Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

Hook, I explained to Captain Alden that my mission was ended,

because I believed by substituting myself for General Grant I had

prevented a serious quarrel between him and the Administration,

which was unnecessary. We reached Havana on the 18th, with nothing

to vary the monotony of an ordinary sea-voyage, except off Hatteras

we picked up one woman and twenty men from open boats, who had just

abandoned a propeller bound from Baltimore to Charleston which

foundered. The sea was very rough, but by the personal skill and

supervision of Captain Alden every soul reached our deck safely,

and was carried to our consul at Havana. At Havana we were very

handsomely entertained, especially by Senor Aldama, who took us by

rail to his sugar-estates at Santa Ross, and back by Matanzas.

We took our departure thence on the 25th, and anchored under Isla

Verde, off Vera Cruz, on the 29th.

Everything about Vera Cruz indicated the purpose of the French to

withdraw, and also that the Emperor Maximilian would precede them,

for the Austrian frigate Dandolo was in port, and an Austrian bark,

on which were received, according to the report of our consul, Mr.

Lane, as many as eleven hundred packages of private furniture to be

transferred to Miramar, Maximilian's home; and Lieutenant Clarin,

of the French navy, who visited the Susquehanna from the French

commodore, Clouet, told me, without reserve, that, if we had

delayed eight days more, we would have found Maximilian gone.

General Bazaine was reported to be in the city of Mexico with about

twenty-eight thousand French troops; but instead of leaving Mexico

in three detachments, viz., November, 1866, March, 1867, and

November, 1867, as described in Mr. Seward'a letter to Mr.

Campbell, of October 25, 1866, it looked to me that, as a soldier,

he would evacuate at some time before November, 1867, all at once,

and not by detachments. Lieutenant Clarin telegraphed Bazaine at

the city of Mexico the fact of our arrival, and he sent me a most

courteous and pressing invitation to come up to the city; but, as

we were accredited to the government of Juarez, it was considered

undiplomatic to establish friendly relations with the existing

authorities. Meantime we could not hear a word of Juarez, and

concluded to search for him along the coast northward. When I was

in Versailles, France, July, 1872, learning that General Bazaine

was in arrest for the surrender of his army and post at Metz, in

1870, I wanted to call on him to thank him for his courteous

invitation to me at Vera Cruz in 1866. I inquired of President

Thiera if I could with propriety call on the marshal. He answered

that it would be very acceptable, no doubt, but suggested for

form's sake that I should consult the Minister of War, General de

Cissey, which I did, and he promptly assented. Accordingly, I

called with my aide, Colonel Audenried, on Marshal Bazaine, who

occupied a small, two-story stone house at Versailles, in an

inclosure with a high garden wall, at the front gate or door of

which was a lodge, in which was a military guard. We were shown to

a good room on the second floor, where was seated the marshal in

military half-dress, with large head, full face, short neck, and

evidently a man of strong physique. He did not speak English, but

spoke Spanish perfectly. We managed to carry on a conversation in

which I endeavored to convey my sense of his politeness in inviting

me so cordially up to the city of Mexico, and my regret that the

peculiar duty on which I was engaged did not admit of a compliance,

or even of an intelligent explanation, at the time. He spoke of

the whole Mexican business as a "sad affair," that the empire

necessarily fell with the result of our civil war, and that poor

Maximilian was sacrificed to his own high sense of honor.

While on board the Susquehanna, on the 1st day of December, 1866,

we received the proclamation made by the Emperor Maximilian at

Orizaba, in which, notwithstanding the near withdrawal of the

French troops, he declared his purpose to remain and "shed the last

drop of his blood in defense of his dear country." Undoubtedly

many of the most substantial people of Mexico, having lost all

faith in the stability of the native government, had committed

themselves to what they considered the more stable government of

Maximilian, and Maximilian, a man of honor, concluded at the last

moment he could not abandon them; the consequence was his death.

