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Full text of "The life of John A. Rawlins, lawyer, assistant adjutant-general, chief of staff, major general of volunteers, and secretary of war"

THE LIFE OF 

JOHNA.RAWLINS 

JAMES HARRISON WILSON 



THE LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 




BRIG.-GEN. JOHN A. RAWLINS 

CHIEF OF STAFF U. S. A. 

1860 



Frontispiece 



THE LIFE 

of 

JOHN A. RAWLINS 



Lawyer, Assistant Adjutant-General, Chief of 
Staff, Major General of Volunteers, 
and Secretary of War 



BY 

JAMES HARRISON WILSON 

Major-General U.S.A.; Late Major-General U.S.V.; Engineer and Inspector-General on 

Grant s Staff; Commander Third Cavalry Division, Army of the Potomac; Commander 

Cavalry Corps, M.D.M.; Commander of the Sixth and First Army Corps, and 

the Department of Matanzas and Santa Clara, in the Spanish War; 

Second in Command of the U. S. forces in the Boxer Rebellion. 

Author of Under the Old Flag, etc., etc. 




THE NEALE PUBLISHING COMPANY 

440 FOURTH AVENUE :: :: NEW YORK 
1916 



COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY 
JAMES HARRISON WILSON 



Press of 

J. J. Little & Ives Co. 
New York 



Only one course is left for us. We will stand by the Flag 
of our Country and appeal to the God of Battles! 

Rawlins s speech at Galena, April 16, 1861. 

I believe more in the infallibility of numbers than in the 
infallibility of generals, no matter how great their reputation. 

Letter of March 28, 1864. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

PAGE 

PREFACE 15 



I. INTRODUCTORY 17 

Rawlins s Relations with General Grant Grant s Resignation 
and Return to the Army His General Characteristics Raw 
lins s Qualifications as a Staff Officer. 

II. EARLY LIFE 23 

Race Characteristics Charcoal Burning Common School Edu 
cation Rock River Academy Political Discussions Studies 
Law First Speech City Attorney Character and Personal 
Appearance Associates. 

III. POLITICAL CONNECTIONS 37 

Galena and Its Leading Men Candidate for Elector on the 
Douglas Ticket Canvass of the District Joint Discussion. 

IV. BEGINNING OF THE WAR 45 

Resumes Practice of Law Confederates Fire on Fort Sumter 
Addresses Mass Meeting Influence upon Captain Grant Or 
ganization of Volunteers Death of Wife Grant Invites Raw- 

lins to Join His Staff Correspondence. 

V. FIRST MILITARY SERVICES 57 

Enters Army as Captain Reports at Cairo Condition of Af 
fairs Battle of Belmont Relations with Grant. 

VI. EVENTS IN KENTUCKY, 1861 64 

Occupation of Paducah Letter to His Mother Rumors About 
Grant s Habits Letter to E. B. Washburne Capture of Forts 

7 



8 TABLE OF CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

Henry and Donelson Grant Suspended from Command Facts 
of the Case Part Taken by Rawlins Grant Reinstated Armies 
Converge on Pittsburg Landing Order Succeeded by Dis 
order. 



VII. SHILOH . ... . . 85 

Campaign and Battle of Shiloh Grant Again Virtually Sus 
pended Supported by Rawlins and Sherman Controversies 
and Ill-feeling Growing out of Campaign. 

VIII. OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 99 

Rawlins Explains Conditions at Grant s Headquarters Case of 
David Sheean Plans of President and Secretary of War Tal- 
lahatchie Campaign Vicksburg Campaign Origin of Plan 
Preliminary Operations Charles A. Dana Joins Headquarters 
Letter to Washburne Letter to Grant Relief of McClernand 
Rawlins Promoted. 

IX. AFFAIRS AT VICKSBURG 150 

Grant Goes to New Orleans Rawlins in Virtual Command 
Made Brigadier-General Battle of Chickamauga Grant Or 
dered to Chattanooga Commands Military Division of the Mis 
sissippi. 

X. EVENTS IN TENNESSEE 161 

Meeting Between Grant and Stanton Plan of Operations 
Battle of Missionary Ridge Knoxville, Cumberland Gap, and 
Lexington Headquarters at Nashville Completes Official Re 
ports Reflections on Campaign Rawlins Married. 

XI. CHANGES IN RANK AND DUTIES 181 

Grant Made Lieutenant-General Rawlins Chief of Staff Cor 
respondence Grant s Headquarters with Army of the Poto 
mac Rawlins Strongly Approves. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 9 

HAPTER PAGE 

XII. THE NEW FIELD . . 193 

Enlarged Staff Rawlins Advocates New Policies Letters to 
His Wife Culpepper C. H. Influence on Plan of Operations. 



XIII. IN VIRGINIA . ... ... 205 

Headquarters at Culpepper Overland Campaign Battles in 
the Wilderness. 

XIV. NEARING THE WAR S END 253 

Petersburg Mine Explosion Rawlins on Sick Leave Letters of 
Lieutenant-Colonel Bowers Grant Visits Washington Tactical 
Mistake of Dividing the Cavalry Failure to Complete Circum- 
vallation of Petersburg Rawlins Rejoins Army Sheridan s 
Campaign Against Early Rawlins s Letters to His Wife Wil 
son Ordered West Hood s Invasion of Middle Tennessee 
Rawlins Opposes Sherman s March to the Sea till Hood Could 
Be Disposed of Sent West to Forward Reinforcments His 
Views Vindicated. 



XV. VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 277 

Rawlins Returns from the West Extract from Grant s Memoirs 
Considered Rawlins s Letters to His Wife Sherman s Army 
Ordered to City Point Movement Discussed Rawlins Opposed 
to Political Generals. 



XVI. WINTER OF 1864-65 . . 303 

Preparations for Final Campaign Sheridan Rejoins Army of 
the Potomac Conference with Rawlins Sheridan s Memoirs 
General Forsyth s Letter General M. V. Sheridan s Letter 
Campaign Begins Rawlins s Letters to His Wife Proposed 
Withdrawal of Cavalry Doubts and Discouragements Raw 
lins s Letters Successes of Sheridan and Humphreys Grant s 
Correspondence with Lee Part Taken by Rawlins Lee s Sur 
render. 



io TABLE OF CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XVII. THE AFTERMATH 326 

Grant s Headquarters at Washington Rawlins Chief of Staff 

of the Army Completes Grant s Final Report French With 
draw from Mexico Reconstruction of Confederate States 
Rawlins Accompanies Grant and the President to Chicago 
Elected First President of the Society of the Army of the Ten 
nessee Resume of that Army s History. 

XVIII. INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES, 1866-67 334 

Rawlins s Galena Speech Life on the Plains Letters to His 
Wife Suspension of Stanton as Secretary of War Appoint 
ment of General Grant Ad Interim Controversy Between the 
President and General Grant Rawlins Supports Grant. 

XIX. CLOSING EVENTS 351 

Rawlins Appointed Secretary of War Friends Discharge Mort 
gage on House War Department Restored to Control of Sec 
retary Relations with President and Cabinet Friend of Cuba 

Reflections upon Rawlins s Conduct Relations with Sherman. 

XX. CONCLUSION 369 

Summary of Rawlins s Character and Services Patriotism and 
Love of the Union Devotion to Grant Cadwallader s Letter 
Parker s Oration Cox s Tribute Conclusion. 



APPENDIX PAGE 

I. Letters from General Rawlins The Greater Number to His Wife 384 

II. Extracts and Letters 428 

III. Address of General Rawlins, First President, Society Army 

of the Tennessee, at Cincinnati, November 14, 1865 . . 435 

IV. Address of General Rawlins, Delivered at Galena, Illinois, June 

14, 1867 470 



TABLE OF CONTENTS n 

CHAPTER PAGE 

V. Extracts from the Funeral Oration of General Ely S. Parker, 
to the Memory of John A. Rawlins Late Secretary of War 
in the Cabinet of President Grant 502 



INDEX 



CHRONOLOGY 
OF THE LIFE AND SERVICES OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Candidate for Elector on the Douglas Dem 
ocratic Ticket , .1860 

Appointed Captain Assistant Adjutant Gen 
eral of Volunteers. August 30, 1861 

Accepted , September 26, 1861 

Appointed Major and Assistant Adjutant 

General of Volunteers. .May 14, 1862 

Served as Lieutenant Colonel and Assist 
ant Adjutant General of Volunteers by 
assignment November i, 1862, to August 30, 1863 

Appointed Brigadier General of Volunteer sAugust n, 1863 

Accepted August 30, 1863 

Appointed Brigadier General United States 
Army and Chief of Staff to the Major 
General Commanding , March 3, 1865 

Brevetted Major General of Volunteers for 
gallant and meritorious services February 24, 1865 

Appointed Major General United States 
Army for meritorious service during the 
campaign terminating with the surrender 
of the insurgent army under General Rob 
ert E. Lee ... April p, 1865 

Resigned from the Army March 12, 1869 

Appointed Secretary of War March n, 1869 

Died while Secretary September 6, 1869 



PREFACE 

THE purpose of this narrative is fully set forth in the following 
pages, the preparation of which was begun, at his request, shortly 
after the death of General Rawlins, and has been continued at 
various intervals of a busy life up to the present time. I have 
explored every possible source of information which promised to 
throw any light whatever on the services and relations of General 
Rawlins with General Grant. I have consulted the Official Rec 
ords, the "Memoirs" of General Grant, General Sherman, and 
General Sheridan; the "Personal History" of General Grant by 
Badeau, as well as those by Coffee, Richardson, Deming, Dana and 
Wilson ; the "Recollections of Charles A. Dana" ; the newspapers 
and magazines of the period, and especially the correspondence of 
General Rawlins. 

I am particularly indebted to S. Cadwallader, Esquire, of Cali 
fornia, formerly war correspondent of the New York Herald, 
for access to his valuable work in manuscript, entitled "Four 
Years with Grant" ; to Hempstead Washburne, Esq., of Chicago, 
for copies of his father s correspondence with Rawlins, and to 
David Sheean, Esq., of Galena, Illinois, for collecting the letters 
of Rawlins to the various members of his family, for furnishing 
me with the family records, and for giving me his assistance with 
the manuscript and proofs at every stage of their preparation. 

I am also greatly indebted to the late J. Russell Jones, of 
Chicago, and to the late Major General John E. Smith and the 
late Doctor E. D. Kittoe, of Galena, who were all lifelong friends 
of Rawlins and Grant and familiar with the history of their rela 
tions in both military and civil life. 

I am under special obligation to Major General Grenville M. 
Dodge, who from the rich stores of his memory and his records 
has helped me with valuable facts and references, covering many 
incidents in Rawlins s career from the time he entered the army 
till his death as Secretary of War. 

To each of these gentlemen I extend my grateful thanks, with 
the statement that I have used the matter furnished me according 

15 



16 PREFACE 

to my own judgment, and that I am solely responsible for the 
statements and opinions contained in this book, as well as for the 
time *of its publication. 

Finally, having served with Rawlins on the staff of General 
Grant from the beginning of the operations against Vicksburg 
until the close of the Chattanooga and Knoxville campaigns and 
having maintained the closest intimacy with him to the end of his 
career, I had ample opportunity to become acquainted with his 
services and to form a correct estimate of his extraordinary char 
acter. As will be more fully explained in its proper place, Rawlins 
asked me shortly before his death to become his literary executor 
and to see that justice should be done to his memory when he was 
gone. This touching and solemn request is my special warrant 
for becoming his biographer. 

JAMES HARRISON WILSON. 

Wilmington, Delaware, January, 1916. 



LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN AARON RAWLINS 



INTRODUCTORY 

Rawlins s Relations with General Grant Grant s Resignation and 
Return to the Army His General Characteristics Rawlins s 
Qualifications as a Staff Officer. 

JOHN A. RAWLINS, all things considered, was the most 
remarkable man I met during the Civil War, and although he 
came from the plain people and always held a subordinate 
position in the army, it was his good fortune to exert a tre 
mendous influence not only upon persons of high rank but 
upon events of transcendent importance. He never com 
manded troops in the field nor became charged with the su 
preme control of great movements. Whatever he did was 
upon and through others, as aid, counsellor, and Adjutant 
General to General Grant, as Chief of Staff of the Army, 
and as Secretary of War. It is certain that in all these positions 
he exerted a very great influence upon men and events. This 
was especially the case during the war for the r establishment 
of the Union. 

While Rawlins was a man of extraordinary qualities and 
character, it cannot be claimed that he was to General Grant 
what Berthier was to Napoleon, or even what Gneisenau and 



i8 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Muffling were to Bliicher. It will be remembered that Berthier 
was a professional soldier of great experience in both Amer 
ica and Europe, and that Gneisenau and Muffling were highly- 
educated Prussian regulars who were expected to guide and 
direct their sturdy but thick-headed chief. According to the 
history of the times, they conceived the plans and worked 
out the details which he executed. He was from first to last 
merely a typical dragoon of the old school, always ready 
to march and fight even when beaten, as well as after he had 
become worn down with years. It is said that he scarcely 
knew either how to use a map or write an order, but had 
the good sense to submit himself to the guidance of those 
officers of his staff who were able to make plans and frame 
the instructions for carrying them into effect. Rawlins was 
but a country lawyer who had had no military training what 
ever when he entered the volunteer army, and never, even 
to his dying day, made the slightest pretensions to technical 
education in the profession of arms. His was a special and 
peculiar field, which will be defined with the progress of this 
narrative. It is believed that it was in many respects unlike 
that of any other man recorded in history. 

Grant was a soldier of another sort. It will be recalled 
that he was a graduate of West Point and had served incon 
spicuously but with credit in the regular army during the 
Mexican War, after which he had the usual tour of duty 
in the Indian Country, and then had left the service under 
a cloud. It is a part of the history of the times that he had 
fallen for a season into the evil ways of military men serving 
on the remote frontier and that his return to civil life was com 
monly believed to have been a choice between resignation and 
a court-martial. Rejoining his family in Missouri, Grant 
settled on a farm, which after a series of minor business 
disappointments he gave up in order to accept the position of 
clerk at six hundred dollars per year in the leather and harness 
store of his kinsmen at Galena, Illinois. After the outbreak 



INTRODUCTORY 19 

of the war between the States, his public services became too 
important and too well known to require recital here, but 
I shall show in the course of this narrative that in some 
respects his character had not been fully understood and that 
in certain particulars it was happily supplemented by that of 
his friend and adjutant, John A. Rawlins. 

Grant was of course proficient in the military profession 
as taught at West Point. While his services with the troops 
had made him familiar with the use of maps and plans, as 
well as with the details of army administration, it has never 
been claimed that he was learned in military history or in 
the higher branches of tactics, logistics, and strategy as set 
forth in the military textbooks. Indeed, it is improbable 
that he had ever, during his active service, read any military 
treatise more complex than the drill book or the army regula 
tions. That he had not done so was doubtless due to the fact 
that the higher branches of the art of war were not taught 
at the Military Academy in his day, and it had not become 
the fashion for infantry officers to read such authors at any 
time up to the outbreak of the War between the States. 
After that it was impossible for him to give attention to 
the theoretical study of his profession. He was, from the 
first day of his participation in the war, occupied with the 
routine work of administration and of active campaigning, 
in which he got no help except from his own experience, or 
from current observation, or from others who had read 
and studied more than had he himself. 

But it was not in respect to technical or strictly profes 
sional matters that Rawlins or any other officer contributed 
materially to Grant s success, and indeed it was not in respect 
to these that he required assistance, or that his character was 
supplemented by others. He had as much of the education 
supposed to be essential to the exercise of high command as 
had most of his contemporaries; yet this is paying him no 
great compliment, for it cannot be claimed that either our 



20 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

government or our generals habitually conducted war either 
economically or in accordance with the practice and precept 
of the great masters of the art. It is well known that our 
military policy and volunteer system, largely inherited from 
the mother country, were crude and costly in the highest 
degree, that our administration was capricious and extrava 
gant, and that our plans of campaign and their execution 
were frequently unscientific to an extent rarely exceeded in 
modern warfare. Finally, the tactics of our battles were as 
a general rule of the simplest and most primitive description. 
But, notwithstanding all this, we were victorious over the 
public enemy, whose inexperience was as great as our own, 
and came out of the four years struggle with both success 
and honor. We owed our triumph primarily, however, to 
our superiority in numbers and resources, and secondarily 
to the exalted spirit of patriotism and love for the Union 
which inspired our people and impelled our army to renewed 
exertions after repeated failure and defeat. 

It was in respect to the qualities that constitute character 
in the individual, as well as in the nation at large, that Raw- 
lins as their exponent became a potent factor in the struggle, 
and supplemented and sustained the general to whom his serv 
ices were given and with whom his fortunes were allied 
from the first to the final hour of the conflict. The rela 
tions which existed between him and his Chief were unusually 
close and intimate. They were due to his fidelity, his intense 
earnestness, his severe morals, his aggressive temper, his un 
selfish devotion to the duties of his position, his clear percep 
tion of what ought to be done from time to time, his sound 
and unfailing judgment, his quick and unerring grasp of 
the needs of the army, his keen insight into character, his 
fearless contempt for vice and vicious men, his love of jus 
tice and fair dealing, his prodigious energy, his resolute will 
and his unfaltering self-denial and patriotism, and especially 
his natural capacity for war, In these high qualities he had 



INTRODUCTORY 21 

few equals and no superiors. In all the great emergencies 
they conspired to make his influence irresistible. 

It cannot be maintained that Rawlins was, or ever became, 
a tactician, for he not only never set a squadron in the field 
but never read a book on either grand tactics or strategy. 
He was not learned in military administration nor military 
organization, and he knew absolutely nothing of the duties 
of either the staff or of the line when he entered the army. 
He was merely a plain citizen of average education and 
a lawyer by profession, all of whose thoughts, aspirations, 
and pursuits were those of peace up to the outbreak of the 
war between the States. He was not even in sympathy with 
the party whose candidate had been elected to the Presi 
dency, and yet it may be doubted if it was the lot of any man 
who did not actually reach the command of an army, or be 
come a member of the Cabinet, to render the country greater 
or more valuable services than did Rawlins in the four years 
war for the Union. 

Holding always the position of a confidential staff-officer, 
it was Rawlins s pleasure as well as his duty, so far as pos 
sible, not only to efface himself but to merge his individuality 
in that of his Chief. The Official Records contain but few 
reports over his own name. It is true that that name appears 
frequently on the returns to the War Department and on 
the records of the armies with which he served, but in nearly 
every case as the Adjutant or the Chief of Staff of General 
Grant. For this reason the events of his life and the influ 
ence exerted by him must be gathered mostly from family 
records, private correspondence, and the recollections of his 
comrades and personal friends. 

It is not to be thought that an officer of Rawlins s impatient 
and aggressive temper should have entirely escaped the enmity 
of smaller souls, for such is not the case. There were those 
who were doubtful of his great qualities, and did what they 
could to minimize his influence and to belittle his services. 



22 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

It is perhaps natural that the superficial observer of later 
times should fail to recognize his remarkable personality or 
to give him his true place in the career of the great general 
for whom he did so much. It is the duty of the staff officer 
to efface himself, and this duty Rawlins performed without 
stint or hesitation. But it is equally the duty of those who 
are familiar with the truth to make it known when there 
is no longer a just excuse for concealing it. 

It is my purpose, therefore, so far as the materials within 
reach will permit, to set the life and services of this good 
citizen and fearless officer before his countrymen in their true 
light; and I do this all the more confidently because I knew 
him intimately, was daily associated with him during three 
of the greatest campaigns of the war, and held the most 
friendly relations with him to the end. He was indeed a man 
without guile, whose only aim was to serve his country faith 
fully and leave an honored name behind him. While he was 
fortunate in his friendships and opportunities, his fight for 
life against an insidious disease clouded his closing years with 
pain and apprehension. I record it with sorrow, mingled with 
satisfaction, that when the end was near at hand and he was 
prone on the bed of sickness, from which he never arose, he 
sent for me, a thousand miles away, and with a pitiful appeal, 
which I shall never forget, requested me and I promised 
without hesitation or reserve to become his literary executor 
and to see justice done to his memory when he was gone. 



II 



EARLY LIFE 

Race Characteristics Charcoal Burning Common School Edu 
cation Rock River Academy Political Discussions Studies 
Law First Speech City Attorney Character and Personal 
Appearance Associates. 

JOHN AARON RAWLINS was the second child in a family of 
eight brothers and one sister. He was born at East Galena, 
Jo Daviess County, Illinois, on February 13, 1831, and was 
of Scotch-Irish extraction. His father, James D. Rawlins, 
the son of a Virginian, was born in Clark County, Kentucky, 
February 28, 1801, and removed when eighteen years of age 
to Howard County, Missouri, where on October 5, 1828, he 
married Lovisa Collier. She was the daughter of a Revo 
lutionary soldier of Irish descent, and was born in Lincoln 
County, Kentucky, May 2, 1803. 

Shortly after marriage the young couple removed from 
Missouri to the lead-mine district of Illinois, then the center 
of frontier enterprise and activity. The tide of immigration 
was then flowing strongly into that region, dotting it with 
villages and towns and filling it with the homes of agricultural 
people. The Mississippi was the ample highway by which 
it was reached. Railroads had not yet penetrated the wilder 
ness, but the spirit which opened the lead mines was astir 
throughout the country. It received a further impulse in 1849 
from the discovery of gold in California, and among the 
first to make the overland trip was James D. Rawlins, who 
for three years led an adventurous but unsuccessful life as 
a gold seeker. During his absence the care of the farm 

23 



24 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

and family fell almost entirely upon the shoulders of the wife 
and her son John. The struggle for existence was sharp and 
discouraging. Poverty and hardship were the lot which con 
fronted this typical family, and the only consolation was 
that they were no worse off than their neighbors. The means 
of communication with the older States were the steamboat 
and the canvas-covered wagon; the implements of industry 
were the plow, the axe, and the spinning wheel; the food of 
the people was mostly Indian corn and bacon, while their 
clothes were of homespun cloth. The church and school- 
house were costly luxuries that came later and were but 
poorly patronized. A large family, early taught to labor 
in field and forest, was the poor man s greatest wealth. 

It was into this active, earnest, intense, and robust life that 
John A. Rawlins was born, and it was this life, in its varying 
stages of evolution, that surrounded him until the outbreak of 
the Civil War. His parents first settled at Ottawa, in the 
town of East Galena, and afterwards removed to a farm in 
what is at present the town of Guilford, where they resided 
the rest of their lives. James D. Rawlins took part with his 
neighbors in transporting supplies to the troops engaged in 
the Black Hawk War, and after it was ended returned to the 
laborious and uneventful life of a farmer and charcoal burner. 
As can well be understood, the family never acquired wealth 
nor high social position, but remained as they began, plain, 
hardy and industrious people of but little means and of limited 
education. 

The father was a man of determined will, but of unsettled 
purpose and roving disposition, which received but little if 
any benefit from his life in California. It is said that it was 
the knowledge of this that early caused his son John to adopt 
and live up to the rule of total abstinence, except when his 
doctor ordered otherwise. Be this as it may, it is certain that 
from his earliest manhood John A. Rawlins exhibited an ear 
nest and uncompromising hatred for strong drink, and dur- 



EARLY LIFE 25 

ing his military life waged constant warfare against its use 
in the army. His dislike of it amounted to a deep and abid 
ing abhorrence, and while he was in no sense a pharisee, he 
was often heard to declare that he would rather see a friend 
of his take a glass of poison than a glass of whiskey. 

His mother, who survived him, from all accounts was a 
woman of strong and exemplary character. She is described 
as having had excellent judgment, an even temper, and a 
most kindly and benevolent heart. It is also said that she 
impressed herself deeply on the character of her children and 
that her son John was especially indebted to her for his moral 
training and ambition, while he owed his steady courage and 
determination to the virile qualities of his father. 

An anecdote, which has been preserved by one who knew 
the family well, presents in a favorable light not only the 
piety of the mother but the intelligence of the child. A 
Sunday-school teacher, who had come from a distance to 
instruct the children, promised a -book as a prize to such as 
would commit the Ten Commandments to memory within 
a fortnight. When the appointed time came around, little 
John, the smallest of the lot, so small indeed that he had 
neither learned to read nor to talk plainly, declared that 
he could say them, and this he did, to the delight of his teacher 
and with no fault but one of pronunciation. Eager to get 
the promised prize, he had beset his mother to read the Com 
mandments to him, and after this had been done, at most 
but three times, he had them by heart and repeated them 
triumphantly. 

The Rawlins family, some time prior to the year 1838, 
located a homestead on government land, in the town of 
Guilford. This farm consists of about two hundred acres of 
timber and grass-land and at the government land sales in 
April, 1847, was bought in by John, who early became the 
mainstay of the family. They were not overthrifty, and 
their principal income was from the sale of wood and 



26 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

charcoal produced on their forest land. The cultivated portion 
was small, and the food produced was barely enough for the 
family s use. 

As has already been indicated, young Rawlins early began 
to show the characteristics of the sturdy and aggressive race, 
the Scotch-Irish, from which he was descended, and which 
has given so many distinguished names to English and Ameri 
can history. His family on both sides, as far back as it can 
be traced, were pioneers and farmers in the settlement of 
Virginia and the Western States, and while they, like their 
neighbors, were lacking in the refinement and education which 
pertain to older communities, it is apparent that they have 
been in some degree compensated for it by the possession of 
the hardier and more robust characteristics which encour 
aged them to fell the forest and subdue the soil of the frontier 
world, at a time when their race and perhaps their very 
kindred were conquering the people and regenerating the 
civilization of India and the Far East. 

Bosworth Smith, in the "Life of Lord Lawrence," the great 
Indian administrator during and after the Sepoy rebellion, 
says, with an insight which our American experience shows 
to be true: 

. . . The people who have sprung from that sturdy mixture of 
Scotch and Irish blood are not without their conspicuous faults. 
No race which is at once so vigorous and so mixed is ever free 
from them. A suspiciousness and caution which often verges on 
selfishness, an ambition which is as quiet as it is intense, a slow 
and unlovable calculation of consequences, these are some of the 
drawbacks which those who know and love them best are willing 
to admit. On the other hand, there have been formed amongst 
them men who under the most widely different circumstances in 
Great Britain itself, in that Greater Britain which lies across the 
Atlantic, and amongst our widely scattered dependencies, last not 
least, in that greatest dependency of all, our Indian Empire, have 
rendered the noblest service to the state as intrepid soldiers, as 
vigorous administrators, as wise and far-seeing statesmen. 



EARLY LIFE 27 

Among the Scotch-Irish there have been found men who have 
combined in their own persons much of the rich humor and the 
strong affections, the vivacity and the versatility, the genius and 
generosity of the typical Irishman, with the patience and the pru 
dence, the devotion and the self-reliance, the stern morality and 
the simple faith of the typical Scotchman. In some families one 
of these national types seems to predominate throughout, almost 
to the exclusion of the other. In others the members differ much 
among themselves, one conforming mainly to the Scotch, another 
to the Irish type of character, although each man manages to 
retain something which is distinctive of the other. 

As this story develops, it will be seen that Rawlins was a 
striking embodiment of these characteristics. From the time 
he was big enough to work at all he passed his life on the 
family farm, performing the various tasks suited to his 
age and strength. Living within reach of the lead mines, 
where concentrated fuel was in constant demand, the prin 
cipal occupation of father and sons was cutting wood, burn 
ing it into charcoal and hauling it to the furnaces and smelt 
ing works. John did his full share of this uninviting work, 
and from his own account took special interest in tending 
the pits during the night watches. The life was rough, yet 
not without beneficent influences in the shaping of his char 
acter. It seems to have made a deep and lasting impression 
upon him. But the hardship and exposure, the rough habits 
and language of his companions and the meagre profits of 
the business gave him a distaste for it and early set him to 
thinking of how he should get out of it into something bet 
ter. In the silent hours of the night he pondered long and 
deeply upon life and its problems. 

Looking about him, John soon saw, as does every American 
boy, that his own condition was but the circumstance of a 
day, and that he might fairly hope by industry and study, 
education and character, not only to escape from it but to 
rise to the highest place in the land. Lifted by this hope 
and by the numerous examples of success, under even more 



28 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

discouraging conditions, which abound in American history, 
which he read with avidity, he resolved that nothing should 
keep him in ignorance or bind him to the lot of hardship 
and toil wherein his awakening ambition found him. 

John s parents were too poor to send him to the neigh 
boring school continuously even in childhood. He began his 
first term in the winter of 1838, when only seven years old, 
and from that time to the winter of 1849-50 he attended eight 
terms of three months each, or two years in all. From the 
day he learned to read he became a lover of poetry, biography 
and history. Whenever he could find time, or get books, he 
devoured and absorbed them so that when he reached the 
age of twenty he had gathered an unusual but heterogeneous 
store of general information, and was much better prepared 
for the struggle of life than many young men who had en 
joyed superior opportunities. He did his best at the neigh 
borhood school and got out of it all its range of instruction, 
with his irregular attendance, would permit. As has been 
seen from the incident of the Ten Commandments, from 
childhood he had a tenacious memory, and fortunately it 
remained with him throughout life, holding firmly whatever 
engaged its attention. It was accurate in little things as 
well as in great, and aided by industry, concentration and 
acute powers of observation, it was always easy for him to 
acquire knowledge and retain it. His tendency and pref 
erence seem to have been for history, rhetoric, logic and lan 
guage, rather than for mathematics and science; but there is 
no doubt that his mind was capable of mastering all branches 
of learning, which, with proper opportunity and means, he 
would have explored to their utmost limits. 

But the country schools of those days dealt merely with 
the rudiments of education. Spelling, reading, writing, arith 
metic, and grammar were as much as the average teacher was 
expected to know. Few boys counted upon passing beyond 
them, but young Rawlins could not be confined to such nar- 



EARLY LIFE 29 

row limits, and so, at the beginning of the winter of 1850-51, 
he went to Galena, and was received into the house of Mr. 
Hallett, where he became the schoolmate and friend of his 
son Moses, late the distinguished Judge of the United States 
Court for the District of Colorado. 

John attended the high school for only one term, but the 
change had stimulated the country boy s ambition. During 
the remainder of the year, he again assisted on the farm and 
at the charcoal pits, saving his earnings for the purpose of 
paying his sister s expenses at the Galena Academy and his 
own at the Rock River Seminary, an institution of local repu 
tation, situated at Mount Morris, in Ogle County, Illinois. 
He entered this Seminary in January, 1852, and remained 
there until the following April, when he was compelled by 
the exhaustion of his slender purse to return home to work 
on the farm and at charcoal burning. This lasted till Sep 
tember of the same year, when he reentered the Seminary at 
Mount Morris and resumed his studies with renewed ardor 
and determination, continuing them till the end of the aca 
demic year in June, 1853. ^ e occupied a room at Mount 
Morris with his friend, Moses Hallett, and amongst their 
fellow students were Shelby M. Cullom, late the venerable 
senior Senator from Illinois ; G. C. Barnes, late Circuit Judge 
at Lacon, Illinois; Greenbury L. Fort, late member of Con 
gress from Wisconsin; R. R. Hitt, long a congressman from 
Illinois; Smith D. Atkins, Colonel of the Ninty-second Illi 
nois Infantry, and a number of other youths who subse 
quently distinguished themselves in the army or in civil life. 

During his stay at the Seminary, Rawlins studied Geometry, 
Moral Science, and Political Economy, and read part of both 
Caesar and Virgil. Politics and debating, however, occupied 
a great part of his time, as they did that of his associates. 
His room was the scene of many hot controversies, and, hav 
ing a strong voice, he never failed to make himself heard 
above the din, no matter how loud it became. 



30 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

He was an earnest and vehement debater, with cordial and 
open manners, which emphasized the strength of his convic 
tions without producing the slightest impression of dog 
matism. His sole desire seemed to be that others should 
accept the truth as fully as he believed it. His friend, Hallett, 
aptly said many years afterwards: "His flashing black eyes 
were more eloquent than his tongue. In private life he was 
a most engaging person, strong for every good work and 
beloved by all who knew him." 

At that time political discussion turned mostly upon slavery 
in the territories, and Rawlins, who was an ardent Democrat 
and a great admirer of Senator Douglas, took an active part 
in all the academic controversies. At the close of the year 
he delivered an original oration in which patriotism was his 
theme. His manner upon that occasion is described as im 
passioned and eloquent and as showing powers which, if cul 
tivated, could not fail to bring him distinction as an orator. 
While attending the Mount Morris Seminary he was a mem 
ber of the "Amphictyonic" Society and seldom failed to speak 
at its weekly meetings. He was also a leading member of a 
private club known as the "Hekadelphoi." These circum 
stances serve to show that, notwithstanding his disadvantages, 
he not only made noticeable progress in his academic work 
but impressed himself upon his associates as a youth of un 
usual ability and promise. 

When he left the Seminary in June, 1853, it was ms inten 
tion to return and graduate, but, like many another poor 
young man, he could not get the necessary money for his 
expenses. His family could not furnish it, and he was too 
proud to ask a loan of it from his friends. Without hesita 
tion or delay he therefore returned to burning charcoal, cut 
ting his own wood, preparing his own pits, and finally, in the 
absence of other help, hauling his own coal to market. Start 
ing with his last load on a hot September day, although he 
had two yoke of oxen, the heavy load and the hot weather 



EARLY LIFE 31 

proved too much for them. To go on was impossible, and 
there was nothing left for him but to lie by for the night. 
Starting again in the cool of the next morning, he went on 
till he reached the Galena branch of the Illinois Central Rail 
road, which was then under construction. There his team 
again gave out, but receiving an offer from the contractors 
for his oxen and wagon, he accepted it on the condition that 
the charcoal should also be included in the sale at its market 
value. With the proceeds, amounting to something like 
two hundred and fifty dollars, he pushed on to town and on 
the way made up his mind to give up charcoal burning 
forever. 

He was then in his twenty-third year, and casting about 
for a new occupation more congenial to his taste and aspi 
rations, he concluded to study law as the profession of his 
life. He had gained confidence in himself by associating with 
his fellow-students at the Seminary, and although painfully 
conscious of the insufficiency of his education, he saw no help 
for it but to devote himself to his law books all the more 
closely, and by industry and application to gather professional 
knowledge as he gathered experience, and so he left the farm 
forever and definitely located at Galena. After some discour 
agements from well-meaning friends, he began studying law 
under the instruction of Isaac P. Stevens, Esquire, then a 
practicing attorney of excellent character and standing at the 
bar of Jo Daviess County. 

Rawlins was at that time blessed with a strong, robust 
body, a vigorous constitution, and a mind which, although 
but partly developed, was self-reliant and confident. He had 
already made many friends and attracted the attention of 
the leading men, and this, together with the hopefulness of 
youth, encouraged him to apply himself to his studies with 
such assiduity that by October, 1854, or at the end of a single 
year, he was not only admitted to the bar but was taken into 
partnership by his preceptor, with whom he continued till 



32 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

August, 1855, when the latter retired, leaving his entire busi 
ness to his young partner. From that time Rawlins had a 
remunerative practice, and a rising reputation, which spread 
farther and farther as his abilities expanded and his acquaint 
ance increased. He soon became known throughout the 
county as an excellent lawyer and a rising man. 

In March, 1857, he was elected City Attorney, in which 
capacity he served for one year, with credit to himself and 
benefit to the city. In February, 1858, he formed a partner 
ship with David Sheean, who had been reading law with him 
since July, 1856, and had just been admitted to the bar. This 
partnership continued with mutual satisfaction till January, 
1862, Mr. Sheean conducting the business of the firm alone 
from August, 1861, at which time Rawlins was preparing to 
enter the army. 

Rawlins had developed rapidly as a general practitioner, 
but his special distinction was in jury trials. In one of his 
earliest cases he acted as assistant to John M. Douglas, later 
president of the Illinois Central Railroad, a lawyer of high 
character and standing, and after the witnesses had been ex 
amined, Mr. Douglas, feeling especially pleased with the skill 
displayed by his young assistant in bringing out the points of 
the case, said: 

"Now, John, I want you to talk to the jury ; to sum up the 
proofs and apply the law to this case." 

Rawlins replied with trepidation : 

"But I can t make such a speech as this case requires, Mr. 
Douglas." 

"Oh, yes, you can, John," said the old counsellor; "but I 
did not ask you to make a speech, I merely asked you to talk 
to the jury. I want you to tell them quietly all the facts, just 
as you would tell your mother, and then, after citing the law, 
we shall get a decision in our favor." 

And John, catching the lesson promptly, did as he was told, 



EARLY LIFE 33 

with such clearness and cogency as to secure a judgment for 
his client. 

But it would be wrong to suppose that Rawlins s style was 
uniformly colloquial and quiet, for such was far from the 
fact. He could assume a quiet manner whenever necessary, 
but he was naturally passionate, vehement, and emphatic ; and 
yet, his words were generally well chosen and deliberately 
uttered. While they sometimes poured forth like a torrent, 
each was in its proper place to convey the idea he had in 
mind. They did not become confused and tumble over one 
another in the fervid rush of passion or indignation, as is 
too frequently the case with impetuous young lawyers, but 
even in the midst of the hottest debate each was so clearly 
and distinctly enunciated as to carry his hearers forcibly along 
with him. 

Notwithstanding the fact that most of his life had been 
passed in farming, wood-chopping, and charcoal-burning, he 
rapidly acquired unusual prominence as a clear-headed and 
successful lawyer. He became known in due time as a formi 
dable and earnest advocate and a close, logical reasoner. Like 
many another great lawyer of the state, he was more or less 
ignorant of the technicalities and refinements of the profes 
sion at first and therefore minimized their importance or swept 
them contemptuously aside when they were in his way. A 
close observer of human nature, and a careful and indefati 
gable student of his cases, he made it a rule to master every 
detail, not only of his own side but also of his opponent s. 
But as he was always terribly in earnest, like all such men, 
he occasionally emphasized the merits of his cause by appeal 
ing to common sense and the eternal principles of justice. 
While he had the faculty of marshalling the main points at 
issue, he permitted no detail, however insignificant, to drop 
from its proper place, nor to fail of its due effect upon the 
cause he was arguing. His popularity was enhanced from 
the first by the sturdiness with which he stood up for the 



34 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

rights of his clients, however humble they might be. He 
was, according to his partner, most persistent in demanding 
every courtesy and consideration for them, and would permit 
neither Judge nor opposing counsel to minimize their just 
deserts. The very thought of injustice or of wrongdoing 
filled him with anger, while at the slightest show of rights 
denied to him or to his client he poured forth a vehement and 
impassioned flood of protest, which rarely ever failed to secure 
what he was contending for. 

And yet in the preparation and management of his cases 
he exhibited the greatest tact and good judgment. He never 
annoyed witnesses nor fatigued the court by piling proof 
upon proof. His rule was to bring in sufficient evidence for 
his purpose and then to allow his witnesses to be discharged. 
The weak points on his own side he guarded and concealed 
with consummate skill, while he exposed those of his ad 
versary with unusual quickness and attacked them with tre 
mendous vigor. His patience was unwearying and his appli 
cation and industry quite beyond the common. He was pre 
eminently a man of vigilance and clear perceptions, who 
readily understood the character of men and divined their 
motives and purposes with intuitive but unerring certainty. 
Honorable and chivalric by nature, free from envy and malice, 
and scorning all selfish and immoral purposes, he was unre 
lenting in exposing the want of those virtues in others, and 
was rarely ever mistaken when he uttered a sentence of 
condemnation. 

According to all accounts, he was eminently successful not 
only in getting but in winning cases; and yet he was always 
financially poor. Generous and free with money, he seemed 
to care but little for collecting it, and still less for saving it. 
His controlling sentiment was ambition, but ambition al 
ways subordinate to patriotism and to the aspirations of an 
honest and generous heart. He desired fame and dreamed 
of it and worked for it, and it is altogether to his credit 



EARLY LIFE 35 

that he bent all his energies to its achievement even to the 
total disregard of his financial interests. To prepare and 
try his case well, to make a good argument, and to succeed 
in the trial were more important to him than the money he 
was to get for his services. The consciousness of duty well 
performed and the credit of having won his client s com 
mendation were far more gratifying to him than any fee, 
however great, or however freely bestowed. 

Struggling upwards constantly, and yet conducting himself 
everywhere with becoming modesty, he gained the good will 
of all with whom he came in contact, so that within half a 
decade no man in the community enjoyed its confidence and 
respect more fully than did Lawyer Rawlins. He was popu 
lar with old and young, for although a man of decided views, 
and always ready upon proper occasions to state and enforce 
them, he never failed to pay due deference and becoming 
respect to the character and opinions of his elders. 

One of his earliest and best friends, whom he met first 
at Galena in 1853 while he was still a student, says : 

His personal appearance was even then such as to arrest at 
tention. I passed him on the sidewalk. A strong, sturdy looking 
young fellow, swarthy in complexion, with hair and eyes black 
as night, which when they looked at you looked through you. 
But in those youthful days they had in them a merry and kindly 
twinkle which at once impressed you with the notion that they 
were the windows of a large and generous soul. After he had 
passed I turned and looked at him and my mental comment was : 
"There goes a fellow worth knowing." It was not long until I did 
know him and from that time until he went to the war, which was 
at least a year before I went, our acquaintance and association 
were intimate. It is needless to say that my first guess about him 
was right. 1 

After these young men became acquainted they formed 
an association with two others, Sheean and McQuillan, and 

1 Captain, afterwards Judge, John M. Shaw of Minneapolis. 



36 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

were accustomed to meet of evenings in Rawlins s office, 
where they read the standard books, criticised the leading 
men, and discussed the great questions of the day. Rawlins, 
with a fine and sonorous voice, read poetry with much feel 
ing and effect. He was specially fond of Burns, and his 
thrilling rendition of "A Man s a Man for a That" stirred 
the souls and lingered long in the memory of his companions. 
Three of the party were Democrats, while only one was an 
out-and-out abolitionist. Their discussions were an epitome 
of what was taking place during that decade everywhere 
throughout the United States, and not only gave them a 
clearer view of the great principles involved, the great in 
terests at stake, and of the great men upon the stage, but 
heightened their skill in debate, and stimulated both their 
patriotism and their ambition. 



Ill 



POLITICAL CONNECTIONS 

Galena and Its Leading Men Candidate for Elector on the 
Douglas Ticket Canvass of the District Joint Discussion. 

IT may be doubted if there is any occupation which more 
quickly develops character than that of a lawyer in a growing 
Western town such as Galena was in the decade of 1850 
and 1860. It was the seat of an active commerce not only 
with the lead mines and surrounding country, but also with 
the towns and cities on both the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, 
with which it was connected by steamboat lines owned and 
controlled mostly by its own citizens. The population con 
tained an unusual number of men of prominence and ability. 
Both Elihu B. Washburne, who so long represented the Galena 
district in Congress and afterwards held with high honor 
the position of Minister Plenipotentiary at Paris, and J. 
Russell Jones, Lincoln s United States Marshal for the 
Northern District of Illinois and Grant s United States Min 
ister at Brussels for seven years, resided there. The latter 
was the wise and sagacious friend of both Lincoln and Grant, 
and was noted throughout the region for his ability and suc 
cess as a business man. John M. Douglas, for many years 
a distinguished lawyer, and president of the Illinois Central 
Railroad, John E. Smith, a successful business man and 
afterwards a Colonel, Brigadier General and Major General 
of Volunteers, and finally Colonel and Brevet Major General 
in the Regular Army, and Dr. Edward D. Kittoe, an Eng 
lishman belonging to a historical family, a learned and suc 
cessful practitioner of surgery and medicine, born and edu- 

37 



38 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

cated abroad, but a thorough American both by adoption 
and conviction, were also at that time citizens of that thrifty 
town. .Along with Maltby, Chetlain, and Rowley, all of 
whom entered the Volunteers, they early became the staunch 
friends of Rawlins. They gave character and direction to 
the social as well as the professional and business life of the 
place and surrounding country. While they differed in poli 
tics from one another, and most of them differed widely from 
Rawlins, the white heat of the great war soon burnt down all 
party lines, leaving nothing but Union men and patriots in all 
that region. 

It should be remembered that Rawlins was by birth, asso 
ciation, and conviction a Democrat and that in the exciting 
political canvass which resulted in the election of Lincoln 
to the Presidency, he gave his support to the principles of 
the Democratic party as set forth by Senator Douglas, the 
author of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, but the vigilant oppo 
nent of the Lecompton Constitution in the United States 
Senate. 

By 1860 Rawlins, the charcoal burner, had become so promi 
nent a lawyer and public speaker that he was almost unani 
mously nominated for the office of presidential elector on the 
Douglas ticket for the first Congressional district of Illinois, 
and with characteristic fearlessness he challenged the Re 
publican candidate, Allen C. Fuller, one of the most eloquent 
speakers in the State, to a series of joint discussions. The 
challenge was accepted, and the opponents met in every county 
of the district. Party feeling ran high ; the people were thor 
oughly aroused, and while it is fair to admit that a large 
majority of both parties was entirely loyal and patriotic, it 
is equally certain that even the wisest men were far from 
agreed as to just what was best to be done to ensure public 
tranquillity, and to preserve the national Union. Slavery as 
an institution was abhorrent to the feelings of many Demo 
crats as well as to most Republicans, and to no one more so 



POLITICAL CONNECTIONS 39 

than to Rawlins; but he, like many other worthy and pa 
triotic citizens, considered it as having been established in the 
earlier days of the country, under the sanction of custom and 
law older than the Constitution itself, and that it was not 
only tolerated but protected in terms by that great instrument 
of government. 

No party at that time, except the abolitionists, thought of 
disturbing slavery in the States where it existed. Both Lin 
coln and Douglas were willing to give it every legal and con 
stitutional protection so long as it should be confined to the 
old slave States. The great object and aim of the Republi 
can party was to prevent its further spread and to preserve 
the Union of the States at all hazards. They were unwilling 
that any new States should be admitted into the Union with 
slavery as one of its institutions, no matter whether it was 
situated north or south of the Missouri Compromise line. 
They claimed that in the interest of justice and humanity 
Congress, which under the Constitution has absolute power 
and control over the territories, should by law prohibit the 
introduction of slavery into any of them and by that means 
restrict its extension. 

The Southern, or pro-slavery, Democrats claimed the abso 
lute right for citizens of the slave States to remove to any new 
territory with their slaves and to keep them there indefinitely 
under the protection of the laws. They also claimed that 
all States which should be thereafter organized south of the 
old line of the Missouri Compromise, should be slave States 
absolutely, and that all others should be free to adopt slavery 
if they chose. Douglas and his followers held a middle posi 
tion, and contended for the so-called doctrine of "Popular 
Sovereignty" ; the substance of which was that the settlers and 
inhabitants of the new territories should have the right to 
decide for themselves whether or not they would have slav 
ery amongst them, and that this right should inhere without 
reference to the territory s immediate or ultimate admission 



40 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

into the Union of States. The idea was both ingenious and 
popular. Besides, it was not inconsistent with what had been 
the policy and practice of the people in earlier days; but, 
like all half or intermediate measures in times of great ex 
citement, it was favored by neither of the extremes. It did 
not satisfy such of the Northern people as believed with Gar 
rison and Phillips that slavery was "the sum of all villainies," 
and that no new community of Americans, whether from the 
South or North, should have the right to adopt it under any 
form of sovereignty. It was equally unsatisfactory to a large 
majority of the Southern Democrats; for it conceded the 
right of settlers, or "squatters" as they were derisively called, 
to exclude slaves from any territory of which the majority 
of the population might happen to be composed of people 
from the North. 

In the joint debate which took place between Rawlins and 
Fuller, the whole ground of the controversy was fought over 
before the electors. The political history of the country from 
the days of the Revolution down to the time of the discus 
sion was laid before the people and the two candidates, with 
great fervor, urged them, each according to his ideas of pro 
priety and duty, to gravely consider and wisely decide what 
should be done in the crisis then upon them. Every town 
in the district was visited, and each candidate in turn, under 
the rules adopted, strove to his utmost to enlighten his hear 
ers and confute the arguments of his opponent. From the 
published accounts of the debates it is evident that Rawlins 
threw his whole soul into them, relying altogether upon the 
Constitution of the United States, the laws enacted by Con 
gress thereunder, the decisions of the Supreme Court, and 
the speeches and writings of Jefferson, Madison, Clay, Web 
ster, Cass, and Douglas to support him in his contentions. 

In the discussion at Freeport on September 29, 1860, Raw 
lins displayed powers of reasoning and a ready familiarity 
with the facts and arguments pertaining to the slavery ques- 



POLITICAL CONNECTIONS 41 

tion which surprised not only his supporters but his oppo 
nents. He began with the earliest records, and showed that 
Congress had not legislated against slavery in the territories 
previous to the passage of what was known as the Missouri 
Compromise Bill, and that many of the wisest statesmen of 
that day, amongst them both Jefferson and Madison, had 
deprecated that measure as unwise and dangerous to the 
peace and unity of the country. He then discussed the Wil- 
mot Proviso and the Compromise Measures of 1850, follow 
ing the line of argument and supporting the positions taken 
by Douglas in that memorable controversy. He justified the 
Compromise of 1850, brought forward by Henry Clay and 
carried through by the aid of Daniel Webster; defended the 
Kansas-Nebraska Bill, which repeated the Missouri Compro 
mise of 1820, and supported the doctrine of Popular Sov 
ereignty, under which new states were to decide whether 
they would have slavery or not. It was during the discus 
sion of 1850 that Seward in the United States Senate first pro 
claimed a "Higher Law" than the Constitution of the United 
States; and while this doctrine was a favorite one with the 
abolitionists, Rawlins condemned it as both dangerous and 
unsound. He contended with force and ingenuity that it was 
better for the cause of freedom itself, as well as more in con 
sonance with precedent, that the people of the territories 
should exclude or adopt slavery in each case than that Con 
gress should arbitrarily dispose of it in either way. 

Now that Slavery has been abolished by the conflict of arms 
and at the cost of so much blood and treasure, it is diffi 
cult for the people of this day to perceive how there could 
have been such wide differences of opinion about it between 
the North and the South; but it was a question of profound 
and growing interest to all parts of the Great Republic. 
When it is recalled that, although it might be "the sum of 
all villainies" and opposed to the spirit of the Golden Rule, it 
was distinctly recognized by the Constitution as existing in 



42 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

the original States and as entitled to the protection of the 
laws passed by Congress for the arrest and return of fugitive 
slaves to- their masters, and finally that those laws had been 
pronounced by the Supreme Court to be in accordance with 
the Constitution, it is easy to understand how Rawlins, him 
self a lawyer, as well as hundreds of thousands of good 
citizens who abhorred slavery, could advocate the doctrine 
that it should not be interfered with directly or indirectly 
by the Congress or by the people themselves in the older 
States, and that the people of the inchoate States claiming 
admission into the Union should be left free to adopt or 
reject it as a majority of them, ascertained in the usual way, 
should decide. It is a fact creditable to human nature, how 
ever, that the majority of the people of the free States were 
firmly opposed to the spread of slavery, no matter under what 
pretext or color of law that end might be sought. They felt 
that if the Constitution as it stood favored the extension of 
slavery, it should be so amended as to forever prohibit its 
extension, while the more uncompromising abolitionists, who 
were fortunately never very numerous, openly claimed that 
the Constitution was "a covenant with death and an agree 
ment with hell," and should therefore be destroyed along 
with the Union itself if no other way could be found to rid 
the country of that hated institution. 

From 1850 to 1860 this all-absorbing question monopolized 
the attention of the pulpit and the press, as well as of Con 
gress and the State Legislatures, to the exclusion of almost 
every other topic, and Rawlins but followed the example of 
his elders in familiarizing himself with every phase of the 
discussion, so that when he was called upon to take part in 
it, he was familiar with every view that had been taken of 
slavery, as well as with every argument that could be made 
for or against it. His speeches, which were closely reasoned 
and impressively delivered, won a great local reputation for 
him as a public speaker. They included all that could be said 



POLITICAL CONNECTIONS 43 

in favor of the middle ground occupied by Douglas; and 
while these arguments failed to carry the people of his dis 
trict with him, they were not without great effect upon them 
as well as upon Rawlins himself. They showed both the fu 
tility of trying to settle a question affecting the very founda 
tions of human society by the quiet methods of the Consti 
tution, and made clear the course they should pursue in case 
the arbitrament of arms, the last argument of people as well 
as of kings, should be forced upon them by their brethren of 
the Southern States. 

No precept or statement, no appeal to the Constitution, no 
authority of scripture or law, no example of custom or his 
tory, however antiquated or sacred, could convince Rawlins 
or the people that slavery itself, mild and mitigated as it 
might be, was essentially right, or could ever be regarded 
as beneficial to either slave or master. His very soul revolted 
against the idea of property in human beings. His whole 
life so far was at war with a condition of society in which 
such an idea could prevail; and yet it does not appear that 
he denounced it in its moral aspects in any public speech. 
But, on the other hand, I have failed to find a single word 
ever uttered by him in its favor. He evidently saw none of 
the advantages claimed for slavery by its advocates, and rec 
ognized none of its so-called blessings. Indeed, so far as 
can be discovered, he never felt called upon to consider or 
discuss it as an abstract question of morals, or even of eco 
nomics, much less to uphold it as an ideal condition of society. 
It was a concrete fact, for which neither he nor any living 
citizen of the Republic could be held primarily responsible. 
He therefore considered it merely as an established institu 
tion, which it was his duty as a citizen to assist in protecting 
by such means and in such way as would not interfere with 
vested and established rights, but which should best promote 
the peace and prosperity of the whole country as well as of 
the people more immediately concerned. 



44 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Rawlins came out of the joint discussion with increased 
strength and confidence in himself. He had met an able and 
experienced debater, before large and deeply interested gath 
erings of intelligent citizens; he had acquitted himself as a 
logician and orator to the satisfaction of his own party, and 
had gained the respect of his opponents as an honest, fear 
less, and able advocate of the cause which he had espoused. 
But he also came out of the discussion with grave appre 
hensions as to the future. Like Douglas, his great leader, 
he feared that the day for argument had gone by and that 
the hot heads of the South and the extremists of the North 
would speedily bring on a conflict in which all minor ques 
tions would be lost sight of, and the very existence of the 
Union itself would be imperilled. 



IV 



BEGINNING OF THE WAR 

Resumes Practice of Law Confederates Fire on Fort Sumter 
Addresses Mass Meeting Influence Upon Captain Grant 
Organization of Volunteers Death of Wife Grant Invites 
Rawlins to Join His Staff Correspondence. 

AFTER the canvass was over and the election of Lincoln 
to the Presidency had become known, Rawlins returned to 
the practice of his profession, feeling that he had done his 
whole duty to his fellow-citizens. He had striven with all his 
abilities to guide them aright through the political crisis which 
was upon them. He was inspired throughout by love for the 
Union and respect for the wisdom and patriotism of the 
Fathers who had established it. He was entirely free from 
sectionalism or bigoted partizanship. He loved his whole 
country, and knew "no North, no South, no East, no West." 
He revered the Constitution as the greatest charter of Gov 
ernment ever framed by human wisdom. His sole desire 
was to preserve it unchanged and hand it down to posterity 
unviolated, and in full force and effect throughout the land. 
He had done his very best, according to his light, to culti 
vate a feeling of moderation and compromise and to avert 
the war which now seemed about to burst forth. Reflect 
ing on all this, without reference to party allegiance or to 
the course of others, he saw plainly what his duty as a citizen 
might require, and when the dread hour came his course lay 
clear before him. 

On April 12, 1861, the Secessionists of South Carolina 
fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The whole coun- 

45 



46 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

try was aroused as if by the shock of an earthquake. There 
was no longer any doubt or hesitation in the minds of loyal 
men. All knew that war was at hand, and that the forts must 
be repossessed and the rebellion put down, no matter at what 
cost in blood and treasure. Some few hesitated till they 
could learn what course their favorite leaders would adopt. 
Douglas, although friendly with the President and opposed 
to disunion, had not publicly declared for coercion, but Raw- 
lins was one of those who did not wait. He was aroused, 
indignant, and outspoken in denunciation of the lawless and 
sacrilegious act of the "fire-eaters" and Secessionists. On the 
1 5th the news, which had been flashed over the country by 
telegraph, reached Galena that Sumter had fallen. On the 
1 6th the stores were closed, business was suspended, and the 
country people from far and near hurried into town. The 
greatest excitement prevailed, bands paraded the streets play 
ing the national airs, and the stars and stripes were unfurled 
amid the cheers of the aroused and patriotic multitude. In 
the evening the citizens, without regard to past party differ 
ences, assembled in mass convention. The Mayor undertook 
to explain the objects of the meeting. His remarks were 
desultory, uncertain, and disappointing. He was followed 
by E. B. Washburne, the Republican member of Congress, 
whose commanding figure and resounding voice proclaimed 
that the hands of the legally elected President must be upheld 
at every cost; that the day of compromise had passed, and 
that "the wicked and unjustifiable war" which had been be 
gun by the South Carolinians must be fought through to 
the bitter end, till the rebellious States had been coerced back 
into the Union, and the authority of the Constitution and the 
laws should be admitted to be paramount throughout the 
land. Amid loud cheering the sturdy Washburne took his 
seat, and then a cry arose from all sides for "Rawlins Raw- 
1ms!" And it may not be doubted that many who joined 
in the meeting hoped that he would take the "Democratic 



BEGINNING OF THE WAR 47 

view" of the crisis and show that there was no legal or con 
stitutional power in the National Government "to coerce a 
sovereign State," that "war could not reestablish the Union," 
and that it was better if no compromise should be found, that 
the discontented sister States should be permitted to "depart 
in peace" rather than that war should be made upon them. 

On the day of the meeting a doubting Democratic friend 
said to Rawlins, in words which had already become familiar : 
"It is an abolition meeting. Do not mix up in it, for if you 
do, it will injure both you and your party." Another ad 
vised him to abstain from speaking, because the time had not 
yet come for war measures; still another claimed that the 
General Government had no authority "to coerce a state" ; but 
Rawlins was deaf to all such appeals. With flashing eye and 
clenched fist he declared : 

"I shall go to the meeting, and if called upon, I shall 
speak. I know no party now ; I only know that traitors have 
fired upon our country s flag." 

And so, when he heard the call of his fellow-citizens, from 
his modest place at the rear, he elbowed his way through the 
dense and excited throng to the little open space on the plat 
form and took his stand before them, quivering in every 
muscle with excitement and patriotic fervor. 

Rawlins was at that time barely thirty years of age, his 
form was spare but muscular and erect, his face pale but 
swarthy, his hair black and brushed back from a high and 
ample forehead, his eyes dark as night and flashing with anger 
at the cowardly advice of his political friends. Looking the 
audience squarely in the face, he began his address with de 
liberation. Silence fell at once upon the meeting, for the 
orator was a favorite of both parties in the community. 
Speaking with a deep, rich, and penetrating voice, every word 
he uttered reached its mark, and had the audience been ten 
times as large, every man of it would have heard all he had 
to say. For three-quarters of an hour, amidst the profound- 



48 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

est silence, he described the history and provisions of the 
Constitution, the nature and growth of political parties, and 
the transcendent advantages of the Union. He reviewed the 
past, from the foundation of the Government, repeated the 
real and the fancied wrongs of the slave holders, dwelt upon 
the good faith with which the Northern Democrats had fought 
their battles under the Constitution, and commended the cheer 
fulness with which the minorities, hitherto out-voted, had 
submitted to the will of the majority, as in the case of the 
Missouri Compromise, the Mexican War, and the Kansas- 
Nebraska Bill. He showed his fellow-citizens that the Amer 
ican way was to submit to the will of the majority and to 
trust the future, the good sense, the justice and sober second 
thought of the people, in every emergency. He then pointed 
out the wickedness of the overt act which had been committed 
against the sovereignty of the National Government, and 
declared that it was the work of "fire-eaters" and "hot heads," 
entirely without legal right or justification. Finally, in the 
full glow of patriotic fervor, his voice ringing out like a trum 
pet through the open space into the narrow streets beyond, 
he rose to his splendid climax in words that should never be 
forgotten : 

... I have been a Democrat all my life ; but this is no longer 
a question of politics. It is simply Union or disunion, country or 
no country. I have favored every honorable compromise, but the 
day for compromise is past. Only one course is left for us. We 
will stand by the flag of our country and appeal to the God of 
Battles! . . . 

The effect was electric and instantaneous. The audience, 
springing to its feet, gave cheer after cheer for the Union and 
for its defence and maintenance at whatever cost. No op 
posing voice was heard ; party lines were forgotten in the wild 
tumult of applause, and Major Anderson, the gallant de 
fender of Fort Sumter, became at that moment the hero alike 
of both Democrats and Republicans. The white heat of 



BEGINNING OF THE WAR 49 

patriotic eloquence had for the time fused all opinions into 
an united, unquestioning love of the Union, which would 
brook no rebellious resistance to its Constitution or its laws. 
The speech was a genuine surprise to the Republicans. They 
knew that Rawlins was earnest and able, but they were not 
prepared for such a flood of cogent argument or its thrilling 
climax. As for the Democrats, they were simply amazed 
and overwhelmed. They had come to the meeting in hesi 
tation and doubt, but they left it to doubt no longer. 

Among the citizens present was Captain U. S. Grant, late 
of the regular army and a graduate of West Point. He was 
then a clerk in his brother s leather store, but neither a politi 
cian nor a partizan, though he had always called himself a 
Democrat, and had cast his only vote for President, four 
years before, for James Buchanan. How he felt when he 
went to that meeting is not recorded; whether he was for 
Douglas or for Breckenridge in the late election is also un 
known. He was at that time nearly forty years of age, 
a modest, quiet citizen who had lived at Galena less than 
the requisite time to acquire the right to vote. He had but 
few acquaintances in the community and fewer intimate 
friends. Lawyer Rawlins was attorney for the leather store, 
and had met Captain Grant both socially and on business, but 
as yet there had been no intimacy between them. Rawlins 
was favorably known to nearly every man and woman of 
the district. He had lived and grown up among them, and 
had by his own energy and industry made himself a conspicu 
ous figure; so that at this time it is but the simple truth 
to say that he was a much more considerable man in the pub 
lic estimation at Galena than was Captain Grant. So much is 
certain, for General Grant told me, when the speech was 
still fresh in his memory, that he had listened to it with 
rapt attention, that it had stirred his patriotism and rekindled 
his military ardor. But this is not all. It appears to have 
removed all doubt from his mind, if any existed, as to the 



50 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

course he should pursue, and it is a notable fact that from 
that day forward he supported the doctrines of coercion which 
Rawlins had so eloquently proclaimed. 

We are told by Richardson, who was Grant s first author 
ized biographer 1 and whose work was corrected by Rawlins, 
that on his way home from the first Galena mass meeting, 
Grant said to his brother Orville that he thought he ought to 
reenter the army. The next day a company of volunteers 
was enrolled, and the former captain of the regular army, 
being the only man in town who even knew the manual of 
arms or had had any military experience whatever, was asked 
to drill it. Four days later he was on his way with this 
company to Springfield, where through the recommendation 
of Russell Jones and other home friends, he was temporarily 
employed by Governor Yates as a clerk in the Adjutant 
General s office. He appears to have been the only person 
within reach who knew how to make out a requisition for 
arms or other supplies in proper form, or to what bureau of 
the War Department it should be sent, and hence his assist 
ance at that particular juncture was invaluable. 

It is also worthy of note that about this time Grant ad 
dressed an official letter to the Adjutant General at Washing 
ton, telling him who he was and offering his services again 
to the country, but, curiously enough, he never received the 
courtesy of a reply. Shortly after reaching Springfield fam 
ily business took him to Covington, Kentucky, where his fa 
ther resided, and while there he called twice on Major- 
General McClellan, just appointed to command the Ohio 
militia, with headquarters at Cincinnati. The ex-captain of 
infantry entertained the hope that a casual acquaintance with 
that distinguished officer during the Mexican War would se 
cure for himself an offer of employment, but in this he was 
also disappointed. He then returned to Springfield, where 

1 "Personal History of Ulysses S. Grant," American Publishing Com 
pany, Hartford, 1868. 



BEGINNING OF THE WAR 51 

Governor Yates gave him further employment in connection 
with the organization, equipment and supply of the volun 
teers, then being enrolled under President Lincoln s first 
call. While he was there teaching others, from his abundant 
experience, how to get clothing, arms, and military munitions, 
and instructing the green and untrained officers how to or 
ganize and drill their newly enrolled companies and regi 
ments, the Battle of Bull Run was fought, the country was 
plunged into still greater excitement, and more troops were 
called for by the President. In a short time the modest 
ex-captain, by his industry and knowledge of military de 
tails, had gained the confidence of the Governor, who at the 
suggestion of others, but with some hesitation, gave him the 
appointment of Colonel to the Twenty-first Regiment of Illi 
nois Infantry Volunteers on June 21, 1861, in place of Colo 
nel Goode, a volunteer of the Mexican War and a partici 
pant in Lopez s filibustering expedition to Cuba, who, in 
accordance with the custom of the day, had been elected first 
by the men to that important office. As a measure of in 
struction and discipline, and for lack of rail transportation, 
the new Colonel, when the proper time came, asked permis 
sion to march his regiment from its camp near Springfield, 
across country to the town of Mexico in northeastern Missouri, 
and obtained authority to do so, as the best means of get 
ting it under discipline and giving it practical military 
instruction. 

Meanwhile Rawlins had been invited by his friends, John 
E. Smith and James A. Maltby, to help them raise an inde 
pendent cavalry regiment, with the understanding that he 
was to have the rank of major, but owing probably to the in 
difference of General Scott to that arm of service this fell 
through, whereupon he helped them with the Forty-fifth 
Illinois Infantry, known later as "The Lead Mine Regiment," 
and it is certain that his name had quite as much influence 
as that of either of his seniors in attracting the best class of 



52 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

men to the organization, which afterwards gained much dis 
tinction in the Army of the Tennessee. 

In the midst of the excitement of recruiting, Rawlins was 
called to Goshen, New York, to attend the bedside of his dying 
wife, who had long been ill of consumption. She was the 
daughter of Hiram Smith of that place, and had returned 
to her father s house in the hope that a change of climate and 
scenery would have a beneficial effect, but in this she and 
her husband were doomed to grievous disappointment. 

In those exciting days events occurred rapidly. The Gov 
ernment was organizing armies and arranging in earnest 
for suppressing the outbreak against the Union. Fremont, 
as a popular hero, had been assigned to the command at St. 
Louis, and had general charge of all military operations in 
the region south and west of that place. New generals were 
required, and Congressmen of influence were called upon to 
make nominations. Mr. Washburne of the Galena district, 
who was always active and vigilant in looking out for the 
public interests, gave prompt consideration to the qualifica 
tions and claims of his own constituents and the necessity 
for military training and experience. Amongst others he be 
thought him of Captain Grant, even before the latter had 
received his commission of colonel. West Point men of ex 
perience were but few, and specially in demand. At Wash- 
burne s request the other members of the Illinois delegation 
joined in recommending this modest and comparatively ob 
scure man to the favorable consideration of the President. 
In a few weeks, and apparently without reference to the fact 
that the Governor had already given him a colonel s commis 
sion, the President appointed him a brigadier general of 
volunteers to date from May 17, 1861, or but one month back 
of his colonel s commission. On account, however, of the 
precedence which this State Commission gave him over other 
colonels with commissions of later date, serving in the same 
field, Grant found himself commanding a brigade of volun- 



BEGINNING OF THE WAR 53 

teers in the Department of Missouri. He had evidently not 
forgotten his neighbor s patriotic war speech at Galena a 
few months before, and although the latter had at that time 
never seen a company of uniformed soldiers and was abso 
lutely without technical military knowledge, Grant hastened, 
on the same day, to send Rawlins a formal letter offering 
him the position of aid-de-camp, and asking him to get a 
lieutenant s commission in the Galena regiment then about 
ready for the field, and to report to him for duty at his earliest 
convenience. As this was probably the very first letter Grant 
wrote giving a position on his staff to any one, it seems to 
show that he had even at that early day become a good judge 
of men, and makes it certain, at all events, that Rawlins had 
by one means or another already made a profound impres 
sion upon the future army commander. 

To this letter Rawlins replied only five days later as follows : 

Galena, August 12, 1861. 
BRIGADIER GENERAL U. S. GRANT, 

Saint Louis, Missouri. 
DEAR SIR : 

Your letter bearing date St. Louis, Missouri, August 7th, A. D. 
1 86 1, tendering me the position of aid-de-camp on your staff is 
before me. It is a compliment unexpected ; but fully appreciating 
your kindness and friendship for me, and believing from your 
long experience in and knowledge of the military service, and its 
duties, you would not have offered me the position were you not 
satisfied it is one I could fill, gladly and with pleasure I accept it 
and whatever the duties and responsibilities devolved upon me by 
virtue of the same, I will with the help of God discharge them to 
the best of my ability. 

Wishing you success in the cause of Constitutional freedom for 
which you are fighting, I remain, 

Yours obediently, 

JOHN A. RAWLINS. 

But before he could complete his arrangements to take the 
field it became necessary for Rawlins to rejoin his wife at 



54 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Goshen, where she died, August 30, leaving one son and two 
daughters, the eldest only five years of age. 

Meanwhile Grant s appointment to the actual rank of 
Brigadier General of Volunteers reached him, and this en 
titled him under the law to an Adjutant, Quartermaster, and 
Commissary, all with the rank of Captain of United States 
Volunteers, besides two aids-de-camp to be selected from his 
actual command. True to the prepossessions already noted, 
the new general now made haste to offer the first of those 
offices to Rawlins, and this gave him in due time the first and 
most important position on Grant s staff. This, it should be 
noted, he retained with the increasing rank which came to 
him in due course, as his chief was promoted from grade 
to grade, and from command to command. To the infinite 
credit of both, there was never any suggestion of change, and 
the close relations which grew up between them from the 
start remained unbroken to the end. The correspondence 
relating to the position of Adjutant General has not been 
found, though its character can well be inferred from that 
already given in reference to the appointment of aid-de-camp. 
Rawlins frequently mentioned it with satisfaction in his con 
versations with me while we were intimately associated 
as will be more fully referred to hereafter on the same 
staff during the Vicksburg Campaign. 

But all doubt, if any exists, as to Grant s feelings towards 
Rawlins as well as towards Congressman Washburne, their 
common friend, is fully removed by a letter from Grant to 
Washburne now in possession of the Library of Congress. 
It runs as follows: 

Cairo, Illinois, 

September 3, 1861. 
HON. E. B. WASHBURNE, 

Galena, Illinois. 
DEAR SIR : 

Your very kind letter was duly received . . . and would have 
been answered at once but for the remark that you were about to 



BEGINNING OF THE WAR 55 

start for New York City and would not receive it for some days. 
I should be most pleased to have you pay me the visit here, or 
wherever else I may be, that you spoke of paying me there. 

In regard to the appointment of Mr. Rawlins I never had an 
idea of withdrawing it so long as he felt disposed to accept, no 
matter how long his absence. Mr. Rawlins was the first one I 
decided upon for a place with me, and I very much regret that 
family affliction has kept him away so long. The post would 
have been a good school of instruction for him in his new duties ; 
the future bids fair to try the backbone of our volunteers. I have 
been kept actively moving from one command to another, more so, 
perhaps, than any other officer. So long as I am of service to the 
cause of our country, I do not object however. 

General Fremont has seen fit to entrust me with an important 
command here, embracing all the troops in southeast Missouri, 
and at this place. ... A little difficulty of an unpleasant nature 
has occurred between General Prentiss and myself relative to 
rank, he refusing to obey my orders, but it is to be hoped that he 
will see his error and not sacrifice the interest of the cause to his 
ambition to be Senior Brigadier General of Illinois, as he contends 
he is. 

In conclusion, Mr. Washburne, allow me to thank you for the 
part you have taken in giving me my present position. I think 
I see your hand in it, and admit that I had no personal claims for 
your kind office in the matter. I can assure you, however, my 
whole heart is in the cause which we are fighting for, and I pledge 
myself that if equal to the task before me, you shall never have 
cause to regret the part you have taken. 

Yours very truly, 
U. S. GRANT, 

Brig. Gen. Vols. 

It is probable that Rawlins s letter of appointment came to 
Galena and was remailed to him at Goshen. His acceptance 
was doubtless written at the same place, about the first of 
September, for it is known that as soon as he could arrange 
for the care of his young children he started for Cairo, and 
was there on September 14. Thenceforth he was the con 
stant companion of his chief and always on duty, except for 
two months, between August and October, 1864. During this 



56 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

period he was absent on sick leave under medical treatment for 
what he and the staff surgeon persistently believed to be merely 
a severe ^bronchial affection contracted in service, but which 
finally developed into pulmonary tuberculosis and proved fatal 
four years after the war. But even during this absence, his 
faithful friend and assistant, Lieutenant Colonel Theodore S. 
Bowers, of Mt. Carmel, Illinois, kept him constantly informed 
of what was going on at headquarters, with the understanding 
that in case of any movement of the Army or any emergency 
in its affairs, or in those of General Grant, he would return 
at once to his post. 



V 



FIRST MILITARY SERVICES 

Enters Army as Captain Reports at Cairo Condition of Af 
fairs Battle of Belmont Relations with Grant. 

As heretofore stated, Rawlins at the time of his entry into 
the Army knew absolutely nothing of military affairs, and 
indeed it was impossible that it should have been otherwise. 
His life had been passed far from military scenes, or the 
thought of military employment. He had never even seen 
a company of regular infantry, a battery of artillery or a 
squadron of cavalry. He knew nothing whatever of tactics, 
organization, or military administration, and never even 
thought of the functions of the staff and staff corps, or of 
the relations and uses of the various arms of service to one 
another. It would seem almost incredible that a civilian of 
such limitations should have been assigned at such a time to 
the most important duties, after those of the commanding 
general, connected with the troops in that military district; 
and yet the sequel will show that General Grant had made 
no mistake in his choice. The young lawyer, while lacking 
the very rudiments which he would find necessary for the 
correct performance of his daily duty, had every natural 
qualification for his place. His study and practice of law, 
especially of the Constitution, had taught him the relations 
between the civil and the military powers of the State, as 
well as the rights and duties of the several States and of 
their citizens towards one another and towards the general 
Government. Besides, he was thoroughly in earnest, and 
had the sagacity to see that he must first learn what his posi- 

57 



58 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

tion required of him before he could be expected to fill it 
worthily. Like all volunteers, he was at the outbreak of 
the war. perhaps unduly impressed by the superior knowledge 
of the regular officers, but as there were only a small number 
of them then or afterwards in General Grant s Western com 
mand, he lost no time in regretting his own ignorance, but 
forthwith began to learn from his chief and the army regu 
lations what was expected of him, and how to make himself 
useful. 

Fortunately Grant s military education and his services in 
the regular army in actual warfare had made him thoroughly 
familiar with military life and with the duties of both the staff 
and the line, while his even temper and clear head especially 
qualified him to act as an instructor not only to his own staff 
but to the troops under his command. From the date of his 
own arrival at Cairo, September 2, 1861, he had been com 
pelled to perform the duties of adjutant general, quarter 
master, commissary, ordnance officer, and drill master. He 
had worked almost alone from morning till midnight for two 
weeks, and was nearly worn out when his uninstructed but will 
ing adjutant general reported for duty. New regiments were 
arriving daily and required to be encamped, fed, brigaded, and 
prepared for active service, and Rawlins found himself at 
once in a military school of the most practical character. 
Precept and instruction went hand in hand with the necessity 
for daily action. Of course, the adjutant general was com 
pelled to give his first attention to the duties of his own 
department, which comprehended the returns, reports, corre 
spondence and orders of the command, but at the same time 
he took a deep interest in everything else going on about him 
and soon became in fact as well as in theory the main depend 
ence of his Chief. He made it his practice to see that every 
one else performed the service assigned him. He was from 
the first active, inquisitive, vigilant, and terribly in earnest. 
Consequently he soon came to be looked upon by subordinate 



FIRST MILITARY SERVICES 59 

commanders, with whom he was naturally sympathetic, as 
scarcely less important than Grant himself. 

Having been deeply engaged in public life during the ex 
citement immediately preceding the outbreak of the war, he 
knew many of the leading men who were now coming forward 
as field officers and generals, especially those from Illinois, 
as well as from the neighboring region of Wisconsin and 
Iowa. Through them, aided by an exceedingly frank and 
sociable disposition, he made new acquaintances readily, and 
in this way, as well as through the daily routine of business, 
he soon came to know every important and influential officer 
in the command. With an unusually keen insight into the 
character and motives of men, he rarely made a mistake in 
his estimates of their moral and intellectual worth, or of 
their military capabilities. While he was rigid and austere 
in his own principles and practices, he was liberal and sensible 
with reference to the conduct of others. What he looked 
for and insisted upon having was prompt and unquestioning 
obedience to orders and a trustworthy sobriety of behavior 
at all times on the part of both officers and men. On the 
other hand, he was far from being a martinet, and never for 
got that the army was chiefly composed of citizens who were 
called forth in a great emergency to perform the duty of 
soldiers, and of whom the rigid and machinelike discipline 
of regulars could neither be expected nor exacted. In this 
he and his Chief were in hearty accord, but it is well known 
that Rawlins was far the more exacting of the two. 

Grant has been credited in the popular mind with having 
shown particularly good judgment in the selection of his 
subordinates and in surrounding himself with a specially able 
staff, and while it is true that he finally became fairly suc 
cessful in both respects, his success was doubtless due as much 
to the selection of Rawlins in the first place, and to the in 
fluence which that officer exerted ever afterwards, as to any 
extraordinary perspicacity or discrimination on his own part. 



60 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Rawlins always took a most earnest and active interest in 
seeing that none but worthy men should have command, and 
that his Chief should not be long imposed upon by such officers 
as were "weak, corrupt, or inefficient. 

This was especially true in regard to the staff and the 
clerical force at headquarters. In the first days of Grant s 
arrival at Cairo, he was too busy, and perhaps too poorly 
acquainted with the personnel of his command, to choose his 
assistants and aids-de-camp from the volunteers with proper 
discrimination. Those were taken who were nearest at hand, 
and perhaps some put themselves forward by solicitation or 
through the influence of their friends, for the purpose of find 
ing easy and conspicuous places. At all events it is certain 
that with the exception of Rawlins, at first, and of Colonel 
Webster, an ex-regular, and Captain Rowley, of Galena, a 
little later, Grant s first staff was but poorly constituted and 
contained several officers who were not only ignorant but 
unworthy of respect and confidence. 1 Rawlins was not long 
in picking them out, though it took him more than a year, 
with all the help he could get, to overcome the General s 
partiality for some and to get rid of others. During their 
connection with the staff several gave much trouble and were 
the source of constant anxiety. They were roystering, good- 
hearted, good-natured, hard-drinking fellows, with none of 
the accomplishments and few of the personal qualities of good 
soldiers, and did not hesitate, when opportunity offered, to 
put temptation in the way of those they thought would meet 
it halfway. Grant himself was preoccupied with his own 
responsibilities, or had a sympathetic side for them when off 
duty. Or perhaps, like most men, he was more or less subject 
to flattery and to the kind attentions such "jolly dogs" knew 
how to bestow acceptably upon those with whom they desired 
to curry favor. But Rawlins was too serious, too stern and 
unrelenting, to countenance or encourage them. He had no 
1 See Dana s "Recollections of the Civil War," pp. 72-77. 



FIRST MILITARY SERVICES 61 

patience with them, but from the start kept close watch upon 
them, and as they became more and more indiscreet or reck 
less, and he better and better informed as to their real quali 
ties, he induced the general to send them away one after the 
other, till all the objectionable ones were gone. 

It was in this, as well as in other respects, that he was 
always the complement and counterpart of his taciturn but 
kind-hearted Chief, and was enabled to render him most in 
valuable services throughout the war. He appeared to know 
instinctively a worthless or vicious man, and to abhor his 
example and influence. But his highest function was in pro 
tecting Grant from himself as well as from others, in stimu 
lating his sense of duty and ambition, and in giving direction 
and purpose to his military training and aptitudes. It was 
Rawlins, more than any other man, who aroused Grant s 
sensibilities and gave his actions that prompt, aggressive, and 
unrelenting character which so distinguished them. In fact, 
it has been frequently and truthfully said that the two together 
constituted a military character of great simplicity, force, 
and singleness of purpose, which has passed into history un 
der the name of Grant, This character, while achieving 
extraordinary results, was not without fault, nor did it get 
through to the end without serious mistakes and checks. Its 
plans, as might have been expected, were in some degree rude 
and unscientific, while its practical operations were occasion 
ally marred by faults both of logistics and tactics. It was, 
in fact, far from possessing all the attributes of the ideal cap 
tain, but, without reference to the part contributed by either 
or by the attendant circumstances, it may be truthfully said 
that it was patient, even-tempered, prompt, courageous, and 
altogether patriotic. What is still more noteworthy is the 
fact that for four years of active and costly campaigning it 
escaped any great disaster, and was uniformly successful. 

When it is considered that the result was the same whether 
Grant was confronted by Pillow or Polk, as at Belmont; by 



62 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Floyd or Buckner, as at Donelson ; by Albert Sidney John 
ston or Beauregard, as at Shiloh ; by Joseph E. Johnston or 
Pemberton, as in the Vicksburg Campaign ; by Bragg or Long- 
street, as at Missionary Ridge, or by the hitherto invincible 
Lee, as in the wonderful series of operations from the 
Rapidan to Appomattox Court House, it must be admitted 
that he was favored by something more than mere luck or 
fortune or even a preponderance of resources which gave him 
one of the most remarkable series of victories recorded in his 
tory. No suggestion nor criticism can explain away this 
extraordinary result. It cannot be contended that Rawlins 
was greater or wiser than Grant, in any respect, nor can it 
be properly claimed that he made the plans or "supplied Grant 
with brains," as some have declared, but it seems to be cer 
tain that Rawlins, an untrained man of the plain people, was 
different from Grant, and furnished him with qualities and 
characteristics which Grant did not possess at all, or which 
he possessed in a limited degree, and without which, either 
from Rawlins or from some other source in whom he had 
confidence, it would have been impossible for him to succeed 
as he did. 

In military matters perhaps more than in any others, no 
one man can devise all the plans, make all the dispositions, 
think out all the movements or play all the parts. Official co 
operation, loyal help and personal support are necessary, not 
only in the daily administration of an army but throughout 
every campaign and in every battle, and it is the province of 
organization and of discipline not only to draw these from 
the army but to make them effective wherever found. And 
yet, all combined may fail to command success for a gen 
eral, no matter how great his army nor how well it is sup 
plied, unless he is, himself, guided by a high moral purpose, 
quick and just perceptions, alert intelligence, and an active, 
ready, fearless, and aggressive temper. It is but just to add 
that in respect to all the necessary qualities of leadership, 



FIRST MILITARY SERVICES 63 

except only such as were based upon military experience and 
technical knowledge, Rawlins, by common consent, was re 
garded by those who knew him as easily the peer of any man 
in the army. It is but natural that the high qualities conceded 
to him, aided by his intimate personal and official relations 
with his Chief, should have furnished him with abundant op 
portunity to render such support and assistance as the vary 
ing circumstances which surrounded them seemed to call for 
from time to time. During the progress of this narrative 
it will appear that those moral perceptions and aggressive 
qualities, which are so greatly the characteristics of the suc 
cessful general, were possessed to a marked degree by Raw 
lins, and that he contributed them ungrudgingly to the support 
of his Chief and to the advancement of the cause for which 
they were fighting. 



VI 

EVENTS IN KENTUCKY, 1 86 1 

Occupation of Paducah Letter to His Mother Rumors About 
Grant s Habits Letter to E. B. Washburne Capture of Forts 
Henry and Donelson Grant Suspended from Command 
Facts of the Case Part Taken by Rawlins Grant Reinstated 
Armies Converge on Pittsburgh Landing Order Succeeded 
by Disorder. 

PADUCAH and Smithland, situated within a few miles of 
each other on the lower Ohio River in Western Kentucky, 
were occupied by Grant, September 6, 1861, and the Battle 
of Belmont, a few miles below the confluence of the Ohio and 
the Mississippi, was fought two months later, November 7. 
The first of these movements resulted in breaking the neu 
trality which Kentucky was at that time striving to main 
tain. Rawlins saw through the shallow pretence upon which 
this policy was based and often declared afterward that, con 
sidering "conditional neutrality as absolute hostility to the 
Government," he had from the first urged Grant to disre 
gard it entirely, if it should at any time or in any manner 
interfere with the operations of his command. This radical 
advice was acted upon with boldness and promptitude and 
the consequences were both startling and far reaching. 

The Secessionists under General Leonidas Polk at that 
time occupied Columbus, a strongly fortified position some 
twenty miles below Cairo, on the east bank of the Mississippi, 
as the left flank of their defensive line, of which Fort Henry 
on the Tennessee and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland, 
near the Kentucky and Tennessee State line, were the left 
center ; Bowling Green, Kentucky, on the Louisville and Nash- 

6 4 



EVENTS IN KENTUCKY 65 

ville Railroad, the right center, somewhat thrown forward, 
and Cumberland Gap, near the eastern corner of Kentucky 
and Tennessee, the extreme right. The seizure of Paducah, 
at the mouth of the Tennessee, and of Smithland, at the 
mouth of the Cumberland, was a direct menace to both the 
extreme left and left-center of their line, and was followed 
by great commotion among the Confederate leaders. 

Fremont, who was relieved by Halleck on November 2 
from the command of the Union forces in Missouri and 
Southern Illinois, had been engaged in conducting certain 
desultory operations in Southeastern Missouri against the 
Confederate General Thompson. Grant was cooperating 
from Bird s Point and Cape Girardeau, but fearing that Polk 
would send a force from Belmont, opposite Columbus, to cut 
off the Union columns, he resolved to make a preliminary 
dash at Belmont, and did so with about thirty-five hundred 
men, whom he commanded in person. This was Grant s first 
actual battle with the Confederates, and was entirely success 
ful in its main object. He captured the hostile camps, but the 
Confederate commander promptly reenforced the outlying de 
tachment at Belmont, which was easy to do, as it lay within 
the range of his heavy guns on the other side of the Missis 
sippi, at Columbus, and in turn forced Grant and his auda 
cious followers to cut their way back to their transports. This 
was the first fighting that Rawlins ever took part in or saw, 
and in addition to giving him and his Chief confidence in 
their men and in each other, it was important in turning the 
enemy s attention to the exposed situation of the garrison at 
Columbus, and in exerting considerable influence upon its ulti 
mate withdrawal to Island Number Ten. 

Writing to his mother from Cairo on November 15, Raw 
lins described his feelings and the action as follows : 

I have been in one battle, heard the whistling of bullets and the 
whizzing of cannon balls, and I tell you I thought no more of the 
first than of the last; still I never thought of running. Any man 



66 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

with half a soul must be somewhat brave on the battle field. 
Your mind is filled more with a desire of winning victory than of 
personal safety, and this is felt more strongly when the chances 
appear against you. Success is the paramount feeling. I was in 
the midst of danger and within the reach of the rebel fire more 
than once during the day. I was by the side of General Grant 
when his horse was shot under him. Just the moment before he 
was trying to urge his horse up to the ranks of our men, and his 
horse not being very bridle-wise, refused to go ahead, and my 
horse being one that will go any place, I rode ahead, the General 
following. Just then I turned to look towards him, when the 
General said his horse was shot so severely that it was necessary 
to leave him on the field. 

Our troops fought well and bravely. We had three thousand 
men all told, the effective and well men of five regiments, com 
manded by Colonels Buford, Logan, Fouke, Dougherty and Lau- 
man, the three first under General McClernand, the other two 
under Colonel Dougherty, while all were under the command of 
General Grant. All of the above mentioned officers, except Col 
onel Lauman, whose politics I do not know, are Democrats. I 
mention this to show that Democrats will fight (I mean Union 
Democrats) for the country, Washington and the stars and 
stripes. Our loss was, killed 85, wounded 218. This is 
official. 

The enemy had the effective men of eleven regiments, consist 
ing of Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana troops, the flower of 
Southern chivalry, according to their own figures, and lost in 
killed and wounded 543, not including the loss of one regiment 
not yet ascertained. 

We met and defeated them on their own ground, took posses 
sion of and burnt all their tents and camp equipage, captured six 
pieces of artillery and brought away two with us, all under the 
guns of the strongest fortified position on the Mississippi River. 
Upon our return to the boats from which we had debarked, they 
rallied their scattered forces and with fresh troops from Colum 
bus, undertook to cut off our retreat, when another battle ensued, 
in which we a second time defeated them and continued our 
march uninterrupted to our transports. Just as we were all 
aboard, they having in the meantime crossed over more troops 
from Columbus, arrived on the shore and commenced firing at our 
boats wounding two men on board the steamer Memphis. The 



EVENTS IN KENTUCKY 67 

gun-boats then poured into their ranks several broadsides of can 
ister and grape shot doing great execution. 

Belmont is entirely abandoned by the enemy and thus the 
Southeastern portion of Missouri is without a rebel army. 

I am glad old Guilford is for the Union. I am as you are a 
Democrat, but I am also for the Union of the States and the 
triumph of my country in arms against whomsoever may op 
pose us. 

This letter is important not only because it is the first one 
of the kind written by Rawlins, but because it shows also that 
he as well as Grant, with both officers and men, behaved with 
spirit and courage in their first battle for the Union. 

Followed, as the affair was, by the occupation of Paducah 
by a force sufficiently large to overrun the neighboring coun 
try, it produced an effect on the extreme left of the enemy s 
defensive line similar to that produced by Thomas s brilliant 
victory over Crittenden and Zollicoffer at Mill Springs, on 
the right center. It was in addition good practice for the 
troops, and aroused in them a healthy show of enthusiasm. 
It secured for Rawlins his first mention in the Official Re 
ports, taught him, as well as his General, the advantage of 
taking the initiative, and made him always afterwards the 
earnest advocate of striking the first blow. 

But while the occupation of Paducah and Smithland and 
the Battle of Belmont brought Grant s name prominently 
before the country as an aggressive and enterprising general, 
they stimulated envy and malice at once to spread rumors 
prejudicial to his sobriety and trustworthiness. The army 
contractors, who had undertaken to furnish supplies to his 
troops, were prompt to resent his efforts to make them de 
liver supplies of full weight and proper quality. They com 
plained to the reporters, and the reporters gave the story to 
the newspapers. The facts connected with Grant s retire 
ment from the regular army were noised about at that early 
day, and, in one way or another, prejudicial rumors based 



68 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

thereon were set afloat and soon reached Washburne at his 
seat in Congress. As he was both an ardent patriot and a 
man of austere and correct habits himself, who felt more or 
less responsible for the good character of Grant and the 
other officers who owed their appointment to his recommen 
dation, naturally enough he made haste to write to Raw- 
lins for the real facts of the case. The latter replied fully 
and in detail, without delay : 

Headquarters, District of Cairo, 

December 30, 1861. 
DEAR WASHBURNE: 

Yours of the 2ist is at hand. I was no less astounded at the 
contents of your note than you must have been at the informa 
tion reported to you. 

I thank you for the confidence manifested by you in the frank 
manner of your inquiry. I feel that you of all other men had the 
right, as you would feel it your duty, to investigate the charge. I 
know how much you have done for General Grant and how jeal 
ous you are of his good name, and assure you it is appreciated 
not only by General Grant but by all his friends. 

I will answer your inquiry fully and frankly, but first I would 
say unequivocally and emphatically that the statement that Gen 
eral Grant is drinking very hard is utterly untrue and could have 
originated only in malice. 

When I came to Cairo, General Grant was as he is to-day, a 
strictly total abstinence man, and I have been informed by those 
who knew him well, that such has been his habit for the last five 
or six years. 

A few days after I came here a gentleman made him a present 
of a box of champagne. On one or two occasions he drank a 
glass of this with his friends, but on neither occasion did he drink 
enough to in any manner affect him. About this time General 
Grant was somewhat dyspeptic and his physician advised him to 
drink two glasses of ale or beer a day. He followed this pre 
scription for about one or two weeks (never exceeding the two 
glasses per day) and then being satisfied it did him no good, he 
resumed his total abstinence habits, until some three or four 
weeks after the Battle of Belmont, while he was rooming at the 
St. Charles Hotel, Colonel Taylor of Chicago, Mr. Dubois, Audi- 



EVENTS IN KENTUCKY 69 

tor of State, and other friends, were visiting Cairo, and he was 
induced out of compliment to them to drink with them on several 
occasions but in no instance did he drink enough to manifest it 
to any one who did not see him drink. About this time Mr. Os- 
borne, President of the Illinois Central Railroad Company, our 
mutual friend J. M. Douglas, and several of their friends made a 
visit to Cairo, and gave a dinner (or lunch) on the cars, to which 
the General and I were invited with others ; champagne was part 
of the fare. Sitting near the General I noticed that he did not 
drink more than half a glass. The fact of his drinking at all was 
remarked simply because of his usual total abstinence. 

But no man can say that at any time since I have been with him 
has he drunk liquor enough to in the slightest unfit him for busi 
ness, or make it manifest in his words or actions. At the time I 
have referred to, continuing probably a week or ten days, he may 
have taken an occasional drink with those gentlemen and others 
visiting Cairo at that time, but never in a single instance to excess, 
and at the end of that period he voluntarily stated he should not 
during the continuance of the war again taste liquor of any kind, 
and for the past three or four weeks, though to my knowledge 
frequently importuned on visits of friends, he has not tasted any 
kind of liquor. Ever since I have been with General Grant he 
has sent his reports in his own handwriting to Saint Louis, daily 
when there was matter to report, and never less than three times 
a week, and during the period above referred to he did not at all 
relax this habit. 

If there is any man in the service who has discharged his duties 
faithfully and fearlessly, who has ever been at his post and 
guarded the interest confided to him with the utmost vigilance, 
General Grant has done it. Not only his reports, but all his or 
ders of an important character are written by himself, and I ven 
ture here the statement there is not an officer in the Army who 
discharges the duties of his command so nearly without the inter 
vention of aides, or assistants, as does General Grant. 

Some ten or twelve days ago an article was published in the 
Chicago Tribune, charging frauds on the Quartermaster s De 
partment here, in the purchase of lumber at Chicago. General 
Grant immediately sent Captain W. S. Hillyer, a member of his 
staff, to Chicago, with instructions to thoroughly investigate and 
report the facts. That report and a large mass of testimony 
substantiating the charge had been forwarded to St. Louis when 



70 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

orders came from Washington to investigate the charge. The 
investigation had already been made. Thus time and again has 
he been able to send back the same answer when orders were 
received -from St. Louis in reference to the affairs of this District. 

I am satisfied from the confidence and consideration you have 
manifested in me that my statement is sufficient for you, but 
should the subject be mooted by other parties, you can refer them 
to Colonel J. D. Webster, of the ist Illinois Artillery, General 
Grant s Chief of Staff, who is well known in Chicago as a 
man of unquestionable habits. He has been counsellor of the 
General through this campaign, was with him at and all through 
the Battle of Belmont, has seen him daily and has had every 
opportunity to know his habits. I would further refer them 
to General Van Renssalaer, who was specially sent to inspect 
the troops and investigate the condition of the District by Major 
General McClellan, and Generals Sturgiss and Sweeny, who were 
sent here by Major General Halleck for the same purpose. These 
gentlemen after a full and thorough investigation returned to St. 
Louis some two weeks ago. I know not what report they made ; 
but this I do know, that a few days after their return an order ar 
rived from St. Louis creating the District of Cairo, a District in 
cluding Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois, and all of Ken 
tucky west of the Cumberland, a District nearly twice as large 
as General Grant s former command. I would refer them to 
Flag Officer A. H. Foote of the U. S. Mississippi Naval Fleet, 
a man whose actions and judgments are regulated by the strictest 
New England standard, a strict and faithful member of the Con 
gregational Church who for months has had personal as well as 
official intercourse with the General. 

If you could look into General Grant s countenance at this 
moment you would want no other assurance of his sobriety. He 
is in perfect health, and his eye and intellect are as clear and 
active as can be. 

That General Grant has enemies no one could doubt, who 
knows how much effort he has made to guard against and ferret 
out frauds in his district, but I do not believe there is a single 
colonel or brigadier general in his command who does not desire 
his promotion, or at least to see him the commanding general of 
a large division of the army, in its advance down the Mississippi 
when that movement is made. 

Some weeks ago one of those irresponsible rumors was set 



EVENTS IN KENTUCKY 71 

afloat, that General Grant was to be removed from the command 
of the District, and there was a universal protest expressed 
against it by both officers and men. 

I have one thing more to say, and I have done, this already long 
letter. 

None can feel a greater interest in General Grant than I do ; 
I regard his interest as my interest, all that concerns his reputa 
tion concerns me ; I love him as a father ; I respect him because I 
have studied him well, and the more I know him the more I 
respect and love him. 

Knowing the truth I am willing to trust my hopes of the future 
upon his bravery and temperate habits. Have no fears ; General 
Grant by bad habits or conduct will never disgrace himself or 
you, whom he knows and feels to be his best and warmest friend 
(whose unexpected kindness toward him he will never forget and 
hopes some time to be able to repay) . But I say to you frankly, 
and I pledge you my word for it, that should General Grant at 
any time become an intemperate man or an habitual drunkard, I 
will notify you immediately, will ask to be removed from duty 
on his staff (kind as he has been to me), or resign my commis 
sion. For while there are times when I would gladly throw the 
mantle of charity over the faults of friends, at this time and from 
a man in his position I would rather tear the mantle off and 
expose the deformity. 

Having made a full statement of all the facts within my knowl 
edge, and being in a position to know them all and I trust done 
justice to the character of him whom you and I are equally in 
terested in, I remain, your friend, 

JOHN A. RAWLiNs. 1 

This letter speaks for itself and gives the best account 
extant of Grant s habits as they existed at that time. It 
needs no comment. 

The Battle of Belmont seems to have called attention to 
the necessity for reinforcements, and these in turn brought 
Rawlins increased work in helping to organize and instruct 
them as they came pouring in from the Northwestern States. 
They were, of course, formed into regiments before leaving 
home; but many of them were unarmed when they arrived, 

1 From E. B. Washburne s "Correspondence," in the Library of Congress. 



72 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

and all were not only ignorant of their military duties, but 
poorly equipped and supplied for active field service. They 
were necessarily assigned to brigades as soon as they ar 
rived, placed in camp, and put at once under such instruction 
as circumstances permitted. Meanwhile the older troops, 
under C. F. Smith and McClernand, were used in making 
reconnoissances and demonstrations against the enemy s po 
sition in Western Kentucky. 

On February 6, 1862, Fort Henry was taken by a com 
bined naval and land attack, and ten days thereafter Fort 
Donelson, with its garrison of over 15,000 men for duty, 
were captured by the forces under General Grant. During 
these operations Colonel Webster continued to act as chief 
of staff while Rawlins s duties as assistant adjutant general 
were confined to issuing orders, sending out instructions and 
making returns. These orders announced the staff, the cre 
ation of brigades and divisions, and the assignment of regi 
ments thereto, but the greater number of them were dictated 
verbally by General Grant from his own personal experience, 
and related to the discipline of the troops in camp and on the 
march, prohibiting them from leaving camp or going outside 
of the line of sentinels except upon duty, forbidding them to 
straggle, maraud, or fire away ammunition upon any pretext 
except in battle; prescribed advanced guards of cavalry and 
rear guards of infantry; directed that roll calls should be 
held on the march at least twice a day, and that every man 
should be accounted for on the daily returns. They also pro 
vided that loyal refugees coming into the Union lines at Cape 
Girardeau, Paducah, Smithland, and Cave-in-Rock should 
be gathered together and be furnished with food and quar 
ters by contributions to be levied upon and collected from 
their disloyal neighbors. In addition to all this, details of 
engineers, pilots, and gunners were made from the soldiers 
who had enlisted from the river towns, to provide crews for 
the improvised gunboats and rams, which were now coming 



EVENTS IN KENTUCKY 73 

from the boat-yards ready for offensive and defensive op 
erations. 

After the capture of Fort Henry and pending the capture 
of Fort Donelson many new regiments were rushed forward 
to reen force those in the field. They had also to be assigned 
to brigades and divisions, and furnished with orders and in 
structions. On February 9 an order was issued requiring 
officers to remain with their commands and forbidding them 
and their men alike from going aboard the transports except 
upon duty. 

On February 17 Grant s command was designated as the 
District of West Tennessee, and orders were issued con 
gratulating the army upon its great victory, prohibiting offi 
cers and men from appropriating captured property, or from 
going into the town of Dover, and distributing to the various 
divisions the guard duty and other work to be performed 
by them. On the 2ist the force had swollen to such great 
numbers as to require a larger organization, and accordingly 
four divisions were announced, together with a partial re 
distribution of regiments. On the next day Colonel Morti 
mer D. Leggett, a learned and discreet lawyer of Ohio, was 
detailed as Provost Marshal General, and notice was given 
that no courts would be allowed to sit under State authority 
and that order would be maintained throughout the District 
of West Tennessee by martial law. In all doubtful cases 
Colonel Leggett was required to consult with General Hurl- 
but, a distinguished lawyer from Northern Illinois, whose 
decision should be final. On the 26th an order was issued 
referring to frequent applications on the part of citizens for 
permission to enter the Union camps for the purpose of seek 
ing for fugitive slaves, and all officers were forbidden to 
grant permits of that kind. 

Such slaves as were within the lines at the time of the capture 
of Fort Donelson, and such as have been used by the enemy in 
building the fortifications, or in any way hostile to the Govern- 



74 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ment, will not be released nor permitted to return to their mas 
ters, but will be employed in the Quartermaster s Department 
for the benefit of the Government. 

This fs noticeable as the first order issued in the West 
forbidding the return of fugitive slaves to the service of their 
former masters, and providing for their employment in the 
Union army. 

Owing to the hurry and confusion of the campaign, and 
the suspension or interruption of mail and telegraphic com 
munications with Halleck s headquarters at St. Louis, and 
also to the failure of colonels not yet assigned to brigades 
to make prompt report of their junction with the army, and 
proper returns of the number of men in their regiments, 
Grant failed to keep Halleck as fully informed as to the 
strength of his command and the details of his organization 
and operations as was desired, and was not only severely cen 
sured therefor, but virtually suspended from active com 
mand. In spite of all these orders, he was blamed also for 
reported lawlessness and irregular conduct on the part of the 
troops, for absence from his command without the authority 
or knowledge of General Halleck, and finally, on March 4, 
1862, Halleck, from St. Louis, telegraphed McClellan, at 
Washington : 

A rumor has just reached me that since the taking of Fort 
Donelson, General Grant has resumed his former bad habits. If 
so, it will account for his neglect of my often repeated orders. I 
do not deem it advisable to arrest him at present, but have placed 
General [C. F.] Smith in command of the expedition up the 
Tennessee. I think Smith will restore order and discipline. 

The substance of the foregoing message was evidently com 
municated to the President, for on March 10 the Adjutant 
General of the Army telegraphed to Halleck as follows : 

It has been reported that soon after the Battle of Fort Donel 
son Brigadier General Grant left his command without leave. By 



EVENTS IN KENTUCKY 75 

direction of the President, the Secretary of War desires you to 
ascertain and report whether General Grant left his command at 
any time without proper authority, and if so for how long; 
whether he has made to you proper reports and returns of his 
force; whether he has committed any acts which were unau 
thorized, or not in accordance with military subordination or pro 
priety, and if so, what. 

To this minatory message Halleck on March 15, replied: 

In accordance with your instructions of the loth instant, I re 
port that General Grant and several officers of high rank in his 
command immediately after the Battle of Fort Donelson, went to 
Nashville without my authority or knowledge. I am satisfied, 
however, from investigation that General Grant did this from 
good intentions and from a desire to subserve the public inter 
ests. Not being advised of General Buell s movements and learn 
ing that General Buell had ordered Smith s division of his 
(Grant s) command to Nashville, he deemed it his duty to go 
there in person. During the absence of General Grant and a part 
of his general officers, numerous irregularities are said to have 
occurred at Fort Donelson. These were in violation of the orders 
issued by General Grant before his departure, and probably 
under the circumstances were unavoidable. 

General Grant has made the proper explanation and has been 
ordered to resume his command in the field. As he acted from 
praiseworthy although mistaken zeal for the public service in 
going to Nashville and leaving his command, I respectfully rec 
ommend that no further notice be taken of it. There never has 
been any want of military subordination on the part of General 
Grant, and his failure to make returns of his forces has been 
explained as resulting from the failure of colonels of regiments 
to report to him on their arrival, and partly from an interruption 
of telegraphic communication. All these irregularities have now 
been remedied. 

The Official Records published by the War Department do 
not show any explanations or reports from Grant to Halleck 
between March 4 and 15, nor any of an earlier date, touching 
the rumor mentioned in Halleck s despatch of the 4th to Mc- 
Clellan ; and it will be observed that Halleck s telegram of the 



76 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

1 5th to Thomas, the Adjutant General, is entirely silent in 
regard thereto, and that while it exonerates Grant from blame 
for leaving his command without authority, and declares that 
"there had never been any lack of military subordination on 
the part of Grant," it ignores the alleged "acts not in ac 
cordance with military propriety," and makes no explana 
tion whatever touching the rumor or the underlying facts. 

