August 12th, 1861.
Your letter directed to me at Mexico, Missouri came to hand yesterday at this place. A glance at the map will show you where I am. When I came here it was reported that this place was to be attacked by 8000 secessionists, under General Hardee, within a day or two. Now Hardee’s force seems to have reduced, and his distance from here to have increased. Scouting parties however are constantly seen within a few miles of our pickets. I have here about 3000 volunteers nearly all infantry, but our position being strong, and our cause a good one, it would trouble a much larger force of the enemy to dislodge us. You ask my views about the continuance of the war, and so forth. Well I have changed my mind so much that I don't know what to think. That the rebels will be so badly whipped by April next that they cannot make a stand anywhere, I don't doubt. But they are so dogged that there is no telling when they may be subdued. Send Union troops among them and respect all their rights, pay for everything you get, and they become desperate and reckless because their state sovereignty is invaded. Troops of the opposite side march through and take everything they want, leaving no pay but scrip, and they become desperate secession partisans because they have nothing more to lose. Every change makes them more desperate. I should like to be sent to Western Virginia, but my lot seems to be cast in this part of the world.
I wanted to remain in St. Louis a day or two to get some books to read that might help me in my profession, and have my uniform made. Mine has been a busy life from the beginning, and my new-made friends in Illinois seem to give me great credit. I hope to deserve it, and shall spare no pains on my part to do so.
It is precious little time I shall have for writing letters, but I have subscribed for the Daily St. Louis Democrat to be sent to you, through which you may occasionally hear from me.
Write to me often even though your letters are not answered. As I told father in my last I will try to have you hear from me twice a month if I have to write you after midnight.
I told Julia she might go to Covington and board whilst I am away but I don't know but that she had better stay where she is. The people of Galena have always shown the greatest friendship for me and I would prefer keeping my home there. I would like very much though, if you would go and stay with Julia.
If I get a uniform and get where I can have my daguerreotype taken, your wish in that respect shall be gratified.
SOURCE: Jesse Grant Cramer, Editor, Letters of Ulysses S. Grant to His Father and His Youngest Sister, 1857-78, p. 47-9