A Sketch of Gen. Grant.
"An intimate personal friend of Lieut. Gen. Grant" communicates to the National Intelligencer a biographical sketch of that officer, which appears to be much more complete than any that has appeared heretofore. Owing to the great popular interest in all that relates to the now actual commander of our armies, we make the following extracts from this sketch:
Gen. Grant was born at Point Pleasant, Clermont county, Ohio, on the 28th day of April, 1822, and is consequently only in his 42d year. His father, Jesse R. Grant, a tanner by trade, is a native of Pennsylvania, and was born in Westmoreland county in 1794, and is now living at Covington, Kentucky. — The Grant family is of Scotch extraction. In the early part of the sixteenth century two brothers emigrated from Scotland to the colonies. One settled in Connecticut and the other in New Jersey. From the one who located in the former colony have sprung the Grants of the North, and from the one in the latter the Grants of the South.
The mother of Gen. Grant was Hannah Simpson, a woman remarkable for good sense, attention to her domestic duties, and serious Christian character, blended with easy manners. She is a type of the mothers who produced the heroes of the Revolution. In 1818 she removed, with her father, John Simpson, from Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, where she was born, to Clermont county, and was wedded in June, 1821, with her present husband. Ulysses is the first child born of that marriage, and the "S" in his name stands for Simpson, the name of his mother's family. It is significant, however, that the initials "U. S." stand for the United States and "Unconditional Surrender," by which sobriquet he is so well and popularly known in the army.
In his boyhood he always exhibited a business turn, and was never without some particular purpose in hand requiring responsibility, perseverence and zeal serious enough for one more mature in years. An incident in point will illustrate this.
At the age of twelve he aspired to the management of his father's draught team, and was entrusted with it for the purpose of hauling some heavy hewed logs, which were to be loaded with the aid of levers and the usual appliances by several stout men. He came with his team and found the logs, but not the men. A boy of more imaginative genius, and of equal but of differently directed contrivance, might have laid down to listen or dream, or build houses of chips. Not so with this boy, who, unlike others, acted upon the idea that where there was a will there was a way, and hesitated not at the undertaking. Observing a fallen tree, having a gradual upward slope, he unhitched his horses, attached them to a log, drew it horizontally to the tree, and then drew one end of it up the inclined trunk, higher than the wagon truck, and so as to project a few feet over, and thus continued to operate until he had backed the wagon under the projecting ends, and finally, one by one, hitched to and drew the logs lengthwise across the fallen trunk on to his wagon, hitched up again and returned with his load to his astonished father.
On the 1st of July, 1839, Grant entered the Academy in a class of about one hundred, and while at West Point did not seem to be particularly attracted by speculating philosophy, but was remarkably fond of the more solid and concrete forms of demonstrative mathematics and all experimental exercises. He was the only one that had not studied the course at least one year and many of them had received a collegiate education. Only thirty nine graduated, he graduating in the middle of the number, June 30, 1843, and was soon after attached to the Fourth regiment of the United States Infantry, as brevet second lieutenant. The regiment was then stationed at Jefferson barracks, near St. Louis. In the same class we find the names of fifteen others who are Generals in the Union and rebel armies.
In the summer of 1844 the Fourth regiment was removed to Natchitoches, Louisiana, and in 1845, to Corpus Christi, where Lieut. Gen. Grant was promoted to a first lieutenant on the 30th of September. He served under Gen. Taylor, and participated in the battles of Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma and Monterey, and with Gen. Scott from Vera Cruz to the city of Mexico. He was twice breveted for gallant services, receiving the rank of brevet captain for meritorious conduct on the 13th of Sept., 1847, at the storming of Chapultepec. He was in all of Taylor's and Scott's battles that it was possible for one man to be in, and was eulogized by his commanding officers, as may be seen by reference to their reports, and that of the Secretary of War.