It is to be observed that while Halleck and Grant were 
never intimate, it is not impossible indeed, it is altogether 
likely that such a purely personal matter as Grant s habits 
in the field would have been discussed, if at all, in an unofficial 
way through the medium of private correspondence, and it 
has been suggested that such a correspondence took place, 
but there is no trace of it in the published records. Indeed, 
the latter contain nothing touching this delicate subject ex 
cept the three telegrams already quoted. As far as now 
known, Grant s spirited assertion that he had gone to Nash 
ville solely in the public interest and had not started on the 
trip till he had reported through the proper channels that such 
was his intention, supported and emphasized as it was by an 
indignant and manly request to be relieved from further duty 
under Halleck, was the only "proper explanation" ever of 
fered by him. It was an all-sufficient reason why he should 
be restored to the command of which he had been so unjustly 
deprived. 

It will be observed that this statement is not inconsistent 
with the telegraphic correspondence between Halleck, Mc- 
Clellan, and the Adjutant General at Washington. There is 
not the slightest doubt that a great wrong had been done to 
Grant, by relieving him, on an unsupported rumor of this 
character, from active command in the full tide of a success 
ful campaign, and ordering him to remain at Fort Henry 
while a large portion of his army was sent forward into the 
enemy s country under his subordinate, C. F. Smith. Nothing 
less than the confirmation of the rumor could have justified 



EVENTS IN KENTUCKY 77 

such treatment, and Rawlins always declared that this rumor 
was entirely without foundation. 

Grant s own account of this important episode is given in a 
letter to his wife as follows : 

. . . All the slander you have seen against me originated away 
from where I was. The only foundation was the fact that I was 
ordered to remain at Fort Henry and send the expedition up the 
Tennessee River under command of Major General C. F. Smith. 
This was ordered because General Halleck received no report 
from me for nearly two weeks after the fall of Fort Donelson. 
The same occurred to me. I received nothing from him, and 
the consequence was I apparently totally disregarded his orders. 
The fact was he was ordering me every day to report the condi 
tion of my command and I was not receiving the orders, but 
knowing my duties, was reporting daily, and when anything 
occurred to make it necessary, two or three times a day. When I 
was ordered to remain behind it was the cause of much astonish 
ment among the troops of my command and also a disappoint 
ment. When I was again ordered to join them they showed I 
believe heartfelt joy. 2 

The precise date or author of this "slander" cannot now be 
discovered, but that it had been set afloat can hardly be con 
sidered as strange. That a rumor prejudicial to Grant s char 
acter was on its way and doing its baneful work was fully 
known to the leading officers in that district, and especially 
to Rawlins, as early as December 30. This is shown by his 
letter of that date to Washburne. 

This rumor and those which followed had an important 
influence upon Grant s career not only then but for many 
months thereafter, and necessarily resulted in establishing still 
closer and more intimate relations between him and Rawlins. 
There could be no concealment as to the rumor, or the slander, 
or as to the real facts between the commanding general and 

2 It has been suggested by General G. M. Dodge that much of the cor 
respondence between Grant and Halleck pertaining to the Donelson cam 
paign went to the end of the telegraph line where the operator was a 
rebel, who deserted, taking with him all the despatches in his possession. 
This may account for the fact that there are so few despatches found in 
the "Official Records" for this period. 



78 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

his confidential friend and staff officer. Whether the rumor 
was true or false, is not now the question, but it had cer 
tainly neached Halleck, who made haste to repeat it to the 
General-in-Chief at Washington. Without reference to its 
date, its origin, or its truthfulness, there seems to be no 
doubt that disappointed contractors, reporters, camp follow 
ers, and even rival generals, concurred in giving it currency. 
Unfortunately it came to be widely believed, and this belief, 
more than anything else, caused Grant, in spite of his great 
victories, to be looked upon with suspicion and disfavor in 
both public and private life. Nor is there any doubt that the 
rumor, however started, was primarily the cause of the dis 
trust which was shown by both McClellan and the Secretary 
of War, as well as by Halleck, throughout the Shiloh, Corinth, 
Tallahatchie, and Vicksburg campaigns, until the fall of Vicks- 
burg at length relieved the public mind of all anxiety on that 
account and brought the President, with characteristic humor, 
to declare to a delegation of worthy citizens who came to 
counsel with and advise him about the matter: 

"I can t say whether Grant is a drinking man or not, but if 
he is, I should like to know where he buys his liquor as I wish- 
to present each one of my army commanders with a barrel of 
the same brand." 

In justice to Grant, it should be here clearly stated that 
Rawlins continued to declare, as in the Washburne letter, that 
the damaging rumor had been put into circulation by Grant s 
enemies and rivals for the purpose of injuring him with the 
Washington authorities, Be this as it may, it was the foun 
dation for a widespread apprehension that if not true, it 
might become true at any time, and this was doubtless the 
source of constant anxiety not only to Rawlins but to many 
other friends of Grant. It therefore became the duty of 
Rawlins, as staff officer and friend, to be ever watchful and 
vigilant; and it is a fact worthy of all praise that he per- 



EVENTS IN KENTUCKY 79 

formed that duty till the end of the war with such fidelity 
and courage as to effectually protect the interests of his Chief, 
and at the same time to shield the national cause from all 
injury which might be brought upon it by Grant s habits or 
by exaggerated reports as to their actual character and im 
portance. No student of history can read the journals and 
correspondence of that period without perceiving that rumors 
were a significant factor, affecting not only Grant s reputa 
tion but his relations with those in authority over him, as well 
as with the great events then taking place. In view of the 
fact that such was certainly the case and that both Rawlins 
and Grant are long since dead, it would be an inexcusable 
omission for the biographer of either of those important 
characters to ignore or minimize its importance. 

Unfortunately I shall have occasion to advert to this sub 
ject again before concluding this narrative, but for the present, 
whether its actual importance was great or small, it may be 
truthfully declared that, so far as known, it never injuriously 
influenced Grant s action or his plans in regard to either a 
campaign or a battle. It has never been charged that it at 
any time induced him to march or fight when he ought not to 
have done so, nor to refrain from marching or fighting when 
circumstances were favorable to this course. Moreover, it is 
confidently claimed that it never caused Grant to blunder or 
to seriously neglect a duty, nor to perform one in a manner 
different from that which would have been adopted had he 
been the most abstemious of men. On the other hand, it is 
not to be denied that it materially increased the influence and 
responsibility of Rawlins at headquarters, or that it led to a 
sort of moral supervision over Grant and his surroundings 
which, however, unusual or inconvenient, although self-im 
posed by Rawlins, was of the greatest advantage both to 
Grant and to the country. This fact, which was no less cred 
itable to the Chief than to the subordinate, was generally 
known to the leading officers of the army at the time, and did 



8o LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

much to secure not only their support and respect for Rawlins 
but their loyal cooperation in all measures of discipline as well 
as in all of the great movements which were conducted by 
Grant. 

During the Donelson campaign, in addition to acting as 
adjutant general of the forces and, upon important occasions, 
as senior aid-de-camp, Rawlins also performed the delicate 
and important duties of censor over the telegraphic press de 
spatches. Smarting under the injury inflicted upon him by 
rumors which he believed to be malicious, Grant specially di 
rected that no reports reflecting upon C. F. Smith should be 
permitted to go over the telegraph lines. That distinguished 
veteran was a Regular of great experience and the highest 
quality, but "rumor" also reported him as having been drunk 
during the campaign, and Grant did not hesitate to resort to 
the most arbitrary measures to prevent the spread of such 
reports. He declared that any criticism of Smith was "sure 
to be a lie." He bitterly denounced all who took part in set 
ting such rumors afloat, and especially the contractors, whom 
he had thwarted at Cairo, and who had early begun to cry out 
against the "red tape" and the "bad habits" of the Regular 
officers. He went so far in his efforts to reach and punish 
that class of offenders, who were also the chief scandal 
mongers, as to seriously recommend in his correspondence 
with Halleck the enactment of a law which would permit the 
impressment of "all fraudulent contractors into the ranks, or, 
still better, into the gunboat service where they could have 
no chance of deserting." 

The Donelson campaign, with its strange experiences, gave 
Rawlins a clear insight into the difficulties and dangers of 
military life. It taught him the necessity of full and accurate 
knowledge on his part and of a complete record in his office 
not only of what went on throughout the command but of 
what took place in and about headquarters. If he had not 
already learned from regulations and books, or from the 



EVENTS IN KENTUCKY 81 

commanding general, that the adjutant should have charge 
and supervision of every order and communication from 
headquarters, whether with the troops, the surrounding coun 
try, the Department or Division headquarters, or with the 
Government at Washington, his experience during this period 
of rumor and detraction would have taught him the absolute 
necessity for such an exercise of authority and responsibility. 
He was an apt pupil, and although he found himself in a 
strange environment, amidst unexpected scenes and complica 
tions, he grasped the elements of the problem with which he 
had to deal and at once became an acknowledged factor of 
great power and influence in the daily administration of the 
army, as well as in the personal and official fortunes of its 
Chief. 

Notwithstanding the capture of Fort Henry and the ex 
traordinary victory at Fort Donelson, the period which fol 
lowed was one of great discouragement to Grant. The dis 
tribution of military authority at that time was peculiar. 
Halleck had general control over Missouri, Southern Illinois, 
West Tennessee, and West Kentucky; Buell had similar con 
trol over the rest of Kentucky, while Grant himself, who had 
been in command of a district including Southeastern Mis 
souri, Southern Illinois, and Southwestern Kentucky, and had 
by a bold and masterly stroke broken the enemy s main de 
fensive line in its most important strategic section, was now 
assigned to the command of the new District of West Ten 
nessee; but the limits of these widely distributed commands 
were necessarily vague and ill-defined, while the relations 
between the commanders were, if possible, still more uncer 
tain. It should not be forgotten that Grant was under the 
direct orders of Halleck, whose headquaters were at St. Louis, 
and made his reports and returns to that officer, while both 
Halleck and Buell reported to and received their general in 
structions from McClellan, who was then General-in-Chief at 
Washington. At the same time it should be remembered that 



82 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

all territorial commanders for certain administrative pur 
poses, also had direct communication with the War Depart 
ment through the adjutant general of the army. And what 
is still more curious, it now appears from the published rec 
ords that McClernand, who had been an important Demo 
cratic politician and member of Congress from Illinois, and a 
fellow townsman of Lincoln, but was now one of Grant s 
subordinates, from the beginning had important if not fre 
quent correspondence with both McClellan and the President. 
The situation was at best a complicated one, and as a con 
sequence, neither the military administration nor the practical 
operations of the armies in the field were conducted upon any 
well-matured system or plan. They lacked unity as well as 
force, and much valuable time was lost, after the capture of 
Fort Donelson, in desultory suggestions and movements or in 
waiting for formal orders. The difficulties so far as Grant 
was concerned, were still further exaggerated by the petulant 
complaints and exactions of Halleck, by his manifest lack of 
confidence in his lieutenant and finally by the fact that the 
army itself had become penetrated by a feeling of distrust 
towards a commander of whom it had heard the "rumor" 
alluded to in Halleck s despatch to McClellan. This army 
was made up of the most intelligent men from all parts of 
the Northwestern States, who had by their home correspon 
dence doubtless given these rumors wide and authoritative 
circulation. The result was that they were just as effective 
in shaking the confidence of the country in Grant as if they 
had been true. New troops were coming forward almost 
daily; the war correspondent was on the alert, and both 
troops and correspondent gave immediate currency to every 
rumor that was started. A state of anxiety and distrust pre 
vailed in the minds of both officers and men, which did much 
to arouse apprehension at home. The history of what actually 
took place during the next two months was difficult enough to 
follow in detail till the Records were published in full, but 



EVENTS IN KENTUCKY 83 

when all the orders issued, and countermanded, by Halleck 
from his headquarters at St. Louis, two or three hundred 
miles away, are considered, it will be seen that an almost hope 
less state of confusion existed in his mind as well as in that of 
the country at large. 

On March 5, 1862, Grant s headquarters were removed 
from Fort Donelson to Fort Henry, and C. F. Smith, in pur 
suance of Halleck s instructions, was ordered to take com 
mand of the expedition which Grant, by virtue of his seniority, 
had naturally expected to conduct in the direction of Eastport 
on the Tennessee River. This expedition was at first ordered 
to destroy the railroad bridge over Bear Creek near that town, 
and then to break up the railroad connections and crossings at 
Corinth, Jackson, and Humboldt, in the order named. Shortly 
after starting, Smith fell sick, and was badly injured by a fall, 
whereupon Grant, who had at last been credited with making 
"satisfactory explanations," was, as before stated, permitted 
to resume command. Absurd as it may appear, the orders 
then at hand required him on the completion of the designated 
work, to withdraw his force, "return to Danville and move 
on Paris." These places it will be observed had never been 
occupied by any part of his command, but lay in Buell s com 
mand, several hundred miles to the northeast in the heart of 
Kentucky. On the very next day, Halleck sent orders that 
"there should be no delay in destroying the bridge at Corinth 
or Bear Creek," and that if successful the expedition would 
not return to Danville, "but encamp at Savannah unless 
threatened by superior numbers." 

Shortly afterwards Buell s army in Kentucky, whose front 
had been freed from the presence of the enemy by Grant s 
victory at Donelson, was put in motion and without serious 
opposition, found itself soon in Nashville, where Grant in the 
rightful exercise of his discretion as the commander of a co 
operating army, met Buell for a conference, the final result of 
which was that the latter was wisely instructed by McClellan 



84 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

to march across the country in the direction of Savannah on 
the Tennessee for the purpose of forming a junction with 
Grant and thus concentrating an overwhelming force against 
the enemy. 

Thus certainty began to take the place of uncertainty, order 
the place of disorder; and thus both Grant and his adjutant 
general saw the plans of operation in that region assuming 
definite shape, while the administration of the force in the 
field under their direction was rapidly becoming systematic 
and effective. They were again in command of a moving 
and confident army which was daily growing in strength, but 
they were beset by gathering dangers of another sort of which 
they were more or less unconscious but which imperilled their 
future, taught them at the same time lessons of self-reliance 
and wisdom and gave them that practical experience in mili 
tary operations without which they could not hope to gain 
complete or permanent success. 



VII 

SHILOH 

Campaign and Battle of Shiloh Grant Again Virtually Sus 
pended Supported by Rawlins and Sherman Controversies 
and 111 Feeling Growing out of Campaign. 

THE battle of Pittsburgh Landing or of Shiloh Meeting 
House took place on Sunday, April 6, 1862. It was brought 
on by the Confederate forces, about 40,000 strong, advancing 
from Corinth, the railroad center against which two Federal 
armies had been directed, but which neither had reached 
as yet. 

Buell had marched slowly from Nashville, but was within 
a few miles on the opposite side of the Tennessee. Grant 
had notified him, on his approach, that there was no special 
reason for hurrying, but feeling somewhat uneasy about the 
real plans of the enemy, he took the precaution of sending a 
note to Sherman at the front, by McPherson asking for a 
report of the condition of things and whether it was safe for 
him to remain at Savannah for a conference with Buell. 
Sherman replied with the information that the enemy had 
appeared in his front with cavalry, infantry and artillery "six 
miles out," but he did not "apprehend anything like an at 
tack on our position." Relying fully on Sherman s judgment, 
Grant wrote Halleck the same evening that he had "scarcely 
the faintest idea of a general attack," but would be "prepared 
should such a thing take place." But the fact is that the 
enemy had been three days floundering through the mud from 
Corinth, less than twenty miles away, and was by Saturday 
night within two miles of the Union lines, where no prepara- 

85 



86 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

tions whatever had been made to resist him or even to make 
him disclose his purposes. The Union troops were encamped 
without special reference to a defensive battle and in total 
disregard of the necessity for mutual support and defense. 
No entrenchments or earthworks of any kind had been con 
structed, and neither the pickets nor the grand guards were 
sufficiently far out or sufficiently in touch with each other to 
give adequate warning or to make adequate resistance to the 
enemy s advance. 

The enemy moved to the attack on Sunday morning as 
soon as it was light enough to see, and although he did not 
find many of the Union soldiers in their beds, nor fall upon 
them before they could form their lines, as has frequently been 
stated, it was in a military sense a complete surprise. The 
truth of this statement is established beyond controversy by 
the simple fact that nearly every general s and field officer s 
official report admits or declares in terms that the organiza 
tion to which it refers was surprised by the enemy s attack in 
force. It is but fair to observe, however, that both Grant and 
Sherman persisted in denying to the day of their death in face 
of overwhelming evidence, that such was the case. 

As has been shown, Grant himself was not on the field when 
the battle began, but received his first knowledge of it at 
Savannah, some seven or eight miles further down the river, 
from the booming of distant artillery. Knowing too well the 
significance of that sound, he sent word at once to Buell to 
hasten his advance, and went forward by boat to Pittsburgh 
Landing, stopping on the way at Crumps Landing, between 
four and five miles from the scene of battle, and there gave 
Lew Wallace a verbal order "to hold his division in readiness 
to march at a moment s notice." As soon as he learned that 
a heavy battle was going on at the front he sent back a written 
order, which, it is possible, never reached Wallace, "to move 
up at once by the river road," and growing impatient as the 
battle deepened, he sent first Rowley and then Rawlins and 



SHILOH 87 



finally McPherson, to hurry the belated division to the front. 
By some strange fatality Wallace was slow in moving, and 
when he did move it was by the road west of the creek instead 
of the one along the river bank. As a consequence, he was at 
last forced to countermarch to find a bridge and get on his 
right road, but failed to arrive on the field in time to take part 
in the day s fighting. He was severely condemned by Grant 
at the time and for years afterwards, while Rawlins, from 
a minute and painstaking study of the case, always contended 
that this condemnation was fully justified by the facts. He 
never failed to assert, with the earnest vehemence which char 
acterized him, that no excuse could be found for a division 
commander, with or without orders, who should march and 
countermarch all day within sound of a furious battle, less 
than five miles away, without getting into it. It is true that 
Wallace was separated from the battle-field by a creek at 
flood, but there were both bridges and transports, in sufficient 
number and proximity, but still the junction was not made. 

Years afterwards Grant took up and reviewed the case and 
exonerated Wallace from blame, but it should be stated that 
every fact set forth in the "Official Records" and correspon 
dence, was marshalled and considered by Rawlins, during the 
preparation of Grant s official reports, while all the important 
witnesses were living and the incident of the day still fresh in 
their minds. No important facts not previously known were 
discovered by Grant, hence it may be inferred that had Raw 
lins lived, his conclusion in this case would not have been 
reversed. 

It is not necessary to describe in detail the bloody struggle, 
which resulted in the capture of Prentiss and the greater part 
of his division, the dispersion of Sherman s raw regiments, 
the repulse of McClernand, Hurlbut, and W. H. L. Wallace, 
with the entire national line, the culmination of the struggle in 
the death of Albert Sidney Johnston, the Confederate general 
issimo, and the final rally of Grant s broken but still resolute 



88 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

forces near the steamboat landing. The strength of the op 
posing armies, even with Lew Wallace absent, was nearly 
equal. Each had fought the other to a standstill in a battle 
which was almost constant from daylight till the middle of 
the afternoon, and which was indubitably the bloodiest of the 
war up to that time. 

Bad as the outlook was for Grant s hard-pressed battalions, 
as the day was drawing to its close the opportune arrival of 
the advance-guard of Buell s army put a new phase upon the 
struggle. Nelson s division was ferried across the river at 
Pittsburgh Landing and was the first to reach the stricken 
field. It was followed by Crittenden s and McCook s divi 
sions, which were brought from Savannah by the transports, 
but did not reach the fighting line till early Monday morning. 
But the stubborn resistance of Grant s troops, the death of 
the Confederate generalissimo, and the enfilading fire of the 
Federal gunboats seem to have paralyzed the Confederate 
onset before darkness actually ended the conflict. Fortunately, 
too, Buell s army was united and at hand in time to take the 
offensive early on Monday morning, but the actual crisis had 
passed the evening before and the Confederates had lost their 
opportunity forever. 

Grant and his staff had borne themselves bravely and well. 
Sherman, McClernand, Prentiss, W. H. L. Wallace, and, in 
deed, every other general on the Union side, except Lew Wal 
lace, had faced the storm of battle with uncommon courage. 
Buell arrived on the field in person at about two o clock Sun 
day afternoon, when the confusion was the greatest and the 
hope of victory the lowest. Grant met him on the east side of 
the river with his headquarters boat, the Tigress, and brought 
him quickly to the scene of battle. On their way through the 
sickening crowd of stragglers who lined the bank near the 
landing, Buell asked Grant what preparations he had made 
for retreating, to which Grant replied with composure and 
courage: "I haven t despaired of whipping them yet! . . . 



SHILOH 89 

Should it come to a defeat," he added, "we can make a bridge 
of boats across the river and protect it with artillery. But in 
that event, he continued, "there won t be many men to re 
treat." 

This ended the colloquy. Grant went about his business, 
while Buell, with soldierly promptitude, made haste to place 
the oncoming veterans of Nelson s division in line of battle. 
Their appearance was timely and their advance, which was 
begun at once, turned the tide which had already begun to 
ebb, recaptured the guns which had been lost, reoccupied a 
part of the camps and advanced positions which had been 
abandoned, and pushed back the worn out and discouraged 
Confederates all along the front. But it was too late to con 
vert defeat into an overwhelming and complete victory. 
Night put an end to the battle, with the opposing armies con 
fronting each other substantially as they had been before the 
battle began in the morning. 

It is useless to consider whether Buell could have reached 
the field earlier, or whether his leading division could have 
driven the broken and dispirited enemy further that night. 

It is equally foreign to this narrative to consider whether 
either commander was at fault for the incompleteness of the 
result. Both had done their best, and the first day s fighting 
with its frightful losses and its varying fortunes was at an 
end. The whole of Buell s army was at hand though greatly 
fatigued by its closing march, and hence it was perhaps wisely 
decided that nothing more could be done till dawn the next 
morning. Even then it was too late to bring the enemy to a 
decided stand, for having lost his greatest general and already 
been foiled in his main object, he had begun the night before 
to withdraw his main body towards Corinth, leaving only a 
strong rear guard to delay the pursuit. 

This summary of events is based largely upon Richardson s 
"Personal History," in the preparation of which Rawlins was 
freely consulted and upon reports from other sources gathered 



90 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

after the end of the War. It is besides in strict accord with 
the accounts which Rawlins repeatedly gave me afterwards. 
He shared all the hardships and dangers of his Chief, wrote 
and transmitted all the orders, carried several of the most 
important ones and took the keenest interest in every incident. 
Fortunately he availed himself of the first lull in the campaign 
to write to his mother, and as his letter tells how the battle 
appeared to him at that time, I give it in full as follows : 

Pittsburgh Landing, April 8, 1862. 

. . . Yesterday s sun went down on one of the hottest contests 
[that ever took place] on this continent, rivaling any in the 
numbers engaged and equaling any in its importance. The enemy 
had fortified himself since the breaking out of the rebellion. The 
capture of Forts Henry and Donelson opened their eyes to the 
fact that no fortifications could be built so as not to be taken, and 
a new order of things was to be inaugurated. They were to bring 
the Northern Hessians" into an engagement in the open field 
and there Southern chivalry would surely triumph. 

On Sunday morning, clear, bright and beautiful, they began the 
attack, and during the entire day the battle raged with varying 
fortune. They had 110,000 men; we not half that number, 
who could be brought into the fight. About 5 o clock p. M. they 
had driven our forces from all our outer camps, and then we 
looked (as Napoleon did for Grouchy or night) for Buell or 
Wallace or night, each of whom had notice and was ordered 
forward to reenforce us. 

Just when they were needed, and not a moment too soon, 
Buell s advanced forces, ten thousand strong, arrived on the 
opposite side of the river, were quickly crossed to the side of 
conflict, and checked the enemy. Night setting in they fell back 
and occupied many of the camps of our men, to renew the fight 
that had evidently closed favorably to the South. During the 
afternoon and night General McCook s, Crittenden s and Wood s 
divisions arrived, and Wallace s division also, giving us 40,000 
reinforcements in fresh troops. 

Instead of waiting for an attack on Monday morning, we at 
tacked the enemy and fought until night, regaining all our old 
positions and utterly routing the enemy who left their dead and 
wounded on the field, burned many of their tents, and destroyed 



SHILOH 91 

and scattered their arms along their line of retreat. We followed 
them to-day some seven miles, capturing some prisoners. In 
prisoners they have got more than we have. They captured 
General Prentiss and a part of his division on Sunday. 

The number killed and wounded on each side is very great, not 
less than 5,000.* Among their killed is the celebrated Albert 
Sidney Johnston, who with Beauregard, Bragg and Breckenridge 
commanded their forces. 

The army of the West has thus far borne itself nobly and vic 
toriously. I was on more than one occasion in the thickest of the 
fight, but remained unharmed. 

Barring the overstatement of the enemy s numbers and the 
understatement of the killed and wounded, which was com 
mon at that time, this letter is a correct summary of the prin 
cipal events as they took place. 

It was a great and bloody action followed by far-reaching 
results, but I have dwelt upon it rather for the purpose of 
pointing out certain consequences of a personal nature to 
Grant than for drawing from it the lessons of strategy and 
military policy which it teaches. 

The first reports of victory sent North caused great rejoic 
ing throughout the loyal States. The President appointed a 
day of thanksgiving and new praise was freely bestowed upon 
the hero of Donelson. But a flood of injurious rumors and 
reports as well as of false inferences drawn from the events 
as they occurred, were sent out by the reporters, by the army 
contractors, and even by disappointed officers. Many of 
Buell s intelligent soldiers of all ranks who had passed 
through the crowds of stragglers near the landing and felt 
that they had saved the day without having received proper 
credit for it, added the weight of their criticism to that of 
the newspaper men. Grant was again charged with being 
drunk, with having arrived late on the battle field, with being- 
incompetent and with having neglected the ordinary precau- 

1 According to the Official Reports Grant s killed, wounded and missing 
were 12,217; Beauregard s, 10,699. 



92 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

tions for the protection of his encampment and base of sup 
plies. The country, and what is worse, Halleck the chief 
commander in the West, were swift to believe these reports, 
and although Grant was entirely guiltless of anything to his 
discredit, except perhaps overconfidence and failure to see 
that his troops were properly posted and entrenched, he took 
no public notice of the hue and cry against him, though Raw- 
lins and other officers of the staff publicly denied and de 
nounced the charge of drunkenness as wicked and unfounded ; 
but the mischief had been done. 

Halleck hastened to the field, and, as was his right by 
seniority, assumed chief command of the united armies. His 
confidence in Grant had been again severely shaken. In dis 
tributing the command and giving the forces a working or 
ganization, he transferred the bulk of Grant s troops to the 
right wing under Thomas, assigned Buell to the command 
of the center, Pope to the command of the left wing, and Mc- 
Clernand, one of Grant s subordinates, to the command of the 
reserve. He left Grant in titular charge of his own territorial 
district, but actually relieved him from all responsibility by 
announcing him as "second in command," and taking special 
care that he should neither be consulted in reference to plans, 
nor be permitted to exercise any authority whatever over their 
execution. Indeed Grant was actually for the most part kept 
in ignorance of what was going on. He often told me that he 
was not consulted in reference to the disposition of his own 
troops and that whenever the commander of either grand 
division of the army came to headquarters for conference, if 
he chanced to be near, Halleck would lead the visitor apart 
and talk with him in tones which could not be overheard. Or 
if Grant, who really knew the country, ventured upon a sug 
gestion, it was generally rejected with the plain intimation 
that when his advice was needed it would be asked for. 

It was a period of national as well as personal humiliation 
to Grant, during which the army grew to a hundred and 



SHILOH 93 

twenty thousand men or nearly three times that of the enemy, 
and notwithstanding its preponderance of strength, became 
accustomed, when it moved at all, to move with the torpidity 
and circumspection of a tortoise. It fortified itself by night 
and dug its way forward by day, even when the enemy was 
not in sight. By these means it advanced just fifteen miles 
in six weeks. In the end it confronted the enemy at Corinth, 
and by the mere weight of numbers compelled him to evacuate 
that place, but fortunately Grant could not be regarded as in 
the slightest degree responsible for the timid policy which 
controlled the movements of the national forces. He held his 
peace, studiously abstaining from criticism and recrimination, 
with the confident hope that patience and reticence would save 
him in the end if anything could. He however remonstrated 
with Halleck by letter and as he often said afterwards, seri 
ously thought of asking to be relieved with a view to seeking 
employment elsewhere, but Rawlins and Sherman both sym 
pathizing deeply with him, strongly advised against this course ! 
and fortunately their advice prevailed. This support in ad 
versity necessarily drew still closer the bond of friendship and 
interest between Grant and Rawlins, while it laid the founda 
tion of lifelong friendship and confidence between Grant and 
Sherman. The latter, it will be recalled, had also suffered 
greatly in the public estimation not only because he had been 
inconsiderately charged with being "crazy," but because of the 
insignificant resistance his raw troops had made in the battle 
of Pittsburgh Landing. It was both natural and creditable 
that these great officers should stand together under the load 
of obloquy heaped upon them by unsparing criticism. Their 
friendship, which was strengthened by Sherman s unselfish 
support from the rear during the Donelson campaign, was in 
the highest degree beneficial to the country as well as to them 
selves. Neither Grant nor Rawlins ever forgot or became in 
different to it, but this is not all. They never forgot or en 
tirely forgave those who supplanted Grant, or those who failed 



94 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

to show their sympathy for him during this trying period. 
And the significance of this will be better understood when 
it is remembered that even so lofty a character as George H. 
Thomas was never included among their closest friends. 
Conscious of his own merit, that officer had accepted the 
superior position assigned him by Halleck, without question 
or protest. He knew Grant but slightly, and doubtless felt 
under no special obligation to him. Besides he was far too 
proud to solicit preferment at all, and far too fair-minded to 
accept it at the cost of a brother officer, if he knew it, but 
austere and reticent by nature, he was one of the last men in 
the army to court the confidence, or to participate in the con 
troversies and grievances of others. 

Be all this as it may, it is well known to many that no great 
intimacy ever grew up between Grant and Thomas, or be 
tween their respective followers. The armies of the Ten 
nessee and the Cumberland, as they afterwards came to be 
called, and especially the officers thereof, never became par 
ticularly friendly. They supported one another loyally and 
well, both in the Shiloh campaign and in that of Chattanooga. 
Finally they became intermingled and welded together in the 
campaign of Atlanta and in the March to the Sea, but neither 
ever lost its identity with the other. There always remained 
a difference, and a distinct plane of cleavage between them. 
Moreover each shared to the end in some degree the charac 
teristics of the men who organized them. As Grant, Sherman 
and McPherson, on the one side, differed from Buell, Rose- 
crans and Thomas on the other, so the Army of the Tennessee 
differed and remained separate from the Army of the Cumber 
land to the last day of their existence. 

While it was the duty of Rawlins as adjutant general to 
share the fortunes of Grant, it later became his duty as chief 
of staff to hold the scales of justice between the officers and 
the armies with which he was serving. Although a man of 
extraordinary earnestness and firmness of conviction, it will 



SHILOH 95 

be shown hereafter that he never permitted any influence or 
prejudice to run away with his sense of fairness or to warp 
his judgment in the performance of duty. Acting always 
from the highest motives, it seldom occurred to him to ques 
tion the motives of others. An unselfish patriot from the 
first, he naturally believed every other officer to be as self- 
sacrificing and disinterested as himself, and in this spirit he 
upheld the fortunes of his Chief and performed the duty of 
his position. 

During the operations which followed the dispersion of 
the great army Halleck had gathered for the capture of Cor 
inth, Grant played an important but subordinate part. When 
Halleck in recognition of his great services was shortly 
afterwards ordered to Washington as General-in-Chief, he 
first offered the command of the great army on the Tennessee 
to Colonel Robert Allen, a graduate of West Point, an old 
army quartermaster, and a man of merit, but one who had 
had no field experience in the war, and not until Allen de 
clined the honor did it settle upon Grant. Even then it came 
by seniority and was limited to the District of West Ten 
nessee and to the troops originally serving under him. Buell s 
army was maintained intact and directed to the eastward on 
Chattanooga. The enemy seizing the opportunity, made an 
offensive return, and the bloody but inconclusive battles of 
luka and Corinth were fought by Grant s subordinates, with 
the general result that West Tennessee was permanently freed 
from Confederate occupation and control. The Mississippi 
having been cleared from Cairo to Island Number Ten by 
the National gunboats cooperating with the land forces under 
Pope, Memphis was permanently occupied, and the arrange 
ments for the advance into Central Mississippi and for the 
capture of Vicksburg gradually took shape. Much time was 
however lost after the occupation of Corinth because of the 
so-called "Pepper Box strategy," which scattered the great 
army gathered there, but withal Grant s patience and modesty 



96 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

had strengthened him with his command and raised him in 
the public confidence. The newspapers had apparently be 
come less, inimical to him. The trade regulations drawn up 
by Rawlins were vigorously enforced, order was restored, 
and the supremacy of the Union was acknowledged through 
out the district, but withal it is certain that Grant had not yet 
gained the entire confidence of the Administration. The ad 
vent of Halleck as General-in-Chief in Washington neither 
relieved his lieutenant from distrust nor protected him from 
the intrigues of political and professional rivals, as it must 
have done had he given Grant unqualified commendation and 
support. 

It was during this period that Grant issued his drastic 
order expelling all Jews from the limits of his command, 
but it is worthy of note that this was done against the advice 
of Rawlins, who pointed out its objectionable features and 
called attention to the fact that only two weeks before a 
similar order issued by one of his post commanders had been 
countermanded. Grant, who was perhaps unduly incensed 
by the fact that his own father was interested at the time in 
carrying on trade within the limits of his department, said 
with unusual firmness : "Well, they can countermand this from 
Washington if they like, but we will issue it anyhow." Great 
excitement was aroused by it throughout the country. The 
newspapers denounced it in unmeasured terms. Congress 
took notice of it and a long debate followed, but the ever- 
watchful Washburne headed off a vote of censure by a motion 
to lay the subject on the table, which was carried. Mean 
while the President in the exercise of his own prerogative 
as Comamnder-in-Chief countermanded the order, but with 
out expressing any direct censure of Grant. It may be as 
sumed, however, that the incident did not strengthen Grant 
either with the Administration or with Congress, but rather 
tended to prolong the suspension of judgment which had 
previously shown itself in reference to him. 



SHILOH 97 

Before passing to the consideration of the Vicksburg cam 
paign, it is proper to call attention to the fact that Grant, 
on April 7 and 8, 1862, reported to Halleck at St. Louis by 
telegraph and on April 9 by letter the result of the battle 
which had taken place near Pittsburgh Landing. 2 These com 
munications were both crude and incomplete. They were 
evidently the work of Grant s hand alone, unaided by his 
adjutant general, or any other member of his staff. They 
were not followed, as afterwards became customary, by a 
careful and exhaustive report, based upon the reports of 
the subordinate commanders, for the reason stated by Grant 
himself as follows : 

. . . Although I was in command of all the troops engaged at 
Shiloh, I was not permitted to see one of the reports of General 
Buell or his subordinates in that battle, until they were published 
by the War Department long after the event. For this reason I 
never made a full report of this engagement. 3 

In this connection it should be noted that no battle of the 
war gave rise to so many controversies, nor to so much pro 
fessional criticism and discussion as did the battle of Shiloh. 
The case of Lew Wallace, who failed to reach the battle field 
in time to take part in the first day s fighting, gave rise to a 
long and bitter discussion, in which McPherson, Rawlins and 
Rowley all filed statements in compliance with Grant s 
instructions. 

These statements are fully set forth in the Official Rec 
ords," 4 and were carefully summarized by Rawlins in a com 
munication dated April i, 1863. The controversy has long 
since ceased to be interesting and need not be further con 
sidered, except by the student of military history, but no 
one can read Rawlins s clear and convincing account of the 
efforts made to get Wallace into that battle, without reach- 

2 Official Records, Vol. X, Part i, p. 108 et seq. 

3 "Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant," Vol. I, p. 370. 

4 Vol. X, Part i, p. 178 et seq. 



98 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ing the conclusion that Wallace was not only inexcusable for 
taking the wrong road, but was culpably slow in all his move 
ments that. day. It seems to be equally clear that if he had 
moved with the rapidity that his men, who were "marching 
light," and were besides in "buoyant spirits" and "eager to 
get forward," were capable of marching, after they got 
on to the right road, which was "in good condition," they 
would certainly have reached the field "in time to engage the 
enemy before the close of Sunday s fight." Rawlins gave 
clear and unequivocal testimony to support this conclusion, 
and sets it forth in a way which shows that he perfectly un 
derstood every military consideration involved in the con 
troversy. In spite of all that was afterwards said in behalf 
of Wallace, it is to be observed that Rawlins, whatever others 
may have done, never changed his statement of the facts nor 
the conclusions based upon them, but stood by both to the 
day of his death. As he and McPherson actually joined Wal 
lace at 3 130 P. M. and accompanied him during the march 
au cannon, it is not to be presumed that they were mistaken 
as to the facts which they reported, or as to the inferences 
to be drawn therefrom. 



VIII 

OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1 862 

Rawlins Explains Conditions at Grant s Headquarters Case of 
David Sheean Plans of President and Secretary of War 
Tallahatchie Campaign Vicksburg Campaign Origin of 
Plan Preliminary Operations Charles A. Dana Joins Head 
quarters Letter to Washburne Letter to Grant Relief of 
McClernand Rawlins Promoted. 

IN pursuance of orders issued by the War Department, I 
reported for duty at Grant s headquarters at LaGrange, West 
Tennessee, November 8, 1862. I had come straight through 
from temporary service on the staff of McClellan during the 
Antietam campaign. Although I was at the time only a 
first lieutenant, I had received flattering overtures for serv 
ice and promotion and had knowledge of certain important 
plans which had been adopted by the Administration for rais 
ing additional troops in the Northwestern States, to be used 
in opening the Mississippi through to the Gulf of Mexico. 

On reaching headquarters I was shown into the adjutant 
general s office, where I met for the first time John A. Raw 
lins, the subject of this narrative. He was seated at his desk 
with his back to the door, with no one else in the room. As 
I entered he swung around with a look of inquiry upon his 
dark and serious face. I told him who I was, and, handing 
him a copy of my orders, said I had come to report to Gen 
eral Grant for duty. He replied at once that the general was 
absent at Memphis, but would be back shortly, that I had 
been expected for several days, and that I would probably be 
sent temporarily to McPherson, with whom I was intimate, 

99 



ioo LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

and who would lead the advance with the right wing of the 
army towards Central Mississippi. After adding that he 
knew all about me and my people, that I was from Illinois, as 
he was, that regular engineer officers were much needed in 
that army, and that I should be fully employed, he explained 
the situation at headquarters with startling frankness, dis 
guising nothing and extenuating nothing. 

He said in substance that Grant had been more or less 
justly criticised at one time or another, and emphasized 
this by handing me a written pledge in Grant s own hand 
writing, which he had received some time before. He dwelt 
upon the danger which this pledge was intended to guard 
against, and marked his apprehensions in a most dramatic 
manner by referring to the sword of Damocles. Having thus 
revealed the worst aspect of the case, he turned swiftly to 
the other side, and with words equally frank, he assured me 
that he regarded Grant as a good man, an experienced and 
courageous officer, who did his whole duty loyally and well, 
and always told about it plainly and truthfully; that he 
was cool, level-headed and sensible, of sound judgment, 
singular modesty, loyalty, and patriotism, and could certainly 
lead us to victory, if his friends could "stay him from fall 
ing/ Rawlins then added that there were some good officers 
on the staff, but more bad ones, and that he wanted me to 
help clean them out. With this done he concluded by declar 
ing that he wanted to form an alliance, offensive and de 
fensive, with me for the purpose of weeding out worthless 
officers, guarding the general against temptation and sustain 
ing him in the performance of the great duties which he would 
be called on to perform. 

The entire conversation was a serious and unusual one, 
but I was by no means surprised at its tenor. The news 
papers and the officers I had met on the way had partly pre 
pared me for it. What Rawlins said not only gave the key 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 101 

to the actual situation, but put me on the alert for additional 
facts. 

We naturally renewed our conversation as occasion of 
fered, and I was soon thoroughly informed not only as to 
Grant s personal habits but as to his very great and sub 
stantial merits as well. The character of his staff officers 
and leading generals, together with the inner history of the 
army and of its campaigns, speedily became as familiar to 
me as if I had served with it from the beginning of the 
war. I need not add that the acquaintance thus begun with 
Rawlins grew day by day and month by month into the 
closest intimacy, which existed unbroken to the day of his 
death, seven years later. From this time forth I shall natu 
rally speak largely from my own knowledge of events as they 
took place, and from personal observation of Grant and the 
officers who served under him. 

Aided as I was by the clear head and vigorous character 
of Rawlins, I was not long in arriving at a full understanding 
of the problems confronting Grant as well as the army which 
he commanded. He was expected by the Government to 
march through Holly Springs and Oxford to Grenada, and 
to operate from the latter place in such manner as to cause 
the evacuation of Vicksburg, or to bring about its capture. 

Immediately after I joined, movements were begun to that 
end, but the winter, with its frequent rains, was too near 
at hand, the roads which were of the most primitive kind were 
in bad condition and the streams much swollen. To make 
matters worse, the Confederate cavalry under Van Dorn 
promptly swept around our flank, threw itself on our rear, 
captured our depot at Holly Springs, destroyed our reserve 
supplies and broke our railway to the rear. The result was 
that the overland campaign became paralyzed before it was 
fairly under way, and it was apparent to all that the line 
on which we were operating was not only impracticable but 
would have to be abandoned, and the sooner the better. 



162^ LIFE O^FTOHN A. RAWLINS 

About this time a personal incident occurred which deeply 
aroused the feelings of Rawlins. On entering the army he 
left his professional, business with his partner David Sheean, 
a friend from boyhood, who had studied law in his office, 
whose brother married his sister, and, like himself, was a 
Democrat of decided views. It was a period of arbitrary 
practices. The writ of Habeas Corpus had been suspended 
even in the North, and those having influence with the Federal 
authorities not infrequently paid off personal scores by pro 
curing the arrest and incarceration of peaceable citizens whom 
they could not otherwise silence. An outrage of this sort was 
inflicted upon Mr. Sheean in the fall of 1862. While in the 
peaceful pursuit of his profession he was arrested on the 
charge of disloyalty, carried to New York and imprisoned in 
Fort Lafayette. This arbitrary act led to much local excite 
ment, during which Rawlins took a short leave of absence and 
made an investigation of the circumstances. On his return to 
the army, he drew up a full statement of the case, and sent it to 
the Secretary of War with letters from Grant, Hurlbut, and 
Logan, and also from his fellow-townsmen, Maltby and Row 
ley, asking for the release of his friend. Impatient at the 
delay of the Secretary in acknowledging his communication, 
and taking favorable action, he wrote urgently to Washburne, 
asking for his intercession. Late in December, Mr. Sheean 
was released and a statement of the fact was published in 
the newspapers, whereupon Rawlins wrote to Sheean, assur 
ing him with genuine feeling that nothing had occurred since 
the outbreak of the war which had pleased him more than 
to learn that his friend from childhood had been restored to 
liberty and to the rights that every American citizen is en 
titled to enjoy. As this manly letter glows not only with 
patriotism but with the feeling of determination which char 
acterized the best officers of the time, its conclusion is given 
in full: 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 103 

... I am as firm to-day in the support of my Government 
and yours as ever. I believe if the war is properly conducted it 
must finally end in the triumph of the Government established 
by our fathers, and whether it ends in one year or ten, I am for 
its vigorous prosecution; but to the arrest and imprisonment of 
loyal citizens without trial, I am opposed and shall be opposed 
to the end of my life. For the maintenance of my country s honor 
and the upholding of the Constitution, I am willing to take my 
chances on the field of battle, but for the destruction of individual 
liberty, never. We can have but one Government on this Conti 
nent north of Mexico and south of the St. Lawrence and that 
must be the United States of America. There is little if any dif 
ference of opinion in the army. All are for the success of our 
flag, and but little is said of Proclamations. 

Soon after arriving at Grant s headquarters, I made it 
known to Rawlins, as I had been informed at Washington, 
that the President had directed McClernand to proceed to 
the Northwest with orders to recruit and organize an inde 
pendent force to be commanded by himself for the purpose 
of capturing Vicksburg and opening the Mississippi, so that 
"it might flow unvexed to the sea." This was the first au 
thentic information received at Grant s headquarters in regard 
to the scope of McClernand s instructions, although the news 
papers had already mentioned them as foreshadowing what 
they designated with unseemly levity "the Castor Oil Ex 
pedition." Evidence was leaking out through the politicians 
that the Administration regarded it as one of the first 
importance. 

Immediately after our railroad supply line was broken at 
Holly Springs, the superiority of the great river as a line of 
operations against the Confederacy became evident to me, as 
well as to others whose duty it was to consider such matters. 
It was perceived that although the river might be commanded 
by strong fortifications, as at Island Number Ten, and on the 
bluffs at Vicksburg, it could not, like a common railroad, be 
permanently cut or successfully obstructed. I pointed out and 



104 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

emphasized this important fact to both Rawlins and Grant, 
contending that the Overland Campaign should be aban 
doned, and .that the entire army should be transferred to Mem 
phis, embarked upon transports, and sent by water as far 
as possible towards Vicksburg. I also contended that it 
would not be sufficient to send the raw levies, which McCler- 
nand was raising, or even a strong detachment of the sea 
soned troops against Vicksburg by water. I dwelt upon the 
fact that this strongly fortified city was conceded by all to 
be the chief strategic point in that theatre of operations, 
that therefore its capture should be made certain by sending 
all the available forces against it, and that Grant himself, 
as the senior general of the department, should of right go in 
chief command. Rawlins became the earnest advocate of this 
policy from the first. Grant fully concurred, and as soon as 
he could lay the matter before Halleck, and get the Govern 
ment s consent, set vigorously about the task of carrying it 
into effect. Had he delayed or hesitated, it is obvious that 
the honor of playing the principal part in that great under 
taking would have fallen to the lot of a subordinate, not 
only because he was next in rank, but because both the Secre 
tary of War and the President had virtually promised it 
to him. 1 

In face of the President s promise to McClernand, Grant 
designated Sherman, in whom he had greater confidence, to 
lead the movement and sent him forward with a strong force 
to Chickasaw Bayou, near the mouth of the Yazoo River, 
where he effected a landing, made an attack through the 
swamp against the enemy s strongly fortified position on the 
bluffs overlooking the river valley, and was repulsed with 
heavy loss. Before he could make further dispositions there, 
he was joined and superseded by McClernand, \vho had 
learned from the press or from Washington what was going 
on below, and had hastened to the front. The united force 

1 O. R. Serial No. 36, p. n et seq. 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 105 

was then transferred, under Sherman s advice, by McCler- 
nand to Arkansas Post on the Arkansas River, and, by the 
aid of the gunboats under Admiral Porter, captured that place 
with several thousand prisoners. As might have been ex 
pected, these movements and the formidable difficulties to 
be overcome, arrested the attention of the country and made 
it apparent that Grant s entire army must be transferred to 
the scene of active operations. 

Grant, having meanwhile obtained Halleck s permission, 
hastened to the front himself, joined the army at Milliken s 
Bend, some twenty miles above Vicksburg, and took the di 
rection of further operations under his own control. This 
was clearly within his right as the department commander, 
but McClernand, an ambitious, high-strung man, who had 
done gallant and effective service at Belmont, Donelson, and 
Shiloh, resented it as a direct violation of the President s 
promises to him. He had not concealed the fact that he had 
but a poor opinion of Grant at best and regarded his assump 
tion of command as an act of special injustice. This was 
followed during the campaign by such open ill-feeling and 
such disregard of military amenities as finally made it neces 
sary for Grant to relieve him from the command of the Thir 
teenth Army Corps, to which he had been assigned by the 
President, after it had taken a leading part in driving back 
the enemy and in shutting him up within the fortifications 
of Vicksburg. Rawlins was of course an active and watchful 
spectator and adviser in all this. Like McClernand, he was 
a War-Democrat and naturally wanted to promote harmoni 
ous relations between Grant and his subordinates, especially 
those from his own State. Recognizing its wisdom, I did 
what I could to encourage him in that course. Although Mc 
Clernand was a native of Kentucky and a much older man 
than I, I had known him from my boyhood. He had lived 
in my native county and he had been a private soldier in my 
father s company in the Black Hawk War. He was besides 



io6 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

a lawyer and politician of national character, a distinguished 
member of Congress, and candidate for Speaker, who had 
much influence at home, and hence I found a double pleas 
ure in making it my special mission to smooth over the rough 
spots, and do all in my power to promote friendly relations 
between him and Grant. In recognition of this disposition on 
my part I was frequently entrusted with verbal instructions for 
him and did what I could to mitigate the smart of his wounds 
as well as to present him and his services in a favorable light 
at headquarters. I had encouraging success for a while, but 
McClernand, with all his merit, was a man of hasty and 
violent temper, with whom it was difficult for one of even 
Grant s self-control to get on smoothly. The end came at 
last under circumstances which will be more fully explained 
in its appropriate place. 

As the only regular officer then present with the staff, 
I left Memphis by special boat with Grant and Rawlins, Janu 
ary 1 6, 1863, for the purpose of visiting the army which had 
been operating against Vicksburg. The trip down the 
Mississippi and back lasted four days, during which every 
question connected with the campaign, its magnitude and im 
portance, the organization and efficiency of the army, and 
the policy of the Government in connection with the war in 
that theatre of operations, was fully discussed. Grant, with 
out the slightest show of reserve, took the lead in the con 
versation and showed an active interest in all that was said. 
Without showing the slightest reserve he treated Rawlins and 
myself as equals, and encouraged us to express ourselves with 
the utmost freedom. It was during this trip that I com 
mented specially upon the geographical unity of the Mississippi 
Valley, the inter-dependence of the States lying within it, and 
the necessity for a single military command to cover and in 
clude them all. Both Grant and Rawlins were favorably im 
pressed with my views and asked me to draft a letter on 
the subject, which I did, and which Grant shortly afterwards 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 107 

embodied in a letter to Halleck. It is worthy of note that 
the suggestion finally received Halleck s official approval and 
was in substance embodied in the order promulgated by the 
War Department, after the battle of Chickamauga, estab 
lishing the Military Division of the Mississippi. 

In consequence of the conference on this trip, I was, shortly 
after getting back to Memphis, sent ahead of Grant and the 
rest of the staff to rejoin the army in the field. Fortunately, 
it had meanwhile captured the Confederate Post of Arkansas, 
which, so long as it was held by the enemy in force, was a 
menace to the navigation of the river between Memphis and 
Vicksburg. Having captured that post and its garrison of 
nearly five thousand men, McClernand and Sherman returned 
with their troops by transport to Milliken s Bend. My in 
structions were to look over the ground about Vicksburg and 
to study the question of capturing that important place as 
fully as circumstances would permit, in order that I might 
be prepared to advise with the general on his arrival. I 
reached the front January 27, and at once made a recon- 
noissance of Vicksburg and the heights upon which it is 
situated, from the lowlands in front of it. I made a careful 
study of the surrounding country and conditions, and became 
deeply impressed with the strength of the enemy s position, 
of its inaccessibility directly from the lowlands, and of the 
almost insuperable difficulty of carrying on military opera 
tions through the bottoms and swamps, cut up on both sides 
of the great river by a network of bayous, creeks, and tributary 
streams. Without roads, or bridges, this country with its 
unfordable water courses, even if undefended, could hardly 
be traversed by an army with its impedimenta. None but 
the larger bayous was navigable, except in times of flood, 
and at such times the country was widely submerged on both 
sides. The problem was to get a footing on the uplands 
of Mississippi, so that the army could maneuver against the 
enemy, maintain a base on the river, and keep up an un- 



ro8 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

broken connection with the upper country from which it 
must draw its supplies and reinforcements. 

Grant arrived the next day at Young s Point, and, accom 
panied by Sherman, McPherson, Blair, and Steele, and sev 
eral staff officers, rode across the point in front of Vicksburg 
along the line of the proposed cut-off, or canal, to the bank 
of the river below the town. While he and they were dis 
cussing the problem before them for solution, Rawlins and 
I sat down on the trunk of a cottonwood tree which had 
been undercut and had fallen into the river. In response 
to a question as to what I thought of the situation, I pointed 
out that we could not defeat the enemy unless we could get 
at and engage him on fair terms at close quarters, and that 
we could not do that unless we could secure a footing with 
freedom to maneuver on the uplands. To that end we must 
either turn the enemy s position on the Yazoo at Hains s 
Bluff, effect a surprise by landing under cover of darkness 
on the waterfront of the city, or pass below Vicksburg and 
move into the interior against its rear from the first place 
on the east side of the river, at which a landing could be 
made. 

During the conversation I called attention to the fact that 
another great army was about ready to advance from Middle 
Tennessee, under Rosecrans, that it would be almost impos 
sible to time its movement with ours, or to make either army 
support the other; that they were separated by some three 
hundred miles, as the crow flies, and that it ought to be the 
policy of the Central Government to unite these armies and 
make their success certain, rather than to keep them separated 
and to risk the defeat of either. With the river transports 
at hand, it was evident that this might be done by using 
the lower Ohio and Tennessee rivers. But as Grant was oper 
ating on a line he had chosen himself, and was not over-strong 
in the confidence of the Government, it was thought that such 
a suggestion coming from him would be looked upon as evi- 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 109 

dence that his own campaign had failed, and might therefore 
result in his removal. Manifestly he must confine himself 
to the solution of the problem in his own front, and in view 
of all the difficulties to be overcome by moving to the left, 
or trying to capture Vicksburg by a coup-de-main, the best 
way to solve the complicated problem, according to my judg 
ment, was to march the troops across the point in front of 
Vicksburg, and run the batteries with the gunboats and trans 
ports under the cover of darkness. Once below the city, they 
could take the troops on board and ferry them to such landing 
place on the enemy s side as might be chosen further down 
the river. 

Rawlins showed the deepest interest in my views as thus ex 
pressed and fully agreed with me at once in reference to 
the difficulties and dangers of carrying out either of the other 
plans. He recognized the practicability of the land march 
across the Peninsula west of the river, where there were open 
fields and no enemy to oppose, but expressed serious doubt 
as to the feasibility of running the batteries with the gun 
boats and transports. Fortunately he did not reject the idea 
as impracticable, but asked me to explain why I thought 
it could be carried into effect. Whereupon I told him I had 
come recently from Port Royal, where I had served as chief 
topographical engineer with Hunter and T. W. Sherman, that 
I had seen the earthen fortifications at Hilton Head made un 
tenable by the fire of the wooden ships and gunboats, which 
had maneuvered nearly all day up one side and down the 
other between them without losing a single vessel or suf 
fering material damage, and that I had become thoroughly 
convinced from what I had seen in person that our Mississippi 
fleet, although composed of comparatively light river steam 
ers, could run by the Vicksburg batteries under cover of dark 
ness without serious loss. I emphasized my opinion by dwell 
ing upon the fact that the operations at Port Royal were 
conducted in a narrow harbor in open daylight, and lasted 



no LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

several hours, during which each ship passed three or four 
times between sea-coast batteries on either side under the 
fire of heavy guns, and that in the case under consideration, 
the passage would be made at night, under fire from one side 
only. So confident was I of the result that I ventured the 
prediction that we should not lose more than one boat out 
of five. The sequel afterwards showed that no gunboats 
were lost or injured, that only one transport was burned, and 
one disabled so she could not use her own machinery. She 
was, however, afterwards lashed to another, and served with 
entire efficiency as a transport. The actual loss was only one 
in nine. 

Rawlins became convinced, and before we got back to the 
headquarters steamboat Magnolia assured me that he should 
advocate that plan without doubt or hesitation. After a visit 
the same afternoon to Admiral Porter, who was on his flag 
ship in the mouth of the Yazoo River nearby, I started by 
a swift steamboat, under orders from Grant, to Helena, with 
instructions to take charge of such engineering operations as 
might be connected with cutting the Mississippi levee across 
the entrance to Moon Lake, the Yazoo Pass, the Coldwater, 
and the Tallahatchie rivers. It was hoped that a strong de 
tachment of the army might be conducted by that intricate 
and crooked route of several hundred miles into the Yazoo 
and thereby to a footing on the Mississippi uplands above 
Hains s Bluff. The route was found to be practicable for 
gunboats and transports to the junction of the Tallahatchie 
and Yalabusha rivers, which form the Yazoo, and two divi 
sions of infantry reached that place without material delay; 
but further progress was barred by fortifications and obstruc 
tions which could neither be battered down nor turned. 

During my absence I kept Rawlins fully informed, both 
personally and officially, in reference to the needs and progress 
of the expedition, and in return received his most earnest 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 in 

encouragement and support. On February 16 he sent me a 
letter, from which I quote as follows: 

. . . Your letters have been duly received. I am delighted 
with your success but chagrined that we had not things in readi 
ness to have taken an earlier advantage of it. By that probably 
the enemy s obstruction of the Pass might have been prevented. 
I have taken the liberty to show our General your private letters. 
Knowing his appreciation of your abilities, alone induced me to 
do this. It has done immense good I assure you. He has ordered 
Ross with ten regiments of infantry, in addition to the force now 
with you, for the Yazoo Expedition, and is bending every energy 
for an early move. Orders have been given for collecting a suffi 
cient number of steamers, etc., and they have the right ring. All 
may yet be well. Some great success must be soon had or every 
thing may be lost to us. This growing opposition to the war at 
home (judging from the papers) is much to be regretted. "Old 
Brains" 2 says you are to remain for active duty. I rather think 
you are, on that. I have great hopes of the "Canal" here. In 
ten days it ought to be completed. Lake Providence looks well 
and they are guarding against the misfortune that befell you 3 
in your enterprise. Another gun-boat ran the batteries at Vicks- 
burg on Friday night last. We now have two below here, one 
of which, however, is a ram. They will communicate with Gen 
eral Banks if possible. Only twenty-two shots were fired as the 
last boat passed. . . . 

Notwithstanding the slow progress of the Yazoo Pass ex 
pedition, due mainly to the obstruction of the Coldwater, 
which the enemy ahead of us caused by felling forest trees 
from its banks into the streams, Rawlins continued to have 
faith in our ultimate success. But while this route for a 
time seemed to be the only one holding out substantial hope 
of leading us through the enemy s outer defences, it is evi 
dent from the quotations given above that Rawlins had not 
lost sight of the turning movement across the peninsula in 
front of Vicksburg. But that the interest and anxiety felt at 

2 The army name for General Halleck. 

3 The obstruction of the stream below while we were clearing it out 
above. 



ii2 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

headquarters in the expedition through the Yazoo Pass were 
unabated is well shown by another letter from Rawlins, writ 
ten at Young s Point, February 28, as follows : 

. . . Yours of the 26th instant came duly to hand, official as 
well as private. Every one here is delighted with your success, 
in getting into the Coldwater, for whatever light we may hope for 
in the movement against Vicksburg comes from that direction. 
I send you the instructions to General Ross and to the naval 
officers, which should have been done before, but supposed as a 
matter of course General Ross would communicate them to you, 
as you were one of the principal parties mentioned in them. I 
also send you a report from General Dodge, received through 
General Hurlbut. Your report was forwarded to Old Brains who 
will discover from it that you are on active duty. A despatch 
boat, according to your suggestion, is ordered to report to Gen 
eral Prentiss by which I send this. General Grant will use every 
means necessary to make your expedition a success, rest assured 
of that. Your views on the subject strike me as the most feasible 
of any I have yet heard, and I assure you it is with much anxiety 
I look after you and pray for your success. I wish to God I were 
with you. I could at least sympathize with your plans and views. 

We have had a terrible misfortune below, lost both the ram 
Queen of the West and the splendid gun boat Indianola, the 
result of positive disobedience of orders in each case. Had they 
kept together they must have kept the Mississippi River below 
here clear and each protected the other. The ram fell into the 
hands of the rebels with her armament complete, and with her 
and their other boats, they went down and sunk the Indianola. 
I say sunk the Indianola, but of this latter we are not positively 
certain. We know she is captured and only from rebel sources 
have we heard that she is sunk. You know, Wilson, they are 
smart and would like to deceive us into the belief that she is sunk 
whether she is or not. 

The river has risen very much and impeded the work on the 
Canal here considerably, but we shall be able to resume it to 
morrow. It is bound to succeed as a canal. You know I have 
taken large stock in its success. 

I am glad to know that General Washburne pleases you so well. 
I have every confidence in his energy and ability, for energy is 
generally the introduction to ability and success. 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 113 



McPherson s corps is or will be soon at Lake Providence. A 
more enthusiastic little army is nowhere to be found. Logan, 
God bless him, maintains the honor of our glorious state of 
Illinois. A truer patriot lives nowhere on the earth. Bowers is 
well and enthusiastic over your success. He is one of the dia 
monds. I send you copy of Brains s despatch. Let us hear from 
you often. Napoleon sends your letters. Good-bye old friend. 

Notwithstanding the failure of the expedition through 
Yazoo Pass, as became certain in a few days, Sherman and 
Admiral Porter undertook to conduct a cooperating expedi 
tion of naval and land forces into the Yazoo below Fort Pem- 
berton by the bayous further south, but after incredible la 
bor, they were also compelled to turn back. Renewed and 
more strenuous efforts were then made to dig a canal across 
the point in front of Vicksburg, while still another into Lake 
Providence was begun some seventy-five miles above, with 
the hope of reaching a navigable bayou further inland, and 
connecting with the river further down ; but these plans failed 
one after the other, and, what was worse, took up so much 
time that the country began to cry out that the movement 
down the river was a failure and that Grant should be re 
moved for incompetency. The old charges were renewed 
against him with increased violence, and although without 
foundation the situation was fast becoming desperate. Every 
possible route through the bayous, creeks and lateral rivers 
had been tried and failed. Swamp fevers and smallpox broke 
out, and while the army was growing in strength by virtue 
of the reinforcements coming forward, its progress seemed 
to be stayed by obstacles that could not be overcome. 

On the statement of Rawlins to me, it is known that on the 
evening of Grant s first reconnaissance across the point in 
front of Vicksburg, he invited the generals, who had gone with 
him, to dinner on board the Magnolia, after which they natu 
rally fell into a discussion of the important problem before 
them. It was not a formal council, but a long and anxious 



H4 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

conversation followed, during which various routes to the 
highlands north of Vicksburg were considered, without de 
veloping great confidence that any of them would prove prac 
ticable. It was agreed that the certainty of the spring rise in 
the great river and the difficulties which must result from the 
overflow sure to follow would necessarily add to the difficul 
ties to be overcome. While the flood would make the bayous 
navigable, it would also make the adjacent lowlands impass 
able. It could hardly be hoped that the season between high 
and low water would be of just the right length nor that the 
water would come just high enough to serve without crippling 
the necessary movements. It was conceded that every possible 
route presented too many difficulties to permit accurate calcu 
lations or to justify certain hopes, and yet every route and 
plan must be fully tried. 

After listening patiently to the discussion and noting care 
fully the difficulties to be overcome, Rawlins broke in with 
the remark that there was another and a more promising 
plan than any yet mentioned, but as it involved the boldest 
movement that could possibly be made, he hesitated to bring 
it forward. He was, however, encouraged by both Sherman 
and McPherson to give his views, and did so clearly and 
distinctly, in favor of marching the army across the peninsula 
and running the batteries with the gunboats and transports 
to a common meeting place below. He gave the reasons which 
had been developed in our conversation for believing that the 
movement could be successfully carried out; but, as he ex 
pected, the plan received but slight consideration from those 
present. 

At the time Grant expressed no opinion in regard to it, but 
Sherman was particularly outspoken against it. He pro 
nounced it clearly impracticable, and declared that neither 
the gunboats nor transports could live under the fire that 
would certainly be turned against them by the Confederate 
batteries on the bluffs. Rawlins strenuously adhered to his 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 115 

views and contended that they would prevail in the end, but 
the non-professional volunteer staff officer was overborne for 
the time being. Each of the other possible plans received the 
preference over his; but as each in turn proved abortive, it 
strengthened him correspondingly in the advocacy of and the 
ultimate success of the one which he brought forward. He 
lost no opportunity thereafter of advocating it, and finally, 
when every other plan had been tried and failed, he had the 
satisfaction of seeing Grant openly adopt this one and carry 
it to a brilliant conclusion. Notwithstanding Grant s silence 
about the matter while it was under discussion, he tells us 
many years afterwards that he favored it from the first. 4 
While he does not explain his reticence, he doubtless felt that 
the very boldness of the plan and the success with which two 
gunboats afterwards ran the batteries imposed upon him the 
necessity of trying every other plan before venturing upon 
one so full of danger, but which, as it turned out, led to a 
series of extraordinary victories and secured for him a place 
among the greatest captains of modern times. 

There can be no doubt that the foregoing gives correctly 
the origin and history of this plan, nor is there any rea 
sonable doubt that Rawlins s persistent advocacy of it was 
finally one of the most important factors in its adoption and 
execution. The responsibility, however, was entirely Grant s. 
He was the chief commander and must have realized that if 
the plan failed it would ruin him, bring disaster upon the army, 
and jeopardize the Union cause. He doubtless understood 
from the first that he could not turn his back on Vicksburg, 
or withdraw his army from the advanced position it had main 
tained so long, without sealing his own doom. With unerring 
instinct, he realized that ruin was still more certain behind him 
than in his front, and like a brave and imperturbable man 
whose fate and fame were at stake, he resolved at the right 
moment "to put it to the touch, and win or lose it all !" 
4 Grant s "Memoirs," Vol. I, p. 100. 



n6 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

When it was certain that the expedition through Yazoo Pass 
had failed, and orders were sent for the troops and gunboats 
to withdraw from that line, I returned to headquarters. Ar 
riving there April 7, I found the army still working pa 
tiently, but making no satisfactory progress in any direction. 
The deadlock was complete, and how to break it was the 
question. After careful inspection and still more careful con 
sideration, followed by nightly conferences with both Rawlins 
and Grant, the conclusion was reached that none of the canal 
projects could succeed, and that there was no alternative but 
to run the batteries and march the army below, or to con 
fess ourselves beaten and the campaign at an end. Grant, 
in face of all the facts and of the continual pressure upon him, 
fully concurred in the conclusion, but Sherman, in whom 
Grant s confidence was unshaken, opposed it strongly from 
the first, and could not be brought to give it his approval 
till it was successfully under way. He thought the risks were 
too great, and paid me the compliment of asking me to join 
him in a final effort to convince Grant that he should not 
venture upon it, because, as he alleged, it would result in 
severing our communications with the North and might end 
in the destruction of the army in case of defeat. 

After an earnest discussion in which the actual situation of 
the army, the state of the campaign, and the pressing neces 
sity for success, together with all the dangers, were recounted, 
Sherman, without the slightest encouragemnet from me, re 
mained firm against the plan, till after it was well under way. 
Shortly after we parted he wrote his celebrated letter against 
the plan, but fortunately he did not succeed in shaking Grant s 
resolution, though it may now be stated that it was mainly 
because of Sherman s opposition to the plan that he was left 
behind to protect the communications and to bring up the rear 
with his army corps when the success of the turning move 
ment should no longer be in doubt. 

McClernand, although never consulted by Grant, had in a 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 117 

general way favored the idea from the first. Indeed, he had 
informed me before I left Washington to join Grant that he 
thought the true plan of operation would prove to be a turn 
ing movement to the south of Vicksburg, followed by a march 
eastward into the heart of Mississippi, and thence against 
the enemy s fortifications commanding the river and covering 
the town of Vicksburg. But this was obviously a speculation 
without details, based upon inadequate knowledge of the ene 
my s position, or means of defence, or even of the natural 
obstacles to be overcome. He had no accurate information 
of the facts as they were gradually developed by the suc 
cessive steps of the campaign. As has been shown, those 
steps seem to have been necessary to convert what might 
have occurred to any experienced officer into a definite and 
distinct plan as well as to fully justify its adoption. The pre 
liminary movements, resulting one after the other as they 
did in failure, were doubtless important factors in throwing 
the enemy off his guard and preventing that concentration 
of resources necessary to a successful defence. 

As it turned out, the plan finally adopted was carried into 
effect without a single important mishap, but, strangely 
enough, the newspapers could hardly believe that the modest 
and discredited Grant had worked it out himself, but con 
curred with singular unanimity in suggesting that McPher- 
son, the distinguished engineer, must have done it. This view 
was strengthened by the commendation that the professors 
at West Point persisted in bestowing upon that rising officer, 
as the one of all others most capable of conceiving such a plan 
and arranging its details, when in fact he had nothing what 
ever to do with either beforehand. He was present at the 
conference when Rawlins first brought it forward, but ex 
pressed no opinion nor was he ever consulted about it sepa 
rately, and so far as known he neither favored nor opposed 
it till it was under way. His attitude up to that time was 
one of neutrality, but as was his custom, when the time came 



n8 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

for action, he threw himself into it with all his might. Al 
though he did, at one time and another, some grumbling 
at the amount of work falling to his lot, especially after the 
affair at Raymond, he generally put forth his best efforts 
to make the campaign a success. Quite contrary to the esti 
mation in which he was commonly held, he was in fact a 
cautious leader who regarded it as no part of his duty as a 
subordinate commander to work out general plans for the 
army. While he always gave prompt and willing obedience 
to those in authority over him, it should be observed that his 
high intelligence, his cheerful demeanor, aided by engaging 
personality, made him not only one of the best and most popu 
lar corps commanders in the army, but won for him the ardent 
and unvarying friendship of Grant, Rawlins, and Sherman, as 
well as of his own division and brigade commanders. 

It is an interesting circumstance that, while the army was 
still floundering among the bayous and lowlands of Missis 
sippi, several of the officers, who had more time than work 
on hand, were using their influence to secure promotion be 
fore they had earned it. Among them was one whose case 
is fully set forth in a letter without date from Rawlins to Mr. 
Washburne. As it illustrates the writer s independence as 
well as his sense of justice and his ideas of good policy, it 
is given in full as follows: 

Headquarters Dept. of the Tenn., 

Before Vicksburg. 
DEAR SIR : 

I see by the papers the name of Napoleon Bonaparte Buford 
before the Senate for confirmation as Major General, which con 
firmation would be so unjust to the many brave and deserving 
men and officers of the "Army of the Tennessee" that I feel it 
my duty to call your attention, "as the friend of the Army" and 
the one to whom it owes so much for proper representation at 
Washington, to the fact that if possible so great a calamity, if it 
has not already fallen, may be prevented. 

General Buford is a kind hearted and affectionate old gentle- 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 119 

man, entertaining views at variance with our republican insti 
tutions, and believing the Government of England, because of its 
titled nobility, much preferable, and further, that the final result 
of this war will be the overthrow of our present system and give 
us dukes and lords and titled castes, and that his family will be 
among the nobility. This may seem idle talk and unmeaning 
declamation, but nevertheless he urged it with great vehemence 
and earnestness to General Richard Oglesby and myself as long 
ago as 1 86 1 at Cairo, Illinois. General Oglesby will remember 
it, I have no doubt, just as I have stated it. To me, however, it 
evinced a diseased and addled brain, a weak and foolish old man. 

His disobedience of positive orders given him on the field of 
battle at Belmont came near losing to the country his entire regi 
ment, which was only saved from such fate by the fire from our 
gunboats driving him off of the main road, and thereby avoided 
meeting the enemy. Had he obeyed the orders given him by both 
Generals Grant and McClernand he would have helped defeat the 
enemy in the fight coming out of Belmont, saved the lives of many 
gallant men and embarked his regiment with the other troops, 
before reinforcements for the enemy could have crossed from 
Columbus. As it was, it was the merest accident by which he 
was saved. For his conduct at Belmont he was never afterwards 
trusted by Generals Grant or McClernand. 

He was left behind on the expedition into Kentucky, and also 
against Forts Henry and Donelson. How he demeaned himself 
under General Pope I am unable to say, but know that since he 
returned to this command he has been absent from one cause or 
another most of the time, and when here is continuously insisting 
on the command of some post not in the field, and has at last 
succeeded in getting himself assigned by order from Washington 
to the command of Cairo, displacing General Tuttle, an officer 
who by his bravery and good conduct while leading the 2nd Iowa 
to the assault of the enemy s works at Donelson won the admira 
tion of that best soldier of the Republic, the late lamented Major 
General C. F. Smith. From physical infirmities consequent upon 
exposure in the field, General Tuttle is unable for active field 
duty, but might well command the post of Cairo. Besides, the 
promotion of such men as General Buford is establishing too 
high a rate of pensions for the Government long to stand. But 
the greatest calamity to the army is the dissatisfaction it creates 
among men who remain in the field and do their duty under all 



120 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

circumstances. He is placed over such men as Logan, Oglesby, 
Lauman and Dodge, and others too numerous to mention, all his 
superiors in everything that constitutes the soldier. 

Logan deserves promotion for his unflinching patriotism and 
desire to whip the enemy by any route or means practicable. He 
should be made a Major General by all means, and if Buford is 
promoted, should be dated back to rank him. The same can be 
said of Oglesby and Dodge of Iowa by every officer or soldier in 
the army. 

General Grant has written the President on the subject of pro 
motions to-day. I am glad to see John E. Smith s appointment 
confirmed. His star will never lighten a coward s path or be dis 
graced by the one whose shoulder it adorns. 

Everything here is as favorable as could be expected consider 
ing the high water. Work on the canal is progressing. Jones is 
here, making himself generally useful. 5 

Trusting that that which is for the best interests of the coun 
try may prevail, I remain, etc." 

That this letter was known to, if not inspired, by Grant 
there can be but little doubt. 

During the final stages of the Vicksburg Campaign, and 
after the tentative movements through the bayous had been 
abandoned, because of the insuperable difficulties encoun 
tered or the vigilance and enterprise of the enemy, a most 
important person appeared upon the scene and became one of 
Grant s most earnest supporters. I refer to Charles A. Dana, 
who had been sent to Grant s headquarters as the confidential 
representative of the War Department. He afterwards be 
came Assistant Secretary of War. He joined headquarters 
on April 9, by which time aggressive operations had come* 
to a temporary standstill. The conviction was growing 
throughout the country that Vicksburg could not be taken by 
the route upon which the army was operating and that both 
Grant and his plans were a failure. The temperance men, 
encouraged by his lack of success, were renewing their ef- 

5 J. Russell Jones, then U. S. Marshal for Illinois, and afterwards 
Minister to Brussels during Grant s entire administration. 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 121 

forts to secure his removal. The newspapers were criticising 
him again severely. The situation was a critical one. Raw- 
lins was deeply concerned, and on my return to headquarters, 
April n, at once acquainted me with the basis of his anxiety 
and of his hopes. He was one of the few men acquainted 
with the actual condition of affairs who had not been alto 
gether cast down by the failure of the various operations which 
had been tried, but rather regarded them as necessary prelimi 
naries to the great turning movement which he had brought 
forward and strenuously supported from the first. He fully 
concurred in my suggestion that we should take Dana into 
our confidence, not only in reference to the plan of operations 
which must now be carried into effect, but in regard to the 
real state of affairs at headquarters and to the basis of our 
own unshaken faith in Grant s capacity to lead the army to 
victory. We had early reached the conclusion that, if Grant 
should be relieved, the President would appoint McClernand 
or Sherman as his successor, and that neither of these gen 
erals, however patriotic or capable, would bring superior judg 
ment, steadiness, or leadership to the great task which would 
thus devolve upon him. 

Accordingly we made Dana our messmate, took him into 
our offices and tents, or had his own tent pitched adjacent to 
ours. 

We invited Dana to ride with us on every occasion, and 
long before the campaign ended he became our constant com 
panion. We confided in him without reservation, and he 
in turn confided fully in us. At that time he was suffering 
from weak or overworked eyes and found it difficult to write 
by the light of the usual camp candle, or lantern. Hence, 
it soon became customary for me to act at night as his amanu 
ensis, a service which for obvious reasons I was always glad 
to render. He had met Grant first at Cairo, and later at 
Memphis, whither he had gone before entering the service for 
the purpose of buying cotton, but as yet no intimacy had 



122 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

grown up between them. His position had now become both 
official and influential, and, although he was regarded by some 
with disfavor, it is but just to add that Grant, who fully 
shared our views, at once recognized their soundness, ex 
pressed his full concurrence in them, and thenceforth treated 
Dana with all the respect and confidence that his official po 
sition and personal qualities entitled him to expect. A genuine 
friendship, free from concealment or reservation, grew up 
between them and lasted without a break or cloud till after 
Grant became President, when he in a measure cut loose from 
his military counsellors and friends and entered upon the trou 
bled sea of political and personal government. 

In this connection it should be observed that Dana proved 
himself to be in every way worthy of the confidence reposed 
in him, and at no time ever modified his views as to Grant s 
real and substantial merit as a virtuous, competent and suc 
cessful general, or ever permitted his campaigns and battles 
to be unjustly criticised or condemned in the columns of the 
journals he controlled. He had learned from personal obser 
vation the real facts about Grant and his fitness for command, 
and became a firm and efficient supporter of his plans, of 
his continuance in office, and of his final promotion to the 
chief command of our armies with the rank of lieutenant 
general. 6 

As the correspondent and intimate associate of Secretary 
Stanton and the President at Washington, there can be no 
doubt that Dana did all in his power to remove the prejudice 
against Grant from the minds of those high officials, and to 
build up in its place a feeling of respect and confidence. It 
is as praiseworthy as it is remarkable that he did this with 
out concealing or minimizing the peculiarities of the general, 
or of his staff, or of his subordinate commanders. His po 
sition was a delicate one, but he filled it with such tact and 

6 For a full account of his services and character, as well as his relations 
with Grant, see Wilson s "Life of Charles A. Dana," Harper & Bros., 1907. 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 123 

ability as to satisfy the Government, to strengthen the hands 
of Grant, and at the same time to win his personal friendship. 
Rawlins from the first recognized this even more fully than 
did Grant. He honored and respected Dana to the last, 
and when Grant became President, exerted his influence, as 
he thought, successfully in behalf of Dana s appointment to 
the principal government office at New York. Indeed, on 
the strength of what must have passed between the President 
and himself, he authorized me in a personal interview to no 
tify Dana that his appointment as Collector of Customs would 
be made. But unfortunately Washburne, who was called 
temporarily to the Cabinet as Secretary of State, for some 
reason, never explained, interfered with the arrangements, 
and, either on his own account or by direction of the Presi 
dent, caused the appointment to be given to Moses Grinnell, 
a far less able and efficient man. 

Thirty years afterwards, Dana published his "Recollections 
of the Civil War," 7 giving many interesting details of his 
relations with Grant and many graphic sketches of the gen 
eral and staff officers he met during the various campaigns 
in which he took part, but as these sketches are not germane 
to this narrative, I confine myself to the following quotations : 

After Grant, I spent more time at Vicksburg with his assistant 
adjutant general, Colonel John A. Rawlins, and with Lieutenant- 
Colonel Wilson, than with anybody else. Rawlins was one of 
the most valuable men in the army, in my judgment. He had 
but a limited education, which he had picked up at the neighbor 
ing school and in Galena, Illinois, near which place he was born 
and where he had worked himself into the law; but he had a 
very able mind, clear, strong, and not subject to hysterics. He 
bossed everything at Grant s headquarters. He had very little 
respect for persons, and a rough style of conversation. I have 
heard him curse at Grant when, according to his judgment, the 
general was doing something that he thought he had better not do. 
But he was entirely devoted to his duty, with the clearest judg- 

7 D. Appleton & Co., 1898, p. 27 et seq. 



124 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ment, and perfectly fearless. Without him Grant would not 
have been the same man. Rawlins was essentially a good man, 
though he was one of the most profane men I ever knew ; there 
was no guile in him he was as upright and as genuine a char 
acter as I ever came across. 

James H. Wilson I had first met at Milliken s Bend, when he 
was serving as chief topographical engineer and assistant in 
spector general of the Army of the Tennessee. He was a bril 
liant man intellectually, highly educated, and thoroughly com 
panionable. We became warm friends at once and were together 
a great deal throughout the war. Rarely did Wilson go out on a 
specially interesting tour of inspection that he did not invite me 
to accompany him, and I never failed, if I were at liberty, to 
accept his invitations. Much of the exact information about the 
condition of the works which I was able to send to Mr. Stanton, 
Wilson put in my way. 

Shortly after the capture of Vicksburg, Dana returned to 
Washington ; but on the way North sent Stanton two notable 
letters, from the second of which, dated at Cairo, Illinois, 
July 13, 1863, I quote as follows: 

. . . Lieutenant-Colonel Rawlins, Grant s assistant adjutant 
general, is a very industrious, conscientious man, who never loses 
a moment, and never gives himself any indulgence except swear 
ing and scolding. He is a lawyer by profession, a townsman of 
Grant s, and has a great influence over him, especially because he 
watches him day and night, and whenever he commits the folly 
of tasting liquor hastens to remind him that at the beginning of 
the war he gave him (Rawlins) his word of honor not to touch a 
drop as long as it lasted. Grant thinks Rawlins a first-rate ad 
jutant, but I think this is a mistake. He is too slow, and can t 
write the English language correctly without a great deal of 
careful consideration. Indeed, illiterateness is a general char 
acteristic of Grant s staff, and in fact of Grant s generals and 
regimental officers of all ranks. 

Major Bowers, judge-advocate of Grant s staff, is an excellent 
man, and always finds work to do. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson, inspector general, is a person of 
similar disposition. He is a captain of engineers in the regular 
army, and has rendered valuable services in that capacity. The 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 125 

fortifications of Hains s Bluff were designed by him and exe 
cuted under his direction. His leading idea is the idea of duty, 
and he applies it vigorously and often impatiently to others. In 
consequence he is unpopular among all who like to live with little 
work. But he has remarkable talents and uncommon executive 
powers, and will be heard from hereafter. 

I now return to the Vicksburg campaign which Rawlins 
had done so much to get started in the right direction. In 
addition to supervising the duties of the Adjutant General s 
office, he had succeeded Webster as ex-officio Chief of Staff, 
and as such took an active interest in everything connected 
with the campaign, as well as with the relations between 
Grant and his subordinates. 

At the battle of Port Gibson, fought mainly by McClernand 
and the Thirteenth Army Corps, Rawlins made a special ef 
fort to bring about a reconciliation between Grant and that 
ambitious but irascible general, but failed. McClernand, al 
though slow in getting across the river and starting to the 
front, had behaved with his usual gallantry from the time he 
got in reach of the enemy. Without waiting for orders or 
for reinforcements he attacked vigorously and gained a sub 
stantial victory, which was specially important at that stage 
of the campaign. It not only made good our advanced posi 
tion on the Mississippi Uplands, and resulted in driving the 
enemy back, but gave increased confidence to McPherson s 
corps, and to the invading army. Rawlins naturally agreed 
with me that it was a good occasion to establish a better feel 
ing between Grant and his next in rank, but the breach was 
too great to be bridged over in that manner. Grant, who 
arrived on the field after the action was practically at an end, 
refused with an unusual show of feeling to make any advance 
towards a reconciliation, and in the meeting which soon oc 
curred with McClernand displayed no cordiality whatever, 
but contented himself with formally extending his thanks 
and directing him to push forward at once in pursuit. This 



126 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

was done, but the advance halted for the night at the South 
Fork of the Bayou Pierre, where the retreating enemy had 
destroyed the highway bridge. McClernand, who was ex 
pected to repair it and move on, also halted, because, as he 
claimed, his troops were worn out with marching and fight 
ing. On receiving information of this fact, I hastened to 
the front as acting chief engineer, and took the repair of the 
bridge in hand. 

As soon as the repairs were finished, which was before 
dawn the next morning, the troops advanced to the north 
fork of the bayou, some five miles further on. Here they 
found that a second but still more important bridge had been 
burned, and again halted till it could be repaired. This was 
done during the night while the generals and the troops were 
sleeping. As before, Rawlins gave his active assistance and 
support, both in helping at the work and in detailing and 
bringing forward the necessary detachments to carry it on. 
Having been reared as a woodsman, he was quick to see what 
could be done with simple tools and the rude materials at 
hand. He neither rested nor slept till the breaches in the 
bridge were repaired, and the troops were again in motion. 
No man knew better than he that under such circumstances 
time was of the utmost value. Hence he made it his personal 
business to see that not a minute should be lost, either in 
the repair of the bridges or in sending the troops across them 
in pursuit of the enemy. Most adjutants would have con 
tented themselves with issuing the necessary orders and leav 
ing others to see that they were carried out, but this was not 
Rawlins s way of doing business. He had committed him 
self too earnestly in favor of the plan of campaign and had 
labored too long to get it adopted to rest supinely while others 
were working out the details upon which its success depended. 
Besides, he had the true instincts of a soldier, and lost no 
opportunity to learn from others how the practical work of 
an army should be done. At this time he was as robust 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 127 

and hardy as any man in the service, and while he was not and 
perhaps never became a model adjutant general or "paper 
man," he was fast learning the higher duties which were to 
devolve upon him thereafter as chief of staff. 

During the advance to Hankinson s Ferry, and the concen 
tration of the army near that place, Rawlins shared all the 
anxieties and labors of his chief. Every order, whether ver 
bal or written, passed through his hands and was delivered 
on time. Not one went astray, was badly expressed, or was 
in any degree uncertain in tenor or obscure in meaning. In 
the advance through Raymond to Jackson, which resulted in 
the capture of the latter place, with its military depots and 
railroad crossing, as well as in the splendid countermarch by 
which the united army threw itself upon the enemy at Cham 
pion s Hill, drove him from the field, forced him across the 
Big Black, and finally shut him up in Vicksburg, Rawlins 
was the inseparable companion and counsellor of the com 
manding general. Realizing, as before, the value of time, 
after the victory at Champion s Hill and the pursuit of the 
enemy to the Big Black, he assisted in repairing the railroad 
bridge and in locating and constructing three floating bridges 
across which the troops were pushed without delay, to close 
in upon the fortifications of Vicksburg. As at Bayou Pierre, 
these bridges were laid under cover of darkness while the 
generals and the troops were resting from the exhausting 
work of the day. But again Rawlins helped the engineers 
without taking the slightest rest till the bridges were com 
pleted and the troops were again on the march to the scene 
of their final victory. 

Like his chief, Rawlins was making tremendous strides in 
the art of war. Both had learned lessons and gained ex 
perience of extraordinary value, not the least of which was 
that each was in a measure necessary to the other. Perfect 
confidence existed between them. Rawlins s fears for his 
friend had become measurably allayed and, so long as active 



128 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

operations were going on, there seemed to be neither tempta 
tion nor danger in the way. But when communication had 
been reestablished with the river, and the chance of ultimate 
failure was at an end, although the tentative assaults upon 
the enemy s fortifications at Vicksburg had failed, the army 
necessarily settled down into the toilsome occupations of a 
regular siege. The exhilaration of victory gradually disap 
peared. The hot weather of a Southern summer came on and 
a feeling of lassitude, if not of exhaustion, took possession 
of both officers and men. One day was like another, where 
all were hot, depressing, and disagreeable. The surrounding 
country had been cleared of its green food supplies, and all 
were compelled to live entirely on soldier s rations. 

Early in June, Grant, like the rest, began to feel the relax 
ing effects of hard work and exposure, and while on an ex 
pedition by steamer up the Yazoo River to visit an outlying 
detachment in the neighborhood of Satartia, "fell sick/ 8 
whereupon Dana, who had been invited to go, took charge of 
the boat and turned it about, to its starting point. The trip 
was abandoned and the party returned to headquarters about 
midnight. An hour or more later Rawlins, who had learned 
the details of the excursion from those who had participated in 
it, and having made discoveries of his own, wrote Grant a 
remarkable letter, which has passed into history. As it pro 
duced a profound impression on all who knew about it, and 
was fraught with the greatest consequences to the country 
besides, it is given here in full : 

Before VICKSBURG, Miss., June 6th, 1863, i A. M. 
DEAR GENERAL: 

The great solicitude I feel for the safety of this army leads me 
to mention, what I had hoped never again to do, the subject of 
your drinking. This may surprise you, for I may be, and trust I 
am, doing you an injustice by unfounded suspicion, but if in 

8 Dana s "Recollections of the Civil War," pp. 82-83. 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 129 

error, it had better be on the side of the country s safety than in 
fear of offending a friend. 

I have heard that Dr. McMillan at General Sherman s a few 
days ago induced you, notwithstanding your pledge to me, to 
take a glass of wine, and to-day when I found a box of wine in 
front of your tent, and proposed to move it, which I did, I was 
told you had forbid its being taken away, for you intended to 
keep it until you entered Vicksburg, that you might have it for 
your friends ; and to-night, when you should, because of the con 
dition of your health, if nothing else, have been in bed, I find you 
where the wine bottle has just been emptied, in company with 
those who drink and urge you to do likewise ; and the lack of your 
usual promptness and decision, and clearness of expressing your 
self in writing, conduces to confirm my suspicion. 

You have the full control over your appetite, and can let drink 
ing alone. Had you not pledged me the sincerity of your honor 
early last March, that you would drink no more during the war, 
and kept that pledge during your recent campaign, you would 
not to-day have stood first in the world s history as a successful 
military leader. Your only salvation depends upon your strict 
adherence to that pledge. You cannot succeed in any other 
way. . . . 

As I have before stated, I may be wrong in my suspicions, but 
if one sees that which leads him to suppose a sentinel is falling 
asleep on his post, it is his duty to arouse him; and if one sees 
that which leads him to fear the General commanding a great 
army is being seduced to that step which he knows will bring 
disgrace upon that General and defeat upon his command, if he 
fails to sound the proper note of warning, the friends, wives and 
children of those brave men whose lives he permits to remain 
thus in peril, will accuse him while he lives, and stand swift 
witnesses of wrath against him in the day when all shall be 
tried. 

If my suspicions are unfounded, let my friendship for you 
and my zeal for my country be my excuse for this letter; and if 
they are correctly founded, and you determine not to heed the 
admonitions and prayers of this hasty note, by immediately ceas 
ing to touch a single drop of any kind of liquor, no matter by 
whom asked or under what circumstances, let my immediate 
relief from duty in this department be the result. I am, General, 
Yours respectfully, JOHN A. RAWLINS. 



130 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Rawlins, who was deeply moved, at once made the action 
he had taken known to Dana and myself, as well as to Bow 
ers, who was his inseparable companion and principal assist 
ant throughout the war. He later told McPherson and Sher 
man about the letter and the occasion for it. They were 
Grant s closest friends, and deeply interested in every circum 
stance which could in any way affect his success. But the 
context of the letter was not made public till after the death 
of both Rawlins and Grant, when it was given to the news 
papers and received the widest circulation. Its authenticity 
is undoubted. It has since been frequently cited by writers 
and orators as reflecting equal credit upon the courage of the 
man who wrote it and the good sense of the man who re 
ceived it. 

It appears from an endorsement which Rawlins placed on 
his retained copy of the letter, in the possession of his family, 
that his admonitions were not resented, but were heeded for 
a season. This was certainly the case till after the capture 
of Vicksburg, but it is well known that his apprehensions 
were never entirely dismissed. Through succeeding cam 
paigns and to the last day of his life he was haunted by the 
fear that the appetite might at any time break loose again 
and endanger Grant s military plans or bring discredit upon 
his civil administration. 

Lincoln, who doubtless received from Dana in due time 
a correct understanding of Grant s real merits, as well as of 
the influences which were constantly at work to undermine 
and overthrow him, seems to have dismissed all serious ap 
prehensions after Vicksburg, and to have given unquestion 
ing confidence and support to him till the end of the war. 
Rumors of irregularities at New Orleans, and at rare inter 
vals during the final campaign in Virginia, did not fail to 
reach Washington. It is known, besides, that McClernand, 
as did others later, prepared a statement immediately after 
he was relieved from duty in the field, reflecting upon Grant s 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 131 

personal habits, and threatened more than once to publish it. 
But this was not done, and whatever may have been the un 
derlying facts, it is certain that both the Government and 
the country at large concurred in ignoring them, and in 
giving the General a free hand with increased rank and un 
limited means for the overthrow of the Confederate armies. 

After his courageous letter, the part played by Rawlins had 
still more to do with Grant s personal fortunes and policies 
than with the adjutant general s office or with the details of 
army administration. Ably seconded by Bowers in preparing 
and issuing orders and in keeping the records, he devoted 
himself unceasingly to building up and maintaining harmoni 
ous relations between his chief and his subordinate com 
manders, as well as with the Government at Washington. 

As has been seen, McClernand and his attitude towards the 
army commander, as well as towards the other corps com 
manders, had been a subject of solicitude from the first. His 
intimate relations with the President, his fellow-townsman, 
had doubtless laid him under suspicion of being one of the 
channels of communication through which information preju 
dicial to Grant reached the Government as well as the news 
papers from time to time, and this suspicion was in a cer 
tain degree strengthened by his congratulatory order to the 
Thirteenth Army Corps, and its publication in a St. Louis 
newspaper before it was received at army headquarters. As 
it seemed to claim undue credit for the Thirteenth, and to 
reflect unfairly upon the Fourteenth and Seventeenth corps, 
both Sherman and McPherson protested officially against it. 
The case was a serious one on its merits, but it had been 
preceded by an outburst of anger and threatened disobedi 
ence of orders on the part of McClernand, which precipitated 
a crisis that Rawlins neither desired to stay nor could have 
stayed had he tried. 

Shortly after the investment of Vicksburg I carried a 
verbal order from Grant to McClernand, directing him to 



132 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

send more troops to the crossings of the Big Black, for the 
purpose of strengthening the defences in that direction; but 
instead of yielding cheerful compliance with the order, the 
choleric general declared emphatically that he would not obey 
it, and would not be dictated to any longer by Grant or any 
body else. He intimated that he considered himself in su 
preme command, and punctuated this with violent language, 
which appeared to be intended as much for me as for those 
in higher authority. I expressed my amazement not only 
at the general s insubordination but at the language in which 
he had chosen to express it. This was at once followed by 
a declaration that the oaths he had used were not intended 
for me, but simply as an expression of his "intense vehemence 
upon the subject-matter." But the impression produced was 
an unfavorable one, which I felt it my duty not only to resent 
but to communicate to Rawlins, and which he in turn com 
municated to Grant. 

The effect of this incident was further to heighten the dis 
content at headquarters with McClernand. It convinced Raw 
lins at least that an open rupture would soon take place, 
which would necessarily result in the relief of the subordinate, 
no matter what might be his claims upon the Government or 
his relations with the President. Grant had already shown 
himself to be a patient and prudent man, of unusual reserve 
and self-possession, with whom a more impulsive man was 
always at a disadvantage. His modesty and self-control were 
at times considered as an indication of weakness, whereas 
they were really the cover of a firm and resolute will. He 
was naturally kind and conciliatory, without being effusive. 
He was, above all, considerate towards both subordinates and 
equals. Indeed, he was the last man to blame those under his 
command inconsiderately or unjustly or to look for a purpose 
on the part of any one to treat him personally with disrespect 
or officially with insubordination, but when his suspicion was 



OPERATIONS IN 1 THE WEST, 1862 133 

once aroused, he was quite as slow to forget or to forgive 
an offence as he was to perceive it. 

As before intimated, McClernand was not only under sus 
picion but was regarded by many as a rival whose pretentions 
might under certain conditions receive the backing of the 
Government. Grant therefore appealed to Halleck to know 
how far he could count upon the support of his official supe 
riors. Dana, who had become fully informed as to the merits 
of the case, about the same time sounded the Secretary of 
War. Both received the assurance that Grant was in full 
authority and must exercise his own judgment in reference 
to every question arising within the limits of his command. 

Strengthened and reassured in this way, Grant was swift 
to act upon McClernand s congratulatory order as soon as he 
could satisfy himself of its authenticity and of the reason 
ableness of the protests which had been made against it. 
The frank avowal of McClernand that it was genuine, and 
that he was prepared to maintain every statement it con 
tained, gave Rawlins, who had become much more impatient 
than his chief, a sound basis upon which to urge instant ac 
tion. Grant, now thoroughly aroused, needed but little push 
ing, and at once directed the issuance of an order relieving 
McClernand from the command of the Thirteenth Army 
Corps, instructing him to proceed to such point in Illinois as 
he might select, and to report thence to the Secretary of War 
for further orders. The order was written on the night of 
June 17, with the intention that I should deliver it the first 
thing the next morning. It so happened that my duties had 
kept me out that day till about midnight, but on my return 
to camp I found Rawlins up and waiting for me. As this was 
a somewhat unusual circumstance, I made haste to ask what 
it meant, and was informed of the general s order relieving 
McClernand and his wish that I should deliver it as soon after 
daylight as possible. As I was in full accord with its pur 
poses, and felt that delay might be fatal, I asked permission 



134 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

to take it to McClernand that night, late as it was, and to 
notify the general next in command, on my way, of its 
import. 

We were at that time expecting a sortie of the beleaguered 
garrison, for the purpose of breaking through our lines and 
forming a junction with Johnston, who was maneuvering in 
the open country with a view to compelling us to raise the 
siege. It was thought that the sortie, if made, would prob 
ably be directed against the front held by the Thirteenth 
Corps, which covered the two principal roads leading to the 
interior of the State, and it was regarded as certain that, 
whatever might be his infirmities of temper or of character, 
McClernand would make a gallant resistance. His troops 
were veterans and, although somewhat loose in discipline, 
had never been beaten. They were justly regarded as among 
the best in the army and sure to hold their lines of circum- 
vallation even against a night sortie in force, if any soldiers 
could. It was also regarded as certain that McClernand, who 
with all his shortcomings was an officer of undaunted cour 
age, would be in the thick of the fight ; in which event Grant 
would probably overlook his past offences and withhold the 
order, which would merely defer the trouble to another day. 
This statement of the case seemed to be conclusive, and with 
out referring the matter again to Grant, Rawlins authorized 
me to deliver the order of relief at once. 

McClernand s headquarters were four miles to the south, 
the night was dark, and the roads both crooked and obscure, 
but accompanied by the provost marshal, Colonel Marsh, with 
a detachment of four mounted men and a non-commissioned 
officer, I reached there at i A. M., and after a few minutes 
interview, attended by all the formalities appropriate to the 
occasion, I received an acknowledgment from the general that 
he understood that the order went into effect immediately, 
and that under no circumstances which could arise was he 
to exercise any further command in that army. It was sup- 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 135 

posed that his confidence in the support of the President and 
Secretary of War might cause him to contest the order or 
even to resist it, but fortunately this supposition was un 
founded. It was, however, an occasion of grave importance, 
which filled Rawlins with anxiety and kept him up till I re 
turned at half-past two in the morning with the report that 
the order had been delivered, and that the general had given 
proper assurances that he understood it, and would observe 
its provisions in accordance with the verbal instructions which 
I had given in explanation thereof. 

From that time till the surrender of Vicksburg, which oc 
curred on the 4th of July, perfect harmony prevailed in 
the investing army. Indeed, harsh as it may seem at this 
time, the example which had been made of McClernand, the 
aggressive and ambitious leader, the powerful and popular 
politician, the friend of the President, and by no means with 
out friends in the army, had a good effect upon the discipline 
of the higher officers, and did much towards making the 
Army of the Tennessee, composed as it was entirely of volun 
teers, many of whom were politicians, ever afterwards one 
of the most subordinate, cheerful and effective organizations 
that ever upheld the national cause. 

While Grant s great but hazardous campaign had resulted 
in defeating the enemy in detail at Port Gibson, Raymond, 
Jackson, Champion s Hill, and the Big Black; in the capture 
of a strongly fortified city with its defending army of over 
thirty thousand men; in the opening of the Mississippi River 
from Cairo to the Gulf ; and in effectually severing the Confed 
eracy into two great parts, neither of which could cooperate 
with or support the other, that of Rosecrans, after a most 
brilliant opening, followed by the expulsion of the enemy 
from Tennessee, finally came to an unfortunate end a few 
weeks later at Chickamauga. 

In looking back upon the events of this year, we can now 
see, however, that they did not yield all the advantages that 



136 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

should have flowed from them. The national Government 
was strangely negligent of its opportunities and of the dangers 
by which it was beset. Grant s victory, resulting first and last 
in the destruction and capture of an army of sixty thousand 
men, was in itself both Napoleonic and complete. Coming 
as it did on the heels of the great disappointment felt by 
the country at the escape of Lee s army, with its organizations 
and trains intact, from the field of Gettysburg, it was received 
without question as ending the war in the Southwest, and 
yet the victory was seriously marred by the lenient terms of 
the surrender by which the captured garrison of Vicksburg 
was paroled and allowed to march back into the Confederacy 
with its haversacks filled and its regimental, brigade and divi 
sion organizations unbroken. 

It will be recalled by those familiar with the history of the 
War that in consequence of the deadlock, which had taken 
place in the East between the National and Confederate 
authorities in regard to the exchange of prisoners, the Con 
federate Government made haste to ignore and repudiate this 
capitulation and to order the entire force covered by it back 
to their colors. Consequently it was but a few weeks till 
every Confederate regiment paroled by Grant at Vicksburg 
was rearmed and again doing duty in garrison, or on detach 
ment in Eastern Mississippi and Alabama, in place of troops 
drawn from those regions and sent to reen force Bragg in 
Northeastern Georgia. On the other hand, it is apparent that 
if the Vicksburg prisoners had been sent to the prison camps 
of the North, as Rawlins and others advised, and nearly 
everybody expected, or had two corps of Grant s army been 
sent at once, as could easily have been done, to reenforce 
Rosecrans, as Longstreet was sent to reenforce Bragg, the 
overwhelming disaster of Chickamauga would have certainly 
been avoided. 

When it is remembered that Vicksburg surrendered July 
4, that the battle of Chickamauga was fought September 19, 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 137 

or fully six weeks later, and that the distance between those 
two important points by water and rail could have been easily 
covered in ten or twelve days, as was the much greater dis 
tance from Washington to Chattanooga a couple of months 
afterwards, it will be seen that the Government at Richmond 
greatly outgeneraled the Government at Washington during 
that eventful summer. Grant and Roseerans, commanding 
independent armies, did their part well enough with the means 
at their disposal, but neither had discretion to go to the as 
sistance of the other. To make such a concentration of force 
pertains to the higher functions of the General-in-Chief or of 
the War Department, and that neither had the sagacity to 
order it is one of the most unaccountable facts of the war. 
Grant was allowed to visit Banks at New Orleans, entirely 
outside the field of active military operations, while Sherman, 
with the bulk of Grant s army, was sent on a wild-goose chase 
via Demopolis in the direction of Montgomery. 

The Confederates meanwhile were making war on more 
scientific principles. Longstreet had been detached from 
Lee s army and was on the way to reenforce Bragg on the 
Chickamauga, in Northwestern Georgia, in consequence of 
which a desperate battle was fought, and a great defeat was 
inflicted upon the over-confident Rosecrans and his army at 
Chickamauga. 

This calamity thoroughly aroused the authorities at Wash 
ington, and convinced them that they must concentrate with 
out delay at Chattanooga, a few miles to the rear, an over 
whelming force with which to stay the Confederate advance 
and make good the hold of the Union army upon that great 
strategic centre. 

It was also seen at once that, if the Confederates could send 
Longstreet s corps from Virginia by their poorly constructed 
and poorly equipped railroads, the Union administration could 
send a corresponding force from the same theatre of opera 
tions without any greater risk than their opponents had taken. 



138 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Accordingly they sent Hooker with the Eleventh and Twelfth 
Corps, an aggregate force of twenty-three thousand men, by 
rail from Bristow Station, Virginia, to Stevenson, Alabama, 
near Chattanooga, a distance of twelve hundred and thirty 
miles, in eleven and a half days. 9 It was now seen that 
Grant s army, resting at or near Vicksburg, could also be 
drawn upon, and after the loss of much time, the greater part 
of it under Sherman was ordered by the way of Memphis 
to reenforce Rosecrans at Chattanooga. 

Meanwhile the enemy had closed in upon Chattanooga and 
broken its railway connection with the North. Winter was 
approaching, the rainy season had begun, the roads to the 
rear were rough and muddy, food and supplies were becom 
ing scarce, the horses of the artillery and the mules of the 
wagon trains were starving, and the necessity of a further 
retreat had already been conceded, unless a way could be 
found to regain possession of the railway to the rear, and 
to reopen "the cracker line." But what was most impor 
tant of all was that it had at last become apparent that a 
supreme commander was necessary on the ground to give 
direction and unity to the operations which must at once be 
undertaken. Under these circumstances the hero of Vicks 
burg was naturally assigned to the chief command. The de 
partments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Tennessee 
were now united into the Military Division of the Mississippi, 
as Grant had recommended in the opening days of the Vicks 
burg campaign. The modest general had played his part with 
consummate ability and success, but, as has been shown, his 
friend and adjutant general had contributed a full and un 
usual share not only towards the adoption of the plan which 
had led to such splendid results but to the maintenance of 
that authority over his subordinates, and to the establishment 
of that discipline among the rank and file without which 

9 For particulars, see "Lincoln in the Telegraph Office," by David 
Homer Bates, pp. 192 et seq. Century Co., 1907. 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 139 

neither tactics, however good, nor strategy, however brilliant, 
could prevail. 

