Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant

Up to this time the enemies of the government in St. Louis had
been bold and defiant, while Union men were quiet but
determined. The enemies had their head-quarters in a central
and public position on Pine Street, near Fifth–from which the
rebel flag was flaunted boldly. The Union men had a place of
meeting somewhere in the city, I did not know where, and I doubt
whether they dared to enrage the enemies of the government by
placing the national flag outside their head-quarters. As soon
as the news of the capture of Camp Jackson reached the city the
condition of affairs was changed. Union men became rampant,
aggressive, and, if you will, intolerant. They proclaimed their
sentiments boldly, and were impatient at anything like disrespect
for the Union. The secessionists became quiet but were filled
with suppressed rage. They had been playing the bully. The
Union men ordered the rebel flag taken down from the building on
Pine Street. The command was given in tones of authority and it
was taken down, never to be raised again in St. Louis.

I witnessed the scene. I had heard of the surrender of the camp
and that the garrison was on its way to the arsenal. I had seen
the troops start out in the morning and had wished them
success. I now determined to go to the arsenal and await their
arrival and congratulate them. I stepped on a car standing at
the corner of 4th and Pine streets, and saw a crowd of people
standing quietly in front of the head-quarters, who were there
for the purpose of hauling down the flag. There were squads of
other people at intervals down the street. They too were quiet
but filled with suppressed rage, and muttered their resentment
at the insult to, what they called, “their” flag. Before the
car I was in had started, a dapper little fellow–he would be
called a dude at this day–stepped in. He was in a great state
of excitement and used adjectives freely to express his contempt
for the Union and for those who had just perpetrated such an
outrage upon the rights of a free people. There was only one
other passenger in the car besides myself when this young man
entered. He evidently expected to find nothing but sympathy
when he got away from the “mud sills” engaged in compelling a
“free people” to pull down a flag they adored. He turned to me
saying: “Things have come to a —- pretty pass when a free
people can’t choose their own flag. Where I came from if a man
dares to say a word in favor of the Union we hang him to a limb
of the first tree we come to.” I replied that “after all we
were not so intolerant in St. Louis as we might be; I had not
seen a single rebel hung yet, nor heard of one; there were
plenty of them who ought to be, however.” The young man
subsided. He was so crestfallen that I believe if I had ordered
him to leave the car he would have gone quietly out, saying to
himself: “More Yankee oppression.”

By nightfall the late defenders of Camp Jackson were all within
the walls of the St. Louis arsenal, prisoners of war. The next
day I left St. Louis for Mattoon, Illinois, where I was to
muster in the regiment from that congressional district. This
was the 21st Illinois infantry, the regiment of which I
subsequently became colonel. I mustered one regiment
afterwards, when my services for the State were about closed.

Brigadier-General John Pope was stationed at Springfield, as
United States mustering officer, all the time I was in the State
service. He was a native of Illinois and well acquainted with
most of the prominent men in the State. I was a carpet-bagger
and knew but few of them. While I was on duty at Springfield
the senators, representatives in Congress, ax-governors and the
State legislators were nearly all at the State capital. The
only acquaintance I made among them was with the governor, whom
I was serving, and, by chance, with Senator S. A. Douglas. The
only members of Congress I knew were Washburne and Philip
Foulk. With the former, though he represented my district and
we were citizens of the same town, I only became acquainted at
the meeting when the first company of Galena volunteers was
raised. Foulk I had known in St. Louis when I was a citizen of
that city. I had been three years at West Point with Pope and
had served with him a short time during the Mexican war, under
General Taylor. I saw a good deal of him during my service with
the State. On one occasion he said to me that I ought to go into
the United States service. I told him I intended to do so if
there was a war. He spoke of his acquaintance with the public
men of the State, and said he could get them to recommend me for
a position and that he would do all he could for me. I declined
to receive endorsement for permission to fight for my country.