Failing to hear of Juarez, we steamed up the coast to the Island of

Lobos, and on to Tampico, off which we found the United States

steamer Paul Jones, which, drawing less water than the Susquehanna,

carried us over the bar to the city, then in possession of the

Liberal party, which recognized Juarez as their constitutional

President, but of Juarez and his whereabout we could hear not a

word; so we continued up the coast and anchored off Brazos

Santiago, December 7th. Going ashore in small boats, we found a

railroad, under the management of General J. R. West, now one of

the commissioners of the city of Washington, who sent us up to

Brownsville, Texas. We met on the way General Sheridan, returning

from a tour of inspection of the Rio Grande frontier. On Sunday,

December 9th, we were all at Matamoras, Mexico, where we met

General Escobedo, one of Juarez's trusty lieutenants, who developed

to us the general plan agreed on for the overthrow of the empire,

and the reestablishment of the republican government of Mexico. He

asked of us no assistance, except the loan of some arms,

ammunition, clothing, and camp-equipage. It was agreed that Mr.

Campbell should, as soon as he could get his baggage off the

Susquehanna, return to Matamoras, and thence proceed to Monterey,

to be received by Juarez in person as, the accredited Minister of

the United States to the Republic of Mexico. Meantime the weather

off the coast was stormy, and the Susquehanna parted a cable, so

that we were delayed some days at Brazos; but in due time Mr.

Campbell got his baggage, and we regained the deck of the

Susquehanna, which got up steam and started for New Orleans. We

reached New Orleans December 20th, whence I reported fully

everything to General Grant, and on the 21st received the following


WASHINGTON, December 21,1866.

Lieutenant-General SHERMAN, New Orleans.

Your telegram of yesterday has been submitted to the President.

You are authorized to proceed to St. Louis at your convenience.

Your proceedings in the special and delicate duties assigned you

are cordially approved by the President and Cabinet and this



And on the same day I received this dispatch

GALVESTON, December 21, 1866.

To General SHERMAN, or General SHERIDAN.

Will be in New Orleans to-morrow. Wish to see you both on arrival,

on matters of importance.

LEWIS D. CAMPBELL, Minister to Mexico.

Mr. Campbell aarived on the 22d, but had nothing to tell of the

least importance, save that he was generally disgusted with the

whole thing, and had not found Juarez at all. I am sure this whole

movement was got up for the purpose of getting General Grant away

from Washington, on the pretext of his known antagonism to the

French occupation of Mexico, because he was looming up as a

candidate for President, and nobody understood the animus and

purpose better than did Mr. Stanton. He himself was not then on

good terms with President Johnson, and with several of his

associates in the Cabinet. By Christmas I was back in St. Louis.

By this time the conflict between President Johnson and Congress

had become open and unconcealed. Congress passed the bill known as

the "Tenure of Civil Office" on the 2d of March, 1867 (over the

President's veto), the first clause of which, now section 1767 of

the Revised Statutes, reads thus: "Every person who holds any civil

office to which he has been or hereafter may be appointed, by and

with the advice and consent of the Senate, and who shall have

become duly qualified to act therein, shall be entitled to hold

such office during the term for which he was appointed, unless

sooner removed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, or

by the appointment with the like advice and consent of a successor

in his place, except as herein otherwise provided."

General E. D. Townsend, in his "Anecdotes of the Civil War," states

tersely and correctly the preliminary circumstances of which I must

treat. He says: "On Monday morning, August 5, 1867, President

Johnson invited Mr. Stanton to resign as Secretary of War. Under

the tenure-of-civil-office law, Mr. Stanton declined. The President

a week after suspended him, and appointed General Grant, General-

in-Chief of the Army, to exercise the functions. This continued

until January 13, 1868, when according to the law the Senate passed

a resolution not sustaining the President's action. The next

morning General Grant came to my office and handed me the key of

the Secretary's room, saying: "I am to be found over at my office

at army headquarters. I was served with a copy of the Senate

resolution last evening." I then went up-stairs and delivered the

key of his room to Mr. Stanton.

The mode and manner of Mr. Stanton's regaining his office, and of

General Grant's surrendering it, were at the time subjects of

bitter controversy. Unhappily I was involved, and must bear

testimony. In all January, 1868, I was a member of a board ordered

to compile a code of articles of war and army regulations, of which

Major-General Sheridan and Brigadier-General C. C. Augur were

associate members. Our place of meeting was in the room of the old

War Department, second floor, next to the corner room occupied by

the Secretary of War, with a door of communication. While we were

at work it was common for General Grant and, afterward, for Mr.