Gen. Worth highly complimented Lieut. Grant in his report. Major Francis Lee, commanding the 4th infantry, in his report says: "Second Lieutenant Grant behaved with distinguished gallantry on the 13th and 14th." Brevet Col. John Garland, commanding the 1st brigade at Chapultepec, says: "I must not omit to call attention to Lieut. Grant, 4th infantry, who acquitted himself most nobly on several occasions under my own observation." In the same memorable engagement, Grant assisted Capt. Horace Brooks, 2d infantry, to carry a strong field work and turn the enemy's right. For these meritorious services, Congress awarded him a brevet captaincy in the regular army, which was confirmed in January, 1855.
After the conclusion of the war, the 4th infantry returned to the United States, with headquarter at Detroit and Sackett's Harbor. Grant was retained as Quartermaster of that regiment.
Soon after his return from Mexico, Lieut. Grant married a Miss Dent of St. Louis, Mo., a lady of refinement and elegant manners.
In 1852 the 4th infantry was ordered to Oregon, where Grant was promoted to a full Captain in the regular army, and assigned to a company four hundred miles in the interior of California. After two years' separation from his family, he resigned and came home, settling in St. Louis county, Mo., but in 1855 removed to Galena, Ill., and entered his father's leather and saddlery store.
In 1855, we find grant a private citizen on a small piece of ground near St. Louis, from which he was often seen to haul wood, dressed in a farmer's garb, to sell at Carondelet, a village adjoining that city. Many citizens there recollect the delivery by him to their woodhouses, of the honest load. In the summer he had recourse to collecting for business houses, and does not seem to have shown any great skill in the art of dunning. The father a tanner, the son rarely comes nearer to a joke than when he expresses some pride in his knowledge of hides, leather and the art of tanning, while the nation praises him for what he knows in the art of war.
The public have often heard the charge that Gen. Grant is a dissipated man, and how desirous the President was to give some other General some of the same kind of whisky; that he is an inveterate smoker, dresses like a laborer, &c. The first of these accusations is happily entirely untrue. As to the rest the public very naturally, in the absence of authentic particulars, imagined the frequent counterparts which would make up altogether the motion of a jovial good fellow of the sporting sort, with that peculiar swagger of good natured demagoguery which makes so much spurious eminence in this country, and which covers itself from damaging scrutiny by some contagious joke or jolly buffoonery. Nothing could be more mistaken. — Grant, like his mother before him, never jokes and rarely laughs. He never uses a profane or indecent word, abhors dispute, and has never had a personal controversy in his life with a boy or a man; never made a speech, led a faction, or engaged in idle sport; never sad, he is never gay; always cordial and cheerful, yet always reserved. If he cannot be perfectly sincere he is perfectly silent. — Tolerant yet enthusiastic, he is always moderate, always earnest. He seems destitute of ostentation, and totally unqualified to display himself even to gratify reasonable curiosity, yet is not ashamed of himself, and appears to contemplate his early and late career with equal and with simple satisfaction.
His economy is universally conceded, and excited the astonishment of Quartermaster General Meigs, when he came to the field of the West.
A German, now a General in the army, noted for his excessive severity of criticism and intuition of character, meeting Grant while on the staff of Gov. Yates, made the sententious remark: "That officer is a pair of balances that can weigh different things at one time."
The amount and varied duties and labor devolving on a general with such a command as he has is incalculable, and yet it is said by his staff, several of whom are first-class lawyers, that he has never made a mistake or blunder or made a decision that needed revoking. His military correspondence has cost the Government far less than that of any other commanding General who has done one half the amount of service.
But the highest meed of praise is due to Gen. Grant for having so discharged his duties that he has had no jealusies, bickerings, or quarrels in his camp among his officers — no court-martial, and no men shot for desertion.
Being an excellent judge of character it is a ready and easy matter for him to discern between the superficial pretender and the man of solid merit, and he invariably has the right one in the right place when permitted to make the selection.
He sent no foolish proclamations before him — issued no arbitrary edicts against the press — has graced his victories with humanity — coveted no flattery, and molested no citizens in his rights of liberty. Original and self-reliant, he has patterned after no model, but marked with his own hand the bold outlines of his success and glory. In short, he combines in himself all the great essentials of character, and is nobly appropriating them to his country at the hour of its need and darkness.
We have omitted the writer's sketch of Gen. Grant's operations in this war, as they are too well known to require repetition.