That Grant harbored no ill-feeling on account of Raw- 
lins s manly letter of June 6 is conclusively shown by the fact 
that he not only continued Rawlins in the confidential posi 
tion of adjutant general but recommended him, on July 27, 
for promotion, along with a number of others whom he also 
praised for gallant and meritorious services," and for "ex 
treme fitness for higher command." It was no slight honor 
for any one to find his name coupled with those of Dodge 
and William Sooy Smith, who were selected for promotion 
to the rank of Major General, or with those of such fight 
ing colonels as Gresham, Corse, and Force, who were desig 
nated for the rank of Brigadier General. Much to his sur 
prise and gratification, Rawlins found his name in this dis 
tinguished list, and it is worthy of notice that, although he 
was only a staff officer, he was singled out of the entire lot 
for special mention in the concluding paragraph of the Gen 
eral s letter, as follows: 

. . . Lieutenant Colonel Rawlins has been my assistant ad 
jutant general from the beginning of the Rebellion. No officer 
has now a more honorable reputation than he has; and I think 
I can safely say that he would make a good corps commander. 
This promotion I would particularly ask as a reward of merit. . . . 

The appointment of Brigadier General was promptly made, 
but notwithstanding the unusual terms in which it had been 
asked for, the Senate was slow to give its consent. Indeed, 
it did not do so until the middle of the next year, and then 
only in response to a personal appeal made by Grant, April 
4, 1864, after his own appointment as Lieutenant General, to 
the chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, 
as follows: 

... I would most respectfully but earnestly ask for the con 
firmation of Brigadier General John A. Rawlins by your honor- 



140 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

able body. General Rawlins has served with me from the be 
ginning of the Rebellion. I know he has most richly earned his 
present position. He comes the nearest being indispensable to 
me of any officer in the service. But if his confirmation is de 
pendent on his commanding troops, he shall command troops at 
once. There is no department commander, near where he has 
served, that would not most gladly give him the very largest and 
most responsible command his rank would entitle him to. 

Believing a short letter on this subject more acceptable than a 
long one, I will only add that it is my earnest desire that General 
Rawlins should be confirmed ; . . . 

In conclusion Grant ventured to express the fear that the 
Senate s failure to confirm this worthy officer would work 
injury to him as well as to the service, because it might 
fairly be considered as due to the fact that the officer had 
made himself too valuable in a lower position. But this is 
not all. When the news that the President had acted fa 
vorably in regard to Rawlins s promotion was received at 
Vicksburg, where Rawlins remained with the headquarters 
of the Department during the summer after the capture of 
Vicksburg, Grant made haste, August 13, 1863, to write to 
their fellow-townsman and representative in Congress, E. 
B. Washburne, as follows: 

. . . Rawlins and Maltby have been appointed brigadier gen 
erals. These are richly deserved promotions. Rawlins especially 
is no ordinary man. The fact is, had he started in this war in 
the line instead of the staff, there is every probability that he 
would be to-day one of our shining lights. As it is he is better 
and more favorably known than any other officer in the army 
who has filled only staff appointments. Some men too many 
of them are only made by their staff appointments, while others 
give respectability to their position. Rawlins is of the latter 
class. 10 

These letters show beyond question that Grant had the 
highest regard for the fidelity and usefulness of Rawlins, 

10 Richardson s "Personal History of U. S. Grant," pp. 343-346. 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 141 

and while it may be contended that they overestimate his 
fitness in point of technical knowledge and experience at that 
time for the command of an army corps, there can be no 
doubt that they bear the best possible testimony to his mili 
tary aptitude, as well as to the soundness of his judgment and 
the elevation of his character. They bear equally conclusive 
testimony both to Grant s own magnanimity and to the deli 
cacy with which he expressed his appreciation of the serv 
ices which his friend had rendered to him, and which his 
adjutant general had rendered to the country at large. 

That the letter last quoted put the ever-vigilant Washburne 
on his mettle to procure the favorable action of the Senate 
on Rawlins s promotion is well known to their common ac 
quaintances. He had been from the first the devoted friend 
of both Grant and Rawlins. They were his neighbors and 
constituents at Galena, where their advancement was regarded 
as his advancement. He had seen them at work in the field, 
and had heard in what estimation they were held by those 
who served with and under them. He had especially come 
to know how necessary Rawlins was, not only to Grant s 
self-control but to his military career as well. They stood 
absolutely together in his mind, and the success of one was 
the success of the other. It was for this reason that he 
worked at all times willingly and cheerfully for the promo 
tion of Rawlins, by the same steps, if not to the same degree, 
that Grant was promoted or showed himself to be worthy 
of it. 

We may now pause to consider more fully what sort of man 
Rawlins, the charcoal burner, had become. Attending the 
neighborhood school for eight terms, transferring to the town 
High School for a single term, working alternately at the 
charcoal pits and the farm, and gradually saving money 
enough, he entered the Rock River Seminary. Here he stud 
ied the higher branches for two academic years and hoped 
to graduate, but as his money gave out, he was forced to 



142 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

return to charcoal burning for a season. But in doing so 
he was conscious that his education, though not complete, 
was as good as that of the average young man of the 
period. 

We have seen how he lighted his pits again, how his team 
gave out as he was hauling his charcoal to market, how he 
sold his load, his wagon, and his oxen to the railroad con 
tractors, and then how he pushed on to Galena, where he 
studied law and in due time was admitted to the bar, became 
city attorney, and made himself known as a good lawyer 
and a rising man. He had already developed a strong taste 
and considerable skill in public speaking. Although lacking 
in city polish and refinement, he was far from being rough or 
illiterate. He had a genuine taste for good books, and had 
read such as were within reach. He sought good company, 
as became a sober, serious, and ambitious youth, and, like 
many of his friends at the Seminary, he early developed a 
decided taste for public affairs. 

As the times were stormy and "the noble controversies 
of politics" uppermost in everybody s mind, he soon began to 
take a leading part in the community of which he was a citi 
zen. A Democrat by conviction as well as by inheritance, 
he became an ardent supporter of Douglas and his doctrine 
of "popular sovereignty," and when the Presidential election 
of 1860 came on he was chosen by his party in the Galena 
district as its candidate for the honorable position of Presi 
dential elector. Challenged by his opponent to a joint debate, 
he accepted the challenge and stumped the district, with the 
result that his eloquence and moderation certified him to the 
State at large as one of its most promising young men. 

After all efforts to prevent civil war had failed, and the 
South Carolinians had precipitated the conflict by firing upon 
the flag at Fort Sumter, Rawlins s patriotic speech at the 
Galena mass meeting had produced a genuine surprise and 
a genuine sensation. It aroused the faint-hearted, dissipated 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 143 

the fears of the doubtful and stirred a raging fever in the 
minds of every loyal citizen who was fortunate enough to 
hear him. It made Grant his friend, and brought them both 
to the threshold of a new career, in which one became the 
leading general of his time, and the other his adjutant and 
finally his chief of staff. 

We have seen how Rawlins, without military knowledge 
or experience but with a full sense of his own unfitness, took 
up the duties of his new position, patiently and persistently 
learning them one by one, till all were creditably performed. 
We have seen how at the threshold of his military life he 
was brought face to face with serious charges against his 
chief; how he refuted them, and made himself responsible 
for his good behavior ; how he became his monitor and watch 
ful guardian, the enemy of those who pandered to his weak 
ness, and the friend of all who helped to stay him from 
falling. 

No one can read the narrative, from Belmont to Vicks- 
burg, in which Grant s star was rising to its zenith, with 
out perceiving that Rawlins s task was scarcely less difficult 
than Grant s, or without acknowledging that he performed 
it with such tact, cleverness, firmness, and patriotism as to 
merit not only all that Grant could do for him but to entitle 
him to all the rank and consideration his country finally 
bestowed upon him. When it is remembered that the staff 
officer who played this important but unusual part never put 
himself forward to claim credit, reward, or promotion, but 
silently and firmly effaced himself, while doing all he could 
to shield his friend from criticism, to advance his fortunes, 
and to ensure his final triumph, it must be admitted that 
Rawlins had grown to a noble and fearless manhood, in every 
way worthy of the admiration of all who read this simple 
story. 

The part played by him in bringing forward and advocat 
ing the plan by which Johnston s army was defeated and Vicks- 



144 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

burg with its garrison were captured lifted him to another 
sphere and to another altitude. Hitherto, he had concerned 
himself mainly with the routine duties of his office and with 
the personal interests of his chief, but this raised him to the 
rank of military adviser and strategist, in which, as this 
narrative will show, he was destined to the end of the war 
to exert a powerful influence over the plans and policies by 
which it was brought to a fortunate conclusion. 

Finally it must be admitted that the emergency which was 
signalized by Rawlins s letter of June 6, 1863, was one which 
called for courage of a different sort from that of the sol 
dier in the fighting line. To such as are familiar with mili 
tary hierarchy and its rules, it will appear almost incredible 
that an adjutant should have taken such a liberty as he did; 
and when it is recalled that he did this entirely without ad 
vice from any one and on his own responsibility, it must 
be conceded, in the words of Grant s letter of August 13, 
that "Rawlins especially was no ordinary man." When it is 
recalled in addition that Grant, the next year, in asking for 
Rawlins s confirmation as brigadier general, strengthened his 
former recommendation by the statement that "he comes near 
est being indispensable to me of any officer in the service," 
it becomes certain that the admonitions of a friend had not 
only given no offence in his case but had rather drawn closer 
the bonds of interest and respect between the parties to the 
incident. Indeed, Grant s written declarations in favor of 
Rawlins receive a peculiar significance from the remonstrance 
and the circumstances which called it forth. Happily, so far 
as known, they stand alone in our annals and may well be 
regarded as reflecting unusual credit upon both of the men 
connected with them. 

When Vicksburg surrendered and filled the country with 
the fame of General Grant and the Army of the Tennessee, 
Rawlins had reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He 
was in his thirty-third year, a man of medium size and weight, 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 145 

about five feet seven inches high, with black hair, dark, al 
most black, eyes, and swarthy complexion. His features were 
regular, without being noticeably handsome. He had no 
color in his cheeks, and made no pretension to elegance of 
deportment or military bearing. He was just a plain, blunt 
man, full of purpose and vigor, of austere habits, severe 
morals, inflexible will, resolution and courage, and of most 
aggressive temper. He had no thought but for the success of 
our arms and the preservation of the Union under the Con 
stitution and laws. American to the innermost recesses of his 
heart, and alive to the drift of public opinion, with a mind 
alert and responsive to every noble sentiment, he reached con 
clusions of his own upon all subjects, both military and civil, 
and never for a moment hesitated to express them with inde 
pendence and vigor, whether they were asked for or not. His 
very ignorance of military customs and ceremonies was a 
source of strength rather than of weakness, as it caused him 
to go straight to the highest authority without fear and with 
out hesitation. Conscious of his own rectitude and unselfish 
devotion to duty, he expected every officer, however high, and 
every man, however low, to give all there was in him to the 
cause of the Union. 

As a rule, his voice was low and well modulated, but withal 
he was capable of the most vehement flights of eloquence 
when occasion called for them. Direct in purpose and delib 
erate in manner, his ordinary speech was firm, straight 
forward, and convincing, but in the face of opposition or 
delay he did not hesitate to raise his voice to emphasize what 
he was saying or, all unconsciously perhaps, to punctuate it 
with epithets and even oaths that were sure to arouse and 
stimulate rather than to shock or offend. He was altogether 
the most earnest and impressive man of his rank the army 
had in it. With an absolute unconsciousness of self, his 
thoughts were naturally direct, coherent and logical. Never 
hesitating for a word, and never uttering one indistinctly or 



146 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

hurriedly, his sentences were short, crisp, and convincing. 
Nor do I recall a single instance in which they failed to 
carry through the recommendation or measure in behalf of 
which they were uttered. 

Profoundly impressed by the responsibilities resting upon 
his Chief, and indirectly upon himself, he took neither rest 
nor respite from his work, but stood by night and day to see 
that no weakness was displayed, no duty was neglected, no 
effort was misdirected and no opportunity was allowed to pass 
by unimproved. With such a mind as this, its possessor 
needed nothing except technical training to become not only 
a model chief of staff but a model corps or army commander. 
Situated as he was, however, there was no such destiny in 
store for him. Fate or circumstances had cast his lot in an 
other sphere, and while there is no evidence extant that he 
had any other ambition, or ever indulged in vain repinings, 
it is certain from the foregoing narrative that he was fully 
conscious of the dangers which lay in the path of the easy 
going and sociably inclined chief with whom he was asso 
ciated. While it cannot be said that Rawlins ever presumed 
upon the slightest familiarity with Grant, they were the best 
of friends, though it must be confessed that Grant, in their 
daily intercourse, showed more bonhomie towards his staff 
officer than his staff officer showed towards him. In this 
they were not unlike Lincoln and Stanton. Grant, who was 
always kind and considerate, loved to chat with those about 
him, by the campfire or on the march, but Rawlins was more 
serious and apparently more preoccupied. He of course had 
the orders and staff details to look after and these necessarily 
absorbed his time and attention while others were at rest. 
But the close of the Vicksburg campaign, which was not only 
the most brilliant but the most complete in all our annals, 
inaugurated a new era in his career. It had inflicted the 
first mortal blow upon the Confederacy. It had raised the 
hopes of the Union men everywhere to the certainty of a 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 147 

complete triumph in the end, and not only they but the world 
at large were calling for the details by which the army s rapid 
marches had been made, and its splendid battles had been 
won. 

It has long since come to be well known that Grant had 
up to this time made no elaborate reports, and had apparently 
forgotten that he had sent in one of seven closely- written 
pages, in regard to the battle of Shiloh. The fact is that he 
was looked upon by the War Department as a poor corre 
spondent and at best but an indifferent reporter of his own 
deeds. But now all this was to be changed, and the complete 
story was to be told. As was his habit, Grant wrote with his 
own hand an outline of what had taken place from first to 
last as far as he could recall it, and then turned that over 
to Rawlins as a basis for the final and complete report, in 
which every date and figure should be verified and every 
essential detail should be fully given. Henceforth this was 
the rule and practice, and the duty of carrying them into 
effect fell upon Rawlins and his assistant, Major, afterwards 
Lieutenant Colonel, Bowers. As the former was a methodical 
lawyer and the latter an experienced newspaper man and 
ready writer, the work was thoroughly done, and as a con 
sequence Grant s reports from that day forth are justly re 
garded as models of clearness and completeness. 

Department headquarters remained at Vicksburg during the 
summer, and while Grant had gone to New Orleans on a 
trip which Rawlins did not approve, the report of the Vicks 
burg Campaign was finished. As will be more fully set 
forth hereafter, Rawlins was at the same time in virtual 
command of the army, attending to all branches of its admin 
istration, and making all the necessary orders, in the name 
of its absent commander. 

It is specially worthy of note that Grant s recommendations 
were now received at Washington with full credit and due 
respect. The authorities could not do too much for him. 



148 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Even Halleck wrote him complimentary letters and treated 
him with marked consideration, and what was still more to 
the point, "the promotions he had asked for were made with 
out delay. Rawlins shared the good fortune of the army 
and was gazetted Brigadier General of Volunteers on August 
n, 1863. Naturally he felt that this new rank was intended 
in a measure to relieve him from the drudgery of paper work, 
which he naturally disliked, and to impose upon him the larger 
and more important duties appropriate to the peculiar and 
very unusual personal and official relations which had grown 
up between him and his Chief. 

In his relations with his brothers of the staff, and with 
the general and other officers having business at headquarters, 
Rawlins was singularly cordial and approachable. While 
he liked to see all official papers framed and submitted as 
required by the army regulations, he had no patience with 
mere red tape as such. Far from being a martinet or caring 
for formalities and ceremonies, he made every officer and 
enlisted man feel that it was a pleasure as well as a great 
privilege to meet him. Every leading officer of the army 
knew and appreciated him as a modest, unselfish, and able 
man, who could not be swerved from his duty, nor induced 
to look leniently upon the vices and shortcomings of mili 
tary life. Kindly and considerate towards all, civilians as 
well as soldiers, no man could know him or hear him con 
verse without marking him in his memory as a man of the 
highest character and patriotism. While he was cheerful 
and friendly towards all, he was never light or trivial in 
speech or behavior. As though conscious of his lack of the 
lighter accomplishments, he never sought the society of ladies, 
but was painfully shy in the presence of such as called upon 
him on business or met him by chance. Altogether and every 
where, though clad with the rank and power of office, he 
never forgot that he was one of the plain people. While 
he never became a communicant or a regular church member, 



OPERATIONS IN THE WEST, 1862 149 

he had a profound respect for religion and all who regulated 
their lives by its precepts. Throughout life he revered the 
ways of the godly, and looked with contempt upon the idler 
and the drunkard. He drank neither beer, wine, nor liquor, 
played no cards, and spent no time in idle ways or light and 
profligate behavior. In the times of the Commonwealth he 
would have been a Puritan of the straitest sect, if not a 
Covenanter and an Ironsides. And when his sturdy English 
name is considered along with the austere ways of his life, 
who can say that he was not descended from the very loins 
of the New Model Army, which was the crowning glory of 
the immortal Cromwell? 

It is not certain that Rawlins ever read the story of that 
most heroic organization of our race, but if the officers and 
men who upheld the Union cause with him had all been as 
simple, steady, orderly, and inflexible in character, behavior, 
and courage as he was, there can be but little doubt that we 
should have had the greatest army the world had ever seen 
up to that time. 



IX 



AFFAIRS AT VICKSBURG 

Grant Goes to New Orleans Rawlins in Virtual Command 
Made Brigadier General Battle of Chickamauga Grant Or 
dered to Chattanooga Commands Military Division of the 
Mississippi. 

IMMEDIATELY after the capture and occupation of Vicks- 
burg, army headquarters were established at the house of a 
well-to-do planter in the lower part of the city, and in due 
time both Grant and his staff made the acquaintance of the 
ladies of the family. Among them was the governess, a 
charming and accomplished young woman from Connecticut, 
named Miss Hurlbut. Rawlins was at that time in the prime 
of life and apparently in perfect health, but he was singu 
larly shy and restrained in the presence of ladies, and always 
avoided their society when he could do so without rudeness. 
Others, however, less backward at once discovered the beauty 
and attractiveness of the fair Yankee and made her the object 
of attentions which, although intended to be flattering, soon 
became embarrassing. This led to the presentation of Raw 
lins to the ladies as a measure of protection during the ab 
sence of Grant, and was soon followed by the development 
of an interest which no one, and Rawlins least of all, ex 
pected. He was far from being a beau but he was full of 
chivalry, which needed only a proper occasion to make itself 
known. This he found in the protection he was called upon 
to give to innocence and beauty. He had been a widower 
nearly two years, and although a man of sedate manners, his 
reserve was soon relaxed, and in the course of a few weeks, 

150 



AFFAIRS AT VICKSBURG 151 

he asked for and obtained the hand of Miss Hurlbut, who 
was at that time a most attractive picture of health and 
beauty. They were married shortly after the great victory of 
Missionary Ridge, on December 23, 1863, at Danbury, Con 
necticut, and became a devoted and contented couple; but, 
quite unconscious of the danger that menaced them, they were 
destined to close their lives in turn, after a few short years 
of sorrow and suffering, as victims of that most dreadful 
of diseases, pulmonary consumption. 

As has been previously stated, Rawlins s first wife died of 
that disease at the outbreak of the Civil War, and it is now 
certain that she communicated it to her husband. It first 
showed itself in him at Chattanooga in the winter of 1863-64, 
but the victim, with delusive hope, regarded it not only then, 
but for several years afterwards, as merely a cold, or at worst 
a slight bronchial affliction, which would soon pass away. Its 
progress was slow, but certain and irresistible; and finally, 
after seven years of alternate hope and despair, it proved 
fatal. The fair young wife took the disease in due course, 
and although every aid known at that time to the science of 
medicine was tried, she succumbed to it a few years after her 
husband s death. These three cases afford most pathetic but 
indubitable evidence both of the communicability and the 
fatality of the dread disease. The microbe or bacillus theory 
had not yet been announced, and the modern tests of the 
disease were still unknown. The doctors repeatedly assured 
Rawlins that he was free from consumption, but the fear 
of it was with him from his first persistent cold at Chatta 
nooga to the end of his life, and this, together with his anxiety 
and suffering, had a modifying influence upon his tempera 
ment and career. 

But to return to the consideration of current events. It 
will be remembered that the surrender of Vicksburg was 
concluded by Grant s decision to parole Pemberton and his 
army and allow the officers and men to proceed to their homes, 



152 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

there to remain till properly exchanged. Rawlins, as before 
stated, felt that this was mistaken liberality, and that it would 
lead to complications, if not to the immediate reenrollment of 
the surrendered army in the fighting force of the Confederacy. 
He suggested that it would be better to send the prisoners 
to the North for detention and safe-keeping, but unfortu 
nately Grant upon this important occasion adhered to his 
own views, and after disarming and enrolling his prisoners 
and putting them on parole not to take further part in the 
war till duly exchanged, allowed them, after stacking arms 
and colors, to march back again into the Confederacy, under 
the command of their own officers, with their various organi 
zations intact. 

It is only necessary here to call attention anew to the fact 
that a month had not passed before the Confederate authori 
ties repudiated the validity of the capitulation as not comply 
ing with the terms of the formal agreement between the two 
governments, and ordered the paroled troops to take up arms 
and resume hostilities against the United States. 

Shortly after the surrender Sherman was ordered towards 
Jackson and beyond with a strong force of cavalry, infantry, 
and artillery for the purpose of clearing the State of Missis 
sippi of the enemy. Ord, with another corps, was sent to 
take part in the operations in Louisiana, and almost imme 
diately after these dispositions were made, Grant himself, 
accompanied by that portion of the staff which neither Dana 
nor Rawlins valued very highly, went to New Orleans for 
the purpose of conferring with Banks. The result of these 
measures, which originated mostly with Grant and were ap 
proved in Washington, was to scatter and practically neu 
tralize Grant s splendid army, not far from eighty thousand 
strong, and to place its nucleus practically on the defensive. 

Of course these dispositions could not have been made or 
carried into effect but for Halleck s consent. Although the 
author of a standard work on the art of war, he seemed to 



AFFAIRS AT VICKSBURG 153 

be utterly unable to understand the policy of concentration, 
or how to use the overwhelming forces at his disposal so as 
to follow the enemy to his real points of defence and make 
his overthrow certain. Rosecrans was about crossing the 
Tennessee River for the purpose of maneuvering Bragg out 
of Chattanooga. To thwart this purpose and to prevent the 
Confederacy from being again cut in two by an advance of 
the national forces to Atlanta, the Confederate Government 
detached Longstreet s splendid corps of veterans from Lee s 
army in Virginia, and ordered it to report to Bragg in North 
ern Georgia. Instead of acting on the timely discovery 
of this important movement, which had been made by Meade s 
provost marshal and confirmed by spies operating in East 
Tennessee and Virginia, under orders issued from Dodge s 
headquarters at Corinth, neither Rosecrans nor the Wash 
ington authorities made any adequate preparations to antici 
pate or counteract it. As elsewhere stated, it was feasible to 
send at least two army corps, or 50,000 men, from Grant s 
army on the Mississippi, and a like number from Meade s 
army, at any time after the fall of Vicksburg, to reen force 
Rosecrans; but this was not done till more than ten weeks 
had been wasted in secondary operations, or, what was still 
worse, in idleness at sickly encampments, or in futile and frag 
mentary operations in the field. 

My duties as Inspector General of Grant s army required 
me to visit the posts and detachments scattered throughout 
the widely extended Department during the lull of operations, 
and as the northernmost post was at Paducah, and there was 
much work to be done at that place as well as at Cairo, 
Columbus, Jackson, Memphis, and Helena, I was necessarily 
absent for several weeks. During the summer months and 
especially while Grant was absent, Rawlins remained at Vicks 
burg in charge of headquarters, in virtual command of 
the army. Strangely enough, although both Sherman and 
McPherson as next in rank were entitled in turn to succeed, 



154 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

they concurred in waiving their right under the Army Regu 
lations, in favor of Rawlins. It was a compliment which 
he fully appreciated and yet he was far from satisfied with 
the arrangement. He not only strongly disapproved Grant s 
trip to New Orleans but chafed under the arrangements, 
which he could plainly see were neutralizing such an im 
portant part of the national army. 

During my absence I wrote him freely and received sev 
eral characteristic letters in reply. From one, dated Sep 
tember 15, 1863, I make the following extract: 

... I am sorry that General Asboth s Columbus improvements 
cannot be justified on sound military principles, for it will make 
him feel badly, but an officer in the discharge of a duty must 
perform it strictly no matter whom it may place in an unpleasant 
situation. Of course he will not go outside of his proper path to 
injure one s feelings. 

I anticipate a large amount of valuable information from the 
result of your present inspection, not heretofore had at Depart 
ment Headquarters; information of utility as well as interest. 
General Grant returned from Memphis to this place on Saturday 
the 29th ultimo, and left here on the 3 1st for New Orleans accom 
panied by General Lorenzo Thomas and staff, General T. Kilby 
Smith, Colonels Riggin and Duff, Captains Jaynes and Ross, and 
has not yet returned though I am looking for him hourly. I hear 
a rumor that on Friday of the first week in this month, on re 
turning in company with General Banks from a grand review 
they were riding quite rapidly when General Grant s horse fell 
and injured him very badly. I have no other knowledge than 
that which rumor has put afloat. No one of his highly intelligent 
staff has deemed the matter of sufficient importance to write me 
one word nor even as much as send a verbal message. The 
General I understand is at Carrollton and I suppose his staff are 
in New Orleans enjoying hugely the time the General s indis 
position from injuries gives them. 

In the meantime, however, matters here move on as smoothly 
as could be desired. Sherman and McPherson are both content 
that I should carry on the current business of the Department 
the same as if the General were here. All General Hurlbut s 



AFFAIRS AT VICKSBURG 155 

requisitions for troops with which to reenforce Steele have been 
filled and he informed that if necessary more could be spared. 
I have also written to Colonel Kelton the satisfactory status of 
things here. The expedition of General Crocker to Harrisburg, 
Louisiana, was a complete success. The enemy evacuated the 
place leaving four field pieces in our possession. I hope Steele 
may get up a fight and entirely rout the rebels at Little Rock. I 
have high regards for Steele but would like to see Hurlbut with 
the expedition himself. 

In the omitted part of this letter Rawlins disclosed for 
the first time the great interest which Miss Hurlbut had 
excited in him, and on my return to headquarters he con 
fessed that he hoped to make her his wife. As she was 
in every way worthy of him, he had the best wishes of 
his family and friends, and especially of both General and 
Mrs. Grant. It was a pleasure to all to see this strong and 
rugged man softened and humanized by the smiles of a 
beautiful and interesting woman. It was a still greater 
pleasure to see him finally made happy a few months later, 
by the union of her lot with his for life. 

During this interesting period, and just before Grant left 
for New Orleans, an incident took place which well illustrates 
the relations existing between him and his adjutant. Under 
the trade regulations then in force throughout the Depart 
ment, citizens were still forbidden to buy or ship cotton 
to the North, but in violation of standing orders a connec 
tion of Grant s by marriage, who had come ostensibly to 
visit him, bought and undertook to ship North a lot of 
cotton from a landing nearby. The circumstance was at 
once reported to Rawlins, and as a matter of routine, with 
out even consulting his chief, he issued an order expelling 
the offender from the department. This shortly became 
known to the General, who at once most modestly asked 
Rawlins to recall or suspend the order. Thinking that the 
request foreshadowed a weakening on the part of the General 



156 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

in behalf of his kinsman, which would not be extended to 
an ordinary citizen, Rawlins broke forth in a flood of violent 
language, concluding with the declaration that if he were 
a general* commanding an army of a hundred thousand men 
and a relation of his came down into it and violated one of 
his important standing orders, he would march him out 
under guard and hang him to the highest tree within five miles 
of camp. Grant was naturally amazed at this outburst, but 
with admirable self-control made no reply whatever, where 
upon Rawlins retired to his office, pale with rage. The scene 
was an embarrassing one violating in every way the rules of 
official propriety. It was the first time I had ever seen 
Rawlins lose his temper with the General, and feeling sure 
he had acted under a hasty and ungovernable impulse, I 
followed him out, and after remonstrating with him on the 
impropriety of his violent outburst, pointed out the necessity 
for the withdrawal of his words and an immediate apology 
therefor. Without a moment s hesitation he acknowledged 
his fault, and returning at once to the General s room, said 
with a full and sonorous voice: 

"General, I owe you an humble apology for my exhibi 
tion of temper and for the rude and profane language I 
have just used in your presence. I sincerely beg your par 
don, and hope you will grant it. I thought I had mastered 
both my tongue and my temper, for when I made the ac 
quaintance of the ladies here, I resolved to quit cursing and 
flattered myself that I had succeeded." 

But by force of habit he unconsciously closed even this 
manly declaration with the unconscious utterance of a few 
emphatic words, which brought a smile of forgiveness to 
Grant s face., with the remark: 

"Of course you were not cursing, Rawlins, but like Wil 
son s friend merely expressing your intense vehemence on 
the subject matter. Don t think of it again, but now that 
the storm is over, you can destroy that order, and tell the 



AFFAIRS AT VICKSBURG 157 

gentleman to whom it refers that his health requires him to 
take the first steamer back to Cairo." 

The reconciliation was instantaneous and complete, and 
Grant never referred to the incident again except playfully, 
to illustrate how Rawlins, who had early in the war become 
somewhat famous for the habit of expressing his "intense 
vehemence on the subject matter," but ultimately gave it 
up after marrying the lady in whose honor he had made the 
worthy resolution. 

The summer, which was both hot and dry, wore away 
without further friction though not without unhappiness. 
Rawlins employed himself for the first few weeks after the 
occupation of Vicksburg in editing the General s rough re 
port of operations, and in looking after the routine business 
of the army and the Department. Affairs were conducted 
at headquarters with great simplicity and modesty. No dis 
play nor dissipation of any sort was allowed, and but little 
social intercourse was held with the people. Even the uni 
forms of the officers were dull, and the camp equipage and 
office furniture were plain and primitive to a degree that 
the neediest of the Confederates would have regarded as 
mean, if not niggardly. Rawlins, with his simple and inex 
pensive habits, was apparently unconscious of all this, and 
when Bowers remonstrated with him against using wooden 
blocks for candlesticks and asked for better ones, he replied 
with a grave shake of the head: 

"Oh, no, Bowers! Those wooden candlesticks are good 
enough. They fill a very important purpose. They are the 
connecting link between silver candlesticks and no candle 
sticks at all!" 

During the hot weather of July, Rawlins was perplexed 
by a lot of petty annoyances. The work of preparing the 
official reports and of watching over the ladies at head 
quarters, was incongruous if not exacting, and had it not 
been for the alternate consolation and uncertainties of love 



158 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

making they would have made him very unhappy. Grant 
was away, the army was more or less idle, and altogether 
official matters were not going to suit him. But when Grant 
returned and found the reports ready for signature, he con 
cluded to give Rawlins an outing by sending him to Wash 
ington as bearer of despatches. This was most honorable 
and acceptable duty and as it was intended as a special com 
pliment to Rawlins it pleased him greatly. He arrived in 
Washington July 30, and the next day had an interview 
with the President and cabinet lasting two hours. On his 
return to the army he of course made a full report to General 
Grant, but told the rest of us but little about it. Fortunately, 
however, Gideon Welles, the Secretary of the Navy, made an 
interesting entry in his diary, and as it not only shows the 
favorable impression Rawlins made but confirms other state 
ments of this narrative, I quote from the Atlantic Monthly 
as follows: 

Friday, July 31, 1863. 

I met at the President s, and was introduced by him to, Colonel 
Rawlins, of General Grant s staff. He arrived yesterday with 
the official report of the taking of Vicksburg and capture of 
Pemberton s army. [I] was much pleased with him, his frank, 
intelligent and interesting description of men and account of army 
operations. His interview with the President and Cabinet was of 
nearly two hours duration, and all, I think, were entertained by 
him. His honest, unpretending, and unassuming manners pleased 
me, the absence of pretension, and I may say the unpolished and 
unrefined deportment of this earnest and sincere man, patriot and 
soldier pleased me more than that of almost any officer whom 
I have met. He was never at West Point, and has had but few 
educational advantages, yet he is a soldier, and has a mind which 
has served his general and his country well. He is a sincere and 
earnest friend of Grant, who has evidently sent him here for a 
purpose. 

It was the intention of the President last fall that General Mc- 
Clernand, an old neighbor and friend of his, should have been 
associated with Admiral Porter in active operations before Vicks- 



AFFAIRS AT VICKSBURG 159 

burg. It was the expressed and earnest wish of Porter to have 
a citizen general, and he made it a special point to be relieved 
from associations with a West Pointer; all West Pointers, he 
said, were egotistical and assuming, and never willing to consider 
and treat naval officers as equals. 

The President thought the opportunity a good one to bring 
forward his friend McClernand in whom he has confidence, and 
who is a volunteer officer of ability, and possesses moreover a 
good deal of political influence in Illinois. Stanton and Halleck 
entered into his views, for Grant was not a special favorite with 
either. 

Rawlins now comes from Vicksburg with statements in regard 
to McClernand which show him an impracticable and unfit man. 
He has not been subordinate and intelligent, but has been an em 
barrassment, and, instead of directing or assisting, has been really 
an obstruction to any movements and operations. In Rawlins s 
statements there is undoubtedly prejudice, but with such appear 
ance of candor, and earnest and intelligent conviction, that there 
can be hardly a doubt McClernand is in fault; and Rawlins has 
been sent here by Grant in order to enlist the President rather 
than bring despatches. In this I think he has succeeded, though 
the President feels kindly toward McClernand, Grant evidently 
hates him, and Rawlins is imbued with the feelings of his chief. 

Meanwhile the course of the war in the neighboring De 
partment of the Cumberland was preparing work of a more 
serious character for all the troops which could be drawn 
from far and near. The battle of Chickamauga took place 
on September 19-20, and followed as it was by the with 
drawal of the Union army into the fortified lines about 
Chattanooga, and the investment of that place south of the 
river, it became necessary for the Government to bestir itself 
and to utilize all its resources to make good its hold and to 
restore its supremacy in that quarter. As before stated, 
the union of the three departments of the Mississippi Valley 
into one Military Division, under one supreme head, was now 
recognized as an important measure which must be carried 
into effect without further delay. An order to that effect 
was issued, Grant was by common consent assigned to the 



160 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

chief command, and as soon as he was informed and the 
necessary arrangements could be completed, he proceeded 
with his staff to the new field of duty and glory which the 
fortunes of war had prepared for him. 

Rawlins had in the meantime received his commission as 
Brigadier General, and had been announced as chief of staff. 
He was relieved at once by Bowers from the routine work 
of the adjutant general s department, and was thus enabled 
to devote himself exclusively to the more important duties 
of his new position. He had grown steadily with his com 
mander in knowledge and experience, and was regarded by 
those who knew him best as fully entitled to the increased 
rank which had been bestowed upon him. If he had been 
necessary to the General in the formative period of their 
military life, he was still more necessary now that they were 
about to enter upon a broader stage and to undertake a task 
of far greater magnitude than any which had yet engaged 
their attention. 



X 



EVENTS IN TENNESSEE 

Meeting Between Grant and Stanton Plan of Operations 
Battle of Missionary Ridge Knoxville, Cumberland Gap, and 
Lexington Headquarters at Nashville Completes Official 
Reports Reflections on Campaign Rawlins Married. 

THE disastrous battle of Chickamauga took place about 
twelve weeks after the surrender of Pemberton s army at 
Vicksburg. It was long contended that inasmuch as Rose- 
crans had occupied and made good his hold on Chattanooga 
he had gained a substantial victory; but as he retreated from 
the field of battle it must in fairness be admitted that he 
suffered an actual defeat, although, as is frequently the case, 
the victorious army was almost as much exhausted as the 
one it had beaten. It had put forth its very last effort, and 
if Thomas, who had succeeded to the command of the Union 
army and resisted every attack, had not voluntarily con 
cluded, after darkness had closed in, on receipt of special 
authority from Rosecrans, to retire, the struggle would prob 
ably have gone down to history as at most a drawn battle. 
But night found neither army in condition to strike another 
blow. Longstreet s arrival from Virginia with his splendid 
corps, in time to take part in the second day s battle, made 
the contending hosts nearly equal in strength. Had it not 
been for Longstreet s weighty reenforcement of his antago 
nist, Rosecrans could doubtless have held his position intact, 
and might have gained a substantial advantage. On the 
other hand, had the Government sent Grant s disposable force 
promptly from Vicksburg to reenforce Rosecrans, that gen- 

161 



H j LIFE OF JOHN A, RAWLINS 

eral would have had a tremendous preponderance of strength 
and this would have given him every reasonable assurance 
of a complete victory. 

But, unfortunately, the authorities at Washington were 
late in discovering the detachment of Longstreet from Lee s 
army, and never seemed to realize that while superior genius 
might give us the victory, nothing short of a great superi 
ority of strength on the actual field of battle could give abso 
lute assurance of it. No general ever had a better knowledge 
of the strategical principles involved than had Halleck, the 
General-in-Chief, and yet no one ever failed more egregiously 
than did he to profit by their application. With the introduc 
tion of improved firearms, the open formation for battle and 
the rapid construction of rifle trenches and breastworks, the 
dangers of the direct attack had already become greatly 
increased. It is now recognized among military men that 
rapid marching and an overpowering superiority in numbers, 
particularly in mounted troops, which are specially fitted 
to operate effectively against the enemy s flanks and rear, 
are more than ever necessary to insure success in warfare; 
but simple as it is, this lesson never became properly under 
stood in Washington. 

News of the disaster of Chickamauga reached Grant late 
in September, and immediately afterwards he sent me to 
Cairo by steamboat with despatches for Halleck. I arrived 
there on Saturday, October 2, sent off my despatches at once, 
received the replies the same night, and returned to head 
quarters as rapidly as a swift steamer could carry me. On 
the loth Grant gave orders to break up at Vicksburg, and 
on the 1 6th arrived at Cairo with his staff. The next day he 
continued his journey by rail, met Stanton, the Secretary 
of War, at Indianapolis, and accompanied him without delay 
to Louisville. 

Neither Grant nor any member of his staff except Rawlins 
had ever seen the great Secretary, and naturally enough, they 



EVENTS IN TENNESSEE 163 

were all anxious to meet him. When the train stopped at 
Indianapolis he was at the station and came at once into 
the General s special car. Overlooking or not seeing Rawlins, 
he walked directly up to Dr. Kittoe, the chief surgeon, who 
was wearing a flowing beard and an army hat; he held out 
his hand and said : 

"How are you, General Grant ? I knew you at sight from 
your pictures." 

Of course the error was discovered instantly, but the inci 
dent was not without embarrassment to the Secretary, and 
trivial as it was, seems to have produced an unpleasant im 
pression, if not a positive prejudice, in his mind. He evi 
dently expected to meet a more impressive man than the 
quiet and modest General, and acted throughout the ride to 
Louisville as though he was disappointed. They, however, 
dined and spent the evening together and Stanton doubtless 
bore himself with perfect frankness in giving the General 
his instructions in reference to the new command and the 
new campaign, but it was no secret to any of us that neither 
of these great persons was greatly taken with the other. 
They cooperated henceforth loyally and effectively in the 
cause, till the struggle w r as closed, and so long as Stanton 
remained Secretary of War their relations were friendly, but 
they never became intimate or particularly sympathetic with 
each other. 

It is not to be supposed that the trivial mistake at the 
beginning of their acquaintance had any appreciable effect 
upon the feelings of these great but dissimilar characters. 
Grant was shy, diffident and reserved with strangers, and 
knowing that ill reports had been sent to Washington about 
him, he may have been more or less under restraint, in the 
Secretary s presence. Stanton, who was a man of extraordi 
nary severity of manner, was profoundly conscious of his 
own importance, and may have desired to impress Grant with 
his personal as well as with his official power. Whatever 



164 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

may have been the inward feelings with which they regarded 
each other, it was evident from Grant s conduct not only 
the next day but always afterwards that he felt no great 
interest either in the man or in the Secretary. 

Dana, who met the party on the way south from Louis 
ville, returned with us by the same train to Stevenson and 
Bridgeport, and gave us full particulars of the great battle 
and of the behavior of the leading generals. As is well known, 
he had not brought from the field of Chickamauga a favor 
able opinion of Rosecrans, and Grant, who was at best not 
over-partial to that general, during the conversation with the 
Secretary signified his wish that the unfortunate general 
should be relieved from command and that Thomas should 
be assigned to the vacancy. It has long been believed by 
some that this change was partly due to political intrigue, 
but so far as I have been able to ascertain, there is no con 
temporaneous evidence to sustain this belief. It was shown 
by the Official Records years afterwards that during the 
interview at Louisville the Secretary of War wisely placed 
the choice of subordinate commanders entirely at the dis 
cretion of Grant, and Grant, who up to that time had never 
been governed in the performance of his duty by considera 
tions of a political nature, did not hesitate to decide in favor 
of the change. Rawlins and I were informed of all the 
facts so far as they were then known, and fully concurred 
in the wisdom of the decision. I am sure that neither of us 
then knew or cared what Rosecrans s politics were nor was 
influenced in the slightest degree by any other consideration 
than the good of the public service. 

Pausing on the way to the front to confer with Rosecrans, 
who met the party at Stevenson, and with Hooker and 
Howard, who had been stopped at Bridgeport, Grant and 
his staff went forward by horseback over the rough and 
roundabout road through Jasper, over Walden s Ridge to 
Chattanooga. As Dana and I were anxious to get on we 



EVENTS IN TENNESSEE 165 

took a shorter cut from the same point over the Ridge and 
along the north bank of the river within range of the Con 
federate pickets, and under the cover of darkness rode into 
the beleaguered town just before midnight. Grant and the 
rest of the staff reached the town wet and weary after dark 
the next night. But the road was so rough and slippery 
that Grant s horse had fallen upon him, severely bruising 
the leg which had been so badly injured at New Orleans. 
The wagons with the baggage and camp equipage could not 
keep up and were consequently left far behind. As there 
were no hotels open at Chattanooga, Grant necessarily be 
came the guest of Thomas, while his staff officers were be 
stowed wherever room could be found for them. 

It will be recalled that Grant and Thomas had last met 
during the Shiloh-Corinth Campaign, in which Thomas had 
virtually superseded Grant and that this or some other 
circumstance had prevented the establishment of cordial rela 
tions between those distinguished officers. The tables were 
now turned. Grant was in supreme command. He was the 
hero of the most successful campaign which had been made 
on either side during the war, and twelve weeks later, with 
out the suspicion of personal influence or intrigue, had been 
placed in authority over both Rosecrans and Thomas. He 
had without the slightest hesitation turned down the former 
and exalted the latter, and yet Thomas, whom he had pre 
ferred, did not receive him cordially. 

I had been busy during the entire day calling upon the 
leading officers, inspecting the army, and studying the situa 
tion at Chattanooga, so as to be prepared to make an intelli 
gent report to General Grant on his arrival. Grant, wet and 
weary, reached town between eight and nine o clock at night, 
and of course went directly to Thomas s headquarters. I 
got in from my work a little later and found the two generals 
seated on the opposite sides of a blazing wood fire, a little 
puddle of water under Grant s chair and his clothes steaming 



166 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

from the heat. They were both silent and grave. Rawlins, 
whom I had shaken hands with as I was going in, was white 
with anger at the cool reception the general and staff had 
received. They had made a long and tiresome ride and were 
soaking wet, but as yet nothing had been done to relieve their 
discomfort. They had found shelter but apparently nothing 
more. Taking in the situation at a glance, I pushed my way 
into the room and after the usual salutations and a few ques 
tions, I spoke substantially as follows: 

"General Thomas, General Grant has been on the road 
two days. His wagons are behind; he is wet and suffering 
from a bruised leg; besides, he is tired and hungry. Can t 
you get him some dry clothes from one of your staff and 
order some supper to be provided for him?" 

This broke the restraint and recalled Thomas, who was 
ordinarily one of the most thoughtful and considerate of 
men, to the duties of hospitality, as well as to the require 
ments of official courtesy. He replied promptly: 

"Of course, I can." 

And calling Willard, his senior aid-de-camp, he gave the 
necessary orders, which, it is needless to add, were cheerfully 
obeyed. Grant was soon clad in dry clothes and called to a 
plain but bountiful supper, during which he listened to my 
report, which was by no means encouraging. As soon as his 
meal was finished he discussed the situation with Thomas 
as quietly as if he had received the heartiest welcome; but it 
is a fact worth recording that neither he nor Rawlins ever 
quite forgot the frigidity of their reception. Rawlins referred 
to it more than once during the subsequent operations about 
Chattanooga. He regarded it as entirely inexcusable, if not 
intentional, and cited the captious conduct of Thomas s 
adjutant general, an old regular officer, perfectly posted in 
all official courtesies, as positive proof that an unjustifiable 
state of irritation and resentment prevailed at Thomas s head 
quarters towards Grant and his staff. I was particularly 



EVENTS IN TENNESSEE 167 

struck by the evidences of it from time to time and have 
referred to it frequently since for the purpose of finding 
a satisfactory explanation of its origin, and of pointing out 
its baneful influence over the subsequent relations of those 
distinguished men. It is admitted by all who knew them 
at that period that they were not sympathetic with each other. 
Perhaps they never became so. They were alike in their 
taciturnity and reserve. Neither was ever effusive or demon 
strative towards even his intimates, and yet both were warm 
hearted and considerate to their closer friends. That they 
were not so towards each other was doubtless due to circum 
stances over which neither had entire control, but which 
concerned them both, and exerted a great influence over events 
in which they were deeply interested. 

Between Grant, Sherman, and McPherson a warm friend 
ship, characterized by perfect cordiality, prevailed from the 
first days of their association. Grant could not do too much 
for either of them. He preferred them over all others for 
honors and command. He considered them as more prompt 
and probably more trustworthy than Thomas, and yet in many 
respects Thomas was the superior of either. He was a man 
of greater deliberation and solidity of judgment, as well as 
a better and more experienced practical soldier, organizer, and 
administrator, than either of them. Indeed, in these respects 
it may well be questioned if he had his superior on either side 
of the Great Conflict. I have elsewhere undertaken to point 
out how personal pride, the consciousness of a blameless life, 
of unfailing success, and of duty always well performed, on 
the one side, in unconscious contrast with careless habits, 
hard luck, and ill report, even in the face of unusual vic 
tories, on the other side, may have had a tendency to arouse 
a spirit of rivalry and distrust between these great men. After 
all they were only human, and it was but natural that they 
should not understand each other as well as they understood 



i68 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

those with whom they were more frequently and more favor 
ably brought in contact. 

Rawlins. recognized the full significance of these facts and 
exerted all his influence to bring about greater intimacy and a 
more cordial feeling; but while his convictions urged him in 
that direction, the daily intercourse between the Military Di 
vision and Department headquarters was never placed upon an 
entirely satisfactory basis. There was always friction, which 
Rawlins finally resented with such energy as to put an end to 
its open exhibition thereafter. His relations with Thomas 
were always most punctilious, but never intimate. Dana and 
I were the means most depended upon to cultivate friendly re 
lations and to bridge over difficulties. Our success was only 
partial. We succeeded in preventing an open breach, but 
failed to bring about a cordial understanding. 

The plan of operations, the concentration of forces and 
the battle of Missionary Ridge have been so frequently and 
so fully described that further reference to them may well 
be omitted from the life of a subordinate. Rawlins was of 
course at the very focus of information and events. Every 
letter and order sent, as well as every communication re 
ceived, was necessarily known to him, if it did not actually 
pass through his hands. Grant consulted him more fully 
than ever, and the chief of staff did not hesitate to express 
his views whenever he thought it necessary. He did his best 
from the start to hurry up reinforcements, to open shorter 
lines of communication, and to bring forward an adequate 
amount of supplies. Grant and Rawlins had during previous 
campaigns met all the leading officers except W. F. Smith, 
the chief engineer, who had recently come to the Army of 
the Cumberland from the Army of the Potomac. He had 
been at Chattanooga long enough to become familiar with 
the topographical features of the surrounding country, and 
to evolve a plan for opening a direct line of supplies between 
the beleaguered town and the railroad terminus at Bridge- 



EVENTS IN TENNESSEE 169 

port, 30 miles away. That accomplished, he was duly trans 
ferred to Grant s staff as chief engineer, and turned his at 
tention at once to the development of a plan of attack against 
Bragg s position. In this he found himself daily in contact 
with Rawlins, and soon learned to confide fully in him, and 
to depend confidently upon his cooperation. A warm friend 
ship, based upon mutual respect, grew up between them, and 
when the plan of operation was ready for execution, every 
feature of it had the approval not only of Grant but of 
Rawlins. 1 

The features of the country and the condition of the army, 
at the time Grant took command, as well as the preliminary 
movements ordered by him are well described by Rawlins 
in a letter dated Chattanooga, Tenn., November 6, 1863. 

. . . Much of the country between here and Nashville is the 
hardest in appearance and the worst for military operations I 
have ever seen. The fact is, when we reached here the fate of 
this army was suspended by a single thread and that the line of 
its supplies, which was a road leading from Bridgeport through 
the Sequatchie Valley and over the mountains to Chattanooga, a 
distance of sixty miles, the valley road almost without bottom, 
and the mountain road the roughest and steepest of ascent and 
descent ever traversed by army wagons and mules. One riding 
over the road if he did not see with his own eyes that they did 
get over it, would not believe it possible for them to do so. 

Since General Grant s arrival here the distance for wagon 
transportation has been reduced to eight miles, by the moving of 
forces across to the South side of the Tennessee River and forti 
fying all the mountain passes leading to it from below Lookout 
Mountain to Bridgeport and through which the enemy had been 
enabled to pass to the river and cut off its use for transportation 
purposes to us and even prevent our soldiers passing along its 
bank on the North side. This movement of ours was to the 
enemy s perfect surprise, and the next night after it was effected, 
he attempted by a night attack to regain the advantages we had 
wrested from him, but after a severe battle in which we lost in 
killed and wounded full four hundred, he was repulsed, leaving 

1 Wilson s "Life and Services of Major General William F. Smith." 



1 70 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

on the battle-field one hundred and fifty of his dead, many of his 
bad and dangerously wounded and seventy-five well prisoners, 
and full one thousand good Enfield rifles. 

The necessity of this movement had been considered here for 
weeks prior to General Grant s arrival, but until General Rose- 
crans was relieved and General Thomas succeeded him in com 
mand, no steps had been taken to carry it into execution that I 
am aware of. General Thomas immediately on being placed in 
command had issued orders for this purpose which were con 
curred in by General Grant and the necessity of their prompt 
execution urged. The advantages of this new line of communica 
tion and supplies to us, is no less than enabling us to hold Chatta 
nooga, for I have no hesitancy in saying that it would have been 
during the winter almost if not quite out of the question to have 
supplied the army here by the old line. The mules were so poor 
and worn out that they could not in my judgment have made to 
exceed two more trips. Still man determined to do a thing can 
accomplish almost impossibilities and frequently does make prac 
ticable that which seems utterly impracticable. 

The army here under General Thomas is in fine spirits and 
whatever may be its feelings of love and regret for General Rose- 
crans, it evinces no regret at his removal, and is united in accord 
ing to General Thomas the glory of rescuing it from disastrous 
rout and ruin and saving the honor of our arms at Chickamauga. 
Had some other generals, brave, double-starred and high in com 
mand as he, remained upon the field and rallied their broken 
divisions, instead of leaving it for Chattanooga at an unseason 
ably early hour, the Federal and not the rebel army would have 
cared for the wounded and buried the dead of Chickamauga. 

General Gordon Granger shares largely with General Thomas 
in the glory of that terrible conflict. Between a quarter and half 
past one o clock p. M. after the second day s battles of Chicka 
mauga, three divisions or near that, of Crittenden s and McCook s 
corps were routed by the enemy and our lines broken, and by four 
o clock p. M V of the same day, Generals Rosecrans, McCook and 
Crittenden had got safely back to Chattanooga, a distance of full 
twelve miles from the field of battle. 

We are expecting General Sherman s forces here by Monday 
or Tuesday of next week. On their arrival you may expect to 
hear news of importance from this section or field of operations. 
We are now secure or at least in apparent security against getting 



EVENTS IN TENNESSEE 171 

out of supplies, and if we can so dispose of our troops as to 
secure General Burnside s in East Tennessee against an attack 
in overwhelming numbers from the enemy, shall feel we have 
accomplished a great deal. Every energy is being put forward to 
this end and I feel certain we will succeed. 

General Grant is a quiet, brave and energetic commander, with 
his eye ever on the foe and watching his movements, with a view 
to taking advantage of any misstep or weak point he may dis 
cover. He is not of those who constantly write letters and issue 
proclamations and keep their eyes half turned and their ears half 
listening to see and hear what the people back home are writing 
or saying of them, and in such predicament lose the successes 
they otherwise might obtain, and sink out of sight in oblivious 
waves when they might have been enthroned in fame s temple 
had the one purpose of defeating the foe only possessed them. 

Whether it be called luck or military ability to which is at 
tributed General Grant s successes, I have but little care, so that 
the same successes that have thus far attended him desert him 
not in this, his new field of operations. . . . 

After Hooker s preliminary movements against Lookout 
Mountain, and Sherman s across the Tennessee against the 
end of Missionary Ridge, Grant, Thomas, Granger, Smith, 
Rawlins, Dana, and many staff officers took post on Orchard 
Knob to witness the operations of the day. It was expected 
that Sherman would carry Tunnel Hill and the right of 
Bragg s army, supported by Howard s corps to his immediate 
right, by Hooker s movement against Bragg s extreme left 
at Rossville, and finally by Thomas with the Army of the 
Cumberland at the centre. But Sherman found the enemy 
strongly posted, and instead of driving back and doubling 
up or taking in reverse Bragg s right wing, he suffered a 
severe repulse, which seemed to paralyze his efforts and to 
discourage his subordinates. The day was wearing away 
with but little promise of victory. A feeling of anxiety and 
doubt began to show itself. Grant s face became overclouded. 
Thomas was taciturn and silent. Gordon Granger alone was 



172 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

noisy in directing the work of a field battery nearby. Smith, 
Rawlins, and Wilson, perceiving that a deadlock had been 
reached, put their heads together in conference as to what 
should be done. The orders issued the night before con 
templated an advance from the centre when it should become 
apparent that Sherman had carried or turned the enemy s 
right, and Hooker had turned his left, but by noon, or shortly 
after, it was painfully evident that the double contingency 
had not arisen, and that something else must be done. The 
deadlock was distressingly evident, but neither could sug 
gest anything more promising than a demonstration from 
the centre against Bragg s advanced entrenchments at the 
foot of the Ridge; and accordingly it was decided that Raw 
lins should urge this movement upon Grant. Concurring 
fully in this conclusion, he stepped up to Grant, and in a 
low voice made the suggestion ; whereupon Grant walked over 
to Thomas several steps away and in a conversational tone 
said: 

"Don t you think it is about time to order your troops to 
advance against the enemy s first line of rifle pits?" 

To this Thomas made no reply whatever so far as could 
be heard, but stood silent with uplifted glasses, scanning the 
enemy s position on the ridge, in plain view, just beyond the 
range of our artillery, across the intervening fields and open 
country. He was evidently in doubt. So far as the eye could 
determine there was nothing to indicate the slightest success 
in Sherman s front, and so the deadlock continued. Our little 
group became more and more serious as time passed slowly 
on. Minutes seemed like hours. Granger kept up the noisy 
fire of his battery and this added to the annoyance and the 
embarrassment of the situation. Our group grew still more 
impatient, and finally at or about three o clock, Rawlins 
again pressed Grant to issue a positive order, and this he 
did with a firmness and decision which brought the desired 



EVENTS IN TENNESSEE 173 

result. 2 Grant, who had by this time also become thoroughly 
aroused, turned to Thomas, who was only a few feet away 
and had doubtless heard all that had passed between the 
General and his Chief of Staff, and with a blazing face and 
an expression of unusual determination, said: 

"General Thomas, order Granger to turn that battery over 
to its proper commander and take command of his own 
corps." After a pause, he added in the same tone of au 
thority: "And now order your troops to advance and take 
the enemy s first line of rifle pits." 

There was no longer room for doubt or hesitation. As 
was his duty, Grant had taken the entire responsibility and 
given a positive order which could not be disobeyed. So long 
as the discretion was left with Thomas, he stood silent. Even 
now he made no reply, but turning at once to Granger, he 
ordered him to his corps, and then coolly despatched his aids- 
de-camp with orders for a general advance. Sheridan, John 
son, Wood and Baird, whose divisions were waiting im 
patiently for orders, moved out with the promptitude and 
precision of a parade. Without the slightest hesitation, they 
rushed against the enemy with irresistible force. In full 
sight of all the generals they swept over the long line of rifle 
trench at the foot of the hill, and without halt or pause, 
pushed on towards the summit. This was more than any 
one expected. It was a voluntary impulse of the fighting line, 
doubtless due largely to the slight resistance it had en 
countered at the enemy s outlying defences. It was inex 
plicable at the time, but it is now known that Bragg made 
the fatal mistake of dividing his force between the entrench- 

2 S. Cadwallader of the New York Herald, in his manuscript "Four 
Years with Grant," says: 

It is due to General Rawlins, Chief of Staff, to state that upon this 
occasion, as upon that of all Grant s great campaigns, he is unquestionably 
entitled to one-half the praise for the strategy. Tactical successes were 
due to others, but no general or broad plan of campaign, or pitched battle, 
was ever adopted by General Grant without the unqualified assent and 
approval of Rawlins. The latter was his only military confidant and often 
originated many of the most successful operations. 



174 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ments at the top and those at the bottom of the Ridge, and 
in directing the troops at the bottom to deliver their fire, when 
the Unioa advance should get within 200 yards, and then 
to retire to the works above. 3 This order was carried out 
literally, but the officers standing on Orchard Knob, including 
Grant and Thomas, all thought that the upward rush of our 
troops was a mistake which would end in disaster, and there 
were muttered predictions to that effect in plenty, but as it 
turned out all fears were groundless. Once under way up 
the steep hillside, officers and men vied with one another 
till the summit was reached and the victory won. Grant, 
seeing that his men had broken the enemy s line and dis 
appeared over the crest, mounted and went forward with 
his staff to the top and across the ridge, till at nightfall he 
came up with Sheridan s advance beyond the Chickamauga. 
His example was followed by Thomas, who took a road to 
the right, and had Sherman thrown his troops rapidly for 
ward along the ridge or, better still, behind it, Bragg s army 
should have been taken in flank or rear and captured or 
destroyed that night. 

The victory was an overwhelming one, but, as has been 
seen, while it was gained by movements which had been 
previously ordered, the vital blow was struck by Thomas and 
not by Sherman, as was intended, and what is still more 
singular, the immediate impulse to deliver this blow had its 
origin with Grant s staff, and was not struck till Grant him 
self assumed the entire responsibility and gave a positive 
order to put Thomas s troops in motion. It is but simple 
justice to add that while another might have given that im 
pulse later, Rawlins actually gave it at the time and in the 
manner which I have described. 

In just fifty-five minutes from the time the national ad 
vance began from the centre both the rifle pits at the foot of 
the hill and the crest of Missionary Ridge had been carried, 
3 "Military Memoirs of a Confederate," by E. P. Alexander, p. 476 et seq. 



EVENTS IN TENNESSEE 175 

the enemy s centre had been broken and swept away and his 
whole army had been compelled to retreat, leaving many 
guns and prisoners in the hands of the victors. Bragg, who 
was unaccountably slow in realizing the extent of the dis 
aster, had scarcely time to make his own escape. It is now 
certain that if Sherman had been as vigilant and aggressive 
as was expected of him, this would have been impossible, or 
if Grant had had an efficient force of cavalry on his left 
flank, or could have foreseen the certainty and extent of 
Thomas s success, and the timeliness of Hooker s turning 
movement by the roundabout way of Rossville, the Confed 
erate General and the greater part of his army must surely 
have been captured. As it was, the defeat was overwhelming 
and almost fatal to the Confederate cause. 

Grant s fame now became world-wide. All honor and 
credit were ascribed to him. No one else was considered. 
He was the one general of the Union army who always 
triumphed over the enemy, who was charged with no fail 
ures, and had nothing but victories to his credit. 

By the time he had made the necessary dispositions to drive 
the enemy further from his front and from East Tennessee, 
winter was upon him and general operations came to a stand 
still. After calling for the reports of subordinates, and taking 
measures for the completion of his own records, Grant de 
cided, about January i, to visit Knoxville in East Tennessee 
for the purpose of acquainting himself with the military 
situation in that quarter. Becoming convinced by the infor 
mation gathered on the trip that the enemy would not seri 
ously endeavor to hold that region, after tarrying a few days 
he continued his journey by horseback with his staff through 
Cumberland Gap to Frankfort and Lexington, and thence 
by rail to Nashville, where he established his headquarters 
for the rest of the winter. 

Meanwhile Rawlins, who had taken what was at first be 
lieved to be nothing worse than a severe cold due to exposure 



176 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

and hardship, availed himself of the lull which followed 
our victory to take leave of absence for the benefit of his 
health and for the additional purpose of getting married. 
On his return to duty, about the middle of January, he began 
the work of editing and completing Grant s official report of 
the great campaign. As was his custom the General, relying 
almost entirely upon his memory, wrote out with his own 
hand a simple but comprehensive narrative of events, which 
he then turned over to Rawlins as the frame-work or guide 
for the full and accurate report which was sent afterwards 
to the War Department. In such work as this, Rawlins, aided 
by Bowers, as usual, was singularly capable. He spared no 
pains to test, reconcile and elaborate every statement and 
inference. With fidelity to the truth, without prejudice or 
conscious bias in favor of any one, he strove to get at the 
facts, and to relate them always just as they occurred. His 
training as a lawyer and his habit of gathering and stating 
evidence, so as to bring out the truth and do equal and exact 
justice to all, gave to his work unusual accuracy and value. 
Grant relied absolutely upon it ; and it is but just to add that 
never in any instance is he known to have overruled Rawlins, 
or changed his account of a controverted point. It is for 
this reason that Grant s official reports, which from Bel- 
mont to Appomattox, either as first submitted or afterwards, 
passed through Rawlins s hands and received the benefit of 
his investigations, have withstood criticism so successfully. 
Indeed, it may be safely said that no official reports, whether 
referring to the American Civil War or to any other war, 
were ever framed with a more scrupulous regard to the truth, 
whether resting upon personal statement or embodied in the 
subordinate reports, than were those of Grant. If any of 
them contain misleading statements or false inferences, it 
should be assumed that it was because they were not verified 
by Rawlins, or because the facts on which they were based 
were not fully or accurately known at the time. 



EVENTS IN TENNESSEE 177 

This is particularly the case in reference to the operations 
ending with the battle of Missionary Ridge. I pointed out 
to Rawlins when he was preparing the final report, that 
Sherman and not Thomas should have won that battle, by 
doubling up and crushing Bragg s right wing or by falling 
on his rear. While both Grant and IRawlins claimed that 
Sherman had met with unexpected resistance, and thought 
that I was hypercritical, they stoutly maintained that his 
operations had compelled the enemy on the day of the battle 
to so weaken his left and center by withdrawing troops from 
them and sending them to his right for the purpose of re 
sisting Sherman s advance, that it made it correspondingly 
easy for Thomas to break through the center. As before 
stated, Grant and Sherman died in that belief, and it may be 
now asserted with equal confidence, that the same was true 
of Rawlins. It should be added that this view of the matter 
is supported by the official reports of such of the Union gen 
erals as touched upon that point. All shared in that delu 
sion, and it was not till long after the close of the war that 
it became certainly known that Stevenson s Confederate divi 
sion was transferred the day before, and that no troops what 
ever were moved from any part of Bragg s line on the day 
of the battle to resist the advance of Sherman s column 
against the Confederate right. Without these facts, the 
weight of testimony was all in favor of the Sherman con 
tention and of the conclusion adopted by Grant and Rawlins, 
as well as by Badeau afterwards, in the "Personal History of 
Ulysses S. Grant." 

It was apparent to every officer on Orchard Knob, at the 
time, that Sherman had not carried the enemy s position at 
Tunnell Hill, but had been repulsed, while Thomas, who was 
ordered to take the enemy s rifle trench at the foot of Mis 
sionary Ridge, rather as a demonstration in Sherman s favor 
than as a positive attack, had, much to the surprise of every 
body, not only carried the rifle trench but had swept up the 



178 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ridge and over its crest, breaking through the enemy s line 
and driving him in confusion down the slopes and across the 
Chickamauga beyond. In spite of all this, Sherman, who 
really failed, received a larger share of praise than Thomas, 
who succeeded beyond all expectation, and this fact inevitably 
tended to intensify, rather than to end, the feeling of estrange 
ment between Thomas and Grant. 

There is not the slightest doubt that both Grant and Rawlins 
believed that they had seen the enemy moving along the crest 
of Missionary Ridge on the day of battle, to his right towards 
Sherman, and were entirely honest in their convictions that 
Sherman, who had promised so much and performed so little, 
was entitled to greater praise than Thomas, who had promised 
nothing but performed much. Such is frequently the case in 
military as well as in civil life, and the lesson to be drawn 
from it is that a cheerful and confident demeanor is an asset 
of real value to the soldier as well as to the man of affairs. 

To the military reader it will of course occur that Sher 
man s threatening position on the enemy s right flank, not 
withstanding the fact that all his attacks had been repulsed, 
may have exerted a powerful influence towards weakening 
Bragg s defence when he saw his centre seriously assailed. 
Knowing, as he must have know r n, that the united forces of 
Sherman and Howard on his right, aided by Hooker on 
his left, if vigorously handled, must prevail in the end, and 
would in that case imperil his retreat, it was perhaps natural 
under the circumstances that he should remain somewhat in 
doubt and fail to put up as stout a defence against Thomas 
as he should have done. At all events, his resistance was 
comparatively feeble, and although he inflicted heavy loss 
on his gallant assailants and delayed his retreat to the last 
minute, he succeeded in withdrawing from his entrenchments 
with insignificant loss except in artillery. 

In considering the results of this battle, it should not be 
forgotten that the weight of numbers and resources, not with- 



EVENTS IN TENNESSEE 179 

standing the extraordinary natural strength of Bragg s posi 
tion, was hopelessly against him, and therefore his retreat, 
even before the battle, would have been both prudent and 
justifiable. 

The detachment of Longstreet for a campaign against 
Burnside in East Tennessee in the face of the reinforcements 
coming from both East and West to strengthen the national 
forces, was according to all military rules a fatal mistake 
on the part of the Confederate leader, though it may be 
doubted that he could have held his advanced position for any 
great time even with Longstreet s help. 

The great national victory won in front of Chattanooga 
was from every point of view the legitimate outcome of the 
broad and comprehensive policy which the Government on 
the heels of a great calamity, had been forced to adopt. The 
overwhelming concentration of men and materials which 
followed was a striking tribute not only to the soundness 
of the policy which Grant had always advocated, but to the 
success which had always attended his operations. He was 
the rising man of the Union army. Without pretension or 
parade, he was making successful campaigns and winning 
great victories, while both the Administration and the coun 
try were wondering how he did it. There was but little in 
his despatches or his reports throwing light upon the sub 
ject. There was no mention of "grand tactics" or of 
"strategy." They said nothing whatever about "organizing 
victory," and as for "logistics/ it may well be doubted that 
either Grant or Rawlins ever heard the word or had the 
slightest conception of its meaning. And yet there was no 
great mystery in their methods. They were plain, straight 
forward, earnest, and patriotic men, working together with 
all their faculties as though they were but one. There was 
no friction between them, no jealousy, no suspicion, and no 
misunderstanding. The combination was complete. Grant 
was the experienced, unpretending, educated soldier, while 



i8o LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Rawlins the civilian, was his complement and ad latus, rather 
than "the power behind the throne." 

It adde.d greatly to Grant s strength that he had the habit 
of absorbing the thoughts and suggestions of others, and 
incorporating them with his own without showing the slight 
est false pride or jealousy. There was nothing small or mean 
in his makeup. Conscious of his own needs and shortcomings 
and of the inability of any man to think of everything or to 
do everything, he welcomed assistance from every quarter, 
and never lost an opportunity to reward or secure promotion 
for those who had contributed to his success. No general 
was ever more approachable than he, and neither the records 
nor the recollections of the times will reveal the slightest 
evidence that he ever harbored a feeling of resentment 
towards Rawlins for plain speaking or plain writing. 

As for Rawlins, no one can read his letter of June 6, 1863,* 
or his references to the same subject at various other later 
dates without realizing that he felt himself constantly in 
the presence of a great danger, and while it is possible that 
he may have magnified that danger and underestimated the 
strength of his chief, it is certain that he did not think so 
and was absolutely faithful and fearless in performing what 
he conceived to be his duty in respect to it. For this, and 
for the lofty virtues he always displayed, he enjoyed the 
respect and confidence of every officer of rank and char 
acter who had the good fortune to know him. So long as he 
remained at his post, no one doubted the success of Grant, 
or of the army he commanded. 

4 Ante, pp. 128, 129. 



XI 



CHANGES IN RANK AND DUTIES 

Grant Made Lieutenant General Rawlins Chief of Staff Cor 
respondence of Grant s Headquarters with Army of the Poto 
mac Rawlins Strongly Approves. 

SHORTLY after the Chattanooga and East Tennessee cam 
paigns, and the establishment of headquarters at Nashville, 
I was relieved from Grant s staff and ordered to Washington 
for temporary duty, in the War Department as Chief of 
the Cavalry Bureau. Before leaving, I had participated in 
all the discussions which took place between Grant, Rawlins, 
and W. F. Smith in regard to the future conduct of the war 
in the South and Southwest. I was familiar with every plan 
that had been considered, and naturally hoped to be per 
mitted to take part in such active operations as might be 
finally agreed upon. I therefore regarded this detail for 
duty in the War Department at first as likely to deprive me of 
further field service, but was reassured by the information 
that it was understood between General Grant and the Secre 
tary of War that my detail would last not longer than six 
weeks or two months, and that I should return to the field 
in time for the spring campaign. 

On my arrival at Washington I found that public atten 
tion had been so concentrated on Grant and his wonderful 
successes that his assignment to the chief command of our 
armies in the field had already become inevitable. The only 
question open was what rank he should have, and when the 
assignment should be made. At that time the highest grade 
known in the army was that of Major General, and although 

181 



182 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

the President was by law authorized to assign officers of that 
rank to the command of armies or army-corps, without refer 
ence to seniority, this proviso was not thought to be sufficient, 
either as a means of authority or as a reward for such suc 
cesses as those gained by Grant. It was therefore suggested 
that the grade of Lieutenant General should be revived, and 
that it should be bestowed upon Gran along with the com 
mand of all our armies, but the measure did not at once 
receive the approval of the Government. At the instance 
of an official press agent, then feeling the public pulse for 
the first time, the newspapers discussed the subject both 
favorably and unfavorably. Congress was slow to commit 
itself, but the bill to carry the measure into effect was intro 
duced by Mr. Washburne and received his untiring advocacy 
from the start. The more it was discussed the more popular 
it became. Dana, fresh from Chattanooga and from an 
intimate association with Grant and his staff, gave it his 
approval, and when I arrived in Washington early in Feb 
ruary, 1864, I found it to be the absorbing theme of every 
discussion. Although but recently appointed a brigadier 
general, it was known that I had participated in Grant s great 
est campaigns, and had been honored by his confidence. It 
was therefore thought that my knowledge of his character 
and methods might be valuable and I was freely consulted 
both by senators and members of the House of Representa 
tives, as to the advisability of creating the new rank and 
bestowing it upon Grant. In these consultations, as well as 
in frequent conferences, both Dana and I took ground in 
favor of the proposed legislation. 

I wrote fully both to Rawlins and W. F. Smith, suggest 
ing among other things that the winter had been spent by 
the Washington authorities in waiting for something to turn 
up; that Halleck, who was generally regarded as wise and 
well informed, was, in fact, selfish and timid ; that there was 
but little hope of a vigorous policy while the General-in- 



CHANGES IN RANK AND DUTIES 183 

Chief, the Secretary of War, and the President were all pull 
ing in different directions, or while one was pulling forward 
and the others refusing to pull at all. Notwithstanding 
Grant s great victory in the West, military operations had 
everywhere come to a standstill, and each of the great leaders 
of the Government was apparently trying to shift the responsi 
bility to the other. So long as that condition continued the 
chances for ultimate victory rested merely upon "main 
strength and awkwardness," which was the phrase of the 
day. 

A more comprehensive policy was necessary. It was use 
less for any one to suggest plans for the reorganization of 
the army, or for carrying on campaigns till military affairs 
could be placed under a competent head. Accordingly, I 
wrote Rawlins in part as follows : 

... To be plain General Grant must be Lieutenant General 
and General-in-Chief of all our armies. He is the only really 
successful man the war has brought to the front. Everybody 
here acknowledges it, and is willing to trust him and the bill cre 
ating the grade should be put through as soon as possible. There 
can be no doubt of this, and if the General has any scruples, he 
must simply lay them aside. He owes Halleck nothing, either 
personally or officially, but the country everything. . . . 

When called to the head of the army he can put forward whom 
he may choose, direct all the armies in unison, and go hereafter 
as heretofore wherever the danger is greatest. With his honest 
heart, his clear head and unselfish intentions, there can be no 
doubt of the ultimate result. He will not be required to remain 
at Washington. Halleck can be kept there. . . . 

In this letter I referred also to the demands which were 
now coming from the politicians and the public press for 
Grant s nomination to the Presidency. As these were obvi 
ously premature, and for the greater part from men who were 
out of patience with the Administration, or who distrusted its 
willingness to allow any subordinate a free hand, I took ground 
not only against his nomination at that time but against his 



184 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

writing political letters or taking any part in the politics of 
the country. I felt, besides, that it was unfair that Mr. 
Lincoln should be confronted by our only successful general 
in his campaign for reelection, and that it might be well for 
Grant to let it be known in some authoritative way that he 
would not allow his name to be used for any such purpose. 
Fortunately both Rawlins and Smith concurred in the main 
with these opinions, and after reading my letters to Grant, 
Rawlins wrote me from Nashville with unusual fullness, on 
March 3, 1864, as follows: 

. . . While sympathizing with you in the desire for harmony 
and the greatest attainable unanimity of action possible on the 
part of the people in the coming Presidential election, I cannot 
see a better course for us than that we have hitherto pursued, 
viz., attend strictly to our duties as soldiers, leaving the manage 
ment and conduct of the canvass for the election of Chief Magis 
trate and civil officers to the people at home. This will not debar 
those in the service who desire to do so, from expressing their 
choice through the ballot box, when from States in which pro 
vision has been made for such expression, by law. Unanimity of 
action on the part of all connected with the military arm of 
Government, in the one and sole purpose of destroying the armies 
of the Rebellion and in non-interference with civil matters, will 
in my judgment tend more to secure the desired harmony and 
unity of action in the coming election than all other influences 
combined. It will give to the masses an earnest of our sincerity, 
confidence in the ability of the Government to establish and main 
tain its supremacy throughout the revolted States, and leave 
powerless the argument of "danger from the military to our 
Democratic institutions," and by those opposed to coercion, to 
excite their prejudices. 

I cannot conceive how the use of General Grant s name in con 
nection with the Presidency can result in harm to him or our 
cause, for if there is a man in the United States who is unam 
bitious of such honor, it is certainly he, yet the matter is not in 
such a shape as to justify him in writing a letter declining to be a 
candidate for the Presidency. The nomination for the office has 
not been tendered him by the people ; nor has it by either of the 



CHANGES IN RANK AND DUTIES 185 

great political parties or any portion thereof. . . . To write a 
letter of declination now, would place him much in the position of 
the old maid who had never had an offer declaring she "would 
never marry ;" besides it would be by many construed into a 
modest way of getting his name before the country in connection 
with the office, having, as he always has, avoided public notice or 
newspaper talk relating to him. 

His letter to the Democratic Committee of the State of Ohio, 
he says was written in the strictest confidence and he wishes it 
still to be so considered. Any use of it by his friends would, if 
known and that it would be known scarcely admits of a doubt 
remove from it the curtain of privacy and might give occasion 
for discussing it in the public press which of all things you know 
he would most avoid ; hence I do not send it. 1 

The Hsonorable E. B. Washburne I am sure is not in favor 
of Grant for the Presidency. He is for Mr. Lincoln, and if he 
has made use of the language imputed to him, it has been to 
further the passage of his Lieutenant-Generalcy bill; nothing 
more I am certain. This is my own opinion. That Washburne 
should seemingly arrogate to himself the exclusive championship 
of the General, is not at all strange when we reflect upon the fact 
that two years ago he was the only man in Congress who had a 
voice of condemnation for the General s maligners. His defence 
of Grant aided to keep him in his position and enabled him to 
achieve the successes that have placed him first in the World s 
History as a military man, and secured for him the gratitude of 
his countrymen. Grant cannot neglect writing to him, but of 
course should be guarded in what he writes him as well as in 
what he writes others. One in the General s position can scarcely 
write a private letter that in any manner touches upon passing 
events, because of the eagerness of every one to give to the public 
that which they so easily conceive to belong to it, coming as it 
does from one to whom all look to dispel the dark clouds of war 
that have drenched our land with blood, and reveal to their longing 
eyes the bright sky of peace beyond. 

I am glad to know you are getting along so well with your 
new duties. Of one thing we here were certain that you would 
bring to the discharge of them an honesty and an energy of pur 
pose that would awe and keep off those who would by undue and 
corrupt influences, seek advantages against the Government. 

1 The copy of this letter I have never seen. 



i86 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

When we consider the immensity of the cavalry arm of the serv 
ice and its immediate necessities, then and then only, can we, 
anything like properly, estimate the importance of your Bureau 
and the many difficulties to be overcome by you in the successful 
management of it. All here, Wilson, wish you the greatest suc 
cess. Department commanders were directed to send names for 
the inspectors you telegraphed for; all have not yet responded. 
The suggestions in your letter to W. S. Smith, Chief of Cavalry, 
are being attended to. As soon as the necessary reports are in 
from which a correct estimate of the General s cavalry force can 
be made, and the numbers not mounted or armed ascertained, to 
the extent of such unmounted and unarmed cavalry, the General 
proposes to dismount the mounted infantry, armed with cavalry 
arms, and turn their horses over to the cavalry. In this manner 
he hopes with what you can do for him to at least secure mounts 
and arms for all his cavalry. 

Sherman s expedition via Meridian towards Central Alabama 
is the subject of most interest at present. The last information 
deemed reliable, from him since the rebel papers speak of his 
being at Quitman, on the railroad South of Meridian, is to the 
effect that he had reached Demopolis, East of Meridian, which if 
true removes all apprehensions as to his success and safety. The 
repairing of the damage he will do the railroads, will be to the 
enemy the work of months, saying nothing of their losses in 
negroes, horses, mules and supplies. The expedition under Gen 
eral W. S. Smith, Chief of Cavalry, which started from Memphis 
with a view to forming a junction at or near Meridian with Sher 
man, has returned to the neighborhood of Memphis. This we 
learn by despatch from General Butterfield. No report has yet 
been received from General Smith. I therefore refrain from 
comments. He has been ordered South again. Longstreet is 
evidently abandoning East Tennessee with the greater part of his 
forces and this is caused in no little degree by the movements of 
Sherman. He will perhaps, with a few troops, try to hold Hol- 
ston Valley, from some safe point to cover the salt works in 
Virginia. Thomas s recent move against Dalton had the effect 
of making the enemy recall several thousand troops he had started 
against Sherman. 

The Lieutenant-Generalcy bill has I suppose become a law ere 
this. That General Grant will be appointed to that grade, if any 
one, I suppose there is no doubt. With his honest patriotism, 



CHANGES IN RANK AND DUTIES 187 

good common sense, great military ability and experience, and 
the unexampled success that has thus far attended him we may 
hope high for the future of our country. To merit by acts, not 
words, and receive the Lieutenant Generalcy of the armies of the 
United States, is to be more than President. Let the General 
but continue to be himself as now and heretofore, giving no public 
heed although not unmindful of them, to the censures or praises 
of the press, and there will have lived few men who have secured 
so bright a fame. Military not civic honors best bedeck the 
soldier s brow. 

The General is very anxious about the confirmation of some of 
the Generals appointed in his command, among them your own. 
He has written a letter to General Halleck on the subject and put 
your name among the first four. 

Captain Badeau is here ; we welcome him to our military fam 
ily, appreciate him for his high and gentlemanly bearing and 
sympathize with him in his misfortune. He is recovering, how 
ever, and will I hope soon be able to lay aside his crutches. We 
expect you to be back with us by the opening of the spring cam 
paign. Your horses are in fine condition. No one uses them ex 
cept the Engineer Department and that not often I believe. 
Your boy reports regularly to me pursuant to your directions. 
He dislikes much to have the horses used and I don t blame him. 
If you wish it I will let no one have them. Hope of W. F. 
Smith s promotion seems to be waning. You perhaps know more 
about this. 

General Grant s official report of the battle of Chattanooga has 
gone forward. It is full and complete, written in his usual happy, 
narrative style, void of pomposity or parade. . . . 

It is known that the President had serious apprehensions 
in reference to Grant s political affiliations and ambitions from 
the date of his surprising success at Vicksburg, and shortly 
afterwards, to satisfy himself, sent for their common friend, 
J. Russell Jones of Galena, then United States Marshal at 
Chicago. Jones, who had visited headquarters at Vicksburg, 
and became convinced that Grant had no political aspirations, 
was enabled to allay the President s fears for the present, but 
only to see them aroused again by the extraordinary success 



188 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

of Chattanooga. 2 To an active politician like Lincoln, it was 
scarcely conceivable that any man, whether soldier or civilian, 
with such a chance as was now within Grant s reach, should 
not seize upon it ,to go up higher. Other politicians shared 
Lincoln s apprehension; and knowing the intimate relations 
between Grant and Rawlins, such of them as had the oppor 
tunity of seeing the letter from which I have just quoted, did 
not hesitate to say, they regarded it as conclusive. The clear 
and explicit declarations which it contained had a tendency 
to allay apprehension if not to smooth the way for Grant s 
accession to supreme military power, subject of course to 
the President as constitutional commander-in-chief. 

The Senate passed the bill reviving the grade of Lieutenant 
General with only six dissenting votes, while the House of 
Representatives passed it by 96 to 41. It is well known, 
however, that the President used no influence whatever for 
or against it, but as soon as its fate became assured and he 
had given it his approval, he sent for Grant, and the latter, 
accompanied by Rawlins and one or two other staff officers, 
started at once for Washington. He arrived there on March 
8, 1864, and having received his new commission, three days 
thereafter began his return trip to complete arrangements for 
assuming the duties to which the President had assigned him. 

Before starting on this trip to the East, Grant wrote, March 
4, 1864, to Sherman, then near Memphis, notifying him 
of his departure for Washington, informing him that he 
should accept no orders which would require him to make 
that city his headquarters, and extending his thanks to Sher 
man and McPherson as "the men to whom above all others" 
he felt indebted for whatever success he had gained. It is to 
be observed, however, that the context of this letter shows 
delicately, but plainly enough, that the thanks it conveyed to 
his favorite lieutenants were for the energy, skill, and cheer 
fulness with which they had always executed his orders, 

2 Richardson s "Personal History of Ulysses S. Grant," p. 380 et seq. 



CHANGES IN RANK AND DUTIES 189 

rather than for any special advice or valuable suggestions 
they had contributed to the formation of his plans. Sher 
man s reply was dated March 10. It heartily praises Grant s 
"unselfishness, honesty, and simple faith in his success." But 
with surprising frankness, it indicates the existence of a fear 
from the first in Sherman s mind that Grant s ignorance of 
strategy, science, and history, might at any time prove fatal, 
though this fear is qualified by the confession that an un 
usual amount of common sense seems to have so far sup 
plied most of Grant s deficiencies. 

It is apparent, however, that Sherman still had serious 
doubts of Grant s strength and stability of character, as well 
as of his capacity properly to solve the great questions with 
which he would have to deal in the East. This is indicated 
by the following extract from his letter : 

. . . Now as to the future. Do not stay in Washington. . . . 
Come out West; take to yourself the whole Mississippi Valley, 
let us make it dead sure, and I tell you, the Atlantic Slope and 
Pacific shores will follow its destiny, as sure as the limbs of a 
tree live or die with the main trunk. . . . 

Although the purport of this advice could not be mistaken, 
Sherman was evidently not satisfied with the way in which 
he first gave it. Apparently forgetting that the occupation of 
New Orleans, the capture of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, and 
the overwhelming defeat of Bragg in front of Chattanooga 
had practically ended the war in the Mississippi Valley, he 
changed the form, if not the substance, of his exhortation, as 
follows : 

. . . For God s sake and for your country s sake, come out of 
Washington. I foretold to General Halleck before he left Corinth 
the inevitable result to him, and I now exhort you to come out 
West. Here is the seat of the coming empire, and from the West, 
when our task is done, we will make short work of Charleston 
and Richmond and the impoverished coast of the Atlantic.* 

3 For this correspondence in full, see Sherman s "Memoirs," Vol. i, 
pp. 398-400. 



IQO LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

It is known that most of Grant s trusted subordinates 
shared Sherman s apprehensions. Indeed such apprehensions 
were somewhat widespread at the time, but how far they 
were based upon distrust of Grant s ability to protect himself 
against jealousy and intrigue, rather than upon a misappre 
hension of the obligations imposed upon him by his new rank, 
to meet Lee and the veteran army of Northern Virginia on 
the field of battle must forever remain a question of doubt. 
But there can be no doubt that those who favored the cour 
ageous course, which Grant actually adopted, did so as much 
because of their confidence in Rawlins s influence and inflex 
ible character, as in Grant s superior courage, constancy, and 
generalship. 

It will be remembered that Grant had recently recom 
mended W. F. Smith or Sherman for the command of the 
Army of the Potomac, but this was before the bestowal of 
the new office of Lieutenant General, and the President s 
orders placed upon him the actual duty of deciding what 
should be done in all such cases. The change in his own 
fortunes and duties was a radical one. His new responsibili 
ties were coextensive with the military operations of the 
country, and could not be lightly limited to a sectional com 
mand. Fortunately neither Grant nor Rawlins was moved 
by Sherman s earnest appeal to "come out West." They 
seemed to recognize from the first that the country s greatest 
danger and consequently its greatest military task lay in the 
Eastern theatre of war. There was the Confederate Capital, 
and there was "the foremost Army of the Confederacy under 
the Confederacy s foremost leader." Lee had beaten Mc- 
Clellan, Hooker, and Burnside. He had bafHed Meade, and 
although he had retreated from Gettysburg, he still barred 
the way to Richmond, with a confident and almost invincible 
array of veteran soldiers. Manifestly so long as that army 
remained unbroken, the country must remain divided against 
itself. Rawlins saw all this as plainly as any man could 



CHANGES IN RANK AND DUTIES 191 

see it, and realizing that Congress must have created, and the 
President must have bestowed the rank of Lieutenant General 
upon Grant the better to clothe him with power for a trial 
of prowess and leadership with Lee and his gallant followers, 
steadily opposed the advice of all who begged him to "come 
out West" and rightly favored the establishment of head 
quarters in the field with the Army of the Potomac. So 
far as can now be ascertained, Grant s only objection to going 
East was based upon the possible requirement that he should 
remain in Washington as Halleck had, where he would have 
been subject to the criticism and intrigue of the politicians. 
The danger of this course was doubtless in Sherman s mind 
from the first and may have been the main influence which 
impelled him to urge Grant so strenuously to return to the 
West and complete the subjugation of the Mississippi Valley. 
It is said that when he knew Grant was not to remain in Wash 
ington, but was going to make his headquarters in the field 
and cast his lot in with the Army of the Potomac, h^gave 
this determination his unqualified approval. But it must be 
observed that this was not till Grant himself had decided the 
question irrevocably and had made it known that Sherman 
would succeed to the chief command in the Western theatre 
of operations. 

Where Grant, the Lieutenant General and chief commander 
of the loyal armies in the field, should place himself for the 
performance of the new duties devolving upon him, was one 
of the great questions of the day. Opinions differed widely 
as to its solution. Many besides Sherman thought that the 
new General-in-Chief should give his personal supervision to 
the completion of the campaign in the West. Others thought 
it would be better for him to remain in Washington to cor 
relate and direct the movement of our widely scattered forces. 
Even the President himself may have held this view, but 
Rawlins, whose judgment in regard to such questions acted 
with the certainty of instinct, was never for a moment in 



192 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

doubt. He held with Washburne, Dana, myself, and other 
close friends of Grant, that the new commission not only 
placed him in an independent position, where he was free to 
act on his own judgment, but carried with it a supreme and im 
perative duty resting solely upon himself. Manifestly this 
duty could neither be divided nor delegated to another. 
Fortunately the two stood together in choosing the right 
course and when it was crowned with success and the victori 
ous soldier had become a candidate for the Presidency, it was 
well and forcibly said, and Rawlins approved the saying, that 
Grant could no more have declined the trial with Lee . . . 

without injuring his fame and weakening his power to com 
mand, than the country could have afforded to allow its life- 
blood and treasure to be fruitlessly wasted at the hands of 
incompetent and irresolute generals. He realized too truly the 
significance of his new rank and the task imposed upon him by 
his countrymen to permit himself to be turned from this duty 
either by the difficulties and dangers attending it or by the so 
licitations of devoted but misjudging friends. 4 

4 Dana and Wilson s "Life of Grant," pp. 168-9. 



XII 



THE NEW FIELD 

Enlarged Staff Rawlins Advocates New Policies Letters to 
His Wife Culpepper C. H. Influence on Plan of Operations. 

ON March 23, 1864, Lieutenant General Grant reached 
Washington with Rawlins and six members of his Western 
volunteer staff. There was not one regular officer among 
them, but the duties of Grant s new position, with all the 
additional work it imposed upon him, made an increase of 
his staff absolutely necessary, and, naturally enough, he se 
lected regular officers. Colonel Comstock, a learned, digni 
fied, and experienced officer of the regular engineers, who 
had served with him as chief engineer of the Army of the 
Tennessee, and afterwards as inspector general of the Mili 
tary Division, was naturally assigned to the new staff as 
senior aid-de-camp. Horace Porter, captain of ordnance, 
and Orville E. Babcock, captain of engineers, were also se 
lected as aids-de-camp. Neither had served on Grant s staff, 
but largely on my introduction and recommendation, they 
were both chosen and through the interposition of Dana, 
who had met them in the field, both were finally allowed to 
accept the promotion and assignment which had been offered 
them. These young officers were honor graduates of West 
Point, of excellent character, and first-class ability each in his 
own line; but they- were to a certain extent new men, unac 
quainted with Grant or his methods, and without special sym 
pathy for officers from civil life. They had but little acquaint 
ance with Rawlins, or with Grant, for that matter, and were 
naturally slow to acknowledge the real merit of the former, or 



194 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

to comprehend the reasons for his extraordinary influence 
over their common chief. They doubtless did whatever work 
fell to tfreir lot to the very best of their ability, but even in 
the fiercest campaign the busiest officer finds time for rest and 
for social intercourse with his fellow officers from the general 
down. 

Grant, it should be remembered, was entirely free from all 
affectation of superiority, and habitually treated his staff on 
the regular army theory that "gentlemen are all of the same 
grade." He regarded them as his companions and social 
equals, and while he rarely ever consulted them in reference 
to policies or plans, he never repressed their efforts to help 
or repelled their informal expression of opinion. He was 
both kindly and impressionable, and, like other great men, 
more or less unconsciously absorbed the views and yielded 
to the influences of such of those about him as he liked and 
respected. 

As has been seen in the course of this narrative, Rawlins, 
who in a military sense had grown up with the successful 
general, and knew him better than any one else, did not hesi 
tate even in the new and greater field to give his views and 
advice whenever he thought the occasion called for them ; but 
it is not to be denied that with the advent of new officers and 
new conditions, he grew more reserved. It was both natural 
and proper that he should be less aggressive and outspoken 
in counsel, and more considerate of the military proprieties 
in his new position. On the other hand, it is probable that 
Grant, in view of his own uniform success, had begun to 
feel more confidence in himself and less necessity for leaning 
on others. At all events, to those who knew the inside of their 
past relations it soon became apparent that the Lieutenant 
General and his Chief of Staff were measurably drifting 
apart. There was no rupture, and no public withdrawal of 
confidence or respect, but Rawlins soon came to understand 
that there were influences at work which he could not always 



THE NEW FIELD 195 

locate or counteract. During the Overland campaign from 
the Rapidan to Appomattox, he told me repeatedly that he 
felt his influence with Grant was not what it used to be, and 
that neither the policy nor the plans developed themselves 
with the same absence of friction, or reached the same high 
level of excellence, that characterized them in the West when 
the staff was smaller. He recognized, of course, that the 
problems which confronted them were greater, and that the 
Confederacy was putting forth its last and best efforts under 
the command of its ablest leader; but in addition it is certain 
that as the campaign progressed, he became conscious of com 
plications and difficulties of a more or less intangible char 
acter, due partly to the new conditions and partly to the 
increased complexity of the machinery for military command 
and administration. The staff was necessarily larger, while 
the arrangements for supervising the operations of the entire 
army were in a measure tentative, if not experimental. As 
it turned out they were also quite defective at times. 

When Grant was assigned to duty as Lieutenant General, 
two courses were open to him in respect to the method of 
exercising command and arranging his staff for carrying his 
orders into effect. He might have assumed direct command 
of the Army of the Potomac and assigned Meade to the 
command of one of its corps, in which case it would have 
been necessary for him to issue orders directly to each corps 
commander; or he might have left department, army and 
army-corps organizations as he found them, and issued his 
orders to their immediate commanders, leaving those officers 
free to regulate and control the details of carrying such orders 
into effect. Something might have been said in favor of each 
plan. While the former would have been simpler and more 
direct, it would have required a larger and much more effi 
cient staff, with much greater experience and knowledge of 
details and a much closer attention to the various branches 
of army administration as well as to the strategy of the 



196 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

marches and combinations and to the tactical arrangements 
of the fighting line in the various contingencies of actual 
battle. In modern armies the supervision of these duties 
falls within the province of the general staff. They require 
not only the highest theoretical knowledge of the art of war, 
but the greatest aptitude and practical experience in the de 
tails of commanding, marching, and fighting troops. 

In the consideration of this subject, it is not to be forgotten 
that the Army of the Potomac was at the time supposed to 
be the best army we had in the field. It was composed largely 
of veterans, commanded by regular generals of great experi 
ence, with every qualification to meet the actual exigencies 
of campaign and battle. To tell them how to form their 
lines or columns, or to bring them effectively into battle 
might well have been considered as unnecessary, if not pre 
sumptuous. Grant himself was never considered a great 
organizer and still less a great tactician. He was not over- 
fond of details, and never thought of hampering such officers 
as Sherman, Thomas, McPherson, or Ord with minute in 
structions. Still less did he think it necessary with Meade, 
Hancock, Sedgwick, Warren, Wright, Humphreys, W. F. 
Smith, or Sheridan. At all events he decided that it was 
not, and throughout the campaign, till near its close, con 
tented himself with indicating in general terms what he 
desired to have accomplished, leaving his subordinates to 
work out the details in such manner as they thought best. 

This course not only received Rawlins s approval, but 
seemed to him, under the circumstances, the best that could 
be devised. He was conscious, no doubt, of his own lack of 
technical knowledge and practical experience in the com 
manding of troops, and while he knew that there were sev 
eral good officers within easy reach, such as Upton for in 
stance, who were in every way qualified to work out all 
sorts of military details and to superintend their execution, 
no such help was called for. As Chief of Staff he could 



THE NEW FIELD 197 

doubtless have obtained permission to detail any other officer 
he thought necessary, but made no such detail, and the war 
was fought through to the end without the assistance of any 
thing corresponding to a General Staff. Looking back on 
the course of operations during the Overland Campaign, it 
is hard to understand how they were conducted at all with 
out such an organization. Both Grant and Rawlins were 
to blame for this. Neither seems to have understood the 
necessity for it, but that the chief responsibility for it should 
be placed upon Grant, the professional soldier, rather than 
upon the volunteer Chief of Staff, must be the verdict of 
the military critic. That Grant was aware of a great defect 
in the organization of his army is shown by the celebrated 
simile of the "balky team * by which he typified the difficulty 
of making the corps commanders work together in harmony, 
and justified himself for winning "by force of numbers" 
and "mere attrition," if by no other means. Withal, it is 
believed by many that if Grant had organized his forces 
more simply and compactly, and had had a competent general 
staff for the management of details, he could have ended- 
the war within six months instead of taking nearly a year 
for it as he did. 

It is worthy of note in this connection that while Lee s 
army was more simply organized, and he had direct command 
over all the Confederate corps in Virginia, without the inter 
position of army or department commanders, his staff ar 
rangements were more defective than even Grant s. Lee, the 
professional soldier, relied entirely upon himself and his 
corps commanders. He wrote many of his most important 
orders with his own hand, and, like Grant, refrained from 
burthening his subordinates with detailed instructions. This 
did much to mar the result of his operations, especially at 
Gaines s Mill, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, and perhaps 
elsewhere. His staff was small and, even to a greater extent 
than Grant s, was made up of civilians with but little technical 



I 9 8 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

knowledge or experience, and therefore capable of perform 
ing but little of the complicated technical work usually as 
signed to the general staff. 

But to return to Rawlins. It has been seen that his title 
was to a certain extent a misnomer. While he was Grant s 
oldest and most trusted staff officer and had more influence 
with him than had any one else, it is evident that the plan 
under which the national forces in Virginia were then organ 
ized had more to do with limiting the nature and extent of the 
staff, of which he was the chief, than had any lack of knowl 
edge on his part as to the kind of officers it needed, or as 
to the kind of work they would be called upon to perform. 
As the army was actually organized, the duties of the staff 
as well as of its chief were necessarily minimized. Rawlins 
had therefore more to do with questions of military policy 
than with details of military operations. He believed in 
the Overland route to Richmond, and that Lee s army was 
Grant s true objective. He believed in maneuvering against 
Lee s flanks and marching rapidly. In the Vicksburg cam 
paign he had seen the futility of assaulting well-defended 
rifle trenches, however hastily constructed, and of making 
direct attacks against strong positions. He believed in gath 
ering all the forces that were available, and, above all, he 
believed in the good sense and the solid qualities of Grant, 
and in the superiority of his army in numbers and resources. 
He had no doubt that Grant would win, but after the first 
few days he became bitterly opposed to the slipshod manner 
in which many important operations were conducted, and 
especially to the persistency with which the army was hurled 
head-on against the enemy s entrenchments on the way to 
Spottsylvania Court House and beyond. He did not hesi 
tate to declare later that such attacks were a fatal blunder, 
due mostly to the influence of Colonel Comstock of his staff, 
a regular engineer, whose advice and constant refrain was, 
"Smash em up! Smash em up!" In repeating this re- 



THE NEW FIELD 199 

frain, which he did more than once, Rawlins s face grew 
pale, and his form became almost convulsed with anger. 
With the fearlessness that characterized the imprudent utter 
ances of W. F. Smith and of that peerless soldier Emory 
Upton, he did not hesitate to designate this as "the murderous 
policy of military incompetents," and there is good reason 
for believing that his outspoken remonstrances, emphasized 
as they were by the failure and fearful loss of life which 
uniformly accompanied the head-on attacks in parallel order 
against entrenched lines had more to do with their abandon 
ment than anything else, except perhaps the pathetic protest 
of the enlisted men, who at Cold Harbor, before advancing 
to the charge, wrote their names on slips of paper and pinned 
them to their coats in order that their dead bodies might be 
recognized after the battle was over. 1 

Another policy of great wisdom which Rawlins constantly 
advocated during the campaign in Virginia was in favor of 
bringing troops from places where they were not needed, 
or were rendering service of only secondary importance, to 
the front, where the army was engaged in daily battle and 
suffering heavy loss. He was doubtless unconscious of the 
great military principle laid down by the masters in support 
of this policy, but his own common sense must have 
told him that it was correct. He had perhaps never heard it 
stated that the greatest duty of the State in carrying on war 
is to "keep the road to the front crowded with recruits and 
reinforcements," to fill the gaps made by sickness and battle, 
but with a prescience which would have done credit to a 
great theoretical commander, he not only did his best to carry 
out this maxim but constantly favored the draft to fill the 
ranks of the old regiments, instead of organizing new ones, 
as the quickest and best possible way to make the Union 
army overwhelming in strength and invincible in battle. 

Fortunately Rawlins s attitude in respect to these, as well 
1 "Campaigning with Grant," by General Horace Porter, p. 174. 



200 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

as other important matters, does not rest upon conjecture, 
but was made known from day to day in a series of letters 
to his wife beginning in January, 1864, and continuing almost 
to the end of the campaign against Lee. The first of these 
letters is dated January 14, 1864, and the last April 4, 1865. 
They are without break or intermission, except when his 
wife was in camp, or he was absent from the field on account 
of sickness. There is another series, written while absent 
from her in search of health after the war was over. I 
shall quote freely from each series as occasion seems to call 
for it, but so much of either as refers to other public mat 
ters will be given in full in the appendix. 

It has not been previously emphasized, but it should now 
be noted, that it was by this time becoming generally known 
that Rawlins was seriously ill. Soon after establishing head 
quarters at Chattanooga he began to cough violently and 
continuously. The weather had become inclement. The 
rainy season had begun, and his quarters were more or less 
uncomfortable. Hence we thought at first that his cough 
was due to a severe cold which would soon pass away; but 
in spite of every attention, it proved persistent, better one 
day and worse the next. Finally it aroused the deep anxiety 
of the patient himself and especially of his home friend, Chief 
Surgeon Kittoe, who applied all known remedies, but with 
out permanent success. During the whole of his stay at 
Chattanooga, Nashville, as well as afterwards with the Army 
of the Potomac, and in the West, to the end of his life his 
pathetic and baffling fight against the disease was hardly ever 
absent from his letters. Many another man would have 
given up the struggle in its earlier stage, but to this noble 
soul that way out was never seriously considered. For a 
season his confirmation by the Senate as brigadier general 
seemed doubtful, and in reply to a question from his wife 
as to what he should do in case he was not confirmed he 
expressed both incredulity and indifference; and there can be 



THE NEW FIELD 201 

no doubt that he would have returned to private life with 
resignation, if not with cheerfulness, had he lost the place 
to which he had been advanced in the army. While he had 
frequently expressed the idea that he regarded his services, 
like those of every other sound man, as obligatory without 
reference to either rank or pay, and was proud of his suc 
cess and of the honor in which he was held by his chief as well 
as by the leading generals who had served with him, he was 
not without ambition as to what might yet be in store for 
him. He therefore at no time slackened his work nor relaxed 
his vigilance over what was going on around him. 

During and after the Chattanooga campaign a number of 
minor operations were carried out: Dodge drove the enemy 
from Athens towards Florence, in Northern Alabama; Mor 
gan L. Smith, of Logan s command, attacked and defeated 
a strong force near Lebanon, Kentucky; a third affair took 
place at Sevierville; a fourth in East Tennessee, and finally 
Sherman made and relinquished his abortive march eastward 
from Vicksburg, nominally because Forrest defeated and 
drove back his cooperating cavalry column under Sooy Smith, 
but really because he met with greater resistance than he ex 
pected. To keep the run of all this, and occasionally to visit 
an outlying command or to accompany the General to Chat 
tanooga, kept Rawlins fully employed throughout the winter. 
But fortunately his activity was broken at the Christmas 
holidays by a leave of absence for the purpose of getting 
married to the lady whose acquaintance he had made under 
interesting, if not romantic, circumstances at Vicksburg. The 
wedding took place at Danbury, Connecticut, on December 
24, 1864; but the short honeymoon ended by his return to 
headquarters at Nashville early in January. Counting on 
remaining there a few weeks, he sent for his wife and chil 
dren (by his first wife) whom he installed in a comfortable little 
house, where he had hardly three weeks of unalloyed happi 
ness, and where the comforts of home checked his disease and 



202 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

encouraged him to hope for an early and complete recovery. 
The exact length of this period, perhaps the brightest of his 
life, is fixed by the fact that no letters from him to his wife 
were found dated between February 16 and March 5, 1864. 

