September 11th, 1861.
Your letter with a short one from Father was received yesterday, and having a little time I answer it.
The troops under me and the rebel forces are getting so close together however that I have to watch all points. Since taking command I have taken possession of the Kentucky bank opposite here, fortified it and placed four large pieces in position. Have occupied Norfolk, Missouri, and taken possession of Paducah. My troops are so close to the enemy as to occasionally exchange shots with the pickets. To-day, or rather last night, sixty or seventy rebels came upon seventeen of our men and were repulsed with a loss of two men killed on their side, none hurt on ours. Yesterday there was skirmishing all day. We had but two wounded however, whilst the loss must have been considerable on the other.
What future operations will be, of course I don't know. I could not write about it in advance if I did. The rebel force numerically is much stronger than ours, but the difference is more than made up by having truth and justice on our side, whilst on the other they are cheered on by falsehood and deception. This war however is formidable and I regret to say cannot end so soon as I anticipated at first.
Father asks for a position for Albert Griffith. I have no place to give and at best could use only my influence. I receive letters from all over the country for such places, but do not answer them. I never asked for my present position, but now that I have it I intend to perform the duties as rigidly as I know how without looking out for places for others. I should be very glad if I had a position within my own gift for Al. but I have not.
My duties are very laborious and have been from the start. It is a rare thing that I get to bed before two or three o'clock in the morning and am usually wakened in the morning before getting awake in a natural way. Now, however, my staff are getting a little in the way of this kind of business and can help me.
I have been stopped so often already in writing this that I have forgotten what I was going to write about.
Are you talking of paying Julia a visit? I wrote to you and father about it several times but have failed to elicit an answer on that point. I intended to have Julia, Miss and Jess come down here to pay me a visit but I hardly think it would be prudent at this time. Hearing artillery within a few miles it might embarrass my movements to have them about. I am afraid they would make poor soldiers.
Write to me again soon.
SOURCE: Jesse Grant Cramer, Editor, Letters of Ulysses S. Grant to His Father and His Youngest Sister, 1857-78, p. 56-8