THE ASSASSINATION OF THE PRESIDENT: GENERAL GRANT.* [Paws oust SPECIAL
New York, April 15, 1865. IT is sometimes hard to believe that there is a God in heaven, if by a God we mean an omnipotent being who is responsible for every event that occurs upon this earth, and rarely has faith in an overruling Providence been so severely tested as it is this day among this people. President Lincoln was shot last evening at the theatre by an assassin, and died this morn- ing at twenty-two minutes past seven o'clock. You will knew all the details long before this letter reaches you. My sorrow at this event—greater than I suppose it ever could be for one who was neither my kinsman nor my friend—is only for the fate of a man whose purity of heart, uprightness of purpose, and sagacity in statesmanship made him almost great. The Republic is put in no peril by this catastrophe. I have spoken very plainly about Mr. Johnson in his social aspect, but if he be the faith- ful man that his past life warrants us in believing that he is, he will make a good President. The rebels will find that his little finger is thicker than Mr. Lincoln's loins. General Grant will doubtless have very great influence at first upon the policy of the administration. He was to have been at the theatre last evening, and possibly there was a bullet or a knife prepared for him. If so, there was a fatal failure in the plot, caused by the General's sudden departure northward yesterday afternoon. At this hour I can add no more upon this subject, indeed I know no more of any moment. What follows comes under this date properly, for it was written after last midnight, but I feel as if every other topic were out of place on this occasion.
It has been said more than once in this correspondence that
there was neither need nor possibility of those negotiations and that "reconciliation between the two parties" to the war in this country for which certain people, of whom the London Times and. The Saturday Review may be taken as representatives, have been so solicitous ; that when the insurgent slaveholders were tired of re- sisting the Government and the majority of the people of the Republic, all they had to do was to lay down their arms and go home about their business. Well, the readers of The Spectator will have learned before they see this letter that General Lee and his army have simply and literally done that thing. They have laid down their arms and gone home, and General Grant, upon a hint from General Lee, has allowed them to take all their horses with them, for the express reason that the men would need them for the tillage of their farms. Thus the slaveholding sword is turned at once into a ploughshare and the spear into a pruning-hook.. General Grant, too, learning from General Lee that he was short. of food, so destructive had been the battles and so headlong the flight, in a savage, revengeful, and utterly " Federal " manner, at once ordered 25,000 rations to be issued to the insurgent soldiers, having of course vividly in mind the starvation to which his own men had been subjected in rebel prisons. But before this formal provision had been made, or indeed the surrender agreed upon, they straggled into our lines by hundreds, being allowed, as they said, to go about pretty much as they pleased, and going to the tents of the men whom they had been told by their newspapers—and some other people too—hated them with am implacable hatred, were welcomed to a soldier's fare. Indeed so thorough was the disorganization of the insurgent army, and so rapidly was it breaking up, that General Lee was able actually to surrender only about 26,000 men at Appomatox Court House. The prisoners captured in battle and sent to City Point number about. 25,000, the killed and wounded about 15,000. The remainder took themselves off homeward after an irregular but quite as effectual a fashion. Lynchburg, strongly fortified, and which has: twice been vainly approached by able generals and armies numbered by thousands, yielded the other day to a scouting party, and is. now held by a detachment of cavalry hardly larger than a picket. guard. This has been done, and Sherman's march—sometimes. called his retreat—made possible by the army of the Potomac, whereat we do much rejoice,—that army, that we have loved and trusted, and which, whether competently or incompetently led, has shrunk from no danger and murmured under no toil, which has borne adversity with firmness and years of hope deferred without sickness of heart, which has been ever ready to sacrifice itself for the cause of which it was the chief defender, which after leaving its.
• [The following letter arrived just too late for our last impression. The exceed- ingly Interesting account, howeve-, which it gives or General Grant, the huportance of whose influence at the present crisis it is impossible to exaggerate, renders it almost as interesting as if it contained fuller details of Mr. Linco.n's znureer.—En Hpecktfor.)
vanity sacrificed dead upon all the fields of northern Virginia, finally fought its way through the Wilderness, and dashed itself just as readily upon the works of Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor, as two years before it bad, in obedience to blundering orders, marched up the fatal slopes of Fredericksburg.