It will be recalled that shortly after the victory of Mis 
sionary Ridge and the enemy s withdrawal from Northern 
Georgia and East Tennessee, Congress revived the rank of 
Lieutenant General, with the evident intention that it should 
be bestowed upon Grant. Under the old laws the President 
had full authority to assign any Major General to chief com 
mand without reference to relative rank, and had frequently 
exercised that authority according to his own judgment with 
out let or serious hindrance from any quarter. But it had 
at last become evident that the new and higher rank would 
strengthen the hands of the actual commander, whoever he 
might be. There was some talk, however, at the time that 
the act of Congress created and was intended to create a 
military dictatorship, but it cannot be too often repeated that 
this talk exerted no hurtful influence on either Lincoln or 
Grant. Both accepted it loyally and modestly, and as soon 
as it became law Lincoln summoned Grant to receive the 
higher commission. 

Accordingly Grant and Rawlins set out for Washington, 
but had to wait over at Louisville. That evening, after din 
ing at the Gait House, they went to the theatre, of which 
Grant was fond. But the play, or his physical condition, or 
perhaps the important juncture of affairs filled Rawlins s 
mind with serious reflections, and after returning to his room 
he wrote to his wife in terms which at least throw a strong 
light upon his own character. He was evidently depressed 
by the great responsibility about to be placed on his chief s 
shoulders, and felt that the latter was yielding more readily 
and more fully to the applause he received at the theatre 
than was becoming in one whom he had grown to think both 
unusually modest and unassuming. He referred, with ap- 



THE NEW FIELD 203 

proval, to a letter on the new promotion, which I had written 
him from Washington. He was profoundly impressed with 
the magnitude and weight of the duties which would soon 
come to the Lieutenant General and himself, and also with 
his own lack of technical military education for the v high 
position of Chief of Staff. In view of all this, he signified 
his willingness to withdraw and leave "the place to an edu 
cated and finished soldier." But he did not disguise the feel 
ing that having been with Grant throughout his brilliant 
career, having shared all his perils and "been his stay and 
support in his darkest hours," without at any time playing 
the part of an injudicious friend, he had the right to claim 
the place without subjecting himself to the charge of vanity. 
It is evident that Grant not only considered the situation 
fully but reassured him now of his unabated confidence and 
did what he could to put an end to Rawlins s undue appre 
hensions and to silence his self-depreciation. 

The journey to Washington began the next morning, March 
8, and of course at the first opportunity Rawlins wrote his 
wife full particulars of such incidents as attracted his atten 
tion. On the whole he was gratified by the modest manner 
in which Grant received the enthusiastic greetings "which the 
people, ladies, gentlemen and children" everywhere on the 
route extended to him. He approved the reticence with which 
Grant received the congratulations of Halleck and the Secre 
tary of War, and the great modesty with which he accepted 
his new commission and made haste to return to Nashville 
for the purpose of turning over to Sherman the next week 
the Military Division of the Mississippi. He appeared to 
be particularly pleased that Grant would not even delay a 
few hours for the purpose of attending a dinner which Mrs. 
Lincoln, and, doubtless, the President wished to give in his 
honor at the White House. 

The return to Nashville was without incident or delay, 
and the business connected with the change of station and 



204 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

command was soon despatched. Rawlins sent his wife and 
children to his parents at Galena, and within ten days had 
everything ready for the new order of things and was on 
the way with the Lieutenant General and personal staff back 
to Washington. It is pleasant to add that Rawlins records 
with unalloyed satisfaction that the General and Mrs. Grant, 
who left the party at Harrisburg, were more attentive to him 
during this trip than ever before, though he naively con 
fessed he was at a loss to account for it, unless it was be 
cause his recent separation from his wife entitled him to 
special sympathy. 



XIII 



IN VIRGINIA 

Headquarters at Culpepper Overland Campaign Battles in the 

Wilderness. 

GRANT remained but two days in conference with the Presi 
dent and other authorities at Washington. On March 24 he 
took post at Culpepper Court House, accompanied by Rawlins 
and Comstock. He established headquarters in a house large 
enough for himself, the Chief of Staff, and an office, and 
at once issued his orders taking command of the Army. 

It was rough March weather, with alternate snow and 
rain, which kept Rawlins, at least, in quarters for several 
days. Spring, however, was near at hand ; but without wait 
ing for sunshine, the work of reorganization, as far as re 
organization was necessary, was begun. Two army corps 
were distributed into the others, thus reducing the organiza 
tion from five weak corps to three strong ones. Rawlins was 
apprehensive that this might produce dissatisfaction; but his 
correspondence with his wife shows that his fears were soon 
dismissed as unfounded. The most radical changes were in 
the Cavalry Corps to the command of which Sheridan, from 
the Army of the Cumberland, fell heir; while Torbert, from 
the infantry, took the First Division, and Wilson, from 
Grant s Staff and more recently from the Cavalry Bureau, 
took the Third Division. The Corps had been overworked and 
badly needed remounts, therefore it was permitted to reduce 
the extended front its pickets were covering. While Rawlins 
was privy to all this, and fully concurred in the orders which 
brought it about, his routine work was greatly reduced from 

205 



206 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

the first, and this in turn gave him more time to familiarize 
himself with the country and the great problems which 
henceforth were to tax his chief to the utmost of his 
powers. 

While it has been stated that Grant had at one time recom 
mended William F. Smith to command the Army of the 
Potomac, and at another thought of Sherman for that im 
portant place, it soon became known that Smith would go to 
Butler as second in command, and that Meade would con 
tinue in the command of the Army of the Potomac, under 
Grant s immediate supervision. Just how far Rawlins was 
consulted in this, or in the plans of campaign, cannot be 
precisely stated, but his correspondence shows that he ac 
companied Grant to Fortress Monroe, April i, and neces 
sarily became aware of all measures under consideration. 
Although Butler was adroit enough to enroll himself in Raw 
lins s mind, with Sherman and Meade, as a friend whom 
Grant could thoroughly trust, it is quite certain that both he 
and Grant thought it wise to supplement that wily politician 
by sending William F. Smith to him and providing that he 
should have a large command when the spring campaign 
began. 

Whether Smith ever discussed the plan of operations in 
person with either Grant or Rawlins does not appear; but 
it is certain that soon after Grant s return from Fortress 
Monroe, Smith sent me a letter fully setting forth his views 
on the forthcoming campaign, and this in turn I sent to 
Rawlins. It is now known that Rawlins, in laying it before 
Grant, took strong ground against it, which, it is to be ob 
served, required a good deal of independence of judgment, 
not only because the plan suggested involved considerations 
of the highest strategic and administrative importance but 
because it had the general support of a strong group of older 
strategists, who had stood behind McClellan in favor of the 
disastrous Peninsula Campaign. The plan suggested involved 



IN VIRGINIA 207 

all the difficulties of the old one, of which it was a modifica 
tion; for it required the transfer of a great part of the Army 
of the Potomac by water and the concentration of an inde 
pendent and cooperating army on Albermarle Sound, to move 
from there against the interior of North Carolina and the 
railway lines connecting Richmond with the interior of the 
Confederacy. 

Rawlins evidently thought that, because I had been made 
the channel through which this plan was transmitted, it had 
my approval also; but such was not the case. Recognizing 
from the first that it was General Grant s exclusive right 
to make the plans, and that in doing this he should have the 
help of the best minds in the army, I felt it to be plainly my 
duty to hand Smith s letter to Rawlins for such disposition 
and consideration as it ought to receive. The letter itself, 
although Rawlins sent a copy to his wife, has not been 
found. 1 Its general character is, however, sufficiently well 
known. The most important point for present consideration 
is that it incurred Rawlins s strenuous opposition from the 
first, mainly because its natural effect would have been to 
move the army on eccentric lines by sea and further scatter 
instead of concentrating the national forces. This argument 
doubtless caused it to be turned down by Grant after the 
full and careful consideration to which the high rank and 
great experience of its author entitled it. But Smith s letter 
derives additional importance from the fact that Rawlins 
certainly and Grant probably considered it as an evidence of 
an improper desire on the part of its writer to exert a con 
trolling influence over the plan of campaign in the East as 
he had over that recently carried out in the West. If this sur 
mise is correct, it necessarily strengthened Grant s decision 
to attach Smith to Butler s army, which was to move by river 
from Fortress Monroe towards Petersburg and Richmond, 

1 See Wilson s "Life of Major General William F. Smith," p. 81 et seq. 



208 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

and could easily be transferred further south, instead of as 
signing him to the command of the Army of the Potomac, for 
which th.e General had previously recommended him. 

Rawlins s letter also shows beyond question that he not 
only had a correct view of the fundamental principle which 
should control Grant s plans, but did not fail to use all the 
arguments he could bring to bear in favor of its observance. 
Had he been better educated in military history and the art 
of war, he would not have thought it necessary to ascribe 
selfish or other improper motives to so distinguished a soldier 
as W. F. Smith merely because that commander advocated a 
plan which he thought the Government strong enough at that 
time to carry safely into effect. 

Rawlins, it must not be forgotten, was not only an un 
usually strong and able man himself, but, as is frequently the 
case with men of his race and class, he was naturally not 
above the vice of suspicion. No one can read his letters 
without seeing that while he was devoted heart and soul to 
the national cause and to his chief, and was perfectly will 
ing to efface himself as far as necessary in their behalf, he 
was no more than properly jealous of his personal and offi 
cial prerogatives. He evidently felt it to be his duty and 
privilege to express his views or those of others which he 
made his own, upon both the plans and the motives of those 
who submitted them. He believed that Grant should know 
his men "inside as well as outside," and hence he did not 
hesitate to speak against either men or plans which he did 
not approve; and when he had condemned either he became 
quite impatient, and perhaps at times unjust, towards such as 
continued to stand out against him. 

It is to be regretted that Rawlins did not keep a formal 
diary, and that his letters written as they were from the very 
centre of the army as it was constantly pressing to the front, 
were necessarily liable to capture by Confederate raiders or 
partizans in the rear, and were therefore given up to per- 



IN VIRGINIA 209 

sonal rather than official details. This circumstance will suffi 
ciently account for their lack of vital military interest; yet 
no one can read them without catching glimpses here and 
there of how plans were made and great questions were dis 
posed of at headquarters, and how great operations were car 
ried out by subordinate commanders. They show beyond all 
question that Rawlins, notwithstanding his impaired health 
and the presence of a number of regular officers on the staff, 
was the ever vigilant and faithful coadjutor of his chief in 
the East as he was in the West. They also show conclusively 
that he threw his entire influence at all times for the success 
of his chief. 

First: he advocated what finally came to be known as the 
Overland Campaign, or in other words he favored Grant s 
marching out to find Lee, who was known to be near at 
hand, and directly in front; instead of transferring the Army 
of the Potomac several hundred miles by water to the James 
River, or still further south, to Albermarle Sound, as recom 
mended by Smith and other able strategists. 

Second : he favored concentrating the largest possible force 
on the chosen line of operations in Virginia, by withdrawing 
troops from other lines and departments where they were 
not needed, and, above all, by filling up the old regiments 
through a rigid enforcement of the draft, rather than by call 
ing into the field new volunteer organizations under inexperi 
enced officers. His declaration that he believed more in 
"the infallibility of numbers than in the infallibility of gen 
erals, no matter how great their reputation," is the compre 
hensive expression of a fundamental principle which should 
pass into the settled maxims of war. 

Third : he strenuously opposed the promotion and employ 
ment of political generals over regular officers educated at 
West Point. 

That the Chief of Staff, himself only a citizen soldier, 
should have formulated and expressed these views at the 



210 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

time and under the circumstances that he did, shows him to 
have been not only a strong and virile thinker but an extraor 
dinarily clear and sound one. No professional soldier could 
have expressed them better, and no soldier, professional or 
volunteer, could have advocated them with greater force or 
greater independence. 

All arrangements having been completed, Grant s great 
campaign began at i A. M., May 4, 1864, with the Third 
Cavalry Division, under my command, in advance. Grant s 
headquarters were established that evening near the Old Wil 
derness Tavern. The army was distributed upon two roads 
and both columns were well covered by cavalry, but the move 
ments of the infantry from the first were cautious and slow. 
Had they pushed forward with all the celerity of which they 
were capable, instead of moving cautiously and slowly, as 
they did, the first day after crossing the Rapidan they could 
have passed almost, if not entirely, through the Wilderness 
and forced the enemy to fight in the open country beyond. 
From Lee s headquarters at or near Orange Court House, 
with his front on the Rapidan, which separated him from the 
Union Army, and his right on Mine Run, he had no means 
of knowing the direction Grant s columns would take till their 
movement was well developed. It is of course possible that 
he might have taken exactly the same roads he did take to 
strike Grant in flank, and this would have increased the 
perils of our situation, but competent critics of Lee s methods 
have generally held that his true policy was to throw himself 
as directly and quickly as possible across Grant s line of 
march and thus, with his entire force, impede his foe s prog 
ress towards Richmond. That is perhaps what he strove to 
do in the Wilderness, and although it brought him against 
the right flank of Grant s columns, instead of in their front, 
it was perfectly easy for the latter to face to the right and 
fight on equal terms. It is evident that a flank or rear attack 
against Grant s probable, or even his real, line of battle formed 



IN VIRGINIA 211 

no part of Lee s actual plan. This is abundantly shown by the 
"Official Records" and by the light cast upon the course of 
events by the Reminiscences and Memoirs of various Con 
federate generals. 

It is not my purpose to dwell upon the details of this cam 
paign further than may be necessary to explain the part taken 
in it by the Chief of Staff. It is here worthy of note, how 
ever, that Rawlins, Bowers, Sheridan, Dana, and I were the 
only officers of high rank in that vast host who had ever been 
with Grant in battle, and that it was no part of his plan to 
fight in the dense and almost impenetrable woods of the Wil 
derness, if he could help it. He was surrounded, as it were, 
by strangers who were more or less incredulous as to his 
real capacity as a general, and believed that he had succeeded 
hitherto by good fortune rather than by good management. 
As shown by Rawlins s letter of May 2, 2 these critics did not 
conceal their apprehension that Lee would prove to be too 
much for Grant. This feeling was widespread and undis 
guised. It was evidently shared by many of the rank and file 
as well as by several generals commanding corps and divi 
sions, and doubtless did much towards making the movements 
of the Union army more cautious and more deliberate than 
they should have been. As it was, they were inexcusably slow. 
It was clearly Grant s true policy as well as his plan to force 
his army as rapidly as possible through the Wilderness to 
the open country beyond, and all his orders were made to 
that end; but it is certain that the cavalry was the only part 
of the fighting force that reached each day the point to which 
it was directed. The Third Cavalry Division had the advance 
next to the enemy for five days, and was the only division 
that ever got into Spottsylvania Court House. It did this 
early on the morning of May 9 ; and after driving out Wick- 
ham s Confederate cavalry, capturing about fifty prisoners 
from two divisions of Longstreet s corps, and recapturing a 

2 Appendix, pp. 426, 427. 



212 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

number of our own men, it held the place for several hours, 
and did not withdraw till after it had received orders not 
to go there at all. 

On the night of May 3, after the orders were issued, the 
day s work done, and the troops in motion towards the 
Rapidan, Richardson tells us that Grant, Rawlins, and their 
anxious friend, Washburne, sat up till two o clock the next 
morning "talking about politics, history, and literature." No 
further record of that conversation is known to exist. It 
does not appear that Rawlins had time to write to his wife 
again for several days, but if he wrote, his letters were either 
captured or have passed out of the possession of his family. 
It is of course possible that Washburne kept a private account 
of what took place, and if so it may yet be published. Mean 
while it can be well understood that the conversation must 
have been one of unusual interest, as it doubtless had first 
to do with the plans and movements then under way and 
with the calculations and hopes of those present, before it 
passed to questions of history and literature, or even to those 
of current politics. 

So far as headquarters were concerned, there was little 
to be done after the general orders were actually sent out. 
Under the method of procedure adopted by the Lieutenant 
General, Meade and his subordinates worked out the details 
and kept Grant well informed of all that came to them from 
the front. It will be remembered that Lee was not taken 
by surprise. He was too able a commander to neglect any 
precaution along his front, and especially at the crossings of 
the Rapidan, for obtaining early and exact information of 
Grant s operations. He was quite as well prepared as Grant 
was for any movement that might be made, and when the 
Union columns began their march to pass beyond his right 
flank, he lost no time in making his dispositions to counter 
act it. His columns advanced with certainty and confidence, 
engaging shortly in a two days death grapple, in which neither 



IN VIRGINIA 213 

commander could see his opponent, nor do much more than 
face the dangers confronting him. 

The righting on both sides was desperate in the extreme. 
First one line would gain ground, and then the other, but 
no decided advantage crowned the efforts of either till late 
in the evening of the second day, when the Confederates un 
der Gordon turned the right flank of the Sixth Corps under 
Sedgwick and rolled it back in confusion. Gordon tells in his 
"Reminiscences" how early on the morning of the sixth he 
found himself on the extreme right of Grant s line and after 
satisfying himself by a personal reconnoissance that his pres 
ence was unknown, and that no sufficient disposition had been 
made to stay his onset, asked first his division and then his 
corps-commander for permission to sally forth, and that this, 
notwithstanding his urgency and his repeated assurances that 
he could win, was denied till nearly nightfall, when Lee him 
self, riding his lines and conferring with his subordinate 
commanders, listened to his suggestions and gave him per 
mission to carry them into effect. 

Gordon s narrative, whether correct or not in all its details, 
is one of the most graphic and exciting bits of military writing 
to be found in our history. It is the story of a born soldier 
who had learned by actual experience one of the great lessons 
of modern warfare, namely, that an unexpected and well- 
sustained attack in flank or rear can scarcely fail, if directed 
against an enemy who has not had ample warning and time 
to prepare for it. 

At all events, Gordon s attack upon the right of the Sixth 
Corps, after the fighting, front to front, was over for the 
day, fell upon the Federal line in the nature of a surprise. 
It was the most important event of the campaign so far, 
and, like Jackson s flank attack the year before against How 
ard, was signally successful till darkness put an end to it. 
It resulted in the capture of Generals Seymour and Shaler, 
with a considerable part of Seymour s division, but that was 



214 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

not all. It threw the right half of the corps into great con 
fusion and filled with the gravest apprehension the minds of 
both Grant and Meade, who were encamped together and in 
constant conference. Fortunately, Sedgwick had all the 
steadiness that might be expected of a descendant of Major- 
General Sedgwick of Cromwell s New Model Army. With 
imperturbable deliberation he gave the necessary orders for 
an additional change of front, to resist the enemy; but 
the latter failed to realize the extent of his own suc 
cess, or perhaps thought further progress was impossible 
through the darkness, which was made still more impenetrable 
by the gloom of the surrounding forest. What looked at first 
like an irremediable disaster to the Union right soon gave 
place to a cessation of the fight, which was in due time fol 
lowed by a conviction on the part of Sedgwick and his vet 
erans that the worst had passed. 

Shortly after dark I received an order from Sheridan 
to move, as soon as it was light enough to see, with my divi 
sion to the Germanna Ford road, for the purpose of ascer 
taining if the enemy had reached it, or had advanced to the 
right and rear of the Sixth Corps. The intervening hours 
were full of anxiety to Sheridan, Forsyth and myself. We 
were near Chancellorsville on the Fredericksburg and Orange 
turnpike, from three to five miles from general headquarters. 
We had early received the news of Sedgwick s disaster, ac 
companied by orders to cover the movement of the trains 
towards Fredericksburg, which we construed as foreshadow 
ing a retrograde march of the army, possibly to the north side 
of the river. To make matters worse, we thought we could 
hear the rattle and roar of distant musketry till late at night, 
but fortunately this turned out to be the noise of the moving 
trains. Yet withal the night was a gloomy one, long to be 
remembered. 

At early dawn my division turned into the Germanna 
Ford road and was covering with its skirmishers the entire 



IN VIRGINIA 215 

zone of danger; but happily we soon discovered that the 
enemy had not fully realized the value of his opportunity 
and had taken no measures whatever to improve it. Know 
ing how important it was that both Grant and Meade should 
be immediately advised as to the exact state of affairs in this 
quarter, I sent a staff officer to report to the latter, and rode 
myself rapidly to the former. Naturally I was full of anxiety 
as to the effect upon Grant of the exciting incidents of the 
two days previous and especially of the night before, and 
hence went as fast as my horse could carry me. I reached 
headquarters on a little wooded knoll in the Wilderness at, 
or shortly after, seven o clock, and dismounting at the proper 
distance, I had started up the hillside when Grant caught 
sight of me, and before receiving my report, called out cheer 
ily: "It s all right, Wilson; the army is moving towards 
Richmond!" 

This was the first time I had seen the Lieutenant General 
since he crossed the Rapidan. Of course his hearty recep 
tion and confident bearing relieved my mind instantly of 
all apprehension. An exchange of greetings with Rawlins, 
Bowers, and the other staff officers followed at once. We 
congratulated one another on the triumphant manner in which 
our Chief had met the crisis of his fate. Up to that time the 
Army of the Potomac had not " fought its battles to a finish" ; 
but it was now certain that it "would fight it out on that line 
if it took all summer," although this stirring assurance was 
not made public till Grant sent his memorable letter of May 1 1 
to General Halleck by the hand of Mr. Washburne. 

Many misleading accounts have been given to the world 
in regard to Grant s bearing when the news of Seymour s 
disaster and capture reached him. He has been reported as 
having remained unmoved and unshaken throughout the ex 
citement which followed. 3 As the incident was not closed 
till some time after dark, it is not to be denied that it consti- 

3 "Campaigning with Grant," by General Horace Porter, p. 70 el seq. 



216 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

tuted a crisis of the most portentous character, calling not 
only for unusual fortitude but for unusual self-control on the 
part of the commanding general. As courier after courier 
dashed up to his headquarters with reports more or less ex 
aggerated, but all most alarming, and as the serious nature 
and progress of the disaster became better known, it would 
have been an extraordinary exhibition of stolid insensibility 
if Grant had actually gone to sleep in the midst of the excite 
ment. Defeat might possibly grow out of this unexpected 
disaster, and defeat meant more to him than to any other 
man in that army. Hitherto he had met the enemy but to 
overwhelm him, and this was, above all, the reason for his 
being awake and at the head of the army in that field. To 
suffer a reverse of fortune at the hands of Lee meant in the 
end a failure that might be fatal to his country s cause, and 
must be fatal to himself. All this and more may have passed 
through his mind, and externally composed, as all unite in 
saying he was, he would have been less than human had it 
not moved him to the very depths of his soul. 

And there is no doubt that such was the case. Rawlins and 
| Bowers united in saying to me aside before I left that the 
i situation the night before for a time seemed appalling, that 
Grant met it outwardly with calmness and self-possession, but 
after he had asked such questions and given such orders as 
the emergency seemed to call for, he withdrew to his tent 
and, throwing himself face downward on his cot, instead of 
going to sleep, gave vent to his feelings in a way which 
left no room to doubt that he was deeply moved. They con 
curred in assuring me that, while he revealed to others neither 
uncertainty nor hesitation as to what was to be done, and was 
equally free from the appearance of indifference and bravado, 
he made no effort to conceal from them the gravity of the 
danger by which the army was threatened. They had been 
with him in every battle from the beginning of his career, and 
had never before seen him show the slightest apprehension 



IN VIRGINIA 217 

or sense of danger; but on that memorable night in the Wil 
derness it was much more than personal danger which con 
fronted him. No one knew better than he that he was face 
to face with destiny, and there was no doubt in their minds 
that he realized it fully and understood perfectly that retreat 
from that field meant a great calamity to his country as well 
as to himself. That he did not show the stolidity that has 
been attributed to him in that emergency but fully realized 
its importance is greatly to his credit. It rests upon 
the concurrent testimony of those two faithful officers that 
he not only perfectly understood the situation but was the 
first to declare that the enemy, not having fully improved his 
advantage, had lost a great opportunity. It was also Grant 
who was first to see with the clear vision of a great leader 
that the true way out of the perils which surrounded him was 
to leave the care of his right flank to the imperturbable Sedg- 
wick, and push his army, as soon as it could see its way, 
through the Wilderness on its forward march "towards 
Richmond." 

In adopting this heroic course Grant had the earnest sup 
port of both Rawlins and Bowers, as well as of those who 
had yet to learn by actual observation that it was his custom 
to fight his battles through to the end. I, for one, am free 
to confess that when he gave me the cheerful assurance that 
the army was already in motion towards Richmond," he 
lifted a great weight from my mind. We who had known 
him best felt that the crisis was safely passed, and that we 
were now on the sure road to ultimate victory. I never saw 
Rawlins in a more resolute nor more encouraging temper, nor 
Grant in a state of greater confidence. Feeling entirely re 
assured, I returned to my division, and as soon as possible 
made known to Sheridan and Forsyth all I had learned. My 
report, as might have been expected, also lifted a load from 
their minds and strengthened their faith in Grant and the 



218 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ultimate success of the campaign in which we were now fully 
embarked. 

Rawlins s first letter to his wife after the army crossed the 
Rapidan shows that Grant claimed the advantage in the first 
two days fighting. It also shows that, when the enemy with 
drew, Grant did not know in what direction he had gone. The 
letter runs as follows: 

Battle-field, Old Wilderness Tavern, Va., May 7, 1864. 
. . . We crossed the Rapidan on the 4th instant with the entire 
army of the Potomac, without opposition, were met by the enemy 
at this place on the forenoon of the 5th and after a very san 
guinary battle which closed only with the night of the 6th, found 
ourselves this morning masters of the field, the enemy having 
withdrawn. Whether within his fortifications at Mine Run, five 
miles distant from here, or towards Richmond, is not yet clearly 
ascertained. Our loss in killed, wounded and missing will reach 
full ten thousand, among them five general officers. On the main 
road by which the Confederates retired they have left a consid 
erable force to protect their rear. With the pickets of this force 
our skirmishers are now engaged. The General and staff are all 
well. I am feeling much better than when I left Culpepper. 
On my way here I saw Miss Rawlins. She is my cousin and a 
daughter of Elloi Rawlins. . . . 

The next letter runs as follows : 

Near Spottsylvania C. H., Va., May 9, 1864. . . . Since writ 
ing you on the 7th we have progressed about eleven miles nearer 
Richmond. The enemy beat us to Spottsylvania and now hold the 
place. By this move they have interposed their whole force, per 
haps, between us and Richmond. The feeling of our army is that 
of great confidence, and with the superiority of numbers on our 
side, I think we can beat them notwithstanding their advantage of 
position. In God we trust for continued success. To-day the 
brave and heroic Sedgwick, commanding the Sixth Army Corps, 
was shot through the head and died instantly. He was a 
gallant and able officer but thank God his place is well filled by 
the accomplished General H. G. Wright, who is an able officer 
and as popular as his predecessor, the lamented Sedgwick. 

By a Richmond paper of the 7th we learn that the enemy up 



IN VIRGINIA 219 

to that time had lost in killed and mortally wounded, three gen 
eral officers; General Longstreet was also severely wounded in 
the shoulder. . . I am in very good health. . . . 

Two days later Rawlins wrote as follows : 

Near Spottsylvania, Va., May n, 1864. . . . We have had six 
days continuous fighting and heavy losses in killed and wounded, 
reaching perhaps eighteen thousand, and among them Major 
General Sedgwick, commanding the Sixth Corps, Brigadier Gen 
erals Wadsworth, Hare, Stevenson and Rice. Wounded Brig 
adier Generals Robinson and Bartlett. Missing Brigadier Gen 
erals Seymour and Shaler. 

The enemy s loss is perhaps as great as ours, in rank and file, 
and in general officers ; in captures of prisoners, we perhaps have 
the count considerably in our favor, having already captured 
near four thousand. In an assault last evening one brigade of 
ours pierced the enemy s lines, and captured an entire rebel 
brigade. We have suffered no such loss. In all our losses, we 
have not yet lost a single regimental organization, much less a 
brigade. I mention this to show you how complete have been our 
lines and perfect the discipline of our men, only one brigade hav 
ing at any time shown evidence of stampeding ; this one is the old 
brigade of General Milroy of Winchester notoriety. 

Our progress towards Richmond is slow, but we are on the 
way, and do not propose, unless some disaster overtakes us, ever 
taking a step backwards. We have still an abundance of sup 
plies and ammunition . . . 

How my heart bleeds to think of the weeping of loved ones, on 
the receipt of the news from this terrible strife, but those who 
have been killed, have died in a noble cause, and fallen with their 
faces towards Richmond, having lost no step taken in. that di 
rection. . . . 

Again, two days later, he wrote: 

Battle-field, Spottsylvania, May 13, 1864. . . . Yesterday s 
battle ended with dark, and during the night the enemy fell back 
from the position he held stubbornly during the day. Whether 
they will make a stand for another battle this side of Richmond, 
is not known, but my opinion is they will fight us again in their 
present position; a few hours, however, will determine. Our 



220 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

losses have been very heavy, but the advantages in the conflict 
have been with us most decidedly. It still continues to rain, and 
the effects of the damp, chilly weather I feel very perceptibly 
still I am quite well. . . . 

If Rawlins wrote any letters between the fourteenth and 
the twenty-third of May, they have not come into my pos 
session, nor are they in the hands of his family. It was a 
period of suspense and uncertainty, during which there was 
a constant strain, but no great crisis. Sheridan had been 
detached with the entire cavalry corps to operate against 
the Confederate cavalry under Stuart, and to break up Lee s 
lines of railway communication with Richmond. Grant was 
pressing steadily and irresistibly towards Richmond, while 
his grim determination to win at any cost, which was most 
popular with the people, was again bringing his name forward 
for the Presidency. It may be safely assumed that Rawlins 
was not insensible of this, but it must be recalled that the 
contingency in which he could favor it, that of complete suc 
cess over the enemy, had not yet arrived; hence, the infer 
ence is safe that he was at that time taking no interest in it, 
but confining himself rigidly to the duties of his position. It 
was now evident that Lee could not, as in former days, "com 
mand" the Army of the Potomac, as well as his own, and that 
it had at last passed under a general who did not take orders 
from his opponent. It may well be doubted if there was 
ever an army which was held so relentlessly to its work, or 
which was more bravely confronted by its opponent. The 
fighting was almost without intermission, and the loss on 
both sides unprecedented. The necessity for reinforcements, 
so ably set forth in Rawlins s farsighted letters, was now 
apparent to all; and after giving a summary of the operations 
the previous day, on May 25 he wrote : 

. . . The entire army was ordered to move out this morning 
and feel the enemy, and ascertain if he is making a stand here, or 
falling back still nearer to Richmond. It is now eight o clock 



IN VIRGINIA 221 

A. M. and no firing has been heard. So I infer he has gone south 
of the South Anna and Pamunkey Rivers. The railroad from 
Hanover Junction to Gordonsville is in our possession and its 
systematic and complete destruction has been ordered. 

Reinforcements are still coming forward with commendable 
promptness. I have every confidence, if the Government will 
keep up this army to its present numbers, all will go well and that 
before many months, perhaps weeks, Lee s army will be de 
feated, and the last hopes of the Confederacy extinguished in 
the bloody storm that called it into existence. 

I am in very good health, and stand the campaign finely. In 
fact it has continued to benefit me. . . . 

On May 26 he wrote from Quaile s Ford, on the North 
Anna, as follows: 

. . . Yesterday no changes were made of any moment in the 
relative positions of the two armies, the reconnoissances on our 
part having shown us the enemy in strong force immediately in 
our front and strongly entrenched. You may think the continual 
mention of the enemy s entrenchments very strange, when you 
have been constantly hearing of his having been by some move 
ment of ours compelled to abandon first one of his defences and 
then another. Now the true statement of this is, that when we 
crossed the Rapidan the enemy had strong works at Mine Run, 
some three miles to the right of the road we marched on. 
He came out of his works and gave us battle at Old Wilder 
ness, after the second day of which he fell back with his main 
force into his works, and we took up our march by his right flank 
for Spottsylvania. Discovering our movement, the enemy 
marched rapidly for the same place, and having the shorter line, 
arrived there a few hours before us, and commenced at once to 
entrench his new position. By the time we got up our whole 
force and had put our trains in a place of safety, he had so far 
completed his new works as to give him great protection in the 
battles which were subsequently fought there. So again, when 
we by a movement similar to that in the Wilderness had started 
for this point, the enemy broke camp simultaneously with us, and 
having the Telegraph road to move on, one of the finest in the 
country, and the direct one to this point, he succeeded in getting 
here about twelve hours in advance of us and throwing up rifle 



222 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

pits in defence. A few hours always suffice for an army acting 
purely on the defensive to fortify itself, and the fortifications 
make up greatly for inferiority of numbers. 

I cannot speak of contemplated movements as I would like to 
do, lest my letters . . . might be captured by the enemy while 
passing through the country to Washington by courier, or rather 
to our base on the river. I am in excellent health and spirits, and 
have full confidence in our final success. The feeling of this 
army as to its ability to whip that of Lee is good and gives -as 
surance that it can, unless some mistake should be made in move 
ment, which I do not fear. . . . 

In spite of the heavy fighting behind field entrenchments, 
Rawlins wrote confidently as follows: 

Hanover Town, Va., May 28, 1864. . . . The army of the Po 
tomac is massing here, about fifteen miles from Richmond. So 
you see the real results of the battles we have fought notwith 
standing what may be said by those who do not believe Richmond 
can be taken. Unless some terrible blunder is committed in the 
movements of our army, by which the enemy obtains an ad 
vantage over us, Richmond must fall. That any such blunder 
will be committed I do not for a moment believe. General Grant 
and General Meade are both able and experienced soldiers, either 
of them the equal and in everything heretofore Lee s superior 
on the field. Of course our numbers are greater than those of 
the enemy, but by his fortifications he has made up for inferiority 
of numbers. You know what I have heretofore written you of 
General Meade. My opinion which has always been decidedly 
favorable to him, is much heightened by the soldierly qualities 
and great ability he has displayed throughout this campaign. He 
reminds me much of Sherman, and handles his men equally well 
in battle. If in anything Sherman is superior it is in writing. Of 
this, I cannot however be sure, for I have seen nothing of General 
Meade s abilities in this direction. Generals Hancock, Wright, 
Warren and Burnside are all able and competent soldiers and 
their subordinate officers and men are equal to any in the world. 
With such an army of leaders, and such men as fill the ranks of 
the Army of the Potomac, no nation need fear its triumph, when 
engaged in the holy cause of liberty and its own existence. 

I should never have been fully able to speak impartially of this 



IN VIRGINIA 223 

army of heroes had it not been for the opportunity I now have 
of serving with and becoming acquainted with them. These 
soldiers fight as well and bravely as do their comrades in the 
armies of the West. They are all Americans and why should 
they not? 

Reinforcements are still arriving. A portion of the force from 
General Butler will be here to-morrow . . . 

Our base will hereafter be at the White House, the place made 
famous as the base of the Army of the Potomac under McClellan 
in his celebrated Peninsula campaign. How I pray in my heart 
that God will avert from us the fate that met his attempt to 
overthrow the rebel army and capital. I have the utmost con 
fidence in success and no fear of failure. I would like to speak 
particularly of further movements. I know your good sense 
would appreciate such knowledge, but the danger of the capture 
of our mails, and prying officials forbid this. . . . 

From this time on Rawlins wrote to his wife daily as fol 
lows: 

Hanover Town, Va., May 29, 1864. . . . To-day has been de 
lightful. Nothing exciting has taken place. Our reconnoitering 
forces pushed out in the direction of Richmond and found the 
enemy in force about seven miles distant from here. The re 
mainder of the army is ordered forward to the support of the 
forces sent out at noon. The new position of the enemy is on a 
creek called the Totopotomoy, at the crossing of the Shady Grove 
and Mechanicsville roads. Whether he intends holding this po 
sition against us at the risk of a general engagement is not cer 
tainly known. My opinion is that, most likely he will defend his 
new position as long as he can make it tenable, but the prevalent 
opinion is that he will give it up and retire behind the Chicka- 
hominy. Be this, however, as it may, we shall pursue steadily 
the original plan of General Grant s to the reduction of Richmond 
if it is to fall. In this campaign thus far there has been no devia 
tion from it. That which we most desire and what would soonest 
give us the city, is a battle on something like equal ground, in 
which I am sure we would defeat and rout the enemy. Sheri 
dan s cavalry corps had hard fighting yesterday evening about 
three miles in advance of here. It drove the enemy about a 
mile. Our loss was three hundred and fifty, of whom fifty-four 



224 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

were killed. In the list of casualties were fifty officers, of whom 
seven were killed. . . . 

Near Hawes Shop, Va., May 30, 1864. . . . Another delight 
ful day. We are now about three miles nearer Richmond than 
we were yesterday, but the position of the army is but little 
changed. Our reconnoissances have, however, developed the 
enemy in force perhaps his whole army in our immediate 
front with every indication that he will await battle this side the 
Chickahominy. A few days will solve the question of Richmond, 
and whether a long siege or a sharp decisive battle is to termi 
nate it. My health is still improving. . . . 

Near Hawes Shop, Va., May 31, 1864. . . . Another delightful 
day. The position of this army is the same as last described, 
save that it has advanced a short distance. 

The enemy attacked General Warren s advance forces, on our 
left, about six o clock last evening, and after a sharp conflict of 
perhaps forty minutes, were repulsed with considerable loss. We 
buried over one hundred of their dead, and captured from one 
hundred to two hundred prisoners. They removed their wounded 
from the field. Our loss in killed, wounded and missing was 
about four hundred. 

General Hancock carried a line of the enemy s works in his 
front this morning and captured about thirty prisoners, the loss 
on either side not heavy. 

General Wilson was sent this morning to destroy railroad 
bridges. He is a good destructionist, and I have confidence in 
his rendering the railroads as useless as any one in the service 
could. The success of the cavalry expedition under Sheridan 
in which General Wilson had command of a division, secured his 
confirmation by the Senate. Of this I am truly glad for Wilson 
is a brave and energetic officer and I am of the opinion will be 
popular with his command. His superior officers all think a great 
deal of him. You remember the letter I wrote him from Nash 
ville. He expressed to me great satisfaction and perfect accord 
ance with its statements. 

General William F. Smith has arrived at White House with 
heavy reinforcements for this army. Another large force is also 
on the way from Port Royal, and is now near here. 

General Breckenridge s and General Buckner s divisions from 
Western Virginia have reenforced the enemy in our front, but 



IN VIRGINIA 225 

I feel sure they cannot get forward for the grand struggle as 
large a force as we shall be able to gather. 

I enclose you a rose bud from the yard of a beautiful residence 
just in rear of one of our batteries occupied by the 4th U. S. 
Artillery, and in front of a battery of the enemy, and from which 
residence, strange to say, the women folks a mother, four 
grown-up daughters and several small children refuse to go, but 
sought shelter in the cellar during the cannonading yesterday. 
The house was struck by canon shot and shell at least twenty 
times, and is marked much by bullets from the enemy s sharp 
shooters. These women and children were requested by officers 
to leave, but they would not, and thought it very hard that the 
Yankees would put a battery where they did, thereby drawing 
the fire of the enemy upon them. I mention this to show you 
that war has not softened in any way its features since you looked 
it in the face at Vicksburg. . . . 

Near Via House, Va., June I, 1864. . . . To-day has been 
beautiful, and closed, or is closing, in a heavy battle. So far 
as heard from the result is favorable to us. General Smith s 
troops have arrived and are in position. The only change of the 
forces from yesterday is that General Wright s Corps (the Sixth) 
has moved from our right to our left. The cavalry under Sheri 
dan attacked the enemy last evening near Cold Harbor and drove 
him into and through that place, which holding at one A. M. 
to-day he was in turn attacked by the enemy, but repulsed the 
attack and captured about one hundred and fifty prisoners. 
Neither our loss nor that of the enemy has yet been reported. . . . 

Colonel Bowers is in very poor health and goes to Washington 
to-morrow. I was the only invalid when we started on the cam 
paign, but am, I have no doubt, to-day in as robust health as any 
member of the staff, and promise fairly to beat all of them in 
the end. I am really almost well. . . . 

Cold Harbor, Va., June 2, 1864. . . . The forenoon was very 
hot and dusty; this afternoon and to-night it is raining quite 
heavily. 

The enemy yesterday afternoon about five o clock attacked our 
lines in front of Warren s, Burnside s and Hancock s corps and 
were repulsed, the heaviest attack being on General Warren s 
front. Here they were repulsed three times. At 4.30 P. M. 



226 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Generals Wright and Smith attacked the enemy in their imme 
diate front, and carried one line of works, which we now hold, 
excepting. a portion of that carried by General Smith, which, be 
ing commanded by another line, was abandoned by us. They 
captured full eight hundred prisoners. Our entire loss during 
all this righting was 2,078 wounded and about 500 killed. The 
loss of the enemy can only be guessed at, save their loss in prison 
ers already stated. 

Our cavalry under General Wilson succeeded in destroying the 
railroad bridges across the South Anna yesterday, so altogether 
yesterday was a day of success for us. To-day but little has been 
done, save that we have made some changes in our lines. During 
the withdrawal of one of General Warren s divisions the enemy, 
thinking to take advantage of it, attacked it, but it returned imme 
diately to its old position and forced the enemy back. 

Cold Harbor, Va., June 5, 1864. . . . Along our lines to-day 
there has been comparative quiet. The righting day before yes 
terday inclined each of the opposing armies to desist until they 
could breathe. This very moment heavy firing has commenced 
in front of General Hancock. It is the enemy, I suppose, trying 
to drive our working parties from work. It is too late for a seri 
ous attack. These days of quiet are long ones, I assure you, but 
this musketry is growing louder and heavier, and it may be more 
than I suppose. It still rages with the greatest fury. The artil 
lery has opened, but it sounds not half so terrible and deadly as 
does the quick and rapid discharge of musketry. . . . 

Cold Harbor, Va., June 6, 1864. . . . To-day has been very 
warm, a foretaste I suppose of what we are to have during the 
summer. How I would like to look on this campaign as soon to 
close successfully. That it will soon be at an end, I scarcely think 
probable. A people, although in error, will not easily give up that 
in which they have sacrificed the flower of their youth and im 
poverished themselves in a bloody war of three years to maintain. 

I enclose you a new two-cent coin, the first one received at 
these headquarters and the first one seen by the Lieutenant Gen 
eral. Please retain it as a keepsake. . . . 

Cold Harbor, Va., June 7, 1864. . . . This morning was very 
cold, a great change in the temperature. Everything has been 
quiet along our lines, except in front of one of Burnside s 



IN VIRGINIA 227 

divisions, where there was a skirmish which resulted in nothing 
of importance to either side. The Richmond Examiner of to-day 
states that their forces under the command of General W. E. 
Jones were defeated twelve miles beyond Stanton; that General 
Jones was killed on the field, and that his successor retired to 
Waynesboro in the mountains between Charlottesville and 
Stanton. This is a triumph which will inure greatly to our 
interest in this campaign. Hunter is doing what we expected 
Sigel to do some time since. Hunter and a heavy force, under 
General Crook, will meet now without doubt at Staunton, if they 
have not already done so. Their combined forces will be suffi 
ciently strong to enable them to strike a staggering blow against 
the Confederacy; besides, heavy reinforcements have been or 
dered to Hunter. 

I took dinner to-day with General Wilson, about four miles 
from here, in the house of Edmund Rufiin, who fired the first 
gun at Fort Sumter. His fine plantation is abandoned, and I 
understand that he is dead. I enclose a lily picked in the 
yard. . . . 

After the dinner mentioned above I returned with Raw- 
lins to army headquarters, and during our ride we had an 
interesting conversation in regard to the policy under which 
the army had acted so frequently during the campaign, and 
especially during the last four or five days. I refer of course 
to its repeated assaults of the enemy s entrenched positions, 
which assaults generally failed, and always resulted in a 
number of killed and wounded entirely out of proportion to 
the advantages gained. Rawlins declared his bitter opposi 
tion to such assaults, and to the influences which brought them 
about, and reiterated that as they were advised by Comstock, 
a professional soldier, whose specialty on the staff was sup 
posed to be entrenchments and their capture, it was almost 
impossible to neutralize his influence. He was usually sound 
enough on most military questions, but his judgment in ref 
erence to the conditions under which battle should be deliv 
ered, was regarded by Rawlins as faulty in the extreme. 

The next day I removed, with my first brigade, to the left 



228 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

of the army and Rawlins repeated his visit; but this 
time he was accompanied by Dana and Warren. The 
conversation again turned upon the policy of attacking the 
enemy behind breastworks and rifle trenches, and again this 
policy received unsparing condemnation. During the con 
versation Rawlins and Dana concurred in criticising and 
disapproving the influence which had come to be paramount 
at headquarters ; and in expressing their regret that I was no 
longer with them on the staff, but was commanding a divi 
sion instead, they did not hesitate to declare that their own 
influence was on the wane and that the new staff was neither 
so harmonious nor so efficient as the old one used to be. 

The next day I received a letter from W. F. Smith, com 
menting severely upon the "murderous assaults" of Cold 
Harbor, the demoralizing effect they had had upon the rank 
and file, and the reflection which they cast upon the general 
ship of those who had ordered them, or were responsible for 
their management. I sent this letter at once to Dana at 
Grant s headquarters, and it is known that he approved its 
statements; but what use he made of it has never been re 
ported. It is probable, however, that he also showed it to 
Rawlins, from whom he had no concealments. Be this as it 
may, a period of gloom and discouragement followed, and 
the army s feelings were reflected throughout the country. 
Officers of all ranks participated in it, and the unfortunate 
controversy between Grant, Smith and Butler ultimately grew 
out of it; but as I have discussed this controversy with suffi 
cient fullness in "The Life and Services of General Smith," 4 
I return to the letters of Rawlins, which give many interesting 
details of current events. 

On June 8 he wrote from Cold Harbor as follows : 

. . . All quiet to-day except for occasional firing of artillery 
and sharp-shooters. 

4 Published by the John M. Rogers Press, Wilmington, Del., 1904. 



IN VIRGINIA 229 

The sudden change of the weather from extreme heat to cold 
night before last was the cause of my taking cold and of a slight 
return of my cough. . . . 

The papers are filled with eulogies of General Grant and Gen 
eral Sherman, but little is said about General Meade, who is one 
of the ablest and most accomplished officers. Grant s fame is 
established as one of the most successful military men on our 
side, brought to the notice of history by the Rebellion. Sherman 
by the success of his campaign thus far against Atlanta has risen 
and is still rising in the public estimation. You know my opinion 
of him. General Meade, however, is overlooked by all in the 
eagerness to see Grant, and let me assure you no one regrets this 
more than General Grant himself, and when this campaign is 
ended, whatever may be the result, in his official report he will 
do justice to the able and patriotic Meade. There has been noth 
ing thus far between Generals Grant and Meade (nor do I have 
a single apprehension there will be) in their official and personal 
relations conflicting in the slightest manner with the most cordial 
cooperation in all movements of the army or marring for one 
moment their friendship. In no single instance has General 
Meade shown the slightest indication of indecision. To the con 
trary he is prompt and decided in everything and at all times. 
I have never seen the officer who knew more of his army and 
was more watchful to guard it against surprise by the enemy. 
He fills my highest expectations of him, some of which, if I 
remember right, I expressed in a letter from Culpepper C. H. 
He is of all men in the army of the Potomac the one most fitted 
to command it. This opinion is not mine only, but is one fre 
quently expressed by General Grant. His modesty and merit 
will be discovered and made to illuminate the pages of history by 
searchers after truth and the admirers of worth in the final writ 
ing of this rebellion. In your conversations about officers con 
nected with this Army, please give considerable prominence to 
Meade, for none is more deserving than he. This I particularly 
desire. . . . 

Cold Harbor, Va., June 9, 1864. . . . Greater quiet has pre 
vailed along the lines of the hostile armies to-day than at any time 
since our arrival here. An armistice was had on the 7th for the 
burial of the dead of each army. The number of ours buried 
was 432. The enemy buried his own, and I have no means of 



2 3 o LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

knowing the number. These were killed in the battle of the 3rd. 
General Grant proposed certain arrangements to General Lee on 
the 4th for the burial of the dead, but they were not agreed to, 
hence the delay. 

General Sheridan left here three days ago with a large cavalry 
force for Charlottsville or thereabouts. He will, we have great 
hopes, be able to effect a junction with General Hunter, who 
after whipping the enemy badly at Mt. Crawford, twelve miles 
beyond Staunton, on Sunday last, entered Staunton on the Mon 
day following. I mentioned this battle in a previous letter. 
Hunter and Sheridan will have a force of great strength, able 
to take care of itself in an open country, and which will, I have 
no doubt, inflict great injury upon the enemy. . . . 

Cold Harbor, Va., June 10, 1864. . . . To-day has been more 
quiet than any day since we crossed the Rapidan. Richmond 
papers confirm previous reports of the defeat of their forces by 
General Hunter, and also state that General Crook, in command 
of a large force of Yankees, was on Monday last at Wilboro, 
about sixteen miles from Lexington, Va., where the rebels have 
a military academy, the destruction of which they very much 
fear. This all looks favorable to us. Sheridan has reached 
Charlottesville before this and, we have great hopes, has effected 
a junction with Hunter and Crook, unless they have moved on 
to Lynchburg, the destruction of which place would be a terrible 
blow to the rebels. This is, however, almost too much to hope 
for considering our forces, yet it is not improbable by any 
means. . . . 

Cold Harbor, Va., June n, 1864. . . . Along our main lines 
we have had almost perfect quiet since my last writing. Our 
cavalry on the right this morning drove in the enemy s pickets, 
and were in turn driven back by the enemy. The loss of the 
cavalry was fourteen killed and wounded. The enemy s main 
cavalry force has evidently gone after Sheridan, who started 
five days ago for Charlottesville. 

Our entire loss since the beginning of this campaign, May 4th, 
1864, to and including June 9th, as officially reported, is killed 
7,289, wounded 37,410, missing 9,862, total 54,561. This state 
ment, however, does not include the losses in the cavalry corps 
since June ist. Its loss will be about 600. I send you the exact 
number of casualties that you may not be in ignorance when you 



IN VIRGINIA 231 

see statements of the same made in the newspapers. The num 
ber is great, but the losses of the enemy are also great. We have 
already captured and sent forward fully 11,000 prisoners, but in 
killed and wounded their loss must have been considerably less 
than ours, especially at this place. Our attacks have been against 
a strongly fortified position. In all other places I should say their 
loss has been as great as ours. 

If any letter was written on the I2th, it has not been found. 

Charles City C. H., June 13, 1864. . . . To-day has been fine and 
pleasant. We broke our camp at Cold Harbor yesterday at 3 
o clock P. M., encamped near Despatch Station last night and 
reached here at 4:30 p. M. to-day. The whole army is now vir 
tually across to the west side of the famous Chickahominy. To 
morrow morning we shall commence laying a pontoon bridge 
across the James River, and also ferrying over troops. Our 
movement this far has been a splendid success, and the weather 
most opportune for all our movements. I have no doubt the 
enemy is also moving to the south side of the James and will 
meet us, most probably at Petersburg, should we move in that 
direction. He may possibly make an attack on us in our cross 
ing the river, but I apprehend no such thing. From the com 
mencement of this campaign General Grant has not deviated at 
all from his written plan, but has steadily pursued the line he 
then marked out. I shall give it to you in one of my letters 
hereafter. 

A despatch from General Hunter confirms all we heard of the 
victory he had gained over Jones. He captured 1,500 prisoners, 
3,000 stands of arms, three pieces of artillery and large quantities 
of stores. . . . 

I am in excellent health and spirits. . . . 

Charles City C. H., June 14, 1864. . . . Another beautiful day 
has just closed, with a lovely western horizon, giving promise of 
fair weather to-morrow. Two more such days as this, with no 
interference on the part of the enemy, will enable us to cross 
the entire army of the Potomac to the south side of the James 
River. It seems that thus far we have been especially favored 
of Heaven. Our last flank movement has been regarded by mili 
tary men as extra hazardous. General W. F. Smith s corps has 
already reached Bermuda Hundred, and Hancock s corps is 



232 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

nearly all ferried over to a point nearly opposite here. A pon 
toon bridge will be laid across the river at Fort Powhattan by 
to-morrow morning. Our troops are all up, with trains near by. 
Everything is progressing finely. 

I accompanied the General to Butler s headquarters to-day. 
We went by boat. The James River is one of the most majestic 
of the great rivers of America, and is daily adding to the interest 
it already possesses in American history. . . . 

City Point, Va., June 15, 1864. Beautiful weather. . . . 
Hancock s corps is across the river and the advance of it near 
Petersburg. The pontoon bridge was finished this morning, and 
by to-morrow morning Burnside s corps, which is now crossing 
on it, will be also well up towards Petersburg. General W. F. 
Smith, with a force of 15,000 infantry besides cavalry and artil 
lery, has been fighting since about 4 130 A. M. at Petersburg. He 
has carried one line of works, capturing some artillery; was to 
have assaulted the enemy s line at dark to-night, and there has 
been heavy firing, which indicates that he did so. We have re 
ceived no report from him as yet, but are momentarily expecting 
one. The enemy since about 3 150 p. M. have been reenforcing 
Petersburg by the railroad from Richmond, and we very much 
fear he will be too strong for Smith. Unless the latter should 
succeed to-night in conjunction with Hancock in taking Peters 
burg, we will likely have to commence regular approaches for its 
reduction. 

The news from General Hunter through rebel papers is very 
encouraging. He captured Lexington, Va., on Saturday, the 
nth, and was within 28 miles of Lynchburg and marching in 
that direction. Great apprehensions are felt by the Confederates 
for the safety of that place. Should he reach it, a great advan 
tage will be gained by our arms. Nothing could tell more terri 
bly against Richmond unless it were the defeat of Lee s army. 
Lynchburg is the point where not only two lines of railroad may 
be cut, but also the James River canal. 

Word from Sherman is very cheering, and all looks well, but 
from Northern Mississippi we have news of another terrible dis 
aster. General Sturgiss was sent out some days ago with a force 
of 8,000 men, of whom 3,000 were infantry, from Memphis to 
drive Forrest, who was assembling his command for a raid 
against Sherman s communications, out of Northern Mississippi. 



IN VIRGINIA 233 

He met Forrest near Baldwin on the Ohio & Mobile Railroad, 
and was defeated with the loss of 4,000 men and all his artillery, 
and was pursued to Colliersville, Tenn. 

I cannot understand this, but it seems that we are destined to 
meet with reverses in that direction and must try the harder to 
win success in other places. Morgan s raid into Kentucky has 
been promptly met, and the raiders after the loss of three-fourths 
of his command is fleeing for safety with the remainder of it. ... 

City Point, Va., June 16, 1864. ... All the troops except one 
division of the army are across to the south side of the James 
River, and four corps are in front of Petersburg. The attack 
of General W. F. Smith on Petersburg last night was very suc 
cessful, resulting in the capture of the entire left of its main 
defences, 260 prisoners and 16 pieces of artillery. These de 
fences were very formidable and, had the enemy succeeded in 
throwing a sufficient number of troops into the place, we would 
not have been able to carry these works except by siege. They 
command the city of Petersburg, which lies in a flat below them. 
The enemy still holds the right of the line around the place, and 
is busily constructing an interior one. An attack was ordered 
again this evening, but from it no report has as yet been received. 

The colored troops, about 3,000, in the attack last night carried 
the strongest part of the entrenchments, losing in the assault about 
500 killed and wounded. They did nobly, and are entitled to be 
regarded as among the best of soldiers. You know I have ever 
had some misgivings of their efficiency, but seeing what they have 
accomplished, I doubt no longer. 

The enemy this afternoon abandoned his works in front of 
Bermuda Hundred, and General Butler sent out a strong force 
and now occupies them. He also pushed a force forward to the 
Petersburg and Richmond Railroad and destroyed considerable 
of the track. This seems a strange move on their part and would 
indicate an intention to evacuate Petersburg. They certainly 
can t hold it with Butler between it and Richmond. Two divisions 
of Wright s corps are now passing up the Appomattox to the 
support of Butler. 

A rebel paper of yesterday states that Lieutenant General Polk 
was killed near Marietta on the I4th instant. He was struck by 
a shot from Sherman s artillery. Generals Johnston and Hardee 
were with him at the time. The same paper says that Hampton 



234 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

had attacked and defeated Sheridan at Trevillian Station, cap 
turing 500 prisoners. . . . 

City Point, June 17, 1864. . . . My health is still improving, 
and you may be assured no one seems less likely to be a subject 
of consumption than I. The doctors have all assured me that 
my lungs are not affected, and if you saw me now you would 
concur in their opinion. 

The attack on the enemy at Petersburg made last night and 
this morning resulted in the further capture of works, six addi 
tional guns and four hundred and fifty prisoners. Our loss in 
killed, wounded and missing was about two thousand two hun 
dred. Petersburg is still firmly held by the enemy. While I 
write, however, heavy cannonading is going on in that direction. 
I was out there both yesterday and to-day. 

General Butler has returned to his old lines and the enemy 
to his old position in Butler s front. Butler has been ordered 
to drive the enemy back, which he will try to do to-night. His 
failure to hold and fortify the position they evacuated yesterday 
morning was a great mistake and may cost us a great deal. The 
General and all are well. . . . 

I have just heard from Petersburg. Burnside attacked the 
enemy at eight o clock p. M. and has carried, according to report 
of prisoners taken, the last line of entrenchments between us and 
Petersburg. The fighting is still progressing. I have great hopes 
of being able to report the capture of the Cockade City to-morrow 
night. . . . 

City Point, Va., June 18, 1864. . . . We failed to get into 
Petersburg to-day, but gained considerable ground in that direc 
tion on some portions of our lines, which we are entrenching 
and will hold. We are within one mile of the main part of the 
city. Our losses since we arrived before Petersburg have been 
very heavy. I will be able to state the number in my next letter. 
I send you a Vicksburg paper, not knowing but in the notices of 
marriages you might see some name you would recognize. 

You ask to know the size of my head and the number of the 
slipper I wear. My head is seven and a quarter full my slip 
pers No. 8. 

To-day, like many preceding it, has been most beautiful. Qur 
headquarters are most delightfully situated on the banks of the 
James River, overlooking the immense fleet of river and sea- 



IN VIRGINIA 235 

going vessels lying at City Point and Bermuda Hundred. You 
would be delighted and charmed with the view. . . . 

City Point, June 19, 1864. ... A despatch from Sheridan, 
dated i6th instant at Guinea s Bridge, Virginia, states that he 
had a severe engagement with the enemy at Trevillians Station 
on the Virginia Central Rairoad on the I2th, and completely de 
feated them, capturing 500 prisoners and inflicting on them a 
heavy loss. He destroyed the road from Trevillian s to Louisa 
C. H. Among the rebel officers : Colonel McCallister killed, Gen 
eral Rosser and two colonels wounded. The enemy having sent 
a heavy force on to the road between him and General Hunter, 
he commenced his journey back. General Hunter is on the rail 
road about twenty miles west of Lynchburg, destroying it at a 
great rate, according to the Richmond papers. . . . 

City Point, June 20, 1864. . . . To-day has been clear and fine, 
with all quiet along our lines. No news from any quarter, except 
from the White House, which place was attacked by the enemy 
at daylight this morning, and at 10 A. M. the fighting was still 
going on. Our forces there number about 3,000 men under Gen 
eral Abercrombie. The place is well fortified, and we have every 
reason to believe will be able to hold out until the arrival of 
Sheridan, who was near there yesterday. 

I am now out of debt and feel independent. If you could ex 
change your greenbacks for gold, it might possibly be the best in 
vestment you could make. Do as you like about it. Don t say to 
any one I have advised you thus, but the rapid rise in gold and the 
great surplus of currency makes me doubt if greenbacks will ever 
be at par, no matter what may be the result of the war. The trou 
ble in our currency is, in my judgment, the surplus, in excess of 
the necessities of commerce, and not in the fact that we don t take 
Richmond. Whatever may be the result of this campaign, the 
success of which I do not for a moment doubt, our Government 
is strong and wealthy, and will cancel or put into the course of 
cancellation all its indebtedness. If you have gold you can always 
convert it into currency, and I think you had better make the 
exchange. . . . 

City Point, Va., June 21, 1864. . . . Everything quiet on our 
lines. The attack on White House yesterday was repulsed. 
Sheridan reached there at 5 p. M. and will join us here at once. 



236 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

The Petersburg papers on the 2Oth say that General Hunter 
attacked Lynchburg on Saturday, the i8th, and was repulsed, 
and that they expected a general battle the next day, which 
showed that the attack and repulse amounted to no more than 
a reconnoissance on the part of Hunter. 

President Lincoln is here. He arrived about two o clock 
p. M. to-day, and in company with the General and staff rode 
out to the front. We got back to this point about eight o clock. 
He goes to-morrow to the pontoon bridge across the James at 
Deep Bottom. He is greatly pleased with the condition of affairs 
here, and it was most truly interesting when he was cheered by 
the negro troops, those who fought so gallantly here on the i6th. 
Their honest, hearty hurrahs for the man whom they regard as 
their liberator went up to Heaven I am sure. . . . 

City Point, Va., June 22, 1864. ... In moving the corps of 
Generals Hancock and Wright to the left to circumvallate if 
possible Petersburg to the river on our left, the enemy attacked 
Hancock in great force and compelled him to fall back some dis 
tance from the intended line, with the loss of four pieces of 
artillery. We subsequently retook the line, but whether we re 
captured the guns or not is not reported. At seven o clock p. M. 
the advance was to commence again, but we have not heard from 
it yet. It will most likely result in a heavy fight. 

Richmond papers again report the attack of Hunter upon 
Lynchburg, which attack they say was repulsed with a loss to 
Hunter of 200 prisoners and three guns, and that they were in 
pursuit. 

President Lincoln left here for Washington this afternoon. 

Wilson and Kautz with 7,000 cavalry started this morning 
for the Danville & Richmond Railroad. They crossed the Peters 
burg & Weldon road at 10 A. M., destroying the track and depot 
where they crossed. I have great confidence in their success, 
although cavalry thus far has succeeded but poorly in the destruc 
tion of the enemy s communications. The enemy s cavalry are 
mostly to the north of the river, and hence my belief in the suc 
cess of this raid. 

General Ransom of the old Tennessee Army, who was wounded 
in the Red River expedition, is here. Also Colonel Hillyer and 
two French officers. Thus you see we have distinguished 
visitors. , 



IN VIRGINIA 237 

City Point, Va., June 23, 1864. . . . You say I need give my 
self no uneasiness about your wearing imported goods. Now, 
my dear, if you understand me as being uneasy about your doing 
so, you misunderstand my letter. I simply desire you to give 
your approval to that movement on the part of the ladies of 
America and am delighted to know that you do approve it. Every 
thing that looks to rendering our country independent of other 
countries I desire to favor. Its greatness and glory is the one 
idea of my heart, after my love and duty to you and our little 
ones. And all through her greatness and glory I would have 
her benevolence and generosity shine. . . . 

The refusal of Congress to strike out the commutation clause 
in the conscript law is regarded by many here as very un 
fortunate. . . . 

City Point, June 24, 1864. . . . Have jut returned from the 
front. In extending our lines last night we lost very heavily 
about 3,000 killed, wounded and missing, at a rough estimate, 
and four pieces of artillery. We reached the Weldon Railroad 
and destroyed about one mile of it, and then fell back. We now 
hold a strong line threatening the road, and cavalry has been at 
work destroying it to-day. 

This morning the enemy attacked General Smith s line, and 
were repulsed, leaving in our hands 166 prisoners. To-night 
an attack was ordered by General Smith on a hill between ours 
and the enemy s main line, but the result has not yet been re 
ported. Our entire losses in our operations from the Qth to and 
including the I9th instant were ten thousand four hundred and 
fifteen (10,415). 

I have made an arrangement with Colonel Hillyer to convert 
the money on deposit with N. Corwith & Co., that is to say, five 
hundred dollars, into gold, and have drawn on them for it. ... 

City Point, Va., June 25, 1864. . . . Very dry. Everybody 
wishing for rain. 

General Smith did not make the attack he intended last night. 
To-day all has been quiet. Yesterday afternon Sheridan had 
heavy fighting in the protection of his trains, and in getting them 
to the James River. He succeeded in saving everything and in 
flicted severe loss on the enemy. His own loss was heavy, say 
about 400 killed and wounded. . . . 



238 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

City Point, Va., June 26, 1864. . . . Excessively hot to-day. 
So- hot indeed as to practically put an end to operations. 

Everything on our lines has been quiet except occasional firing 
of artillery. The extreme heat renders operations exceedingly 
difficult, but it will enable the army to get that rest which long 
and continued marching and fighting since May 4th makes neces 
sary. A few days will suffice for this purpose. . . . 

I have been urging General Grant to write to the Speaker of 
the House of Representatives insisting upon the three-hundred- 
dollar clause being struck out of the conscription act. Whether 
he will do so or not, I cannot say. It is getting so late that such 
a letter might not reach the House before action on the bill is had. 
With the great advantages we now hold on the James River and 
in Georgia, if we fail to put down the Rebellion, the nations of 
the world and our own children will arraign us throughout long 
ages to come for our treason to humanity and liberty. We must 
succeed. We dare not fail. . . . 

City Point, June 28, 1864. ... All quiet along our lines yes 
terday and to-day, save the firing of siege guns at intervals into 
Petersburg and at bridges across the Appomattox. 

Richmond papers of yesterday show that General Wilson s 
cavalry raid is doing great damage upon their railroads. He 
reached Burkeville Junction on Friday, destroyed the depots, etc., 
tore up and burnt the ties, bending the rails over the fires. He 
went on down the Danville road towards Danville, destroying 
as he went. All communications with Richmond by rail are now 
out, and I imagine it will take several days, if not weeks, to repair 
damages so as to get cars through from beyond the breaks in 
the roads. 5 . . . 

They claim to have whipped a detachment of Wilson s cavalry 
on the Petersburg road about seven miles from Burkeville Junc 
tion, but I doubt its truth, as they gave no particulars. General 
Hunter has reached Gauley, Virginia, after having, as he reports 
officially, inflicted great injury to the rebels in the destruction of 
railroads and supplies, and whipped them in every engagement. 
He says his troops are in good heart and health and ready to 
move in any direction on getting a fresh supply of ammunition. 
It was want of ammunition that caused his return. 

5 It took nine weeks to repair this road so that trains could be run 
over it. See Richardson s "Personal History of U. S. Grant," p. 417. 



IN VIRGINIA 239 

We have had no rain yet at this point, but yesterday it rained 
all around us and cooled the atmosphere very considerably. It 
is now delightfully pleasant. . . . 

City Point, Va., June 29, 1864. . . . All quiet along our lines, 
save artillery firing at intervals. It will be several days, perhaps 
weeks, before we have another general engagement. We are not 
idle, however, and should we discover any weakening in the 
enemy s lines, advantage will be taken of it if possible. 

An officer with forty men came through to-day from Wilson. 
He is on the Weldon Railroad and confronted by a greatly 
superior force of the enemy. Sheridan s other two divisions 
of cavalry have gone to his assistance, supported by Wright s 
army corps of infantry, which, while they effect the relief of 
Wilson, will, we trust, effectually finish the work of destruction 
on the railroads. 

News from Washington to-day says the House has passed the 
conscription bill without the commutation clause. I hope it will 
also pass the Senate. It is more like an earnest desire for the 
end of the war than any act of the House since the fall of Sumter. 

The General was at the front to-day, and I learn from one 
of his staff he deviated from the only path he should ever travel 
by taking a glass of liquor. It is the first time I have failed to 
accompany him to Petersburg, and it was with misgivings I did 
so. Nothing but indisposition induced me to remain behind. I 
shall hereafter, under no circumstances, fail to accompany 
him. . . . 

City Point, Va., June 30, 1864. To-day has been as dry 
as any preceding it. In fact it is so dry and dusty that the very 
river looks like a bed of dust. . . . 

News from Wilson is laden with grief. His command was 
attacked yesterday afternoon this side of Notoway River and 
from all the information we have obtained was defeated with 
heavy loss in men, his train and five pieces of artillery. General 
Kautz cut his way out, bringing off his own command and a 
part of Wilson s, while Wilson retreated towards Jarrott s Sta 
tion on the Weldon road. The cavalry and infantry sent out 
yesterday to his aid did not reach there in time. 

It is hoped that this force will be able to relieve him yet and 
make up in damage to the enemy all they have inflicted on Wil- 



240 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

son. Our reports are vague and unsatisfactory. I have hopes 
the facts will look better for us when they come to hand. 

I have received my commission, which I send you by Ex 
press. . .- . 

City Point, Va., July I, 1864. . . . Still hot and dry. . . . 
News from Wilson received this evening confirms the reports 
of his defeat and loss of train and artillery, all of which he de 
stroyed himself to keep it from falling into the hands of the 
enemy. His loss in men will not exceed 1,000, I should say, from 
present information. He destroyed effectually twenty-six miles 
of the Petersburg & Lynchburg Railroad and thirty miles of the 
Richmond & Danville Railroad. On the latter road he also de 
stroyed every tie and rail. The Richmond papers say it will take 
four weeks to repair the damage done. At this time Richmond 
is entirely isolated from all railroad communications with the 
South, and we hope to continue the isolation until it falls of its 
own weight. This, however, will take months. . . . 

City Point, July 2, 1864. . . . No rain yet. All has been quiet 
to-day, save artillery firing, which is continued at intervals along 
a portion of our lines. 

Colonel Rowley left for Galena this morning. His health is 
poor and he talks of resigning, in fact has tendered his resigna 
tion, but Bowers and I have persuaded him out of the notion, 
and urged him to take orders for Chicago, from whence he could 
go home and stay for a month at least, and at the expiration of 
the time he could forward his resignation should he still be of 
that mind. Otherwise he could return to the field. 

Colonel Dent went North yesterday in very low health, and 
Colonel Babcock is lying sick in camp. I am in very excellent 
health. My cough, although it still hangs on, is very slight in 
deed. ... I am better in general health than I have ever been 
since our acquaintance. . . . 

City Point, Va., July 3, 1864. . . . Another day, dusty, dry 
and hot, has closed, with no sign of change. Quiet prevails all 
along the lines of the army. The great giants who have wrestled 
from the time of their grappling with each other on the 5th of 
May south of the Rapidan until their feet pressed the soil of 
Petersburg south of the James, now breathe in each other s face 
while resting and making ready for another struggle, each look- 



IN VIRGINIA 241 

ing for the spot to strike at in which he can inflict the greatest 
injury. 

Judging from the newspapers, it would seem that the resigna 
tion of Mr. Chase is creating quite a sensation or, rather, has 
increased the gloom that has hung over our nation since the 
breaking out of the Rebellion. I have held Mr. Chase in high 
esteem as Secretary of the Treasury, but feel that he has shown 
a want of true patriotism in selecting this time of all others to 
add to our national embarrassment, and am inclined to the opinion 
that his withdrawal from the Treasury Department will, after 
it becomes fully understood, result in good to our cause. Repre 
senting as he does the radicalism of the country, he is little less 
dangerous than Vallandigham. 

Our national currency looks badly, but what of it? Had not 
the rebellion maintained the war against us from almost the 
beginning with a depreciated and, for the last eighteen months, 
an entirely worthless currency? And can we not do what they 
have with all the advantages and means to boot in our favor? 
No, a depreciated currency cannot stop the war for national 
existence. We are too near the goal of triumph now to recede. 
Give us the conscription bill with the commutation clause stricken 
out and we will within twelve months stand forth among the 
nations as a united people, free and powerful for good. Years 
only can erase the feelings of ill will engendered, but time will 
heal them in the end. This is the faith of my existence. . . . 

City Point, Va., July 4, 1864. . . . Another of our country s 
anniversaries of independence and the first of the fall of Vicks- 
burg has just closed. Oh, how unlike those before the rebellion, 
and how my heart aches for the restoration of peace! . . . 

Everything quiet along our lines. It is reported that Ewell s 
force sent from Lee s army to repel Hunter s raid is moving 
down the Shenandoah Valley, and I fear much excitement will 
exist throughout the country for the safety of Washington be 
fore this reaches you. We suppose Hunter will be able to con 
centrate his forces at Harper s Ferry in time to prevent the 
invasion of Maryland. Ewell s command cannot much exceed 
15,000, though it may reach 18,000. Should he get into Mary 
land, however, there will be nothing left undone that can be done 
to prevent his ever getting back. With our great facilities for 
the transportation of troops it will take but two days to move 



242 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

from here an army corps if necessary. Besides, we are expecting 
here the arrival of the I9th Army Corps from Banks s Depart 
ment within a short time. Vessels to transport them were sent 
several da ys since ; of this, however, you will please not speak to 
any one where there would be the least likelihood of its becom 
ing public. 

City Point, Va., July 6, 1864. ... I had hoped during the 
present lull in affairs here to get a few days to myself for the 
purpose of visiting you in your new home, but all prospects of 
it vanished yesterday evening, when it became necessary for 
Colonel Bowers to go and see his mother, who is dangerously 
ill, and also for the purpose of repairing his own health, which 
is poor indeed. At present of the General s staff there are 
absent Colonels Dent, Duff, Rowley and Bowers, and Colonel 
Babcock is quite poorly and will, I fear, have to go also. I am 
too well to think of getting off on a plea of sickness; besides, 
my presence is perhaps more indispensable than that of any staff 
officer, for in the absence of the assistant adjutant general I 
know and can perform his duties, which no one else can do so 
well ; and then, too, I look after and care for the personal habits 
of those who must not be permitted to fall. 

All quiet to-day. Richmond papers say that they have whipped 
Sherman in Atlanta and that he is in full retreat. This we do not 
believe. From seven to nine thousand men left here to-day for 
Washington to aid in defeating Early. . . . 

No letter of July 7 has been found. 

City Point, Va., July 8, 1864. . . . News from General Sher 
man is very favorable. He has driven the enemy to the south 
side of the Chattahoochee. Nothing new along our lines save 
the firing of artillery by both the enemy and ourselves. But 
little damage is being done to us, and whether we do any more 
to them is questionable. . . . 

City Point, Va., July 9, 1864. . . . The remainder of the 6th 
Corps goes to Washington in the morning, and should have gone 
three days ago but for a despatch from General Halleck stating 
that they would not be needed. They are now in great trepida 
tion, but I have no doubt we shall get forces forward soon enough 
to defend the place and at the same time inflict such damage 



IN VIRGINIA 243 

upon the enemy as to make him think he has paid dearly for 
his whistle. . . . 

City Point, Va., July 10, 1864. . . . All quiet along our lines. 

Stirring and exciting news from Washington reached us last 
night and this morning. 

The remaining two divisions of Wright s corps left to-day for 
Washington one division had gone forward several days ago. 
The 1 9th Corps, on its way from New Orleans to this place, or, 
rather, its advance, has reached Port Monroe and has gone for 
ward to Washington. All will be well and the rebel movement 
into Maryland will result, if properly looked to, in great advan 
tage to us. ... 

City Point, July n, 1864. . . . Another hot day, followed by 
rain after night. 

No news here at all. Everything is as quiet as summer. We 
have a rumor, however, that Hill s corps moved from its position 
in our front yesterday, Longstreet s corps taking its place, but 
where it has gone, if gone it has, we do not even conjecture yet. 
We do not believe it has gone to Maryland for the distance is so 
great it could not hope to reach Early in time to afford him any 
material aid. One or two days will determine its whereabouts. 
If it has gone on any expedition from here we will try and take 
advantage of its absence to inflict a blow upon the enemy. 

The news from Sherman is very encouraging. He has forced 
Johnston to the south side of the Chattahoochee, and has crossed 
portions of his own army, and secured the crossings of the river 
at two different fords. 

From Washington we have had no news to-day. Last night 
General Grant received a despatch from the President stating 
that he thought it best for the General to come there. This was 
a despatch in answer to one the General had sent saying he would 
go to Washington if it was thought best. I differed with any 
and all such propositions and told the General that his place was 
here that he had started out to defeat Lee and capture Richmond 
that his appearance in Washington would be heralded all over 
the country as an abandonment of his campaign, a faltering at 
least in his purpose ; that he had under orders to Washington full 
thirty thousand men, with able and efficient officers, besides the 
troops of Hunter and those already at Washington and Baltimore, 
and if they could not defeat, rout and capture Early, whose force 



244 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

never could exceed twenty-five thousand, I did not think his 
presence would help the thing enough to justify his going from 
here. Falling in with my view, he telegraphed the President in 
accordance" therewith . . . 

Colonel Ritter goes to Harrisburg in the morning, for a few 
days. Colonel Badeau is quite sick and will perhaps have to go 
North. . . . 

City Point, July 13, 1864. . . . News from Washington con 
tinues exciting but we have no fears for the safety of the place. 
All the troops necessary for its defence and to follow up and give 
successful battle have been sent from here. General H. G. 
Wright, an able and splendid soldier, has the supreme command 
of the moving forces there, and from the facts as they appear to 
me, I can see no reason why we should not defeat and destroy 
Early s whole command and turn into positive success for us this 
movement of the enemy. What will be done a few days will 
determine. When this letter will reach you is doubtful. The 
railroad from Washington north is broken, but I never fail in 
keeping my word to you in the matter of correspondence. 

It would appear that the whole of Lee s army is threatening 
Washington. It is positively asserted that Longstreet s corps is 
on the way there, but we have the best of evidence that it remains 
here, and that it is here I have no doubt. We have deserters 
from it daily and also make captures of prisoners from it. This 
latter evidence never has failed us. ... 

City Point, July 14, 1864. . . . News from Washington is that 
the enemy has taken up his return line of march. Whether we 
will be able to inflict damage upon him is not yet known. Col 
onel Comstock goes to Washington to-night to try and hasten 
the return to this place of the troops sent from here, the moment 
it is ascertained that they are no longer needed there, or that the 
enemy is beyond their reach. . . . 

City Point, July 15, 1864. . . . All quiet along our lines here. 
News from Washington shows the enemy has left Maryland with 
large amounts of plunder gathered from the Marylanders. Hun 
ter is moving from Harper s Ferry to intercept their retreat. 

Sherman has got the enemy south of the Chattahoochee and 
will himself move to the south side as early as the I7th. He has 
his supplies all up for a vigorous push on Atlanta. . . . 



IN VIRGINIA 245 

On July 1 6, 1864, Rawlins wrote a long letter, speaking of 
his "Democratic notions of life and its proprieties." He 
added : 

. . . That I have not gone home is a matter over which thus 
far I have had no control, but I have been shaping everything 
with a view to seeing you before a great many weeks go by. I 
have urged and encouraged every one of the staff who had the 
least desire to go home, to do so, and all except Colonel Babcock 
have been off. When they return I shall have the aid of all of 
them, and their interest too, in getting away for a few days 
myself. Don t you think I m something of a diplomat? . . . 

City Point, July 17, 1864. . . . The General has ordered to this 
place the 6th and I9th Corps, sent some days ago to Washington, 
with a view to an attack on the enemy before Early can get back. 
Whether the Government will let them leave Washington is some 
what doubtful. There is evidently much anxiety still there for 
the safety of the city, and I fear an uneasiness as to the effect the 
recent raid may have upon the fall election. The blame will, I 
have no doubt, be laid at the General s door. For my own part I 
see nothing serious that can come of it. Certainly the General 
acted as promptly as he could in the premises and but for the 
despatches saying they thought they had troops enough to defend 
the city, sent by one authorized to speak for them, and who ought 
to be regarded as capable of judging, one whole army corps would 
have been there three days earlier than it was. Say nothing of 
this. We shall see what we shall see. 

It turns out that General Wilson was not confirmed by the 
Senate, although we had, in answer to inquiries long ago, been 
made to understand that he was. He has, however, been ap 
pointed again to rank from his former date. This is treating very 
badly an enthusiastic, able young officer, but time will make all 
things even, it is said, and I trust it is true. . . . 

City Point, July 18, 1864. . . . Another delightful day has 
closed with nothing worthy of mention, except that General Grant 
has in view the responsibility that may be laid upon him for the 
enemy s recent raid into Maryland, asked to have a Military Di 
vision constructed out of the territory now comprising the De 
partments of Washington, Middle and Western Virginia, with 
Major General Franklin to command it. If this is done the Gen- 



246 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS- 

eral can be answerable for the safety of the Maryland border; 
otherwise he should not be so held. 

The two- corps ordered to be returned here are en route for this 
place. 

The regiments whose term of service expires between this and 
the twenty-fifth of August next, have been ordered to Washing 
ton. They will tend considerably to steady the nerves of the 
people of Maryland and not materially weaken us here; for the 
fact is those regiments whose time is nearly out, do not evince 
the alacrity of regiments who have a long time yet to serve. 
There is good reason or at least it is not unnatural that this 
should be so. 

General Ord and staff arrived here this evening. Honorable 
Mr. Kellogg of Michigan is here. He talks to suit me, and his 
visit, I have no doubt, will be fraught with good to the service. 
I like to entertain such men . . . 

Enclosed I send you photograph with autograph of Major 
General Winfield S. Hancock, one of the best and most gallant 
of soldiers. Put it along side of the lamented Sedgwick in your 
album of heroes. . . . 

City Point, Va., July 19, 1864. . . . We have had one steady 
and continuous rain all day. The dust is effectually laid and it 
will take several days to resurrect it into the clouds, which seemed 
so long to delight in enveloping us. Never were people more glad 
to have rain than we. 

The i gth Corps is beginning to arrive. The news from Sher 
man is very favorable. He has crossed the Chattahoochee with 
his entire army and is moving directly on Atlanta and Decatur. 
He has already struck and broken the railroad east of Atlanta. 
Since crossing the river he has encountered only the enemy s 
cavalry. It may be possible they intend giving up Atlanta with 
out a battle. The tone of the Atlanta papers favors this supposi 
tion. If they do, my own conviction is that the major part of 
Johnston s army will be brought here. Should they do this, there 
is no doubt of our ability to hold our present position, even 
against both Lee and Johnston. The danger will be of a move 
ment against Washington. But why speculate upon the uncer 
tainty of future military movements ? All we have to do is what 
we can do in the living present, not forgetting, however, to pre 
pare for future dangers, as time may develop them. 



IN VIRGINIA 247 

General Grant to-day relieved Major General William F. Smith 
from command and duty in this army, because of his spirit of 
criticism of all military movements and men, and his failure to 
get along with any one he is placed under, and his disposition to 
scatter the seeds of discontent throughout the army. . . . 

City Point, July 20, 1864. . . . No news to-day from Sherman. 
General A. J. Smith, after a fight with Forrest at and in the neigh 
borhood of Tupelo, Miss., on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, de 
feated him, with a loss to the enemy of full twenty-five hundred. 
Our loss was small in men and no loss in anything else . . . 

The President has finally called for five hundred thousand 
more men. This is better late than never. Had Congress given 
him the power to conscript, with the commuting clause left out, 
at the beginning of the last session, instead of at its close, and he 
had exercised it, the end of the war, so much hoped for, would 
have been reached in the campaign begun last May, but such was 
not the action of the Government and hence the unfinished work 
yet to be done. . . . 

City Point, July 21, 1864. ... A most delightful day has 
closed with still the same momentous quiet along our lines here, 
that has prevailed for the last month. 

News from the South is that Johnston has been relieved and 
General Hood, who is said to be a fighting General, has been put 
in command of his army, from which we infer that the enemy will 
give Sherman battle at Atlanta, and that if we can only whip 
them, is the very best thing they can do for us. The enemy beaten 
in battle at Atlanta, would give us the whole country, whereas if 
they simply fall back from that place, keeping their army intact, 
it will be a constant menace to our position which at best is diffi 
cult to hold. 

We shall so operate here as to prevent the enemy from sending 
troops to Hood to defeat Sherman as Beauregard did from 
Corinth in 1862 to defeat McClellan, and as Lee did last Sep 
tember to defeat Rosecrans. 

Of the operations of our Eastern and Western armies this 
spring and summer, this much at least can be said they have so 
moved and fought as to prevent the enemy reenforcing in either 
front, to our destruction, as they have in every instance here 
tofore. 

News from General Wright is encouraging. He and Crook 



248 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

had crossed the Shenandoah yesterday, near Berryville and were 
driving the enemy, with a prospect of capturing their trains. The 
day before^they had driven Crook back from his attempt to cross 
the river before the arrival of Wright. . . . 

City Point, July 22, 1864. ... I mail to you an article which I 
desire preserved, from the New York Herald, vindicating General 
Hunter against attacks, which have been made upon him in 
the Western Press, and which article is near the truth. The only 
question being whether General Hunter should not have gone by 
the way of Charlottesville to Lynchburg instead of by Lexington. 
His orders were to go to Staunton, Charlottesville and Lynch 
burg, if possible, destroying thoroughly the railroads from those 
points to Richmond. In this way the Valley of Virginia would 
always have been open to him. 

I send you also a copy of a letter from General Scott, touching 
what he understands some one has reported he should have said 
about General Grant. He is mistaken, however, in his supposi 
tion, for the General had never heard of his speaking unfavorably 
of him. I am pleased at his writing the letter. 

. . . My cough is still annoying me, but I have a fresh gallon 
of very old Bourbon and a bottle of cod liver oil, but how I wish 
the necessity for its use no longer existed. . . . 

City Point, Va., July 23, 1864. . . . No occurrences of interest 
to the historian. No, I cannot say so much, for every day some 
of the brave defenders of our country are taken away to a better 
land, and in their death help to swell the roll of honor . . . 

News from Sherman to-day brings sad intelligence that Major 
General J. B. McPherson was killed yesterday by a bullet through 
his lungs, fired from the enemy s works while he was making a 
reconnoissance of them. McPherson, my friend, with whom I 
have shared the same blanket, messed at the same board, endured 
the fatigue of the march, the exposures of the storm and faced 
dangers of battle. Brave, patriotic and gifted, his country will 
weep his loss as irreparable, and every friend of freedom will 
find for him a tear. My mind would be to say more of him but I 
have not the command of language to do justice to his worth and 
fame. . . . 

City Point, Va., July 24, 1864. ... I send you in this mail a 
Galena Advertiser in which you will read an article advocating 



IN VIRGINIA 249 

your husband s being appointed Secretary of War, which will 
surprise and amuse you as much as it does him. . . . 

City Point, July 28, 1864. . . . On my return yesterday from 
Washington I touched at Cherry Stone Point and there received 
your despatch, for which accept my thanks. . . . 

I find the General in my absence digressed from his true path. 
The God of Heaven only knows how long I am to serve my coun 
try as the guardian of the habits of him whom it has honored. 
It shall not be always thus. Owing to this faltering of his, I 
shall not be able to leave here till the rebel movement in Mary 
land is settled and also the fate of Atlanta. . . . 

City Point, July 28, 1864 [later]. . . . Matters are now such 
that it is impossible for me to leave here at present. Active oper 
ations have commenced, which with the fact of the General s 
forgetting himself, in that one danger of which I wrote you this 
morning, renders my being here of an importance that you can 
appreciate as fully as any person living, although it deprives you 
of an immediate visit from me, a visit which my health de 
mands . . . 

Since writing the foregoing I have had a long talk with the 
General and Colonel Bowers, and they conclude I had better go 
as early as the first of next month, and I have thought, all things 
considered, I can perhaps as well be spared by that time as at 
any time thereafter. So you may begin to look for me about next 
Wednesday if I have no delays. . . . 

From the foregoing correspondence it will be seen that 
from the time Grant assumed command of our armies as 
Lieutenant General till he crossed the James River and be 
sieged Petersburg, Rawlins had been his inseparable counsellor 
and his ever-vigilant guardian. He had from the first thrown 
the weight of his influence in favor of the Overland Cam 
paign, and what is still more important, in favor of manceu- 
vering the enemy out of his entrenched positions, instead of 
trying to drive him out by direct attack. He had constantly 
urged that the army should be reen forced by all the troops 
that could be spared from elsewhere and that Congress should 
authorize a conscription from which no man could escape by 



250 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

purchase. He points out that had this measure been enacted 
at the beginning of the current session of Congress instead 
of at its .close, the army would have been strengthened in 
the right way and the war would have been ended much 
sooner. Withal, it is evident that in a strictly military sense 
his influence had begun to wane, and that in the daily opera 
tions of the army others of inferior judgment had acquired 
greater influence than himself. In the more important fields 
of personal conduct and military policy he still remained with 
out a rival. When the President invited Grant to Washing 
ton, it was Rawlins whose fears and arguments prevented his 
going, till it was certain that the trip was absolutely 
necessary. 

It is also evident that while Rawlins had at first a high 
regard for the abilities of W. F. Smith, and concurred in his 
condemnation of the assault at Cold Harbor, he ultimately 
came to censure his criticism of those in authority over him 
for their responsibility and part in it, and fully approved his 
relief from duty with the Army of the James as the shortest 
way to the restoration of harmony and discipline. In com 
mon with Grant, Rawlins appears to have been disappointed in 
regard to Butler s merits as a soldier as well as to his im 
portance as a politician and statesman. 

On the other hand, Smith was an open, imprudent, and 
even an acrimonious critic of both men and measures that 
he did not approve, and while he was careful to limit his cen 
sure to those whose function it was to regulate details, the 
latter were doubtless ingenious enough to make it appear that 
his shafts were aimed at the chief commander as well as at 
the plans upon which the army was then operating. The 
letters quoted above show that Rawlins not only came to this 
opinion but to the belief that Smith, whom he knew to be 
an honest and able man as well as a good friend of Grant, 
had been actuated rather by disappointment and selfish ambi 
tion than by a spirit of helpfulness in advocating the plan 



IN VIRGINIA 251 

of operations by the way of Albemarle Sound, which Frank 
lin was first to bring forward, but which his friend elaborated 
and supported, as Rawlins thought, with obstinate persistency v 
When it is recalled that both Grant and Rawlins at first 
concurred in considering Smith s success at Petersburg as 
having been all that could have been expected, and that Raw 
lins, at least, joined in the condemnation of the futile and 
costly attacks directed against the enemy s entrenched posi 
tions at Cold Harbor and Spottsylvania, it will be seen that 
powerful influences must have been brought to bear to weaken 
his control and to bring about Smith s overthrow. 

It is not known what Butler s own attitude was in respect 
either to these operations or to what finally came to be desig 
nated by the critics as the "Policy of Attrition," but it is 
fully established that he used the criticism contained in Smith s 
letters, as well as what Smith said in person to Butler s 
officers at Fort Monroe, to secure his own reinstatement and 
Smith s dismissal from command in the field. This is one of 
the most interesting but obscure episodes of the time, and 
whatever may have been the open or secret influences under 
lying it, it may well be regarded as an instance of retributive 
justice that, notwithstanding Butler s immediate triumph and 
Smith s downfall, Grant shortly found himself compelled to 
relieve Butler for incompetency and to place his army under 
the command of the steady-going Ord, of the regular army. 
Moreover, it is certain that, whatever may have been the part 
taken by Rawlins in these transactions, he fully approved of 
Butler s relief by a professional soldier as a sound and judi 
cious measure which called for no public defence. 

To those who knew Grant and his Chief of Staff in the 
West and were aware of their peculiarities and personal rela 
tions, and to such as read with care the letters which I have 
quoted, it will be apparent that the friendship or hostility of 
Rawlins was an important factor in the fate of many of the 
leadings generals, and that he gave his approval, on the one 



252 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

hand, or his disapproval, on the other, from none but the 
highest and most unselfish motives. While it is to be re 
gretted that he did not more fully describe the conduct and 
characteristics of those with whom he had to do, and did not 
more fully set forth the genesis and course of the various plans 
and movements which came under his observation, there is 
much in his correspondence which the student of history will 
thank him for. His revelation of self is complete. It shows 
him to have been a fearless friend, an unselfish patriot, and 
an official adviser, of ability and independence. Lacking tech 
nical military knowledge, to which he made no pretension, but 
possessing moral qualities and character of the highest order, 
he nevertheless rendered the greatest service to his chief, who 
had had military training and experience in abundance, but 
was lacking in other important qualities which Rawlins sup 
plied. It was a rare and fortunate combination; and while 
it was far from including all the attributes of a perfect gen 
eral, it may well be contended that without the contributions 
of both, Grant could scarcely have hoped to achieve the splen 
did success which finally crowned his military career. 

It is to be noted, on the other hand, that notwithstanding 
the vein of hopefulness which pervades these unstudied let 
ters of Rawlins to his wife, the work and exposure of the 
campaign were proving too much for his strength, and that 
in spite of his indomitable will and his pathetic desire for 
health, the disease from which he was suffering was making 
slow but steady progress to its inevitable end. 



XIV 

NEARING THE WAR S END 

Petersburg Mine Explosion Rawlins on Sick Leave Letters of 
Lieutenant Colonel Bowers Grant Visits Washington Tac 
tical Mistake of Dividing the Cavalry Failure to Complete 
Circumvallation of Petersburg Rawlins Rejoins Army- 
Sheridan s Campaign Against Early Rawlins s Letters to His 
Wife Wilson Ordered West Hood s Invasion of Middle 
Tennessee Rawlins Opposes Sherman s March to the Sea Till 
Hood Could Be Disposed of Sent West to Forward Ree n- 
forcements His Views Vindicated. 

IT will be observed that the confidence, which Rawlins ex 
pressed on July 29, in a successful assault of the enemy s 
lines at Petersburg, like that of the month previous in regard 
to the extension of the national lines to and across the Weldon 
Railroad, was misplaced. The latter should have succeeded 
because of Grant s superiority of numbers, if not by good 
management, but the former was based upon the belief that 
the explosion of an extensive mine in Burnside s front would 
make an opening in the enemy s entrenchments through which 
a vital thrust might be made. The mine was exploded, an 
enormous breach was made, but unfortunately it was bot 
tomed by a crater of great depth, with sides too steep to be 
surmounted by a rush. The enemy was stunned and scat 
tered by the explosion, and quite a quarter of an hour passed 
before his shaken battalions could be rallied and put into po 
sition to resist the assault which should have followed at 
once, had proper dispositions been made to that end. 

Grant, in accordance with his general rule, had left the 
details to Meade, who unfortunately left them in turn to 

253 



254 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Burnside, the immediate commander. It was clearly their 
duty to make the necessary arrangements for following the 
explosion, with an assault which should pass around, not 
through, the breach, drive the enemy back, and take pos 
session of the works on either side. But it appears that 
neither general had had much confidence in the mine; hence, 
neither made any adequate preparation to insure the success 
of the assault following the explosion. Instead of telling 
off two divisions of the best troops under the guidance of 
experienced officers, and preparing others to support and co 
operate with them, Ledlie s division of white troops was as 
signed to the task of assaulting the breach made by the crater. 
Ledlie, although a civil engineer and contractor, was an 
officer of but little aptitude and no special training for such 
serious work, and while he was supported by two divisions 
of colored troops, one of them commanded by an ex-dancing 
master at West Point, the movement after the explosion 
was not only slow but badly managed throughout. The 
advancing men piled into the crater without method or ade 
quate leadership, became hopelessly confused, and were killed 
by hundreds, mainly through the use of hand grenades, which 
were thrown down the slopes of the crater in great numbers. 
The operations instead of being conducted successfully by 
trained officers and competent commanders, ended, as might 
have been expected, in a bloody and discouraging disaster, 
which should have emphasized the failure to capture Peters 
burg, not only then but when the Union Army first closed 
in upon its defences. In both cases it is now evident that 
the troops available for the undertaking were ample and 
within reasonable supporting distance, and that the failure 
was primarily due to defective organization of the army as 
a whole, and to the absence of all proper staff arrangements. 
There were too many links in the chain, too many separate 
heads through which orders must be sent, too much inde 
pendence, too little cooperation between commanders, and a 



NEARING THE WAR S END 255 

total absence of that promptitude, coherence, and efficiency 
of operations which are impossible without a competent gen 
eral staff. 

Grant was primarily responsible for all this. He had com 
plete authority over such matters, but having committed him 
self from the start to the maintenance of the separate organi 
zations in that theatre of operations, as well as to the policy 
of leaving the different generals free to carry their orders 
into effect in such manner as might seem best to them, he 
had thereby relieved his chief of staff from most of the re 
sponsibility that should otherwise have rested on him. 

Nobody knew better than Rawlins that well-laid plans were 
failing far too often. Nobody knew better than he that the 
team was not only "balky" but badly driven, and finally no 
body had been more severe than he in the condemnation of 
direct assaults upon fortified positions; but he allowed him 
self, apparently with good reason, to hope that the explosion 
of the mine would afford an exceptional opportunity, which 
might lead to a great success. The failure which followed 
was a sore disappointment to him as well as to his chief. His 
impaired health made him peculiarly susceptible to the influ 
ence of the hot weather, which was now becoming intense. 
Realizing that this, when superadded to the great disappoint 
ment which had overtaken the army, would necessarily put 
an end to active operations for a few weeks, Rawlins con 
cluded to take a sick leave, with the understanding that he 
would return on short notice should any emergency arise. He 
left the army on July 25, with despatches for the President 
and Secretary of War. After seeing them both, he went 
on to New York and Danbury the next day. It is not known 
what passed between him and the Washington authorities, 
but it may be safely assumed that he posted them fully, not 
only as to the history of recent operations but as to the 
requirements of the army, forgetting neither the necessity 



256 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

for the draft nor for such other reinforcements as could safely 
be drawn from other departments. 

During the absence of Rawlins, his faithful assistant, Bow 
ers, kept him informed by daily letters, written the last thing 
at night, in reference to all matters of importance which 
took place at headquarters after August i. These letters 
contain many interesting comments upon current events, and 
especially upon the operations that were undertaken for the 
purpose of preventing Lee from detaching further reenforce- 
ments to Early in the Valley of Virginia. 

On August 2 Bowers reported the losses of the various 
corps of the army in the operations following the mine ex 
plosion as 4,400 men, of whom 1,960 were prisoners; and 
that the failure of our troops to break through the gap made 
by the explosion had produced a feeling of gloom and de 
spondency which threatened to paralyze future operations. 
The next day he reported that he was having unusual trouble 
on account of whiskey permits. Nearly all the sutlers were 
asking for such permits, and the embarrassment was in 
creased by the demand of the Chief Quartermaster in behalf 
of his own sutler, who wanted permission to introduce a 
large number of cases of liquor and bitters. Permission was 
refused and Colonel Bowers adds: 

. . . The Quartermaster General thought my course unreason 
able and my objections mawkish, youthful sentiment. He said if 
you were here no objection would be interposed. I told him that 
he was much mistaken unless you had radically changed your 
views, that I had derived my education on the subject from you, 
that he could appeal to Grant and I would do his bidding, but 
that so help me God, I never would voluntarily stock this army 
with liquor. Grant was not accessible and so the matter ended 
for the time. . . . 

Early in the month of August, Grant went to Washing 
ton for the purpose of looking after its defence against 



NEARING THE WAR S END 257 

Early s army operating in that direction. Referring to this 
trip, Bowers wrote Rawlins, August 10: 

... I have tried to induce the General to remove Halleck. 
While he confesses to having been deceived in him and having 
now his eyes open as to Halleck s position and conduct, he will 
not bring himself at present to take the step we urge. He has, 
however, settled Halleck down into a mere staff officer for Stan- 
ton. Halleck has no control over troops except as Grant delegates 
it. He can give no orders and exercise no discretion. Grant now 
runs the whole machine independently of the Washington direc 
tory. I am glad to say he is fully himself, works vigorously and 
will soon devise another plan for discomfiting the enemies of the 
country. . . . 

Referring to a movement similar to that contemplated when 
Hancock and Sheridan were sent to Deep Bottom, he wrote, 
August 12: 

The troops are already in motion and everything is being con 
ducted with great vigor and secrecy ... If the movement suc 
ceeds it will give us Richmond. The prospects are fair. Indeed 
my expectations are up to the highest pitch. After debating the 
subject seriously I this morning telegraphed you to come up by 
the first train. I was not only agonizing to have you here but I 
feared you would think me unfaithful if I neglected to recall you 
on the eve of important action. I know the General would be 
rejoiced to have you present but his solicitude for your restora 
tion to health would prevent his sending for you as long as he 
could. I think when I see you you will approve my action in 
telegraphing you to return. 1 

On August 20 he wrote : 

. . . The impression is becoming almost universal that for po 
litical considerations the President will suspend the draft. If he 
does, good-bye United States. 

The General is fully himself, although in impaired health. . . . 

1 Not found. Correspondence with Bowers s brother brought out the 
fact that his letters had not been kept. 



258 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

The next day he wrote : 

... I jiever before saw Grant so intensely anxious to do some 
thing. He appears determined to try every possible expedient. 
His plans are good but the great difficulty is that our troops can 
not be relied upon. The failure to take advantage of opportuni 
ties pains and chafes him beyond anything I have ever before 
known him to manifest. 

Each and every member of the staff daily requests me to pre 
sent you his kindest remembrances. . . . 

On the 25th he wrote: 

. . . Anxious as we all are to have you return we trust you will; 
remain until your health has permanently improved, unless the 
necessities of the service here make your presence indispensable. 
In the latter case we shall promptly telegraph you to come. I will 
show portions of your letter to the General in the morning and 
to-morrow will give you his views on the subject. I regret to say 
that Grant has been quite unwell for the past ten days. He feels 
languid and feeble and is hardly able to keep about, yet he tends 
to business promptly and his daily walk and conduct are unexcep 
tionable. . . . 

This is the last of Bowers s letters, as he was about this 
time called home on account of his widowed mother s severe 
illness. But the daily reports from headquarters were con 
tinued by Captain Leet, who thenceforth kept Rawlins offi 
cially informed of what was taking place not only there 
but throughout the entire theatre of war. 

The situation from the time the Army of the Potomac 
crossed the James and sat down before Petersburg was a 
discouraging one. Grant had early in the campaign com 
mitted the serious mistake of dividing his cavalry, thus mak 
ing it easy for the Confederate leader to use his entire 
mounted force supported by a moving column of infantry, 
from a central position on shorter or interior lines against 
our detachments, as well as for the reestablishment and main 
tenance of his communications with the Confederacy. Raw- 



NEARING THE WAR S END 259 

lins s letters, as well as the Records, show that Sheridan, 
instead of going on to Hunter, which he might have done, or 
rejoining the army immediately after the fight at Trevillian s 
Station, pursued a circuitous route to the White House and 
then lost eleven days in getting from the White House to the 
left of Grant s infantry front, when the distance of about 
fifty miles, including the passage of the James, might have 
been covered easily in two, or at most three, marches, My 
discomfiture at the close of the movement against the Dan 
ville and Southside Railroads was the direct result of this 
division of force and of Sheridan s unnecessarily long absence 
north of the James. Both should have been entirely suc 
cessful had we been directed to operate together, first north 
and then south of Richmond. 

Immediately after I began the operations confided to me, 
the army made another failure, which was a great disap 
pointment not only to Rawlins but to every general in it. I 
refer now to the effort to complete the circumvallation of 
Petersburg on the south side of the Appomattox, which was 
an essential part of Grant s general plan. While it was not 
absolutely necessary to my safe return, both Grant and Meade 
confidently said that it would be accomplished on the 
twenty-second and twenty-third of June and that in any event 
the door would be kept open for me. It will be remembered 
that all of Grant s efforts to rest the left of his army on the 
Appomattox were frustrated till April 2, 1865, or for a total 
period of nine months. The energy and skill with which Lee 
during that period held and extended his line of defence from 
the Appomattox below Petersburg to Five Forks, nearly forty 
miles straight out into the country, and thus covered both 
the city and its railroad connections, while he kept up his 
connection with the Confederacy, are among the marvels 
of modern warfare. They are worthy of the most careful 
study and consideration by military men. Grant did his best 
from time to time to break through or turn this line of 



2<5o LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

defence, but after making due allowance for the mistakes and 
mismanagement which are always liable in military opera 
tions, it must be admitted that the efficiency of the army had 
been so lowered that it seemed unequal to the task before it. 
Grant had a considerable preponderance of force over Lee 
throughout the campaign, but withal he did not have sufficient 
to hold his own works, cover his base, maintain his line of 
communication, and detach at the same time a force strong 
enough to turn Lee s right flank completely and drive it from 
the field, till after the other Confederate forces operating else 
where in Virginia had been overthrown. Had Rawlins s pol 
icy in favor of the prompt and rigid enforcement of the draft 
and of fetching reinforcements from other departments been 
earlier and more vigorously carried into effect, it is now con 
ceded that the end might have been reached just so much 
sooner. 

During the excessively hot weather of August and Sep 
tember the army in front of Petersburg remained on the de 
fensive, or its operations were desultory and inconclusive. 
Consequently many of the officers took leave of absence. 
Rawlins, who was among the first to go, was again encour 
aged and anxious to return to duty, but with that thoughtful 
kindness which never failed him, Grant insisted upon Raw 
lins remaining away till rest and care should completely 
restore him. His brother-officers, with most of whom he was 
a strong favorite, in spite of the favorable reports he sent 
back, had begun to feel anxious on account of his prolonged 
absence, though .as yet it is far from certain that any of 
them realized that he was in the clutches of a fatal disease. 
On September 25, Babcock strongly advised Rawlins by let 
ter to give up the idea of further service in the field and to 
establish headquarters at Washington. He reenforced this 
advice by saying that all his friends concurred in the opinion 
that this would be the best course for him. While Grant s 
name was not mentioned, it may be regarded as certain that 



NEARING THE WAR S END 261 

the letter would not have been written without his permission. 

