Saturday, November 10, 2012

Major General Ulysses S. Grant to Congressman Elihu B. Washburne, June 19, 1862

Corinth, Mississippi,
June 19, 1862.

YOUR letter of the 8th inst., addressed to me at Covington, Ky., has just reached me. At the time the one was written to which it is an answer I had leave to go home or to Covington, but General Halleck requested me to remain for a few days. Afterward when I spoke of going he asked that I should remain a little longer if my business was not of pressing importance. As I really had no business, and had not asked leave on such grounds, I told him so, and that if my services were required I would not go at all. This settled my leave for the present, and for the war. So long as my services are required I do not wish to leave. I am exceedingly obliged to you for the interest you have taken in the appointment recommended by me, and also for the assurance that the Secretary of War receives it with such favor. I will endeavor never to make a recommendation unsafe to accede to.

I shall leave here on the 21st for Memphis, where my headquarters will be located for the time being. Western Tennessee is fast being reduced to working order, and I think, with the introduction of the mails, trade, and the assurance that we can hold it, it will become loyal or, at least, law-abiding. It will not do, however, for our arms to meet with any great reverse and still expect this result. The masses this day are more disloyal in the South from fear of what might befall them in case of defeat to the Union cause than from any dislike to the Government. One week to them (after giving in their adhesion to our laws) would be worse under the so-called Confederate Government than a year of martial law administered by this army. It is hard to say what would be the most wise policy to pursue toward these people, but for a soldier his duties are plain. He is to obey the orders of all those placed over him, and whip the enemy wherever he meets him. “If he can” should only be thought of after an unavoidable defeat. If you are acquainted with Senator Collamore of Vermont, I would be pleased if you would say to him that there is a young colonel in the Eleventh Illinois Regiment, a native of his State, that I have taken a great interest in for his gallantry and worth. I mean Colonel Ransom.6 He has now been wounded three times in separate engagements, but never showed a willingness to relinquish his command until the day was decided, and always declines a leave to recover from his wounds lest something should transpire in his absence.

6Colonel Ransom. Thomas E. G. Ransom (1834-1864), major Eleventh Illinois Infantry, July 30, 1861; colonel, February 15, 1862; and brigadier general, November 29, 1862. He was among the most gallant of our young volunteer officers of the Army of the Tennessee.

SOURCE: James Grant Wilson, Editor, General Grant’s Letters to a Friend 1861-1880, p. 15-7, 114

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