Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ulysses S. Grant to Jesse Root Grant, May 6, 1861

Camp Yates, near Springfield,
May 6th. 1861.

Dear Father:

Your second letter, dated the first of May has just come to hand. I commenced writing you a letter three or four days ago but was interrupted so often that I did not finish it. I wrote one to Mary which no doubt was duly received, but do not remember whether it answers your questions or not.

At the time our first Galena company was raised I did not feel at liberty to engage in hot haste, but took an active interest in drilling them, and imparting all the instruction I could, and at the request of the members of the company, and of Mr. Washburn, I came here for the purpose of assisting for a short time in camp, and of offering, if necessary, my services for the war. The next two days after my arrival it was rainy and muddy so that the troops could not drill and I concluded to go home. Governor Yates heard it and requested me to remain. Since that I have been acting in that capacity, and for the last few days have been in command of this camp. The last of the six regiments called for from this State, will probably leave by tomorrow, or the day following, and then I shall be relieved from this command.

The Legislature of this State provided for the raising of eleven additional regiments and a battalion of artillery; a portion of these the Governor will appoint me to muster into the service of the State, when I presume my services may end. I might have obtained the colonelcy of a regiment possibly, but I was perfectly sickened at the political wire-pulling for all these commissions, and would not engage in it. I shall be in no ways backward in offering my services when and where they are required, but I feel that I have done more now than I could do serving as a captain under a green colonel, and if this thing continues they will want more men at a later day.

There have been fully 30,000 more volunteers who have offered their services, than can be accepted under the present call, without including the call made by the State; but I can go back to Galena and drill the three or four companies there, and render them efficient for any future call. My own opinion is that this war will be but of short duration. The Administration has acted most prudently and sagaciously so far in not bringing on a conflict before it had its forces fully marshalled.  When they do strike, our thoroughly loyal states will be fully protected, and a few decisive victories in some of the southern ports will send the secession army howling, and the leaders in the rebellion will flee the country. All the states will then be loyal for a generation to come. Negroes will depreciate so rapidly in value that nobody will want to own them, and their masters will be the loudest in their declamation against the institution from a political and economic point of view. The negro will never disturb this country again. The worst that is to be apprehended from him is now: he may revolt and cause more destruction than any Northern man, except it be the ultra-abolitionist, wants to see. A Northern army may be required in the next ninety days to go South to suppress a negro insurrection. As much as the South have vilified the North, that army would go on such a mission and with the purest motives.
I have just received a letter from Julia. All are well. Julia takes a very sensible view of our present difficulties. She would be sorry to have me go, but thinks the circumstances may warrant it and will not throw a single obstacle in the way.

There is no doubt but the valiant Pillow has been planning an attack on Cairo; but as he will learn that that point is well garrisoned and that they have their ditch on the outside, filled with water, he will probably desist. As, however, he would find it necessary to receive a wound, on the first discharge of firearms, he would not be a formidable enemy. I do not say he would shoot himself, ah no! I am not so uncharitable as many who served under him in Mexico. I think, however, he might report himself wounded on the receipt of a very slight scratch, received hastily in any way, and might irritate the sore until he convinced himself that he had been wounded by the enemy.

Tell Simpson that I hope he will be able to visit us this summer. I should like very much to have him stay with us and I want him to make my house his home.

Remember me to all.

SOURCE: Jesse Grant Cramer, Editor, Letters of Ulysses S. Grant to His Father and His Youngest Sister, 1857-78, p. 34-7

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