General Grant, under whose direction the war has been brought to a close—for closed it is to all intents and purposes—is, as all my readers probably know, a thoroughly educated soldier, a graduate of West Point. But just before the outbreak of the rebellion he was living near St. Louis in a very simple western fashion, doing a small business as a land agent. Very few of our educated soldiers, except those from the Slave States, used to retain their commissions after they had served their time upon the
frontier against the Indians. " Soldiering " was looked upon among us as but a kind of decorated idleness, and our young officers generally became engineers, and some of them even clergy- men. Ulysses Grant, the land agent five years ago, amid his homely belongings and surroundings, was one of the last men that would have been picked out as a person likely to take a prominent part in deciding the fate of a great nation. Mr. Lincoln and he had that point of resemblance. General Grant, as I have told you, is a small man ; but, unlike Sherman, he is very strongly built, and has a sturdy look. His head is set well down toward his shoulders, and this, added to the expression of his features, gives him a look of firmness, in fact, of obstinacy. His photographs are generally good likenesses in all respects. He is exceedingly careless in his dress, and simple in his habits. His manner does not lack dignity, but is almost entirely without polish. A man of strong, deep feeling, he rarely betrays emotion, and is not only reticent, but taciturn. His tenacity of purpose all the world knows by this time, but not so well the calm serenity of his mind in the midst of turbulence and under the weight of great respon- sibility. A man who had lived with him almost in the same tent for many months during this war is my authority for saying that during all that time, and it was one full of incident, he became excited but on one occasion. It was immediately after the battle of Chattanooga. One of his principal subordinates was in pursuit of the flying enemy, who turned upon him in a pass between two of those hills which make pursuit here such perilous business, and in one hour this General, who pushed straight on in the heat of the chase, lost 500 men. When the report was brought to Grant he said nothing, but his face flushed, the veins swelled in his forehead, and he gnawed his firmly set lips until my friend thought the blood would come. A few moments, and he began to walk up and down swiftly and in silence, at intervals swallowing the choke in his throat. After he had walked himself somewhat calm, he broke out, "The man ought to be broke ! Such perilous rashness! Such wicked waste of life." (This was "butcher Grant," you know.) "He ought to be broke instantly !" "But," his companion suggested, "you have not heard —'s report. That may put another face on the matter. Would it not be better to wait ? " "Right, I'll wait." The report was kept back for a week, and when it came, Grant, after reading it, handed it to my friend, saying, "You see this does not change the matter. I ought strictly to send this to the Depart- ment with a request that he should be relieved. There is no excuse for such rashness in a commander. But—how can I ?—how can I? He is so good a soldier in the field, so true a man. His men love him, and will follow him any-where. He was rash ; but I can't supply his place." And the report went into Grant's pocket. Now this General was even more rash in talk than in battle, and was the only one in the army who criticized Grant so severely and so openly that it reached his ears. But he only listened with his slight meditative smile, and bore no malice. The same gentleman told me another story illustrative of Grant's reticence. It was in Virginia. The army had moved suddenly, and Grant occupied a planter's house as his head-quarters. He came upon the household almost without warning. The master was away. He apologized curtly but very kindly to the lady for the inconvenience to which he must put her. She was a fine, handsome woman. She came in to Grant with a child at her breast, and rather astonished him and his staff by the perfect in- difference and lack of all concealment with which she performed this tender office, which a planter's wife usually commits to a negress. She begged the General that she might be allowed to pass his lines to her husband or her friends. He regretted it much, but it was impossible. She was importunate, she spoke of her child, and of her inability to bear hard usage or excitement. In vain. She implored. He was inflexible. She endeavoured to enlist his staff officers in her behalf. They shook their heads. Then she
flamed into anger, and turning to leave the room said, "You make war on women. May each one of you live to see a negro's arm around his sister's waist." She was passing out with a haughty step, when one of the officers replied, "No fear of that, Madam. Our sisters have not the tastes of Southern gentlemen." Now Grant felt sorry for his unwilling hostess, and he could have com- forted her by a single word, but that word he would not speak. He knew that he should move his head-quarters the next day, and leave her in undisturbed communication with her friends. But it was essential that no one elsewhere should know this, and he kept his own counsel. I told you that in capacity General Grant was Sherman and something more. Grant said of Sher-
man, "He is the best field officer in this country ;" adding, as he might, when the person to whom he spoke looked up significantly, "I don't except myself." Grant's superiority to Sherman is not in military knowledge or skill, or possibly even in resource. It is a moral superiority. His nature has that grandeur and that power that is given by repose, and by the capacity of serene con- templation. His imperturbable manner is no affectation or result of self-discipline. It is the reflex of an imperturbable soul. Sherman fidgets continually, violently half smokes half a dozen cigars, and breaks in upon those with whom he talks. Grant will sit by the half hour without moving, smoking deliberately, and listening silently as he watches the smoke-wreaths curl up into the air. He has a large and firm grasp of mind, and when he has once mastered a subject and decided upon a course of action, obstacles or even severe reverses, unless they reveal new conditions, do not disturb his judgment. He reads men well, knows how to put them to their best uses, and how to command and control them. He does not expect perfection, and will forgive almost anything but insubordination. He has the faculty of re- conciling discordant elements by common sense, good nature, and a gentle exercise of authority, and where they cannot be recon- ciled he has the decision to rid himself of one of them instantly. Ile has the faculty of seeing but disregarding the minor and the non-essential, and of basing his conclusions upon the greater truths and guiding his action by the greater laws. He knows when to take a great responsibility, and with all his calm and seeming indifference of manner decides instantly and executes as he decides. He is utterly without ambition. I do not believe that he would care a penny to be President. Some very complaisant Briton writing to The Times said that he found General Grant entirely without that bluster which is characteristic of his country- men, which, by the way, is a remark I have in effect often heard made with regard to such of his countrymen as the fellow-country- men of The Times correspondent have actually come in contact with. But General Grant is not only quiet in manner, but very modest. A sword was to be presented to him, for the privilege of which his admirers had paid at the great sanitary fair nearly 50,000 dolls. To the private note sent to him asking him when he would meet the New York people to receive the sword, he answered that it would give him great pleasure to meet them, but not for the pur- pose of receiving a sword. He begged that he might receive their noble compliment privately. This surprised no one. General M'Clellan did much the same thing, saying that he had not yet earned the sword. General Grant is vain upon only one point—his horsemanship. He rides as if he and his horse were one, body and mind. An unruly horse fell upon him in New Orleans and hurt him severely. Had he been willing to yield his seat he would have escaped uninjured. But here his obstinacy and his vanity worked together. General Grant won the first important victory of the war, Fort Donelson ; that which opened the Mississippi, Vicksburg; that which was the turning-point of the contest, Chat- tanooga; and that which virtually brought it to a close, Richmond. He alone has captured armies, and he has captured three. Buckner's at Donelson, Pemberton's at Vicksburg, and Lee's at Appomatox Court House. But my gorge rises now, at seeing newspapers fawn upon him that six months ago called him a baffled butcher.
A YANK E E.