29 June 2009

So Which Is It? (Part 3)

"Grant, entrusted with our greatest army, is a jackass in the original package. He is a poor drunken imbecile. He is a poor stick sober, and he is most of the time more than half drunk, and much of the time idiotically drunk." ~ Murat Halstead in a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, 12 March 1863

Just another anecdotal accusation, I suppose. Perhaps Mr. Malstead exaggerated. Perhaps not. But dismissing repeated, persistent charges regarding Grant's drinking problem and whether or not he was just an occasional stumbling drunk, or a wake up in his own vomit drunk, tells us much more about the historian than it does anything else.

We do know this. Grant and Lee both held each other in high esteem after the WBTS. Lee (while President of Washington College), addressing a disrespectful comment about Grant replied:

"Sir, if you ever again presume to speak disrespectfully of General Grant in my presence, either you or I will sever his connection with this university."

And Grant said this of Lee:

“My own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on receipt of Lee’s letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and so valiantly and had suffered so much for a cause.”

“All the people except a few political leaders in the South will accept whatever he does as right and will be guided to a great extent by his example.”


James F. Epperson said...

We can take Halstead at face value, but you might want to know a little about the genesis of that comment.

Halstead was the editor of one of the Cincinnati papers. Several regiments from Cincy were beaten up at Shiloh, and that is where Halstead started on Grant's case about alcohol. (You may or may not be aware that many "Grant was drunk" stories circulated after Shiloh; Halstead believed them, even though there was *zero* evidence to support them.) Halstead had no evidence to support his charges; none whatsoever. He was just bad-mouthing Grant to someone who might have Lincoln's ear.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I'm not surprised James. Newspapers and the media are still lying about our "leaders."