But in spite of this solicitude for his health and welfare, 
Rawlins remained firm, and after nearly three months spent 
with his family, mostly in the bracing air of the Connecticut 
highlands, returned to his post of duty at City Point, some 
what improved in strength and looks, but still far from as 
fit as he ought to have been for military work. While absent 
he had consulted a specialist in New York, who pronounced 
his lungs sound, but said he was suffering from chronic bron 
chitis, which would yield to proper treatment. Dana, who 
held him in the highest esteem, saw him while passing through 
Washington, and wrote me that he was sorry to notice in him 
"the signs of increasing disease." He added ominously: "I 
fear there is no escape for him." Both Porter and Bowers 
held similar views and wrote in the same strain, but I am 
persuaded that none of them yet realized that the indomitable 
Chief of Staff was hopelessly ill. After his return he took 
encouragement from every flash of sunlight and every pass 
ing breeze, and thenceforth remained steadfastly at his post 
to the end. But whether from impaired strength and the 
wish of his Chief to spare him from the drudgery of his po 
sition, or from other causes, it is certain that he took less and 
less part thereafter in the detailed work of the staff. 

When he arrived at headquarters the heat of summer had 
given way to cool and comfortable nights. But it was still 
a period of great anxiety. While his faithful assistants had 
kept him fully informed of what was going on during his 
absence, and the newspapers with what had taken place 
throughout the entire theatre of military operations, there was 
still much pertaining to present and future plans which he 
could learn only at Grant s headquarters. It was painfully 
apparent to him, as well as to the country at large, that the 
failure of all efforts to turn, or dislodge, the Confederates 
from their strongly fortified positions covering Petersburg 
and Richmond had not only greatly discouraged the Admin- 



262 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

istration, the army, and its leaders, but had correspondingly 
encouraged the Confederates, and begotten a feeling on the 
part of Lee that the time had now come for a counter- 
movement against Washington and the country to the north 
ward. 

The tacit truce and the feeling of uncertainty were rudely 
broken by the detachment of Early with a mixed but con 
siderable force of infantry, cavalry and artillery to move first 
into the Valley of Virginia and thence across the Potomac 
against the National Capital. The Confederate advance was 
soon discovered, and the country was at once alive with ap 
prehension. Gold, which was already high in terms of green 
backs and National bank currency, rose rapidly. The disas 
trous failure of the campaign against Lynchburg had shaken 
the confidence of the Administration in Hunter s capacity as a 
leader. Halleck, the Chief of Staff, was in Grant s absence 
its main dependence, but the public had no confidence in him, 
While there were plenty of troops within reach, there was 
no one at hand to command or lead them efficiently, conse 
quently Early s advance met with but little serious opposi 
tion until it encountered and defeated the unfortunate Lew 
Wallace at the crossing of the Monocacy. 

As the danger became more and more apparent, the Sixth 
Corps and one division of cavalry were detached from the 
Army of the Potomac and hurried by transport to Wash 
ington. Sheridan was shortly afterwards assigned to the 
command and at once called for another division of cavalry. 
All the troops within reach, or that could be spared from 
other departments, were ordered to the point of danger. 
Meanwhile Early, who was a cautious as well as a resolute 
commander, after reaching the outer fortifications of Wash 
ington, where he first got wind of the real storm gathering 
against him, began his retreat, without tarrying to strike 
home for victory. After a few days he was safe behind 
the Blue Ridge. 



WEARING THE WAR S END 263 

But Sheridan was now in the field, though it is to be 
observed that that vigorous officer took hold but cautiously 
at first. The stakes were great, but as this was his first 
independent command, he naturally felt the importance of 
making no mistake. Gathering his forces as rapidly as pos 
sible, but manoeuvering them cautiously, two months and more 
passed away without a serious engagement. The country be 
gan to doubt the propriety of giving so young a man as 
Sheridan so important a command. Gold, which was the 
country s military barometer, rose to a point never reached 
before. The mine explosion and the assault at Petersburg 
were everywhere regarded as a disastrous and expensive fail 
ure, all aggressive operations had come to an ominous stand 
still, and the feeling of gloom and despondency which had 
settled on the country were accentuated by Sheridan s cau 
tion, till Grant finally went in person to the Valley and told 
him to "go in!" 

The battle of Winchester, resulting, as it did, in a com 
plete victory over Early, which was followed by the battle 
of Cedar Creek and the ultimate destruction of Early s army, 
restored public confidence and, what was still better, enabled 
Grant later to gather up and concentrate in front of Peters 
burg an overwhelming force with which to move against Lee 
and his dwindling army. 

Rawlins, being absent for much of the time, had but little 
to do with the preliminary dispositions that led to these im 
portant results. He returned to headquarters at City Point 
on October 3, and the next day wrote to his wife in Connec 
ticut as follows: 

... I arrived here last evening at 7 P. M. 

. . . The General goes to Washington to-day to see if he can 
not hurry up the reinforcements for this army. The situation 
here is more than flattering. All we want is a few thousand more 
men to enable us to strike a blow that will tell and tell to the death 
of the Rebellion. I find here every convenience for my comfort, 



264 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

a room with a grate in it, neatly fixed up for my occupation. The 
fact is I could have no more convenience in the city of Washing 
ton than I have here. 

My cold is a little improved but I fear a little the dampness of 
the weather. A few days will test my ability to remain here. . . . 

City Point, October 7, 1864. . . . General Wilson has been rec 
ommended for a brevet major general and ordered to Sherman 
to command his cavalry. It was or is necessary that he have 
such rank to enable him to command, for most of the brigadiers 
out with Sherman are his superiors in rank. . . . 

City Point, October 8, 1864. . . . Yesterday in company with 
Colonel Parker and my friend, Mr. Felt of Galena, I went to 
General Butler s front, arriving there just at the conclusion of 
the fight, but before the excitement and confusion consequent 
after an attack, had subsided. . . . 

General Grant has not yet returned. We look for him to-day 
and unless the weather was too heavy last night for his boat to 
run on the bay, he will most certainly be here. 

Troops are arriving very slowly. How long it will be before 
we are ready to make a determined move against Richmond I am 
unable to say. A heavy and organized force will perhaps reach 
here during the ensuing week. If it arrives we shall not remain 
long idle, and stirring news may be expected from this quarter. 
I am getting along quite comfortably. The weather is dry and 
fine but my cough has not left me although my appetite and di 
gestion are good. . . . 

City Point, October 10, 1864. . . . Hood has adopted a bold 
plan of campaign. He has abandoned every point south and 
struck out with his whole army northward. On the 9th he was 
crossing the Coosa River twelve miles south of Rome, which is 
far north of Atlanta. He was moving westward evidently with 
the view of getting onto the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, in the State 
of Mississippi, now in operation to Corinth, or to move towards 
the Ohio River via Nashville. I cannot myself see other than 
great disaster to him, if Sherman pursues him as is his character 
to pursue. Of course this movement was unexpected and makes 
even Grant scratch his head. But with the rebels it is despera 
tion, and even despairing as they are, nothing but an underesti 
mate of Sherman s forces could have induced them to undertake 



NEARING THE WAR S END 265 

it. Sherman is strong enough to hold Atlanta and move a suffi 
cient force to defeat Hood, for as he nears the Tennessee River 
he gathers up many men on the line of the railroad and also comes 
closer to his supplies. 

Here all is quiet and will be until reinforcements arrive which 
we are daily expecting. In the last ten days a little upwards of 
seven thousand reinforcements have joined us. So you see less 
than a thousand a day come forward. But we will have here 
before Monday some of the old organized and reliable heroes of 
the war. . . . 

City Point, October 12, 1864. . . . General Dodge of the West 
ern Army is here. It does one s heart good to meet one from the 
army that has made such a bright record for its country s honor 
and its own fame. I can shake the hands of these veterans and 
heroes with something of the thrill of joy and pride that pervades 
my being when I take hold of the hand of my own dear wife after 
months of absence . . . 

General Quimby, formerly of the old army, is also here. He 
is, however, not in the service at present, having long since re 
signed. Major General Doyle of the English service is here. He 
is the least English and most American of any Englishman I have 
ever met. He sympathizes with us in our struggle to maintain 
our governmental authority, and furthermore he believes we will 
succeed. . . . 

City Point, October 13, 1864. ... No news. of any importance 
from any quarter . . . On the loth General Grant upon my put 
ting the unreliableness and insubordination of Rosecrans clearly 
before his mind, and showing him that should Hood get well up in 
Tennessee, he would have great difficulty in getting troops from 
Rosecrans to help resist Hood, he telegraphed to Washington 
and asked to have Rosecrans removed and some one sent out 
there who would take at once the offensive and defeat or at least 
drive Price clean out of the State, and on the nth he sent up the 
name of General Crook as the one to relieve Rosecrans. Whether 
this order will be made I cannot say, but I deem it most important 
to the public service that it should be made. 

What course Sherman will pursue now that Hood has thrown 
himself north of him, so as to threaten his communications, is 
not fully determined, but if he carries out the plan he proposed 
to General Grant, and which was approved by General Grant, 



266 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

conditioned that Thomas had force enough to hold the line of the 
Tennessee, why you may look for Sherman within a few weeks 
to come out at some one of the great Atlantic or Gulf cities. This 
of course you will keep to yourself . . . 

I learn from a letter of Rowley to Colonel Parker, that Lemon 
has enlisted, so has Obediah Taylor. This is the spirit that ani 
mates the Western country and makes Western troops invincible 
the spirit which sends young men of first standing and respecta 
bility to the field to fill up the thinned ranks of our veteran regi 
ments. Jarradd writes me from California that he is coming 
on here in February and will enter the service as a private. So 
you see our children will not be ashamed to hear the mention of 
their family name in connection with this bloody strife. . . . 

City Point, October 15, 1864. . . . We are expecting Secretary 
Stanton here to-morrow to confer with the General upon the field 
of operations for all the armies. No news has been had for sev 
eral days from Sherman. I suppose, however, that he is follow 
ing up Hood, who at last accounts was at Dalton on the railroad 
north of Atlanta about one hundred miles, and south of Chatta 
nooga thirty-eight. It may be that Sherman has cut loose and 
gone down through Georgia, but I think not. Too fine an oppor 
tunity presents itself for the entire destruction of Hood s army 
for Sherman not to avail himself of it. ... 

City Point, October 16, 1864. . . . We have here to-day Secre 
tary Stanton, the Quartermaster General, the Commissary Gen 
eral and the Surgeon General, also the Secretary of the Treasury 
and many of the public men of the country. I suppose they will 
leave to-morrow. 

Mr. Antrobus, the artist whom you met at Chicago and who 
painted the General s portrait, is also with us. He is glad that 
he did not then get a sitting of me for the reason that I now look 
so much fleshier than then. I was weighed to-day and find that I 
am ten pounds heavier than my usual weight which is 155 pounds. 
I now weigh 165, and am daily getting heavier. My cough is 
also better. . . . 

City Point, October 18, 1864. . . . Never since I used to work 
on the farm have I had such an appetite as now. My digestion is 
good and I have no doubt of my recovery. News from Sherman 



NEARING THE WAR S END 267 

about the same as yesterday. Everything here very quiet and will 
remain so for some days. 

Mr. Antrobus is painting a portrait of me for Russell Jones. 
I have already gone through one sitting. 2 . . . 

City Point, October 19, 1864. . . . Despatches from Harpers 
Ferry say that from five o clock this morning and up to late this 
afternoon heavy and continuous cannonading was heard near 
Strasburg, which we suppose was a battle going on between 
Sheridan and Longstreet who succeeded Early. We feel great 
confidence if such is the case that Sheridan will defeat him. A 
few hours will fix the fact whatever it may be ... 

Hood has lost more men than Sherman in this recent move and 
his men must feel more despondent than ever, now that all the 
promises made them by Hood and Jefferson Davis have proven 
so fruitless to them. I wish we had this army of Lee s in as bad 
condition as the army of Hood necessarily must be. 

Everything here is very quiet. Men arrive very slowly. We 
have received the sad intelligence to-day of the death of Major 
General Birney of this army. He was a noble, true man. The 
country will lament his loss, and the army feel it as almost irrep 
arable. . . . 

City Point, October 20, 1864. . . . To-day has been very fine 
and brings us news of Sheridan s glorious victory of yesterday, 
snatched as it were from the jaws of disastrous defeat. Early 
attacked our forces early yesterday morning, near Strasburg, Va., 
and succeeded in turning our position and driving our whole line 
in confusion a distance of four miles, capturing from us twenty 
pieces of artillery, when Sheridan arrived on the field (he having 
been to Washington) took command of our retreating forces and 
by his masterly generalship brought order out of the confusion, 
repelled a fierce attack of Early and attacking him in turn routed 
and defeated him, capturing forty-three pieces of artillery, many 
prisoners and a large number of wagons and ambulances. The 
losses on both sides were heavy, but our victory was complete. 

Everything here is quiet, no news from Sherman to-day, nor 
have we any from Missouri. I have been urging the removal 
of General Rosecrans ever since my return, and General Grant 

2 This portrait, from which the half-tone frontispiece was taken, is now 
in the State Library at Springfield, Illinois. 



268 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

has asked to have it done, but the thing hangs fire for want of 
some one to take his place. Rosecrans seems to desire that Price 
should remain in Missouri. I judge so from his inactivity, for 
since Price entered the State there has been no hour but Rose 
crans had sufficient men to defeat and drive him from it. ... 

City Point, October 21, 1864. . . . More detailed report from 
Sheridan of his victory on the iQth instant increases the number 
of pieces captured to over fifty, and also informs us of driving the 
enemy s rear guard from Fisher s Hill. 

News from Sherman is to the effect that Hood is rapidly re 
treating to the South and he is following. Missouri news is very 
unsatisfactory, as to all save one thing, and that is the unfitness 
and incompetency of Rosecrans for his present command. 
Whether any order will soon be made to relieve him I cannot tell. 
General Grant has certainly done his duty in the premises and 
cannot be held responsible for any failures in that quarter, even 
if it should be the blockading of the Mississippi River again. 
This latter, however, cannot well happen for General G. H. 
Thomas is looking to its safety with the troops he has in Ten 
nessee. . . . 

City Point, October 23, 1864. . . . Another beautiful day has 
closed. No news of interest save in regard to General Sherman s 
intended campaign, the details of which I fear to write lest my 
letter might fail to reach its destination. All quiet here. Sheri 
dan followed the enemy to Mt. Jackson in the Shenandoah 
Valley. . . . 

City Point, October 25, 1864. . . . To-day has been clear and 
cold. No news of note, except that the Mexican Minister Romero 
from President Juarez, is on a visit here. He is accompanied by 
a major general and a colonel of the Mexican service, and was 
received in the manner prescribed for the reception of foreign 
ministers. How it will be with the Minister Maximilian sends, 
I cannot say. 

News from Sherman is satisfactory. All progressing well with 
him. . . . 

City Point, October 26, 1864. . . . We have had no news from 
Missouri nor from Sheridan. A despatch from Sherman shows 
all well, with abundant supplies in the country for his army. In 
dications are that Hood has not yet abandoned his intention of 



NEARING THE WAR S END 269 

invading Tennessee. Proposed movements of Sherman will, how 
ever, without doubt, compel Hood to look to affairs south. 
Otherwise the heaviest blow yet dealt will fall in that direction. 
Here all is quiet save the preparations that have been going on 
for a movement to-morrow morning against the Southside Rail 
road, which I have but little doubt will bring on a great battle, one 
perhaps decisive of the fate of Petersburg. Should the railroad, 
however, be found too strongly fortified, we shall not risk an 
attack. The General and staff go to the front to-morrow morn 
ing. I shall of course go with the party. In God who has thus 
far protected us from danger, I place my trust. . . . 

City Point, October 28, 1864. We got back last night but 
I was so tired, I put off writing till this morning. We were along 
the line of our march, to the very front of our advance and up 
to half-past three P. M. of yesterday had found no place favorable 
to us, for an attack. Being so far separated from our base of 
supplies, and not having what we conceived to be a sufficient force 
to warrant cutting loose from it altogether, we determined to 
return to our entrenchments. The General and staff started for 
City Point. Up to the time named, there were no indications of a 
battle, except some artillery firing to which we were perhaps as 
much exposed as any others. Although the shot and shell came 
exceedingly near, no one was hurt. About an hour after we left, 
however, the enemy made an attack on Hancock and a very heavy 
battle followed in which neither party gained anything of perma 
nent advantage. The losses on both sides were heavy. We, 
however, repulsed the enemy and held possession of the field at 
dark, but during the night commenced to retire. 

News from Missouri is cheering. General Price has been se 
verely defeated and General Marmaduke and another general 
captured. Price lost ten pieces of artillery and over a thousand 
prisoners. . . . 

. . . Full reports of the battle fought yesterday afternoon show 
the result to be a splendid victory for us. Hancock retained his 
position, repulsed the enemy and held possession of the battle 
field until midnight when he commenced his withdrawal in pur 
suance of orders issued to him before the battle. The loss in 
killed and wounded on either side is not yet stated but we cap 
tured 910 prisoners and lost but 60. Among the rebels killed was 
Brigadier General Bearing. On the north side of the river, how- 



270 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ever, we did not fare so well. General Butler, although acting 
under positive orders not to attack the enemy in fortified position, 
did so attack and lost for us full one thousand men, killed, 
wounded* and prisoners, without any corresponding damage, if 
damage at all to the enemy. I am free to say I fear the continu 
ance of General Butler in command will some day work disaster 
of a serious character to our arms. But General Grant has had to 
deal with such men from the beginning and has succeeded. I 
therefore have hopes he may succeed with this one. 

General Halleck is expected here to-morrow on official busi 
ness the nature of which has not yet been communicated to the 
General. 

I have been urging General Grant to bring here at once fifteen 
thousand of the veteran troops of the West, to help end this cam 
paign against Richmond. I have said to the General that if half 
the pains and energy had been shown in getting troops here that 
have been taken in sending them unnecessarily to Missouri, to 
drive off Price, we could have broken the enemy s lines yesterday 
and held in our hands to-day the long coveted prize of Richmond. 
He listens favorably and I have hopes he will adopt my views. I 
am still quite well. . . . 

City Point, October 30, 1864. . . . No news here of any kind. 
That from Sherman is that Hood is heading towards Middle 
Tennessee via Decatur, but trusts that Thomas, with the force he 
has sent him, will be able to prevent Hood s advance north of the 
Tennessee River. 

All orders to General Rosecrans for troops of Sherman s com 
mand to be returned to Tennessee, where they are likely to be 
greatly needed, having failed to get them, I have received orders 
and instructions from General Grant to proceed at once to St. 
Louis, with full authority in the premises to enforce obedience to 
these orders. I leave here this morning. The trip I do not much 
like, and were it not for the confidence the General has in my 
ability to discharge the duties imposed, over any other member 
of his staff, I would get myself excused. But the importance to 
the public service, of the faithful execution of my orders, will 
tend to the interest of my going, and will lighten in a great degree 
the wearisomeness of it. 

I shall perhaps be absent two weeks, and unless I find a letter 
from you at Washington as I go west, will not hear from you 



NEARING THE WAR S END 271 

until my return. Major General Halleck is here and I go with 
him on a special boat to Washington. . . . 

St. Louis, Mo., November 3, 1864. . . . Until to-day, I have 
not had a moment for writing since I left Washington, which 
place I left on the 3ist ultimo. Without missing a connection I 
arrived here this morning at one o clock in as good health and 
spirits as when I started, save a slight cold which does not trouble 
me much. I have not yet seen General Rosecrans. He is absent 
from the city but a despatch from him states he will return this 
evening. Until he does, or at least, until I see him, I shall be 
unable to state when I shall leave for City Point. 

I have met two or three of my old friends of the Army of the 
Tennessee, among them General Grierson of cavalry celebrity. 
They were delighted to see me. My mission will I trust greatly 
aid the success of General Grierson s trip here, he having come 
for the express purpose of trying to get General Rosecrans to 
return to Memphis the cavalry of West Tennessee, which are a 
part of the troops, I am also here with orders to send back. . . . 

St. Louis, Nov. 4, 1864. ... I met General Rosecrans this 
morning and transacted with him the business on which I was 
sent. I was delighted to find that in pursuance of orders pre 
viously telegraphed to him, he was moving the troops for which 
I came here, to the river for embarkment. It saved me a long 
and perhaps perilous journey to the interior of the State, which 
is infested with bands of guerillas. General Rosecrans received 
me with great cordiality and assures me that the orders I brought 
to him from General Grant shall be promptly complied with. I 
also saw this afternoon General A. J. Smith, who confirms all 
that General Rosecrans said to me of his (Rosecrans) disposi 
tion to obey the orders of General Grant. My orders were to 
remain here until the troops for which I came were embarked 
and off but as matters were promising so well when I came here, 
and as I am assured they will continue so, I deem it unnecessary 
to remain longer, and I have so telegraphed the General. Unless 
he thinks differently I shall leave here for City Point on Sunday 
evening. . . . 

St. Louis, Nov. 5, 1864. ... I have been very busy this even 
ing getting off orders to troops and despatches to General Grant, 
and was in hopes I would be able to leave here to-morrow, but I 



272 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

have learned some things that may detain me two or three days 
longer. I still hope to get away but I fear I shall not. 

I was out to see Mrs. Grant, at her father s. She is in excellent 
health and inquired most affectionately after you and your wel 
fare. She is very anxious to have you visit her at Philadelphia 
and go with her to City Point on a visit to the General and my 
self. We will discuss this when we meet which I hope will be in 
New York Thursday or Friday. . . . 

It should be noted that the detachment of rny division from 
the Army in front of Petersburg to join Sheridan in the 
Valley, and my subsequent detail to command the cavalry of 
Sherman s Military Division in the Southwest, separated me 
entirely from Rawlins, with or near whom I had been serv 
ing for over two years. As before related, I first met him 
in Northern Mississippi and during the Vicksburg and Chat 
tanooga campaigns was his constant companion and intimate 
friend. As Engineer and Inspector on the same staff, till pro 
moted and ordered to Washington, I knew both his daily life 
and his inmost thoughts. After taking the field in Virginia, 
with the cavalry, I saw him often and enjoyed his confidence 
without break or intermission; but from the time I left the 
Army of the Potomac on August 5, 1864, I did not meet him 
again till after the war had ended. Although he was never 
a ready correspondent, it was our custom to write to each 
other on subjects of common interest from that time till the 
date of his death. During my service in Tennessee, Alabama, 
and Georgia, and especially after Sherman had begun his 
"March to the Sea" and Hood had begun his invasion of 
Middle Tennessee, I kept him fully informed of all impor 
tant matters in regard to which I felt that he and the Lieu 
tenant General should have accurate and disinterested infor 
mation. But my correspondence with the headquarters of the 
army was not confined to Rawlins. Porter, Babcock, and 
Bowers, at first, and Badeau afterwards, participated in it, 
and the information which I sent was, when deemed neces- 



NEARING THE WAR S END 273 

sary, communicated also to Grant. In this way he had an 
independent source of information, especially in reference to 
the disposition and the preparation of the troops, the condi 
tion of the country and the roads, and the character and effi 
ciency of the leadings officers, their relative deserts, as well 
as their claims for recognition and promotion. 

As occasion offered I pointed out to Rawlins that Sherman 
had taken the flower and pick of the army on the "March to 
the Sea," and had left Thomas with the dismounted cavalry 
and the poorer infantry, which was widely scattered, to make 
head against Hood and his veterans, whom Sherman had left 
behind, still aggressive and unbeaten. I also pointed out the 
danger of defeat, and the urgent necessity for the concen 
tration of all the forces available in Tennessee, Kentucky, 
and Missouri, and especially for the remqunt of the cavalry. 

Whatever may have been the confidence of others in imme 
diate success, Rawlins indulged in no illusions. He appeared 
to see from the first that Thomas might be overthrown be 
fore he could gather his widely scattered forces together and 
weld them into an efficient army, and it was doubtless for this 
reason that Grant sent his Chief of Staff to Missouri with 
full authority to hurry the idle troops from that department 
to Nashville for the purpose of reenforcing the army in front 
of that place. In spite of all Rawlins could do, however, in 
spite of all the promises made by Rosecrans, and in spite of 
the anxiety of A. J. Smith, the hardy and aggressive com 
mander of the Sixteenth Army Corps, that corps was nearly 
a month, or four times longer than necessary, in moving from 
St. Louis to the scene of action. Rawlins never performed a 
more useful service than when he hastened the concentration 
of the forces with which Thomas finally won his splendid 
victory at Nashville. Rawlins, like the rest, was impatient 
at the delay in overwhelming Hood, but having far more 
faith, as we have seen, "in the infallibility of numbers than 



274 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

in the infallibility of generals," he took no rest till he had sent 
to Thomas every available man within reach. 

The careful reader will not fail to note the many impor 
tant suggestions contained in the extracts from Rawlins s 
correspondence; yet their bearing upon controverted histor 
ical points is not always clear. It has long been known 
that he was not in favor of Sherman s starting on his "March 
to the Sea," while Hood was marching northward, and this 
is now placed beyond controversy by what Rawlins wrote 
while the matter was under discussion. He thought that 
Sherman, having with him the bulk of the good troops of his 
Military Division, should follow Hood and bring him to 
battle, rather than permit him to march unmolested against 
the widely scattered forces left to defend the territory previ 
ously taken from the enemy. He rightly thought that 
Hood s march first to the west and then to the north offered 
a fine opportunity for Sherman to throw himself upon his 
rear, cut off his retreat, and destroy his army. That this 
would have been the policy of a Napoleon there can be but 
little question. It is also evident that when the intentions of 
Hood to move through Middle Tennessee against Nashville 
became apparent, Rawlins at once became the strenuous ad 
vocate of strengthening Thomas and making him invincible 
by sending to his assistance all the good troops that could 
be spared from other departments. This was clearly in ac 
cordance with the simplest maxims of war, and Grant could 
not have paid Rawlins a greater compliment than to send 
him on this mission. That it was necessary is abundantly 
shown by the fact that in spite of its urgency and the orders 
given to Rosecrans on November 3 and prior thereto, the Six 
teenth Corps did not reach Nashville in time to participate 
in the battle of Franklin, which was fought November 30, 
while Grierson s cavalry, although the wounded Upton had 
been sent to Memphis to hurry it to its destination, did not 
join the corps in Northern Alabama till after Hood s army 



NEARING THE WAR S END 275 

had been defeated and driven south of the Tennessee River. 

When it is remembered that the national troops attached 
to the Military Division of the Mississippi amounted to some 
thing like 300,000 men "present and absent," and that count 
ing those with Sherman and those gathered up by Thomas to 
make head against Hood, with his unbeaten army between 
them, there was scarcely 120,000 effective men with the colors 
in the entire Military Division, it will be seen that Rawlins, 
who knew the dangers of the situation perfectly, had abun 
dant grounds for apprehension. It is now evident that the 
country was justly alarmed, and that Hood s well-directed 
campaign failed solely because he had neither men nor re 
sources sufficient to make it a success. Strategically his plans 
were not only brilliant but in accordance with correct prin 
ciples. They failed because his battalions, brigades, and divi 
sions lacked weight, while a scarcity of supplies caused him to 
lose thirty days on the banks of the Tennessee before begin 
ning his Northern march. It was during this period that 
Schofield succeeded with the heterogeneous forces under his 
command in delaying the earlier stages of the Confederate 
advance, and at last, through the reinforcements sent by Raw 
lins and the work done in concentrating and remounting the 
cavalry, that Thomas finally found himself at the head of 
an organized army strong enough to defeat Hood in the 
great battle at Nashville, on December 15-16, and to destroy 
his exhausted and decimated army as it retreated, broken and 
despondent, during midwinter towards Central Alabama. 

When these facts are considered, it may well be admitted 
that Rawlins, who was the first to propose the transfer of 
fifteen thousand veteran troops from the West to assist in 
closing the campaign against Lee, was, as usual, giving sound 
advice. It should also be remembered that the Sixteenth 
Corps belonged to the Army of the Tennessee, and after 
participating in Banks s ill-starred campaign on the Red River, 
where there was no real call for its service, was sent to 



276 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Missouri. It is this circumstance that gives point and force 
to Rawlins s declaration on October 28 that "if half the pains 
and energy had been shown in getting troops" to the Army 
of the Potomac "that have been taken in sending them un 
necessarily to Missouri ... we could have broken the ene 
my s lines yesterday and held in our hands to-day the long- 
coveted prize of Richmond." 

That Rawlins s counsel was conclusive in this case is shown 
by the fact that as soon as Thomas had driven the Confederate 
army out of Tennessee, Grant ordered the transfer of troops 
from the West to the East in great numbers. And it was 
this wise measure, made feasible and safe solely by the great 
victory at Nashville, that enabled him to bring the war to a 
close by concurrent movements the next spring. It is to be 
noted, however, that Grant was to the last impatient of 
Thomas s deliberation, and wanted him to continue active 
operations through the winter, while he permitted Sheridan 
to remain idle at the same time in the Valley of Virginia, 
with no enemy whatever confronting him. 

This is not the place to argue the case in behalf of Thomas. 
It was his fate to be doubted and misunderstood from the 
first, and when his relations with Grant, as they are elsewhere 
pointed out, are considered, it will not be thought strange 
that he was left practically unemployed while younger and 
perhaps more deferential men were permitted to finish the 
great work of overthrowing the Confederacy and reestablish 
ing the Union. That Rawlins in some degree shared the 
prejudice of his chief cannot be denied, nor can it be denied 
that he was partial to men of more aggressive temper and less 
formal habits than the stately and deliberate Thomas. There 
is no room to doubt that he admired the erratic Sherman and 
the impetuous Sheridan more than he did the more formal 
Meade, the more brilliant Warren, or the more imperturbable 
Thomas. 



XV 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 

Rawlins Returns from the West Extract from Grant s Memoirs 
Considered Rawlins s Letters to His Wife Sherman s Army 
Ordered to City Point Movement Discussed Rawlins Op 
posed to Political Generals. 

AFTER finishing the business that took him to the West, 
Rawlins went East and rested a few days with his family at 
Danbury, with apparent benefit to his health, but with real 
disadvantage to his influence at headquarters. While he was 
far from being a loquacious man, he never sought to disguise 
from his brother officers his opinions on questions of either 
personal or public policy. His views in regard to Sherman s 
proposed campaign, which in its earlier stages was far from 
being settled in favor of the Atlantic coast, but for a while 
confessedly looked towards the Gulf of Mexico, were well 
known to the rest of the staff. They may have been approved 
for a time by some of the officers, but his absence from head 
quarters and the necessity he was under of passing through 
Washington both going to and returning from the West, 
gave an opportunity, after it was known that Sherman as 
well as Thomas had succeeded, to circulate the report that 
Rawlins had been bitterly opposed to the "March to the Sea." 
It is personally known, however, that Rawlins was cognizant 
of the first suggestion leading to that march, and gave it his 
unqualified approval, but there was nothing in the condition 
of affairs when it was first made, that contemplated the ne 
cessity of meeting such a counter-campaign as Hood after 
wards conducted. It will be apparent that the defeat of that 

277 



278 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

general and the destruction of his army settled many military 
problems, and greatly simplified those that yet remained to be 
settled. . 

Before leaving this subject, it may be well to call attention 
to the following quotation from Grant s "Memoirs," pub 
lished years afterwards: 

... I was in favor of Sherman s plan (for the March to the 
Sea) from the time it was first submitted to me. My Chief of 
Staff (Rawlins), however, was very bitterly opposed to it, and as 
I learned subsequently, finding that he could not move me, he 
appealed to the authorities at Washington to stop it. 1 

I have purposely delayed the discussion of this statement 
till all Rawlins s letters concerning this period were within 
reach. They show conclusively both the ground of his oppo 
sition and the extent to which it was carried. They make it 
evident that his anxiety related solely to the timeliness of the 
proposed movement and the advisability of delaying it till the 
defeat of Hood could be counted upon with absolute certainty. 
When all the circumstances connected with the double cam 
paign of Sherman and Hood in opposite directions, and the 
consequent anxieties which the Government and the country 
passed through during the months of October, November, and 
December of that year, are reviewed, it must be admitted that 
Rawlins s apprehensions were well founded, and that his 
views were supported by the soundest principles of the mili 
tary art. It should also be remembered that the statements 
of the "Memoirs" were not formulated till twenty years after 
the end of the war, and that they are not supported by any 
corroborative evidence whatever. If Grant personally wrote 
the lines of the "Memoirs" bearing on this subject, it is alto 
gether probable that he did so on the report of others, who 
must have had it themselves upon hearsay. The only other 
supposition consistent with the established facts of the case 

1 Grant s Memoirs, Volume II, p. 376. 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 279 

is that Grant s memory, like that of his informant, dulled, as 
might well have been the case, by the lapse of time, may have 
confounded the well-known opposition of the Chief of Staff 
to the time for commencing the "March to the Sea," till the 
necessary measures had been taken to resist Hood s advance, 
with the statement that "he was very bitterly opposed" to the 
march itself. 2 

It is also due to Rawlins to say that I have found no evi 
dence whatever, beyond the simple statement of the "Me 
moirs," to support the declaration that he "appealed to the au 
thorities at Washington to stop it." No letter to that effect 
has ever been published, and hence, if any appeal was ever 
made to the authorities, it must have been as he was passing 
through Washington, October 31, 1864, on his way to the 
West, or as he was returning therefrom to headquarters. 
There is no evidence that he saw any of the authorities on 
either of these occasions, but if he did see them, it was doubt 
less at their instance, in which case it would have been clearly 
his duty when questioned to give his views frankly and hon 
estly both as to the facts and as to the military policy which 
should have been based upon them. There was nothing to be 
concealed in all this. The entire country knew the general 
situation and was greatly alarmed by Sherman s abandonment 
of the pursuit of Hood, by the aggressive attitude of the lat 
ter, and by the divided and scattered condition of the forces 
left at the disposal of Thomas for the defence of Middle Ten 
nessee. It was one of the great crises of the war, and now that 
it is long since over, and we know how well-founded his ap 
prehensions were, we may well pardon the Chief of Staff for 
whatever grain of truth there may have been in the statement 
of the "Memoirs." That nothing more serious than this was 
ever brought against him shows conclusively that he was a 
man of good judgment and sterling worth. 

2 This view of the case is fully sustained by Schofield s "Forty-six Years 
in the Army," p. 322 et seq. 



280 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Rawlins arrived at City Point November 15, and the next 
day wrote to his wife as follows : 

... I arrived here last evening having left New York on 
Sunday evening. 

. . . The General is satisfied with my execution of his orders 
in Missouri. How delightful was my little stay in Danbury. . . . 

City Point, Nov. 16, 1864. . . . Brigadier General T. Kilby 
Smith is here so is Dr. Kittoe. General Grant goes to-morrow 
to Burlington, N. J., to see Mrs. Grant. Colonel Badeau accom 
panies him. Colonels Porter and Duff are both absent on duty, 
one at Indianapolis and the other at Louisville. . . . 

City Point, November 17, 1864. . . . General Grant accom 
panied by Colonels Comstock and Badeau and Captain Robinett, 
started to-day for Washington and Burlington. I hope he will 
keep all straight during his absence, which will last till about the 
22nd instant. General Sherman was to leave Atlanta yesterday 
on his Southern campaign. I have every hope he may succeed to 
his fullest expectations, but have many fears that he may fail. 
That he will damage the enemy terribly I have no question, but 
whether he will cause such commotion in the Confederacy as to 
loosen their hold on Richmond, is not so certain. And regarding 
Richmond s fall as of the first importance to our arms, I can but 
feel solicitous at every movement of troops that looks not di 
rectly in that direction. 

The country need feel no uneasiness as to the movements of 
Beauregard 3 for Thomas has a much larger army than Beaure- 
gard, and should if the latter persists in pushing North, defeat 
him. . . . 

City Point, Nov. 18, 1864. ... It began raining at dark and I 
fear it will continue some time. Last night the enemy captured 
some pickets of General Butler s command in front of Bermuda 
Hundred; the number has not yet been reported, but they will 
probably not exceed one hundred. No news whatever from other 
quarters, nor have I heard from the General since he left. 

At this moment heavy musketry firing is heard in front of 
Bermuda Hundred. It is very dark and it is not at all unlikely 
that the enemy under cover of it have attempted to break through 

3 Beauregard was at that time senior Confederate General in the central 
South, but Hood was in personal command of the main army. 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 281 

our lines. Such an attempt has been looked for and I suppose 
General Butler s troops are in readiness to repel it. ... 

City Point, Nov. 19, 1864. . . . To-day has been excessively 
stormy. It has rained with little intermission since it set in last 
night. General Butler, Senator Wilson, ex-Governor Gardner 
and other gentlemen of distinction were here to-day. The firing 
in front of Bermuda Hundred last night was our pickets attempt 
ing to recover the line the enemy drove them from last night, 
but they did not succeed. 

No news from the enemy s lines in this vicinity. We have had 
no newspapers from Richmond since one dated the i6th. It is 
with much anxiety we now look for them, for in them we hope to 
see something of Sherman s whereabouts. He was to have 
started from Atlanta on Wednesday morning last and this is the 
fourth day of his march. Moving as he does many miles must 
now intervene between him and his starting point. May provi 
dence prosper and preserve him is my earnest prayer, and may 
the road, though marked with ruin as it will be, along which he 
passes, prove in the end the pathway to Peace. 

General Wilson is at Nashville organizing the cavalry of the 
Military Division of the Mississippi. I was in hopes he would 
accompany General Sherman, for in so doing he would have 
secured his confirmation as a brigadier general, and perhaps as 
brevet major general too. As it is he may have difficulty. I 
hope, however, he will receive his confirmation for he is a brave 
and deserving officer. . . . 

City Point, Nov. 20, 1864. . . . The rain continues with no 
indications of ceasing soon. Richmond papers of yesterday show 
that Sherman has commenced his campaign from Atlanta south 
ward and that he has reached Jonesboro. They also show that 
an attack from the armies liere is daily expected. From other 
sources we have certain information of the return to Richmond 
of Kershaw s division, which was with Early in the Valley. This 
would indicate the intention on the part of the enemy to with 
draw from further offensive operations in the Shenandoah 
Valley. 

The General being absent leaves us here without news from 
the West, other than that which reaches us through the news 
papers all of which you see before we do. All quiet along our 
lines, and will perhaps remain so for some time to come. 



282 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

I see by the papers gold has gone down. I shall write to Col 
onel Hilyer to purchase $200 more and send it to you by express. 

Headquarters, in the absence of the General, is quite a lonesome 
place. The only excitement we have is the news we get from 
Richmond "papers and scouts, and digesting and sending it to the 
General and to Washington. . . . 

City Point, Nov. 21, 1864. . . . The rain still continues. Rich 
mond papers of this date state that Sherman was on the iQth, 
within thirty miles of Macon, that great consternation existed on 
the first news of his approach, but they were now becoming quiet 
and preparing to meet him. The papers editorially urge the 
people in the line of Sherman s advance to destroy everything in 
the way of supplies. Marching with the rapidity that Sherman 
marches they will in this, be able to do but little to delay him. 
Should he hesitate, or delay, they might greatly jeopard his ad 
vance by the destruction of everything in his front. This much, 
however, in that event he could and would do, namely, turn 
either to the right or left and get supplies or compel a general 
destruction of everything in the country. 

There is no news here of any interest. All is quiet and the 
rain is pattering as it has pattered for several days and nights on 
the tent flies. 

No news reaches us from the west. The fact is the weather is 
so unfavorable for army operations that I do not anticipate any 
thing of importance from any quarter for some days, save what 
we gather from the Richmond papers in regard to Sherman s 
movements. 

I have just received a despatch from General Grant dated 
to-day at New York City. This somewhat surprises me for when 
he left here it was his intention to be back to-morrow. Now I 
do not know when he will return. It makes, however, little dif 
ference, so far as there is anything to do here, because of the 
prevailing storm, but I would like to have him here for it is not 
with these armies as it was with the armies of the West. There 
any orders that went from his headquarters over my signature 
were the same as if the General were present. 

Everything is going smoothly and quietly. . . . 

City Point, Nov. 22, 1864. . . . We must be patient, and con 
tent our minds to the performance of the duties demanded by 
the times in which we live. The privations consequent upon our 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 283 

being so much separated, and at times of sickness too, when we 
could be of so much comfort to each other were we together, we 
will bear and submit to without complaint, knowing that in doing 
so we are but fulfilling the requirements made upon hundreds of 
thousands of our countrymen and countrywomen, and feeling too 
in so doing we are but filling the measure of service we owe our 
country. 

Richmond papers of this date have but little news. They state 
that Sherman was yesterday eighteen miles from Macon. No 
news from the West. All quiet here. A despatch just received 
from the General dated at Washington says he will be back to 
this place Thursday. 

I am I suppose what might be called a man in perfect health. 
In all the stormy weather we have had I have not felt or had the 
slightest cold, and my appetite and digestion are perfect. . . . 

City Point, November 23, 1864. . . . To-day has been clear and 
cold a most delightful change from the cloudy and rainy days 
that have preceded it. 

The only additional news from Sherman through Richmond 
papers is that he was near Macon on the 2ist instant and a battle 
at that place was imminent, and also that he had cut the railroad 
between Atlanta and Macon, twenty-five miles from the latter 
place. This looks very favorable to his success. The Richmond 
papers of to-day have not yet come in. Deserters report that a 
South Carolina brigade and two North Carolina regiments have 
been sent from Petersburg probably to Georgia to meet Sherman. 
With this exception there is no news here. From the West we 
have no report. 

I see by the New York Herald that a member of General 
Grant s staff at the complimentary serenade to the Governor elect 
of New York, appeared and very neatly and delicately advertised 
the General s great modesty, by stating and requesting that no 
notice of the General s presence in the city be taken by the papers, 
till the next Tuesday thereafter. Now I have high respect and 
regard for modesty but this thing of making too much of it I 
deprecate exceedingly. I know the General is a modest man but 
if he allows it to be proclaimed too loudly in immediate advance 
of his presenting himself, the credit he has for it will fast depre 
ciate. What object he could have in desiring the papers not to 
mention his presence in New York, I cannot conceive. It cer- 



284 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

tainly was not that he would prevent people from calling upon 
him, for the fact that he was at the Astor House being known at 
all would spread sufficiently among those of that city, who since 
his congratulation of the President upon the double victory 
achieved in the peacefulness of the recent election, would consider 
it an honor to call on him, to occupy his entire attention in re 
ceiving them during his short stay. If it was that the rebel lead 
ers might suppose him at City Point, it was entirely unnecessary, 
for they had already the news of his absence and drew the de 
duction therefrom that the expected attack on their lines would 
not soon be made. The General from his long labors was entitled 
to respite and rest, and if he desired to visit New York, he should 
have gone there and not permitted his military secretary, Colonel 
Badeau, to ostentatiously announce his desire that his presence 
should not be noticed. This whole thing is not General Grant, 
but solely Colonel Badeau. 

Colonel Bowers started for Washington this morning. He will 
be absent for perhaps a week. 

I look for General Grant to-morrow, which is Thanksgiving 
Day. We have received several Turkeys for our dinner, and the 
good people of New York and vicinity have sent here about eighty 
thousand pounds of turkey for distribution, and they are now 
being divided among our men. This remembrance of them by 
their friends at home is truly encouraging. Some of them may 
not get any but the greater majority will. . . . 

City Point, November 24, 1864. . . . To-day has been most 
delightfully beautiful and everyone seemed to enjoy Thanksgiv 
ing most heartily. I am sorry to say, however, that one boat con 
taining a portion of the turkeys for the soldiers dinner got 
aground and was detained till late to-day, but those who were 
by this cause deprived of their turkey for dinner will have it to 
morrow, and except the little annoyance, the disappointment and 
the causes, it will be just as well. Turkey in camp is a luxury 
all can appreciate . . . 

The following is as nearly as I can repeat it a proclamation 
from General Beauregard and shows the trepidation he is in : 

"Corinth, Miss., Nov. 18, 1864. ... To the people of Georgia : 
Arise to the defence of your native soil. Rally around your patri 
otic Governor and gallant soldiers ; destroy all bridges and block 
up all roads in Sherman s front, flanks and rear, and he will starve 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 285 

in your midst. Be confident, and trust in an over-ruling provi 
dence, who will crown your efforts with success. I hasten to join 
you in the defence of your homes and firesides. P. G. T. Beaure- 
gard, General Commanding." 

I have written the above as I remember it from reading it once. 
It may not be exactly correct but is substantially so. This looks 
as though he would move Hood s army after Sherman, but as 
information from Thomas places three corps of Hood s army 
North of the Tennessee, it would seem to be beyond hope of suc 
cessful pursuit of Sherman. 

Richmond papers of to-day have not yet come to hand. Gen 
eral Grant, and Colonels Porter, Comstock and Badeau and Cap 
tain Robinett of his staff, returned this morning all in excellent 
health except the General who sat up too late last night. Mrs. 
Grant went with the General to New York. They breakfasted 
with Colonel Hillyer. . . . 

City Point, Nov. 25, 1864. . . . To-day is clear and fine, all 
quiet here. News from Thomas is meagre. Hood appears to be 
advancing towards Nashville, with three army corps, but he 
moves slowly. Thomas is sufficiently strong for defensive pur 
poses and will soon have his forces so concentrated as to take the 
offensive should Hood not attack him. 

Nothing new from Sherman save confirmation of the report 
that the capital of Georgia is in his possession, and that he has cut 
the railroads between Augusta and Macon. 

The General and all the members of the staff except Colonels 
Bowers and Duff are at headquarters. The General has written 
Mrs. Grant to come down here week after next and asked me 
your address for Mrs. Grant, as she intended or had spoken of 
inviting you to come with her. 

Now I would like very much to have you come, were it not that 
I disapprove of having officers wives in camp. It does not look 
like war to me, to see it heralded throughout the country by the 
press that the wife of the General and also the wife of his Chief 
of Staff are at City Point, and would be what I would avoid un 
less some good end could be subserved by it, besides the item of 
expense and the disposition of the children during your absence, 
is something to be considered. However, I leave the matter to 
your decision, after having stated my views, and whatever it is 
will meet with my concurrence and approval. . . . 



286 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

City Point, Nov. 26, 1864. . . . Richmond papers of yesterday 
seem studiously to avoid any reference to Sherman, except a 
despatch which mentions the fact that his cavalry had been re 
pulsed in .its attempt to cross the Oconee River. Their failure to 
give details of Sherman s movements is construed here to be 
significant of his success. 

News from Thomas is to the effect that Hood is advancing on 
Columbia, Tennessee, where our forces are being concentrated. 
General A. J. Smith with his command from St. Louis passed 
through Nashville on the way to Columbia. 4 There seems to be 
little doubt now that Hood will give Thomas battle, and if 
Thomas can get his forces concentrated in time we are confident 
of victory. 

All quiet here, General Hancock to-day took leave of his old 
comrades and soldiers of the Second Corps. He goes to Wash 
ington to organize a veteran corps to be composed of soldiers who 
have served out their time and have reenlisted. General Hum 
phreys succeeds him in the command of the Second Corps. He 
is a brave and fit successor to the heroic Hancock. 

Generals Grant, Meade, Warren, Crawford, Ingalls and others 
went up this morning to General Butler s front and are still there 
witnessing experiments being made with Greek fire. . . . 

City Point, November 27, 1864. . . . Around our lines the 
greatest quiet prevails. Since I wrote last night we have had no 
news from Sherman or Thomas, and that from Sheridan is to the 
effect that all is as quiet with him as with us here. Colonel Bow 
ers has returned, and now all of the staff except Colonel Duff are 
at headquarters. 

The steamer Grey Hound with General Butler and Admiral 
Porter on board caught fire to-day and was burned below Fort 
Powhattan. No lives were lost. Butler and the Admiral con 
tinued their trip to Fort Monroe in a tug boat. . . . 

Steamer M. Martin off Norfolk, Va., November 29, 1864. 
General Grant having business with Admiral Porter left City 
Point this morning accompanied by myself and other staff offi 
cers, for Fort Monroe, off which place the Admiral lay in his fine 
flag ship the Malvern. We reached there about three o clock p. 
M., met the Admiral and General Butler on his ship, transacted 

4 This statement was not correct. 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 287 

the official business, and then as we could just as well get back to 
City Point by breakfast, by starting for that place at twelve 
o clock to-night, the General decided to come down here and at 
tend the theatre, to which place he with all his staff save myself 
have gone. To have gone there would have afforded me no pleas 
ure. Besides in times like these I do not approve of those to 
whom the country looks for leadership and guidance through the 
terrible storm still swelling with unspent fury, going to such 
places, and shall not myself by going give countenance to it al 
though I might go without any injury to the cause of my country. 
Still the brave men in front can t have this privilege, if they 
desired it, and I will not take the benefit of it though the priv 
ilege is mine. The look of a thing is sometimes a great deal. 

News this morning from Richmond is to the effect that the 
enemy has sent off either Kershaw s or Field s division to meet 
Sherman, and indications in front of General Sheridan are that 
the enemy has withdrawn Gordon s division from Early. 
Whether he has gone to Richmond or to resist Sherman has not 
yet been ascertained, probably however the latter is his destina 
tion. General Grant has ordered movement of troops to take 
advantage of this on the part of the enemy. Breckenridge s 
troops in West Virginia and East Tennessee, from all the in 
formation we can gather from Richmond, will be sent, and are 
now perhaps on the way to reenforce the force opposing Sherman. 

Hood in Tennessee is slowly advancing on Thomas but both 
Sherman and Thomas are supposed to have men enough for the 
purpose each had in view. Great battles will no doubt soon be 
fought. May God grant us victory. 

The Confederate war steamer Florida captured in a Brazilian 
port sank near Fort Monroe the other day in fifty feet of water. 
Nothing can be seen of her but her masts. What will be the 
result of this I do not know. I am decidedly in favor of doing 
exact justice to the sovereignty of Brazil. This, however, is left 
to our Secretary of State who has thus far prevented our becom 
ing entangled with foreign powers, and I have full confidence, he 
will get us through this difficulty and I trust honestly, too. 

Richmond papers state that thirteen thousand of our prisoners 
at Salisbury, N. C, attempted to make their escape on the 24th 
instant but that artillery was brought to bear upon them and some 
forty were killed and a large number wounded, when they sub 
mitted. I have hopes that many of them got away ; poor fellows, 



288 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

my heart bleeds for them when I think of their sufferings. A 
just God will not always permit this state of things. . . . 

City Point, Va., Nov. 30, 1864. . . . We reached this point 
from Norfolk this morning at sunrise. No news from the West 
to-day and information from Sherman very meagre. All quiet 
here. 

General John Pope was here to-day and will perhaps have 
added to his Department of the Northwest the Departments of 
Kansas and Missouri. General Grant has recommended this. 
Generals Hardee and Beauregard are at Augusta, Georgia, and 
General Bragg with Western troops has left Wilmington for 
Augusta. So the Confederates have Generals enough if they 
can find troops enough to give Sherman trouble, but that they 
have troops enough, we do not believe, and without troops these 
generals are no match for Sherman. . . . 

City Point, December i, 1864. ... I fear my answer to your 
despatch of this date in regard to your reply to Mrs. Grant about 
coming to City Point, was not such as you had hoped for, but I 
could not decide that you should answer affirmatively for the 
reason that I could not approve of your coming, unless you should 
yourself decide to come after reading my letter on this subject, 
written to you last week. You know that when headquarters are 
established in a city whether in Washington or some Southern 
one, I will send for you, but not while they are in the field in 
front of an enemy, and when everything at headquarters should 
be indicative of readiness for immediate movements should they 
be required. Besides the orders are against officers wives being 
with them in camp and I am opposed to their being disregarded 
at headquarters, while enforcement of them is exacted of officers 
in the field. If you came you probably would not be able to stay 
more than one or two days and the fatigue of the journey to you 
in your weakened condition would not be recovered from in that 
time. 

You will not think less of me for entertaining the view I ex 
press in this letter and the one written last week. They are based 
upon firm principles which I trust will find in you a hearty sup 
port. This is written with no view of influencing your decision, 
for that you have already made, but only to show you why the 
answer your sweet despatch invited, was not sent you instead of 
the one which was sent. Until I receive a letter from you I shall 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 289 

write my letters in fear that you will not get them for some time, 
as may be the case if you start for this place with Mrs. Grant. 

News from the West is that Hood has attacked Thomas s army 
at Franklin, Tenn., a place about twenty-seven miles South of 
Nashville, at four o clock yesterday and was repulsed with a loss 
of from five to six thousand men including one thousand pris 
oners, and among them one brigadier general. Our loss was from 
five to six hundred. This will prove a heavy blow to Hood and 
will, it seems to me, compel him to withdraw to the South bank 
of the Tennessee. Thomas s army by to-morrow, according to 
his despatches, will be ready to take the offensive. No news what 
ever has been received from Sheridan. All quiet along our lines 
here. 

I stated in a letter to you some time ago, speaking of General 
Grant in New York, that Colonel Badeau probably requested that 
the press should not speak of the General s presence in the city. 
It was not Colonel Badeau who did this but Mr. Beckwith our 
cipher operator. 

I see gold is going up again. I wrote some time ago to Colonel 
Hillyer asking him to purchase for me and send to you two hun 
dred dollars in gold, but fear he did not do so. 

In my trip to Fort Monroe I caught cold, which causes me to 
cough somewhat, but does not affect my general health. I went 
with Colonel Parker to-day to get weighed. My weight is now 
173 pounds, or seven and a half pounds more than when I was 
last weighed. 

The Richmond Examiner of to-day, just received, gives it up 
that Sherman will get through to the coast, and is now across the 
Oconee River. This looks most favorable for our military situa 
tion. . . . 

City Point, December 2, 1864. . . . The news from General 
Thomas to-day is not so favorable as it looked yesterday, for 
notwithstanding our repulse of the enemy at Franklin on the 
afternoon of the 3<Dth ultimo, at 3 A. M. of the 1st instant, we fell 
back to within the fortifications at Nashville and Hood s ad 
vanced infantry was near there. General Grant has ordered Gen 
eral Thomas to attack Hood at once and before he has time to 
fortify. So you may expect news of a battle from that quarter 
at any time, yes, before you read this . . . 

General Gregg commanding the cavalry of the Army of the 



2 9 o LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Potomac attacked Stoney Ford Station on the Weldon Railroad 
and succeeded in capturing it with two pieces of artillery, one 
hundred and seventy prisoners, among them Major Fitzhugh of 
General Hampton s staff and a brother-in-law of Colonel Dent. 
He destroyed by burning the depot containing five hundred bales 
of hay, three thousand sacks of corn, large quantities of bacon 
and ammunition ; also one train loaded with supplies. This was a 
very brilliant affair and reflects much credit upon the cavalry and 
its commander. 

General Dodge will be assigned to command the Department 
of the Missouri. General McClerriand has resigned his com 
mission in the army. 

General Grant expects Mrs. Grant here within the next four or 
five days and says she has invited you to come with her. I 
merely mention this to show how much she has put her heart 
upon having your company. You of course have decided this and 
as you have not telegraphed me I take it for granted that you 
have decided not to come. . . . 

City Point, December 4, 1864. . . . News from the West is 
that Thomas will in two or three days from this be in condition to 
give Hood battle. 

News from Sherman through Richmond papers is that he is 
still progressing towards the coast without serious opposition. 
Colonel Markland with Sherman s mail and Lieutenant Dunn 
with despatches for him, start for the blockading fleet off Sa 
vannah this morning, to remain there till General Sherman gets 
through. All quiet here. . . . 

City Point, December 4, 1864. . . . No news of army move 
ments from any quarter away from here. The First Division of 
the Sixth Corps, which has been in the Valley with Sheridan, 
arrived here to-day. The Third Division will commence arriving 
to-morrow and the Second and last division will be here in a few 
days, unless movements of the enemy in the Valley should re 
quire it to stay in that section. 

I see in Harper s Weekly of the loth instant a wood cut of 
myself, with a short (but as to my being wounded in battle in 
correct) notice of my career. If you have not already seen it, 
you can, by procuring that copy of the paper, have the pleasure of 
doing so. I have no doubt it will amuse if not interest you. . . . 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 291 

City Point, December 6, 1864. ... I was kept in my room all 
day yesterday by a severe cold. Otherwise I was quite well and 
this morning I am out but not entirely well of my cold. The day 
is beautiful and I shall take a ride on horseback which I hope 
will much improve me. 

News from Sherman through Richmond papers is still favor 
able to him. From Nashville matters do not look as it seems to 
me they should. The enemy day before yesterday captured two 
transport steamers going down the river, but Captain Fitch in 
command of our gun boats recaptured them and drove back the 
rebel battery from the river bank. Everything quiet here. . . . 

City Point, December 7, 1864. ... I am delighted to know all 
is satisfactory to you. I felt it would be. Mrs. Grant tele 
graphed yesterday she will start for City Point on the 8th. 
Colonel Dent has gone with the steamer Washington to meet her. 
News from Nashville is unchanged save that General Thomas 
intends to attack the enemy to-day. 

Nothing from Sherman. Warren with a force from the Army 
of the Potomac started this morning to break up the Weldon 
railroad so as to deprive the enemy of any benefit of it for some 
weeks. His command is large and sufficient for the purpose. 
I am getting better of my cold. It is raining here quite hard this 
morning. 

Colonel Babcock goes to Sherman this morning with orders of 
the right ring I assure you. Richmond ere long will tremble at 
the Union soldiers march, if the orders which Babcock has for 
General Sherman are carried out. Mail time is up. . . . 

City Point, December 9, 1864. . . . This morning is clear and 
cold. No news from Warren, Sherman or Thomas. 

The expedition for the capture of Wilmington, under General 
Butler and Admiral Porter got off last evening. They should 
reach there day after to-morrow. Colonel Comstock accompanied 
General Butler. . . . 

City Point, December 10, 1864. ... It commenced to snow, 
sleet and rain here last night, and this morning everything was 
white as age. To-day has been really disagreeable. 

Colonel Clark of the old Army of the Tennessee is here; he 
will leave for Washington to-morrow. Hon. E. B. Washburne 
and General Logan arrived this afternoon. They are both in 



292 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

excellent health and spirits. News from Thomas is that all there 
is quiet and a freezing storm prevailing. Nothing of any kind 
whatever from Sherman. General Warren has not yet been 
heard from. He should be back to-morrow. The expedition 
against Wilmington is off. In a day or two we shall hear from 
it, and I trust the news will be such as to cheer the country 
throughout its borders. . . . 

City Point, December n, 1864. . . . To-night is very, very 
cold but clear as a bell. One consolation I have is that I have 
blankets enough to keep me warm and shall suffer no inconven 
ience from the change of weather. Would to heaven I could say 
the same for all of our brave men. 

General Warren has been heard from. He is on his way back 
and will be in to-morrow. His raid has been most successful 
having destroyed the Weldon railroad from Jarrotts Station to 
Hicksburg including several bridges of considerable importance. 
No news to-day from Thomas. Richmond papers place Sherman 
East of the Ogeechee River and moving towards Savannah. The 
expedition against Wilmington has been delayed at Fort Monroe 
by the recent storm. Mrs. Grant arrived yesterday morning. 
She had your letter, also your despatch, and is considerably 
disappointed that you did not come. She says she thinks you 
must be a very considerate and obedient wife to ask your husband 
if you should come to see him, that she intended having your 
visit here as a surprise to me and the next time she sees you she 
intends to give you some instructions as to how to manage me. . . . 

City Point, December 12, 1864. . . . To-day has been clear and 
cold. This evening, however, the wind has laid and we hope the 
expedition against Wilmington got off from Fort Monroe to-day. 
News from Sherman through Richmond papers of this date, is 
that yesterday afternoon he was within twenty miles of Savannah 
and they think it more than probable that the battle for the pos 
session of that city is progressing to-day. If they meet Sherman 
outside of the city in battle he will most certainly beat them. We 
are anxiously expecting direct news from Sherman daily. From 
Thomas we have not a word to-day. General Warren is coming 
in from his raid to Hicksburg. It is a great success. The last 
division of the Sixth Corps has arrived. All quiet in our front 
to-day. . . . 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 293 

City Point, December 13, 1864. . . . We have no news from 
General Thomas to-day. The last was on Saturday. He then 
could not attack Hood because of the sleet that covered in one icy 
glare the whole country about Nashville. Still Hood had been 
able to move against Murfreesboro and at the same time to cross 
some three thousand men into Kentucky. General Grant has 
ordered and repeated over and over again his orders to General 
Thomas to attack Hood, but it seems, first from one cause and 
then another, he will not or at least has not attacked. General 
Logan who was here has been ordered to Nashville and when he 
gets there, if Thomas has not attacked Hood, will relieve Thomas 
and whip Hood if it can be done. We can depend on these old 
soldiers of the Tennessee. 

News from Sherman is quite satisfactory. Richmond papers 
say he is within five miles of Savannah, and drawn up in line of 
battle, and that they have a large force confronting him. . . . 

City Point, December 14, 1864. . . . To-day has been warm 
and cloudy. The General with Mrs. Grant and lady friends, 
accompanied by Colonels Bowers, Dent and Morgan, and General 
Barnard, left here to-night for Washington, and unless he re 
ceives other information than he had when he started from here, 
the General with Colonel Bowers and General Barnard will go 
on to Nashville. Notwithstanding the positive orders sent Gen 
eral Thomas to fight Hood, he had up to the I3th made no move 
whatever in that direction. 

We have just received a despatch from Sherman s army, dated 
the 9th. He was then within ten miles of Savannah. The de 
spatch came through from General Howard, commanding the 
right wing of Sherman s army, to Admiral Dahlgren, and on the 
1 2th instant was forwarded by the latter to Washington. Ad 
miral Dahlgren was going at once to open up communications 
between Sherman and the fleet off Savannah. 

Through rebel papers we learn that Sherman has already in 
vested the place. General Foster holds a point near the railroad 
between Savannah and Charleston, with batteries in twelve hun 
dred yards of the road and prevents cars from passing between 
these places. All quiet here and nothing yet from the Wilming 
ton expedition. . . . 

City Point, December 15, 1864. . . . No additional news from 
Sherman and none whatever from Thomas. All quiet here. 



294 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Through Richmond papers we learn that a part of Burbridge s 
forces reached Bristol on the I3th and captured the place and 
destroyed three trains of cars. Bristol is a point on the railroad 
near the boundary line between Tennessee and Virginia. This is 
a decided success to us, as it must relieve East Tennessee from 
further pressure from Breckenridge. Richmond papers also show 
that the forces that we sent out from New Berne a few days ago 
failed to reach the Weldon railroad. Whether it accomplished 
the purpose for which it was sent mainly the capture of some 
guns and a force the enemy had at work fortifying a place called 
Rainbow the papers do not state. 

I have received no word as yet as to whether or not the Gen 
eral has reached Washington. . . . 

City Point, December 16, 1864. . . . To-day has been quite 
warm, too warm in fact for good health, still I am getting along 
finely. 

Despatches this morning from Nashville inform us that at 9 
o clock A. M. yesterday General Thomas attacked Hood and drove 
his left and centre out of their entrenchments and back from 
three to five miles, capturing fifteen hundred prisoners and seven 
teen pieces of artillery. This, if no reverse has since followed it, 
is glory indeed for our arms. 

Through Richmond papers we learn that the force which cap 
tured Bristol is pushing towards Salem, Virginia, having already 
captured Abingdon and reached a point only two miles distant 
from Marion. They fear the salt works at Saltville would fall 
into our hands. This force is in the rear of Breckenridge and 
will I have no doubt compel him to withdraw from East Ten 
nessee. The same papers also state that Sherman has carried 
Fort McAllister on the Ogeechee River by assault, capturing the 
garrison and entire armament thus opening up full and complete 
communication with our fleet, which can run up to that point with 
the heaviest class of ships. All this is very cheering news I 
assure you. . . . 

City Point, Va., December 17, 1864. . . . Accompanying this 
is a badge or medal of honor of the I7th Army Corps, General 
McPherson s old corps. It was presented to me by the officers 
of that corps as evidence of their friendly regards. I desire it 
preserved for Jimmie. In the meantime I think it is beautiful 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 295 

enough for you to wear. It might answer as a brooch for your 
splendid new cloak. . . . 

City Point, December 17, 1864. . . . To-day has been like sev 
eral preceding it, too warm for winter and good health. 

Colonel Porter went home several days ago on account of 
sickness and Colonel Badeau starts in the morning for the same 
reason. He is very sick with fever. General Grant will be back 
Monday next. 

The news from General Thomas is glorious, a victory complete 
as any yet obtained in open field, with little loss of life to us. 

A despatch dated I4th from General Foster states that he met 
General Sherman that day, that he was then investing Savannah, 
the right of his army resting on the Ogeechee River and the left 
on the Savannah, three and a half miles from the city that he 
was sending a division to the East bank of the Savannah River, 
to prevent Hardee s escaping with the garrison in that direction, 
and also to connect with Foster s forces : that Sherman intended 
summoning the city to surrender on the i6th instant and in the 
event of refusal would open on it with artillery at once. His 
army is in fine spirits. 

Here all is quiet. In the morning a salute of one hundred guns 
will be fired in honor of our victory at Nashville. . . . 

City Point, December 18, 1864. . . . The salute of one hundred 
guns in honor of Thomas s victory was fired this morning. 

City Point, December 20, 1864. . . . Yesterday was a damp 
day with no news from any quarter. General Grant got back 
from Burlington where he had gone with Mrs. Grant from 
Washington. 

Colonel Babcock arrived from Sherman this morning, bringing 
very satisfactory report. All there is well and Savannah must 
soon fall. It is in much the same situation Vicksburg was after 
we invested it. 

News from General Thomas is still favorable. We have hopes 
he may get a force in Hood s rear to destroy his means of re- 
crossing the Tennessee River. One has already been started for 
that purpose and if it succeeds Hood will be entirely ruined. . . . 

City Point, December 21, 1864. . . . To-day has been one of 
storm and wind without, and it admonishes one that within doors 
is the best place to find comfort to-night. 



296 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

The news from General Thomas is cheering and his prospects 
of preventing Hood from recrossing the Tennessee River are 
hopeful. 

Nothing, new from Sherman. The fleet of the expedition 
against Wilmington had appeared off that place yesterday and a 
brigade of troops were sent from Richmond to reenforce Wil 
mington. It is to be hoped they will be too late. This information 
we have from Richmond papers and deserters. . . . 

City Point, December 22, 1864. . . . To-day is clear and cold. 
All quiet here, no news from Thomas or Sherman. Richmond 
papers state that Butler and Porter s expedition against Wilming 
ton has done nothing as yet, that two divisions of Sheridan s 
cavalry were approaching, one on the Virginia Central and the 
other on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. This latter is no 
doubt true as Sheridan had ordered the movement some time 
ago. . . . 

City Point, December 24, 1864. . . . We have no news from 
General Thomas nor from Sherman, save that a telegraph op 
erator from Richmond yesterday says that Beauregard tele 
graphed on the night of the 2Oth to Davis that Savannah had 
surrendered to Sherman unconditionally on the morning of the 
2Oth, and that papers of this date say that there is a report that 
Hardee had evacuated Savannah and Sherman had taken pos 
session. 

The Wilmington expedition has done nothing yet. All quiet 
here. . . . 

City Point, December 25, 1864. . . . This has been a most 
beautiful Christmas and news from Sherman in Savannah made 
it merry indeed. He telegraphs through General Foster his occu 
pation of the place on the 2ist; evacuation of it on the afternoon 
of the 2Oth. His captures consist of 800 prisoners of war, 150 
heavy guns, much ammunition, three steamers, 32,000 bales of 
cotton. The enemy burned their navy yard and blew up their 
three ironclads. 

The news from General Thomas is quite cheering and he is 
still pursuing Hood with hopes of inflicting greater damage upon 
him. No news whatever from the Wilmington expedition. Gen 
eral Butler is with it. You remember what I wrote about him 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 297 

some time since. I fear I was right. Whenever he does anything 
to change my judgment I shall commit that change to paper. . . . 

City Point, December 26, 1864. . . . To-day has been quite 
misty and very foggy. Everything here is quiet. News from 
Thomas is still good. General Wilson s cavalry appears to be 
doing excellent service for which I am truly glad, not only on 
the country s account but on his own. The General has written 
out his orders for Sherman. They are not in accordance with 
my first views, but they are all right, and when the result of them 
is seen, the country will fully approve their wisdom . . . 

The Wilmington expedition has failed failed too, I am sorry 
to say from what I can learn, from the tardiness of the navy, 
which delayed two clear days of good weather, during which time 
the enemy had only one thousand men in all the defences of the 
place, including Fort Fisher. At the expiration of these two days 
a storm set in which drove our fleet to sea and gave the enemy 
time to get into the place some eight or ten thousand men and 
thereby destroyed every vestige of a chance for our success. 

The powder boat of which I wrote several days ago was ex 
ploded near Fort Fisher and so little damage did it do that the 
enemy thought it only one of our gunboats that had been run 
aground and blown up by us to keep it out of their hands. The 
terrible danger they escaped they little dreamed of. Our entire 
casualties in the land forces do not exceed sixteen. . . . 

City Point, December 30, 1864. . . . We have here to-day 
Frank P. Blair, Sr., and Montgomery Blair. Their mission is 
one with which I have not been made acquainted. It does not, 
however, relate to military affairs. . . . 

City Point, Va., December 31, 1864. . . . To-day has been very 
stormy and to-night a heavy gale is blowing but within my cozy, 
comfortable quarters I could wish you with me, laugh at the 
storm, so far as it might affect me personally, and even though 
you are absent, I am delightfully enjoying myself, in the anticipa 
tion of your soon being with me. Those of our brave men with 
out shelter, wherever they may be, I do most sincerely pity, and 
wish within my heart of hearts, this war were ended and they in 
the bosom of their beloved families. 

We have no news from any quarter. To-morrow the rebel 
army of General Lee has a New Year s dinner gotten up by their 



298 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

friends in the same manner as was our Thanksgiving dinner, and 
as they claim not to have fired on our lines to annoy us when 
we were enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner, General Grant has 
issued such orders to our troops as to prevent any firing to-mor 
row unless it be in answer to shots from the enemy. We are 
never to be outdone, either in fighting or magnanimity. . . . 

City Point, Va., January i, 1865. . . . To-day has been very 
fine. No news from any quarter. The mine intended to open out 
the canal was exploded but the result was not as favorable as 
was anticipated. It will require several weeks more work to 
complete it. ... 

It will be observed that in his letter of December 7, Raw- 
lins speaks of the orders sent to Sherman from City Point 
the day previous by the hands of Colonel Babcock, as having 
"the right ring." They were conveyed by an autograph letter 
from General Grant, containing this phrase : 

My idea now is that you establish a base on the sea coast, 
fortify and leave in it all your artillery and cavalry and enough 
infantry to protect them, and at the same time so threaten the 
interior that the militia of the South will have to be kept at home. 
With the balance of your command come here by water with de 
spatch. Select yourself the officer to leave in command, but I 
want you in person. Unless you see objections to this plan, which 
I cannot see, use every vessel going to you for purposes of trans 
portation. 

On its face, this was the natural and proper order to secure 
the concentration of the overwhelming force against Lee, 
which had been the object of Rawlins s, as well as of Grant s, 
constant solicitude. It was approved by Halleck, the Secre 
tary of War, and the President, but when water transporta 
tion came to be considered, it was found that ships enough 
could not be got to transfer 60,000 infantry from Savannah to 
City Point in less than sixty days, or say, before the middle of 
February. Such a movement, preceded as it must have been 
by a separation of the cavalry, artillery and trains from the 
army, would necessarily result in a certain amount of disin- 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 299 

tegration and a consequent impairment of its efficiency. 
These considerations were not lost sight of for an instant, but 
besides this, and the lost time it would entail, there was an 
other which soon found a lodgment in Grant s mind. I refer 
now to the suggestion that, if possible, it would be better for 
the Army of the Potomac to overthrow Lee, alone and un 
aided, rather than by the help of Sherman s army, which had 
never suffered a defeat, and by "marching through Georgia," 
although unopposed, had added so greatly to its fame. It was 
thought that if it were permitted to be in at the death it 
would claim, and the country would accord it, a share of praise 
beyond its due, and this might promote a feeling of sectional 
ism, rather than one favorable to national unity and harmony. 

It must be recalled that Sherman s entire army was in the 
highest condition of mobility, could doubtless with all its im 
pedimenta make the overland march in a considerably shorter 
time than it would take to land its infantry alone at City 
Point, that in making the march it would necessarily destroy 
the entire railway system upon which Lee depended for his 
connection with the Southern Atlantic States, and would be 
sides, constantly interpose itself between the Confederate 
forces it was leaving behind and those under the immediate 
command of Lee in Virginia. 

It has been frequently shown that, strategically considered, 
Sherman made a serious mistake in going to Fort McAllister 
near the mouth of the Ogeechee, and then to Savannah, in 
stead of marching directly through Augusta and the Carolinas, 
by the shortest and most practicable route to Southern Vir 
ginia. It will be observed that it was through his loss of time 
and distance, by going to Savannah, that Johnston was en 
abled to gather up the scattered remnants of the Confederate 
forces, and interpose himself between Sherman and Grant. 
Had Sherman gone by water to City Point, as had been at 
first proposed, Johnston would doubtless have been enabled 
to form a junction with Lee early in February, or before the 



300 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

troops which came by rail from the West under Schofield 
could have intercepted him in North Carolina. 

Fortunately Thomas s victory at Nashville, December 15 
and 1 6, shook Grant s confidence in the soundness of his first 
view as to the proper movement of Sherman s army, 5 and 
gave the foregoing considerations their proper weight in de 
ciding that he should have both the duty and the privilege of 
marching northward overland and giving South Carolina a 
real taste of the war she had done so much to provoke. 

It has been charged that Rawlins opposed this view of the 
case, and adhered to the orders sent Sherman on the sixth of 
December ; but his correspondence shows beyond question that 
he at first opposed those orders, and fully approved the change 
as soon as it was made. The military arguments which justify 
the change, were as easily understood by him as by any pro 
fessional soldier in the army, while such of them as were 
based upon political considerations, if not actually brought 
forward by him, were more in consonance with his known 
views than with those of any other man on the staff. Watch 
ful as he was of his Chief s real fame, he would naturally 
have been the first to see the desirability of beating Lee with 
out the actual presence of Sherman and his army. And when 
not only the possibility of this was shown, but the probability 
of still greater injury to the Confederacy from the overland 
march was pointed out, it might well be assumed as certain, 
in the absence of positive testimony to the contrary, that Raw 
lins was in full accord with the change of orders that left 
Sherman free to carry out his own preferences. Had it been 
otherwise, Rawlins was not the man to have stated as he did 
in his letter of December 26 : 

. . . The General has written out his orders for Sherman. 
They are not in accordance with my first views, but they are all 
right, and when the result of them is seen the country will fully 
approve their wisdom. 

5 O. R. Serial No. 92, Pp. 74O, 797, 79& 



VIEWS ON SHERMAN S CAMPAIGN 301 

Evidently he had as much right to change his views as had 
Grant, Halleck, and Stanton, and in doing so gave additional 
evidence of his real ability as well as of his independent judg 
ment. This was indeed one of his strongest characteristics. 
It will be remembered that he had approved the action of 
Grant in retiring W. F. Smith and restoring Butler to the 
command of the Army of the James. But his correspondence 
shows that he soon came to doubt the wisdom of trusting 
Butler with such grave responsibilities. This is made manifest 
by a pointed remark in his Christmas letter, referring to the 
Wilmington expedition : 

. . . General Butler is with it. You remember what I wrote 
about him some time since. I fear I was right. Whenever he 
does anything to change my judgment I shall commit that change 
to paper. 

While Rawlins s correspondence shows that he was firmly 
attached to such men as Logan, Dodge, Gresham, Ransom, 
Crocker, and Legget, who had entered the service from civil 
life and had become great soldiers from long experience in 
actual campaign and battle, it also shows that he had no abid 
ing faith in mere political generals, like Butler and Banks, 
who failed to prove themselves equal to the great opportunities 
which had come to them rather by their prominence in civil 
affairs than by their just deserts as military men. 

Rawlins s attitude in respect to this important matter re 
ceives increased importance from the action of the appointing 
power in respect to certain promotions in the regular army 
after the Spanish War. In the days of the great rebellion, 
highly educated officers who had served creditably both as 
regulars and volunteers from the first, either in confidential 
staff positions or in actual command of troops, were not in 
frequently passed over in silence, or actually rejected by the 
Senate, because they had neglected to advertise themselves in 
the newspapers, had not otherwise sufficiently demonstrated 



302 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

their fitness for high rank, or had not thought it necessary to 
invoke the aid of political friends to secure their confirmation. 
Intrigue was as common then as now, but fortunately the 
Senate s approval was hard to secure, and grew harder to 
wards the end of the war for men who had not honestly won 
their advancement to the higher grades by creditable deeds. 
It is due to Rawlins to say that, although from civil life, no 
officer was a greater stickler than he for the promotion of only 
such men as had shown themselves by actual service to be 
worthy of it. He kept himself well informed as to the char 
acter and services of the leading officers in all the armies, and 
when I notified him by letter that there was a feeling prevalent 
in the Western Army that Generals Thomas, Schofield, Wood, 
Cox, and Stanley had not been properly recognized, he at once 
earnestly advocated their advancement and exerted all his 
influence not only with his Chief but through Washburne in 
Congress to secure favorable recommendations to the War 
Department and favorable action from the Senate. He was 
the ardent friend of every good man in the service, and the 
implacable opponent of every man who sought promotion by 
meretricious methods, and this came to be generally recog 
nized throughout the Eastern as well as the Western army. 
His merit has received no better attestation than that derived 
from the character of the men who gained his friendship 
during the troublous days of the war, and held it to the end. 



XVI 

,* 

WINTER OF 1864-65 

Preparations for Final Campaign Sheridan Rejoins Army of 
the Potomac Conference with Rawlins Sheridan s Memoirs 
General Forsyth s Letter General M. V. Sheridan s Letter 
Campaign Begins Rawlins s Letters to His Wife Proposed 
Withdrawal of Cavalry Doubts and Discouragements Raw 
lins s Letters Successes of Sheridan and Humphreys Grant s 
Correspondence with Lee Part Taken by Rawlins Lee s 
Surrender. 

FOR the first three months of 1865 there are but few letters 
from Rawlins in existence. The winter was a severe one, 
characterized by heavy rains, swollen streams, and almost im 
passable roads, and although Grant was justly anxious that 
the Union armies should not go into permament encampments 
but keep constantly in motion, he could neither move the 
Army of the Potomac himself, nor prevail upon his subordi 
nates in that region to carry on effective operations till spring. 
In fact, the weather as mentioned in Rawlins s letters, made 
this impracticable, and hence both the Union and Conferedate 
armies in Virginia continued to confront each other sullenly 
and defiantly, but without serious intentions, while their com 
manders made themselves as comfortable as possible in winter 
quarters. 

Rawlins, like his Chief, finally brought his wife to City 
Point, where she remained till after the final campaign began. 
During that period, he of course wrote her no letters, and be 
ing but a poor general correspondent and keeping no diary, I 
am forced in the remainder of my narrative to confine myself 
to the Official Records and to the memoirs of the times, for 

303 



304 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

the particulars of his career. As a staff-officer, without initial 
or independent authority, his part was then and always a 
subordinate one. Sherman found no occasion to mention him 
in his account of the visit to City Point in March, but enough 
has been said by both Grant and Sherman in their "Memoirs" 
to indicate that Rawlins was neither a silent nor an insignifi 
cant factor in the determination of policies and plans. The 
fact is that he took an important part in both, and, as usual, 
displayed sound judgment and marked independence of char 
acter. 

It is well known that after authorizing Sherman to make 
his overland march northward from Savannah, issuing his 
orders for the transfer of Schofield, with an army corps of 
21,000 veterans, by rail from Middle Tennessee to the coast 
of North Carolina, and directing Thomas to resume active 
operations in various directions from his Department, Grant 
made his dispositions to gather all the forces within reach for 
a movement against Lee. To this end he directed Sheridan 
to send back to the Army of the Potomac the Sixth Corps and 
such other infantry as could be spared, but instead of recalling 
the cavalry, which had grown steadily for the past year in 
aggressive temper and efficiency and now believed itself to 
be invincible, while the infantry of the Army of the Potomac, 
with its nine months of killing but inconclusive work had 
gained but little in steadiness and nothing in confidence, he 
ordered the great cavalryman to move up the valley with his 
horsemen, clean up the remnant of Early s force about Staun- 
ton, break up the railroads and canal, cross the James River, 
destroy the Southside Railroad, and, after thus isolating the 
Confederate Capital and cutting off its supplies, to continue 
his march through Southern Virginia and North Carolina to a 
junction with Sherman s victorious army, wherever it might 
be found. This seems to have been a favorite though fallacious 
idea with Grant, for he had included it as an alternative in the 
instructions sent Wilson the year before. 



WINTER OF 1864-65 305 

Sheridan had no difficulty whatever in overrunning all that 
part of Virginia north of Richmond, but the Confederates, 
perceiving his purposes, beat him to the bridges above Rich 
mond, and effectively destroyed them. His own bridge train 
was inadequate for the passage of so wide a river as the 
James, and as he believed in concentration rather than in a 
further dispersion of forces, he doubled on his track and after 
a wide and destructive march, through Central Virginia to the 
eastward reestablished connection with the Army of the Poto 
mac at Harrison s Landing, March 25. 

After a full description of the operations which brought him 
to this place, Sheridan says in his "Memoirs" : 

. . . Very early next morning, in conformity with a request 
from General Grant, I left by boat for City Point, Merritt mean 
while conducting the column across the James River, to the point 
of rendezvous. The trip to City Point did not take long, and on 
my arrival at Headquarters the first person I met was General 
John A. Rawlins, General Grant s chief of staff. Rawlins was 
a man of strong likes and dislikes, and positive always both in 
speech and action, exhibiting marked feelings when greeting 
any one, and on this occasion met me with much warmth. His 
demonstrations of welcome over, we held a few minutes con 
versation about the coming campaign, he taking strong ground 
against a part of the plan of operations adopted, namely, that 
which contemplated my joining General Sherman s army. His 
language was unequivocal and vehement, and when he was 
through talking, he conducted me to General Grant s quarters 
but he himself did not enter. 

As that was the most critical juncture of the war, every 
thing which throws light on the plan of campaign and its 
evolution is most important. And inasmuch as there is con 
siderable divergence in the various narratives as to the parts 
played then and afterwards by the great actors in the drama, 
what Sherman says, although it was written long after the 
events but while still in the full possession of all his powers, 
should be considered in connection with what Grant himself 



306 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

says. It seems to be certain that the Lieutenant General was 
somewhat reluctant to give up the idea of detaching Sheridan 
to join Sherman in the Carolinas, as he mentioned it in his 
final letters to Sherman and incorporated it in his final orders 
and instructions. His subsequent declaration that it was a 
"blind" has the appearance of an after thought as it throws 
no light whatever upon who was to be deceived by the "blind." 
Both Sherman and Sheridan were certainly entitled to his full 
est confidence. It is also certain that Sheridan thought the 
General s purpose was a serious one which he did not like any 
better after rejoining the Army and talking it over than he 
did when it was mentioned in his first orders and repeated in 
Grant s formal programme. Referring to this subject again, 
Sheridan makes the following explicit statement : 

. . . When I had gone over the entire letter I showed plainly 
that I was dissatisfied with it, for, coupled with what the General 
had outlined orally, which I supposed was the "other instructions," 
I believed it foreshadowed my junction with General Sherman. 
Rawlins thought so too, as his vigorous language had left no room 
to doubt, so I immediately began to offer my objections to the 
programme. These were that it would be bad policy to send me 
down to the Carolinas with a part of the Army of the Potomac 
to come back to crush Lee after the destruction of General 
Johnston s army ; such a course would give rise to the charge that 
his own forces around Petersburg were not equal to the task, 
and would seriously affect public opinion in the North; that, in 
fact, my cavalry belonged to the Army of the Potomac, which 
army was able unaided to destroy Lee, and I could not but oppose 
any dispersion of its strength. 

All this was said in a somewhat emphatic manner, and when 
I had finished he quietly told me that the portion of my instruc 
tions from which I so strongly dissented was intended as a 
"blind" to cover any check the army in its general move to the 
left might meet with and prevent that element in the North, 
which held that the war could be ended only through negotia 
tions, from charging defeat. The fact that my cavalry was not 
to ultimately join Sherman was a great relief to me, and after 
expressing the utmost confidence in the plans unfolded for closing 



WINTER OF 1864-65 307 

the war by directing every effort to the annihilation of Lee s 
army, I left him to go to General Ingalls s quarters. On my way 
I again met Rawlins, who, when I told him that General Grant 
had intimated his intention to modify the written plan of opera 
tions so far as regarded the cavalry, manifested the greatest satis 
faction, and I judged from this that the new view of the matter 
had not previously been communicated to the chief of staff, 
though he must have been acquainted of course with the pro 
gramme made out on the 24th of March. 1 

But the substantial accuracy of Sheridan s statement does 
not rest solely on his own recollection. It is confirmed by 
Major General James W. Forsyth, who was chief of staff to 
Sheridan from the time he joined the Army of the Potomac to 
the end of the war, in a letter dated at Columbus, Ohio, May 
28, 1904, which runs as follows : 

... I shall begin this communication with a conversation that 
I had with General Sheridan when he received his instructions 
in the early part of February, 1865, in regard to the movements 
of his command. 

Upon receipt of General Grant s communication giving him 
his orders, he opened it, read it, and then handed it to me to 
read. He was directed to move up the valley with his cavalry, 
clean up the remnant of Early s force located near Staunton, 
then move over into Southern Virginia, destroy all railroads, and, 
if possible, the James River and Kanawha canal. Having accom 
plished this, to cross the James River, break up the Southside 
Railroad, then to move south and join Sherman in the Carolinas. 
After reading these instructions I said : "General, are you going 
to join Sherman?" He said: "No." I said: "How are you 
going to get out of it ? This order is positive and explicit." He 
said: "I am not going to join Sherman." I said : "Why?" He 
said, in substance : "I ll tell you why ; this campaign will end the 
war. I have been anxious for fear Lee would commence moving 
west before we could get to Grant s army. The Army of the 
Potomac will never move from its present position unless we 
join them and pull them out. The cavalry corps and the Army 
of the Potomac have got to whip Lee. If I obeyed these instruc 
tions and crossed the James and joined Sherman, the Army of 

J- "Personal Memoirs of P. H. Sheridan," Vol. II, pp. 124-127. 



308 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

the Potomac would rest where they are and Sherman, with our 
assistance, would close the war. If this should happen it would 
be disastrous to the country, for there would be no balance of 
power between the East and the West. This cavalry corps and 
the Army of the Potomac, of which it is a part, have got to wipe 
Lee out before Sherman and his army reach Virginia." 

We moved out from Winchester, finished up Early, destroyed 
the railroads in Northern Virginia, swung over on to the James 
River and destroyed the James River and Kanawha canal. Prior 
to our departure from Charlottesville, where we rested two days, 
a force of cavalry was sent south to a bridge across the James 
River near a place called Dugansville. Fitzhugh Lee s cavalry 
division and Longstreet s corps had been detached by Lee and 
sent west on the Southside Railroad to watch us. When our 
cavalry made a dash for the bridge at Dugansville, the rebels 
burned it up before our forces reached there. The result of this 
was that there was no bridge across the James River from Rich 
mond to Dugansville. When the officer in command of this 
reconnoissance reported to General Sheridan at Charlottesville, 
he turned to me and said : "How are we going to cross the 
James River? Have you found any bridges on your map over 
the James River between Richmond and Dugansville?" "No, 
there are none," I said. Then he said: "How many pontoon 
boats did you bring ?" I said : "We have eleven canvas pon 
toon boats." He then said: "Do you think we can bridge the 
James with eleven pontoon boats ?" I answered : "No." He 
said : "Well, as we can t cross the James, we will now join 
Grant." A few days after that we reached a place on the James 
River and Kanawha canal called Columbia. In the destruction 
of the canal we had captured sixty canal boats loaded with ord 
nance and medical supplies on their way west to Lynchburg. 
This disturbed the General very much, as it indicated that Lee 
was preparing to move west into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 
Virginia. 

From Columbia we sent two scouts north of the river and 
around Richmond, and two scouts down the river in a canoe, 
each of whom carried a copy of the same despatch notifying 
General Grant of our success, of the impossibility of crossing the 
James and, therefore, that General Sheridan further proposed 
to move around north of Richmond to White House Landing 
on the Pamunkey River, and thence south to the Army of the 



WINTER OF 1864-65 309 

Potomac. He requested General Grant to have the supplies for 
our command at White House Landing ready for us upon our 
arrival there. 

We joined General Grant about the 25th of March, the cavalry 
corps was ordered out on the left of the line of the Army of the 
Potomac, and orders were issued to move out on the 27th and 
swing around the left and try to cut up the railroads in that part 
of the country. This project was not carried out. 

We fought the Battle of Dinwiddie C. H. on the 3 1st and the 
battle of Five Forks on the ist of April. All the while we were 
moving and getting into position we had nothing but soaking 
rains. Our wagon trains were all stalled on the road. Prior to 
the battle of Dinwiddie C. H. General Sheridan went over to 
General Grant s headquarters every day for the purpose of seeing 
General Rawlins and helping him to brace up and sustain General 
Grant. The relationship between Sheridan and Rawlins, Grant s 
chief of staff, was exceedingly close, and there was no man in 
that army so determined and positive that we should continue to 
push on and crush Lee s army as General Rawlins. Sheridan 
agreed with him. 1 believe if it had not been for these two men 
that Grant would have dropped back into his original works at 
Petersburg. In fact, an order was drafted and printed, accord 
ing to my best recollections, looking to that end. The location of 
the army wagons, the supply trains and the cattle herds were 
changed. The pressure brought on General Grant by General 
Meade and other officers of the Army of the Potomac and the 
desperate and continuous rains were the reason assigned for with 
drawing. The men who prevented that withdrawal were General 
Sheridan and General Rawlins. When Sheridan arrived at City 
Point he clasped the hand of Rawlins and earnestly discussed 
the condition of affairs. A compact was made and they stood by 
each other all the way through. 

This statement is further certified by a letter from General 
M. V. Sheridan, dated June 20, 1904, from which I make 
the following quotation : 

. . . Not having been with General Sheridan on his trip to 
Dabney s Mill, I have only my recollections that came from talks 
I have had with General Sheridan then and afterwards. These 
convinced me that Rawlins objected to the retrograde movement 



3io LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

of the Army of the Potomac. I have always understood that the 
retrograde movement was suggested by General Meade, and that 
it was assented to by General Grant there is no question. The 
letter of General Grant (Page 142, Sheridan s Memoirs) cor 
roborates this. 

I care as much for the memory of General Grant as any man 
that lives to-day, but I regret to say that in writing his "Memoirs" 
he dismissed from his mind, with a few words, an incident which 
had a most important bearing upon the close of the war. 

The history of the whole matter as given in detail by General 
Sheridan can be the only truthful and accepted one. When 
Grant wrote he was a dying man. . . . 

The renewal of the forward movement of the forces under 
Grant s immediate command began on March 29, 1865, and 
on the evening of that day Rawlins wrote from the first camp 
of Army Headquarters to his wife whom he had left in his 
cabin at City Point, as follows : 

Crossing of Vaughn Road, Gravelly Run, March 29, 1865. . . . 
To-day has been very favorable for our movements; everything 
thus far meets our expectations. About 4:30 p. M. the enemy 
with two divisions attacked Griffin s division of Warren s corps, 
but were handsomely repulsed, leaving in our hands one hundred 
prisoners and losing many in killed and wounded. Our loss was 
between two and three hundred. Warren followed the enemy 
until he retired inside his main lines. Sheridan has reached 
Dinwiddie Court House, and everything is ready for an advance 
early in the morning. The General feels like making a heavy 
push for everything we have hoped for so long, and I am not 
slow in seconding all such feelings. It does seem to me we must 
succeed. 

I trust, darling, you are giving yourself as little anxiety as 
possible about me. I have coughed but very little and I ate one of 
the best dinners since dark I have eaten in a great while. My 
tent looks very tidy, for, you see, it is new ; besides I have Jenny s 
little chair, brought by mistake of course, which reminds me all 
the time of you and her. Tell her I shall bring it back. Say to 
Mrs. Grant the General is in fine spirits and I believe she will ere 
long be happy in seeing the captor of Richmond in him. . . . 



WINTER OF 1864-65 311 

The next day the camp was moved further to the front, 
and aggressive operations continued, but it rained heavily that 
night and the next morning. The streams became flooded, 
and the country roads were converted into quagmires and 
quicksand. It looked for much of the day as though the for 
ward movement would have to be abandoned. Sheridan had 
met with fierce resistance in his effort to advance from Din- 
widdie Court House. Warren had been greatly delayed by 
swollen creeks and muddy roads in his night march to the sup 
port of the cavalry, and consequently a feeling of discourage 
ment and gloom began to spread throughout the army. It is 
certain that operations were temporarily suspended at the 
front, because of the rain, and that this was with Grant s con 
currence is shown by his letter of March 30 to General Sheri 
dan, in which he directs him, after leaving a force to protect 
the left, to "send the remainder back to Humphreys s station 
where they can get hay and grain." 2 

At that juncture Rawlins wrote as follows : 

Dabney s Mill, March 31, 1865. . . . Owing to the rain last 
night and this morning, making the roads movable quicksand, the 
proposed movement of General Sheridan had to be postponed 
indefinitely. So one of my bright visions of hope has for the 
present passed away. To-day we have had considerable fighting, 
and the losses in Warren s corps in prisoners are, I fear, pretty 
heavy, as usual, with him. He sent out one division to seize a 
road, and instead of sending his other divisions to support it, 
suffered it to be beaten and driven back on his second divison, 
which in turn was driven back on his third, which checked the 
enemy s further advance. Had he sent up his second and third 
to the fight when it began, we should have had a splendid victory 
and would have saved Sheridan s cavalry from imminent peril. 
But thanks to God and Sheridan, the cavalry has been saved 
without his aid. Warren is now moving with his whole corps 
to get in the rear of Pickett s division, which has been fighting 
Sheridan. I do hope he will succeed in getting where he is 
ordered. If so, all will yet be well if not glorious. . . . 

2 "Personal Memoirs of P. H. Sheridan," Vol. II, p. 142. 



312 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Neither of these letters shows any hesitation or doubt on 
Rawlins s part, but the last quoted seems to make it clear, 
without giving details, that the rain was the principal if not 
the only cause of the delay which had apparently been decided 
upon. This view of the matter is fully confirmed by Sheri 
dan s Memoirs, and Forsyth s letter. There is no intimation 
from any source that Rawlins had lost heart in the slightest 
degree or that his course at any time during the campaign was 
other than what it had always been, in favor of a persistent 
aggressive campaign to the bitter end. And yet, many years 
afterwards, Grant in his "Memoirs" makes the following 
statement : 

. . . Although my chief of staff had urged very strongly that 
we return to our position about City Point and in the lines around 
Petersburg, he asked Sheridan to come in to see me and say 
to me what he had been saying to them. Sheridan felt a little 
modest about giving his advice where it had not been asked; so 
one of my staff came in and told me that Sheridan had what they 
considered important news, and suggested that I send for him. 
I did so, and was glad to see the spirit of confidence with which 
he was imbued. Knowing as I did from experience of what great 
value that feeling of confidence by a commander was, I deter 
mined to make a movement at once, although on account of the 
rains which had fallen after I had started out the roads were 
still very heavy. Orders were given accordingly." 3 

In view of what Rawlins wrote to his wife, as well as of 
what has been quoted from Sheridan s "Memoirs" and from 
Forsyth s letter, the conclusion is inevitable that the memory 
of Grant fully twenty years afterwards, and suffering from 
an incurable malady was at fault in the allegation that Raw 
lins urged the return of the army to its former position "about 
City Point and in the lines around Petersburg." The only 
reasonable explanation of this statement is that Grant s letter 
directing the withdrawal of the cavalry from Dinwiddie Court 
House, as well as the retrograde movement, which it was sup- 

3 "Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant," Vol. II, p. 436. 



WINTER OF 1864-65 313 

posed to foreshadow, was suggested by General Meade, be 
cause of the heavy rains or the stout resistance of the enemy, 
or by some other important person, and not by the Chief of 
Staff, who had always, up to that time, stood as the exponent 
of an unrelenting and aggressive policy. Undoubtedly the 
bad weather and the almost impassable state of the roads and 
fields, were the immediate cause of the suspension of all ag 
gressive operations on March 31, as well as of the authorized 
withdrawal of the cavalry. But as the actual conditions were 
evidently quite as unfavorable to the Confederate as to the 
Union forces, the recall of the order for the retirement of the 
cavalry was not only timely but greatly to the credit of those 
who advised it. That Sheridan is entitled to the first place in 
this is made clear by Grant s own statement, and that Rawlins 
is entitled to the second, is made equally clear by the state 
ments of both Sheridan and Forsyth. 

In connection with the change of plan by which Sheridan 
was relieved from the necessity of again cutting loose from 
the Army of the Potomac, and making his way to a junction 
with Sherman in North Carolina, but little is said in any of 
the histories or memoirs of that period. Still less is said in 
regard to the origin of the order directing Sheridan on March 
31 to leave a portion of his cavalry to protect the left and 
withdraw the rest to Humphreys s station on the railroad. 
Sheridan s ride to Grant s headquarters at Dabney s Mill, on 
the receipt of that order is mentioned in Newhall s "With 
General Sheridan in Lee s Last Campaign," but it casts no 
light upon the occasion. Indeed, no mention is made of the 
incident except in the "Memoirs" of Grant and in those of 
Sheridan. Grant s letter to Sheridan has been frequently 
alluded to as authorizing a retrograde movement, but Hum 
phreys and other writers of accurate memory refer to what 
actually followed as at most a suspension of hostilities for the 
day, or a part of the day, due entirely to the heavy rains. It 
is to be noted, however, that the rains having ceased on the 



314 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

morning of March 31 the roads dried out rapidly and were 
sufficiently improved to permit the partial renewal of opera 
tions that afternoon. There seems to be no doubt that Sheri 
dan and* his confidential staff officers for several hours thought 
that Grant s letter directing the withdrawal of the cavalry, 
foreshadowed an abandonment of the campaign then fully 
under way. It appears to be equally certain that Sheridan 
and Rawlins, in mutual confidence and support, stood together 
in the determination to prevent such an inglorious result. 

Whatever may have been the precise facts of the case, it is 
to be observed that it presents the second occasion, during the 
entire period of the war, on which Grant ever allowed himself 
to question the conduct or the judgment of Rawlins, or to 
cast the slightest reflection upon the aggressive policy of which 
he had come to be generally acknowledged as the advocate. 
At most the incident as recorded indicates a temporary dif 
ference of opinion between the Lieutenant General and his 
chief of staff, from which no evil consequences resulted. 
Fortunately the difference, whatever its extent, led to the is 
suance of no formal orders for a "retrograde movement," of 
any corps except the cavalry, and if such movement was ever 
seriously thought of for the infantry, by Meade, or by any one 
else, whether on account of the rain, or of the fierceness of 
the Confederate resistance in the vicinity of Dinwiddie Court 
House, it is a creditable circumstance that the thought never 
crystallized into definite orders, either written or oral. There 
is no evidence that any such orders were ever given or that 
there was ever anything more than a temporary cessation of 
the pressure which Sheridan and Rawlins, from the first, 
never doubted would end the war. 

It should not be forgotten that while the Lieutenant General 
might have had at any time the opinions and advice of his 
subordinates for the asking, the responsibility of advance or 
retreat rested in that as in every other case, solely upon him, 
and it was infinitely to his credit that he decided after but a 



WINTER OF 1864-65 315 

few hours hesitation in favor of an unrelenting advance. 
It is evident from all accounts that the condition of the weather 
and the roads was, for at least two days of the campaign, most 
discouraging; but clear skies and sunshine soon brought a 
revival of hope which culminated in a determination to con 
tinue the movement as begun until victory should crown it 
with complete success. Fortunately, heavy rains and muddy 
roads are about as fatal to movements in retreat as in advance. 
If they paralyze one belligerent they are likely to have the 
same effect upon the other. Hence it is always well in stormy 
weather to wait a while for developments. 

Whatever may have been the doubts and discouragements 
of the initial movements of the campaign, it is certain that 
the brighter weather of April i found Grant s headquarters, 
as well as the left of the army, glowing with hope and confi 
dence. By the battle of Five Forks Sheridan literally pulled 
the Army of the Potomac out of its hesitation and delay, and 
started it in earnest upon its last and most victorious cam 
paign. Nothing could now stop it, and nothing but a failure 
to press forward with the utmost speed could mar the com 
pleteness of its success. When the troops were in motion and 
the enemy on the retreat, Rawlins was not the man to inter 
pose with suggestions. His letters to his wife, written 
in the evening after the results of the day s operations were 
known, were necessarily brief and to the point. So far as I 
know, they are the only ones hot from the very center of in 
formation, and while they are full of confidence, they bear 
unmistakable testimony to the fact that Sheridan held the post 
of honor and of interest in the drama that was then so rapidly 
unrolling itself before the world. As his turning movement 
acquired momentum, it brought the left wing and center of 
the army into closer relation, and made it unnecessary for 
Grant to break camp till April 2, for the purpose of following 
the marching columns. Consequently he held on for the day 



3 i6 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

at Dabney s Mill, from which place Rawlins wrote, April i, 
1865, as follows: 

. . . The hero of the Shenandoah stands afront of all on the 
Appomattox. His personal gallantry and great genius have se 
cured to us a splendid success to-day, 4,000 prisoners, 8 pieces of 
artillery and many wagons, with the morale of victory to us. 
General Grant is making every exertion to prevent anything 
occurring to dim its brightness. Miles s fine division with all the 
reserves of the Second Corps move at twelve to-night to join 
Sheridan, to enable him to resist any attempt the enemy may 
make to retrieve their losses and to follow up his successes, as 
circumstances may determine in the morning. All the other corps 
will attack between this and morning. Sheridan relieved Warren 
of his command and succeeded him with Griffin. This should 
have been done yesterday. . . . 

Southside Railroad, April 2, 1865. . . . To-day has been one of 
battle and glorious victory. Thank God, the Lieutenant General 
has commanded in it himself and not permitted the spirit or, I 
might say, the genius of his orders, to be dampened by his 
subordinate commander. 

We have captured as strongly entrenched positions as I have 
seen many thousand prisoners and pieces of artillery. We hope 
to get Sheridan with the Fifth Corps and two divisions of the 
Second Corps to the north side of the Appomattox between this 
and morning, which will enable us to shut up the enemy s forces 
in Petersburg or compel them to evacuate that place. . . . 

Sutherland Station, April 4, 1865. ... I did not write to you 
last night, for the reason that I had no opportunity of sending 
back. I now do so hoping for such an opportunity to-day. 

The evacuation of Richmond and the apparently great de 
moralization of Lee s army have decided the General to follow 
it up to its final destruction, if possible to do so ; hence it is not 
probable that I shall reach City Point for some time. So, please, 
after visiting Petersburg and Richmond, make your preparations 
to return to Danbury. You need not start, however, till you 
hear from me again. Colonel Bowers will let Harry go with 
you, I am sure. Speak to him about it. If we are brought to a 
halt by the enemy, or for the want of supplies, I may get to see 
you before you start home, which I desire so much to do. My 



WINTER OF 1864-65 317 

health is much better than when lying still at City Point. The 
excitement of victory and of army life agrees with me. The 
letter of yesterday, which I expected from you, I did not receive. 
Don t fail to write me often. 

The decision of the General not to let Lee rest is a wise one 
and augurs the early termination of the war. I had feared he 
might not so decide, but all is well now and promising early 
brightness of the national sky. . . . 

With the campaign at last in full swing, the enemy s right 
wing doubled up and driven back, and his entrenchments cov 
ering Petersburg in possession of the victors, there was noth 
ing left for Lee except to retreat. Richmond was no longer 
tenable. Davis and his cabinet had fled, and ruin was staring 
the Confederacy in the face. Sheridan and Humphreys s 
rapid advance resulted in a sure lodgment of the Southside 
Railway, fully nine months after it was first broken by Wil 
son s cavalry. All the roads south of the Appomattox were 
at last firmly in the grasp of the national army, and there was 
no way left open for the retreat of the enemy except by a cir 
cuitous route leading in the direction of Amelia Court House. 
It was now a race for life between Lee and his pursuers, with 
the short line in favor of the pursuers. 

