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Personal Memoirs Personal Memoirs by Ulysses S. Grant
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“But my later experience has taught me two lessons: first, that things are seen plainer after the events have occurred; second, that the most confident critics are generally those who know the least about the matter criticised.”
Grant, Ulysses S., Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“The distant rear of an army engaged in battle is not the best place from which to judge correctly what is going on in front.”
Ulysses S. Grant, The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant
tags: war
“There are many men who would have done better than I did under the circumstances in which I found myself. If I had never held command, if I had fallen, there were 10,000 behind who would have followed the contest to the end and never surrendered the Union.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs
“As time passes, people, even of the South, will begin to wonder how it was possible that their ancestors ever fought for or justified institutions which acknowledged the right of property in man.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“To maintain peace in the future it is necessary to be prepared for war.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“When the men were all back in their places in line, the command to advance was given. As I looked down that long line of about three thousand armed men, advancing towards a larger force also armed, I thought what a fearful responsibility General Taylor must feel, commanding such a host and so far away from friends. The Mexicans immediately opened fire upon us, first with artillery and then with infantry. At first their shots did not reach us, and the advance was continued. As we got nearer, the cannon balls commenced going through the ranks. They hurt no one, however, during this advance, because they would strike the ground long before they reached our line, and ricochetted through the tall grass so slowly that the men would see them and open ranks and let them pass.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs
“I am not aware of ever having used a profane expletive in my life; but I would have the charity to excuse those who may have done so, if they were in charge of a train of Mexican pack mules at the time. CHAPTER VIII.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“General Lee was dressed in a full uniform which was entirely new, and was wearing a sword of considerable value, very likely the sword which had been presented by the State of Virginia; at all events, it was an entirely different sword from the one that would ordinarily be worn in the field. In my rough traveling suit, the uniform of a private with the straps of a lieutenant-general, I must have contrasted very strangely with a man so handsomely dressed, six feet high and of faultless form. But this was not a matter that I thought of until afterwards.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“the most confident critics are generally those who know the least about the matter criticised.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant, Includes Both Volumes
“He said to me that I might want an officer who had served with me in the West, mentioning Sherman specially, to take his place. If so, he begged me not to hesitate about making the change. He urged that the work before us was of such vast importance to the whole nation that the feeling or wishes of no one person should stand in the way of selecting the right men for all positions. For himself, he would serve to the best of his ability wherever placed. I assured him that I had no thought of substituting any one for him. As to Sherman, he could not be spared from the West. This incident gave me even a more favorable opinion of Meade than did his great victory at Gettysburg the July before. It is men who wait to be selected, and not those who seek, from whom we may always expect the most efficient service.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“I gave up all idea of saving the Union except by complete conquest. Up to that time it had been the policy of our army, certainly of that portion commanded by me, to protect the property of the citizens whose territory was invaded, without regard to their sentiments, whether Union or Secession.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“While a battle is raging one can see his enemy mowed down by the thousand, or the ten thousand, with great composure; but after the battle these scenes are distressing, and one is naturally disposed to do as much to alleviate the suffering of an enemy as a friend.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“It is possible that the question of a conflict between races may come up in the future, as did that between freedom and slavery before. The condition of the colored man within our borders may become a source of anxiety, to say the least. But he was brought to our shores by compulsion, and he now should be considered as having as good a right to remain here as any other class of our citizens.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant, Includes Both Volumes
“The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times. The 4th infantry went into camp at Salubrity in the month of May, 1844, with instructions, as I have said, to await further orders.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“No political party can or ought to exist when one of its corner-stones is opposition to freedom of thought and to the right to worship God “according to the dictate of one’s own conscience,” or according to the creed of any religious denomination whatever.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“nothing could be more dishonorable than to accept high rank and command in war and then betray the trust.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“From that age until seventeen I did all the work done with horses, such as breaking up the land, furrowing, ploughing corn and potatoes, bringing in the crops when harvested, hauling all the wood, besides tending two or three horses, a cow or two, and sawing wood for stoves, etc., while still attending school. For this I was compensated by the fact that there was never any scolding or punishing by my parents; no objection to rational enjoyments, such as fishing, going to the creek a mile away to swim in summer, taking a horse and visiting my grandparents in the adjoining county, fifteen miles off, skating on the ice in winter, or taking a horse and sleigh when there was snow on the ground. While still quite young I had visited Cincinnati, forty-five miles away, several times, alone; also Maysville, Kentucky, often, and once Louisville. The journey to Louisville was a big one for a boy of that day. I had also gone once with a two-horse carriage to Chilicothe, about seventy miles, with a neighbor’s family, who were removing to Toledo, Ohio, and returned alone; and had gone once, in like manner, to Flat Rock, Kentucky, about seventy miles away. On this latter occasion I was fifteen years of age.