Going home for a day or two soon after this conversation with
General Pope, I wrote from Galena the following letter to the
Adjutant-General of the Army.

May 24, 1861.

Adjt. Gen. U. S. A.,
Washington, D. C.

SIR:–Having served for fifteen years in the regular army,
including four years at West Point, and feeling it the duty of
every one who has been educated at the Government expense to
offer their services for the support of that Government, I have
the honor, very respectfully, to tender my services, until the
close of the war, in such capacity as may be offered. I would
say, in view of my present age and length of service, I feel
myself competent to command a regiment, if the President, in his
judgment, should see fit to intrust one to me.

Since the first call of the President I have been serving on the
staff of the Governor of this State, rendering such aid as I
could in the organization of our State militia, and am still
engaged in that capacity. A letter addressed to me at
Springfield, Illinois, will reach me.

I am very respectfully,
Your obt. svt.,

This letter failed to elicit an answer from the Adjutant-General
of the Army. I presume it was hardly read by him, and certainly
it could not have been submitted to higher authority. Subsequent
to the war General Badeau having heard of this letter applied to
the War Department for a copy of it. The letter could not be
found and no one recollected ever having seen it. I took no
copy when it was written. Long after the application of General
Badeau, General Townsend, who had become Adjutant-General of the
Army, while packing up papers preparatory to the removal of his
office, found this letter in some out-of-the-way place. It had
not been destroyed, but it had not been regularly filed away.

I felt some hesitation in suggesting rank as high as the
colonelcy of a regiment, feeling somewhat doubtful whether I
would be equal to the position. But I had seen nearly every
colonel who had been mustered in from the State of Illinois, and
some from Indiana, and felt that if they could command a regiment
properly, and with credit, I could also.

Having but little to do after the muster of the last of the
regiments authorized by the State legislature, I asked and
obtained of the governor leave of absence for a week to visit my
parents in Covington, Kentucky, immediately opposite
Cincinnati. General McClellan had been made a major-general and
had his headquarters at Cincinnati. In reality I wanted to see
him. I had known him slightly at West Point, where we served
one year together, and in the Mexican war. I was in hopes that
when he saw me he would offer me a position on his staff. I
called on two successive days at his office but failed to see
him on either occasion, and returned to Springfield.



While I was absent from the State capital on this occasion the
President’s second call for troops was issued. This time it was
for 300,000 men, for three years or the war. This brought into
the United States service all the regiments then in the State
service. These had elected their officers from highest to
lowest and were accepted with their organizations as they were,
except in two instances. A Chicago regiment, the 19th infantry,
had elected a very young man to the colonelcy. When it came to
taking the field the regiment asked to have another appointed
colonel and the one they had previously chosen made
lieutenant-colonel. The 21st regiment of infantry, mustered in
by me at Mattoon, refused to go into the service with the
colonel of their selection in any position. While I was still
absent Governor Yates appointed me colonel of this latter
regiment. A few days after I was in charge of it and in camp on
the fair grounds near Springfield.

My regiment was composed in large part of young men of as good
social position as any in their section of the State. It
embraced the sons of farmers, lawyers, physicians, politicians,
merchants, bankers and ministers, and some men of maturer years
who had filled such positions themselves. There were also men
in it who could be led astray; and the colonel, elected by the
votes of the regiment, had proved to be fully capable of
developing all there was in his men of recklessness. It was
said that he even went so far at times as to take the guard from
their posts and go with them to the village near by and make a
night of it. When there came a prospect of battle the regiment
wanted to have some one else to lead them. I found it very hard
work for a few days to bring all the men into anything like
subordination; but the great majority favored discipline, and by
the application of a little regular army punishment all were
reduced to as good discipline as one could ask.