Rawlins was the constant companion of his Chief, sharing 
his labor and joining in his counsel, but, so far as is known, 
writing only orders and despatches. The hurry and rush of 
the campaign, which culminated in the disintegration of Lee s 
army and its final surrender at Appomattox Court House, 
overwhelmed the staff with work. There was but little time 
for rest and sleep, and none for personal correspondence. 
Even the diaries and itineraries were left to be filled up after 
the campaign was ended. Only the reporters were making 
contemporaneous records. The great actors now occupied 
the stage in front of all others. Grant and Lee held the cen 
ter, with Meade, Sheridan, and Humphreys on one side, and 
Longstreet and Gordon on the other. The staff officers had 



318 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

their part, but it was the part of subordinates. Rawlins, worn 
and pale with disease and impaired strength, met all demands 
upon him. At the supreme moment he was by the side of his 
Chief, and when Lee s letter came asking for an interview he 
was the first to see it after Grant had opened and read it. 

It will be remembered that Grant first wrote to Lee, April 
7, 1865, saying in substance that the results of the last week s 
operations should not only convince him that further resistance 
must be hopeless but were such as to justify a demand for the 
surrender of that portion of the Confederate forces known as 
the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee replied the same day, 
asking what terms would be offered. This letter did not reach 
General Grant till the eighth, but was followed immediately 
by a reply that as "peace" was "his great desire," there was 
but one condition which he would insist upon, namely that the 
men and officers surrendered should be disqualified from tak 
ing up arms again till properly exchanged. This communica 
tion reached Lee late in the afternoon, and the use of the word 
"peace" was at once seized upon by that astute and wary com 
mander with the hope of broadening the meeting into one for 
a treaty of peace between the contending belligerents. In his 
reply he put forward the declaration that he had not intended 
to propose the surrender of his army and did not think the 
emergency called for such a result. He added : 

. . . But as the restoration of peace should be the sole object 
of all, I desire to know whether your proposal would lead to that 
end. I cannot therefore meet you with a view to surrendering 
the Army of Northern Virginia, but as far as your proposals 
may effect the Confederate States forces under my command 
and tend to the restoration of peace, I shall be glad to meet you 
at ten o clock A. M. to-morrow on the old stage road to Rich 
mond, between the pickets of the two armies. 

The phraseology of this note was adroitly framed. It was 
evidently designed to entrap a frank and generous commander 
who was anxious to bring his labors to a successful close, and 



WINTER OF 1864-65 319 

yet not quite sure that he had the enemy in such position as 
would render his capture certain. It reached Grant at mid 
night, and, according to Cadwallader, the Herald correspon 
dent who occupied the parlor of the farmhouse where head 
quarters had been located for the night, it was sent upstairs 
to the bedroom occupied by Grant and Rawlins. As custom 
ary, it was delivered to Rawlins, who tore it open and pro 
ceeded to read it in a voice so loud that both the correspondent 
and the junior staff officers below-stairs heard it as fully as 
Grant did. Rawlins caught its drift instantaneously, and 
pointed out Lee s disingenuousness and inconsistency in the 
declaration that he did not intend to propose the surrender of 
his army, but was ready to meet for the purpose of considering 
the restoration of peace. At this Rawlins flamed up, and, ac 
cording to Cadwallader, addressing Grant directly, said : 

Lee now tries to take advantage of a single word used by 
you as a reason for granting such easy terms. He wants to entrap 
us into making a treaty of peace. You said nothing about that. 
You asked him to surrender. He replied by asking what terms 
you would give if he surrendered. You answered by stating the 
terms. Now he wants to arrange for peace something to em 
brace the whole Confederacy if possible. No, sir, no, sir ! This 
is a positive insult an attempt in an underhand way to change the 
whole terms of the correspondence. 

Thereupon Grant replied : 

It amounts to the same thing Lee is only trying to be let down 
easily. I can meet him, as requested, in the morning, and settle 
the whole business in an hour. 

But Rawlins was inexorable and declared with all his 
strength : 

It would be presumptuous to try to teach General Lee the force 
of words, or the use of the English language; that he had pur 
posely proposed to arrange terms of peace to gain time and secure 
better terms ; that the note was cunningly worded to that end, and 



320 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

deserved no reply whatever. He doesn t think the emergency has 
arisen ! That s cool, but another falsehood. That emergency 
has been staring him in the face for forty-eight hours. If he 
hasn t seen it yet, we will soon bring it to his comprehension. He 
has to surrender ! It shall be surrender and nothing else ! 

To this outburst Grant replied modestly and quietly : 

Some allowance must be made for the trying position in which 
General Lee is placed. He is compelled to defer somewhat to the 
wishes of his Government and his military associates. But it all 
means precisely the same thing. If I meet Lee, he will surrender 
before I leave. 

Then Rawlins took another stand. 

You have no right to meet Lee, or anybody else, to arrange 
terms of peace. That is the prerogative of the President and the 
Senate. Your business is to capture or destroy Lee s army. 

It will be observed that this was a strictly legal view of the 
situation, due doubtless to Rawlins s training as a lawyer. In 
bringing it forward he gave it additional force by reminding 
Grant that when he telegraphed for instructions in reference 
to meeting the Confederate Peace Commissioners at City 
Point a few weeks before, Stanton in his reply went to the 
verge of giving him a reprimand. This was the most notable 
despatch of the day, and if it had been sent to meet the emer 
gency which confronted Grant in his correspondence with Lee, 
could not have been more explicit or more applicable. Raw 
lins dwelt with emphasis upon its terms which are as follows : 

The President directs me to say to you that he wishes you to 
have no conference with General Lee unless it be for the capitu 
lation of Lee s army or on solely minor and purely military mat 
ters. He instructs me to say that you are not to decide, discuss 
or confer upon any political question. Such questions the Presi 
dent holds in his own hands, and will submit them to no military 
conferences or conventions. 



WINTER OF 1864-65 321 

Rawlins concluded the argument by pointing out that this 
despatch was sent when Grant had no thought of treating for 
peace, but had merely asked for instructions as to the treat 
ment he should give to the Commissioners. It is well known 
that Grant, at the time, regarded the wording and scope of 
Stanton s reply as an open rebuke; but in view of its provi 
sions, which were still more pertinent to the case under con 
sideration, and finding that Rawlins was irreconcilably op 
posed to the meeting as modified by the provisions of Lee s 
last note, Grant yielded, and Rawlins carried his point, as he 
always did when his mind was resolutely set. But as Grant 
felt that it was his duty to give a respectful answer to all 
official communications, and that Lee was, under the circum 
stances which surrounded him, especially entitled to courteous 
treatment, he replied fully to his note. The discussion with 
Rawlins had cleared the case of all uncertainty, and laid the 
foundation for a reply entirely within Grant s discretion, but 
which was so clear and explicit that it could not be misunder 
stood. As this reply is a historical document, which owed its 
form and provisions to a most unusual discussion between a 
victorious general and his chief of staff, and was besides an 
essential link in events of far-reaching importance to the 
country, its provisions should not be forgotten. It was writ 
ten at Clifton House, Virginia, in the latter part of the night 
of April 9, 1865, and > omitting the address, runs as fol 
lows: 

Your note of yesterday is received. As I have no authority to 
treat on the subject of peace, the meeting proposed by you for 
10 A. M. to-day could lead to no good. I will state, however, 
General, that I am equally anxious for peace, with yourself, and 
the whole North entertain the same feeling. The terms upon 
which peace can be had are well understood. By the South lay 
ing down their arms they will hasten that most desirable event, 
save thousands of human lives, and hundreds of millions of prop- 



322 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

erty not yet destroyed. Sincerely hoping that all our difficulties 
may be settled without the loss of another life, I am, 
Very respectfully, Your Obedient Servant, 

U. S. GRANT, 
Lieutenant General, U. S. A. 

It is worthy of note that as soon as this communication was 
despatched, Grant sent copies of the entire correspondence to 
the Secretary of War; and, as if to show that he had not lost 
sight of the instructions he had received on a previous oc 
casion, he concluded with the significant remark that "there 
has been no relaxation in the pursuit during its pendency." 

It was a busy and exciting time at headquarters. The fate 
of an army was at stake, while the victorious general was, on 
one hand, marring his fame, or, on the other, gathering new 
and imperishable laurels. Neither Rawlins nor any other staff 
officer got much rest or sleep that night. The Lieutenant 
General and his staff took breakfast with Meade, and as soon 
as it was light enough to find their way, they were on the road 
to join Sheridan, who had already planted himself squarely 
across Lee s only road to escape. The ride was a long and 
circuitous one, much of the way through fields and farms, over 
hills and ravines, and across muddy streams and bogs of quick 
sand. At eleven o clock, or about that time, they halted for a 
rest; and while waiting they were overtaken by Major Pease, 
of Meade s staff, bringing Lee s reply to Grant s letter declin 
ing to meet for the purpose of arranging terms of peace. 

The staff officer gave the sealed envelope to Rawlins, who 
tore one end open slowly, withdrew the enclosure, read it de 
liberately, and then, without a word of comment, handed it to 
Grant. The latter read it through with the same deliberation, 
and as he passed it back to Rawlins, directing him in a conver 
sational tone to read it aloud. The staff officers and military 
suite were looking on with mingled anxiety and hope. They 
were expecting the surrender, but the impassive conduct of 
Grant and Rawlins left them momentarily in doubt. Grant 



WINTER OF 1864-65 323 

betrayed no emotion whatever, but Rawlins compressed his 
lips, clenched his teeth and grew deathly pale. When Grant 
directed him to read aloud, he proceeded in a deep and solemn 
but somewhat tremulous voice as follows : 

9th April, 1865. 

GENERAL : I received your note of this morning on the picket 
line whither I had come to meet you and ascertain definitely what 
terms were embraced in your proposal of yesterday with refer 
ence to the surrender of this army. I now ask an interview in 
accordance with your letter of yesterday, for that purpose. 

R. E. LEE, 

General. 

It will be observed that Grant s last letter had not only 
settled the purpose of the meeting beyond further question 
but had placed it as completely on the basis of a simple sur 
render, as it would have been had Lee not written his letter 
of the eighth at all, in which he sought so adroitly to induce 
Grant to enter upon the larger subject of peace. Grant s tri 
umph was complete, while Rawlins had the satisfaction of 
seeing the course he had recommended fully vindicated. 

Silence fell upon those who had just heard the momentous 
news, but this was broken in a few moments by a staff officer 
who sprang upon a log, waved his hat, and proposed three 
cheers. A feeble response was all that followed. While it 
was apparent that the end had come, that the war was over, 
and that all would soon be reunited with friends, family, and 
home, not one of the party felt that it was an occasion for loud 
or jubilant exultation. 

Grant broke the spell by penning the reply in Avhich he ac 
knowledged the receipt of Lee s note, explained that he had 
passed from the Richmond and Lynchburg to the Richmond 
and Farmville road, and that he would push forward to meet 
Lee at the place he wished the interview to take place. This 
brief but all-sufficient note was written by Grant while seated 



324 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

upon a log. When it was finished he passed it over to the 
Chief of Staff, asking with a smile: 

"How will that do, Rawlins?" 

The latter replied : 

"I think that will do," laying strong emphasis on the word 
"that." 

As soon as the necessary record had been made, and the 
note had been sent to its destination by one of his own staff, 
Grant with his headquarters and escort "pushed forward to 
the front for the purpose of meeting" Lee and bringing the 
business between them to an end. 

The surrender took place at Appomattox Court House, on 
the same day, April 9, 1865, but the details have been given so 
often and so minutely that they need not be repeated here. 
Rawlins was of course present at the negotiations, made the 
record, and revised the official reports of the events now on 
file in the War Department. It is a circumstance of great in 
terest that of the many officers present he was the only one 
who had served through the war with Grant. The first staff 
had long since been scattered. Some were dead, some dis 
abled, and some had been left behind, or assigned to service in 
other fields. Rawlins alone had remained with his Chief from 
the first gun at Belmont to the last at Appomattox. Strangely 
enough, it was four years almost to a day since the young 
Democratic lawyer had made the modest ex-Captain his friend 
for life by his ringing words at the Galena meeting : "We will 
stand by the flag of our country and appeal to the God of 
battles!" 4 

On the night after the surrender the General and his staff 
encamped at Prospect Station and were joined by their faith 
ful friend and supporter, E. B. Washburne, who, it will be 

4 This account of the correspondence with Lee and the closing days 
of the campaign is condensed from the manuscript of S. Cadwallader 
entitled "Four Years with Grant." 

It will be remembered that Cadwallader was constantly with Grant s 
headquarters till after Lee s surrender, and based his narrative on his 
own note books, and his correspondence with the New York Herald. 



WINTER OF 1864-65 325 

remembered, was the principal speaker at the meeting which 
brought the Buchanan Democrat, the Douglas Democrat, and 
the "Black Republican" together in the cause of the Union. 
They had stood by one another loyally and steadily from the 
first, and they shared one another s confidence and congratu 
lations to the end. While the "infallibility of numbers rather 
than the infallibility of generals" had prevailed, yet each had 
acted well his part in his own sphere. No selfish ambition had 
marred the career of any one of them. The pure love of 
country, inspired all, and it may well be doubted if, in the 
great conflict between the States, history affords a more strik 
ing example of patriotic and successful effort on the part of 
three citizens of a single country town than that of Grant, 
Rawlins, and Washburne. 



XVII 

THE AFTERMATH 

Grant s Headquarters at Washington Rawlins Chief of Staff of 
the Army Completes Grant s Final Report French With 
draw from Mexico Reconstruction of Confederate States 
Rawlins Accompanies Grant and the President to Chicago 
Elected First President of the Society of the Army of the 
Tennessee Resume of that Army s History. 

IMMEDIATELY after the close of the war in Virginia, Grant 
returned to Washington; but fortunately on the very day the 
President was assassinated went on to Burlington where his 
children were at school. During his absence Rawlins gathered 
up the headquarters of the army and made arrangements to re 
establish them at the Capital, where they would be in daily 
touch with the War Department. 

Before the end came, in recognition of his services, Con 
gress, largely under the influence of Washburne, who was at 
that time one of the Republican leaders in the House of 
Representatives, had created the permanent office of Chief of 
Staff with the rank of brigadier general ; and without question, 
or the consideration of any possible rival, Rawlins was ap 
pointed thereto on March 3, 1865. In the final distribution of 
honors he received the commission of major general by brevet, 
to date from April 9 of the same year, "for gallant and meri 
torious service during the campaign terminating with the sur 
render of the insurgent army under Lee." Through some 
oversight his name was left off of the first list of nominations, 
whereupon Grant wrote a special letter in his behalf, dated 
May 8, 1866, from which the closing paragraph is taken. It 
runs as follows : 

326 



THE AFTERMATH 327 

. . . General Rawlins has served with me through the entire 
war from the Battle of Belmont to the surrender of Lee. No 
staff officer ever before had it in his power to render as much 
service, and no one ever performed his duties more faithfully or 
efficiently. He is eminently entitled to the brevet rank of major 
general, and I earnestly but respectfully request that his name 
be yet sent in for consideration. 

Nothing can be added to this statement. It bears con 
clusive testimony to the high regard in which Grant held his 
chief of staff and the great value he attached to his services 
from the beginning to the end of the war. 

It will be remembered that the terms granted by Sherman 
for the capitulation of Johnston s army and "the reestablish- 
ment of peace" were rejected by the Government, and that 
Grant, who had returned at once to Washington after the 
assassination of the President, was sent to North Carolina for 
the purpose of supervising the final arrangements for the sur 
render of the Confederate forces east of the Mississippi. 

Meanwhile, Grant having arrived at Washington, Rawlins 
was making his dispositions for the continuance and comple 
tion of the report at that place. Aided by Bowers, Parker, 
and Leet, he gave his first attention to the collection of the 
reports and the preparation of materials for Grant s final re 
port of operations. As was customary Grant prepared the 
outlines of the report himself but the details of every state 
ment were wrought out, tested, and arranged in their proper 
places by Rawlins and his assistants; so that the report as 
finally sent to the War Department and published was the 
best one ever submitted to the Government and one of the 
most accurate and complete known in the annals of war. It 
has successfully withstood the test of time, and while the 
wisdom of some of its statements in reference to the principles 
upon which the army was administered has been questioned, 
the whole document may well be studied by military men as a 
model of arrangement, style, and completeness of statement. 



328 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

As soon as peace was assured the work of mustering out the 
army began; but before this was finished, measures were taken 
to rid Mexico of the French and Spanish interposition, which 
had resulted in the establishment of an ephemeral empire 
under Maximilian. Sheridan was sent to Texas with a 
force of cavalry, infantry and artillery, to make good our 
demands in behalf of the sister republic. I, with my cavalry 
corps, was also under orders for a week to proceed from 
Georgia to the Mexican frontier. 

Rawlins, who was, after all, more of a civilian and states 
man than a soldier, was a strenuous advocate of the Monroe 
Doctrine, sympathized deeply with the Mexicans, and gave his 
Chief the most ardent support at that important juncture. 

It should also be remembered that as soon as it became 
certain that the French would evacuate Mexico and leave 
Maximilian to his fate, public attention was strongly directed 
to a settlement with Great Britain for the unfriendly part 
taken by her in behalf of the Southern Confederacy. The 
depredations upon American commerce by the Alabama and 
other Confederate cruisers fitted out in British ports, had 
aroused the deepest feeling of resentment throughout the 
army, as well as in commercial circles. The rank and file, 
as well as the higher officers, manifested the liveliest disposi 
tion in favor of an enforced indemnification for our losses. 
Many of them wanted no money settlement, but openly advo 
cated a campaign for the occupation of Canada and the ex 
pulsion of the British flag from North America. It is now 
known that Grant was for a while strongly in favor of this 
policy, and in view of the fact that we then had the most pow 
erful navy in the world, and could have turned an army of 
500,000 veteran soldiers in the direction of our northern 
frontier, there can be but little doubt as to what would have 
been the result. Even so late as Grant s own administration it 
seems likely that this would have been the policy, but for the 
political quarrel between President Grant and Senator Sum- 



THE AFTERMATH 329 

ner, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 
who had become its most powerful advocate. 1 

In this great question Rawlins shared the feelings of the 
army and, through Grant, did all in his power to give them 
effect. What would have been the result, had the more im 
portant questions connected with the reconstruction of the 
seceding States not been complicated by the assassination of 
Lincoln and the memorable quarrel between Andrew Johnson 
and the Republican party, must always remain a matter of 
conjecture. 

It will be remembered that at first both Grant and Rawlins 
were disposed to approve the methods and uphold the hands 
of President Johnson in reference to Reconstruction, mainly 
because they supposed he was carrying out the benignant pol 
icy of his great predecessor. Both accompanied him on the 
memorable tour which he made through the Northern States, 
ostensibly for the purpose of delivering an address at the 
dedication of the monument to the memory of Senator Doug 
las, at Chicago, in September, 1865, but really for the purpose 
of winning the people of the Northern States to the views 
which he held in regard to the political rehabilitation of the 
Southern States, and the readjustment of their relations to the 
Union. In respect to this important matter a radical differ 
ence of opinion began to show itself between Congress and the 
President, shortly after his inauguration, and ended finally 
in his impeachment, trial, and acquittal. Although generally 
regarded as an astute politician, Johnson was slow to recognize 
the fact that the Northern people were against his policy. He 
was surrounded by office seekers and political parasites, who 
concealed the truth from him and told him only such things as 
they thought would gratify his vanity. 

Secretary Seward, Secretary Welles, Admiral Farragut, and 
many other officials and ladies accompanied the President in 

!See "Treaty of Washington" in "Lee at Appomattox," by Charles F. 
Adams. 



330 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

the trip to the West. Speeches were made at the principal 
cities; but after the first few days it became manifest that the 
President was delivering substantially the same speech every 
where. It was a vague, incoherent appeal to the country in 
behalf of the readmission into the Union of the States which 
had taken part in the Rebellion, without terms or conditions, 
and had this policy been advocated with the gravity, decorum, 
and kindliness that Lincoln would have given to its discussion, 
it might have prevailed. But the trip soon degenerated into 
an undignified, if not a disgraceful, junket, which the news 
papers designated derisively as Swinging Around the Circle." 
Grant and Farragut doubtless consented to accompany the 
party because they considered the wishes of the President, as 
Commander-in-Chief, quite as obligatory upon them as his 
orders would have been. Rawlins went because Grant did, 
but having been a Douglas Democrat, and a great admirer of 
that distinguished statesman, he doubtless felt besides that it 
would afford Grant an excellent opportunity to show himself 
to the people, while attending the dedication of the Douglas 
monument. The war having come to a favorable ending, the 
time was now at hand when Grant could do this without in 
curring the criticism of even his bitterest enemy. As it turned 
out, however, Grant also soon became disgusted with the un 
dignified exhibition the President was making of himself, and 
took leave of the party at Buffalo, going with Rawlins by lake 
steamer to Detroit. They rejoined Johnson at Chicago and 
accompanied the party to St. Louis, where they finally left it, 
ostensibly for the purpose of visiting Grant s father near Cin 
cinnati, but really because, as Grant expressed it, he did not 
"care to accompany a man who was deliberately digging his 
own grave." 

Rawlins, who was a politician before he became a soldier, 
soon saw enough to convince him that Johnson could not be 
renominated, and that Grant s chances for the succession 
would be injured by a further identification with Johnson or 



THE AFTERMATH 331 

his policy. But notwithstanding its melancholy features, it 
must be admitted that the trip was a novel and interesting 
experience to the General and his Chief of Staff. To the 
latter it was a relaxation from the routine of army administra 
tion, for which in times of peace he had but little taste. Suf 
fering, as he was, from impaired health and failing strength, 
he had grown exceedingly tired of the life in Washington. 
He realized, in fact, that his military services were at an end. 
They had been imposed upon him by the "Appeal to the God 
of Battles/ which he had accepted and advocated in the 
Galena speech, as the only proper response that could be made 
to the overt acts of the secessionists. The work which it 
brought to him as a soldier was now done, while that which 
devolved upon him as a civilian and statesman was about to be 
extended to a wider field. 

But before considering the concluding period of this patri 
otic and useful life, it may prove interesting to allude briefly 
to an association of officers in which Rawlins took the greatest 
interest, and which was doubtless suggested by the "Order of 
the Cincinnati," organized immediately after the close of the 
Revolutionary War. 

In this connection it should be observed that the end of the 
Civil War and the disbandment of the volunteer army were 
followed almost immediately by the formation of a number of 
military societies, intended to keep alive the memories and 
foster the fraternal feelings which had grown up between the 
officers and men of the national army. The first and most 
important of these was started in the Senate Chamber at the 
Capital of North Carolina on April 14, 1865, during a pause 
in Sherman s march Northward through the heart of the 
Confederacy. The meeting was necessarily a preliminary one, 
but it was followed by another at the same place on April 25, 
at which time the organization was completed, and a constitu 
tion was adopted which entitled to membership every officer 
who had served with honor in the Army of the Tennessee. 



332 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

The name selected for the association was the Society of the 
Army of the Tennessee. Instead, however, of electing one of 
its living commanders as its first president, it passed over the 
names of "Grant, Sherman, Howard, and Logan alike and 
unanimously conferred that honor upon 

Brigadier General John A. Rawlins, U. S. A., Chief of Staff 
to the Lieutenant General, in consideration of his eminent services 
to our country in connection with the Army of the Tennessee and 
also for his ability for the position. 

Inasmuch as he was not within four hundred miles of that 
army at the time, but had been absent from it over a year, this 
was not only an unexpected but a marked compliment which 
shows better than any other event that ever took place the 
esteem in which Rawlins was held by the leading generals. It 
also shows that the Society recognized and intended to certify 
him to the country as an officer of the highest character and 
most unusual services. No ordinary man either of the regular 
army or of the volunteers could have counted upon such a 
distinction. The proceedings show that the choice was not 
made by accident nor without full and careful consideration. 
Rawlins had not been consulted, and therefore had no reason 
to be prepared for or to expect that this honor would be con 
ferred upon him. 

The first regular meeting of the Society was called by letter, 
July 10, addressed to the officers of the Army of the Ten 
nessee and was held at Cincinnati on November 14, 1865. 
Rawlins was of course present at that meeting, and delivered 
a careful and elaborate address which was listened to with 
marked attention by his comrades. It contains without doubt 
the best synopsis that has ever been made of the history of the 
Army of the Tennessee interspersed with anecdotes and fre 
quent allusions to its most distinguished officers. Although it 
is necessarily much condensed, it is of such value to the his 
torian that it is given in full in the Appendix. It may be well 



THE AFTERMATH 



?33 



to observe again, however, that Rawlins, with Grant and 
Sherman, persisted in the error that Bragg, at the battle of 
Missionary Ridge, moved his troops from the left and center 
of his line to the right, for the purpose of resisting Sherman s 
attack on the last day. Rawlins always took great pride in 
this society, and remained its president until his death. Its 
first Vice-Presidents were Logan, Blair, Oglesby, Giles A. 
Smith, Belknap, and Fairchild. 



XVIII 

/ 

INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES, 1866-67 

Rawlins s Galena Speech Life on the Plains Letters to His 
Wife Suspension of Stanton as Secretary of War Appoint 
ment of General Grant Ad Interim Controversy Between 
the President and General Grant Rawlins Supports Grant. 

EXCEPT for his short visit to Chicago in the autumn of 
1865, Rawlins had been constantly with his family since the 
cessation of hostilities, but his tour of the country with Presi 
dent Johnson and party again separated him from, and gave 
occasion for several letters to his wife, two of which are here 
quoted as follows : 

Hudson River, August 30, 1866. . . . We have been so con 
stantly engaged that I have not had time to write sooner. I am 
well and improving all the time, but don t much relish the loss of 
my morning naps. However, I hope soon to get used to it. 

The ovations to the President have been very fine all the way 
from Washington here. The one in New York perhaps has never 
been excelled in this country. General Grant and Admiral Farra- 
gut came in for a large share of the cheering, I assure you. And 
I am now more than ever glad that the General concluded to 
accompany the President, for it will do Grant good, whatever 
may be his aspirations in the future, and fix him in the confi 
dence of Mr. Johnson, enabling him to fix up the army as it 
should be, and exert such influence as will be of benefit to the 
country. The Philadelphians gave the President a splendid 
reception, notwithstanding the action of their officers. Mr. 
Cadwallader * has been very busy, and is likely to continue so. 
The General and all the party are well and happy. 

I see by the papers that Admiral Radford is mentioned as 

1 Correspondent of the New York Herald, attached to Grant s headquar 
ters throughout the war. 

334 



INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES, 1866-67 335 

having been with General Meade in the procession, when in fact 
Grant, Farragut, Meade and myself rode in the same car 
riage. . . . 

Niagara Falls, September I, 1866. ... I have been so con 
stantly on the move since leaving Washington that I have been 
unable to write as I intended, but shall try hereafter to get off a 
line to you every day till we start back. We reached here at 
4 P. M. to-day and met a hearty reception from the people. The 
fact is the enthusiasm everywhere along the route has been un 
bounded, but there is more cheering for Grant and Farragut than 
for the President. The President s friends along cheer him, but 
all parties cheer Grant and Farragut. I feel from what I see 
that the chances are favorable to the conservatives and Democrats 
in this State this fall. They claim that they will carry the State 
by forty or fifty thousand majority. Seward is delighted and is 
certainly a man unequaled in tact and shrewdness to manage an 
assemblage of men opposed to him in politics. I am not sur 
prised that he was the leader of his own party when he was in 
membership with it. I can tell mother many things when I get 
back that will greatly please her and some, too, that will not. 

They are having a grand ball here to-night. I shall take no 
part in it, but go early to bed and try to get some sleep. I have 
had very little since I left home. Still I feel refreshed with the 
trip already, and after to-night shall be in a condition to stand it 
better than I have. My cough is nothing like what it \vas in 
severity, which, under the circumstances, loss of sleep, etc., is a 
little surprising. 

After dinner to-day Surgeon General Barnes got a carriage 
and, being well acquainted with the falls and vicinity, took me to 
see them. I can give you no description of them that would give 
you any idea of what they are, other than that you already have. 
You will have to come and see them yourself to properly appre 
ciate their beauty, magnitude and grandeur. Simply to look at 
them and think, thus they have poured in their ceaseless roar 
from the beginning of time, and will continue to the end, sinks 
all thought of self in the sublime. 

Mr. Cadwallader is well the General is well I am growing 
better all the time, and everybody with us is well. 

The President makes innumerable speeches every day, and the 
people cheer him lustily. Grant was at first quite fidgety over 



336 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

the matter, but has finally grown quite tranquil and seems to 
enjoy himself very much. Admiral Farragut takes everything 
admirably and is having a happy time. Mrs. Farragut is de 
lighted, and the only fears she seems to have are that the people 
will shake the Admiral s hands off. She is a most lovely lady 
and decidedly in love with you. She inquired very tenderly after 
you and Jenny, and said she should never forget your sincere 
affection for the sweet little girl. I told her we had a new baby, 
and she seemed perfectly enthusiastic over it and said that it 
would be another link in your love for the others. Of all that 
I have heard since I left home, this talk of hers pleased me most. 
This you believe, don t you, my darling wife? . . . 

From the tone of this correspondence, although devoted 
mainly to public matters, it is apparent that Rawlins was a 
man of the warmest affections, who held his family and its 
interests above all considerations except those of public duty. 
As was his custom, he continued his letters to his wife during 
the whole of his trip, but as they relate mostly to personal 
and family matters, no further quotation from them seems to 
be required. It is evident that although he. was encouraged 
by his physicians, and at times by his own feelings, to believe 
that he was mending, his health was really on the decline. It 
is also evident that the occupations of peace called less fre 
quently for the exercise of his personal influence with Grant 
than did those of war. The load of his official responsibility 
had become lighter, and he felt correspondingly more at liberty 
to look after his own health and interests, and especially to 
study the drift of public opinion. As before stated, his earlier 
feelings inclined him to the support of Andrew Johnson and 
his policy, but the better he came to know the man and the 
politicians who supported him, the more certain did he become 
that they could not sufficiently command the support of the 
dominant party in the North to carry their views into effect. 
He was too good a lawyer to pronounce them illegal. The 
questions under consideration were of the highest importance. 
They were questions of policy upon which the Constitution 



INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES, 1866-67 337 

was silent, and hence their solution called for the exercise of 
the highest patience, moderation, and wisdom on the part of 
the President as well as on the part of the Congress. 

And as it soon became evident that instead of exhibiting 
these virtues towards each other the Chief Magistrate and the 
law-making body were drifting hopelessly apart, thousands of 
sensible men naturally began to fear that the most valuable 
results of the Union s victory might be put in jeopardy, if not 
lost entirely, and therefore began openly to favor Grant s 
election to the Presidency as the best possible means of restor 
ing peace and quietude to the country. Rawlins favored the 
movement, but did not for a moment try to deceive himself 
into the belief that Grant was specially fitted for the solution 
of such questions as were then claiming public attention ; but 
relying upon his sound judgment and his unselfish patriotism, 
and considering the fact that the victorious commander, in 
view of Lincoln s death and of the violent temper and conse 
quent unpopularity of Stanton, was fairly entitled to the suc 
cession, without the slightest hesitation he declared for his 
nomination and election to succeed Johnson. While some 
thought him unfit for the office, and many of his best friends, 
such as Sherman, did not hesitate to declare that he would be 
foolish to give up the headship of the army for life in order 
to embark upon the uncertain career of a politician even if he 
should be elected President, Rawlins did not share their views. 
He felt that Grant, like every other citizen, must answer such 
supreme calls as his country might make upon him; that he 
would be entitled to the best help his countrymen could give 
him; and that if he failed for any reason fully to satisfy the 
highest demands made upon him, he would still be entitled 
to the grateful recollection of his fellow-citizens, not only for 
his military services but for standing as the exponent and 
guardian of the Union cause at a period during which its 
greatest interests were at stake, and its wisest statesmen were 
in doubt. Besides, Rawlins felt that under his Chief s leader- 



338 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ship the war having ended in a complete suppression of armed 
hostility to the National Government, he was at perfect liberty 
to express the convictions which were growing in strength 
month by month, with the political unrest which gave rise to 
them. Rawlins early declared his feelings to his more intimate 
friends and as they regarded him not only as Grant s mouth 
piece in civil as well as in military affairs, but withal as better 
able than was Grant himself to set his views fully before the 
public, they asked him to prepare and deliver an address upon 
the questions of the day, at such time and place as might best 
suit his convenience. His health was still failing, and Grant 
had already decided that he should make the overland tour of 
the continent along the line of the Union Pacific railroad, then 
under construction, in company with General Dodge, who had 
resigned from the Army and become Chief Engineer of the 
contracting company. 

Yielding to the request of his friends, Rawlins prepared his 
speech with unusual care, and through them made all neces 
sary arrangements for its delivery at Galena, on June 21, 
1867. The manuscript was of course submitted to Grant, and 
received his approval. This fact became known at the time 
and gave to the address an importance and a circulation which 
it could not otherwise have obtained. It was justly consid 
ered as setting forth Grant s opinions and policy on the ques 
tions then uppermost in the minds of all. For this reason it 
was published shortly afterwards by the Union Republican 
Congressional Committee at Washington as a campaign docu 
ment of the first importance. 

As soon as Rawlins had completed the address and made 
arrangements for a protracted absence, he bade farewell to 
his family, and started for Chicago, where he stopped over for 
the purpose of conferring with his friend, Judge Drummond, 
who had already become greatly distinguished as the learned 
and fearless judge of the United States Circuit Court for 
Illinois, and also with J. Russell Jones, afterwards Grant s 



INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES, 1866-67 339 

Minister at Brussels. They were both from Galena, and were 
besides the leading citizens of Northwestern Illinois. They 
were ardent Republicans, but cool, observant, and able men, 
who could hardly be mistaken as to the drift of public opinion. 
Nobody knew Grant s character or lack of qualifications for 
civil office better than did they. They were also his closest 
and most faithful friends ; but nothing in their relations with 
the victorious soldier could be construed as indicating a will 
ingness on their part to prefer his further promotion to the 
public welfare. After careful consideration, they fully ap 
proved Rawlins s proposed speech, and this gave him addi 
tional confidence in its timeliness and propriety as well as in 
the soundness of his views. 

But in the midst of the satisfaction he had derived from 
seeing and conferring with his friends, Rawlins suffered a 
cruel and overwhelming blow to his affections. On June 13, 
1867, he received a telegram announcing the sudden and un 
expected death of his young son Willie. Naturally his first 
impulse was to give up his trip across the plains, and return 
to his sorrowing wife; but realizing that his duty to her as 
well as to others, required him to conserve his strength, he 
went on to Galena, where he received every mark of consid 
eration and sympathy from his family and friends, and espe 
cially from his former brother staff-officer, General Rowley, 
with whom he spent his first night. From there he wrote that 
as soon as he had delivered his speech, which would not be 
delayed, he should continue his journey across the plains in 
hopes that their dry air would restore his health. 

It is pitiful to contemplate how this able man, stricken in 
the prime of his usefulness by an incurable disease, was al 
ternately buoyed up by the hope of recovery, and depressed by 
the certainty of increasing weakness. Distracted by a sense of 
duty to his wife and family, and by the necessity of doing all 
in his power for himself, he set forth bravely to make a su 
preme effort in search of health and strength, amid new scenes 



340 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

and new occupations, far from those he loved best on earth. 

Under these distressing conditions, with a sinking heart and 
an enfeebled constitution, but sustained by an unfaltering 
sense of duty to his Chief and to his countrymen, he delivered 
his speech to one of the largest meetings of his fellow-citizens 
that had ever listened to him. The task was one which greatly 
taxed his strength; but he went successfully through with it, 
holding his audience in rapt attention to the end. It was a 
worthy tribute to their intelligence, and the honor that the 
citizen soldier, of whom they were so proud, conferred upon 
them, was returned to him tenfold by the unstinted approval 
which they gave to his eloquent periods. 

As this address gave an admirable resume of our political 
history, of the results of the war, and of the multitude of 
questions to which it had given rise and which were then 
pressing for solution, it is reprinted in the Appendix. 

After a few days rest at Galena, during which he was 
soothed and encouraged by the ministrations of his relations 
and friends, Rawlins finally set out for the far West. From 
Dixon, Illinois, where he was forced to wait a few hours for 
a train, he wrote to his wife again; and after expressing his 
deep and abiding gratitude for the friendly and sympathetic 
letters which he had received from his brother officers of the 
staff, and for the present of a thousand dollars, which the 
people of Galena had given him, he continued as follows : 

. . . The people of Galena have been very kind to me. On my 
leaving there this morning they handed me a letter, which on 
opening I found to contain one thousand dollars in a draft on 
New York. This amount I have at present a mind to invest in a 
few acres of land near Chicago, in yours and the children s name, 
with a view to its growing in value in a few years. I shall de 
cide between here and Omaha. If I decide to make the invest 
ment I shall send it to Russell Jones from Omaha with the re 
quest that he make the investment for me; if not will send the 
draft to you. 

... I made my speech in Galena. It met with the great appro- 



INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES, 1866-67 341 

bation of my friends, and has been printed in the Chicago papers 
with favorable and, I might say, most flattering editorial notices. 
I shall send you some of the papers as soon as I get hold of them. 
Of course there are some typographical errors that are a little 
annoying; still it is generally correct. I sent you this morning a 
Galena paper containing it in full. The Tribune says : "It is the 
platform of the army; it is the platform of the Republican party ; 
it is emphatically the platform of the country, and it is unques 
tionably the platform of General Grant." 

On July 4, he sent his wife an interesting account of his 
march across the plains from Julesburg, at that time the end of 
the railroad, to the site of a new town, which he and his as 
sociates named Cheyenne. He was accompanied on this march 
by Major Dunn, his aid-de-camp and by Colonel Carling, of 
the Quartermaster s Department. Owing to the presence of 
wild Indians, the party was escorted through the country by 
a detachment of cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant 
Colonel J. K. Mizner, and it was an entirely new experience 
for most of them. Rawlins was especially interested in 
the glimpse of frontier life which the march, the hunting, and 
the encampments furnished him. It filled him with renewed 
hope that his health was greatly improved, that his cough 
had diminished, and that his appetite had increased. He thor 
oughly enjoyed camp fare, and on the fourth day out ate 
what he described as "the best meal he had had in four years." 
It consisted simply of antelope steak, rather poor biscuits, 
canned peas, peaches, cheese, and coffee. He was pleased with 
the scenery, the exhilarating atmosphere, and the free and easy 
life. He praised Carling, who had served on my staff as 
Chief Quartermaster of the Western cavalry, as "a most 
splendid gentleman and officer." He added buoyantly: "I 
feel greatly in hopes that I shall recover my health perma 
nently," and one cannot suppress the thought that if the invalid 
or the medical profession had known at that time as much as 
is now known in reference to the proper treatment of such 



342 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

cases, it is more than probable that his hopes might have been 
fully realized. 

On July 8, after alluding to the celebration held on the 
Fourth, to the arrival of General Augur at the site of the new 
town on Crow Creek, and to the expected arrival of General 
Stevenson with a detachment for the relief of his escort and 
the garrison of the new frontier post, Fort D. A. Russell, he 
wrote as follows : 

. . . Here will be the junction of the Denver branch of the 
road ; here will be established one of the permanent military posts, 
the depot for years to come of all the posts this side of the Rocky 
Mountains. Crow Creek, a rapid stream of fine water, flows 
by here, and the great snowy mountains lift themselves up in full 
view, and every evening since our encampment here have breathed 
their icy breath upon us. 

General Dodge is here hard at work and looks badly. He is 
suffering from old wounds received in the service. I fear if he 
does not let up a little in his work he will be compelled to do so 
from physical inability to work longer. 

While in this region Rawlins took a deep interest in the 
frontier life about him. He accompanied Dodge and the 
army officers in their explorations of the surrounding country 
and the location of the new army posts, taking part in all the 
preliminary work for extending the railroad towards Salt 
Lake. While the party was in no danger, the constant pres 
ence of Indians, with occasional rumors of outrages on their 
part, added to the interest and excitement of the life it was 
leading. This doubtless stimulated Rawlins s appetite and 
inspired him to ask for the New York papers and what they 
said of his Galena speech, which had been widely noticed and 
favorably commented on. 

Rawlins was still at Cheyenne, July 20, 1867, where he was 
deeply interested in the case of a Swedish boy named Andrew 
Bomkersen, who belonged to a Government train from Salt 
Lake, was killed there on the nth, and was the first person 



INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES, 1866-67 343 

buried at that place. Having given his advice and assistance 
to Augur in locating the permanent post, he began to be eager 
to move on, and anxious about the importance given by the 
press to his Galena speech. He naturally wanted to know what 
the New York papers thought of it, though he felt sure his 
relations with the General would give importance to what he 
said. 

From Fort Saunders, Dakota, he wrote an account of the 
journey to that place, which he greatly enjoyed, notwithstand 
ing the fact that his party had been followed by Indians. He 
added with pardonable pride : 

... I feel greatly flattered by the reception of my speech by 
the public. I know nothing of what the St. Louis papers say nor 
of what the New York papers say, except the Tribune. Rowley 
enclosed me some extracts from other papers, which I enclose 
herewith to you along with some I cut from the Chicago papers 
and the Galena Advertiser. The latter has the whole speech in 
it, with an editorial written by H. H. Houghton. However flat 
teringly the latter has written of me he believes every word 
of it. ... 

The party then advanced to the North Platte, where it lo 
cated Fort Steele, but the march was quite trying to Rawlins. 
Much trouble and some delay were caused by the depth and 
rapidity of the stream; the cavalry horses and pack animals 
had to swim it, and this brought the party into a trackless 
region, farther and farther from the overland trail, as well 
as from water. Sixteen miles beyond the crossing they dis 
covered a flowing spring, at which the party, and especially 
Rawlins, drank with great enjoyment. It was a veritable / 
oasis in the desert, and later became the site of a flourishing ; 
town, which in due time Dodge named after his friend/ 
Rawlins. 

From that point the party made its way to the Medicine 
Bow River, and thence across the Continental Divide to Fort 
Bridger, Utah. The march was varied by scouting and ex- 



344 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ploring, by fording rivers, climbing mountains, and shooting 
game. Elk, black-tailed deer, and bear were abundant; the 
mess was kept amply supplied, and Rawlins continued to feel 
stronger and better. Although he did not get rid of his cough, 
he still indulged in the hope that the trip would give him 
permanent relief. On August 19 he wrote: 

... I see by the papers that General Grant has accepted the 
position of acting Secretary of War in the place of Mr. Stanton. 
I suppose of course he has good reason for doing so and that he 
thinks he can perhaps better serve the interests of reconstruction 
there than if some one inimical to reconstruction were placed 
there. For my own part I must confess that I am sorry any 
condition of things should have so turned out as to necessitate 
General Grant s accepting the position. It will require a steady 
hand and clear head to keep out of the gulf that yawns between 
the President and the people. There is no friendship for the 
General with the President or any of his Cabinet in my judg 
ment, and the party Butler represents and the bitterness he feels 
are neither dead nor sleeping. My faith in an overruling Provi 
dence is still strong, and Grant s star I believe to be still in the 
ascendant, but so the stars of my country pale not I shall be 
content. I have no letter from Washington since I left Galena, 
and of course know nothing of what is going on. 

I received a letter dated July 26 from Russell Jones, in which 
he says : "I also received yours containing the $1,000 draft, and 
after talking with Bass, Bradley and Corwith I conclude to buy 
ten shares of our street railway stock instead of buying land. 
If I am not greatly mistaken there is no better place to put it. 
I hold it in the name of your wife and children, though standing 
in my name on the Company s books. Unless otherwise directed, 
I shall invest the dividends in new stock as fast as there is enough 
to buy another share." I am not so well satisfied with this as 
I would have been if he had bought land, but I have great confi 
dence in the gentleman named and in his judgment. . . . 

From Camp Douglas, Salt Lake City, he wrote : 

. . . On Wednesday evening, August 28, we met Brigham 
Young, his last wife and two daughters at the house of Mr. 
Head, the Indian agent here. He looks to be a man of about 



INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES, 1866-67 345 

forty-five years of age, but is sixty-six. Of the peculiar institu 
tion of these people one has a more favorable idea from letter 
writers than from observation. My own views of them are far 
less favorable than others of General Grant s staff who have been 
here before. I am in favor of the Conner rather than the Young 
party. On the 29th I called on Governor Durkee, Chief Justice 
Titus and Judge Drake of this territory. They are to call on us 
to-morrow. I like them very much. General and Mrs. Chetlain 
and Mr. Head are very kind to us. We shall leave here on the 
2nd or 3rd of September for the East via South Pass. Shall 
reach Omaha about the loth of October. . . . 

On his way he sent the following letter : 

Bear River Station, September 6, 1867. ... I am glad the 
General sent you the funds, but don t be uneasy about my hurry 
ing home on account of the General s new duties, for be assured 
I owe too much to my family and my own health to hurry to 
Washington at this time. I could do nothing now. Had I been 
there I might have prevailed upon the General not to accept the 
position he has now. I certainly should have tried unless being 
there had put me in possession of knowledge I do not now have. 
May God guide him aright is my prayer. ... I am in very good 
health, except my cough, and I think I am getting better of that 
all the time. . . . 

During this entire trip across the plains and Continental 
Divide to the Great Salt Lake, Rawlins had been the guest and 
inseparable companion of Dodge. As his letters show, they 
had been warm and devoted friends from the time they first 
met in West Tennessee, and had never lost an opportunity to 
say kind things of each other, but neither had come to ap 
preciate the other thoroughly till they spent the summer and 
fall together, the one seeking health and the other trying to 
find the best possible location for a railroad to the Pacific 
Ocean. Hitherto Rawlins had been the industrious, austere, 
uncompromising staff officer, looking neither to the right nor 
left, but sternly working for victory over the public enemy. 
His high character had become known to all, but it needed 



346 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

this trip to reveal the genial and companionable nature of the 
man to his friend. During the relaxations by the camp-fire 
at night, he had let the light in upon his own nature, and the 
ruling principles of his life. As he told the story of his ex 
periences from Belmont to Appomattox, he unconsciously re 
vealed his unselfish character, his devotion to Grant, his per 
sistence in the performance of duty, his exalted patriotism, 
and, above all, the high sense of honor by which he was guided 
through all the emergencies of his career. Dodge bears the 
most unmistakable testimony to all this, as well as to the fact 
that although a sick man himself, Rawlins was more worried 
about the health of his companion than about his own. While 
all looked out with anxious solicitude for his comfort, he was 
never for a moment neglectful of theirs. While all hoped that 
he would receive permanent benefit from the outdoor life of 
the plains, and it is probable that his disease was arrested and 
his life was thereby sensibly prolonged, it in the end became 
evident that the improvement was only temporary and that 
the unrelaxing hand of death had him firmly in its grasp. 

While at Salt Lake City, Brigham Young and the Mormons 
made every effort to entertain and interest him in their af 
fairs, but he respectfully declined their offers of hospitality 
and pitched his tent at Fort Douglas, overlooking the city. 
He treated all with politeness but acted throughout apparently 
on the theory that his official independence might be com 
promised by the slightest unnecessary intimacy. 

On the return trip from Salt Lake City north to the Snake 
River Valley the party followed Brigham Young and his 
bishops, who were on their annual procession through the set 
tlements. While Dodge and Rawlins were received at the set 
tlements with respect, much to their surprise, but little per 
sonal interest was shown in their movements. In view of the 
friendly attentions which had been extended to them at Salt 
Lake this was difficult to account for and produced an un 
favorable impression, which lasted Rawlins until his death. 



INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES, 1866-67 347 

As the party crossed the Green River Mountains, they dis 
covered many signs of grizzly bears, which excited the sport 
ing propensities of the younger men. A hunt was organized 
in which, against Dodge s advice, Rawlins and his aid-de-camp 
took part. They had not gone far before a wounded grizzly 
turned upon them and, but for the skill of a professional 
hunter, might have overtaken them. Both were glad to 
escape, and Rawlins did not hesitate to blame himself for 
this disobedience of orders. 

The march to the eastward was varied by the excitement of 
bear and buffalo hunting and the fear of the Indians. A few 
gold camps were encountered, and claims were staked out, one 
of which, assigned to Rawlins, was sold for a small sum by his 
family several years afterwards. 

After a wide circuit of several weeks through the moun 
tains, north of the line on which it had gone to Salt Lake, the 
party reached Cheyenne in safety. Rawlins parted from it at 
the end of the railroad and on October 12, 1867, arrived at 
Galena, where he received a hearty welcome from his family 
and friends. He had been gone four months, during which 
he had been buoyed up by hope, but had derived little sub 
stantial benefit from the change. 

Before passing from this period of Rawlins s life, it may be 
well to call attention to the fact that Stanton s dismissal from 
the position of Secretary of War, and Grant s appointment to 
that office ad interim, was followed by sharp collisions between 
Congress and the President in regard to the reconstruction of 
the Southern States, and this greatly complicated the duties 
which Grant was called upon to perform. Without the help, 
for the greater part of the time, of his trusted chief of staff, 
he continued to hold the office till relieved of it in accordance 
with the Tenure of Office Act. The Senate having refused on 
January 14, 1868, to concur in the suspension and removal of 
Stanton, Grant at once abandoned the position he had been 
filling, although the President alleged that he had promised 



348 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

to hold it against Stanton s reinstatement. A question of 
veracity arose between them. Grant denied that he had ever 
made any such promise, whereupon the President cited his 
Cabinet as- witnesses to prove that he had. 

While the discussion was at its height Rawlins returned to 
Washington, and at once became interested in mastering the 
facts of the case and giving advice and counsel to his Chief. 
Through his legal acumen and his keen perception, he soon 
reached a clear understanding of the complications in which 
General Grant had become involved. All doubts were speedily 
dissipated, the damaging charges against the General were 
disproved to the satisfaction of the country, and he was nomi 
nated for the Presidency by a National Convention of soldiers 
and sailors gathered from all parts of the country at Chicago, 
May 19, 1868. Rawlins was known to be in favor of the 
movement, if not absolutely directing it. To his gratification, 
it culminated two days later in Grant s nomination by the 
National Republican Convention, substantially on the platform 
which Rawlins had outlined in his speech at Galena the year 
before. 

During the month of October and a part of November, 
1867, Rawlins remained at Galena, and wrote no letters. His 
health had received but little benefit from his life on the 
plains. Up one day and down the next, he had serious mis 
givings, and was driven almost to desperation at times. This 
is shown by the pathetic fact that while in camp on the plains 
one bright summer day he opened his shirt and bared his 
breast to the sun till it w 7 as almost blistered, in the hope that 
it would prove a counterirritant which would benefit his lungs. 

It will be remembered that the Presidential election took 
place in November, 1868, and that Grant was elected by a 
great majority. While Rawlins was deeply interested in the 
outcome of the campaign, his health was not strong enough 
to permit him to take an active part in the canvass, even if the 
proprieties of his military position had allowed it. He was, 



INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES, 1866-67 349 

however, constantly consulted by the politicians and gave them 
his best advice, especially in regard to the West. When the 
election was over he returned to Washington and took up his 
residence at Willard s Hotel, but while getting his house ready 
for his family he slept at his office, to the detriment both of 
his comfort and his health. 

Early in December he wrote that, much as he would like to 
do so, he could not return home because his official duties for 
bade it. In common with many others, he soon began to feel 
some anxiety about the make-up of the Cabinet and the dis 
tribution of the great offices of the Administration. On De 
cember 10 he wrote : 

. . . The subject of offices is scarcely broached. In fact, 
among those whom I have met the chief speculation is as to what 
I am to have. All seem to take it for granted that the General 
is going to do something very handsome, more than he has ever 
done for me, but what he intends of course none of them know. 
The position I have is perhaps as good as any the General will 
have in his power to give, and to have it secured to me is all I 
want, and even this I should not want if I had the health I lost 
in the service. My arm pains me considerably and I do not as yet 
see that it relieves my cough, though it is hardly time. 

I met General Butler night before last and had a long talk 
with him. He tells me he intends to earnestly support Grant s 
administration, and I believe him, that is, if he is properly treated. 

About this time both General and Mrs. Grant gave him an 
earnest invitation to make his home with them till he was 
ready to bring his family to Washington, but he persisted in 
living alone till after the holidays, which he spent with his 
wife in Connecticut. On his return to Washington he compro 
mised what was evidently an embarrassing question by "sleep 
ing at the office, taking his breakfast at a restaurant, and din 
ing with General Grant." Curiously enough he was assured 
most positively about that time by the doctors that his lungs 
were not affected, and again took hope from the assurance; 
but nevertheless he was henceforth compelled to decline all 



350 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

social invitations on account of his enfeebled condition. He 
daily took a horseback ride on General Grant s black pony, 
"Jeff Davis/ and scrupulously followed the regimen pre 
scribed for him, but withal his disease was steadily making 
progress towards its fatal and inevitable end. 

As the inauguration was approaching, he became more and 
more uneasy as to his own future. General Grant the Presi 
dent Elect, it will be remembered, was peculiarly reticent 
about his Cabinet and other important appointments, and kept 
the entire country in a state of suspense almost to the very 
day he took the oath of office. This doubtless added to Raw- 
lins s anxiety. He had done his full part in making Grant s 
military career a success and in helping to place him properly 
before the country as a candidate for the highest office within 
its gift. He was too proud to ask what was to be done for 
him, or to even intimate that he would like to have a cabinet 
position, but his letters to his wife show clearly that he con 
sidered himself an important part of what Grant stood for, 
and did not want to be left out of consideration in the or 
ganization of the new Administration. 



XIX 

CLOSING EVENTS 

Rawlins Appointed Secretary of War Friends Discharge Mort 
gage on House War Department Restored to Control of Sec 
retary Relations with President and Cabinet Friend of 
Cuba Reflections Upon Rawlins s Conduct Relations with 
Sherman. 

IT so happened that J. Russell Jones and I were visiting 
Grant for a few days shortly before the inauguration, and after 
the ladies retired, it was his custom to invite us into the library 
for the purpose of discussing both measures and men. On Fri 
day night, February 19, 1869, he read us the draft of his inaug 
ural address, and asked for our suggestions as to its form, as 
well as to several of the topics to be considered ; but in doing so 
he warned us that, as he had not yet discussed the Cabinet 
"with any one, not even with Mrs. Grant," he could not do so 
with us. He invited us, however, to talk freely about men for 
other places, and we did so. Before the conversation ended, I 
naturally asked him what he was going to do for Rawlins. He 
replied that he intended to assign him to the command of the 
Department of Arizona, in the confident belief that a pro 
longed residence in the high and dry atmosphere of that region 
would result in his complete restoration to health. 

The next day, in reply to a direct question as to what Grant 
was going to do for him, I told Rawlins with Grant s permis 
sion what the General had said on that subject the night be 
fore, and was not at all surprised at the declaration that it 
would not be at all satisfactory to him. He said without 
reserve that he not only wanted but thought himself fairly 



352 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

entitled to the appointment of Secretary of War. He then 
gave a full summary of his views, and in conclusion asked 
me to make them known in my own way, but without un 
necessary delay, to the President-elect. That night I complied 
with his request. The General showed neither surprise nor 
impatience, but without the slightest question or hesitation, 
he said : "You can tell Rawlins he shall be Secretary of 
War," but added, "He will have to wait a few days, possibly 
two weeks or a month, for I have asked Schofield to hold 
over a while/ 

I saw Rawlins early the next morning and gave him Grant s 
message, which he received with marked gratification, fol 
lowed by the assurance that the arrangement would be entirely 
satisfactory to him. 

Of course I made this known to Grant, and that terminated 
my connection with the matter. I naturally supposed that 
Grant would notify Rawlins officially of his intentions, but as 
the inauguration approached without his saying anything in 
confirmation of what he had specially authorized me to tell 
Rawlins, the latter became again discouraged, and went to 
Danbury with the declaration that he did not intend to return 
to Washington. From there he wrote to General Dodge, that 
he had come to the conclusion that he was not to be Secretary 
of War, but was to have a command in the West. Thereupon 
Dodge took the letter to Grant, who seemed surprised, but at 
once gave Dodge the same assurance he had given me. He 
explained again that it had been his intention to give Rawlins 
command in Arizona and New Mexico, in the belief that the 
high, dry climate of that region would be beneficial to him; 
but understanding that this arrangement would not suit Raw 
lins, he should call him to the Cabinet as Secretary of War. 
Grant made no explanation of why he had not already told 
Rawlins of his plans. It is of course possible that he may 
have entertained other views for a while, but be this as it 
may, he shortly confirmed what he had said to both Dodge and 



CLOSING EVENTS 353 

myself by letter or telegraph; for a few days later Rawlins 
returned to Washington and made arrangements for his 
family to join him there. 

It will be remembered that Grant s first Cabinet, containing, 
as it did, several obscure and inexperienced men, was a great 
disappointment to the public, and still more so to the Republi 
can party. E. B. Washburne, who was appointed Secretary 
of State for the purpose of increasing his prestige as Minister 
to France, soon gave way to Hamilton Fish, and in due time 
Schofield made way for Rawlins. As to Fish, although a dis 
tinguished man, who had long been out of active public life, his 
appointment was a genuine surprise to the country, while that 
of Rawlins was hailed by those who knew him best as one 
entirely proper to be made. It gave great satisfaction, 
especially to the volunteer army, by which he had long since 
come to be regarded as a man of unusual vigor, honesty, and 
independence. His principal friends among the higher officers 
were Dodge, Logan, and Gresham. They were also experi 
enced politicians, who fairly represented the War Democrats 
as well as the Republicans, and made haste to express their 
satisfaction to the politicians and the country at large. 

Three days before Rawlins s appointment was announced, 
which was on March n, Dodge, acting for himself and a few 
other friends who knew that Rawlins was a poor man, took up 
and returned to him the mortgage note and other papers con 
nected with the dwelling house which he had purchased some 
time before on Georgetown Heights. In performing this gen 
erous act, Dodge took occasion to say : 

... I am enabled to do this through the kindness of a few 
friends, most of whom only know you by reputation, but who 
have watched your course through your entire public life. Their 
respect and high regard for you as a gentleman and a soldier, 
your strict integrity and ability, your disinterested services to 
your country and your Chief alone has prompted this gift. I 
trust you will receive it in the same kindly spirit it is given, and 



354 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

at some future time more appropriate than this I will furnish you 
the names of the gentlemen. 

Allow me to say, I never performed a duty that gave me more 
pleasure^ or satisfaction, and wishing you for them and myself 
that health and prosperity in the future that your valuable and 
distinguished services in the past entitle you to, I am truly your 
friend. 

On March n Rawlins wrote to his wife as follows: 

. . . The excitement incident upon the organization of the 
Cabinet and the number of persons constantly around me have 
prevented me writing you earlier. The Cabinet is now organ 
ized, and, from what I learn from people here, is quite acceptable. 
I am congratulated by many for my position in it, and by some 
I am sure sincerely. Of Brigadier General U. S. Grant s staff 
as originally organized, I was the youngest member. So of 
President Grant s Cabinet I am the youngest and as a Cabinet 
officer shall try to serve my country and him with the same 
fidelity I tried to serve both as a staff officer. 

Enclosed I send you a letter from General Dodge which ex 
plains itself. . . . 

Of course Rawlins, Secretary of War, was a much more 
powerful and important person than Rawlins, Chief of Staff; 
and while he had but few appointments in his own Depart 
ment to give out, he was greatly run upon by his many mili 
tary friends now in civil life for recommendations to the 
President and the other Secretaries. 

On March 28 he wrote to his wife, who had not yet joined 
him, as follows: 

... I am almost ashamed to write after having received three 
letters from you without having sent a single one in return for 
ten days, but I know you will pardon me when I tell you my 
friends have so pressed me, and the condition of my own de 
partment as left by the last of Secretary Schofield s orders so 
annoyed me, that I could not find a moment to sit down and write 
you as I would like to have done. Yesterday, however, I got 
permission and issued an order revoking the one of Schofield s, 
which virtually put the War Department under Sherman. The 



CLOSING EVENTS 355 

Department stands now as it did under Stanton, Grant and Scho- 
field. The General of the army is subordinate to the Secretary 
of War. 

I was out of ink in my room to-day, went downstairs to get 
some and started up, when in came Hillyer with a friend of 
course he always has one. He remarked : "What are you going 
to do with your ink ?" I replied : "I am going, if I can get an 
opportunity, to write to my wife, a thing I have not done for 
ten days." The only effect it had was to cause him and his 
friend to sit down and talk that ever-wearying twaddle about 
Grant, and the people being with him, etc., until it was too late 
to get this off in to-day s mail. I simply mention this to show 
you how considerate some are who call you friend. 

The papers give you full particulars of what Congress and 
Grant are doing. To those particulars I can only add that God 
having for the last eight years watched over and guided the 
destiny of this people in spite of themselves, I have an abiding 
faith that in His watchfulness and guidance our destiny will be 
insured, and that it will be as grand as he designs it to be. But 
for this faith in God I should long since have despaired of my 
country s welfare and would not feel so hopeful as now. . . . 

To this he added, two days later : 

. . . The great pressure still continues, but I stand it full as 
well as I had hoped to. ... My health, I think, is improving. I 
certainly am not growing worse. 

General Sherman felt badly over the revocation of Schofield s 
order, fearing it would put him in the light of losing Grant s 
confidence. He did not seem to think I had any special feelings 
in the matter, and as to that he was about right. A sense of duty 
to my country made me insist upon its revocation. I could not 
consent to have the authorities of a great civil office entrusted 
to me subordinated to the military authority. 

Enclosed is a slip from a newspaper and also a letter from a 
friend, samples of what come to me on the subject. . . . 

In further explanation of the reference to Sherman and 
Schofield in the letter just quoted, it should be remembered 
that Schofield s last act as hold-over Secretary of War was to 
issue an order by direction of the President, the practical 



356 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

effect of which was to place the administration of the army, 
as well as most of the business which had been assigned by 
law to the Secretary of War, under the immediate control of 
Sherman, the senior general of the army. All the heads of 
military bureaux were announced as attached to his "General 
Staff." They were placed under his direct orders, and were 
required to transact all official business through him or by his 
authority. Whatever may be said of this as a measure of re 
form, it was not only adopted without proper consideration 
but was manifestly in contravention of many laws which had 
been duly enacted by Congress, and which could not be set 
aside by an executive order. 

Rawlins, as might have been expected, was not slow to per 
ceive the effect of his predecessor s order, nor was he slow to 
set about securing its immediate nullification. Sherman, gen 
eral in chief, was to be the principal beneficiary of the order 
and naturally did all he could through his friend the Presi 
dent to keep it in force, but the case was too plain to admit 
of serious discussion. The briefest statement of it convinced 
the President that he could not uphold the revolutionary 
order, without a palpable usurpation of authority, which 
would not only discredit his new Secretary but arouse the 
antagonism of Congress. Rawlins, with his accustomed vigor, 
but with all due respect, made this entirely clear to Grant and 
thereby secured the necessary authority to countermand the 
unlawful order. 

The case was a novel one, the outcome of which was 
watched with intense interest not only by the army but by the 
statesmen and politicians. It was regarded as a test both of 
the character and the influence of the new Secretary. His 
victory was complete, and it at once became recognized that 
he was a man to be reckoned with in civil as well as in mili 
tary affairs. 

From that time forth, although a confirmed invalid, he 
took an important part in all public measures which engaged 



CLOSING EVENTS 357 

the attention of the President and his Cabinet. His asso 
ciates were comparative strangers to him as well as to the 
President. Not one of them had had the slightest acquain 
tance with the latter till after he had become the victorious 
commander of our armies. They knew nothing of his char 
acter and idiosyncrasies, and still less of his methods of busi 
ness or of his mental operations. They knew, of course, that 
he had been educated at West Point, had served in the Mexi 
can War and in the Indian country, and had resigned from the 
army. They, in common with the rest of their countrymen, 
knew also that he had been unsuccessful in civil life. They 
had heard rumors about his habits, and had shared the doubts 
of the country at large as to his real greatness ; but they were 
well aware of the fact that he had won an unbroken series 
of victories which had overthrown the Confederate govern 
ment and reestablished the Union. Without considering how 
much of this great result was due to Lincoln, Stanton, the 
Congress, the army at large, and to the patriotism and sacri 
fices of the people, they concluded, naturally enough perhaps, 
that he must be a very great man, richly endowed with wis 
dom and capacity for civil as well as for military affairs. 
They heard doubtless with surprise his reflections upon public 
affairs, which he was accustomed to express with unusual 
common-sense and directness, and attributed to them an im 
portance to which they were not necessarily entitled. 

Lacking familiarity with the Constitution and with the law 
of the land, unacquainted with the leading men of civil life, 
inexperienced in politics or statecraft, and being compelled, 
by the great office to which he had been elevated as well as by 
the condition of public affairs, to deal with questions of the 
greatest novelty and importance, Grant, more than any of his 
predecessors, needed the advice and guidance of the wisest 
and most independent statesmen of the day. With the gen 
erous impulse of a soldier, unchanged by contact with the 
world, he was naturally inclined to prefer his comrades and 



358 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

friends of the camp, whom he had learned to esteem and trust, 
to the politicians and statesmen, however experienced. It 
perhaps had not occurred to him that, in making up his mind 
upon questions and policies of his administration, he should 
seek the counsel of those who had gained their experience in 
civil life. He unconsciously treated his Cabinet rather as 
staff-officers than as his constitutional advisers; rather as 
clerks than as counsellors, and, unfortunately for him and for 
the country, this view of their relations was too frequently 
accepted without question by his new associates. 

The simple fact is that the members of the Cabinet stood in 
awe of the victorious and taciturn soldier, and were prone to 
attribute to his views, a ripeness and wisdom which they did 
not always possess. Rawlins was the only one of their number 
who had seen him develop from the simple clerk in the Galena 
leather store to the victorious chieftain, commanding a million 
men. He was the only member of the Cabinet who knew that 
the President after all was only a plain, sensible man, of un 
selfish patriotism and excellent judgment, surrounded by grave 
responsibilities, and needing now, more than ever, an accurate 
knowledge of men and facts, together with sound and disin 
terested advice upon the complicated questions which were 
claiming attention. 

Rawlins was besides the only member of the Cabinet who 
actually knew the capacities and limitations of the President, 
and while he held him in the highest respect, stood not in the 
slightest awe of him or of his opinions. Accustomed to think 
for himself on the questions of the day, and to accept no man s 
conclusions without the assurance of his own reason that they 
were sound, he was, for the brief period of his service in civil 
office, the same fearless, independent, and outspoken coun 
sellor that he had been in military life. To those who knew 
what took place in government circles it was certain that the 
new Secretary of War wielded the same potent and controlling 
influence over the President, when he chose to exert it, that 



CLOSING EVENTS 359 

the Chief of Staff had wielded over the Commanding General. 
It is a circumstance creditable to both that this influence was 
never exerted except in matters of serious importance, and 
never failed to receive the attention to which it was entitled. 

It is well known that Rawlins early became impressed with 
the importance of our relations with Cuba, which entered upon 
its first serious rebellion against Spanish authority in 1868. 
He was not only intensely American, but believed abstractly 
in the Monroe Doctrine, and in Senator Douglas s corollary 
of "Manifest Destiny." He was besides deeply sympathetic 
with all misgoverned people, and believed that it was our duty, 
as chief of the American republics, to extend an encouraging 
if not a protecting hand to such as were unduly oppressed. 
He did not disguise his sympathy for Cuba, any more than he 
did for Mexico. He was the open advocate of the Cuban 
Republic, and although it was not strictly within his province, 
he advised that the Administration should recognize the Cu 
bans as belligerents, and hold the Spanish government to a 
rigid responsibility in all matters pertaining to the interests of 
American citizens. In this policy it is certain that he had at 
first the concurrence of his Chief and the support of his party 
as against the more conservative views of Fish, the Secretary 
of State. 

In connection with this important subject, it should be stated 
that Rawlins had not concealed his views, but had given them 
fully to the world in his Galena address two years before. 1 
In that notable address, which was published and circulated 
broadcast by the Republican National Committee during 
Grant s first canvass for the Presidency, he gave his views 
on every important question then up for consideration. He 
openly rejoiced in the overthrow of Maximilian s Empire and 
in the humiliation of Louis Napoleon. He sympathized with 
the desire and efforts of Ireland to throw off the British yoke, 
and looked hopefully to the peaceful acquisition of the newly 

1 See Appendix, pp. 470 et seq. 



360 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

confederated British colonies in North America. He called 
special attention to the disposition manifested by the British 
Government after the withdrawal of the European invaders 
from Mexico at "our behest" to pay the Alabama claims, but 
added, with a frankness not to be misunderstood : 

. . . Should she fail to properly adjust them, it may become 
the duty of the people s representatives to issue their writ in the 
form of a declaration of war for the seizure of her possessions 
in America in satisfaction of these claims, and thereby facilitate 
the departure of the last foreign power from this Continent. 

Nor should it be forgotten that these were the views of the 
President-elect, as well as of Rawlins and the Republican 
party, at the time they were uttered. 

Holding such opinions as these, it was to be expected that 
as a member of the Cabinet, he should avail himself of the 
Cuban rebellion, and especially of the Virginius affair, to 
favor Cuban independence as well as to hold Spain to a rigid 
respect for the rights of American citizens. At all events, 
that was the position Rawlins took, and there can be no doubt 
that he was both firm and vehement in maintaining it. Nor 
can there be any doubt that the more conservative and con 
ciliatory Secretary of State, and possibly other members of 
the Cabinet, took the opposite view, and were disposed to re 
gard the Secretary of War as going out of his proper sphere 
to influence and control the policy of the Administration. 

It should be observed that the Spanish Government was at 
that time, as well as before, represented by able counsel, and 
had, besides, many influential friends to look out for its in 
terests with the Administration and in the public press. Raw 
lins was an open and aggressive fighter, and, besides, held 
such close relations with the President as to make his success 
almost certain in any case that enlisted his sympathy and sup 
port. Although a man of modest and blameless life, he was 
not without enemies. His success had been too great and his 



CLOSING EVENTS 361 

elevation too high not to have brought upon him the envy of 
some he had left behind. While his arguments were rightfully 
enough combated by counsel, his motives were wrongfully 
enough assailed by others, who desired not only to defeat his 
measures but to injure his character and destroy his influence. 
They challenged his disinterestedness while living, and circu 
lated reports to his discredit after he was dead, and, there 
fore, powerless to defend himself. The period of detraction 
and slander at Washington had already begun and no effort 
was spared to cripple those who were true to their own sense 
of duty and propriety. 

With those who knew the austere and impassioned Rawlins 
in active life, his character needs no defence, and no defence 
will be offered. But for the information of those who come 
after, it is my duty to say that, having heard the innuendos 
and reflections made against him just after his death, and hav 
ing become convinced that they were one and all without the 
slightest foundation, I have carefully gone through his cor 
respondence, I have conferred with his family and friends, 
and I have pushed my investigations in every possible direc 
tion, without finding the slightest fact upon which to base 
even a doubt as to his private or official character. 

In addition to being a sick and perhaps an irritable man, 
he was a bold and outspoken one, who never failed to denounce 
the foibles or the frauds of those in power, when occasion 
called for it. He thereby made himself a shining mark for 
envy and misrepresentation, and that envy and misapprehen 
sion should have followed him is but a tribute to his virile and 
aggressive qualities that should help to fix him and his serv 
ices in the minds of his countrymen. As Dana well said : 

. . . Public servants of his quality will always be few, and 
there are plenty of men whose names will flourish largely in 
history, without having rendered a tithe of his unostentatious and 
invaluable contribution to the great work of the nation. 2 

2 Wilson s "The Life of Charles A. Dana," pp. 302-3. 



362 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

At the time Rawlins became Secretary of War he was 
under the constant care of a physician, who had prescribed 
a special diet suited to his case. He was already greatly en 
feebled by. the disease which had fixed itself upon him, but 
for the first two months the novelty of his new duties and the 
excitement which attended the organization of a new Admin 
istration, acted as a tonic to his system, under which he showed 
renewed strength and hopefulness. On May 9 he wrote: 

. . . Another week of official care and anxiety for the personal 
interest of my friends has passed. I had hoped on my return to 
find only the legitimate and proper duties of the Department to 
attend to, but found things much the same as when I left. I 
hope only a short time will be required for matters to arrange 
themselves properly. Colonel Pride took charge of me in New 
York as usual until he saw me on the cars to Washington. Should 
Pride ever leave New York, I sometimes ask myself the question, 
could I get through New York at all ? 

On May I4th he wrote: 

. . . Matters here are settling down, and soon I trust every 
thing will move smoothly. Congress has mostly dissolved into 
the people, and applicants are left to press their own claims. I 
shall have the disagreeable duty to perform of reducing the 
clerical force of the Department, but am putting it off until the 
last moment. . . . 

Shortly after this he again left Washington, and spent six 
weeks with his family in the hope that the more bracing cli 
mate of the New England hills would prove beneficial. The 
summer was somewhat dull, yet his position as a member of 
the Cabinet subjected him to constant pressure and annoy 
ance. The newspapers seized every opportunity to quote him 
in speeches he had not made. The President and other Cabi 
net officers were more or less absent. The detention of the 
Spanish gunboats in American waters had been brought about 
by the interventions of Peru, and this gave him both pleasure 
and quiet. 



CLOSING EVENTS 363 

But the end was now drawing near. Irreparable inroads 
upon Rawlins s constitution had become painfully apparent, 
and hope at last failed him entirely. It was at that juncture, 
July 17, that he ordered me to Washington, and at his house 
in the presence of his wife, asked me to become his literary 
executor and to see justice done to his memory. He had be 
come greatly emaciated, but had not entirely given up at 
tendance at his office, although he showed much distress while 
performing his duties. Early in September he became so 
weak that he gave up going to the Department, but, notwith 
standing his distress and failure of strength, he caused all 
important matters requiring his action to be brought to his 
residence for personal consideration, and kept this up till 
within two days of his death, which occurred September 6th, 
1869. 

One of the last and most complicated questions that de 
manded his personal attention, and gave him much anxiety 
and trouble, was the Brooklyn Bridge, the plans for which the 
law required the Secretary of War s approval as a condition 
precedent to its construction. The bridge company naturally 
wanted to minimize the height of the span above the water 
which would have been injurious to the commerce of the 
port, while the shipping interests demanded an elevation, 
which the bridge company declared would involve an im 
practicable grade from the approaches to the highest point of 
the span. The case was argued with thoroughness amounting 
to prolixity. Maps, plans, and memorials covering every 
point at issue were submitted, and the severest pressure was 
brought to bear upon the afflicted Secretary by the parties in 
interest. All the important influences that could be enlisted 
were exerted to warp or control his judgment, but without 
effect. 

The questions involved were too important to be decided 
without the most careful consideration, and to this end Raw- 
lins gave several days and nights of minute and laborious 



364 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

study to the case. He found that the bridge company was 
willing to admit that a height of 130 feet above flood tide 
would give the maximum grade that could be worked, while 
the ship masters stoutly contended that 140 feet, or only ten 
feet more, would cause the minimum amount of annoyance 
with which the commerce of the harbor could be successfully 
carried on. Having got the opposing interests to within a few 
feet of each other, he thereupon decided to fix the height at 
135 feet, with the remark that he would take the responsibility 
thereby of spoiling the bridge project, on the one hand, or of 
ruining the commerce of the port, on the other. Although 
greatly enfeebled at the time, he had the foresight to add to 
the order of approval a proviso that no part or appurtenance 
of the bridge should ever be below the limit of 135 feet above 
high-water mark. The wisdom of this provision was signally 
vindicated several years afterwards, when the bridge com 
pany was prohibited from giving a different construction to 
the order of approval. 

In the short period of six months during which Rawlins 
held the office of Secretary of War, he was brought into inti 
mate relations with many distinguished men both in civil and 
military life. His peculiar relations with the President had 
come to be pretty well understood by the public men of the 
day, and it is but fair to his associates of the Cabinet to state 
that they fully recognized his exceptional influence from the 
start, but apart from the former military relations which 
placed him closer to the President than any one else, they 
soon became impressed by the singular force and independence 
of judgment which he displayed upon all occasions. He had, 
of course, met during the war many of the military men whom 
he found on duty at the War Department, but he had been 
intimate with none of them except Humphreys, the Chief of 
Engineers, and Meigs, the Quartermaster General. He had 
known Townsend, the Adjutant General, in the field; but with 
Marcy, the Inspector General, Barnes, the Surgeon General, 



CLOSING EVENTS 365 

Holt, the Judge Advocate General, and Meyer, the Chief Sig 
nal Officer, his acquaintance was but formal. These were all 
officers of experience and merit with whom he was destined 
to serve in the closest daily contact till the end of his career. 
He was, indeed, compelled to lean upon them, in the technical 
matters of their respective bureaux, and reciprocally to expose 
to them his character and methods without reserve. It is but 
fair to those distinguished officers to add that while they were 
predisposed in his favor by the action he had taken in regard 
to the order placing them under General Sherman, they 
speedily came to respect him as a very able, self-reliant Secre 
tary, irrespective of his civil training and military experience. 
His courtesy, tact, and equability of temper were in notable 
contrast to the violent and overbearing qualities displayed by 
Stanton, while his industry and promptitude of decision left 
nothing to be desired in an administrative officer. It is safe to 
add that no man ever died in the office of Secretary of War 
more thoroughly respected or more sincerely regretted by his 
subordinates of every grade. 

In Sherman s order announcing the Secretary s death, a 
single paragraph is all that referred to the public services of 
this distinguished man. His letters show that he had been 
Sherman s faithful friend throughout the Civil War, yet he 
had not hesitated to disapprove the "March to the Sea" while 
Hood, with an unbeaten army, was just starting on his great 
movement against the widely-scattered detachments of the 
Military Division in the rear. He had approved Sherman s 
promotion as General of the Army over Thomas and Meade, 
each of whom were regarded by many as his superior, in 
place of Grant, and yet he had not hesitated to insist on the 
reversal of the President s order, turning over to the general 
of the army the duties assigned by law and custom to the 
Secretary of War. It is hardly conceivable that Sherman 
should have regarded this action as in any way personal or 
intended to reflect upon him, but it is certain that Rawlins 



366 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

stood out tenaciously for the order, till the President became 
convinced that his duty required him to withdraw it. 

This was a notable episode in the history of military admin 
istration, -which aroused the attention not only of the army 
but of Congress. It was opposed by many Representatives 
and Senators at the time. But the most notable utterances 
against it were made by Senator Sumner in May, 1872, after 
he had broken with the President and his supporters. He 
characterized it "as an act of revolution exalting the military 
power above the civil." He even went so far as to say "that 
for the time there was a military dictatorship, with the Presi 
dent at its head not merely in spirit but in actual form." 

While it is now evident that, however illegal the order may 
have been, it had no such sinister purpose, and was followed 
by no such hurtful results. Rawlins felt deeply about it. He 
was a civilian and a lawyer who had always been a close 
student and an ardent supporter of the Constitution, and 
although bound to the President by ties of personal and 
official friendship, he regarded it as his duty to secure the 
repeal of the offensive order even at the expense of his place 
in the Cabinet. Fortunately, the President yielded as usual 
to the legal advice of Rawlins, and accordingly, with his au 
thority, the Secretary of War on March 26, 1869, issued a 
general order, directing that "all official business, which by 
law or regulation requires the action of the President or of 
the Secretary of War, will be submitted by the chiefs of staff 
corps, departments, and bureaus, to the Secretary of War." 
The result of this was to restore the business pertaining to 
the River and Harbor works, the fortifications, and to all 
branches of the military administration, to the channels pre 
scribed by law and custom. 

That Sherman, who liked power and had every confidence 
in his ability to administer it honestly and fairly, would have 
preferred to administer all the business connected with the 
military branch of the Government, there can be but little 



CLOSING EVENTS 367 

doubt. As his predecessors, from Scott down, had contended 
that all military business should be transacted through the 
General-in-Chief, it was not strange that Sherman should hold 
to the same view, or that he should resent the exercise of au 
thority over him by one who had been subject to his com 
mand, as he afterwards did in the case of Belknap, who suc 
ceeded Rawlins in the War Department. 

While he doubtless had but little feeling of resentment 
against Rawlins, it is certain that the order which he penned 
announcing the death of that distinguished man was of the 
most formal character and quite disappointing to the friends 
of the Secretary of War. It, of course, directed the closing 
of the Department, prescribed a military funeral, and fixed 
the usual period of mourning for officers of the army; but it 
contained no adequate account of the dead soldier s virtues, 
or of his services. Its only reference to them is contained in 
the following five lines: 

. . . The career of General Rawlins has been so brilliant and 
so closely connected with that of the President of the United 
States that it is familiar to all; it is an honor to the profession 
to connect his name with that army for whose welfare he labored 
so hard and with so much enthusiasm. 

While many of the leading officers may have thought at the 
time that this general commendation was sufficient, they also 
knew that from first to last there was neither halt nor quali 
fication in Rawlins s support of Sherman, no matter how great 
were Sherman s misfortunes. Neither his failure to fortify 
at Shiloh, nor the dissipation of his division on that field; 
neither his bloody repulse at Chickasaw Bayou, nor his op 
position to the great turning movement against Vicksburg; 
neither his failure at the end of Missionary Ridge, nor the 
collapse of his campaign into Central Alabama brought a 
word of censure or in the slightest degree shook the confi 
dence of Grant or of his Chief of Staff in the deserts of that 
brilliant, but not always successful, general. 



368 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

But that Sherman had a deep interest in the subject is 
shown by a letter to the writer, dated January 13, 1885, in 
which after expressing his approval of the proposed "Life of 
General Rawlins," he says : 

... I would gladly aid you, but the truth is I know of him 
little more than the general public. He is a fine example of what 
an enthusiastic, ardent lawyer may become when war calls out 
the young and patriotic. 

To have begun as a volunteer at Galena, Illinois, to have been 
intimately associated with General Grant in his most extraordi 
nary career to the end, and then to have been his Secretary of 
War, will give you an ample scope for your pen. I am sure you 
have ample materials and only need the encouragement of his 
friends to do justice to a worthy subject. 

After alluding to Grant s financial misfortunes, the prep 
aration and publication of the "Memoirs," on which he was 
then engaged, and the completion of the picture by the story 
of Rawlins s connection with him, the letter concludes with 
the following graphic summary : 

. . . Rawlins was violent, passionate, enthusiastic, and per 
sonal, but always in the right direction. I know of no one who 
can do him and his memory justice better than yourself, and I am 
glad the task has fallen to your hands. 



XX 

CONCLUSION 

Summary of Rawlins s Character and Services Patriotism and 
Love of the Union Devotion to Grant Cadwallader s Letter 
Parker s Oration Cox s Tribute Conclusion. 

IF the story, as I have told it, is true, and I am sure it is 
in all essential particulars, it must be admitted that this plain 
man of the plain people played a most important part in 
Grant s life as well as in the great events which took place 
about him. With perfect fearlessness and devotion, he was 
Grant s friend as well as his adjutant. With unfailing sagac 
ity, he acted the part of mentor and counsellor in all the 
great emergencies of his Chief s remarkable career, from the 
first war meeting at Galena to the Presidency of the nation; 
never hesitating, never faltering, never failing to counsel him 
aright, yet always effacing himself, with a self-denial and an 
absence of egotism which are as rare as they are praiseworthy. 

Love of country was indubitably his dominant passion the 
controlling impulse of his life, but that the love of country 
could transmute a farmer lad, a charcoal burner, a country 
lawyer, into a soldier and statesman such as Rawlins had 
come to be, in the eight short and crowded years from the out 
break of the war to the end of his brief career in 1869, is of 
infinite credit to him and to our institutions, as well as of 
infinite encouragement to those whose duty it will be to up 
hold those institutions in years to come. Doubtless the work 
of the farm and of the charcoal pits did much to develop the 
muscles and the character of this typical American youth 
Doubtless the pious mother shaped his sense of duty and his 

369 



370 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

conscience aright; doubtless the shiftless, but strong-willed, 
resolute father, had his helpful influence, the one teaching 
by loving precept what should be done, the other by thought 
less example what should be avoided. Between the two, aided 
by the neighborhood school, the more pretentious Academy, 
and the Rock River Seminary, a strong, vigorous, self-reliant 
soul was shaped, which knew neither guile nor fear. The 
struggle with nature in the rough and exacting work of a 
Western community in its formative stage sharpened the 
faculties, strengthened the judgment, and aroused the ambi 
tion of the sturdy youth. The lives of our earlier heroes and 
statesmen were the staple food of every aspiring soul in 
those days. The debating society and the political club were 
the arena in which they fought their battles and gained the 
plaudits of their fellows. The practice of the courts and the 
encounters of political debate were the exercises which de 
veloped the intellect and prepared the minds of statesmen for 
the great task that confronted them at that important period. 
These were the schools of Lincoln, Douglas, and Wash- 
burne, no less than of Oglesby, Logan, and Rawlins. These 
were the school of patriots and heroes, and taught them how 
to live and how to die for their country in the hour of its dire 
distress. 

No one who was not a witness of and a participant in the 
events which preceded and gave character to the great con 
flict between the States, can now properly understand the love 
which filled the heart of the Northern boy and man for the 
Union and for the Constitution which our forefathers framed 
and ordained for our protection. There were some who con 
demned slavery as "the sum of all villainies." There were 
some who would have even been willing to sacrifice the Union 
and give up the Constitution and its guarantees as "a league 
with hell and a covenant with the devil," to secure the aboli 
tion of slavery, but the great mass of the Northern people 
were inspired, above all, by the love of the Union and the 



CONCLUSION 371 

Constitution, and were willing to fight for them and die for 
them, if need be, regardless of slavery and its iniquities. 
Glowing with patriotic pride in their institutions and in the 
happiness and prosperity they had enjoyed under them, they 
cared not in the last resort whether the negro should be slave 
or free, as the price of the Union and the triumph of our arms 
over the slave holder s Confederacy and their sympathizers. 
It was this supreme and all absorbing sentiment which filled 
the ranks of the Union Army and held it to its deadly work 
till its triumph was overwhelming and complete. 

It is but a truism to say that this sentiment never had a 
braver nor a more self-sacrificing exemplar than John A. 
Rawlins. He believed in the Union from the bottom of his 
soul, and worked for it with every fibre of his body. He was 
the friend of Grant, and had an abiding confidence in his 
capacity to lead our forces to victory, but he was still more the 
friend of his country, and loved it above any man, and above 
every earthly consideration, and would not have deserted it to 
save his soul, much less to save his life. His letters to Wash- 
burne tell the truthful story of his devotion to Grant; but 
they also show that in his anxiety for Grant s success, he 
would go so far and no farther, and that he would be the 
first to withdraw his support, should Grant prove himself to 
be unworthy of it. His letter of June 6, from the camp back 
of Vicksburg to Grant himself, makes it plain that he held his 
official position not at the value of a cent as against his duty 
to Grant, to the army under his command, and to the country 
for which they stood. 

In all the annals of war there is no nobler example of duty 
done, without fear or trembling, than in the remonstrance 
which that letter contained. The bravery of the officer or of 
the man in battle is the growth of discipline, strengthened by 
the spirit of mutual dependence and support. It requires that 
one should go with another and all together, shoulder to 
shoulder, but the bravery of that remonstrance and appeal to 



372 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

his Chief was of a higher order than that which was needed 
to lead a forlorn hope against a fortified position. It dis 
played the highest moral courage, which is much rarer and 
greater than physical courage. 

No one can either read the utterances or consider the con 
duct of Rawlins without perceiving that he loved Grant, ten 
derly and patiently, and had an abiding confidence in his com 
mon sense, his ability, and his courage. That he was willing 
to defend him against unjust criticism, on the one hand, and 
to "stay him from falling," on the other, is shown beyond 
question by his conduct from the time he joined the staff at 
Cairo till he yielded up his charge in death, at Washington. 

But his fame does not rest solely on the silent records which 
I have quoted. His courage, his firmness, his judgment, and 
his fidelity to duty were known far and wide by his compan 
ions of the staff, by the subordinate commanders of the armies 
with which he served, and by the leading men of his own State 
at home. McPherson, Logan, Dodge, Crocker, Ransom, 
Gresham, and hundreds of other officers of high rank and 
untarnished character were familiar with his devotion to duty 
and to his Chief. They knew how solicitous he was for their 
welfare; and how anxious he was that none should be left 
behind on the day of battle. They knew also how strongly 
he favored the maintenance of the recruiting station and the 
enactment and rigid enforcement of the draft, in order that the 
ranks should be kept full, and that the trains and transports 
to the front should be kept crowded with recruits and re- 
enforcements. He was one of the few officers, high or low, 
who felt deeply and spoke courageously on this vital subject. 
His declaration that he had more confidence in the "infalli 
bility of numbers than in the infallibility of generals," de 
serves to pass into an axiom of war. It became known far 
and wide at the time of its utterance, and was the vital prin 
ciple upon which Grant, Sherman, Thomas, and Meade alike 
won their final victories. 



CONCLUSION 373 

To Rawlins s fidelity and fearlessness in friendship Grant 
owed more than to any or all other extraneous influences, for 
without them and the support which Rawlins gave him with 
leading Congressmen and the representatives of the press, the 
work of the detractors must have been successful. Had that 
support been withdrawn after the Battle of Belmont, the cap 
ture of Fort Donelson, the trip to Nashville, the surprise of 
Shiloh, or during the delays of the campaign and siege of 
Vicksburg, though Grant had had the genius of a Napoleon 
or the fortitude of a Washington, his career must have come 
to an end. Nothing could have saved him from the public 
clamor, had Rawlins lost faith in him, or in his real merit, 
at any of these important epochs of his great career. 

Among the most trusted correspondents of the war was S. 
Cadwallader, who joined Grant s headquarters at Jackson, 
Tennessee, in October, 1862, as the representative of the Chi 
cago Times, then one of the most influential journals in the 
West. It was Democratic in politics and hostile to the Ad 
ministration as well as to the war. On his way to the front 
Cadwallader made the acquaintance of Colonel Thomas Lyle 
Dickey, at that time Grant s Chief of Cavalry, and afterwards 
for many years a justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois. 
He also met en route Captain Bowers, then and afterwards 
Rawlins s principal assistant. Through these officers he made 
the acquaintance of Grant and Rawlins, and soon established 
most intimate relations with them. He messed with the staff, 
and while he held no official position, he was furnished with 
shelter and transportation and was treated in all respects as 
a commissioned officer. Having satisfactorily transacted the 
business which took him there, he resolved to remain, and 
during the Vicksburg campaign became the chief correspon 
dent of the New York Herald. With the exception of Raw 
lins, Bowers, and Parker, he was the only other man of im 
portance who accompanied Grant from that time to the end of 
the war. Throughout the whole of this period, nothing was 



374 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

concealed from him. He was fully trusted by both the Gen 
eral and his staff, and had early knowledge of everything that 
was taking place or under consideration. It is but just to add 
that he never forfeited the trust reposed in him, and was 
never in the slightest degree guilty of the imprudent revela 
tions which too frequently made the war correspondent of 
those times an intolerable nuisance. After the war was over 
he was placed in charge of the Herald Bureau at Washington, 
and kept house for several months with Rawlins. Thus, from 
the beginning to the end of his association with Grant s head 
quarters, he shared the confidences and was entrusted with 
the secrets of those about him. 

It will be recalled that Grant s death and the publication of 
his "Memoirs" gave rise to much discussion in the journals 
and magazines of the day as to his relations with Rawlins, 
Halleck, Smith, Butler, and others. Rawlins s Vicksburg let 
ter to Grant and the correspondence between Rawlins and W. 
F. Smith were then published for the first time. The latter 
correspondence shows that an unbroken feeling of confidence 
and cooperation existed between Grant, Smith, and Rawlins 
down to the time that Smith asked for leave of absence from 
the Army of the James on account of his health. It shows 
also that Grant was loath to part with Smith "from the field 
even for a few days," and makes it clear that the rupture 
of the friendship between them did not take place till Smith 
had gone, and that it was due in all probability to the repre 
sentations of Butler and his staff. 

But, above all, the newspaper discussions which followed 
the publication of Grant s "Memoirs" brought the relations of 
Grant and Rawlins clearly before the public. Both were dead, 
and there appeared to be no necessity for further concealment 
as to the part each had played in respect to the other. Raw 
lins s friend Cadwallader was still living and felt called upon 
to give his testimony through the press as to the precise rela 
tions between the General and his Chief of Staff. Holding 



CONCLUSION 375 

that the part contributed by the latter to the common success 
had been insufficiently stated in the "Memoirs," he set it forth 
fully and circumstantially as he had recorded it from day to 
day in his own memory, or in his note books and cor 
respondence. It not only upholds the estimate I have 
given of Rawlins s character and services, but is an inde 
pendent and valuable contribution to the history of the 
times. 1 

But it should be stated in addition that Parker the Indian, 
who lived at Galena before the war, and who joined Grant s 
staff at Vicksburg and remained with him to the end, had 
ample knowledge of all that took place at headquarters. Silent, 
reserved, and taciturn, he was a close observer and a good 
judge of character. His relations were specially close and in 
timate with Rawlins, whose assistant he was, and for whom 
he had the highest respect. In a funeral oration to the mem 
ory of his friend, he bears independent testimony to his great 
worth as a staff officer, lawyer, and statesman, and to the in 
fluential part he played by Grant s side as Adjutant General, 
Chief of Staff, and Secretary of War. While this oration 
contributes but little that is new, it throws a strong light from 
a disinterested source upon the personality, moral qualities, 
and character of the remarkable man it describes and com 
memorates. It emphasizes the fact that Rawlins played an 
unusual part and had a great influence upon the course of 
events with which it was his good fortune to be connected. 
Coming from a witness who knew both Grant and Rawlins 
while they were still plain citizens who had yet to achieve 
greatness, this tribute may be accepted as embodying the esti 
mate and opinions of the Army of the Tennessee, to which 
they had all three belonged. 

But the concurrent testimony of those who had the oppor 
tunity of knowing, and should have been able to judge dis 
passionately, seems to leave no doubt whatever as to the na- 

1 See Appendix, pp. 428 et seq. 



376 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ture and extent of the influence exercised by Rawlins over the 
personal conduct and military career of Grant. Extending, 
as it did, over the entire period of their active campaigning, 
and coming, as it did, to the observation of many besides 
themselves, there can be but little room for mistake or mis 
understanding in reference to it. In this period of their lives 
"they were, so to speak, as but one soul." They started in the 
war together from the level of a common citizenship and a 
common patriotism. If there was any difference in them, 
Rawlins was at the beginning the more important man of the 
two. While Grant was always singularly free from the as 
sumptions and superiority of military rank, it must be remem 
bered that he had tasted adversity, and was unusually modest 
as to himself as well as considerate to others. It was but nat 
ural, therefore, that throughout their campaigning days these 
two should have stood together, and been frank and free from 
restraint towards each other. 

After peace came, however, and Grant had been chosen 
President by an overwhelming majority, he would have been 
less than human had he not begun to feel that there must be 
some personal greatness or some superior quality about him 
of which even he had been hitherto ignorant. It was but nat 
ural that he should consider himself fully able to stand alone, 
and therefore entitled to assume towards his Cabinet the head 
ship and independence which were his right by both custom 
and law. He may have been changed by prosperity, but Raw 
lins was not. Rawlins continued to be bold, independent, and 
conscientious, although this required more self-possession and 
prudence on his part after Grant went into politics. Adviser, 
as he had always been, he doubtless grew more sensitive as 
well as more reserved and met with greater difficulty in seeing 
and conferring with Grant in his new estate than he had met 
in the field. It was but natural, however, that Grant should 
remain more unreserved and more outspoken with him than 
with the other members of the Cabinet. Doubtless it is true 



CONCLUSION 377 

that in all matters of real importance their new relations were 
less intimate than those of the field, but it is evident that Raw- 
lins still retained greater influence with Grant than did any of 
his associates. He was a bolder and more virile man, and 
naturally felt less restraint in the presence of greatness than 
the best of them. 

It will not be forgotten that every other member of the 
first Cabinet was a comparative stranger both to the President 
and to Rawlins. The only one that either had previously 
known was Jacob D. Cox, who, on account of the high rank 
and fine reputation with which he had come out of the war, 
was appointed Secretary of the Interior. He was a good ex 
ample of the cultivated and successful citizen soldier, but had 
never served directly under Grant s observation. What Grant 
knew about him, therefore, came largely from others. He was 
an able and learned lawyer, and afterwards achieved distinc 
tion as a judge and as Governor of Ohio. On account of his 
independence and conservatism he disapproved of Grant s pol 
icy and associates as President, and after a few months 
service, resigned from the Cabinet to resume the practice of 
his profession. He had necessarily seen much of his official 
associates while in Washington, and hence his testimony in 
reference to them and to their relative influence with their 
common chief, based, as it was, upon actual observation, must 
be regarded as both trustworthy and important. 

In an account of "How Judge Hoar Ceased to be Attorney 
General," which Cox contributed to the Atlantic Monthly, 2 
the following important and interesting statement will be 
found : 

. . . General Rawlins had died at the beginning of September, 
1869, and his death was an irreparable loss to Grant and to the 
Administration. Other men might fill the office of Secretary of 
War, but no other man could be found who could be the suc 
cessful intermediary between General Grant and his associates 

2 August, 1895- 



378 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

in public duty. His friendship for his chief was of so sacredly 
intimate a character that he alone could break through the taci 
turnity into which Grant settled when he found himself in any 
way out of accord with the thoughts and opinions of those around 
him. Ra-wlins could argue, could expostulate, could condemn, 
could even upbraid, without interrupting for an hour the fra 
ternal confidence and good will of Grant. He had won the right 
to this relation by an absolute devotion which dated from Grant s 
appointment to be a brigadier-general in 1861, and which had 
made him the good genius of his friend in every crisis of Grant s 
wonderful career. This was not because of Rawlins s great intel 
lect, for he was of only moderate mental powers. It was rather 
that he became a living and speaking conscience for his general, 
as courageous to speak in time of need as Nathan the prophet, 
and as absolutely trusted as Jonathan by David. 

In military problems Grant had a strong and almost intuitive 
sagacity in determining upon the path to victory, not always the 
easiest or the most economical in blood and treasure, but a sure 
one when his own indomitable courage and will had clear scope. 
He silently listened to the discussion of such men as Sherman 
and McPherson, he patiently turned the matter over in his own 
thoughts and after a while announced a decision which showed 
the aid he got from intelligent debate, whilst it was clearly marked 
with his own directness of purpose and boldness of action. 
Rawlins knew how to bring on such helpful discussion in Grant s 
presence. He knew how to reenforce the influence of those who 
deserved to be trusted and to expose insidious and false friend 
ship. He had blunt, wrathful words of objurgation for those who 
put in Grant s way temptations which he knew to be dangerous. 
A moral monitor and guide, not hesitating at big oaths and camp 
expletives, seems a strange type of man, but no one could deny 
that Rawlins s heart was as true and his perception of the thing 
demanded by the honor and the welfare of his Chief was as clear 
as his manners and words often were rough. 

It will not need argument to show how useful such a friend 
and counsellor might be as a Cabinet officer. He could give 
warnings that no one else could utter ; he could insist upon debate 
and information before settled purposes should be adopted; he 
would know of influences at work that others would learn of only 
when some important step was already taken; his own openness 
of character would make him frank in action with his colleagues 



CONCLUSION 379 

and an honorable representative of their general judgment and 
policy. Rawlins might have differed from Mr. Fish as to the 
foreign policy of his government, especially in regard to Cuba, 
but he would have seen to it that no kitchen cabinet committed 
the President to schemes of which his responsible advisers were 
ignorant. Indeed, there was no danger that a kitchen cabinet 
could exist till Rawlins was dead. 

The extract just quoted caused me to write to Cox for 
further information, and my letter drew from him a reply, 
dated September 19, 1895, from which I quote as follows: 

. . . General Rawlins was, as you know, in failing health when 
he entered Grant s Cabinet. The spring of 1869 was so com 
pletely filled with the business of organization and the making of 
appointments that very little opportunity was offered for general 
discussion of affairs which would have enabled me to form a 
satisfactory judgment of Rawlins s intellectual quality in civil 
affairs. What I saw of him I greatly liked, but he was not push 
ing in his method of dealing with others, a little shy and ob 
servant, rather than assertive at the beginning, and evidently 
weakened by disease. 

Then he left Washington in the summer, as I recollect, and 
was taken more seriously ill and died at the beginning of Septem 
ber. I had not the privilege of more than a passing acquaintance 
with him in the army, for I never served in the columns with 
which he was immediately connected. 

You will see, therefore, that my judgment of him was neces 
sarily based upon what seemed the current opinion of those who 
knew about him, modified by what I learned from various sources, 
of his peculiar relations to General Grant and his extraordinary 
influence over him. 

I am far from holding with any tenacity the opinion which 
you criticize, that is, that Rawlins had no great mental power. 
On the other hand, I so fully recognize the logical force of the 
evidence of his capacity, found in his influence over such a man 
as Grant, that I shall be among the first to welcome the evidence 
of his powers in every direction. 

The noble traits which I have mentioned in several papers 
(including the one in the Atlantic Monthly) seemed to me to 
deserve a more emphatic recognition than they have commonly 



380 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

got, and this made me welcome an opportunity to bear testimony 
to them. 

I am sincerely glad to learn that you have in hand Rawlins s 
Memoirs and shall hope that you may not be much longer de 
layed in "procuring the officially completed records which will 
round out the materials for your work. . . . 

Extracts and quotations from reports, addresses, and ar 
ticles from the newspapers and magazines, and even from 
memoirs and histories of the times, bearing positive testimony 
to the high esteem in which Rawlins was held, might be in 
definitely extended ; but enough have been given to show even 
to the most sceptical that he was a man of extraordinary 
vigor and force of character, who exerted both a powerful 
and a beneficial influence not only over the personal fortunes 
of his Chief but over the policies and plans for which in the 
last resort his Chief was responsible. That he exerted that 
influence at all times and in all places to the personal and 
official advantage of his friend and commander as well as for 
the advancement of his country s best interests cannot be 
doubted. Indeed, so much has been admitted with singular 
unanimity by all who knew him at the time, or who have 
contributed to the history of the period. But more might well 
have been said. All agree that so long as Rawlins was the 
final, if not the principal, adviser in all the great emergencies 
of Grant s life, and that in all military affairs from first to 
last Grant s efforts were crowned with marked success, and 
neither hurtful criticisms nor failures overtook him in the field 
or in the White House, till after death had deprived him of 
the counsel and advice of his faithful and fearless friend, it 
must now be evident that Rawlins was a vital and essential 
factor of the dual character which has passed into history 
under the name of Grant. 

Moreover, it is the firm belief of many that had Rawlins 
lived in the enjoyment of health and strength, and continued 
to hold his place and influence with Grant, Grant s political 



CONCLUSION 381 

career must have been much more successful than it was. 
Who can imagine Rawlins tolerating, or permitting Grant to 
tolerate, the false friends who afterwards brought so much 
discredit upon the Administration? He would have been the 
inflexible enemy of the foul brood of Post traders, fraudulent 
distillers, and rascally speculators in gold, who defrauded the 
Government and besmirched so many of the President s official 
associates. That Rawlins had protected him with a fair de 
gree of success through his military life is ample to warrant 
the belief, and strongly supports the probability of a like suc 
cess in political life. 

Rawlins has been called by those who knew him but super 
ficially a "fierce" and even a Violent" man. He has been 
characterized as rough and overbearing by those who felt the 
heat of his anger or of his indignation, but he was just, 
patient, modest, considerate, and fearless in the performance 
of what he conceived to be his duty. With remarkable self- 
control, with a strong and vehement vocabulary of plain Saxon 
English, and a full, penetrating voice, he was accustomed to 
express himself in language which no man could affect to mis 
understand. Under the influence of deep feelings or in the 
advocacy of an important cause, he spoke with extraordinary 
clearness and deliberation. His dark and flashing eyes would 
light up with all the fire of an impassioned orator, his lips 
would curl and recede, leaving his strong and shapely teeth 
exposed while his dark and swarthy face grew pale and trem 
ulous from the intensity of his emotions. Under these con 
ditions, it was a bold man indeed who stood unblenched before 
him, or undertook to resist the force and logic of his argu 
ment. 

It is literally true, as stated by Cadwallader, that, when 
strongly aroused and in earnest, Rawlins never failed to carry 
his General with him. It is equally true that when thoroughly 
interested, no sense of fear, no thought of danger or of per 
sonal consequence, ever seemed to enter his mind or to turn 



382 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

him aside from his purpose so much as by the breadth of a 
hair. Simple, honest, austere, and abstemious in all his ways, 
he expected the same virtue in all who were entrusted with 
power. JHe had but little patience with the petty foibles of 
full-grown men. He hated lying and prevarication in others 
so intensely that they were impossible to himself. He con 
demned drunkenness and gambling so unsparingly that he 
could not tolerate even moderate drinking or playing in those 
that were charged with the responsibilities of high command. 
Untiring in his industry, sleepless in his vigilance, and unfail 
ing in his devotion to duty, he had no patience with those 
who wasted their time, or lost their opportunities, in idleness 
and inattention. 