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“I thought how little interest the men before me had in the results of the war, and how little knowledge they had of “what it was all about.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“At that time I found that many of the citizens had been living under ground. The ridges upon which Vicksburg is built, and those back to the Big Black, are composed of a deep yellow clay of great tenacity. Where roads and streets are cut through, perpendicular banks are left and stand as well as if composed of stone. The magazines of the enemy were made by running passage-ways into this clay at places where there were deep cuts. Many citizens secured places of safety for their families by carving out rooms in these embankments. A door-way in these cases would be cut in a high bank, starting from the level of the road or street, and after running in a few feet a room of the size required was carved out of the clay, the dirt being removed by the door-way. In some instances I saw where two rooms were cut out, for a single family, with a door-way in the clay wall separating them. Some of these were carpeted and furnished with considerable elaboration. In these the occupants were fully secure from the shells of the navy,”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“Inasmuch as he had relieved Johnston and appointed Hood, and Hood had immediately taken the initiative, it is natural to suppose that Mr. Davis was disappointed with General Johnston’s policy. My own judgment is that Johnston acted very wisely: he husbanded his men and saved as much of his territory as he could, without fighting decisive battles in which all might be lost. As Sherman advanced, as I have show, his army became spread out, until, if this had been continued, it would have been easy to destroy it in detail. I know that both Sherman and I were rejoiced when we heard of the change. Hood was unquestionably a brave, gallant soldier and not destitute of ability; but unfortunately his policy was to fight the enemy wherever he saw him, without thinking much of the consequences of defeat.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“Sherman’s army, after all the depletions, numbered about sixty thousand effective men. All weak men had been left to hold the rear, and those remaining were not only well men, but strong and hardy, so that he had sixty thousand as good soldiers as ever trod the earth; better than any European soldiers, because they not only worked like a machine but the machine thought. European armies know very little what they are fighting for, and care less.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“[The Mexican war made three presidential candidates, Scott, Taylor and Pierce—and any number of aspirants for that high office. It made also governors of States, members of the cabinet, foreign ministers and other officers of high rank both in state and nation. The rebellion, which contained more war in a single”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“He was a large, austere man, and I judge difficult of approach to his subordinates. To be extolled by the entire press of the South after every engagement, and by a portion of the press North with equal vehemence, was calculated to give him the entire confidence of his troops and to make him feared by his antagonists. It was not an uncommon thing for my staff-officers to hear from Eastern officers, “Well, Grant has never met Bobby Lee yet.” There were good and true officers who believe now that the Army of Northern Virginia was superior to the Army of the Potomac man to man. I do not believe so, except as the advantages spoken of above made them so. Before the end I believe the difference was the other way. The Army of Northern Virginia became despondent and saw the end. It did not please them. The National army saw the same thing, and were encouraged by”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“The President said: “General Grant, the nation’s appreciation of what you have done, and its reliance upon you for what remains to be done in the existing great struggle, are now presented, with this commission constituting you lieutenant-general in the Army of the United States. With this high honor, devolves upon you, also, a corresponding responsibility. As the country herein trusts you, so,”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“the great advantage the South possessed over the North at the beginning of the rebellion. They had from thirty to forty per cent. of the educated soldiers of the Nation. They had no standing army and, consequently, these trained soldiers had to find employment with the troops from their own States. In this way what there was of military education and training was distributed throughout their whole army. The whole loaf was leavened.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“On several occasions during the war he came to the relief of the Union army by means of his SUPERIOR MILITARY GENIUS.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“the question of who devised the plan of march from Atlanta to Savannah is easily answered: it was clearly Sherman, and to him also belongs the credit of its brilliant execution.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“The Mississippi was now in our possession from its source to its mouth, except in the immediate front of Vicksburg and of Port Hudson.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“These reconnoissances were made under the supervision of Captain Robert E. Lee, assisted by Lieutenants P. G. T. Beauregard, Isaac I. Stevens, Z. B. Tower, G. W. Smith, George B. McClellan, and J. G. Foster, of the corps of engineers, all officers who attained rank and fame, on one side or the other, in the great conflict for the preservation of the unity of the nation.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes
“The problem for us was to move forward to a decisive victory, or our cause was lost.”
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: All Volumes

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