The ten regiments which had volunteered in the State service for
thirty days, it will be remembered, had done so with a pledge to
go into the National service if called upon within that time.
When they volunteered the government had only called for ninety
days’ enlistments. Men were called now for three years or the
war. They felt that this change of period released them from
the obligation of re-volunteering. When I was appointed
colonel, the 21st regiment was still in the State service. About
the time they were to be mustered into the United States service,
such of them as would go, two members of Congress from the State,
McClernand and Logan, appeared at the capital and I was
introduced to them. I had never seen either of them before, but
I had read a great deal about them, and particularly about Logan,
in the newspapers. Both were democratic members of Congress, and
Logan had been elected from the southern district of the State,
where he had a majority of eighteen thousand over his Republican
competitor. His district had been settled originally by people
from the Southern States, and at the breaking out of secession
they sympathized with the South. At the first outbreak of war
some of them joined the Southern army; many others were
preparing to do so; others rode over the country at night
denouncing the Union, and made it as necessary to guard railroad
bridges over which National troops had to pass in southern
Illinois, as it was in Kentucky or any of the border slave
states. Logan’s popularity in this district was unbounded. He
knew almost enough of the people in it by their Christian names,
to form an ordinary congressional district. As he went in
politics, so his district was sure to go. The Republican papers
had been demanding that he should announce where he stood on the
questions which at that time engrossed the whole of public
thought. Some were very bitter in their denunciations of his
silence. Logan was not a man to be coerced into an utterance by
threats. He did, however, come out in a speech before the
adjournment of the special session of Congress which was
convened by the President soon after his inauguration, and
announced his undying loyalty and devotion to the Union. But I
had not happened to see that speech, so that when I first met
Logan my impressions were those formed from reading
denunciations of him. McClernand, on the other hand, had early
taken strong grounds for the maintenance of the Union and had
been praised accordingly by the Republican papers. The
gentlemen who presented these two members of Congress asked me
if I would have any objections to their addressing my
regiment. I hesitated a little before answering. It was but a
few days before the time set for mustering into the United
States service such of the men as were willing to volunteer for
three years or the war. I had some doubt as to the effect a
speech from Logan might have; but as he was with McClernand,
whose sentiments on the all-absorbing questions of the day were
well known, I gave my consent. McClernand spoke first; and
Logan followed in a speech which he has hardly equalled since
for force and eloquence. It breathed a loyalty and devotion to
the Union which inspired my men to such a point that they would
have volunteered to remain in the army as long as an enemy of
the country continued to bear arms against it. They entered the
United States service almost to a man.

General Logan went to his part of the State and gave his
attention to raising troops. The very men who at first made it
necessary to guard the roads in southern Illinois became the
defenders of the Union. Logan entered the service himself as
colonel of a regiment and rapidly rose to the rank of
major-general. His district, which had promised at first to
give much trouble to the government, filled every call made upon
it for troops, without resorting to the draft. There was no call
made when there were not more volunteers than were asked for.
That congressional district stands credited at the War
Department to-day with furnishing more men for the army than it
was called on to supply.

I remained in Springfield with my regiment until the 3d of July,
when I was ordered to Quincy, Illinois. By that time the
regiment was in a good state of discipline and the officers and
men were well up in the company drill. There was direct
railroad communication between Springfield and Quincy, but I
thought it would be good preparation for the troops to march
there. We had no transportation for our camp and garrison
equipage, so wagons were hired for the occasion and on the 3d of
July we started. There was no hurry, but fair marches were made
every day until the Illinois River was crossed. There I was
overtaken by a dispatch saying that the destination of the
regiment had been changed to Ironton, Missouri, and ordering me
to halt where I was and await the arrival of a steamer which had
been dispatched up the Illinois River to take the regiment to St.
Louis. The boat, when it did come, grounded on a sand-bar a few
miles below where we were in camp. We remained there several
days waiting to have the boat get off the bar, but before this
occurred news came that an Illinois regiment was surrounded by
rebels at a point on the Hannibal and St. Joe Railroad some
miles west of Palmyra, in Missouri, and I was ordered to proceed
with all dispatch to their relief. We took the cars and reached
Quincy in a few hours.

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