Possessing these high qualities and characteristics, he lacked 
only the technical education and practical experience of an 
officer commanding troops to have become, with the oppor 
tunities which were within reach, one of the leading generals 
of the army. While he was never a religious man, he had 
been brought up in the faith of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, conformed to its discipline, and accepted its sacred 
offices and its consolation as he felt himself nearing the close 
of his earthly career. His funeral was conducted with the 
solemnity due to his high rank. The officers of the army wore 
the usual badge of mourning for three months. The Presi 
dent, who arrived in Washington after his friend s death, 
with the Cabinet, diplomatic corps, and many officers of the 
army, attended the ceremonies, while the newspapers of the 
country were filled with appropriate articles praising the high 
character, the valuable services, and the extraordinary worth 
of the departed Secretary. 

He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery under a mod 
est monument erected and paid for by his family and kinsmen. 
Later, a bronze statue, of questionable artistic merit, was 
erected to his memory by the Society of the Army of the Ten 
nessee, at the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue, between 



CONCLUSION 383 

8th and 9th Streets, in Washington city. Still later his re 
mains were reinterred in the National Military Cemetery at 
Arlington. "Pass them not by for the simplicity of their 
resting place. Few tombs hold nobler dust." 3 

In the strong and unassuming modesty of Grant s charac 
ter, in the unshakable quality of his courage, in his fine sense 
of duty, in his approved capacity to trample temptation under 
foot and to bear the responsibility which should not be shifted 
to another man s shoulders, and, above all, in the magnitude 
of his victories, as well as in the sufficiency of his rewards, 
he is undoubtedly great enough to have the simple truth told 
about himself as well as about the officer to whom he was so 
deeply indebted. Nor should it be doubted that in the days 
of his health and strength, and acting under his own generous 
impulses, he would have been the first to do full justice to the 
abilities, worth, and services of his only Chief of Staff, his 
first Secretary of War, and, best of all, his wise, fearless, and 
indispensable friend in all the emergencies of life. 

3 Goldwin Smith s History of the United Kingdom, Vol. I, p. 201. 



APPENDIX 
I 

LETTERS FROM GENERAL RAWLINS THE GREATER NUMBER TO 

HIS WIFE 

NASHVILLE, Jan. 16, 1864. 

I arrived here last night [from the leave of absence which he 
took to be married] and found all well and delighted to see me. 
... I myself am still troubled with my cold. I mention this not 
to cause you uneasiness . . . but simply because I promised you 
I would write you the exact state of my health, whether good or 
bad, and this I shall always do. This morning was delightful, 
just cold enough to be bracing to those who sought the street for 
a stroll either for pleasure or business. Don t understand me to 
say there were any pleasure promenaders, for, dearest, if there 
ever was a city over which the shadow of gloom hung darkly it 
is this. It is literally the City of Woe. Nineteen out of twenty 
of the inhabitants are in mourning for friends who have been 
killed in battle. . . . The very buildings seem to lift their dark 
ened and dingy walls in consciousness of the gloom above 
them. . . . 

I have just written a letter to General Ransom, one of my 
warmest and most intimate friends, and send you an extract from 
it. "While North, at Danbury, Connecticut, on the 23rd ultimo, 
I married Miss Mary E. Hurlbut, whom I met first at our head 
quarters in Vicksburg, where she had been during the siege, hav 
ing gone South with friends previous to the outbreak of the 
rebellion. . . . She was for the Union after my acquaintance 
with her and will instruct and educate my children in the spirit 
and sentiment of patriotism which I hope will always actuate 
them." . . . 

The following extract from a letter written by Mr. C. A. Dana, 
the Assistant Secretary of War, to General Wilson I send you, 
knowing how pleased you are at everything said pleasantly of 

384 



APPENDIX 385 

me. Don t, however, indulge in Mr. Dana s forebodings as to my 
health. "Mrs. Rawlins I had no opportunity of seeing, but I 
hope she will add nothing but happiness to the life of her most 
excellent husband. His appearance made me somewhat anxious 
about him. I feared that his lungs might be more seriously 
affected than I had supposed. His loss would be a great misfor 
tune, not only for his friends, but still more for the country. Pub 
lic servants of his quality will always be few. There are plenty 
of men whose names will flourish largely in history without hav 
ing rendered a tithe of his unostentatious and invaluable contribu 
tions to the great work of the nation." 

NASHVILLE, Jan. 17, 1864. 

. . . Everything is quiet here and will be until supplies can be 
got forward to the troops at Chattanooga and Knoxville. Had a 
sufficiency of supplies been at the latter place when General Grant 
was there a few days ago, he would have undertaken to drive 
Longstreet out of East Tennessee. As it was all he could do was 
to move troops out, to contest with him the foraging ground in 
the vicinity. Daily collisions may be expected between our forces 
and the enemy. Sherman has gone to Vicksburg, and will organ 
ize there a heavy force for immediate operations. In the mean 
time we will use all the means in our power to forward supplies 
to the front and be ready if possible to move when he does ; 
although you may hear of no immediate and startling events, you 
may know we are not idle, but that every preparation is being 
made for conflicts which will shake the continent ere this terrible 
tragedy closes. 

NASHVILLE, Jan. 18, 1864. 

. . . General Wilson has been ordered to Washington, where 
he will take charge of the Cavalry Bureau. It is a difficult and 
responsible position, yet I have faith in his ability to perform its 
arduous duties. No one wishes more earnestly than I that he 
may succeed, for he is a brave, faithful officer, a high-minded 
and honorable man. We shall miss him much. General Grant 
has not started to St. Louis yet, but is waiting for an answer to 
his inquiry as to how his son is. Should he be getting better, 
the General will not go. There is no news to-day from the 
front, and we presume therefore all is quiet on the Tennessee. 
A letter from General Halleck to General Grant received to-day 
states that much opposition will be made to General McPherson s 



3 86 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

appointment as brigadier general in the regular army. General 
Grant has written a strong letter in reply, urging the Senate to 
confirm him. . . . My cold is still troublesome, but I hope to 
report differently in a few days. 

Jan. 19, 1864. 

. . . General Grant and wife start for St. Louis in the morn 
ing, and will be absent eight or ten days. Fred is very ill, but 
will recover. . . . General Wilson also starts in the morning for 
Washington to assume his new duties. May success attend him, 
is my sincere wish. Colonel Duff left here on Saturday for 
Vicksburg with important despatches for General Sherman. Yes 
terday a message came from him that he was snowed in at 
Mitchell, Indiana. . . . 

A collision between our forces and the enemy on the I4th 
instant, consequent on the extension of our lines out from Knox- 
ville that I spoke of in a former letter, ordered by General Grant 
when he was at Knoxville, resulted in the capture by the enemy 
of a wagon train of ours, some twenty-three wagons, but they 
were subsequently recaptured by our forces, together with an 
ambulance of the enemy loaded with medicine, and the capture 
of the rebel General Vance, his assistant adjutant general, over 
a hundred of his men and two hundred horses and equipments, 
which ended the affair decidedly in our favor. . . . 

Jan. 20, 1864. 

. . . After I wrote you last night, we received a despatch from 
General Foster at Knoxville, stating that General Longstreet had 
advanced in heavy force against him and that he was falling 
back on Knoxville, where he might have to stand a siege. That 
Longstreet will again lay siege to that place, I can scarcely be 
lieve, for he certainly cannot do so with any reasonable hope of 
success, enabled as we are to move a much superior force from 
Chattanooga, to the relief of Foster, with the river to supply it 
most of the way. It is more probable, to my mind, that he has 
simply advanced to extend his foraging ground and limit ours, 
and however well we have determined his designs, in the mean 
time we must be prepared for any emergency. This news has 
prevented General Grant from going to St. Louis for the present, 
and he, General Smith (Baldy), and I go forward to Chattanooga 
to-morrow to look after affairs at Knoxville. We may possibly 
have to go to Knoxville, but I hope we may be able to put things 



APPENDIX 387 

into shape without having to go so far. The great question is 
that of supplies, which is always one of difficulty with an army 
far advanced in the enemy s country. 

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE Miss., 

NASHVILLE, TENN., Jan. 20, 1864. 
DEAR WASHBURNE: 

On my return from the North I was pleased to find your very 
welcome and interesting letter of the 2Oth ultimo, and I hasten 
to assure you, your friendship for the General, your devotion to 
our common country, and heroic manifestation of interest in the 
welfare and success of our army here, through evil as well as 
good report, in the dark hour of the Nation s despondency, as 
well as in the light of its victories, are truly and honestly appre 
ciated, and to you, more than any one in Congress, the great 
heart of the army warms with gratitude as its true representative 
and hold and uncompromising defender. So give yourself no 
concern in the matter of the cavalry regiment you speak of, for 
the General fully understands your motives and knows them to be 
prompted solely by a desire for the public service and in friend 
ship to him. 

I see by the papers the bill creating a Lieutenant Generalcy is 
still undisposed of. So far as General Grant may be regarded 
in connection with it, I can only say that if the conferring of this 
distinguished honor upon him would be the taking him out of 
the field, or would supersede General Halleck, he would not de 
sire it, for he feels that if he can be of service to the Government 
in any place, it is in command of the army in the field, and there 
is where he would remain if made a lieutenant general; besides, 
he has great confidence in and friendship for the General-in-Chief, 
and would without regard to rank be willing at all times to re 
ceive orders through him. 

The advocacy of the New York Herald and other papers of 
the General for the Presidency gives him little concern ; he is 
unambitious of the honor and will voluntarily put himself in 
no position nor permit himself to be placed in one he can pre 
vent that will in the slightest manner embarrass the friends of the 
Government in their present grand effort to enforce its rightful 
authority and restore the Union of the States. Of his views in 
this matter, I suppose he has fully acquainted you. 

The presence of Longstreet in East Tennessee is much to be 



3 88 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

regretted. Had General Grant s order been energetically and 
with a broader judgment executed by General Burnside, Long- 
street would have been forced to have continued his retreat from 
Knoxville to beyond the Tennessee line. The General s official 
report will show the facts and order and be satisfactory, I have 
no doubt, to the Government. Our forces in the Holsten Valley, 
east of Knoxville, have been compelled by Longstreet to fall back 
towards Knoxville. Whether he intends to again undertake the 
capture of that place, or simply to extend his forage ground, is 
not as yet known. In either design he must be foiled. General 
Grant, General W. F. Smith and myself go forward to-morrow 
to Chattanooga, that the General may be enabled to give his per 
sonal attention to affairs in the direction of Knoxville. Fred, 
the General s oldest son, is lying very sick at St. Louis with the 
"Typhoid Pneumonia/ and he was intending to start to see him 
this morning, but despatches from Knoxville detained him, and 
he turns in the direction of duty to his country, leaving his 
afflicted family to the care of friends. 

I am sorry I did not see you when in New York there is 
much that I would have been pleased to tell you that one cannot 
write. 

While North, on the 2 3 rd day of December, 1863, at Danbury, 
Conn., I was married to Miss Mary E. Hurlbut, a native of that 
place and daughter of S. A. Hurlbut, Esq. I first met her in 
Vicksburg in the family at whose house we made headquarters 
after the fall of that place. She was in the city during the en 
tire siege, having gone South with friends previous to the break 
ing out of the rebellion. From my acquaintance with her, she 
was in favor of the Union, and will instruct and educate my 
children in the spirit and sentiment of true patriotism that I hope 
will ever actuate them in the support and maintenance of the 
princely inheritance bequeathed us by our -revolutionary fathers 
and now being daily enhanced in value and increased in endear 
ment by the sacrifices we are making for its preservation. She 
is now with my three little ones at the home of my parents near 
Galena. I saw few of my friends in Galena, owing to my limited 
stay, having been there only about six hours of daylight. I had 
hoped to spend a week, but detention on the cars from snow 
prevented it. Galena was really lively and all seemed well. 

General Grant is in excellent health and is "himself" in all 
things. Colonel Brown, Major Rowley, etc., all send their re- 



APPENDIX 389 

gards to you. General Wilson has been ordered to Washington to 
take charge of the Cavalry Bureau. He is a brave and accom 
plished young officer, and has rendered valuable services in the 
field. I hope he may be successful in his new duties and bespeak 
for him your kind offices of friendship. 

I met Russell Jones in Chicago, and he made me go to see Mr. 
Autrobus s paintings of the General. They are both very fine, 
and the full-size one I regard as the finest likeness I ever saw. I 
am no judge of paintings, but I examined this one closely and 
compared it in my own mind with the General and pronounced 
it like him, and since my return I have looked at and watched the 
General with interest and compared him with the picture, and 
am sure he is like it. ... 

Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain, your friend. 

CHATTANOOGA, Jan. 23, 1864. 

... In one view you behold the mountains of several States, 
including the gorge in Taylor s Ridge at Ringgold, where was 
fought the last battle in the Chattanooga series, and the only one 
in which we were not eminently successful. . . . The mountains 
to the east and southeast of Lookout (which stands peerless 
amid its neighbors) so lift themselves up from Lookout that 
one at first mistakes them for clouds far above the horizon. 
Through this vast system of mountains meanders to almost every 
point of the compass the magnificent Tennessee, and perhaps 
from no point does it present so picturesque and grandly beauti 
ful an appearance as from the top of Lookout. . . . 

The news from General Foster at Knoxville is more cheering 
than when we left Nashville I might say quite satisfactory and 
no danger is now apprehended from General Longstreet s move, 
notwithstanding the alarming despatch of the I5th instant that 
brought us so hurriedly to this place. Thus it ever is in war, 
alarm, alarms allayed, excitement, and excitement subsiding into 
quiet. 

Our greatest and worst apprehension is that we may be de 
layed in getting forward our supplies, because of the non-comple 
tion of the Nashville and Decatur Railroad. Had we sufficient 
supplies here now we should immediately commence active opera 
tions which would compel the enemy to give us battle where he 
is ill prepared or abandon all the country he holds in our front 
as far back as Atlanta. But as it is, we must wait. The visit of 



390 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

General Grant to this place has had at least one good effect, and 
that is it has wakened him up to see what I have been strongly 
urging upon him since my return, namely, the inefficiency of 
Mr. Adna Anderson, superintendent of our railroads here, and 
he has telegraphed the fact to the Secretary of War. I hope 
a change will at once be made. Nothing could be of more benefit 
at this time to the service than the relieving of Mr. Anderson 
by some one who has patriotism, ability and energy, one who will 
comprehend fully our necessities and supply them. 

We are, however, making preparations for a movement within 
the next two weeks threatening Rome, and will, if opportunity 
invites, attempt to capture that place. Sherman in the meantime 
is to move through from Vicksburg to Meridian. Thus menaced 
I know not what the enemy may do, but we will try and take 
advantage of any weakness he may disclose. The General, W. F. 
Smith and myself will probably leave here to-morrow for Nash 
ville. . . . 

CHATTANOOGA, Jan. 24, 1864. 

. . . The excitement in the vicinity of Knoxville that seemed 
to be allayed is just renewed. A despatch from General Foster 
says Longstreet is pressing heavily on that place; that he has 
received considerable reinforcements, but not enough, he appre 
hends, to warrant him in again besieging it; that through the 
cowardice of the drovers a drove of three hundred cattle had 
already been captured by the enemy and that he feared the loss 
also of a drove of two hundred hogs, but had sent out active 
parties to try to save it, and that he is drawing his forces into 
Knoxville and looking to the security of his communications with 
Chattanooga. Now this all sounds, to say the least, badly. With 
a force equal in numbers to Longstreet s, instead of falling back 
he should have taken up a strong position and given Longstreet 
battle. If successful it would have been the end of Longstreet 
in East Tennessee, and if unsuccessful he could still have fallen 
back with safety to within the defences of Knoxville and there 
have awaited a siege if it had been the disposition of the enemy 
to make it. The talk about the cowardice of drovers as the cause 
of the loss of the cattle is not a sufficient answer for their loss. 
With an army so destitute and dependent for supplies from afar, 
it was clearly his duty to have had the drove under the protection 
of a strong, armed escort, thus insuring it against attack from 



APPENDIX 3Qi 

the enemy. Situated as we are here, it will be with the greatest 
difficulty we can relieve him. The great number of the troops 
that have reenlisted (and gone home on furlough) have so re 
duced the army here as to leave barely a sufficiency for local 
purposes. It is really provoking when an army of sufficient force 
is from some unexplained cause unable to help itself and another 
has to be ordered to succor it. Somebody is to blame certain; 
time will show who. Had General Grant s order been carried 
out this cloud, so threatening disaster in East Tennessee, would 
never have gathered. 

We leave here about 6 o clock p. M. for Nashville. It may be 
that I will have to go by Huntsville with orders and instructions 
for General Logan. If so it will be several days before I reach 
Nashville. . . . General Grant has had a severe attack of sick 
headache since our arrival here, but is now over it. He is him 
self in all respects. He laughs at my writing you daily, wonders 
how you manage to read my writing, and says he don t think I 
will hold out so constant and frequent a correspondent as I have 
begun. . . . 

NASHVILLE, Jan. 25, 1864. 

. . . After writing you yesterday I had the satisfaction of see 
ing orders issued for troops to be moved from Chattanooga to 
Knoxville under General Thomas in person, with directions that 
on reaching the latter place he assume command of our entire 
forces there and give Longstreet battle. This is as it should be, 
and unless orders are changed, which I don t think will be the 
case, a bloody fight may be expected soon, or East Tennessee 
will be evacuated by the enemy. 

We left Chattanoga about a quarter after six p. M. and arrived 
here a few minutes before seven this morning, General Grant 
going directly on to St. Louis and leaving matters here to be 
attended to by Colonel Bowers and myself. The first thing that 
met my eye was a despatch from General Foster stating that the 
enemy had ceased to press him vigorously, that he had no idea 
they would attack Knoxville, that he had secured the drove of 
4,800 hogs he had feared were in danger, but his troops needed 
rest and he had ordered them into winter quarters. 

So you see the difference in the despatches of yesterday and 
to-day. One was most alarming and the other allays the alarm 
previously caused. In this manner has the news alternated from 



392 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

that quarter ever since my return, and yet General Foster is said 
to be a brave man and perhaps is. 

The next was a despatch from General Halleck relating to the 
condition of affairs in East Tennessee, the security of our present 
line on the Tennessee River, and future operations. And as the 
General was absent, and Thomas s orders to go to the relief of 
Knoxville depended somewhat upon information he might re 
ceive from Foster, I determined under cover of sending a copy 
of General Halleck s letter to him, to make his orders positive, 
and depend upon nothing less than the result we hoped to accom 
plish by his going there. Accordingly I directed him "to relax 
no energy and spare no exertion in his preparations for moving 
into East Tennessee, no matter what news he might have from 
Foster, short of the enemy s retreat from the State." So you 
see that if Longstreet is not driven out of the State, it will not be 
because I have not in the General s absence made the orders ring 
with fight. 

The Secretary of War has authorized a change of the superin 
tendent of railroads, and if the changes are not made it will be 
the General s fault, for the moment the despatches came I tele 
graphed an order for the officer to report here by whom the pres 
ent superintendent will probably be relieved, and repeated the 
Secretary s despatch to Louisville, where I have no doubt the 
General will get it. I also advised him of the action I had taken 
in the matter. It is now time, but no reply has yet been received. 
I spoke yesterday of going to Huntsville, but instead I sent the 
orders to Logan. On the General s return, however, I expect to 
go down to that place, if not before. . . . 

NASHVILLE, Jan. 29, 1864. 

. . . All reports confirm the statements you see in the news 
papers. President Lincoln s amnesty proclamation is having a 
very salutary effect. Many are deserting from the Confederate 
army and coming into our lines to avail themselves of it by taking 
the oath it prescribes. 

My health is good my cough has ceased to annoy me. Gen 
eral Grant has not returned from St. Louis, but will be back 
next Tuesday. 



NASHVILLE, Jan. 30, 

. . . To the theatre I never think of going, although they have 

here celebrated star actors and actresses sufficient for a con- 



APPENDIX 393 

stellation. I attend to the various duties of my position with 
what abilities I possess and think of home. . . . 

NASHVILLE, Jan. 31, 1864. 

. . . General Grant has not yet returned, but will leave St. 
Louis in the morning. I see by the papers he was to have a 
supper given him at the Lindell last night. I m sorry it is so, 
for I had hoped he would go there and return without permitting 
himself to be paraded before the public, but the fact is you know 
the General pretty well he can t say no, and then there is another 
thing which may do to tell the masses : that is, he dislikes these 
public ovations. He may appear awkward in the midst of them, 
but he likes them nevertheless. At least I ve yet to know of his 
declining one. You are fully aware of my fears in all this. I 
need not state them. 

NASHVILLE, Feb. i, 1864. 

. . . News from Knoxville is uninteresting. So says General 
Foster, commanding there. Scouts of General Dodge report 
great commotion among the enemy in front of Chattanooga. 
They are moving troops from Dalton south on the Mobile road, 
either for Mobile or Meridian. This is consequent no doubt on 
the movement of Sherman eastward from Vicksburg and of the 
cavalry southeast from Memphis, which I mentioned in previous 
letters. If we had supplies and the reenlisted regiments were 
back from furlough, we could now strike such a blow as it would 
be impossible for the enemy to recover from. We are doomed, 
however, to wait, I fear, till the enemy recovers from the injuries 
he received at Chattanooga and becomes once more a strong man 
in the fight. 

Hundreds fleeing from conscription are coming into our lines 
daily; great dissatisfaction exists because the rebel government 
is conscripting men who have already sent substitutes into the 
army. This is regarded by the people as an act of great injustice, 
but what can they do against an organized despotism ? Literally 
nothing. Should this discontent seriously infect the army, we 
may hope something from it, because, as at the recent battle of 
Chattanooga, they will not fight with the determination that has 
characterized them in all the other battles I have been in or 
known anything about. . . . 

If there is anything I can do for your friends at Vicksburg, 
not inconsistent with the good of the service, I will do it cheer- 



394 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

fully. I desire you to say this, not more on account of their 
friendship to you than because of their uniform kind treatment 
of me and of the general regard shown by them to the military 
authorities, whatever may have been their feelings. 

General Grant has not got back from St. Louis yet, but is 
on his way and will be here, I suppose, to-morrow evening. I 
am really anxious for his return, although everything has gone 
on smoothly in his absence and the public service has not suffered. 
Still here is his place, and when he is about I feel much easier 
in mind. . . . 

The next day he adds : 

NASHVILLE, Feb. 3, 1864. 

. . . General Grant reached Louisville yesterday afternoon 
and despatched me he would not come on here till Friday unless 
it was absolutely necessary. I replied to him that important mat 
ters demanded his attention here, to which I have received no 
answer, and infer he is on his way. The train is behind time, 
and will not arrive before twelve o clock to-night. Here is his 
proper place, and his country and friends may rest assured he 
will never be absent by any counseling of of mine, while I main 
tain my present official relations to him. 

I received last evening an answer from the Honorable E. B. 
Washburne to my letter to him dated 2Oth ultimo, in which he 
says, after speaking of the efforts he made to see me while in 
New York: "It would have given me great pleasure to have 
made my congratulations to you and your wife personally. I 
communicate them to you now and through you to Mrs. Rawlins. 
I would always be willing to underwrite for a Connecticut girl 
at a very small rate of premium." He adds : "The bill creating 
a Lieutenant Generalcy is sure to become a law and that General 
Grant will be the hero honored with the rank thus created." If 
so, I may if I desire it no doubt obtain a prominent position in 
the army, but as I now view things I shall seek for no situation 
in that direction. To be at home with wife and children is the 
highest ambition of my life. 

. . . Everything is quiet, no reports of alarm or threatened 
movements of the enemy from any part of our long-extended lines 
to-day. Major General Schofield, late of the Department of Mis 
souri, has been assigned to command the Department of the Ohio. 
He relieved General Foster, and I hope he may prove competent 



APPENDIX 395 

for his new place. Knoxville is his headquarters and his posi 
tion is the most difficult of any in the country. He went forward 
to-day. 

Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas, whom you met at Vicks- 
burg, and one of his sons, also passed on from here to-day for 
Knoxville. He did not congratulate me on my new relations. I 
suppose he is past the age of thinking of these civilities. He is, 
however, the first of many of my army acquaintances, who had 
had the pleasure of seeing you, that overlooked this civility. The 
General was very cordial in his greetings, however, and I have 
no doubt it was meeting so many here that caused him to neglect 
the matter alluded to. 

On February 4 he wrote : 

NASHVILLE, February 4, 1864. 

. . . General Grant arrived this evening and is in excellent 
health. His non-arrival last night made me nervous, and you 
will not be surprised to know that it caused me to break over 
my resolution not to swear. I feared everything was not as it 
should be with him, but his appearance has agreeably disap 
pointed me, and for once I have done him injustice in my 
thoughts. He left Mrs. Grant in St. Louis with Fred, who is 
slowly recovering, but is a mere skeleton. I have had no talk 
with him yet about the supper given him at the Lindell House, 
business being first in order. 

To-day I had the pleasure of meeting Colonel McCallum and 
of assigning him to duty as General Manager of railways in the 
Military Division and relieving Mr. Anderson, whose inefficiency 
has paralyzed the operations of this army very considerably, in 
my opinion. However, I may be wrong. In Colonel McCallum 
we look for more energy, greater efficiency, and more cordial 
subordination to the military authorities. In other words, he 
will work for the interests of the army and feel that he belongs 
to and is not independent of it, as did Mr. Anderson. 

On the 6th he says : 

NASHVILLE, February 6, 1864. 

. . . This is the second anniversary of the fall of Fort Henry. 
How little I dreamed then the war would continue this long. But 
so it is, and no clear sight is yet had of its close. No break in 



396 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

the blood-bearing clouds of war reveals to us the sky of Peace 
beyond. In faith and patriotism we are still strong and hope ere 
long to welcome the return of peace, and join our wives and 
children in their happy homes and enjoy with them the remainder 
of our days, the fruits of our toil and suffering in the cause of 
right and liberty, as did our fathers after the successful termina 
tion of the War of Independence. . . . 

NASHVILLE, February 7, 1864. 

. . . General Grant has determined to go himself in command 
of the forces to operate against Longstreet, and we shall leave 
here for Knoxville within ten or twelve days. I feel he should 
go. It is too important a matter to trust entirely to others, how 
ever competent they may be, for should they fail the country 
will ask why he was not there. 

So far as any news is received, all is quiet in our front to-day. 
Captain Leet is home on furlough. I don t know whether I men 
tioned it in my previous letters. He is a fine officer, and I flatter 
myself for procuring his promotion from a private in the ranks 
to the position he now fills so well. . . . 

NASHVILLE, February 8, 1864. 

... I am delighted to know that my friends both in the city 
and country are so kind to you, and also to hear that so many 
are my friends. I have ever tried to pursue an upright, honor 
able course through life, that I might always be enabled to look 
those whom I may meet full in the face without fear of discover 
ing in the countenance or looks of any an expression of "You 
have done wrong," either in my personal treatment of them or 
in my failure to discharge my duty, my whole duty to my country 
to the utmost of my ability. . . . 

NASHVILLE, February 9, 1864. 

... I have written to no one at Washington to look after my 
confirmation nor sought to influence any one to that end, being 
content to discharge my duty in any position and with any rank 
the authorities see fit to confer upon me to the best of my abilities 
at all times. I doubt not my confirmation, however. Standing as 
I do in the near relation to General Grant, and the wholesome 
influence I am supposed to exercise for his good, which is not 
unknown personally to several gentlemen of great influence in 
Washington, and who are to be found both in Congress and in 



APPENDIX 397 

the War Department and belonging to both political parties, I 
do not fear the result. If I am not confirmed I will necessarily 
go out of the service or fall back to my rank as assistant adjutant 
general with the rank of major, my lieutenant-colonelcy being 
assignable rank only. My impression is that a failure in con 
firmation will leave me a civilian. In that event I shall at least 
visit "dear wife and children" before seeking another position 
in the army. I have never sought promotion, but on the contrary 
declined a colonelcy when it was offered to me and accepted a 
majority. To be put out of service with no fault or seeking of 
my own could attach to me no stain of dishonor or semblance 
of faltering in this hour of darkness and peril. I am therefore 
without anxiety as to the action of the Senate in my case. I 
enclose my proper address. 

I shall begin to-morrow in connection with Colonel Bowers to 
copy up General Grant s official report of the battles of Chatta 
nooga. . . . 

NASHVILLE, February 10, 1864. 

... A division of General Logan s troops moves to-morrow 
from near Scottsboro to Chattanooga to take the place of troops 
ordered from the latter place to Knoxville; thus the ball begins 
to roll, and before many weeks pass the conflict between the 
Federal and Confederate forces in East Tennessee will commence 
for the mastery of that section. I have great confidence in our 
ability to succeed, first, because we will have the superior force 
unless theirs is greatly underestimated, and, second, because our 
line of supplies will be well established, insuring us against 
danger and a deficiency of supplies. Thus with the most men, 
and them well supplied, and a just cause, victory must incline to 
perch on our banners, as in times past. . . . 

NASHVILLE, February n, 1864. 

. . . General John D. Stevenson, the gentleman who presented 
me a fine saddle at Vicksburg, is here on his way to Pulaski, and 
I am of the opinion that he will want a change made in his 
order, and on the strength of his friendship for me and my 
reciprocation of it will expect to succeed, but in this he is mis 
taken. I would do anything in the world for the General, con 
sistent with the public service, but I think in command of Pulaski 
he will do better than at any other place. 

I am much better with my cough to-night than I was yester- 



398 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

day and hope soon to be well. We will go to Chattanooga in a 
few days ; troops are on the move from Scottsboro to that place, 
and those to go from the latter place to Knoxville will start Mon 
day next. To-day General Grant received a fine horse as a 
present from a gentleman in Cincinnati. 

The news from the front is "all quiet." Despatches from Gen 
eral Schofield dated 7th instant state that he had assumed com 
mand at Knoxville. Many of the ladies here are desirous of 
going South, and the General has promised to permit them to 
do so on a certain day in the future, via Decatur. I shall use my 
influence to prevent it if possible, for I do not believe either in 
sending persons through our lines by compulsion or permission. 

NASHVILLE, February 13, 1864. 

. . . This is my thirty-third birthday. In looking back to my 
earliest remembrance of events, how full of anxiety and fears, 
of cherished but disappointed hopes my life has been, and still 
withal how fortunate in the realization of my most extravagant 
youthful dreams ! In some things I flatter myself I have held 
my own. I entered life poor, and am in that position now. I 
had the warm love of my parents, and have now, never having 
for a moment estranged them from me. In my young heart of 
high hopes they inculcated principles of virtue, honesty and 
patriotism. In the light of these I have sought ever to walk, 
but that I have many times deviated, it were sinful to deny. Yet 
beyond the reach of their pure rays and the whispering of con 
science I have never wandered. In youth I had many friends, 
who in numbers and warmth of affection have multiplied as the 
sphere of my acquaintance has extended. With only such an 
education as a sparsely settled country afforded, I passed cred 
itably from manual, to mental labor, from the plough to the bar, 
and from civil to military life, thereby exchanging the sweets 
of peace for the bitterness of war. I have attained in rank the 
highest grade but one in the army, and been honorably connected 
with the most important successes of our arms, passing unharmed, 
although exposed in person, through the battles of Belmont, Fort 
Donelson, Shiloh, the siege of Corinth, the battles in the cam 
paign and siege of Vicksburg, and in those about Chattanooga. 
In my domestic relations I have been peculiarly fortunate and 
most happy, not without sorrow, however, death having entered 
and for a while cast a gloom of sadness over my home. This 



APPENDIX 399 

was the loss of my first wife whom I loved so well for her 
amiability of manner, gentleness, sweetness of disposition and 
virtue. Few of earth s daughters were so lovely ; none in 
Heaven stands nearer the throne. . . . 

NASHVILLE, February 14, 1864. 

... I have received the photographs. Mine is miserable; I 
look in it sad and deathlike, yet I am not prepared to say it is 
not a correct picture, for perhaps it is. I never sat for one 
that did not contain that same sad sorrowful expression. It 
may be that I appear to others as my pictures show me to 
myself. If so, how miserable I must be deemed. But am I 
miserable and unhappy? No, I am not. Your sweet and beauti 
ful picture daguerreotypes the feelings of my heart. I am 
happy in my wife and my children s love, and in great numbers 
of friends who are ever willing to serve me. So keep not the 
picture of me, dearest. It is false to my heart, though it may 
be true to my face. Retain that of yourself and in your warm, 
loving imagination invest it with all the virtues the original 
possesses, and say this reflects truly my husband s heart and 
soul. He loves me and confides in me all things. . . . 

NASHVILLE, February 15, 1864. 

. . . General Grant talks some of going to Chattanooga this 
week. I don t know whether he will or not, but if he goes I 
shall go also. 

Colonel Bowers and I are very busily engaged of evenings on 
the General s official report of the battles of Chattanooga, which 
I assure you is a very unpleasant and I might say thankless under 
taking, for the General is very tenacious of the claim that he 
writes his own reports, and it is necessary for us to follow 
the text as nearly as possible. With the transposition of sen 
tences, even pages, and the writing out too of the very plans 
of the battles, this is difficult. 

My cough still continues but I think I am improving. For 
a while I gained strength but have not done so for several 
days past. If I could take a trip South, I think it would be of 
great service to me, but the doctors say there is no danger. 
They ought to tell me the truth and I hope do. A cough, how 
ever, from the loth of October to the i$th of February is not 
to be slightly treated. . . . 



400 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

NASHVILLE, February 16, 1864. 

. . . What I owe is in the army, but you shall have a full 
statement soon. Don t think for one moment, dearest, that I 
have ever foolishly expended money or recklessly got in debt. 
I entered the army owing between three and four thousand 
dollars, nearly all of which I have paid, besides supporting my 
self and family, and the support of my family has been quite 
expensive, more so than it is now. 

No news of importance from the front except that General 
Thomas is ready for a move on Dalton, and will perhaps start 
to-morrow. . . . 

LOUISVILLE, March 6, 1864. 

... I have just returned from the theatre, not at all delighted 
with having gone, but the General would go, and I deemed it 
at least courteous to go with him ... I sat with the General 
and other officers of rank in a private box, and witnessed the 
play of Jane Short or the Royal Favorite. During its perform 
ance I was supremely disgusted . . . with the eagerness or will 
ingness rather, of him we love to say is so modest and unassum 
ing to acknowledge the notice people are taking of him. In 
one who had less reputation for modesty it would be pardonable. 
Oh, greatness, how dost thou lift up ... those whom thou 
favorest! I feel that to go with them is ascending heights too 
far above the level of my plebeian birth ; beyond the reach of 
any influence I can exert for my country s good. A few short 
weeks will determine this. And believe me, dearest, should 
my sad forebodings be realized, and I can find an honorable 
way in which to retire from a service in which my usefulness 
is questionable, I shall do so. I write this not from anything 
that has occurred between the General and me, for let me 
assure you, he was never more kind and mindful of me than 
now. I had a long talk with him on the subject of General 
Wilson s letter, as we came from Nashville, and he agrees with 
me in every particular . . . 

I talked to him upon the importance of an able and accom 
plished corps of staff officers, should he be the recipient of the 
high honor in connection with which his name is mentioned, 
namely, the Lieutenant-Generalcy, and before we get to Wash 
ington I shall assure him of my readiness to withdraw from 
his staff in order to enable him to fill my place with an educated 



APPENDIX 401 

and finished soldier. As Lieutenant-General he will be the 
first in military position in the United States, and my military 
education is not such as to fit me for his chief of staff, hence 
it becomes me to withdraw and allow one who is fitted for it 
to take the place. True, were I vain enough I might claim to 
retain the place, for I have been with him throughout his thus 
far brilliant career ; have been his stay and support in his darkest 
hours, and never I trust his injudicious friend. I have shared 
with him the hardships of the camp, borne with him the fatigues 
of the march, and braved with him the dangers of battle from 
the bloody plain of Belmont to the crimson fields of Chatta 
nooga. In all, to the best of my ability, I have served my 
country and him ; and trust my beloved wife and children will 
never blush at the mention of my name. But I grow dizzy in 
looking from the eminence he has attained and tremble at the 
great responsibility about to devolve upon him. 

We leave here in the morning by boat for Cincinnati. . . . 
Do not forget me in your prayers, but forget me rather than 
the cause of my country to which I have given the best years 
of my life. . . . 

OHIO RIVER, 4 p. M., March 6, 1864 . . . We shall reach 
Cincinnati between this and to-morrow morning, in time for 
the cars, and shall go direct to Washington. Colonel Corn- 
stock joined us at Louisville, very much elated at having been 
ordered to go with the General, and he credits me fully as having 
had the General make the order. 

I hope by the time you get this you will have had a nice 
horse back ride, and that as a gallant, in the absence of your 
husband, you will have found Colonel Bowers the excellent 
gentleman I said he was when I put you in his charge. . . . 

General Grant is getting on very quietly and I have hopes 
he will get on to Washington without a great deal of parade, 
which is more than I thought yesterday evening. 

General William F. Smith and wife are with us. She is 
feeling terribly over the loss of her child. Coming through 
Louisville seemed to have revived or opened anew the wounds 
of her heart. How I sympathize with them in their severe af 
fliction. 

BALTIMORE, MD., March 8, 1864. . . . We arrived here at 
12 M. to-day, and leave at 3.15 P. M. for Washington. I shall 



402 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

be heartily glad when we reach our destination, although I 
cannot say I have had an unpleasant trip, for to me, the hearty 
and enthusiastic manner in which the people, ladies, gentlemen 
and children, all greet the General is truly gratifying, knowing 
as I da how he has triumphed over those who were his enemies. 
Heaven has blessed him with a disposition of self-satisfaction, 
that takes from these demonstrations of the people that annoy 
ance I am sure that they would be to me, unless I were engaged 
in politics. Among other of Heaven s blessings to him, he can 
not make a speech. If he could the temptation would be so 
great, he could not resist, and yielding, unless he far transcended 
in politics and merit all others who have tried the dangerous 
experiment, he would surely say that which would be construed 
to his injury. 

The General received a despatch from General Halleck in 
forming him that his commission as Lieutenant General had 
been made out and signed and would be delivered to him on 
his arrival at the War Department. General Halleck congratu 
lates him on his well merited promotion and evinces in his 
congratulations the warmest sincerity. 

I spoke to the General on the subject of his staff to-day 
again, and told him frankly I desired it organized without regard 
to me, that I feared my health at any rate would require me 
to leave the service, that should I get no better when warm 
weather comes, I should have a respite to enable me to recover. 
So of course that ended further talk. No man perhaps in the 
country is so great a friend to me, and to feel that I have this 
friendship is a great satisfaction. 

We should have been in Washington before this time, but 
for the fact of falling behind time at Harrisburg, and having 
to come from there on the accommodation train. I hope to 
return to Nashville very soon. What may be the General s 
orders, however, we cannot yet divine. Should they be such 
as to detain him East, I shall have to remain with him. In that 
case I very much desire your return to our Western home. . . . 

WASHINGTON, D. C, March 9, 1864. . . . We arrived here 
yesterday evening, called at General Halleck s office, found he 
had gone, proceeded to his residence on Georgetown Heights ; 
he was not there; returned to the President s house where a 
grand levee was being held, and oh what enthusiasm prevailed. 



APPENDIX 403 

The General was certainly, last night, more than President in 
the hearts of the immense concourse of ladies attending the 
White House. It would have filled Mrs. Grant with delight. 
After the Levee, we visited the Secretary of War. 

To-day the General received and accepted his commission as 
Lieutenant General in the army of the United States. He talks 
of going out to visit the army of the Potomac to-morrow, but 
whether he will or not I am unable to say. I am doing all 
I can to get him away from here. To-night he dines with Mr. 
Seward, Secretary of State. I shall accompany him though 
it is not my pleasure to do so. You know where I am wine is 
not drunk by those with whom I have any influence. Were 
it otherwise I should consult my pleasure. The new order 
of things will necessitate breaking up our little home at Nash 
ville, but not, I trust, before I see you again. . . . 

WASHINGTON, D. C., March 22, 1864. . . . We arrived here, 
all but General Grant, Mrs. Grant and Captain Leet, this evening. 
The General and Mrs. Grant went by Philadelphia, to enable Mrs. 
Grant to make some additions to her wardrobe. Captain Leet 
stayed over at Pittsburg to see Mrs. Leet. Notwithstanding two 
nights ride in the cars, I feel much better than when I kissed 
you good night at Cincinnati. The General and Mrs. Grant 
seem more attentive to me than ever before. I cannot tell the 
reason why unless it was that they thought my recent separa 
tion from you entitled me to sympathy. I certainly feel very 
kindly to them for their marked interest in my welfare. Be 
assured, there is nothing the General can do for me but he 
will do. I have great hopes of being able to withstand the 
coming campaign and not be compelled to take a leave of 
absence. To be present at the battle that must decide the fate 
of Richmond, and that battle a successful one too, would be 
the height of my ambition. . . . 

We will go forward without delay to Culpepper Court House, 
where headquarters of the armies will be established for the 
present, and I am pleased to know, we shall have a house in 
which I can have a room, and thereby be relieved from going 
into a tent which I so much feared because of my health. . . . 

WASHINGTON, D. C., March 23, 1864. To-day the General 
has been in consultation with the Secretary of War and the 
President. I know of no plans agreed upon by them as to the 



404 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

coming campaign, but suppose all will be left to the General. 
An order for the reorganization of the Army of the Potomac, 
by breaking up the First and Third Army Corps and attaching 
the troops composing them to other corps, has been issued by 
the War Department. With this order I am not wholly pleased. 
I fear it may be the cause of hard feeling in the corps broken 
up, for it is but natural that these corps should be proud of 
their former history, and desire to maintain their organization 
rather than to be attached to any they have sought to rival 
in the race of glory. I may be mistaken and I trust I am. 

General Grant, Comstock and myself go out to the Army 
of the Potomac in the morning, and will not return here again, 
so far as headquarters are concerned. I hope our former suc 
cess in the West will be with us here. . . . 

I send you a paper containing a biographical sketch of General 
Grant. It was written by a personal friend of mine, Mr. J. N. 
Morris of Illinois, formerly a member of Congress. He is 
in favor of the General for the Presidency. So am I, if we 
win here, but this is confidential. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., March 24, 1864. . . . From the ad 
dress of this you see we have arrived at our destination and oh 
how glad I am. We have a very nice house for headquarters. 
One room for an office, one for the General and one for myself. 
My room contains a nice feather-bed and fireplace, and looks 
delightfully comfortable. . . . 

March 25, 1864. . . . To-day has been unusually stormy; we 
have had both at once and also in turns rain and snow. I have 
not ventured out, but in the resolve to regain my health, have 
remained quietly in doors, and shall continue to so remain ex 
cept when the weather is favorable to my going out, unless the 
necessity for doing otherwise shall be very great. 

General Grant is fully installed in his new command of all 
the armies of the United States, and from the ring of his orders 
and the attention he is giving to the concentration of his forces 
at points where they may be available for cooperative action, I 
have greater hopes than ever for the triumph of our arms in the 
coming campaign. The order breaking up two of the army corps 
of this army and attaching them to others, I spoke of in my let 
ter of the 23rd, seems to be as satisfactorily received as could 
be expected, and will, I have great hopes, strengthen the army 



APPENDIX 405 

very considerably. Three corps, of which this army is now 
composed, will be more easily handled than five. The danger of 
making the change was, as I mentioned, in the dissatisfaction it 
might produce. Such danger is not now apprehended. General 
Meade was here to-day. He is delighted with General Grant s 
establishing his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac. 

He believes in the ability of his army to cope successfully with 
that of Lee, and this is the proper spirit for the attainment of 
the desired end, namely, victory and Richmond. With the feel 
ing of confidence this produces, this entire army and the dis 
positions of other troops which I am sure General Grant can and 
will make, I have the highest hopes of success and that too "ere 
many moons wax and wane/ 

Our horses and baggage will arrive to-morrow afternoon. 
They are now at Washington. No review of the troops has yet 
taken place, nor will one take place. The General will see them in 
line simply, in front of or near their corps encampments. This 
will be far better than a grand parade and review, too many of 
which have already been had on the crimson soil of Virginia. 
We are here to try for the successes that were ours to enjoy in 
the West, and if the same Good Providence that gave us vic 
tories there, does not frown upon us here, the country will soon 
witness the dawning of the Day of Peace. . . . 

March 26, 1864. . . . To-day has been cloudy, with high 
winds. The snow has entirely disappeared, except from the 
slopes of the Blue Ridge, which strange to say is plainly visible 
from here though twenty miles distant. Unless more rain or 
snow falls the roads here will soon be in good condition. I feel 
much better of my cough and when I see you again I hope to be 
entirely recovered from it. Nothing new here. No information 
comes from the enemy s lines to break the dull monotony that 
seems to prevail throughout this entire army. It is greatly dif 
ferent I assure you from what it was out West. There we were 
always getting some information that kept up an excitement and 
made it seem that we were doing something. I trust, however, 
that this monotony will soon be broken by the movement of the 
unbroken columns of this splendidly equipped and well fed army 
of veterans against the famed Army of Northern Virginia. For if 
it fights as it feels, success must attend its next advance towards 
Richmond. Every day gives me hope of triumph to our country 



406 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

in the impending conflict. One decisive victory here will go far 
towards the consummation of the Patriot s hope. 

The General goes in the morning to Washington but will re 
turn the next day and the talk is now that on Wednesday of the 
coming week, he and I will visit the army of General Butler. 
Colonel Bowers and all the members of the staff except Colonel 
Duff and Captain Badeau have arrived. Our horses and bag 
gage came through safely. Mrs. Grant was to visit the White 
House to-day. Captain Badeau, who is familiar with Washing 
ton society and manners, remained to accompany her. I have 
no doubt she will be greatly delighted. I send you enclosed a 
photograph of Colonel T. S. Bowers, with his autograph. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., March 27, 1864. Yesterday Mrs. 
Grant called upon Mrs. Lincoln accompanied by Colonels Badeau 
and Duff of General Grant s staff. She was received with great 
cordiality. Her stay was short and in this manifestation of good 
sense Colonel Badeau says she will without doubt make friends 
in Washington. Her inexperience is excusable in her simplicity 
of manner. In this she is not dissimilarly situated from her il 
lustrious husband . . . He will be back to-morrow. 

By the way as I have seen it alluded to though incorrectly in 
some of the papers, that "U. S." are not the real initials of Gen 
eral Grant s name. In order to put you in possession of the 
facts, I will tell you his original Christian name and how it came 
to be changed to what it is now. He was christened "Hiram 
Ulysses," and by that name he was recognized and known until 
his appointment to West Point. He was, however, usually called 
Ulysses and had a brother named Simpson, hence when his 
father made application to the Honorable Mr. Hamer, representa 
tive in Congress, from the district in which the family then re 
sided, he simply asked Mr. Hamer to have his son Ulysses ap 
pointed to West Point. Mr. Hamer being somewhat acquainted 
with the family, got the names of the General and his brother 
Simpson confused, and gave in the name of his appointee as 
Ulysses S. Grant, which the General on going to West Point 
sought to get corrected, but for some cause his application for 
the correction of the name was not attended to and he graduated 
and received his commission as Ulysses S. Grant. By that name 
and the initials U. S. he has ever since been known and called. 
Thus you have what few persons know, the correct version of 



APPENDIX 407 

the change of the General s Christian name. This is in no man 
ner whatever confidential, and you are at liberty to speak of it 
when and where you think it of interest to your company ... I 
had the General night before last give me the statement in detail, 
as I have here written it to you . . . 

I am still improving; have a good appetite, and a sound sleep 
every afternoon. I don t know what it is makes me sleepy, but 
sleepy I am. Every afternoon, immediately after dinner I get 
so sleepy I can hardly keep awake if I would, and as the doctor 
says it is a good sign in my case, and that sleep will do me good, 
I yield most cheerfully to the soothing invitation. I begin to feel 
my real self, more than ever since you became acquainted with 
me. My hopes and purposes of life are higher and brighter than 
ever before, and why should they not be? . . . 

March 28, 1864. . . . To-day has been mild and cloudy, threat 
ening rain. Everything is quiet along our lines, but in our camps 
is a burning desire for something to be done which will break 
the monotony prevailing in this vicinity, and the only fear I 
entertain is that the General s restlessness, and the spirit animat 
ing the troops will make him commence operations before he is 
sufficiently prepared. You know, / believe more in the infalli 
bility of numbers than in the infallibility of generals, no matter 
how great their reputation. 

Everything we hold dear as patriots and pride ourselves in as 
Americans, is staked more certainly upon the impending cam 
paign than upon any which has preceded it. We are close upon 
the beginning of the fourth year of the war and notwithstanding 
all our successes in the West and South, our National Capital 
is still beleaguered by a formidable and unbroken army of the 
enemy. Unless this army of foes is defeated and broken, and 
our Capital relieved of its fierce frowns, we cannot hope that the 
recognition of the rebel government will be much longer post 
poned by European Governments, a recognition which while it 
would not necessarily precipitate us into a war with the powers 
making it, would tend to raise the hopes of our enemy. And 
worst of all, it would tend much towards the further prostration 
of our national finances. In this view of the case no steps should 
be taken that would in the least possible way promise anything 
less than certain success. 

I believe a victory, great and decisive, is within our grasp 



408 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

that we have men enough which may be spared from other 
points, to be brought here, to increase our numbers to so far be 
yond those of the enemy, do all he can, as to ensure victory. In 
other words, we may in this manner "organize victory," and this 
is the only way to organize it. 

General Grant returned this afternoon from Washington much 
disgusted with the news from General Banks, who was to have 
been at Alexandria on the Red River by the i/th instant, but 
instead of being there was on the i8th instant still at New Or 
leans, while the forces from Sherman had promptly reached 
Alexandria in pursuance of orders, but will have to wait there 
for weeks for the tardy and I might say immovable Banks. This 
delay of his may delay greatly our spring operations. 

This proves to me that politicians cannot be soldiers and en 
trusted with great and responsible commands. It may, however, 
be providential, for it opens the General s eyes to the character 
of men he has to command, and fixes in a measure the limit to 
which he may trust them. Thank God there are generals whom 
he knows and can trust implicitly to carry out his orders, and 
that promptly. . . . 

March 29, 1905. . . . To-morrow the General goes to General 
Butler s Department. Colonel Comstock and I will accompany 
him. This may possibly prevent my writing to you for two 
days. . . . 

March 30, 1864. . . . Did not get off to Butler s Department, 
but will go to-morrow . . . Everything here still and quiet. De 
serters from Lee s army say there is a rumor in their camps that 
General Lee said recently that the Army of the Potomac has 
been long enough at Culpepper and that he intended to start it 
from there soon. They keep rations constantly on hand for a 
march, but whether he designs to attack us here or simply to be 
in readiness, should we move to attack him, is not known. Prob 
ably the latter. . . . 

I send herewith the answer to the letter I sent General Grant 
in rear of Vicksburg, which you will please take special pains 
to preserve. . . - 1 

FORT MONROE, VA., April 2, 1864. . . . We arrived here yes 
terday about 9 A. M. The General transacted his business with 

1 This letter has not been found, and no member of the Rawlins family 
knows what became of it. 



APPENDIX 409 

Major General Butler; reviewed some of the colored troops 
camped near by ; visited the ruins of Hampton ; ran down to 
Norfolk, but the rain setting in just as we reached the landing 
prevented our going ashore. We returned here with the inten 
tion of leaving for Washington at 12 o clock last night, but the 
increased violence of the storm rendered the navigation of the 
bay, with the class of steamers to which ours belongs, so danger 
ous that the Captain did not venture out, and we are still here, 
and the storm still raging. When it will cease I know not, but of 
course like everything else, and all the storms of this world, will 
end some time. 

Had my wishes governed, instead of reviewing troops, visiting 
ruins, or running down to Norfolk, I should, when through with 
the conference with General Butler, have gone back to Wash 
ington. As it is, we may be here for two days yet. This much 
for having one s wife with him. If Mrs. Grant had remained 
in Washington, we would not have mixed with this trip any 
curiosity or pleasure not strictly in the line of duty. It is true, 
had not this storm arose no time would have been lost, nor do I 
imagine the public interests will suffer as it is. Still, I like of 
all things, to see every one at his post. I am sure my dearest 
wife will never desire to be with me when it might, by any pos 
sibility, seem to influence my judgment in what I should do in 
the line of duty unless that influence is to hasten me in its per 
formance. When a man s wife is with him he can t help bending 
a little to the desire of pleasing her, even against her protesta 
tions . . . 

General W. F. Smith is assigned to duty in this Department 
and will have a very large command when the spring campaign 
opens. This is a place of great interest, Fortress Monroe being 
second to no place in the United States in point of importance 
or strength, and was to the officers of the old army prior to the 
rebellion, a sort of paradise, in which they all sought to be or 
dered on duty. It is in this respect, however, greatly changed 
and the fine and elegantly furnished officers quarters are oc 
cupied by the volunteers who have leaped ahead of them in rank, 
and in many instances, in the race of glory. In this I mean no 
disparagement to them for no more loyal or devoted men can be 
found anywhere than can be found among the regular officers 
a loyalty a devotion, which the advantages of a military education 
at West Point has enabled them to render signal service in this 



410 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

our day of severest trial. I am one who admires the men of the 
old army, who have stood firm, and not one of those who would 
malign them. 

Mrs. Grant is accompanied by Mrs. General Robinson and an 
other lady whose name I do not remember. General Robinson, 
Mr. Washburne and Colonel Comstock are also along. All are 
tired and praying for the abatement of the storm, notwithstand 
ing the courtesy of General and Mrs. Butler to every one. I hope 
we shall be able to start back between this and to-morrow morn 
ing so as to reach Culpepper by Monday s train. . . . 

WASHINGTON, D. C., April 4, 1864. . . . We have this mo 
ment returned from Fortress Monroe and go directly forward 
to Culpepper . . . 

I see by the papers a large number of confirmations of briga 
dier generals and among them several General Grant has recom 
mended. My name is not in the published list and I begin to think 
there is a probability that I will not be confirmed. I cannot say 
I should seriously regret this were it not on your account. If I 
am not confirmed you will have to give up all hope of going home 
this summer, and make up your mind to a more plain and eco 
nomical life than you would perhaps otherwise lead ... I shall 
find out soon my true status in this matter of confirmation, and 
have mentioned the subject here only that you might be pre 
pared for whatever may be in store for us. ... 

WASHINGTON, April 4, 1864. ... I have written you before 
to-day and mentioned in my letter doubts of my confirmation, 
which doubts still exist in my mind, but knowing your desire to 
see and hear everything good of me, in the opinions of my 
friends I send you a letter from the Honorable E. B. Wash 
burne to me, and a copy of one written by General Grant to the 
Honorable H. Wilson, Chairman of the Senate Military Com 
mittee. These letters were both written without request on my 
part. The former shows friendship for me personally, I cannot 
fail to appreciate, and the latter a confidence in me I scarcely 
could have hoped for. This letter of General Grant s you may 
copy in your own hand and send to your parents if you wish. 
Preserve the copy with care, however, for our children. A 
higher testimonial I would not, could not have. I will add that the 
Secretary of War says I must be confirmed. The only question is, 
I am a staff officer, which he says must not be made an objection in 



APPENDIX 

my case . . . The General Wilson mentioned in Mr. Washburne s 
letter is Senator Wilson and not our General Wilson. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 5, 1864. ... It has rained 
throughout the entire day. The last four days have been days of 
storm. The only consolation to be drawn from it, is perhaps 
that while such weather continues the weeds of mourning are 
kept from beneath the roof of many homes, whence the inmates 
look out hopefully towards the camps of contending armies for 
the return of sons, husbands and fathers, who after the conflict 
has closed, will be looked for on earth no more. Oh, that the 
wisdom of angels governed in the affairs of men, we then should 
never have been called upon to experience the horrors and suf 
ferings we have in the last three years. When the struggle will 
cease and Peace, now affrighted, come back and hover with gentle 
wings and sweetness of spirit over our beautiful land, he who 
holds the destiny of nations in his hands alone knoweth . . . 

It is the love of liberty and the affection for the work of our 
fathers, in securing it to us, and the admiration of their achieve 
ments on the battle field, that bids us struggle on hopefully for 
its maintenance. If we suffer now they suffered then. Through 
their suffering was purchased for a few generations of their 
descendants, peace, prosperity and the privileges of free men. 
By our sufferings we hope to perpetuate these blessings, "down 
to the latest syllable of recorded time." 

I have been thinking if I might not make it interesting to you 
by writing a series of letters, commencing back with my first 
recollections and earliest impressions of life and following them 
up to the present time, if time can be had to pursue the same to 
this point. This narrative should contain all that made decided 
and lasting impressions on my mind ; my boy loves, and first in 
stinctive (as it were) but ever unspoken impressions of slavery, 
how these impressions were smothered, in my heart, and made 
subordinate to what I conceived and still conceive to be the true 
construction of our constitution. Say, do you think you would 
like me to begin writing you as indicated? Of course I should 
continue to send you the current news of the day, and still assure 
you and reassure you of my love. 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 6, 1864. . . . The only clear day 
for some time. I have hopes that the weather will continue so un- 



412 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

til the roads become fitted for campaigning, and that they then con 
tinue in such condition until we try title with Lee, for Richmond. 
Richmond ours, and all will be well. Nothing after the defeat 
of Lee and the capture of Richmond by our armies can success 
fully make head against our onward sweep through the remain 
ing states in rebellion. 

Nothing of any interest or worthy of note to-day. Troops are 
slowly but constantly coming to the front from furlough, grad 
ually swelling our ranks and increasing our strength for the 
coming conflict. Oh, that we may be as successful in this new 
field as in the West. 

And I must say that everything looks more favorable to suc 
cess in the coming campaign than it did at Chattanooga. From 
the most deplorable condition of affairs, we came out most glori 
ously there. With everything looking so favorable here and the 
General exerting, as he is, his whole powers, with the immense 
means he has at his command too, I cannot but hope strongly 
that all will end well. 

The greatest fear now is that General Banks may be tardy in 
his movements. But the glory that can be secured to him only 
by activity on his part, and the rich prize held out to him in the 
orders sent him, I trust will spur him on. 

The General has made up his staff and sends forward their 
names to-morrow to be published in orders for the War Depart 
ment. I have a little anxiety to know whether they will announce 
me as chief of staff as the General has requested they should. 
My anxiety is caused by the position to which General Halleck is 
assigned. But I have very little doubt that the General s wishes 
will be complied with. I have thought it possible my confirma 
tion was secretly opposed by some friends of General Halleck 
through the very plausible objection that I am already a staff 
officer. Certainly "two chiefs of staff" to one general is beyond 
all that precedent has established in this war. 

But I suppose I do General Halleck injustice by the thought. 
He has done so much for his country notwithstanding some fail 
ures, and the abuse of the press, that his fame is secure, and 
nothing can be added to it by his being on the staff of one so 
recently his subordinate, unless one were ungenerous enough to 
suppose that he might desire the position with a view to sharing 
with the General any honors that may be hereafter won, if won 
they are. 



APPENDIX 413 

To-day is the second anniversary of the first day s fight at 
Shiloh. At this hour, 10.30 o clock p. M., I was sleeping in a field 
hospital with the dead and terribly wounded. Into this hospital I 
had managed to escape from the most terrible of storms, after 
having become thoroughly saturated with the falling flood. Yet 
I went to sleep that night notwithstanding the fierceness of that 
day s terrible conflict, full of the hope of a glorious victory on 
the morrow. I realized the fullest consummation of that hope 
on the afternoon of the next day when the enemy beaten at all 
points retreated towards Corinth, and had General Buell and his 
officers concurred with General Grant in the propriety of pursuit 
that day, the memorable siege of Corinth had never found a 
place in history. 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 8, 1864. . . . With General Grant 
and several members of his staff, I visited Cedar Run Mountain, 
twelve miles distant from here. On the way there, at Mitchell s 
Station, the General reviewed Leonard s brigade of General Rob 
inson s Division, 5th Corps, and was greatly pleased with it. 
Cedar Run Mountain was made historic as the scene of the battle 
fought by our forces under General Banks of General Pope s 
army and the Confederates under General Stonewall Jackson, 
in the summer of 1862. The view from the mountains is among 
the finest I have ever seen and in times of peace I have no doubt 
would afford one the liveliest pleasure. It rises from the Valley 
of Virginia and from its summit in any direction you may turn 
the eye, it is met by once finely improved plantations and forests 
which stretch off till they meet the highlands that seem to almost 
surround it. These plantations are now despoiled of fencing and 
everything of value that industry of man had added. No hus 
bandman ploughed the fields, except beyond the Rapidan where a 
few spots of cultivated land are discernible. The enemy s camps, 
one division, are plainly visible, but the river separates our 
pickets from theirs. I have seen the enemy s camps be 
fore this and from other points of view, and in every instance 
heretofore have been with the advance of the triumphant columns 
that entered them, and my heart s prayer is that the same for 
tune, perhaps I should say kind Providence which has attended 
us heretofore will still be with us and that before many weeks 
have passed it will be safe for one of our army to pass through 
the ground where now are picketed the tents of treason. . . . 



414 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 9, 1864. . . . Rain. The ride of 
yesterday was too much for me and has excited my cough. 

Read the Sermon on the Mount "the Lord s prayer lifted the 
gloom from my soul." 

To-day s information is that Lee has but thirty-five thousand 
infantry in our front, with 15,000 more at Lynchburg under 
Longstreet, or 50,000 in all, exclusive of cavalry and artillery. 
The rebel conscription has brought but few men to their ranks. 

I am of the opinion that Lee s force is much larger than is 
stated above, but this statement does not vary much from the 
estimate made by Generals Meade and Butler. 

Enclosed I send you what I had written Enos Ripley in De 
cember, 1862, from Oxford, Miss. It is hurriedly written but 
gives my impression of affairs at the time. It was never finished 
or sent, but please preserve it, for it may some time be of benefit 
to me 2 . . . I send you also a general order issued by General 
McPherson. You will see the point of interest in it; also the 
order from the adjutant general s office announcing General 
Grant s staff, in which you will not fail to see my name. I sent 
you the other day for preservation, without note or comment, a 
copy of a letter written by me to Hon. E. B. Washburne from 
the rear of Vicksburg, also General Grant s original order to his 
troops after the battle of Port Gibson. 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April n, 1864. ... I did not write 
yesterday because the bridges over Bull Run and Cedar Run 
were carried away and the mails delayed. 

... I found finally the note from General Wilson accompany 
ing the present which the General and staff sent to you, and will 
at once draft the reply you desire . . . 

It is refreshing to read letters from officers like Sherman in 
reference to their preparations for the coming campaign. He 
writes so cheerfully, so full of hope of success that it makes one 
feel that all must be well. You know my high opinion of him. 
He is one of the first men of this or any country. In all the 
points of character as soldier or statesman, he has among our 
military men no superior. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 13, 1864. ... I have not been 
well to-day, owing to the large doses of medicine I have taken 
for my cough . . . The quantity of opium has affected my whole 

2 Not found. 



APPENDIX 415 

system inasmuch as to produce a sensation of numbness and 
drowsiness and given me a bad headache. I have slept the whole 
day as it were, and feel considerably better now, but am most 
miserable. I have seen the doctor and he directs me to diminish 
the dose. 

General Wilson is here. He has been assigned to the com 
mand of a cavalry division in the Army of the Potomac. I hope 
it may secure his confirmation. As for my own, I have little 
hope. The Senate is holding it over until the papers of another 
staff officer, General Ingalls, are examined. If his are all right, 
mine may possibly go through. If not, his will be passed over 
ostensibly because of his being a staff officer, but really because 
his accounts are wrong, and mine will meet the same fate. 

This is a beautiful story, that the Senate of the United States 
will make the confirmation of any officer depend upon the char 
acter of another. It is all idle talk. I will not be confirmed 
simply because there are such officers as Kilby Smith for whom 
places must be kept. He has been confirmed of course. I did 
not seek my appointment nor have I asked any living man to 
try to influence my confirmation. All who know me are aware of 
my devotion to my country. The only poignant grief that pierces 
my heart is the effect a failure of my confirmation may have 
upon your mind. If I go out of the service it is to strike hands 
with poverty and wrestle with existence. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 13, 1864. What I wrote yes 
terday of my confirmation is perhaps true, but the declared rea 
sons, from a subsequent conversation with General Wilson, I am 
satisfied are not the correct ones . . . The investigation will af 
fect only the officer named as the subject of it. They have passed 
over the confirmation of other staff appointments for the present, 
simply to enable them to get through the investigation of this 
case in quiet ... I see nothing wrong in this at all. As I 
wrote, however, it is more on your account than my own that I 
should feel badly. 

The General will be back from Annapolis to-morrow. This 
will finish up his visits to points of rendezvous for the troops, 
until he has tried with Lee the merits of their respective armies. 
You see, I have no doubt, much in the newspapers as to the plan 
of coming campaigns. For these of course we care little, but 
you know my opinion of General William F. Smith, who has 



416 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

altogether a different plan from that of the General, and feels 
very badly that Grant don t fall into his views . . . We have not 
communicated his plans to either General Wilson or General 
Smith. Of one thing the country can be assured, the General 
does not. mean to scatter his army and have it whipped in detail. 
No such calamity as this will happen to us, I am certain. If I 
have ever been of signal service to General Grant, it has been 
in my constant, firm advocacy of massing large forces against 
small ones, in other words, of always having the advantage of 
numbers on our side. Such is the General s notion of battles. . . . 

He wrote from Culpepper C. H., April 14, 1864, as fol 
lows: 

. . . Spring seems really to be here, but it has brought with it 
no ploughman to "turn the glebe afield." All is barrenness 
and desolation. The houses of the happy people who once en 
joyed their possessions here, stand solitary and alone. No 
fences surround them to turn aside the horseman from his path 
of pleasure or of war. How blessed are the people of the 
North compared to these. Of this you have had personal experi 
ence. Would to God that the lessons war teaches a people whom 
it visits could be truly appreciated by those who have not seen 
its footprints on their own farms. They could then better 
understand what we are fighting for, and would with greater 
alacrity rally to the support and maintenance of the Govern 
ment left them by Washington and his compeers. 

Be assured, I am not one of earth s gloomy children, look 
ing ever to the dark clouds. I am among the most hopeful. 
When a boy none pictured life more fair and full of pleasure, 
none looked forward to hope for happiness, with more eager 
ness or boyish glee, than I. In all this I have not changed. 
The pleasures of home and the happiness to be found in the 
bosom of my family alone I estimate above all earthly 
goods. . . . 

Enclosed I send you the telegraphic despatch from the Hon 
orable E. B. Washburne, informing me of my confirmation by 
the Senate. It is just received, and I have no doubt will make 
your heart glad. I assure you it pleases me, for while I never 
sought the rank, yet after having had it conferred upon me by 
appointment, I should have felt badly if I had been rejected 
by the Senate, especially when I have striven with whatever 



APPENDIX 417 

ability I possess to serve my country. You can see in all this 
Mr. Washburne s warm friendship for me. Enclosed also I 
hand you two letters from him to me, one dated December 2ist, 
1861, in reference to General Grant, and one written January 
6th, 1862, in reply to mine answering his of December 2ist. 3 
My letter was a detailed statement on the subject to which his 
alludes. These letters you will not fail to preserve. ... I con 
fide in you everything. The General is still in Washington, but 
telegraphs he will be here to-morrow. I am much better than 
for two or three days past, but not yet well. My appetite is 
returning, and when it is good I am generally in fair health. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 15, 1864. . . . The General 
returned this afternoon from his Annapolis visit. The rail 
road guards at one of the stations between this and Washing 
ton were attacked by a party of the enemy, whom they re 
pulsed a few minutes before the arrival of the train the Gen 
eral was on. So you see his good luck still sticks to him. I 
have not yet talked with him of the result of his visit to Burn- 
side. We have received bad news from the Mississippi Valley, 
and will continue to receive just such to cheer us, while timid 
Generals, who have been time-serving politicians, are retained 
in command. I hope soon to see such changes made as will 
give at least confidence that all will be done that can be with 
the forces given to keep matters quiet on the Mississippi River. 
I am not one of those who think it probable that we will be 
able to give perfect peace along the banks of that great river 
until we have entirely defeated the rebel armies elsewhere. . . . 

General Grant s official report of Chattanooga is being pub 
lished all over the country, and is receiving the most favorable 
notice in all the leading papers. You know I told you it would 
do much for his reputation. And you know, too, the manner 
in which I labored for weeks with Bowers on that report to 
make it show the real truths, the plans and conceptions which 
matured into the splendid victory of Chattanooga. . . . En 
closed I send you what the New York Times says of it. The 
General fully appreciates the services of Bowers and myself 
in this matter. He writes his own reports, but they need a 
great deal of comparing with orders and much rearranging to 
make them the complete reports that are shown in his reports 

3 These letters have not been found. 



4i8 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

of Vicksburg and Chattanooga. Few men write with greater 
terseness that which fills their minds than Grant. . . . 

April 16, 1864. ... I have been very busy, so much so that 
up to this hour, 10 p. M., I have just found a moment to write 
to yotr, and while I write Colonel Bowers is waiting for my 
assistance in fixing up General Grant s old report of the battle 
of Belmont, Mo., for his new record book, and I have no idea 
of getting to bed before one or two A. M. You see I am never 
where work is not referred to me. Among the letters I wrote 
to-day was an official letter to General Butler on the subject 
of the exchange of prisoners. It requires a full acknowledg 
ment of the validity of the Vicksburg and Port Hudson paroles, 
and a release to us of a number of officers and men equal to 
those we captured and paroled at those places, before another one 
of theirs will be exchanged, and also exacts the same treatment 
for colored soldiers while prisoners and the same conditions 
in their exchange and release as for white soldiers. I wrote 
this document with great care, I assure you, and although it 
is plain and clear in its meaning and seems to be written with 
out labor, yet I measured it with my best judgment. I expect 
it to end further exchanges for the present. 

I am recovering from my recent very sick turn slowly, and 
hope in a few days to feel as well as I did just preceding it. ... 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 17, 1864. ... I do hope soon 
for settled weather and the commencement of active operations. 
I begin to feel that quite now is more advantageous to the 
enemy than to us. Already there are indications that Lee s 
army will be strengthened from Johnston s. One battalion and 
one regiment of regulars have already gone from the latter 
to the former. If such is the case it will be the policy of Lee 
to take the initiative and defeat this army before Sherman is 
able to move against Johnston. Unless he does this, his re- 
enforcing his army from Johnston s would only expose the 
latter to certain defeat by Sherman. At any rate I am anxious 
for a move as soon as the roads will permit it. 4 

Oh, how terribly our Government stands in its own light in 
not enforcing the conscription law. If it had done this last 
January we should now have at least 200,000 additional men 
in the field, and an army would be at General Grant s com- 

4 On the Chattanooga- Atlanta line. 



APPENDIX 419 

mand that could not be successfully opposed in any quarter. 
But why talk over these things? Plain as they are, they have 
been unheeded, and to-day we have no more force than the 
enemy is able to oppose to us, and our liberties are still left 
to be decided by the skill of contending Generals instead of 
by the great superiority of our resources in materials and 
more especially in men. God has been most merciful to us 
as a people. He has preserved us this far, in spite of our 
selves, from overthrow and utter ruin. We certainly have not 
helped ourselves as we might have done. In God therefore 
patriots must put their trust. I have great and abiding faith 
in our final triumph. I believe General Grant s plans in the 
coming campaign will win. Still it might have been put beyond 
the possibility of doubt by enforcing the draft. . . . 

My cough is still getting better and my appetite is being re 
stored. Unless I do get much better I cannot think of trying 
to remain here, for I had better quit the service than to perma 
nently injure my health. Permanent injury of my lungs would 
of course be certain death; this, however, I do not seriously 
apprehend. . . . 

April 18, 1864. . . . The General has been reviewing troops 
to-day. I did not go out with him, but shall to-morrow. 

By the latest information in the papers it would appear that 
the enemy is moving troops from Johnston s army to that of 
Lee. If so, you may expect battle here before we are prepared 
to bring it on. Yet, strong as we are, we hope to be able to 
whip the enemy whenever he chooses to attack. I would much 
prefer their waiting for us to take the initiative. There is 
always a moral strength given the attacking party that nothing 
but strong fortifications can resist. No news from our front. 
The Richmond papers have it that Macgruder has whipped 
Banks near Shreveport badly. This can hardly be so. Our 
forces, if Banks is obeying the orders sent him, should ere 
this be returning from the Red River. This would naturally 
give foundation for such a report. The fact is Banks ought 
now to be back in New Orleans, but I fear he will be tardy 
in his movements. 

I tell you I shall ever look with distrust upon any man who 
ever in the whole course of his life could conjure up the contin 
gency and give expression to it in which he would "let the Union 



420 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

slide." Such men are not the ones to trust too much to, I 
assure you. 

The surgeon was here to-day (two of them) and sounded 
my lungs thoroughly and is satisfied nothing is the matter with 
them. They say nothing ails me but the chronic bronchitis, 
which I will recover from with proper care of myself. They 
also say that I have from over-exertion greatly prostrated my 
whole physical organization and that I need rest and good 
living. They- have prescribed Codliver Oil as my principal 
medicine, and I shall follow their prescription - most faith 
fully. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 20, 1864. . . . The news is 
that Longstreet has at last reached Lee and that thirteen thou 
sand troops are on the way from Mobile to join Lee. There 
is no doubt of the truth of this information. General Banks 
has been badly defeated near Shreveport, we learn through the 
press, but no official intelligence has yet been received from 
him. The fact is, he has permitted his expedition to straggle 
in detachments up the Red River, instead of moving in mass, 
so as to be able to meet the enemy in force should he venture 
an attack. Finding him advancing in this loose and desultory 
manner, they concentrated heavily against Banks s advance, 
and severely defeated it, with a loss of 2,000 men. 

Among the killed I notice Cyrus E. Dickey, captain and 
assistant adjutant general to General Ransom. He was a brave 
and noble soldier and worth a dozen of the Banks Union Slid 
ing Generals. General Ransom, also a personal friend of mine, 
was severely wounded. I hope this blunder of Banks may 
place him where he really belongs in retirement. 

The success of our Republican institutions depends upon our 
defeating the armies of the rebellion in battle, and while the 
God of humanity and of liberty is on our side, He will not 
permit us to triumph except through honest, patriotic, unselfish 
men. Banks is in the wrong place. I pray God different for 
tune may attend him hereafter than heretofore. Much, very 
much, depends upon the faithful execution of the orders en 
trusted to him in the coming campaign. May he lose sight of 
self and for once become imbued with the true spirit that ever 
insures success. Up to this time he seemed to have studied how 
to make his Government responsible for his failures, and he 



APPENDIX 421 

certainly reads military instructions with a view to giving them 
a different construction from that which their author intended. 
I measure the man aright, you can be assured. 

The enemy is reported to be massing a heavy force on our 
left near Fredericksburg, some suppose with a design to attack 
us. For my part, I do not believe he means any such purpose, 
especially in that direction. We are fast assembling a large 
army here, and perhaps ere you read what I am now penning, 
especially if it takes my letters as long to reach you as it does 
yours to reach me, a terrible battle will be fought and the cam 
paign in this quarter ended. I pray for victory to our arms ; 
I know the same prayers go up daily from your pure heart and 
that our prayers meet in Heaven far separated as we are. 
Should I meet my fate in the conflict, know, dearest, that one 
at least has fallen whose every heart s pulsation was for his 
God, his country s honor and the welfare of his dear wife and 
children. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 22, 1864. . . . We have been 
reviewing the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, General 
Hancock commanding. It was the finest display of troops I 
ever witnessed at one review, twenty-two thousand men in all, 
in one clear, open field, with their glittering arms, their banners 
(many of them battleworn) and bands of music, all conspired 
to fill one with emotions of pride that he, too, was an American 
soldier fighting for the perpetuation of the principles of civil 
and religious liberty for our Republican form of Government. 
Never on but one occasion before have I seen so many men 
at one view, and that was not on review. It was in the second 
day s fight at Chattanooga. The whole of Thomas s army, 
numbering nearly twenty-five thousand men, 5 moved upon the 
enemy s works across an open plain much like the field we 
were on to-day, but how different were my feelings from 
what they were to-day. As regiment after regiment of the 
brave men moved by I could but feel that many a one with 
proud and elastic step was marching to the end of time, the 
very farthest verge of which they had already reached, and 
such was the case. How eagerly my mind contrasted the 
pageantry, the grandeur of to-day with that of actual conflict 
at Chattanooga, and the mind would run along the lines of 

6 Probably considerably in excess of 25,000. 



422 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

the not distant future and picture these brave men amid the 
din and heat of the coming terrible conflict. How different 
will they then appear to those whom Heaven spares to see 
them. They are full of hope and confidence, and in their buoy 
ancy of spirit, their cheerful soldierly satisfaction I place the 
fullest confidence. They feel that they can whip Lee. This is 
much in our favor. I believe they can and will. Every effort 
is being made to concentrate troops from all sections here, and 
much has already been accomplished. From New York City 
alone we get three thousand men, or thereabouts, that have 
been for months virtually dead to the service. In all the North 
ern States are many troops, kept mainly that some of our major 
generals might have commands in Peace Departments com 
mensurate with their rank. These are all being gathered up 
and brought to the front. I assure you nothing is left undone 
that should be done to give us victory. Victory here is what 
would be of much service to us. The Red River expedition 
appears to have been a terrible failure. Porter has his gun 
boats, several of them far up towards Shreveport, with the 
river falling so that he is prevented by sand-bars from either 
going forward or returning, and is waiting for rain and a rise 
in the river. I feel much anxiety for him. 

You ask me if General McClellan is to have a command. He 
is not, for the present at least. You also ask me what kind of 
a general General Meade is. He is a man of real sterling 
worth, and is evidently the best general who has yet been hon 
ored with the command of this army. He is well liked by both 
men and officers, and no change is demanded by them. This 
you can rest assured is true, anything in the newspapers to the 
contrary notwithstanding. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 23, 1864. . . . Clear, dry 
weather. . . . 

Burnside s corps commenced moving up from Annapolis to 
day to join this army. The moment it arrives we will be ready 
for action. Reports from Sherman, Butler and Sigel are all 
as cheering as we could hope for under the circumstances. The 
enemy have attacked Plymouth in Butler s Department and 
been repulsed. This initiatory move of theirs will delay Butler 
somewhat in his preparations for cooperation with the move 
ments of this army. Sherman and Sigel will both be in readi- 



APPENDIX 423 

ness without doubt at the appointed time, as will, we trust, Gen 
eral Butler, notwithstanding this attack at Plymouth. In Sher 
man, Meade and Butler, General Grant has three Generals, all 
in important commands, whom he can trust. They are all three 
loyal to their country, friends of the General, and consequently 
with no ambitions to be gratified that look not to the success 
of our arms in obedience to and in accordance with his orders 
and plans. 

General Sigel shows a fine disposition, and I have great hopes 
that he is a much better officer than General Pope gave him 
credit for being. He is active in his preparations for the part 
he is to perform in the coming campaign, is subordinate as far 
as I am able to judge, and has unquestionably the interest of 
the country at heart. 

As yet no official report has been received from General 
Banks. General Grant has discharged his duty faithfully in 
this matter by suggestions to the President that Banks be re 
lieved by General J. J. Reynolds in the command of the Gulf 
Department. What the President will do we don t as yet know. 
General Banks may be, and I have no doubt is, a splendid man 
on presentations, but certainly as a soldier he is a failure. The 
men under his command are to all intents and purposes dead 
to the service. Private information would indicate that we 
have retrieved much that we had lost in the Red River affair. 
I hope this may be true. 

The Fort Pillow Massacre is one of the most brutal and hor 
rible acts of fiendishness on record. If it is true as reported, 
and the Confederate authorities endorse and approve it, I hope 
the tongue of every Northern person who would speak in jus 
tification of them or their cause may cling to the roof of their 
mouths. This might make dumb many who profess to be my 
friends, but certainly could not hush to me the sweet voice of 
the wife I love, for at such acts of cruelty and barbarism her 
noble and queenly nature will ever revolt. 

Reports from the front are that Lee is massing all his cavalry 
near Fredericksburg with a view to advance against us, which 
may be true, but I doubt it. ... 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 24, 1864. The trees are 
beginning to put forth their leaves, and the fruit trees their 
blossoms; the green grass is making its appearance, and real 



424 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

spring is upon us. I rode out for exercise this afternoon and 
could but contrast the acts of our soldiers in fencing in and 
caring for the cemetery near here, in which is buried many hun 
dreds of the enemy s dead, with the brutal massacre at Fort 
Pillow. " How full of reverence for Christianity is the contrast 
in favor of our brave but humane soldiers. The dead and those 
who are captives with our army cease to be objects against 
which they war. All that religion demands in reverence of the 
one, and all that humanity requires in kindness to the other, is 
freely and willingly given by those who fight for our Democratic 
institutions beneath the bright banner of stripes and stars. 

Enclosed I send you some lines written by Alfred B. Street 
on the presentation of war banners to the Legislature of New 
York. I think them decidedly beautiful and hope you will co 
incide with me in this opinion. I also send you by to-day s 
mail a late Richmond paper, from which we have the latest 
news from Plymouth, which is that that place was carried by 
storm on the 2Oth by the enemy, with a loss to us of full sixteen 
hundred men, besides armament, supplies, etc. This place had 
held out stubbornly, and we were in hopes all would be safe 
after they had repulsed the first assaults. This comes of the 
Government persistently urging the holding of places for politi 
cal effect on the people in the seceding States and abroad, also 
for the protection of such of the inhabitants as commit them 
selves to our side. General Butler had asked permission to 
withdraw the troops from Plymouth some time since, but the 
reasons urged, as I heard him state to General Grant, were the 
ones I have just recited. If the force was to stay at Plymouth, 
then capture will not materially affect us, for they were virtually 
dead to the service while they remained there, at any rate. I 
hope that Policy will after a while have discovered that she can 
only succeed through force of arms, and that force should be 
made as strong as possible and as compact, and be directed with 
energy against one point at a time. In this way only can we 
succeed. . . . 

April 25, 1864. . . . News of the capture of Plymouth by 
the enemy has also been officially received, and does not differ 
materially from my statement of it in yesterday s letter. I 
shall write you in a day or two the time fixed for our move 
ments here. This failure of General Banks has greatly discon- 



APPENDIX 425 

certed us, and will I fear permit the enemy to bring forward 
here or against Sherman, as they may deem best, from twenty 
to twenty-five thousand more men than they would were Banks 
at the place it was ere this intended he should have been. 

Mrs. Grant is in New York at Colonel Hilyer s. I see by 
the papers she attended the great sanitary fair in that city and 
voted for General McClellan on the sword question. Now I am 
free to say if she was required to vote at all, she voted right, 
but I do think her voting at all is decidedly bad taste, to say 
the least of it. If she desired to go to the fair she could have 
made her donation in some other manner, one less calculated to 
get her name in a paragraph of the daily newspapers. The 
General feels considerably annoyed about the matter; still, of 
course, it amounts to very little in itself. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA V April 26, 1864. General Grant s 
request to have General Banks relieved from duty in the field 
the President declines to accede to till he has heard further 
from the Red River expedition. I trust in God Banks may 
retrieve himself. My heart beats fearfully for the brave men 
he commands. Many of them I know personally. They are of 
the heroes of Vicksburg. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 27, 1864. ... A few more days 
and all will be ready for the spring campaign. General Burn- 
side s corps has reached Washington, and the head of his col 
umn arrived at Fairfax C. H., some distance this side, to-night. 
General Sherman has gone forward from Nashville to Chatta 
nooga, not to return till he has tried with Joe Johnston for the 
mastery of Georgia. Sigel is in readiness, and all of Butler s 
troops but six regiments are up. These forces will move simul 
taneously at the appointed time, which will be before you receive 
this letter unless other orders than those out are given. So 
you see we have not been idle. 

Colonel Bowers and myself finished yesterday General 
Grant s report of the battle of Belmont. It is a very creditable 
one and places that engagement in its true light for transmittal 
to posterity, so far as could be known to our side. I have long 
since learned that an action creditable in itself can be best pre 
sented in the garb of real facts. So whenever you see any 
report with which I have had anything whatever to do, depend 
upon it, the historian who accepted it as true will most certainly 



426 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

not deceive the searchers after truth. ... I entered the service 
September 12, 1861. We shall move from here in a day or 
two. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., April 28, 1864. . . . The General and 
I dined to-day with the Honorable John Minor Botts, the man 
who presents the very remarkable phenomenon of belonging to 
no Government, although living in the State where he was born. 
He is one of the most interesting men in conversation I think 
I have ever met, and at heart I am sure is a truly loyal man, 
loyal to the Government of the United States, and desires our 
success above all things. Yet he has managed to remain neutral 
throughout this struggle. I speak of him thus, however, with 
out approving his course. If a man is loyal to his government 
he should use whatever influence he possesses in aid of it. 
There is no excuse in my mind for his doing otherwise. 

Everything here progresses as well as could be hoped for. 
No news of importance from the front. I forgot to mention 
in my letter of yesterday that it was General Grant s forty-sec 
ond birthday. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., April 29, 1864. . . . Quite cold and chilly 
to-day. Rode yesterday without an overcoat, caught cold, which 
troubles me quite seriously. I am satisfied from the effect these 
rides have upon me I shall have to take a leave of absence for 
two or three months unless I get better much faster than I 
am at present. Do not now understand me to say that I am not 
better, very much better than I was when I came here. I shall, 
as I have before stated, unless I get well sooner, get leave of 
absence the moment this campaign terminates, and whether I 
spend it East or West must depend very much upon my condi 
tion then and the advice of the physician. . . . 

CULPEPPER C. H., VA., May 2, 1864. . . . Chilly with cold 
rain. 

The news from Sherman is satisfactory in defeating the 
rebel army in Georgia. Should victory light upon his eagles, 
he will avail himself of every advantage of the situation, I 
assure you. There is a confidence in the Western army of their 
ability to win that is commendable in every army, and I wish 
in my heart all our others possessed it. 

There is a habit contracted among officers of this army any- 



APPENDIX 427 

thing but praiseworthy, namely, of saying of Western successes : 
"Well, you never met Bobby Lee and his boys; it would be 
quite different if you had." And in speaking of the probabili 
ties of our success in the coming campaign : "Well, that may 
be, but, mind you, Bobby Lee is just over the Rapidan," when 
if these very same officers would but look at simple facts they 
would find that Meade since assuming command of this army 
has not only outgeneraled General Lee, but has whipped him 
badly in every considerable engagement they have fought. To 
wit, at Gettysburg compelling him to flee in haste towards Rich 
mond, and also at the crossing of the Rappahannock, where a 
division of Sedgwick s corps captured two brigades of Lee s 
army. 

It may be answered by the admirers of Lee and the defamers 
of the Union Generals that Meade fell back towards Washington 
last fall, but this was the best thing General Meade could do, 
for it enabled him to have the full benefit of the 35,000 troops 
in that garrison, in case Lee gave battle. Finding, however, 
that Lee had apparently changed his mind, Meade followed him 
with a large and concentrated force and as rapidly as possible 
to the south side of the Rapidan. Subsequently Meade crossed 
the Rapidan in his face, and drove him beyond his works at 
Mine Run, and then returned, with but little loss to his present 
position. Here Lee s admirers will interpose the inquiry: "Why 
didn t Meade fight him at Mine Run?" which may be just as 
fairly answered as it is put by saying: "Why didn t Lee fight 
Meade when he followed him to Washington?" No, the facts 
are, since Meade took command of the Army of the Potomac, 
it has beaten the Army of North Virginia in every considerable 
conflict, and truthful history will so record it. The engage 
ments have been few, but all of them have been decisive and 
the result not doubtful. I am full of hope and trust in God 
for victory. 

This evening I received a note from a lieutenant in our army 
saying there was a Miss Rawlins at Stephensburg, five miles 
distant from here, who was desirous of knowing if I was in any 
wise related to Major Owen, or Thomas, or John Rawlins of 
Missouri, and that they were all her uncles. They are also 
uncles of mine, but the two last mentioned are dead, if I remem 
ber correctly. I do not know how a cousin of mine, a lady, 
could get down here. I know my grandfather was from Vir- 



428 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ginia, but from what part I cannot state. I had supposed none 
of my uncles resided in this State. Unless she is the daughter 
of my Uncle Benjamin, who lived in Kentucky, I cannot guess 
her parentage. To-morrow if it is clear and I feel able to stand 
a ride, I shall call on her, for I know it will interest father very 
much to hear all the particulars and to learn that she is not 
suffering. I am much better to-day and am taking precious 
good care of myself. Enclosed find photograph of General 
Augur, who commanded the defences at Washington. . . . 



II 

EXTRACTS AND LETTERS 

EXTRACTS from an article contributed by S. Cadwallader to 
the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, dated Springfield, Missouri, 
February 10, 1884. 

. . . The eyes of the nation are now turned for the first time, 
in any extended sense, to the source and inspiration of General 
Grant s brilliant achievements. It has long been known to all 
the intimates of both that Rawlins was the power behind Grant, 
greater even than Grant himself. All the officers of high rank 
who had much knowledge of General Grant s headquarters life, 
or even thrown in frequent personal communication with him, 
know that I but state the truth. Not one of them but has known 
and been made to feel that in all public, military and official 
senses Grant s was a dual existence, composed of Grant-Rawlins, 
with the Rawlins element in all emergencies strongly predomi 
nating. Not one of them but learned to wait for the final de 
cision in any great event until counsel had been taken with the 
often silent and seemingly taciturn Chief of Staff. 

. . . General Rawlins s influence upon the personal habits of 
General Grant commenced within a week after his arrival at 
Cairo in August, 1861, to accept the appointment of Assistant 
Adjutant General with the rank of Captain. He found Gen 
eral Grant s office was substantially in his hat or in his pockets, 
as convenience prompted, and the camp story was but slightly 
exaggerated which asserted that half his general orders were 



APPENDIX 429 

blowing about in the sand and dirt of the streets of Cairo. All 
was soon reduced to order, and office habits, methods and forms 
enforced. He also found much roystering and drinking at 
headquarters among the staff officers and their invited guests. 
Discipline among them there was none, and as a rule but little 
deference to rank and military custom. He soon foresaw that 
if General Grant was to have any future promotion all this 
must be changed, and, having cast in his lot with him for better 
or for worse, he set about the difficult and thankless job of 
correcting their evils. 

He obtained General Grant s consent to the issuance of an 
order forbidding any open use of liquors or public drinking 
at headquarters. This was the first foundation stone upon 
which the whole superstructure of Grant s greatness was there 
after erected. Having Grant s authority for this step, given, 
perhaps, with little thought of the iron determination at its 
back, it was from that day to the end of the war mercilessly 
enforced. No one ever saw any open public drinking at Gen 
eral Grant s headquarters from that time forward. There was 
much rebellion among the staff. Many of them tried to ignore 
its provisions, but found themselves throttled by the iron hand 
of Rawlins. 

Finding themselves powerless, they next resorted to keeping 
private stores of bottkd liquors in their own tents, inviting 
their friends in there, dropping the flap of the tent and some 
times having a carouse. It was soon noticed that these officers 
lost caste, were ordered to their regiments, or in some way 
removed from headquarters. Later on it was no secret that 
any staff officer who offered the General a glass of liquor, or 
drank with him, or in any way whatever connived at his taking 
so much as a single drink, would be disgracefully dismissed and | 
actually degraded in rank as soon as it could be brought about. 
There was much indignation expressed at first against this 
arbitrary authority exercised by Captain, Major and Lieutenant 
Colonel Rawlins, as he reached these promotions, by the full 
Colonels on the staff, who claimed the prerogatives of superior 
rank. But General Grant maintained his Adjutant, and re 
spected him the more for the stand he took, because he knew it 
to be a turning point in his own life. 

It would be impossible in one communication to enumerate 
one in a hundred of the instances in which the high vantage 



430 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ground of right, first seized and occupied by Rawlins, became 
Grant s own, reluctantly at first, from which his greatest tri 
umphs were afterwards directed and secured. In the daily 
routine of business Rawlins seemed endowed with an extra 
sense. He instinctively discerned fraud and corruption, and 
kept it at a distance. No rogue ever got a chance to make him a 
dishonest proposal. In the official correspondence of the office 
he was a fine judge of the force and interpretation of language. 
A noted illustration of this occurred during the interchange of 
notes leading to Lee s surrender. The latter demanded finally 
what terms would be accorded him provided he surrendered. 
Grant promptly named them, despatched them to Lee by Gen 
eral Seth Williams, and then with his staff trained along at 
the head of Meade s column, in Lee s rear, all Saturday after 
noon, April 8, expecting their acceptance. 

He was at last obliged to stop at a deserted house for the 
night, twenty-five miles from his own headquarters train. The 
only bed in the house was upstairs, and was occupied by Grant 
and Rawlins. Late in the night a despatch was brought from 
Lee desiring Grant to meet him next morning at a designated 
place to arrange "terms of peace." Grant was elated, and pro 
posed doing so. Rawlins objected, because "terms of peace" 
not being under discussion, it was a complete change of the 
terms of the correspondence, purposely made to gain time. 
Grant contended Lee meant precisely the same thing that they 
could settle it all in fifteen minutes. But Rawlins carried his 
point, and Lee s succeeding note, sent in great haste next morn 
ing, was an unconditional acceptance. 

In planning campaigns it was a common thing for Rawlins 
to interpose many objections of major or minor importance. 
Grant would consider, for instance, that his force was now suffi 
cient. Rawlins, who always favored the utmost concentration, 
would say: 

"Well, we have possibly troops enough; but here is such a 
brigade, division or corps (naming them) that has not marched 
a mile for months. We will bring them within supporting dis 
tance," etc. 

It was always done and they were generally used. The last 
year of the war the West was stripped of troops to reenforce 
Schofield and Sherman in the Carolinas. Rosecrans complained 
that he had no force to withstand General Price, who was 



APPENDIX 431 

overrunning Missouri, and that he could not keep him out of 
St. Louis if he chose to come there. The War Department 
finally listened to the extent of calling Grant s attention to it. 
He came to Rawlins for specific information, and, upon looking 
the matter over, admitted it was scarcely fair to Rosecrans. 
Rawlins took the ground that the war had to be fought out in 
the East; that whether Price captured St. Louis or not cut no 
figure whatever in the grand drama which would be ended in 
the spring on the Southeastern seaboard. Grant yielded, and 
Rawlins kept on drawing from other departments till the end 
came. After the war Grant became involved with General 
Buell in a newspaper controversy concerning the latter s marches 
towards Shiloh. Rawlins summarily ended that. 

About the same time Grant and Sherman began an unofficial 
correspondence concerning reconstruction, as two "old cronies" 
in private life might properly do. One of Grant s habits was to 
make rough drafts of all letters of much length, and have them 
copied by a clerk, when he would sign them and leave them to 
be mailed. Rawlins had long before made a cast-iron rule that 
no scrap of correspondence should ever leave the office until it 
had passed under his personal supervision. One of Grant s 
letters was quietly pigeon-holed till inquired for. Rawlirjs 
apologized for detaining it by saying there was too much poli 
tics in it. Grant did not think it had any political significance, 
but he revised the whole letter, had it recopied when it was 
again pigeon-holed by Rawlins. This time General Grant said 
he thought he was competent to manage his own private cor 
respondence and ought to be allowed to do so. But Rawlins 
laughed him out of it, carried the point, and that particular let 
ter was never sent. 

It is safe to say that General Grant never transmitted a line 
of official correspondence, nor made an official report until Raw 
lins had examined it carefully and given it his full approval. It 
is equally certain that he never adopted the plan for a campaign, 
nor moved an army, nor changed a corps, a corps commander, 
nor any commissioned officer, without the full consent of Gen 
eral Rawlins. If for any reason Rawlins objected, the matter 
was taken under advisement, and the proposition so amended, 
modified or altered as to remove his objections, or it was wholly 
abandoned. He had such implicit faith in Rawlins s judgment 
that he distrusted his own plans if they did not also commend 



432 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

themselves to General Rawlins. His dependence upon him in 
some of these ways was marvelous. It was also the most 
touching and convincing proof of genuine esteem and affection. 
Nor was this friendship between these men one-sided. Rawlins 
gave himself absolutely to Grant s service, and the latter never 
questioned it. The combined ingenuity of all the men in the 
United States could never have disturbed their confidence in 
each other. It was never demonstrative, but formed the under 
current in both their lives. 

During the war Grant wrote no political letters, expressed no 
purely political opinions, and the country was for two or three 
years in doubt whether he was a Democrat or a Republican. 
The drafts of many such letters were made in response to re 
peated and pressing inquiries, but the persistent, unyielding 
opposition of Rawlins to any such a committal by Grant was 
always respected by the great commander. It was only when 
Rawlins s own health broke down and he made a trip to Cali 
fornia that the politicians got hold of Grant to the extent of 
putting him in training for the Presidency, to secure their own 
selfish purposes. 

Another fact but faintly understood in the past will become 
as patent as the noonday sun. The war produced no man 
who was General Rawlins s superior in strategy. He had no 
military education whatever, in the tactical sense. He could 
not have drilled a squad, perhaps, but he had the capacity to 
plan great campaigns, and could have led any of our great 
armies from victory to victory. It is too much to expect that 
the military martinets of to-day will readily concede this. Nor 
will some having assured military reputations relish the idea. 
They may even attempt some slight disparagement of Rawlins s 
great capacity. 

General Sherman is credited with pronouncing Rawlins a 
"fierce man" whereas his normal characteristic was that of the 
gentlest of men. That he was "fierce" sometimes is undeniable, 
but it was the fierceness of maternal instinct exhibited in wild 
animals that leads them to dare anything and rush to certain 
destruction in defense of those dependent upon them. When 
ever, if ever, General Sherman endangered General Grant, that 
he would be fiercely antagonized by General Rawlins goes with 
out saying to all who knew the man. 

These letters of Rawlins, given to the public by Boynton, are 



APPENDIX 433 

genuine. I know the history of each, and was an important 
factor in that of the first one. But they are only two out of 
a large trunk full of invaluable letters, papers, despatches and 
public and private documents which General Rawlins kept in 
his private bedchamber when we lived together at the head of 
Montgomery Street, Georgetown. . . . Should the present cus 
todian of these letters bring them all to light, much of the 
personal history of the late war will have to be rewritten, many 
men now esteemed great will find their reputations badly 
smirched, the stature of others will be dwarfed to more nat 
ural proportions, and the country then learn the debt of grati 
tude to one of the purest patriots, ablest military minds, and 
finest type of a heroic, self-sacrificing friend ever born on its 
soil General John Aaron Rawlins. 

Letter from John A. Rawlins to E. B. Washburne, January 
30, 1864. 

On my return from the North, I was pleased to find your 
very welcome and interesting letter of the 3Oth ult, and I hasten 
to assure you, your friendship for the General, your devotion to 
our common country and heroic manifestation of interest in the 
welfare and success of our army here, through evil as well as 
good report, in the dark of the Nation s despondency as well 
as in the light of its victories are truly and honestly appreci 
ated, and to you, more than to any one in congress, the great 
heart of this army warms with gratitude as the true represen 
tative and bold and uncompromising defender. ... So give 
yourself no concern in the matter of the Cavalry regiment you 
speak of, for the general fully understands your motives, and 
knows them to be prompted solely by a desire for the public 
service and in friendship to him. 

... I see by the papers the bill creating a lieutenant-gen- 
eralcy is still undisposed of. As far as Gen. Grant may be 
regarded in connection with it, I only say that if the conferring 
of the distinguished honor on him would be the taking him out 
of the field or with a view to the superseding of Gen. Halleck, 
he would not desire it, for he feels that if he can be of service 
to the government in any place it is in command of the army in 
the field, and there is where he would remain if made a lieuten 
ant-general; besides he has great confidence in and friendship 



434 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

for the general-in-chief and would, without regard to rank, be 
willing at all times to receive orders through him. 

The advocacy of the New York Herald and other papers of 
the general for the presidency, gives him little concern; he 
is unambitious for the honor and will voluntarily put himself 
in no position nor permit himself to be placed in one he can 
prevent that will in the slightest manner embarrass the friends 
of the government in their present grand effort to enforce its 
rightful authority and restore the Union of the states. Of his 
views in this matter I suppose he has fully acquainted you. 

The presence of Longstreet in East Tennessee is much to be 
regretted. Had Gen. "Grant s orders been energetically, and 
with a broader judgment, executed by Gen. Burnside, Long- 
street would have been forced to continue his retreat from 
Knoxville to beyond the Tennessee line. The General s official 
report will show the facts and orders and will be satisfac 
tory, I have no doubt, to the government. Our forces in the 
Holston Valley, east of Knoxville, have been compelled by 
Longstreet to fall back toward Knoxville. Whether he intends 
to again undertake the capture of that place, or simply to ex 
tend his forage ground, is not as yet known. In either design, 
he must be foiled. Gen. Grant, Gen. W. F. Smith, and myself 
go forward to-morrow to Chattanooga that the General may 
be enabled to give his personal attention to affairs in the direc 
tion of Knoxville. 

Extract of letter from U. S. Grant to E. B. Washburne, 
August 30, 1863. 

Rawlins and Maltby have been appointed brigadier-generals. 
These are richly-deserved promotions. Rawlins, especially, is no 
ordinary man. The fact is, if he had started in this war in the 
line instead of in the staff, there is every possibility he would 
be to-day one of our shining lights. As it is, he is better and 
more favorably known than probably any other officer in the 
army, who has filled only staff appointments. Whilst others 
give respectability to the position, Rawlins is in the latter class. 
My kind regards to the citizens of Galena. 

Extract of letter from U. S. Grant to A. Lincoln, July 19, 1864. 

In my opinion there ought to be an immediate call for, say 
300,000 men, to be put in the field in the shortest possible time. 



APPENDIX 435 

The presence of this number of reinforcements would save the 
annoyance of raids and would enable us to drive the enemy 
back from his present front, particularly from Richmond, with 
out attacking fortifications. 



Ill 



ADDRESS OF GENERAL RAWLINS, FIRST PRESIDENT, SOCIETY 

ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, AT CINCINNATI, NOVEMBER 

I 4 , 1865 

GENTLEMEN OF THE SOCIETY OF THE ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE : 

Permit me to thank you for the honor you have conferred 
upon me in selecting me as your first President. 

In the success of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee 
and the promotion of the objects it has in view, our interests 
are in common. It concerns us all alike. If it succeeds as well 
as the Army, from which it derives its name and existence, 
succeeded in its purposes and destiny, we will have realized our 
highest expectations. 

In April, 1861, the nation was startled by the sound of hostile 
cannon, the thunder of a storm that had been gathering for 
some time in the South and Southeast, threatening our national 
existence. 

The people of the great valley of the Mississippi, who gave to 
the country, with other armies, that of the Tennessee, consult 
ing their maps found that the United States of America con 
sisted then of thirty-four States, besides Territories, and com 
prised all that portion of the Western Continent lying between 
the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and between the 49th and 26th 
degrees of North latitude; that the people of eleven of these 
States, in which slavery existed, comprised all that portion of 
this vast extent of country south of Washington on the Poto 
mac river and Wheeling, on the Ohio river, to the Rio Grande, 
and from the Atlantic Ocean westward to Forts Donelson and 
Henry, on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers and to the 
Kentucky and Missouri State lines on the Mississippi river, had 
some of them already denied allegiance to the United States, 



436 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

refused obedience to its laws, organized State governments in 
hostility to its authority and confederated together under the 
name and style of the "Confederate States of America," to 
maintain their independence of the United States ; and that the 
people of the others were following, as rapidly as possible to 
join them, while in the remaining, or three principal slave- 
holding states, every effort was made by the leaders of the 
Rebellion in the other states, and by some of their own most 
prominent and influential men and officials, to compel them to 
cast their lot with those already in or rapidly going into rebel 
lion. So successful were they that thousands of men were 
recruited for the rebel armies, large amounts of supplies ob 
tained, and the people so divided in their sentiments of loyalty 
and disloyalty that, throughout the long war which followed, it 
required quite as great vigilance to protect our lines of com 
munications through these States as in the States in actual 
rebellion. It was not long either before the people of the Mis 
sissippi Valley found the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, one 
rising way up in Kentucky and the other in the mountains of 
Virginia and North Carolina, both of them pouring their flood 
of waters into the Ohio, in danger of being closed at Paducah, 
while they were shut out from the great Mississippi itself, and 
all its tributaries below Cairo. 

Turning from the map to the flag of their country, they found 
a constellation of thirty-four stars, each star of equal bril 
liancy, and each representing a State equal in all its rights to 
any other State in the Union of States represented by that con 
stellation. Then opening the Constitution of their country and 
placing it upon the map in the concentrated light of that con 
stellation, they read: "We the people of the United States in 
order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure 
domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote 
the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to our 
selves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitu 
tion for the United States of America." They saw that it, and 
the laws made in pursuance thereof, was the supreme law of 
the land, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to 
the contrary notwithstanding. That new States might come 
into the Union, but there was no way provided for any State to 
go out. They saw what the .United States could do, and what 
States could not do. They saw the rights of the general Gov- 



APPENDIX 437 

ernment clearly defined, and their interest as citizens in main 
taining and enforcing these rights, and not only did they see 
that it was their interest to do so, but that it was their duty 
a duty enjoined upon them by the blood of their Revolutionary 
sires a duty the performance of which was invoked by all the 
interests of their posterity. 

