflective of grant's perspective of residing in the moment. what is our circumstance and
what is the next best thing to do? not a reflection on what we've done or what we should have done, what is the next best thing to do. factoring in all those things that you suggest. more men. the willingness on a measured basis to suffer casualties, but not to an extent it would harm the north's willingness to sustain the war. war is kinetic, it is all of theset's things. i admire grant and lee tremendously for their ability to take all of these threads on levels most of us -- maybe we can function on one level. i cannot think conceptually at all, whereas other people appear are magicians at that.
he had to do all of those things at the same time. his point of departure was hen an now and what is next. that resulted in a relentless campaign in 1864 that dramatically and fundamentally changed the nature of war in virginia. >> i made the point earlier about how historians look at history through our own lens. the butcher reputation really gains momentum during world war i. if you want to talk about a war of attrition, look on the western front. the battle of gettysburg his 58,000 casualties 22 armies. the british lose that in one day at the battle of the psalm -- somme. haigmpare grant to douglas and some of the world war i generals, you see the reputation of grant ebb and flow in the
20th century when we look at worse at our wars of attrition and apply those characteristics in nearly two ulysses s. grant and the situation he is sent in the civil war. >> we have two remaining questions. realize we have two and i foundestions, not of ok'd. we can only allow one you echo they are quick. one? ife can only allow they are quick. sir? grant's memoirs -- memoirs come out rosecrans comes in for very serious criticism by grants. he comes in almost as a bumbling clown opposed to butler. he criticizes butler but says at least he was a gallant officer who did the best he could.
can you respond to that? >> if only we have the time, but we don't. i think it was personal friction between the two men. it was mutual. william rosecrans led the charge to make sure that grant was not restored to the army in 1885. in that sense, that you'd just continued and continued after the war. cut grant some who did not want restoration of his military role, but was refusing opportunity.e >> sir? grant's memoirs because we have been talking about memoirs -- how would you rate them as a biography.