Stanton to drop in and chat with us on the social gossip of the


On Saturday, January 11th, General Grant said that he had more

carefully read the law (tenure of civil office), and it was

different from what he had supposed; that in case the Senate did

not consent to the removal of Secretary of War Stanton, and he

(Grant) should hold on, he should incur a liability of ten thousand

dollars and five years' imprisonment. We all expected the

resolution of Senator Howard, of Michigan, virtually restoring Mr.

Stanton to his office, would pass the Senate, and knowing that the

President expected General Grant to hold on, I inquired if he had

given notice of his change of purpose; he answered that there was

no hurry, because he supposed Mr. Stanton would pursue toward him

(Grant) the same course which he (Stanton) had required of him the

preceding August, viz., would address him a letter claiming the

office, and allow him a couple of days for the change. Still, he

said he would go to the White House the same day and notify the

President of his intended action.

That afternoon I went over to the White House to present General

Pope, who was on a visit to Washington, and we found the President

and General Grant together. We made our visit and withdrew,

leaving them still together, and I always supposed the subject of

this conference was the expected decision of the Senate, which

would in effect restore Mr. Stanton to his civil office of

Secretary of War. That evening I dined with the Hon. Reverdy

Johnson, Senator from Maryland, and suggested to him that the best

way to escape a conflict was for the President to nominate some

good man as Secretary of War whose confirmation by the Senate would

fall within the provisions of the law, and named General J. D. Cox,

then Governor of Ohio, whose term of office was drawing to a close,

who would, I knew, be acceptable to General Grant and the army

generally. Mr. Johnson was most favorably impressed with this

suggestion, and promised to call on the President the next day

(Sunday), which he did, but President Johnson had made up his mind

to meet the conflict boldly. I saw General Grant that afternoon at

his house on I Street, and told him what I had done, and so anxious

was he about it that he came to our room at the War Department the

next morning (Monday), the 13th, and asked me to go in person to

the White House to urge the President to send in the name of

General Cox. I did so, saw the President, and inquired if he had

seen Mr. Reverdy Johnson the day before about General Cox. He

answered that he had, and thought well of General Cox, but would

say no further.

Tuesday, January 14, 1868, came, and with it Mr. Stanton. He

resumed possession of his former office; came into that where

General Sheridan, General Augur, and I were at work, and greeted us

very cordially. He said he wanted to see me when at leisure, and

at half-past 10 A.M. I went into his office and found him and

General Grant together. Supposing they had some special matters of

business, I withdrew, with the remark that I was close at hand, and

could come in at any moment. In the afternoon I went again into

Mr. Stanton's office, and we had a long and most friendly

conversation; but not one word was spoken about the

"tenure-of-office" matter. I then crossed over Seventeenth Street

to the headquarters of the army, where I found General Grant, who

expressed himself as by no means pleased with the manner in which

Mr. Stanton had regained his office, saying that he had sent a

messenger for him that morning as of old, with word that "he wanted

to see him." We then arranged to meet at his office the next

morning at half-past nine, and go together to see the President.

That morning the National Intelligencer published an article

accusing General Grant of acting in bad faith to the President, and

of having prevaricated in making his personal explanation to the

Cabinet, so that General Grant at first felt unwilling to go, but

we went. The President received us promptly and kindly. Being

seated, General Grant said, "Mr. President, whoever gave the facts

for the article of the Intelligencer of this morning has made some

serious mistakes." The President: "General Grant, let me interrupt

you just there. I have not seen the Intelligencer of this morning,

and have no knowledge of the contents of any article therein"

General Grant then went on: "Well, the idea is given there that I

have not kept faith with you. Now, Mr. President, I remember, when

you spoke to me on this subject last summer, I did say that, like

the case of the Baltimore police commissioners, I did suppose Mr.

Stanton could not regain his office except by a process through the

courts." To this the President assented, saying he "remembered the

reference to the case of the Baltimore commissioners," when General

Grant resumed: "I said if I changed my opinion I would give you

notice, and put things as they were before my appointment as

Secretary of War ad interim."

We then entered into a general friendly conversation, both parties

professing to be satisfied, the President claiming that he had

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