There, too, was the authority for calling forth militia to exe 
cute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection and repel 
invasions. And in the meridian blaze of this contellation, with 
swelling hearts they lifted their eyes to Almighty God the God 
of their ancestors and resolved that sooner than surrender 
one of these national rights, bought by the blood and secured by 
the wisdom of their fathers, they would give up life itself ; 
that, as heretofore, the constellation upon their flag had lighted 
all the ways upon the seas and upon the land, by which the 
nation had advanced to greatness and power, so it should con 
tinue to do in the future; that no hostile power should remain 
upon any foot of the soil of the United States of America 
longer than it was possible to replace the flag there, and that 
no power should strike from that flag one of its stars or dim 
the luster of one. In this resolve they rallied to the call of the 
nation s chieftain, Abraham Lincoln, in the nation s defense. 

Cairo, Illinois, was occupied by us April 23, 1861. On the 
28th of August following, General (then Brigadier General) 
U. S. Grant, was assigned to the command of the District of 
Southeast Missouri, and on the 4th of September following 
established his headquarters at Cairo, Illinois. 

From this time, it may be properly said, commenced the 
growth and organization of the Army of the Tennessee, under 
General Grant. He was a graduate of West Point, and had 
served with distinction in the actual command of men in battle 
in the Mexican war and was thoroughly versed in the details 
and practical workings of the departmental and staff corps of 
the army. His command consisted of volunteers, with the ex 
ception of one officer, General E. A. Paine, who also had the 
advantage of a West Point education, but had resigned the 
service soon after graduating. The men and volunteer officers 
that formed the nucleus of the Army of the Tennessee, inspired 
solely by the love of country and a desire for the success of the 
national arms, believed that, all things else being equal, a mili 
tary education and actual experience in the command of troops 



438 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

was of advantage to their possessor, and as there was no one 
under General Grant possessing these requisites in the same 
degree, he stood without a rival. This for the country and for 
himself was most fortunate. A disposition to the greatest de 
gree of subordination prevailed throughout his district. 

On the 5th of September he learned that the enemy were 
moving on Paducah, Kentucky, and on the evening of that day, 
with a force of two regiments and a battery of artillery, he left 
Cairo, accompanied by two gun boats, and the next morning, 
September 6th, took possession in advance of the enemy, and 
secured to us the Ohio river. General Grant returned to Cairo, 
leaving General Paine in command of Paducah. On the 7th 
General C. F. Smith, a graduate of West Point, and commandant 
of cadets when Grant was there, was placed in command of 
Paducah, with orders to report directly to General Fremont. 

In reconnoissances towards Columbus, Belmont and Charles 
ton and in the erection of fortifications at Cairo and its de 
pendencies, under orders from General Fremont, General Grant 
kept the forces under him pretty constantly employed. 

On the i6th of October, in pursuance of a despatch from 
General Fremont, he sent a force towards Pilot Knob, which, 
in conjunction with a force from Ironton on the 2ist, attacked 
and defeated Jeff. Thompson, at Fredericktown. This was the 
first affair, dignified by the name of battle, in which any of the 
troops under General Grant had been engaged, and they were 
welcomed back by their comrades-in-arms as heroes indeed. 

In obedience to orders from Department Headquarters, on 
the 4th of November, General Grant started a force, under Col 
onel R. J. Oglesby for Indian Ford on the St. Francis river, 
where Jeff. Thompson was said to be reassembling his defeated 
forces. 

On the morning of the 7th of November, Grant, with five 
regiments of infantry, some of whom had had arms issued to 
them for the first time only two days before a section of 
artillery, and squadron of cavalry attacked the enemy in posi 
tion near Belmont, Missouri, and in a combat, scarcely excelled 
in fierceness, drove him steadily back more than a mile into and 
through the open space protected on the land side by fallen for 
est trees, in which his tents were pitched, opposite Columbus, 
capturing a six-gun battery, many prisoners, and all his camp 
and garrison equipage, and the little band of heroes, much re- 



APPENDIX 439 

duced from what it was when it started as the nucleus around 
which was to gather the grand old Army of the Tennessee. It 
stood upon the bank of the great Mississippi, and in the tri 
umphant shout of victory, hushed as it were by the hoarse thun 
ders and screaming shells from the guns of Columbus. In their 
first fight they witnessed the confusion consequent on victory. 
Orders were at once issued for the destruction of the property 
and munitions of war they could not take with them, and to 
commence the return march to the transports. These orders 
were but scarcely executed and the head of the column put in 
motion, when the enemy made his appearance between them 
and their boats. At this moment it was communicated to Gen 
eral Grant that we were surrounded. "Well," he replied, "we 
must cut our way out then," and this was the order that passed 
along the lines; and never did men return more bravely to the 
fight, and a second time they beat their antagonists, gained their 
transports, and embarked without serious hindrance, under cover 
of the gun boats. The Union loss in killed, wounded and missing 
was four hundred and eight-four, that of the enemy, according 
to his own historian, was six hundred and thirty-two. 

Without saying anything about the purposes of this battle, 
whether wise or unwise, or its result upon the then military 
situation, there was this fact the great majority of men and 
officers engaged in it felt that they were the victors. 

This battle, too, confirmed General Grant in his views, that 
where neither of the belligerents have a disciplined army, but 
rely upon volunteers or conscripts, nothing is gained, especially 
by the one which, from the nature of things would necessarily 
have to take the offensive before its objects could be accom 
plished, by delay for the purpose of drilling and disciplining the 
men, for the other would very naturally use the delay for the 
same purpose, and at the end of any given time their relative 
strength would be the same. Hence General Grant was always 
ready whenever he had what he thought a sufficient number of 
men, without regard to the number of days, they had had arms 
in their hands, to give battle. 

On the 2ist of November, General Grant received General 
Halleck s orders, assuming command of the Department of he 
Missouri, and soon after, orders changing the name of his com 
mand to the District of Cairo, extending it to include Paducah 
and leaving off Cape Giradeau, Mo. 



440 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

In January, 1862, in pursuance of orders from General Hal- 
leek, Grant moved a force from Cairo and Bird s Point, via 
Fort Jefferson and Blandville, and one from Paducah via May- 
field, threatening Columbus and the enemy s line between there 
and Bowling Green as far as Fort Henry with a view to aiding 
some movement General Buell was said to be about making. 
These movements lasted about a week and were very hard on 
the men, from the heavy fall of both rain and snow. But they 
have the satisfaction of knowing that while they were thus 
engaged on their end of the line, on the I9th of January, Gen 
eral George H. Thomas was covering himself and his command 
with glory at Mill Springs on the other end of the line, and that 
the information brought back by General C. F. Smith, as to the 
feasibility of taking Fort Henry induced General Grant and 
Admiral Foote, on the 28th of January, to telegraph General 
Halleck for permission to take and occupy it ; to which General 
Halleck replied, January 3Oth: "Make your preparations to 
take and hold Fort Henry. I will send you written instructions 
by mail." 

In stating these facts I do not desire to be understood as set 
ting up any special claim in General Grant, Admiral Foote or 
General C. F. Smith, as originators of this movement, as against 
any claim any one else may have to that honor. In General 
Smith s report of his reconnoissance of Fort Henry, on the 
22nd of January, he stated that he thought two iron-clad gun 
boats would make short work of it. Grant, true to his soldierly 
instincts, said. "Well, if it can be taken it should be taken with 
out delay." Once there we could operate either east or west. 
Admiral Foote favored it because he could attack from down 
stream, and if any of his vessels should become disabled, they 
would be carried from the batteries by the current, not on to 
them; besides he could fight to better advantage up stream than 
down. 

On Saturday morning, February 1st, 1862, the gifted and 
noble McPherson, then Lieutenant Colonel on General Halleck s 
staff, reported to General Grant for duty as chief engineer of 
the expedition, bringing with him General Halleck s instructions 
to General Grant. 

On the 2nd Grant left Cairo and on the 6th, while the land 
forces (General McClernand s division and Colonel Cook with 
one brigade of General Smith s division) pushed forward on 



APPENDIX 441 

the east side of the river to the rear of Fort Henry, to cut off 
the retreat of the garrison, and (General Smith with the other 
two brigades of his division) moved up the west side to attack 
Fort Hickman, the navy, under Admiral Foote, attacked Fort 
Henry and after a severe fight of over an hour, compelled its 
surrender. But the garrison, save a company of artillerists, had 
escaped. Thus, within one week from the time it was authorized 
by General Halleck, was the much vaunted rebel line pierced, 
and our gunboats went through to Florence, Alabama. 

At Fort Henry there was a delay of a few days on account of 
heavy rains and the rise in the Tennessee river. On the nth 
troops arriving on transports from below were ordered to re 
turn and follow the gunboats up the Cumberland, landing, under 
their cover, as close to Fort Donelson as practicable; and the 
troops under General McClernand moved out three and four 
miles on the two roads leading to Fort Donelson; and early on 
the I2th were in rapid motion, followed by three brigades of 
General C. F. Smith s division, for Fort Donelson. About 12 
M. they struck the enemy s pickets, two miles from the Fort. 
These were rapidly driven in and by dark Fort Donelson was 
closely invested from a point on Hickman Creek on our left, to 
well around towards Dover on our right McClernand holding 
the right and Smith the left. 

On the I3th our lines were still further extended to the right 
and an attempt was made to capture a battery of the enemy, 
commanding the ridge road on which we moved. The gun 
boats and troops commenced arriving in the Cumberland, below 
Fort Donelson, and the communication was opened with them. 

On the I4th General Lew Wallace, with a brigade of Smith s 
Division, reported from Fort Henry and was assigned to the 
command of a Division composed of newly arrived troops, and 
took position in the center of our line. McArthur s brigade 
of Smith s Division was moved to the extreme right. 

In the afternoon the navy attacked the river batteries and, 
after a most terrible conflict of over an hour and a half, were 
forced to withdraw. 

About 2 A. M. on the I5th, General Grant received a note 
from Admiral Foote requesting that he come and see him as to 
the disposition of his vessels, that they were very much disabled ; 
and, in response to this note at early dawn, he started for the 
river. 



442 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

He had been gone but a short time when the enemy, massing 
his forces in front of McClernand, passed out of his works, 
furiously attacked our extreme right held by McArthur, rap 
idly extending his attack towards our left, until the whole of 
McClernand s division was a hot participant in the furious 
combat; and for hours maintained the unequal conflict. Mc 
Arthur was compelled to give way. Oglesby s brigade showed 
signs of wavering, but held on until Cruft s brigade of Lew 
Wallace s division arrived, when, owing to the want of am 
munition and severe losses, it passed out of line by regiments, 
from right to left, to the rear, leaving a battery in the hands of 
the enemy. John A. Logan s regiment was the last to leave. 
Cruft became hotly engaged, and fell slowly back in the direc 
tion of our hospitals, repelling several attacks, and attacking 
the enemy in turn. Colonel W. H. L. Wallace firmly held his 
part of the line for some time after the giving way of the troops 
to his right, but with his flank exposed and his ammunition 
failing he deemed it injudicious to attempt to hold it longer and 
fell back on the ridge-road towards Lew Wallace s position, for 
about three-quarters of a mile. Here he met Thayer s brigade 
of Lew Wallace s division, and immediately opened his lines 
and allowed it to the front. 

Thayer had but got into position when the enemy made his 
appearance. He immediately opened fire upon him with both 
artillery and infantry. The enemy responded but feebly, and 
fell back towards his works. In the meantime, word having 
been sent to General Grant, he returned to the field, and meet 
ing General Smith, learned from him as far as he knew the 
condition of things, and at once directed that he get his com 
mand in readiness to assault the enemy s works in his front, 
while he went to the right to see Generals McClernand and Wal 
lace. When he reached there, the battle had greatly subsided 
and the indications were that the enemy was withdrawing to 
within his works. He informed Generals McClernand and 
Wallace of the orders to Smith, and for them to be in readiness 
to renew the battle the moment he should make his attack. 
General Grant returned to the left and found General Smith 
ready to move. 

The place selected for the attack was in front of Lauman s 
brigade. The assaulting column was formed from that brigade, 
the Second Iowa, being most accessible, having the lead. This 



APPENDIX 443 

regiment, before giving the word to advance, General Smith 
formed into two lines of five companies front, thirty paces apart, 
informed them what they were to do, took his position between 
the lines thus formed, moved forward to the assault and, under 
a terrible fire of musketry and artillery, carried the enemy s 
lines at the point of the bayonet, effecting a lodgment in his 
entrenchments, and secured the key to Fort Donelson. 

General Lew Wallace, reenforced by Morgan L. Smith s 
brigade of Smith s division and supported on his left by a 
brigade of McClernand s, found the enemy in position near his 
works, and, after a short but spirited combat, drove him into 
them, leaving in our possession the battle field, and guns cap 
tured in the morning. 

With the early dawn of Sunday, February i6th, 1862, came 
a communication from General Buckner, through General C. F. 
Smith, to General Grant in these words : 

"In consideration of all the circumstances governing the 
present situation of affairs at this station, I propose to the com 
manding officer of the Federal forces the appointment of com 
missioners to agree upon terms of capitulation of the forces and 
post under my command, and in that view suggest an armistice 
until twelve o clock to-day." 

Reading it himself, Grant handed it to Smith, who also read 
it, saying as he finished: "No terms with traitors." General 
Grant without seeming to have noticed what General Smith said 
sat down and wrote: 

"Yours of this date, proposing armistice and appointment of 
commissioners to settle terms of capitulation, is just received. 
No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be 
accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works." 

Then, lifting his eyes to his old Commandant, as I fancied he 
had done many times before at West Point, he handed him what he 
had written, saying as he did so : "General, I guess this will do." 
At one glance Smith s soldierly eye caught not only its words 
but its spirit and with an enthusiasm, that a soldier in the im 
mediate promise of victory only can feel, replied : "It could 
not be better." 

It was sent to General Buckner and brought a response from 
him in these words : 

"The disposition of the forces under my command, incident 
to an unexpected change of commanders, and the overwhelming 



444 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

force under your command, compels me, notwithstanding the 
brilliant success of the Confederate arms yesterday, to accept 
the ungenerous and unchivalrous terms which you propose." 

In this surrender were fifteen thousand prisoners of war, 
sixty-one pieces of artillery, thousands of small arms, and an 
immense amount of quartermaster s property and commissary 
and ordnance stores. 

The Army of the Tennessee, the child of heroism, born in 
battle and baptized in blood, stood forth an existent fact in the 
country s history, and U. S. Grant, its commander, the successful 
soldier of the age. 

The Tennessee and Cumberland no longer forced their floods, 
like fugitives, past the guns of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, 
north to the Ohio, but bearing the banner of the free, reflecting 
its stars and bright colors on their swelling bosoms, moved 
majestically onward to mingle their grand destiny with the 
waters of the Mississippi Valley. 

On the 2 1st General C. F. Smith took possession of Clarks- 
ville. On the 23rd, at the request of a deputation of citizens 
from Nashville, he directed one of the gunboats to proceed to 
that place, to prevent, by its presence, its destruction, which 
had been threatened by the rear guard of Johnston s army, but 
on the afternoon of that day the advance of General Buell s army 
reached there. On the 24th General Smith received orders from 
General Buell to move his command to Nashville. Of this order, 
General Smith advised General Grant, saying that he could see 
no reason for his going to Nashville, but that he would obey the 
order. 

General Grant having as yet received no specific orders from 
General Halleck as to the next movement, and feeling consider 
able interest in the retention of General Smith in his own com 
mand, if the interest of the service did not necessitate otherwise ; 
besides inferring from what he had received from General Hal 
leck, and the fact that Johnston s army was said to be in the 
neighborhood of Nashville, that he would probably be required 
to cooperate with Buell, on the evening of the 26th, ran up to 
Nashville to see and confer with him. But save the return of 
Smith to Clarksville and information obtained from sources 
other than General Buell as to the whereabouts of Johnston, his 
trip was barren of results. 

General Grant returned to Fort Donelson on the night of the 



APPENDIX 445 

27th, and early on the morning of the 2nd of March received 
orders to move his command up the Tennessee River. On the 
morning of the 4th it was en route for Metal Landing, on the 
Tennessee its destination and on the afternoon of that day 
Grant was again at Fort Henry. 

The next morning without one previous word of disapproba 
tion of any of his acts, and without any opportunity for explana 
tion when the affording of such opportunity would not have 
delayed the expedition one moment he received a despatch 
from General Halleck directing him to place Major General 
C. F. Smith in command of the expedition, and to remain him 
self at Fort Henry. His offences, as alleged, were that his 
neglect, of repeated orders, to report the strength and position 
of his command, had created great dissatisfaction, and seriously 
interfered with military plans ; that his going to Nashville, with 
out authority, and when his presence with his troops was of the 
utmost importance, was a matter of very serious complaint at 
Washington, so much so that General Halleck was advised to 
arrest him on his return. 

General Grant had received, on the 28th of February, an order 
to report the strength and position of his command, and was 
preparing his report as fast as he could get in returns from his 
subordinates, and it was then almost ready to forward. This 
was the only order he had received. This explanation as to the 
neglect of orders, and the reasons, as I have stated them, for his 
going to Nashville, were received as satisfactory. Who was the 
author of the charge of his going to Nashville without authority, 
when his presence was so much needed with his troops? I do 
not know ; but to my mind it was either a personal enemy or 
one who desired to get rid of one who had so soon achieved 
military fame. Different, indeed, was the feeling of the Army 
of the Tennessee, that shared with him the glory of Donelson 
and those two soldiers, one of whom had already, and the other 
of whom has since, by their actual achievements, so interwoven 
their names and their fames with the history of their country 
that they will remain a part of it forever Generals C. F. Smith 
and W. T. Sherman. To show their feelings I need but state 
their acts. General Sherman succeeded General Grant in the 
command of the District of Cairo, Grant having been assigned to 
the District of West Tennessee. On the I5th of February he 



446 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

wrote to General Grant informing him of his instructions from 
General Halleck, and added: 

I should like to hear from you, and will do everything in my power 
to hurry forward to you reinforcements and supplies, and if I could be 
of service myself, would gladly come without making any question of 
rank with you or General Smith, whose commissions are of the same date. 

On the same day he again wrote : 

I feel anxious about you, as I know the great facilities they [the 
enemy] have of concentration, by means of the river and railroads, but 
have faith in you. Command me in any way. 

On the morning of March 7th I met him for the first time at 
his headquarters in Paducah, and handed him a return of Gen 
eral Grant s forces, with the request that he would forward it 
by first opportunity to General Halleck. He was busy in arming 
and embarking his division to join the Tennessee river expedi 
tion. I had but a few moments conversation with him. In that 
conversation I asked him if he knew what was the real trouble 
with General Grant at Department Headquarters, and if so, I 
would like to know, if it was proper for him to tell me. He 
answered, "No"; then, in apparent hesitancy, said: "I will tell 
you," breaking suddenly off with, "it will be all right with 
Grant in a few days. Tell him to give himself no anxiety." In 
parting with him I expressed to him the many obligations I had 
heard General Grant say he was under to him for what he had 
done, and the interest he had manifested in his success. He re 
plied: "Not at all, not at all; I would do as much for Grant as 
I would for myself." Subsequent history has vindicated the 
sincerity of this declaration, and although it was not the begin 
ning of the friendship that has since existed between them, it 
was one of those not easily to be forgotten heart-expressions of 
sympathy by one soldier for another, over whom rested a cloud. 

General Buckner, on meeting General Smith, on the morning 
of the surrender of Donelson, congratulated him on the gallant 
manner in which he had stormed and carried the works the 
night before. "Yes," said the General, "it was well done, con 
sidering the smallness of the force that did it. No congratula 
tions are due me; I simply obeyed orders." He set up no claim 
to honors. He knew if self entered his mind at all, that justice 
would be done him; and whether it was or not, he knew that it 
was the way to secure subordination and harmony, and ensure 
the triumph of our arms. 



APPENDIX 447 

On the I4th of March, in reply to a note of General Grant of 
the nth, informing him that General Halleck had telegraphed 
him when certain troops arrived, that were to be sent to him, 
he wanted him to take the general direction, and adding: "I 
think it is exceedingly doubtful whether I shall accept, certainly 
not until the object of the expedition is accomplished," he added : 
"I wrote you yesterday to say how glad I was to find from your 
letter of the nth instant that you were to resume your old 
command, from which you were so unceremoniously and as I 
think so improperly stricken down. 

"I greatly fear your coming here will be a matter of necessity, 
in consequence of my lameness. I cannot mount a horse. In 
jumping into a yawl, two days ago, I miscalculated the distance 
and the seat scraped my leg and shin in a rude manner, hurting 
the bone. I hope for the best, but it is with great difficulty I 
can limp through the cabin from one chair to another." 

This wound of General Smith, described by him as seemingly 
slight, resulted in his death on the 25th of April, 1862. A truer 
patriot had not lived nor a better soldier been developed in the 
war. In the brightness of fame and in the promise of greatest 
usefulness he passed away. 

General Grant felt that injustice was done him, but never 
questioned the friendship of his superiors, and I may here add 
that during the whole of his military career, of which I am 
cognizant, I never knew him to betray a want of confidence in 
those above him, nor be drawn into any controversy by one 
under him. 

In consequence of General Smith s lameness, and the question 
of rank raised by General McClernand, General Grant resumed 
the immediate command of the Army of the Tennessee on the 
3ist of March. 

On Sunday -morning, April 6th, 1862, the Army of the Ten 
nessee was posted as follows : Three brigades of Sherman s 
division in advance, from Pittsburgh Landing towards Corinth, at 
Shiloh Church, their right resting on Owl Creek. To Sherman s 
left and rear was McClernand. As far towards Corinth from 
the Landing as Sherman, and some distance to the left of Mc 
Clernand, was Prentiss. To Prentiss s left and covering the 
crossing of Lick Creek, was Stuart s brigade of Sherman s di 
vision. Less than a mile from the Landing, on the Hamburg 
and Pittsburgh Landing road, was Hurlbut, with roads from his 



448 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

position to Stuart s, and to Prentiss s, and through McCler- 
nand s to Sherman s, and on the ridge to the right of the main 
road, leading out from Pittsburgh Landing, and extending from 
near the river to the bridge across Snake Creek, on the Pitts 
burgh and Crump s Landing Road, was W. H. L. Wallace s 
(Smith s old Division). At Crump s Landing, and thrown out 
on the Purdy road, and more accessible to Pittsburgh Landing, 
should it be required, than if massed at Crump s Landing, was 
Lew Wallace s division. At Savannah were three regiments of 
the Army of the Tennessee and Nelson s division of Buell s 
Army, which had arrived the day before. 

Early on this Sunday morning began the battle of Shiloh or 
Pittsburgh Landing, as you please to call it. According to our 
own and rebel official reports, the first shots were fired by Pren 
tiss s advance pickets into the rebel s advanced skirmishers. 
Without entering into detail, however, to show that this battle 
was not, in a military sense, a surprise to us that already hav 
ing been done by one who was in at its beginning and competent 
to judge, General W. T. Sherman it is sufficient to say that we 
did not expect to be attacked in force that morning, and were 
surprised that we were, but we had sufficient notice, before the 
shock came, to be under arms and ready to meet it. There was 
no capturing of commands asleep in their camps that morning, 
or bayoneting of men asleep in their tents. 

General Grant was at Savannah where he was to meet General 
Buell, but hearing artillery firing in the direction of Pittsburgh 
Landing, ordered General Nelson to march his command as 
rapidly as possible to the point on the Tennessee river opposite 
Pittsburgh Landing, and started on his despatch boat for the 
scene of action. This was about seven o clock. Passing 
Crump s Landing he ran close alongside the steamer on which 
General Wallace had his headquarters, directed him to send out 
and ascertain if the enemy might not be making a move on his 
position, and to be in readiness if such was not the case, to move, 
on receipt of orders, to Pittsburgh Landing. General Wallace 
replied that reconnoissances to his front were already out, and 
that he would be in readiness for any orders that might come. 

General Grant reached Pittsburgh Landing about eight o clock, 
went immediately upon the field, and found all of Sherman s di 
vision at Shiloh Church, and McClernand s and Prentiss s di 
visions hotly engaged. Hurlbut was moving forward one bri- 



APPENDIX 449 

gade, to the support of Sherman, and two to the left in support 
of Prentiss. General W. H. L. Wallace moved forward two 
brigades to the right of Prentiss and Hurlbut to cover, as far as 
practicable, the space between Prentiss and McClernand, and 
one brigade to the rear and left of Hurlbut. Orders were sent 
to Lew Wallace to move with all despatch to Pittsburgh Land 
ing, and also an order hurrying up Nelson. 

By ten A. M. the battle had become general among our lines, 
and most, if not all, our troops on the field were engaged. Each 
side fought with a desperation seldom evinced the enemy to 
secure victory and its fruits before help could reach us, and we 
to defeat the enemy in his purposes and hold our own until help 
came. All day long the battle lasted, and the roar of artillery 
and the roll of musketry seemed without cessation. The Army 
of the Tennessee, with varied fortune in different parts of the 
field, was driven back until its line of battle, late in the afternoon, 
stood at right angles with the river, covering the road from 
Pittsburgh Landing to Crump s Landing. From this position our 
reserve artillery opened upon the enemy with terrible effect the 
gunboats giving us a helping hand; and after several ineffectual 
attempts to advance the enemy fell back, beaten and baffled in 
his designs, out of range of our guns. Near the close of the 
fight three regiments of General Nelson s division came on the 
field, and two went in on the left of the line, firing a few rounds 
after getting into position. General Lew Wallace arrived after 
dark. Had he got upon the field with his splendid division at 
the time his orders contemplated, we might have turned the tide 
of battle; we certainly would have stayed it much earlier than 
we did, and would have saved General Prentiss and four regi 
ments of W. H. L. Wallace s division with him from capture. 

In this day s battle the enemy s forces greatly exceeded ours. 
Our men fought with a valor they never themselves excelled. 
They proved to the nation and the world that the claim set up by 
the South, of Southern superiority in courage and endurance, 
was unfounded. Their success fully vindicated the manhood of 
the soldiers of the Union in their claims that, as men, they were 
the equals of other men, but as soldiers, under the national flag, 
they were the superiors of any that dare raise a hand against it. 
General Grant s "I have not yet despaired of whipping them," in 
answer to General Buell s inquiry as to the preparations, if any, 
he had made for retreat, was not more characteristic of the man 



450 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

than expressive of the sentiment of his army in that Sunday s 
battle. 

During the night the remainder of Nelson s division and the 
divisions of McCook and Crittenden, of the Army of the Ohio, 
got on the field, and took position to the left and in advance. 
Lew Wallace went in on the right. The regiments of the Army 
of the Tennessee, at Savannah, were also brought up. 

Early on Monday morning our whole line moved to the attack. 
Nelson first struck the enemy, and in a short time the fighting 
extended along our entire front. It was evident, notwithstand 
ing the fatigue of Buell s men from severe marching, especially 
during the last twenty-four hours, and the exhaustion of the 
Army of the Tennessee in Sunday s fight, that if the enemy had 
superior numbers on Sunday, the tables were now turned. He 
was attacked and driven from every position, where he made a 
stand, or attempted to make one, and by four o clock in the 
afternoon was in rapid retreat for Corinth. 

Thus was fought and won, by your persistent determination 
and bravery, on the first day, aided by your comrades of Wal 
lace s division and those from Savannah, and Buell s heroic and 
valorous Army of the Ohio, on the second, the first great field 
fight of the war. 

The Battle of Shiloh, as was afterwards conceded by General 
Halleck, decided the fate of Corinth and the great line of rail 
road communication of which it was the strategic point. 

Among our loss was that fine soldier and true gentleman W. H. 
L. Wallace. He fell in the battle s front, and when it fiercest 
raged, mortally wounded, about four o clock on Sunday after 
noon. He had seen service, under commission, in the Mexican 
War, and was among the first to respond to his country s call. 
He had practical sense, cool courage, and great self-possession, 
and by his splendid fighting at Donelson, had merited and won 
the admiration of the Army of the Tennessee; and up to the 
time of his glorious but untimely death, no soldier bade fairer to 
rise to higher eminence. On the same day the enemy lost his 
commanding general A. S. Johnston, whose name inspired more 
confidence among his soldiery than any other of his generals. 

On the I2th of April General Halleck arrived at Pittsburgh 
Landing, and on the I3th assumed personal command in the 
field. On May 1st, General Pope having arrived with the Army 
of the Mississippi, the armies operating against Corinth stood 



APPENDIX 451 

divided into right-wing, center, left-wing, and reserve as follows : 

Major General Thomas s division, transferred from the Army 
of the Ohio to the Army of the Tennessee, and four divisions 
of the Army of the Tennessee, constituted the right-wing, Gen 
eral G. H. Thomas commanding; the Army of the Ohio, the 
center, General D. C. Buell, commanding; the Army of the 
Mississippi, the left-wing, General John Pope, commanding; 
and the divisions of Generals McClernand and Wallace, of the 
Army of the Tennessee, the reserve, General John A. McCler 
nand, commanding. 

General Grant retained the general command of the District of 
West Tennessee, including the Army of the Tennessee, reports 
being made to him as theretofore, but in the movement then 
making, he was acting second in command to General Halleck. 

In this order was, thenceforth, prosecuted the siege of Cor 
inth, and the Army of the Tennessee taught what it subse 
quently found of such great advantage, the art of constructing 
field defenses. 

Friday morning, May 3Oth, 1862, the siege of Corinth termi 
nating in the evacuation of the place by the enemy, and our 
entering and taking possession. 

June loth, General Grant was returned to the immediate com 
mand of his District and the Army of the Tennessee, and Gen 
eral Thomas, in July, proceeded with his division to rejoin the 
Army of the Ohio. 

From Corinth Wallace s division of the Army of the Ten 
nessee was pushed off to Bolivar, Tennessee, and soon after a 
part of it to Memphis, and thence to Arkansas to join General 
Curtis; McClernand s went to Jackson, Tennessee, and Sher 
man s and Hurlbut s, via LaGrange, to Memphis; Davie s (W. 
H. L. Wallace s old) division and McKean s (Prentiss s old) 
division remained at Corinth. On the 2 1st, with General Hal- 
leek s permission to make Memphis his headquarters, General 
Grant left Corinth for that place, and reached there on the after 
noon of the 24th. His reason for selecting Memphis was, that 
General Halleck said he expected he would have to give him the 
job of taking Vicksburg. 

July nth, he left Memphis to report to General Halleck in 
person at Corinth, and July i6th, was assigned to the command 
not only of the District of West Tennessee, but of all the troops 



452 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

in the Districts of Cairo and Mississippi, and those operating in 
Northern Mississippi. 

This included the Army of the Mississippi, under General 
Rosecrans. Three divisions of it were soon after sent away, 
two to Buell and one to Kentucky, and the remaining two were 
afterwards submerged in the Army of the Tennessee; therefore, 
in speaking of any of their achievements under General Grant, 
we shall speak of them as the Army of the Tennessee. We 
know that none of the heroes of Donelson and Shiloh or of New 
Madrid and Island No. 10 will take exception to this, for while 
the former were gathering laurels on the Cumberland and the 
Tennessee, the latter were winning honors on the Mississippi. 

General Halleck, on giving up the immediate command of 
the troops in the field, recounted their services and thanked 
them for the heroic manner in which they had performed them. 
His military career in the West was successful. When he took 
command of the Department of the Missouri, there was an 
enemy everywhere, and the greatest lawlessness and disorder 
prevailed throughout Missouri. He soon restored comparative 
good order in the State. His troops, under Grant, were suc 
cessful on the Tennessee and Cumberland. Those under Curtis 
beat the enemy in South-west Missouri, and followed him into 
Arkansas, coming out at Helena. Those under Pope captured 
New Madrid and Island No. 10, and under his own immediate 
command drove the enemy from Corinth. And when he was 
called to the position of General-in-chief of the Armies, the 
Mississippi was open to our navy from Cairo to Vicksburg, and 
all the territory north of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad 
to Chattanooga was substantially in our possession. 

Impartial history, too, will find much to commend in him as a 
General-in-Chief, and will assign to him no unimportant or 
unenviable page. 

From this time forward the greatest activity prevailed through 
out General Grant s command. The cavalry in our front com 
manded by Colonel Philip H. Sheridan (now Major General 
Sheridan) was kept well out, and came in contact with that of 
the enemy quite often, but seldom to our disadvantage. De 
tachments of the enemy sometimes, evading Bolivar, passed 
north of it, and these with the local or guerilla companies of 
West Tennessee, threatened our line of communication with 
Columbus, but they were generally successfully met and driven 



APPENDIX 453 

off. A large cavalry force of the enemy threatening Bolivar 
and the line of railroad to Jackson were met by two regiments 
of infantry and a small cavalry force of ours near Bolivar, and 
repulsed, August 3Oth. A part of this same force attacked our 
railroad guards at Medon Station and were repulsed, August 
3 ist, and the whole force was badly beaten in the battle of 
Britton s Lane, September ist. September 9th, General Hurl- 
but s division reached Bolivar from Memphis. 

September ipth was fought and won the Battle of luka, Oc 
tober 3rd and 4th was fought and won the second great and 
decisive battle of Corinth. Among our killed was General P. 
A. Hackleman, one of the ablest of our brigade commanders. 
He fell at the head of his command in the first day s fight. 
General Rosecrans was in personal command here. He was 
also in immediate command of that part of the line that did 
the fighting at luka. On the 5th was fought and won the Battle 
of the Hatchie, General Ord commanding, until he was wounded, 
when General Hurlbut succeeded him. After these reverses the 
enemy concentrated his main force back of the Tallahatchie, at 
Abbeville. He kept some force at Holly Springs and LaGrange. 
Lieutenant General Pemberton superseded Price and VanDorn 
in the command. 

On the 1 6th of October General Grant s District was consti 
tuted the Department of the Tennessee. On the 24th the troops 
under his command were designated the I3th Army Corps, and 
General Rosecrans was assigned to the command of the Depart 
ment and Army of the Cumberland. 

Early in November the forces at Jackson, Corinth and Boli 
var, save the necessary garrisons, were concentrated in the neigh 
borhood of Grand Junction and LaGrange. Frequent recon- 
noissances were made toward Holly Springs, and several severe 
skirmishes took place between our own and the enemy s cavalry, 
resulting generally in our favor, and on the I3th our cavalry 
entered Holly Springs, Mississippi. On the 28th our whole 
force, save railroad guards, took up the line of march for Pem 
berton, and the Tallahatchie. Their movement was timed to 
form a junction with General Sherman, who was moving out to 
the same point from Memphis. The junction was formed on 
the afternoon of the 3Oth, and on the ist of December, General 
Grant had a conference with General Sherman. 

On the same day the enemy commenced the abandonment of 



454 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

his heavy fortifications on the Tallahatchie and retreated on 
Grenada. His retreat was hastened by General C. C. Washburn, 
with a force of cavalry from Helena, Arkansas, striking the rail 
road and telegraph south of him. Our cavalry pursued as far 
as Coffeeville, and had several severe skirmishes, in which we 
captured several hundred prisoners. The main army crossed the 
Tallahatchie and moved forward to Oxford and some distance 
beyond. 

After Pemberton fled from Tallahatchie, General Grant pro 
posed, if he could have the troops at Helena, to send a force 
under Sherman, by water, to attack and capture Vicksburg, and 
failing in this to secure Hains s Bluff and the Yazoo River, 
which was thought could be easily done, while he (Grant) held 
Pemberton in his front by continually threatening an attack. On 
the 7th General Halleck directed the movement on Vicksburg, 
by water, to be made, and on the 9th, Sherman, with one division 
of his command, was on his return to Memphis, and on the 2ist, 
with about thirty thousand men, left Helena for Vicksburg. In 
the meantime, Grant pushed slowly forward on Grenada, in 
tending more active movements when he should hear that Sher 
man was off. December nth, the enemy was beaten by Dodge s 
forces under Sweeny, at Tuscumbia, Mississippi. 

December i8th, the Army of the Tennessee was divided into 
the 1 3th, 1 5th, i6th and I7th Army Corps, commanded respec 
tively by Generals McClernand, Sherman, Hurlbut and Mc- 
Pherson. 

Raids were made against the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, 
and considerable damage done to it. But on the morning of the 
2Oth of December, VanDorn with a large force of cavalry sur 
prised and captured Holly Springs, destroyed several trains of 
cars and a large collection of supplies, on which were dependent 
our future operations. Forrest about the same time got upon 
the road between Jackson and Columbus, and destroyed it effec 
tually. VanDorn did very little destruction to the road. He 
seemed more desirous of getting off with his plunder than any 
thing else. The garrisons of Cold Water, Davies s Mills and 
Middleburg, on the line of the road toward Jackson, Tennessee, 
repulsed his attacks most handsomely. Forrest had pretty much 
his own way until December 3ist, when he was brought to battle 
at Parker s Cross Roads, defeated and driven east of the Ten 
nessee river. 



APPENDIX 455 

These raids on our lines of communication forced General 
Grant to fall back. This left Pemberton free to reenforce Vicks- 
burg against Sherman. 

On the 2Qth, Sherman, not having heard of the misfortune to 
Grant, made a determined attack on the enemy s works at Vicks- 
burg, near Chickasaw Bayou, and was severely repulsed. Disap 
pointed but not disheartened, he reembarked his men and began 
preparations for a movement on Arkansas Post, on the Arkansas 
river. The enemy had a force of about five thousand there, and 
were enabled to contest with some success our use of the Mis 
sissippi. 

On the 4th of January, 1863, General McClernand, with or 
ders from the Secretary of War and subject to the direction of 
General Grant, assumed the command of the expedition. He 
made no change in General Sherman s purpose of attacking Ar 
kansas Post, but proceeded at once to carry it out, and on the 
nth, in conjunction with the navy, Admiral Porter commanding, 
attacked and after a severe battle compelled the surrender of 
the Fort with all its armament and five thousand prisoners. 

General Grant fell back to the line of the Memphis and 
Charleston Railroad, which, under the energetic superintendence 
of Colonel George G. Pride, was soon in complete running order 
from LaGrange to Memphis. General Grant established his 
headquarters in Memphis, January loth, 1863. It was deter 
mined now to reenforce the Mississippi river expedition, and 
turn every effort to the capture of Vicksburg. McPherson s 
corps was ordered there. General Grant assumed the immediate 
command of all the forces operating against Vicksburg, January 
3Oth, and General McClernand assumed the immediate command 
of his corps. After several ineffectual attempts to get below or 
in the rear of Vicksburg, by canals, bayous, and passes, in Febru 
ary and March, it was decided on the 29th of the latter month to 
run the Vicksburg batteries with the gunboats, and a sufficient 
number of transports for ferrying purposes, and to march the 
army around by land. 

The execution of this plan was at once commenced. General 
McClernand, followed by McPherson, moved via Smith s planta 
tion for New Carthage. On the night of the i6th of April the 
gunboats, followed by three transports Henry Clay, manned 
and commanded by volunteers from the army, Silver Wave, 
manned by volunteers and commanded by her own captain, 



456 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Captain McMillan, and the Forrest Queen, manned and com 
manded by her own crew and Captain Conway under a most 
terrible artillery fire, passed the Vicksburg batteries safely, save 
the Henry Clay. She got on fire and burned up. On the night 
of the 22nd six more transports ran the batteries, and were all 
more or" less injured. One was a total loss, the others were soon 
sufficiently repaired for use. These were all manned and com 
manded by volunteers. 

On the 29th the Navy, under Admiral Porter, attacked Grand 
Gulf, and after a severe fight of five and a half hours, found it 
could not silence all the guns and drew out. After a consulta 
tion with Admiral Porter, General Grant decided to run these 
batteries, and did so that night without damage. 

While the Navy was engaging Grand Gulf, Sherman was 
threatening Vicksburg from the Yazoo. After sufficiently dem 
onstrating, to accomplish his ends, he withdrew, and took up his 
line of march for Grand Gulf. 

On April 3Oth, with McClernand s Corps and two divisions 
o ; f McPherson s, we crossed the Mississippi to Bruinsburg. 
There was a good road from there out to the highlands, of which 
information had been given the night before by a colored man. 
On May 1st you fought and won the Battle of Port Gibson. On 
the 3rd you drove the enemy, who had evacuated Grand Gulf, 
across the Big Black river at Hankinson s Ferry towards Vicks 
burg. On the 8th Sherman got up. On the I2th you fought 
and won the battle of Raymond. On the I4th you fought and 
won the Battle of Jackson, Mississippi. On the i6th you fought 
and won the decisive battle of Champion Hills. On the I7th you 
fought and won the Battle of Big Black river, and on the i8th 
you invested Vicksburg and opened communications via the 
Yazoo and Mississippi with the North. On the iQth and 22nd, 
you assaulted the enemy s works, but were repulsed with heavy 
loss. Reen forced by three divisions of the i6th corps from 
Memphis, General C. C. Washburn, commanding Herron s di 
vision of the Army of the Frontier, and two divisions of the 
9th corps, Army of the Potomac, you completed the investment, 
made a front to the rear, facing the threatened approach of Joe 
Johnston, and patiently and perseveringly prosecuted the siege. 
On the i8th of June, 1863, General Ord relieved General Mc- 
Clernand in the command of the I3th Army Corps. 

On the 4th of July, 1863, after a siege of forty-six days, 



APPENDIX 457 

Vicksburg, with its armament and garrison of thirty-one thou 
sand men, was surrendered by Lieutenant General Pemberton to 
Major General U. S. Grant, commanding the national forces, 
and on that day the eighty-seventh anniversary of the one on 
which we had taken our place among the nations of the earth, 
the Army of the Tennessee and its comrades from other armies, 
true to the best hopes of their ancestors and unfaltering in their 
allegiance to the Republic, replaced the national flag on the 
ramparts of Vicksburg, never to be hurled down again. On the 
same day the enemy was defeated at Helena, Arkansas. 

Sherman at once set out after Joe Johnston, who, with a large 
force, had for some time been promising relief to the beleagured 
garrison of Vicksburg. He fell back on Jackson, Mississippi, 
pushed so vigorously by Sherman that on the night of the i6th 
of July he evacuated the place, and the capital of Mississippi 
was a second time in our hands. From Jackson, Sherman with 
drew to the west side of the Big Black. The commander of 
Port Hudson, receiving information of the fall of Vicksburg 
on the 8th, capitulated to General Banks, and the great Mis 
sissippi went unvexed to the sea. 

From the time General Grant left Memphis, in January, to 
take the immediate direction of the operations against Vicks 
burg General Hurlbut s command, and especially his cavalry, and 
the forces under General Dodge at Corinth, were kept busily 
employed. 

On the 7th of April, Colonel B. H. Grierson, with about two 
thousand cavalry, started from LaGrange, Tennessee, to raid 
upon the enemy s lines of communications in Mississippi, and on 
the 2nd of May came out at Baton Rouge. This was among the 
most brilliant cavalry raids made during the war. 

General Halleck in acknowledging the receipt of General 
Grant s official report of the campaign and capitulation of Vicks 
burg, wrote as follows : "Your narrative of this campaign, like 
the operations themselves, is brief, soldierly and in every respect 
creditable and satisfactory. In boldness of plan, rapidity of 
execution and brilliancy of routes, these operations will com 
pare most favorably with those of Napoleon about Ulm. You 
and your army have well deserved the gratitude of your country 
and it will be the boast of your children that their fathers were 
of the heroic army which reopened the Mississippi river." 

The 9th Army Corps returned to Kentucky; Herron s di- 



458 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

vision of the Army of the Frontier and the I3th Army Corps 
went to the Department of the Gulf; Kimball s division of the 
i6th Corps went to Arkansas, and John E. Smith s of the I7th 
soon followed as far as Helena. 

Major General Frederick Steele of the Army of the Tennessee 
and whose command also, save the cavalry, and some of that 
too, consisted mostly of troops of that army, on the loth of 
September, entered and occupied Little Rock, the capital of 
Arkansas. General Sterling Price, its defender, fled before our 
pursuing cavalry. 

On September 27th, in obedience to orders from General 
Halleck, General Sherman left Vicksburg, via Memphis and 
Corinth, for Chattanooga; with three divisions of the I5th 
Corps, leaving Tuttle s division at Vicksburg, and taking John 
E. Smith s division, then at Helena, in place of it. 

On the loth of October General Grant also started from 
Vicksburg, north, to meet orders, and on the i8th met the 
Secretary of War at Indianapolis and proceeded with him to 
Louisville, where, on the same day, he was assigned to the com 
mand of the Military Division of the Mississippi, and General 
Sherman to the command of the Army of the Tennessee. Gen 
eral Logan succeeded General Sherman in the command of the 
1 5th Corps. General Grant assumed command in accordance 
with his assignment and proceeded direct to Chattanooga, reach 
ing there on the evening of the 23rd. 

On the 23rd of November, after a long and severe march 
across the country from Memphis, General Sherman with three 
divisions of the I5th Corps and Jeff. C. Davis s division of the 
Army of the Cumberland, was encamped behind the hills oppo 
site the mouth of the South Chickamauga, ready, when night 
came, to secure the south bank of the Tennessee river, and, on a 
pontoon bridge, which was ready to be put down, cross over and 
seize the north end of Missionary Ridge, while Osterhaus s 
division of the Army of the Tennessee was with General Hooker 
at Brown s Ferry, ready to climb, with one of his divisions, the 
almost perpendicular front of Lookout Mountain. 

On the afternoon of the 23rd, General G. H. Thomas began 
the battle of Chattanooga by assaulting and carrying Indian or 
Orchard Knoll and all the enemy s line of defenses on the Chat 
tanooga side of Cisco Creek. By one P. M. of the 24th, General 
Sherman held in his strong grasp the north end of Missionary 



APPENDIX 459 

Ridge, and Osterhaus s division, in conjunction with Greary s 
under General Hooker, passed with an eagle s swoop up the 
steep front of Lookout Mountain, the enemy though desperately 
fighting was unable to successfully resist them ; and in the middle 
of the same afternoon when the clouds lifted, they waved the 
national flag in triumph from the Chattanooga face of the moun 
tain and were hailed with deafening shouts by their comrades in 
the valley below. A bridge was thrown across Chattanooga 
Creek and troops sent by General Thomas, who, after some fight 
ing, formed a connection with them. General Howard s corps 
moved in between Thomas s and Sherman s, making our line of 
battle continuous from Lookout Mountain our right, to the 
north end of Missionary Ridge our left. 

During the night of the 24th the enemy abandoned Lookout 
Mountain, and concentrated his forces on Missionary Ridge. 
On the 25th General Hooker pushed forward on the Rossville 
road, to get on to Missionary Ridge at Ross s Gap and from 
there fight towards Sherman. Sherman several times assaulted 
the enemy s works, carried and held some of the outer ones, but 
met with repulse from others. This compelled the enemy to 
concentrate heavily in his front, which, with the concentration 
necessary to meet Hooker, who got on the ridge and turned to 
wards Sherman late in the afternoon, greatly weakened his cen 
ter. Taking advantage of this General Thomas, with four 
divisions, about four p. M V stormed Missionary Ridge, carrying 
the line of rifle pits at its base, climbed it to its top, and under 
a terrific artillery fire, carried his line there and decided the fate 
of the day. The enemy fled panic-stricken, from the field, fol 
lowed by Sherman until two o clock next morning. 

On the 27th, on the heights of Ringgold, Georgia, his rear 
guard made a stand, and a part of Osterhaus s division attacked 
him, but met with a severe repulse. This was the end of the 
pursuit, but not of the Army of the Tennessee s marching. 

The Qth Corps, that had come to Vicksburg to help it, and 
their comrades of the Army of the Ohio, were besieged in 
Knoxville. With other troops the Army of the Tennessee im 
mediately hastened to their relief. After that relief was af 
forded it returned to the neighborhood of Scottsville and Hunts- 
ville, Alabama. 

In February, General Sherman, with a large force under Mc- 
Pherson and Hurlbut, moved from Vicksburg to Meridian and 



460 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

destroyed nearly two hundred miles of the important railroads, 
of which it is the center. This was done with a view of shutting 
the enemy off from railroad communication with the Mississippi 
and of crippling him in the next spring s campaign to be made 
from Chattanooga. Had General W. S. Smith, with a force of 
seven thousand cavalry from near Memphis, Tennessee, joined 
our forces at Meridian as he was ordered to do, the enemy 
would have suffered much greater damage, but this officer, on 
reaching West Point, on the Mobile & Ohio railroad, and rinding 
the enemy in force back of a stream, that could only be crossed 
at that time by bridges, took up his line of retreat on Memphis. 

Sherman returned to Vicksburg. From there he sent about 
ten thousand men, under General A. J. Smith, to aid General 
Banks in the Red River expedition, and all other forces that 
could be spared from the Mississippi were concentrated with 
their comrades in the vicinity of Huntsville, Alabama. 

On the loth of March, General Grant was appointed Lieuten 
ant General and assigned to the command of the armies of the 
United States. General Sherman was made Major General in 
the United States Army, and appointed to the command of the 
Military Division of the Mississippi and General McPherson to 
the command of the Army of the Tennessee. General Frank P. 
Blair, Jr., succeeded to the command of the I7th Corps. 

With the Armies of the Cumberland and Ohio you commenced 
on the 7th of May, 1864, the campaign of Atlanta and by severe 
fighting and a series of strategic movements, unexcelled in their 
masterly conception and execution, forced the enemy with heavy 
loss in men and war material, to abandon all his great natural 
positions, strengthened, too, by his labors on mountains, in 
gorges and on rivers, from Dalton to the Atlanta side of the 
Chattahoochie which latter place you occupied July loth. Your 
terrible and bloody repulse of the enemy at Dallas, May 28th, 
and your splendid though unsuccessful assault on Kenesaw 
Mountain, June 27th, attests the severity of your righting. 

The enemy now changed Johnston for Hood and with this 
change came a change of tactics. Advancing from the Chatta 
hoochie on Atlanta, on the 2ist, you had severe but successful 
fighting. 

On the 22nd you held the left of our line. About noon Hood 
threw the main strength of his army against it, General Mc 
Pherson, passing from Sherman, with whom he was in con- 



APPENDIX 461 

sultation when the attack began, to the front, rode upon the 
enemy s advance. They called out to him to "surrender," but 
as McPherson and the army he commanded only knew the word 
as addressed to a foe, he answered with a soldier s salutation, 
and wheeled his horse towards his old comrades. One sharp 
rattle of musketry and the noble McPherson was gathered to 
his fathers. 

General John A. Logan, when the battle s breath was hottest, 
assumed command, and the words "McPherson and revenge" 
were the battle cry of the Army of the Tennessee. The ad 
vantage of the battle at times seemed to be with the enemy, but 
the old army fought with all its accustomed bravery and appar 
ently with more than its usual determination. When night came 
on, the enemy repulsed at all points, retired to within his works, 
leaving the battle-field and the dead and wounded in our pos 
session. In this battle there were, perhaps, more individual 
acts of heroism displayed than in any other in which the Army 
of the Tennessee was engaged during the war. 

On the 26th General O. O. Howard was assigned to the com 
mand of the Army of the Tennessee. He was a graduate of 
West Point and won great distinction in the war. He was a 
Christian soldier and a most excellent man and was frequently, 
and not without reason, called the Havelock of the Army. 

Again on the 28th, near the Bell s Ferry road, you were at 
tacked by the enemy in great force, and after a severe battle of 
nearly four hours, in which he was several times repulsed with 
great loss, he was driven from the field leaving the dead and 
wounded in your hands. On the 3ist of August, near Jones- 
boro, the enemy again attacked you, but met with his usual fate 
a bloody repulse. 

On the morning of September 2nd, Atlanta was in the pos 
session of Sherman s army, and as his telegram "Atlanta is ours 
and fairly won" flashed North, it revived the hopes of the de 
spondent and sent a thrill of joy through the national heart. 

On the ist of October, Hood started on his Northern invasion, 
and on the 5th attacked Allatoona Pass, defended by General 
Corse, with two thousand men of the Army of the Tennessee. 
He made several desperate assaults during the day, but was 
every time beaten back with dreadful slaughter, and when night 
came beaten at every point, he withdrew toward Dallas. In the 
old army s record of victories there is no brighter one than that 



462 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

of Allatoona. On the 29th of October you lost the young, gifted 
and gallant Ransom, near Rome. He died of disease and not in 
the battle s storm, where his chivalric soul loved to be. 

General Sherman having decided upon his ever memorable 
"March to the Sea," sent General Thomas back to Nashville, 
with what he thought sufficient force to beat Hood, should he 
continue northward, and concentrated the remainder of his 
forces, including the Army of the Tennessee, at Atlanta. On 
the I4th of November they took up their line of march, and on 
the 1 3th of December, Hazen s division of the Army of the 
Tennessee assaulted and carried Port McAllister, on the Ogechee 
river, and established communication with the sea and our sup 
plies. Thus, by your valor, one more river went undisturbed by 
the rebel morning or evening guns to the sea. On the 2ist 
Sherman entered Savannah. Hardee, with its garrison, retreat 
ing across the Savannah river northward. 

What were your comrades under A. J. Smith doing all this 
while, and those that remained on the Mississippi? Where was 
the old 1 3th Corps? 

General A. J. Smith, on his way to join General Banks, as 
saulted and captured Fort DeRussey, on Red River, on the I4th 
of March and on the i8th entered Alexandria, where a few days 
after, General Banks arrived with his main army, consisting of 
the iQth Corps and the old I3th Corps. In this unfortunate 
campaign the representatives of the old Army of the Tennessee 
maintained their high reputation for courage, for patience and 
endurance; and in their devotedness to the navy when in its 
greatest distress and their labors to extricate it, when by the 
falling of the water it was about being entrapped in the Red 
River, proved that they could never forget those with whom, in 
common they had braved the dangers of battle and shared the 
honors of victory. 

General A. J. Smith, with his command, returned to Memphis, 
just after the defeat of General Sturgis, near Guntown, Mis 
sissippi, June loth, and proceeded at once to try his hand 
against the same force, and met and defeated it, July I4th, near 
Tupelo, Mississippi. Returning again to Memphis, he proceeded 
to Missouri and aided in driving Price out of that State. From 
Missouri he repaired with his command to Nashville and joined 
Major General Thomas. In the battle of Nashville, December 



APPENDIX 463 

1 5th, he bore a conspicuous part, and participated in the pur 
suit of the enemy. 

To cooperate with Banks in the Red River expedition, the 
forces under Steele in Arkansas moved out via Arkadelphia and 
Elkin s Ferry to Camden, which place they reached after de 
feating the enemy in several severe skirmishes, on the i6th of 
April, 1864. Learning there of the retreat of General Banks, 
besides losing one of their own trains, they fell back upon the 
line of the Arkansas. On the 3Oth of April, while crossing 
the Saline river, they were attacked by the enemy, whom they 
repulsed after a severe conflict. They reached the Arkansas, 
May 2nd. 

In February General A. J. Smith with his command of the 
old Army of the Tennessee went to the Department of the 
Gulf, and was in the campaign and capture of Mobile, April 
I2th. The I3th Corps shared too in this triumph. It also par 
ticipated in the capture of Forts Gaines and Morgan, in Mobile 
Bay, August 8th and 23rd, 1864. From Mobile they went to 
the Rio Grande. 

In the latter part of December Grierson made a successful 
and most damaging raid to the enemy, on the lines of the Mo 
bile and Ohio and Mississippi Central railroads, starting from 
Memphis and coming out at Vicksburg. You had your repre 
sentatives in the cavalry force engaged in the battle of Nashville 
and pursuit of Hood and also in the splendid, and to the enemy, 
terribly disastrous raid of Wilson s, which brought up in the 
capture of Jeff Davis. 

From Savannah on the 1st of February, 1865, Sherman took 
up his line of march for North Carolina, with the ultimate de 
sign of forming a junction with Grant in front of Richmond. 
The hopes and wishes of the Western armies, especially of the 
Army of the Tennessee, seemed about to be realized. They had 
long desired to confront the men that had so long resisted the 
heroism and prowess of the Army of the Potomac; but in this 
they were disappointed. Before their arrival Richmond had 
fallen and the old army of the Potomac with its comrades, had 
received the surrender of the army that had so long defended it. 

On the 1 7th of February you occupied Columbia and on the 
1 2th of March Fayetteville, on the Cape Fear river. In the 
meantime the remnant of Hood s army had united with Hardee s 
forces, with Joe Johnston again in command. On the I5th you 



464 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

resumed your march on Goldsboro. On the i8th the whole of 
Johnston s force attacked General Slocum at Bentonville. You 
hastened to his relief and assisted in defeating the enemy. Your 
presence defeated any further effort on the part of the enemy 
to disturb the march to Goldsboro, which was reached by Sher 
man on the 22nd. On the loth of April you set out from Golds 
boro for Raleigh and on the 26th Sherman received from John 
ston the surrender of the army bearing your name, an army 
which had been driven from every field or forced from every 
position where you had participated against it. 

On the loth of May you took up your march from Raleigh 
for the National Capital, passed en route through Richmond, 
late the capital of the rebel authorities and on the igth reached 
Alexandria, Virginia. On the same day General Logan relieved 
General Howard in the command of the Army of the Tennessee, 
General Howard having been appointed Chief of the Freedman s 
Bureau. Major General W. B. Hazen succeeded to the com 
mand of the 1 5th Corps. 

On the 24th, in front of the White House, in Washington, 
you were reviewed by the President and Lieutenant General, in 
the presence of the Cabinet officers, Foreign Ministers and dis 
tinguished officers of the army and navy, and tens of thousands 
of your countrymen that lined the great avenues of the Capital. 
From Washington you went to Louisville, Kentucky, and there 
passed out of existence as an army organization, and returned 
to your homes. 

General U. S. Grant, foremost among the military men of 
the age, your first commander, accords to your fidelity, to your 
skill, to your courage and prowess, his world-wide reputation 
a reputation that raised him from the command of an army to 
the command of armies, thence, with increase of reputation and 
rank, to the command of all the military forces of the United 
States, where his reputation still increased and honors still 
thickened around his brow, but none shines so bright as Vicks- 
burg. 

Lieutenant General W. T. Sherman, master of the art and 
science of war, whose fame as a military leader and strategist 
is not excelled in the annals of warfare your second com 
mander he, too, accredits to you a reputation that raised him 
to the command of armies, with increase of reputation, of rank 
and of honors. The loved and lamented Major General James 



APPENDIX 465 

B. McPherson, individualized in his country s history, and up 
to the time of his glorious death among the foremost of its 
illustrious defenders your third commander achieved his 
great military reputation in the Army of the Tennessee ; and al 
ways seemed to share it with every soldier in it. These soldiers 
while they live will take care of his memory, and our country s 
history will never be so abridged as to exclude his name and 
fame. He was the only army commander on the National side 
who fell in battle. He, too, was raised to a higher command 
a higher than Grant or Sherman to the command of that army 
of Immortals, the spirits of our martyred dead. Their white 
tents are pitched in and around the Celestial City. Reputations 
do not suffer there, nor honors ever fade. 

That illustrious soldier, Major General O. O. Howard your 
fourth commander had achieved a national reputation for his 
splendid fighting in the Army of the Potomac, and as commander 
of the nth Corps in the West, before he came to command you. 
You kept bright his military fame, and he cheerfully accredits 
to his command of the Army of the Tennessee, his advancement 
to a Brigadier General in the United States army. His humane 
and Christian character, his high reputation as a soldier, and 
the confidence he would inspire throughout the country, pointed 
to him as eminently fitted for the head of the Bureau of Refu 
gees, Freedmen and Abandoned lands, and to this position he 
was called. 

Major General John A. Logan, that daring and intrepid sol 
dier of volunteers, who carved his name with his sword as high 
up on the column of fame, to- be as long read there as any com 
mander of the war, was your fifth and last commander. He was 
emphatically one of yourselves, and was with you from the 
fiery fight of Belmont to your muster out. When McPherson 
fell, he succeeded temporarily to the command, and fought the 
day s battle, just as McPherson would have done had he lived. 
With the same pride you point to him as one of your representa 
tive commanders; he accords to your bravery and courage his 
high military reputation. With the end of the war and the ad 
vent of peace he went with you into civil life. 

In the siege of Corinth, the "Right Wing" of the National 
forces, comprising all but two divisions of the Army of the 
Tennessee, may boast the honor of being commanded by that 
distinguished soldier Major General George H. Thomas. His 



4 66 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

military reputation is as solid as the fact of the great rebellion 
itself, and will endure as long. 

Major General W. S. Rosecrans, the hero of Stone river, 
achieved a reputation in the command of troops of the Army 
of the .Tennessee at luka and Corinth that gave him increase of 
rank, and lifted him to the command of the grand old Army of 
the Cumberland. 

Major General E. O. C. Ord, commander of the Army of the 
James in the battles and campaigns that ended in the surrender 
of Lee, had distinguished himself in the command of troops of 
the Army of the Tennessee. 

Sheridan who stands in the front rank of the world s heroes 
with none in advance of him if he did not belong to the Army 
of the Tennessee, he served with it under its first commander. 
The English press style him the Desaix of the Civil War. But 
we style him a more than Desaix. Desaix brought upon the 
field of Marengo six thousand men and with them turned defeat 
into victory, while to the field of Cedar Creek, Sheridan s horse 
brought only Sheridan, whose genius alone retrieved the disaster 
of the day, and from defeat snatched victory. 

In no army did the soldier enjoy greater liberty, consistent 
with military discipline, than in the Army of the Tennessee, and 
in none were his rights and his life more carefully guarded. 
Newspapers, whether they supported the Administration or op 
posed it were alike permitted to circulate among the men. Cor 
respondents of the press, without regard to the political char 
acter of the papers they represented, had the same privileges 
granted them. Soldiers traveling on furlough were protected 
from the payment of exorbitant prices for transportation that 
were frequently sought to be imposed upon them. The mails 
from the time we left Cairo, kept up with us, and were dis 
tributed with almost as much regularity as in our large cities. 

Up to the time of its greatest triumph the death penalty had 
not been inflicted in the Army of the Tennessee. Men had been 
tried for desertion, and other offenses, the penalty for which 
was death, and found guilty and sentenced accordingly, but 
from various causes the sentences were not carried into execu 
tion. The discipline of the army was good, and there were no 
more desertions from it than from other armies, notwithstanding 
the fact that no man had been made an example of, by shooting 
in the presence of his comrades. 



APPENDIX 467 

The subordination of the Army of the Tennessee to the poli 
cies and acts of the government affecting the institution of 
slavery in the prosecution of the war, is worthy of the highest 
commendation. You had no policy of your own to propose, but 
went forth as expressed by the Legislative Branch of the Gov 
ernment, to do battle in no spirit of oppression, or for any pur 
pose of conquest or subjugation, or purpose of overthrowing 
or interfering with the rights or established institutions of the 
States in rebellion; but to defend and maintain the supremacy 
of the Constitution, and to preserve the Union with all dignity, 
equality and rights of the several States unimpaired. 

In this purpose and spirit you fought, interfering in no wise 
with the institution of slavery, save to maintain as free those 
who, with the consent of his master or lawful agent, might be 
found in arms or in the performance of any military service 
against the Government. 

September 22nd, 1862, President Lincoln issued his prelimi 
nary proclamation of emancipation. You accepted this as a 
means to the maintenance of the supremacy of the Constitution 
and the preservation of the Union with all the dignity, equality 
and rights of the several States unimpaired, and fought on. 
January ist, 1863, the great proclamation of emancipation was 
issued. In March following began the organization of negroes 
in the military service. Whatever prejudice may have existed 
against their being elevated to the position of a soldier in the 
service of the United States, was overcome by your devotion to 
your country. Their courage and desperate fighting at Millikin s 
Bend, June 7th, won your sympathy and respect; and the 23rd 
Iowa a regiment especially distinguished for its gallantry 
that lost in that terrible combat nearly one half of their number 
it had engaged, but expressed the magnanimity of the old army 
in accrediting the enemy s severe repulse to the colored sol 
diers. 

The Emancipation Proclamation and the arming of the ne 
groes (formerly slaves) intensified, if such were possible, the 
enemy s opposition to us. He refused to recognize them as sol 
diers or accord to them when captured the rights of prisoners 
of war. July i8th, 1864, it was in effect announced by the 
President that no proposition, unless it embraced the restoration 
of peace, the integrity of the whole Union and the abandonment 
of slavery, would be considered by the Executive Government 



4 68 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

of the United States. This abolition of slavery was thenceforth 
one of the conditions to peace. You continued to fight on until 
the enemy not only recognized the colored soldier, when captured, 
as entitled to be treated as a prisoner of war, but until the 
Rebel Congress, a Congress of slave holders, notwithstanding 
the bitterness with which they had denounced the National Gov 
ernment for the same act, passed a law authorizing the arming 
of negro slaves and putting them in the ranks side by side with 
the white soldiers of the rebel army. Thus, before the conflict 
ceased, they stood elevated to the dignity of defenders of the 
flag they were under, whether national or rebel, representing 
freedom or slavery. 

But you fought on until the military power of the rebellion 
was destroyed until the national flag, with two more stars than 
when you began, waved over every foot of soil of the United 
States until the supremacy of the Constitution was maintained, 
and the Union preserved with all the dignity, equality and 
rights of the several States unimpaired, and the Southern States, 
with those of the North, were willing, as they subsequently did, 
to ratify the constitutional amendment submitted by Congress, 
forever abolished slavery in the United States ; and secure to us, 
without question, the fruits of the great Emancipation Procla 
mation freedom to all. In your burning patriotism the preju 
dice against race perished as that of party in the commencement 
of the contest ; and you could read the Declaration of Inde 
pendence as Jefferson wrote it, and see realized the grand truth, 
"that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by the 
Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are 
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." That which was the 
subject race under the law was the equal of other races ; and 
if, in the Providence of God, greater privileges were to be ex 
tended to it, you could answer in your dead, "The sacrifice has 
been made, the lamb has been slain upon the altar, and the in 
cense has risen to Heaven/ 

Such, gentlemen, is a brief presentation of the career and 
character of the Army of the Tennessee. There are many con 
flicts and combats reflecting honor upon the national arms, and 
upon those engaged in them, scarcely or even incidentally al 
luded to. To collect and preserve reports of all battles, combats, 
skirmishes and reconnoissances, with the names of the organiza 
tions or detachments of troops engaged, and of the officers com- 



APPENDIX 469 

manding them, of the Army of the Tennessee, would be an 
object worthy of your consideration. 

They were in defense of the nation and the integrity of the 
whole Union. And if this national Union of ours is to be 
perpetuated, the heroic achievements of the whole national sol 
diery, not only of the Army of the Tennessee, but of all the 
national armies who contributed in an equal degree to the na 
tional triumph, must be commemorated as the deeds of Wash 
ington and his compeers, as those of the heroes of 1812, and 
as those of our countrymen in the war with Mexico; they were 
all alike under the national flag. 

The objects of your Society are to keep alive and preserve 
that kindly and cordial feeling which was one of the chief 
characteristics of the Army of the Tennessee, and which gave 
it such harmony of action and contributed so much to its glori 
ous achievements in our country s cause, and to hold in sacred 
trust the fame and glory of the officers of that army who fell 
on the field of battle or in the line of duty, or who, since the 
war, have been or may hereafter be stricken down by death ; and 
to cause proper memorials of their services to be collected and 
preserved, and thus transmit their names in honor to posterity; 
and to relieve by the voluntary contributions of its members, 
whenever brought to their attention, the families of such offi 
cers who may be in indigent circumstances all such families 
having a claim upon the generosity of the Society. 

Your dead line the banks of the great Mississippi and its 
tributaries and sleep upon every field of conflict in which you 
were engaged along the line of weary march and in the ceme 
teries of hospital and of home. To cause proper memorials 
of their services to be collected and preserved and thus transmit 
their names in honor to posterity, and to relieve their distressed 
families as far as we are able, will be to us not only a work of 
love, but a Christian duty. The Bible commands forgiveness of 
our enemies, but never forget fulness of our friends ; and in 
heaven s plan for the restoration of man to the high estate from 
which he fell life eternal remembrance of and belief in, the 
efficacy of the sacrifice made is especially required. We know 
the greatness of the sacrifice made that the nation might live 
we appreciate its efficacy and will not forget the dead the sacri 
ficed. 

What have the dead the sacrificed viewed as individual 



470 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

men, gained by this? Nothing. But viewed in the aggregate 
with other men as constituting a nation, in the life and per 
petuity of which, under heaven, is involved the highest destiny 
of the human race in giving up their lives that the nation might 
live and. be perpetuated they have gained the end of their ex 
istence here and returned to their God. 

We will never forget them, but labor to preserve the record 
of their virtues, their deeds of devotion and self-sacrifice, that 
it may pass to coming generations so bright that each suc 
cessively may be inspired to emulate it and forever preserve 
and perpetuate the national life and virtue. The nation will 
never forget its dead nor those dependent on them. If it should, 
it would be like the forest oak girdled in midsummer. The 
spring would come, but with it no sap to send forth its leaves 
in beauty again. Dangers would threaten the nation, perils 
would environ it, but there would be no patriotism to send 
forth soldiers in its defense there would be no voluntary offer 
of lives that it might live. But the nation will not forget them. 



IV 



ADDRESS OF GENERAL RAWLINS, DELIVERED AT GALENA, ILLINOIS, 

JUNE 14, 1867 

FELLOW CITIZENS: 

When a boy, bringing the produce of my father s farm of 
his forests and of his quarries to your market, I always met 
with favor and kindness. When grown to be a man, as a student 
of law I had your words of encouragement. When a practi 
tioner of law, I had your support and patronage ; and when the 
roll call of the nation sounded to arms, with your fathers, your 
sons, husbands and brothers, I went out from among you, with 
your blessings and your prayers, to aid in maintaining the 
supremacy of the Constitution and the Union; and after four 
years participation in the bloodiest war ever waged among men, 
and two years cognizance of the restoration of civil authority 
and constitutional government from its wreck and ruin, I come 
back to you and meet with a welcome that, were it not for the 
friendship you have always evinced towards me, I should at 
tribute wholly to my long, intimate association with that most 



APPENDIX 47i 

successful of the world s military chieftains, General U. S. 
Grant, and the great cause in which he achieved success. For 
this welcome, friends of my boyhood, friends of my manhood, 
friends of my whole life, accept my sincere thanks. 

Many of those who went from among you have not returned, 
and many who have are battle-scarred and maimed. This glooms 
your homes, and over your reception hangs like a pall. Where 
are those unreturned braves? Their bodies sleep in death on 
every battlefield and in every patriot cemetery in this broad 
land, but their souls awake in Christ have found peace with 
the God of Washington and of Lincoln. 

In no spirit of partisanship, but from the eminence of our 
nationality, let us review the cause of the war, the acts of the 
Government to prevent it, and while it was raging to induce its 
abandonment by those who controlled it ; its effect upon the Con 
stitution and the people of the United States and upon the gov 
ernments of the States that made it, and the acts of the Govern 
ment to restore to their proper efficiency and relation, every 
thing affected by it. They are the questions with which we 
are dealing to-day,, and it is the part of wisdom to consider well 
the probable effect of this dealing on the future of our country 
and of mankind. 

The Constitution adopted by our fathers, although the word 
slave or master does not appear in it, recognized their existence 
in the States, and provided for the protection of the master in 
his right to his slave, in the apportionment of representatives 
and direct taxes, and in providing for the delivery up of per 
sons held to service or labor in one State, who might escape into 
another, on a claim of the party entitled to such service or labor. 
In accordance with public opinion at the time, the Constitution 
was so formed that any one or all of the States might abolish 
slavery without any other effect than the increase of the repre 
sentatives and taxes of the State or States abolishing it. It was 
thought by a majority of the \distinguished statesmen who 
formed the Constitution that slavery would gradually and in 
time disappear from all the States. Massachusetts had abolished 
it, and it had been forever prohibited in the Northwestern Terri 
tory. Seven others of the States abolished it, but the increased 
value of slave labor put a stop to its abolition in other States, 
and their legislation tended to strengthen the title of the master 
and degrade the slave and free persons of his race. All sources 



472 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

of education were denied to them, and the right of suffrage, 
which free persons of color enjoyed in some of them, was taken 
away, and they were prohibited from coming into and settling 
in these States. In the free States, too, public opinion in sup 
port of. compromises in the interest of slavery that Southern 
threats of secession and disunion had forced them into under 
went a change, and in many of them disabilities were imposed 
upon free persons of color nearly if not quite as severe as in 
the slave States. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, 
which, to get Missouri into the Union as a slave State, forever 
prohibited slavery in the territory north of 36 deg. 39 min. north 
latitude, aroused the people of the free States upon the subject 
of slavery in the Territories, and made a decided change in 
public opinion. But the decision of the Supreme Court in the 
Dred Scott case that those of the enslaved African race, 
though free men, were not nor could not be citizens of any 
State, in the sense in which that word was used in the Constitu 
tion, and could not be parties to suits in any Federal Court, not 
even to those involving their rights, under the laws, to freedom ; 
that neither the enslaved African race nor their descendants, 
whether free or not, were included or intended to be in the 
Declaration of Independence, and formed no part of the people 
who framed and adopted the Constitution returned public opin 
ion in the free States to the point of its departure from the 
opinion of our fathers. 

The correctness of this decision, which involved the right of 
slavery in the Territories, as well as negro citizenship, was the 
main issue in the Presidential election of 1860. 

Against its correctness and justice, and in favor of Congres 
sional prohibition of slavery in the Territories, was recorded a 
majority of the popular vote, in all the free States, of 293,767, 
in favor of Mr. Lincoln, and the electoral vote of every one of 
them, except four from New Jersey. From the slave States 
there were recorded against it, and in favor of Mr. Lincoln, 
26,430. Mr. Lincoln had 180 of the electoral votes to 123 for 
all others. The result was held by the slave States as de 
structive of their rights in the Union, and especially endanger 
ing their title to their slaves, notwithstanding the fact that in 
both branches of Congress they had a majority in their favor; 
that the decisions of the Supreme Court were in their interests, 
and that Mr. Lincoln on the popular vote was 930,170 in the 



APPENDIX 473 

minority. With this apprehended danger as a pretext, eleven of 
the States withdrew their representatives from Congress, and, 
in hostility to the Union, organized a Government which they 
styled the Confederate States of America, in which slavery was 
to be forever perpetuated. 

Alexander H. Stephens, the vice-president of this rebel gov 
ernment, in his exposition of its constitution, and contrasting it 
with the Constitution of the United States, declared that the 
prevailing ideas entertained by Jefferson and most of the lead 
ing statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitu 
tion were that the enslavement of the African was in violation 
of the laws of nations; that it was wrong in principle, socially, 
morally and politically; that it was an evil they knew not well 
how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that 
day was that somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the 
institution would be evanescent and pass away ; that this idea, 
though not incorporated in the Constitution, was the prevailing 
idea at the time; that those ideas, however, were fundamentally 
wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of 
races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation and the 
idea of a government built upon it ! When the storm came and 
the wind blew, it fell. "But our new government," he said, 
"is founded upon exactly the opposite idea. Its foundations 
are laid; its corner-stone rests upon the great truth that the 
negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination 
to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, 
our new government, is the first in the history of the world based 
upon this great physical, philosophical and moral truth." 

Upon the issues so clearly stated by Mr. Stephens, war was 
made upon the United States, and for more than four years 
the lawful authority of the Union was resisted. Everything was 
done that could be done to induce the States and the people 
in rebellion to lay down their arms and return to their allegiance. 
The Territories of Colorado, Nevada and Dakota, comprising 
nearly all our remaining territory, were organized without any 
prohibition of slavery. President Lincoln in his inaugural ad 
dress, March 4, 1861, denied the purpose or lawful right of the 
Government to interfere with slavery where it existed, and de 
clared that he would enforce the provisions of the Constitution 
for the surrender of fugitive slaves ; that the Government would 
not assail the South, and that they could not have conflict with- 



474 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

out themselves being the aggressors. And Congress resolved, 
by an almost unanimous vote, on July 22nd, 1861, that the war 
was not waged on our part in any spirit of oppression, or for the 
purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or estab 
lished institutions of the States in rebellion, but to defend and 
maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to preserve 
the Union with all the dignity and equality of the several States 
unimpaired, and that as soon as these objects were accomplished 
the war ought to cease. But all these acts, declarations and 
resolutions had no effect upon those in rebellion. They strength 
ened, however, our hold upon the border slave-holding States, 
and made many in the free States, who seemed to hesitate, 
active supporters of the war measures of the Government, and 
answered the arguments of Confederate agents to the crowned 
heads of Europe for recognition, that we were making war 
upon them with a view to their subjugation and the destruction 
of their individual rights. No nation ever before so literally 
obeyed the scriptural injunction, "that ye resist not evil, but 
whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the 
other also." It was not until the seceding States opened their 
guns upon Fort Sumter that the majesty and manhood of the 
nation was aroused to resistance a resistance the magnitude 
and grandeur of which was only equaled by the good resulting 
from it to the human race. 

The only legislation in 1861 affecting slavery, after the war 
began, was to declare the forfeiture of the master s claim to his 
slave if he permitted him to be employed in any military or 
naval service against the Government. April 16, 1862, slavery 
was abolished in the District of Columbia. July 12, 1862, Con 
gress passed a law declaring, among other things, that all the 
slaves of those engaged in rebellion thereafter, or were in any 
way giving aid and comfort therein, coming within the lines 
of the army and the control of the Government in the manner 
therein described, should be deemed captives of war and for 
ever free ; and authorizing the employment and enlistment of 
negroes in the army of the United States, and authorizing the 
President at any time thereafter by proclamation to extend 
pardons and amnesty to persons who might have participated 
in the rebellion, with such exceptions, at such times, and on 
such conditions as he might deem expedient for the public wel 
fare. 



APPENDIX 475 

September 22, 1862, the President issued his preliminary 
proclamation of emancipation, in which he proclaimed that on 
the ist day of January thereafter all persons held as slaves 
within any State, or part of a State, to be then designated, the 
people whereof should then be in rebellion, should be then, 
thenceforward and forever free; that the fact that any State, 
or the people thereof, should on that day be in good faith repre 
sented in Congress, should, in the absence of strong corroborat 
ing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, 
and the people thereof, were not then in rebellion against the 
United States. 

January I, 1862, President Lincoln issued the emancipation 
proclamation as promised. The organization of negro troops 
was begun, and carried on with great success. During the war 
we had in the army over 200,000 of them, who, by their bravery 
and good righting, proved the wisdom of the Government. They 
hurt the enemy by leaving his plantations, as well as by the 
deadly aim of their muskets. 

April 24, 1863, Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, published to 
the country what the United States held to be the laws of war 
between them and a belligerent, which admitted of slavery, 
which was that if any person held in bondage by that belligerent 
was captured, or came as a fugitive under the protection of the 
military forces of the United States, he was immediately en 
titled to his freedom, and that a person so made free by the 
law of war was under the shield of the law of nations, and the 
former owner or State could have by the law of post liminy 
no belligerent lien or claim of service. 

December 8, 1863, President Lincoln issued a proclamation to 
the States and people in rebellion, extending amnesty and par 
don to all, except certain classes therein specified, who would 
take an oath to support the Constitution and Union and the acts 
of Congress and the proclamations of the President relating to 
slaves during the rebellion, so long and so far as not repealed, 
modified, or made void by the Supreme Court, and promising 
the guarantee of the United States to any republican government 
in no wise contravening said oath that one-tenth or more of the 
voters therein mentioned as qualified to vote might establish. 
This was with the view of forming a nucleus around which the 
loyal people could gather for protection. Tennessee organized 
under this proclamation, and abolished slavery. Arkansas and 



476 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

Louisiana commenced, but did not complete their organization 
to the satisfaction of the Government. 

On the i8th day of July, 1864, President Lincoln gave notice 
to the people in rebellion that any proposition embracing the 
restoration of peace, the integrity of the whole Union and the 
abandonment of slavery, and coming by and with an authority 
that could control the armies then at war against the United 
States, would be received and considered by the Executive of 
the Government of the United States, and would be met by lib 
eral terms on substantial collateral points. The South still per 
sisted in the maintenance of the rebel government and the per 
petuation of slavery. Sherman had not taken Atlanta nor made 
his famous march to the sea. Early had not yet been defeated 
by Sheridan, nor the Shenandoah Valley so stripped of supplies 
that, in the words of Grant s order, "Crows flying over it would, 
for the season, have to carry their rations." Thomas had not 
broken to pieces Hood s army, nor had Grant destroyed and 
captured the army of Lee. Enough hundreds of thousands of 
men had not yet fallen victims to the fury of the rebellion or 
been sacrificed upon the altar of freedom. The rebel govern 
ment still maintained its power and authority, and sent forth its 
edicts of war, bitter war, from the gates of Richmond. It still 
persisted not only in not giving freedom to the slaves, but in 
not recognizing them as prisoners of war, when captured in our 
service, in our uniform, and under our flag. It continued in its 
ranks tens of thousands of prisoners who had been captured and 
paroled by us, without giving the equivalents required by the 
cartel agreed upon for the exchange of prisoners. To redress 
this gross injustice and violation of the laws of war, all ex 
changes were suspended, and continued suspended until the cry 
of our prisoners, "We starve, we starve," came to us from Belle 
Isle, Andersonville and Salisbury. 

February 3, 1866, found Sherman moving from Savannah 
northward through the Carolinas; the forts at the entrance of 
Mobile and Fort Fisher, commanding the entrance to Wilming 
ton, in our possession; the troops moving from Thomas s army, 
both east and south, by rail and river, to complete the capture of 
these important cities; the fragments of Hood s army moving 
to join the force under Hardee that had fled from Savannah to 
interpose between Sherman and Richmond ; and rebel commis 
sioners, headed by their vice-president, Alex. H. Stephens, in 



APPENDIX 477 

conference with President Lincoln and Mr. Seward, Secretary 
of State, in Hampton Roads, on the subject of peace. 

Mr. Lincoln still insisted upon the integrity of the whole 
Union and the abandonment of slavery, and promised great 
liberality upon all collateral issues. But the representatives of 
the rebellion declined to accede to these terms. In March the 
rebel Congress authorized the enlistment of negro slaves in 
the Confederate service as soldiers. This was the first inroad 
of the rebel government upon the ideas on which it was founded. 
It was a concession that there was enough of the man left in 
the slave for a soldier, and entitled him to be treated when 
captured as a prisoner of war. It went far, too, toward remov 
ing the prejudice against him. 

The war for the perpetuation of slavery, however, continued 
the earth s thirst was still slaked by freemen s blood until the 
glittering bayonets of Grant s army flashed the sunlight in the 
face of Lee s, as they interposed between him and all hope of 
escape at Appomattox Court House, and Johnston surrendered 
to Sherman, and Dick Taylor and Kirby Smith to General 
Canby, and all the conditions of the laws of Congress and of 
war, as announced by the Government, entitling the slave to 
freedom, were complied with, and the great emancipation procla 
mation of President Lincoln obtained throughout the land. The 
rock upon which the Confederate government was founded was 
calcined, and the base fabric it supported sunk from the sight 
of men. 

The South was one vast camp of paroled prisoners, and the 
four millions of slaves constituted as many millions of their 
free population, and the military authority of the United States 
alone afforded it protection. If the African or enslaved race 
had no Moses to lead them from the land of bondage through 
the Red Sea of deliverance, they had masters whose hearts were 
hardened by the Almighty, through the agency of the Liberal 
party, to inaugurate a civil war that made the very land in 
which they dwelt a sea of blood which, when it arose sufficiently 
high to slacken their bonds so that they slipped from their limbs, 
Liberty s God made the earth drink up, and left them free. 

The restoration of the States that had been in rebellion to 
their proper relations with the Government required the action 
of both the President and Congress. President Johnson, who 
had succeeded to the Presidency upon the death of the lamented 



478 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

and immortal Lincoln, entered at once upon this important duty, 
and, had the Southern States filled their offices with men of 
the most approved loyalty among them, recognized not only the 
settlement of the question of secession, but also the settlement 
of the citizenship of the emancipated race among them, and their 
right to the benefit of all the laws for the protection of life, lib 
erty and property equally with white men, and extended to such 
as could read or write or paid a certain amount of taxes the right 
of suffrage, as suggested to them by the President, and chosen 
representatives to Congress whose loyalty during the war was 
above question, with what they did do in the ratification of the 
constitutional amendment abolishing slavery and the repudiation 
of the rebel debt, it might have been concurred in by Congress 
and approved by the people. But as they did not do this, Con 
gress through a joint committee of fifteen, known as the Com 
mittee on Reconstruction, instituted an inquiry into the character 
of their laws and governments, and their manner of administer 
ing justice, pending which their representatives were refused ad 
mission into Congress. At this time none of the prominent citi 
zens in these States, or officers of the army and civil departments 
of the Government, thought it practicable to withdraw the mili 
tary force, for both whites and blacks mutually required its pro 
tection, and it was so reported officially to the Government. 

On the 1 2th of January, 1866, official information from the 
South made it necessary to protect officers, soldiers and others 
who had been connected with the army and persons charged with 
offences done against the rebel forces during the rebellion, and 
the occupants and custodians of abandoned lands and property, 
to issue an order from the headquarters of the army directing, 
where it had not already been done, orders to be issued by local 
commanders prohibiting the prosecution of these classes for acts 
done under proper orders, or against the rebellion, in the State 
and municipal courts, and also to protect colored persons from 
prosecutions for offences for which white persons were not pun 
ished in the same manner and degree. 

April 2nd, 1866, President Johnson issued his proclamation de 
claring the end (except in Texas) of the insurrection which had 
existed in the seceding States, and that it was thenceforward to 
be so regarded. On the 1st of May, in an order relating to mili 
tary courts and commissions in these States, the President di 
rected that thereafter whenever offences committed by civilians 



APPENDIX 479 

were to be tried where civil tribunals were in existence which 
could try them, these cases were not authorized to be, and would 
not be, brought before military courts, but would be committed 
to the proper civil authorities. 

The result of the Congressional inquiry into the character of 
the laws and governments of the seceding States, and the manner 
of administering justice there, was to satisfy Congress that the 
governments in those States were illegal or anti-republican in 
form, and that the emancipated race was not afforded the equal 
protection of the laws with the governing class; that many of the 
disabilities that attached to them when slaves had not been re 
moved, and that in fact in some districts they had no protection at 
all, owing to the prejudice of the governing class against them 
and the neglect of the civil authorities to arrest and punish those 
who committed the crime of murder or other offences against 
them. Whereupon Congress, by virtue of the constitutional obli 
gation guaranteeing to each State within the Union a republican 
form of government, and the provision that no person should be 
deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, 
and its duty to settle the questions growing out of the war, passed 
the civil rights bill, and proposed an amendment to the Constitu 
tion known as "article fourteen." And as the right of States in 
this Union to representation in Congress is not greater than their 
right to republican forms of government, and in fact depends 
upon the existence of such forms of government, Congress de 
termined to withhold from the States lately in rebellion the en 
joyment of the right of representation until they returned to their 
republican character, or ratified the proposed amendment to the 
Constitution, which, it was believed, would in the end result in 
their return to such character of government without further 
action or interposition of the General Government. This amend 
ment was at once ratified by Tennessee, and her representatives, 
all of whom were loyal during the w r ar, were admitted to their 
seats in Congress, and she has since extended the elective fran 
chise to her colored citizens the same as her white ones. 

The civil rights bill met with great opposition in the South. 
The provision therein that citizens of every race and color, with 
out regard to any previous condition, should have the same right 
in every State and Territory in the United States to the rights 
therein enumerated, among which was the full and equal benefit 
of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and prop- 



480 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

erty, as is enjoyed by white citizens, and to be subject to like 
punishment with the white man and none other, instead of secur 
ing to colored persons the protection intended, seemed to increase 
their danger, in exciting and intensifying the prejudice of certain 
classes against them, and also against the officers of the army 
and of Hie Freedman s Bureau, and those who were Unionists 
during the war. They were frequently murdered and no attempts 
were made to arrest their murderers, although they remained 
quietly in the neighborhood. This failure to enforce the laws 
was sometimes from fear on the part of the better class of the 
people that their own lives and property would be endangered 
thereby, but more frequently from indifference on the subject. 
And when arrested and tried they were generally acquitted, or 
the punishment inflicted was but trifling. 

To remedy this condition of things, an order was issued from 
the headquarters of the army, June 6th, 1866, directing the mili 
tary commanders to arrest all persons who had been, or might 
thereafter be charged with the commission of crime, when the 
civil authorities failed, neglected or were unable to arrest and 
bring them to trial, and to hold them until a proper judicial tri 
bunal might be willing to try them. 

August 2Oth, 1866, President Johnson issued his proclamation, 
in which, after reciting among other things that adequate pro 
visions had been made by military orders to enforce the execu 
tion of the acts of Congress, to aid the civil authorities and se 
cure obedience to the Constitution and laws, if a resort to military 
force for such purpose should at any time become necessary, he 
declared the insurrection that had existed in Texas at an end, 
and was thenceforth to be so regarded as the other States, and 
that peace, order, tranquillity and civil authority then existed 
throughout the whole of the United States. 

The Constitution provides that representation and direct taxes 
shall be apportioned among the several States which may be 
included within this Union according to their respective num 
bers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number 
of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of 
years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other 
persons. The "all other persons" were slaves, and numbered, at 
the breaking out of the war, nearly four millions. They were 
regarded in the mixed character of person and property. Each 
one was three-fifths of a person and five-fifths a chattel. He 



APPENDIX 481 

was a peculiar kind of property and hard to hold, yet subject 
to taxation as any other kind of property. He was therefore 
invested with three-fifths of the human character, which was 
represented in the person of his owner. This enabled his owner 
to securely hold and enjoy him in the full character of a chattel, 
two-fifths of which was exempt from taxation. This was a com 
promise between those in the interests of slavery and those who 
desired its extinction. The provision for the return of fugitives 
from service to their masters was incidental to this, and applied as 
well to those bound to service for a term of years. 

The result of the war was the freedom of all the slaves, who, 
with the free persons of color, constituted more than two-fifths 
of the inhabitants in the eleven States in rebellion, and to render 
surplusage the words "three-fifths of all other persons" in the 
Constitution, and settled the question of their right to citizen 
ship adversely to the decision of the Supreme Court, as well as the 
right of secession forever. These were questions directly in 
volved in the contest. These were the auxiliaries to slavery for 
which the seceding States made war, and with it slavery ended. 

To hold otherwise, what would be its effect upon the States 
and citizens and their rights expressly derived from the Constitu 
tion? We would have four millions of people, each one a free 
agent to come when he pleases and go when he pleases, at least 
in the State where he resides, free to enter into contracts with 
States and citizens, contracts that may become subject to litiga 
tion. Yet he could not be made a party to any suit in any court 
provided for by the Constitution, nor could any suit in a State 
court in which is brought in question the validity of any statute 
of the United States be carried to any of these courts. He is not 
a citizen of any foreign Power. No citizen or State can enforce 
any rights they may have against him in any of these courts, no 
matter what the magnitude of their interests. This perhaps was 
a small matter when there was only a few thousands of these 
people, but when you increase them to millions it becomes a grave 
and serious one to the State and white citizens, but still more so 
to the colored race. Should not as many rights be accorded to 
liberty, under the Constitution, as were accorded to slavery? 
When the slave escaped into another State the master could fol 
low him into that State, no matter what its laws might be, and 
carry him back to servitude. Ought not the free man now, that 
was the slave then, to have the right of a citizen of the United 



482 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

States to go to any State, and remain there, no matter what its 
laws? 

The next question following that of citizenship is, Have the 
seceding States any equitable constitutional right to representa 
tion for the persons made free by the war, without granting to 
them the right of suffrage? Had slavery been abolished by an 
amendment of the Constitution while their relations with the 
Government were undisturbed or had they themselves peace 
ably and in obedience to the laws and provision for the protec 
tion of the emancipated and their rights of life, liberty and prop 
erty their equitable constitutional right to this representation 
would not have been questioned. The greatest consideration the 
party to that compromise in the Constitution that desired the 
extinction of slavery had, after the securing of the Union, was 
the hope that the increased representation it would give would 
induce the States to emancipate their slaves. But the emancipa 
tion contemplated was peaceable and in accordance with law, and 
not the result of violence and wrong. 

It may be said that these States have ratified the constitutional 
amendment, abolishing slavery peaceably and in conformity to 
law. To this we answer their ratification of the amendment was 
after their slaves had been freed. It was only a confirmation of 
that freedom which they were powerless to prevent, and ad 
vanced them one step nearer the restoration of their proper re 
lations with the Government; and this advanced step in that 
direction is the only consideration they are entitled to for their 
ratification of it. The consideration to the Government was 
that it put the adoption of the amendment beyond all possible 
question; but as the destruction of this compromise, in the free 
dom of the slaves, was the result of their own wrong, they not 
only can have no equitable claim under the Constitution to any 
benefits flowing from it, however great they may be, but should 
forfeit to the persons of these freedmen the right to the three- 
fifths representation they had for them when they were slaves ; 
and while they withhold from them the right of suffrage they 
not only are not entitled to representation for them, but they 
render questionable their republican form of government. These 
persons are no longer subjects to be bought and sold; their 
owners no longer pay the taxes assessed upon three-fifths of 
their value to the General Government, which entitled them to 
represent their three-fifths human character. But they are now 



APPENDIX 483 

free, and pay taxes for themselves all the taxes that are as 
sessed, too, upon the full value of their property. And above 
and beyond all this, they furnished two hundred thousand sol 
diers, who freely shed their blood side by side with the two 
million heroes of our own race in the maintenance of the Union 
and the Constitution. If ever it could have been plausibly 
argued that they were not of the people who framed the Gov 
ernment, it can never be said that they were not of those who 
saved it. 

In view of these facts, and the further fact that the repre 
sentation the States had for them was used as a means to secure 
and perpetuate their enslavement, ignorance and degradation, 
now that they are free, in the name of justice and all that is 
honorable among men, are they not entitled to representation 
to preserve that freedom and to subordinate the soil they culti 
vated in slavery and ignorance to taxation for the culture and 
enlightenment of their children and the elevation of their race? 
If their ancestors had been freed in the war for independence, 
and fought side by side with our revolutionary sires in denial 
of the right of taxation without representation, what would our 
fathers have done? Why, sirs, they never would have ques 
tioned their right to representation. Shall we, their sons, then, 
after having fought the great battle in support of the idea of 
man s equality, upon which our Government is founded, which 
they fought, over again, refuse to avail ourselves of the oppor 
tunity we now have to invest the descendants of the enslaved 
race so far as is within our power with all the rights they would 
have had if their ancestors had all been free at the formation 
of the Constitution? When the compromise of human rights 
made by our fathers to secure the Union has been swept away 
by the very party in whose interest it was made, in its mad 
attempt to destroy the Union, will we any longer withhold from 
those whose liberties and human character were involved in 
that compromise the inalienable rights of man? No; we will 
restore to them these rights as our fathers would were they 
living. 

James Madison, one of the authors of the Constitution and 
its ablest expounder, in discussing the subject of representation, 
said: "It is only under the pretext that the laws have trans 
formed the negroes into subjects of property that a place is 
disputed them in the computation of numbers, and it is admit- 



484 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

ted if the laws were to restore the rights which have been taken 
away the negroes could no longer be refused an equal share 
of representation with other inhabitants." Their right to repre 
sentation when free was unquestioned. It was admitted by 
all the leading statesmen of that day. It was a right to be en 
joyed by themselves, and not by the other inhabitants for them, 
and at the time of the adoption of the Constitution in at least 
five of the States they were entitled to and did enjoy the right 
of suffrage, and were represented in the convention that framed 
that instrument in the persons of every delegate from the States 
of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and 
North Carolina, and were of the people who, for themselves and 
their posterity, ordained it to be the Constitution of the United 
States of America. 

By the first section of the constitutional amendment now 
pending, citizenship of the United States and of the States is 
clearly defined, and not left to the discretion of the several 
States or decisions of courts. It provides that all persons born 
or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdic 
tion thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State 
wherein they reside, and that no State shall make or enforce 
any laws which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citi 
zens of the United States, nor deprive any person of life or prop 
erty without due process of law, nor deny to any person within 
its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. The second 
section, intended as a settlement of the question of representa 
tion, apportions representation among the several States accord 
ing to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of 
persons in each State, and excluding Indians not taxed, but 
when the right to vote is denied to any of the male inhabitants, 
citizens of the United States, and over twenty-one years of 
age, except for crime, the basis of representation shall be re 
duced in the proportion which the number of such male citi 
zens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens, twenty-one 
years of age, in the State. This secures the equal political power 
of voters in the Government. 

In deference to the acknowledged right of the State to regu 
late the question, suffrage was not expressly conferred upon the 
emancipated race, but, constituting so large a body of the people 
of many of the States, and affecting to such an extent as they 



APPENDIX 485 

do the representation, there was but little doubt that the States 
would extend to them that right. 

The Constitution defines treason against the United States to 
consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their 
enemies, or giving them aid and comfort, and empowers Con 
gress to declare the punishment of treason, but provides that 
no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood or for 
feiture except during the life of the person so attainted. Con 
gress declared the punishment of treason to be death or impris 
onment for not less than five years, and by a fine of not less than 
ten thousand dollars, the freedom of slaves and inability to 
hold office under the United States. Under the Constitution 
any one charged with treason has a right to a speedy and public 
trial by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the 
crime may have been committed, which district shall have been 
previously ascertained and fixed by law, and to be informed of 
the nature and cause of the accusation by presentment or in 
dictment of a grand jury. They cannot be tried in any other 
place or manner. The war embracing as it did the great mass 
of the people in the States and districts where it was mostly 
carried on, and the prevalence of the belief of the people there 
in the lawful right of secession, together with the conspicuous- 
ness of the principal leaders and the notoriousness of their par 
ticipation in it, in effect put a bar to all punishment for the 
crime of treason, under the Constitution. All the provisions 
of the Constitution for its punishment were rendered inoper 
ative, as it were, there was no such thing as jurors, such as 
the Constitution contemplates, in these States and districts, to 
sit in cases of treason. All had made up their minds on the 
question of treason and secession, and those believing in the 
right of secession would not, of course, find one guilty of treason 
who has only attempted secession; and the notoriousness of the 
participation of the principal leaders, the ones that ought to be 
punished, was such that few, if any, of those who believed levy 
ing war against their Government was treason, when examined 
as jurors could say they had not made up their minds as to the 
guilt or innocence of the accused. Besides, the great majority 
of them were themselves guilty, and one would scarcely expect 
them to render verdicts of guilty that might be pointed to as 
precedents against their own lives, liberty, property and eligibil 
ity to office. 



486 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

The result of the war upon the Constitution, then, in so far 
as it relates to treason and its mode of punishment, was to 
render the infliction of punishment so uncertain as to destroy 
its usefulness as a preventive of treason almost entirely, as well 
as to render the Government in a measure powerless to inflict 
any of Hie pains and penalties prescribed for it upon the leaders 
of the rebellion; for unless conviction for the offence could be 
had no punishment whatever could be imposed. No one could 
be put to death for treason, no matter how much the safety of 
society demanded it ; no one could be imprisoned for it ; no con 
fiscation of property or forfeiture of real estate for the life 
time of the person convicted, the constitutional limitation to 
such forfeitures, could be had, nor could any one guilty of 
treason be held incapable to hold office under the United States. 
These convictions could only be asked for from the communities 
most deeply stained with treason, and their refusal was almost 
certain. 

Thus, at the end of the most gigantic civil war that ever 
attempted the destruction of a nation, the Government found 
itself powerless to punish those who inaugurated and directed 
it in its fell purpose. The third section of the constitutional 
amendment, now pending, in a measure gets over the obstacles 
the rebellion has placed in the way of punishing treason, and 
makes its punishment certain to the extent it goes. It provides 
that no person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, 
or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, 
civil or military, under the United States, or any State, who, 
having previously taken an oath as a member of Congress, or 
as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State 
Legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, 
to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have 
engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given 
aid or comfort to the enemies thereof; but Congress may, by a 
vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability. This 
is not only magnanimous to the people in rebellion, but it is a 
wise precaution against treason; it renders none ineligible to 
office except those who had, previous to their rebellion, held 
office under the United States, and taken the oath to support 
the Constitution of the United States, which, by the Constitu 
tion, they were expressly required to take. To this exception, 
it seems to me, no reasonable objection can be had. To those 



APPENDIX 487 

included in it was once intrusted the power of the Govern 
ment, and had they been true to their offices and their oaths, 
there could have been no rebellion; and had it been at 
tempted, the Government could have given that protection to 
the people in the rebellious States they were entitled to; but 
the unfaithfulness of these officers rendered the Government 
powerless to prevent the rebellion, or to protect those of its 
people who would have been loyal could they have had protec 
tion. Those rendered ineligible to hold office are not disfran 
chised, but all the rights appertaining to citizens are theirs to 
enjoy, save that of holding office. Every other citizen of the 
United States who has the requisite qualifications, no matter 
how conspicuous he was in the rebellion, no matter how hard 
he fought against the Government, is eligible to any office, civil 
or military, State or Federal, even to the Presidency. If this 
is not magnanimity, what is? 

This amendment empowers Congress, by a two-thirds vote, 
at any time to remove the disability it imposes. Let the persons 
to whom the disability attaches pursue a wise course in support 
of the Government, and they may look forward to a time, and 
that, too, at no distant day, when their disability will be removed, 
and all the rights of citizens restored to them. 

Another result of the rebellion upon the people of the United 
States was the entailing upon them of a public debt of two thou 
sand five hundred millions of dollars, and obligating the pay 
ment of large sums, for pensions and bounties, for services in 
suppressing it. The rebel government and States, in aid of 
the rebellion, had an outstanding indebtedness of about two 
thousand millions of dollars, and obligations for pensions, too, 
in aid of it, and the claim of payment for emancipated slaves 
was unsettled. 

Who could say that there might not be danger at some time 
of the repudiation of our public debt and of our obligations for 
pensions and bounties, or assumption of the rebel debt and its 
obligations, and payments be made for emancipated slaves? It 
is hard to tell what a people who had lost so much by the war 
as those of the rebellion lost might not be stimulated to do to 
avoid the payment of a debt and obligations directly incurred in 
producing that loss, or what two thousand millions of money, 
aided by the millions claimed for emancipated slaves, might not 



488 LIFE OF JOHN A. RAWLINS 

effect in the Legislatures of the seceding States, or even in the 
Congress of the United States. 

The purpose of the fourth section of the constitutional amend 
ment is the settlement of these questions. It provides that the 
validity of the public debt of the United States authorized by 
law, including debts incurred for the payment of pensions and 
bounties for services rendered in suppressing insurrection or 
rebellion, shall never be questioned; but neither the United 
States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation 
incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United 
States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave, 
but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and 
void. 

It may be said that this amendment is unnecessary, that no 
one would think of repudiating our national debt or our obliga 
tions for pensions and bounties ; that if they did, the amendment 
would be no preventive; they would only have to elect a Con 
gress that would refuse the necessary appropriations to meet 
them ; and that it was idle to think of either the United States 
or any of the States assuming the rebel obligations of the pay 
ment of claims for emancipated slaves. To this it may be re 
plied that it will be difficult to find any one to go before the peo 
ple and advocate the repudiation of an obligation expressly de 
clared in the Constitution, when, but for its being so declared, 
they might be found. And as to the rebel obligations and the 
payment for emancipated slaves, it not only settles them for 
ever, but will make men cautious about giving credit to such 
rebellions in future. 

Of the necessity of these amendments to settle the questions 
that had been involved in the war and resulting from it there 
can be no doubt, yet all the seceding States, excepting Tennes 
see, rejected them as an infringement upon their constitutional 
rights. 

Was Congress correct in its decision that the States lately in 
rebellion have illegal or anti-republican forms of government? 
Of the want of protection of the persons and property of freed- 
men, there is no question. James Madison, in discussing the 
conformity of our Constitution to republican principles, in an 
swer to the question: "What, then, are the distinctive charac 
ters of the republican form ?" which he put, said : "If we resort 
for a criterion to the different principles upon which different 



APPENDIX 489 

forms of government are established, we may define a republic 
to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which 
derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the people, 
and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleas 
ure, for a limited period, or during good behavior. It is essen 
tial to such a government that it be derived from the great body 
of the society, not from an inconsiderable portion, or a favored 
class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising 
their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire 
to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the 
honorable title of republic." This we hold to be the true defini 
tion of a republican form of government in the sense in which 
that term is used in the Constitution. Do the forms of Govern 
ment in these States come up to this definition ? 

It may be replied that these States had republic