September 3, 1861.
YOUR very kind letter was received at Jefferson City, and would have been answered at once but for the remark that you were about to 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 I may be, that you spoke of paying me there.
In regard to the appointment of Mr. Rawlins,1 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 past 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 intrust me with an important command here, my command 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.
1 John A. Rawlins (1831-1869), joined General Grant's staff in August, 1861, and served with him to the close of the rebellion. He became Secretary of War in March, 1869. Grant was greatly attached to him, and deeply mourned his death.
SOURCE: James Grant Wilson, Editor, General Grant’s Letters to a Friend 1861-1880, p. 1-2 & 111