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1864 September 17: General Grant—“All we want now, to ensure the early restoration of the Union, is a determination on the part of the North, and unity of sentiment in the North”

September 21, 2014

The following article is from the September 17, 1864 issue of The Prescott Journal.  It also appeared in the The Polk County Press issue of September 17, 1864, under the heading of “Letter From Gen. Grant.”



The following extract from a letter [telegram in the Journal] from Lieut. Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant], dated Headquarters, City Point, Va., Sept. 6.“

Hon. E. B. Washburne¹ :

DEAR SIR—I would state to all citizens whomsoever it may concern, that all we want now, to ensure the early restoration of the Union, is a determination on the part of the North, and unity of sentiment in the North.  The rebels have now in their ranks the last man.  Their boys and their old men are guarding bridges and forming a good part of their garrison for entrenched positions.  Any man lost by them cannot be replaced.  They have robed the cradle and the grave equally to get their present force.  Besides what they lose in frequent skirmishes and battles, they are losing from desertion and other causes, at least one regiment per day.  With this drain upon them, the end is not far distant, if we will only be true to ourselves.

Their only hope now is in a divided North.  This might give them reinforcements from Tennessee, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri, while it would weaken us.  With the draft enforced, the enemy would make but little resistance.  I have no doubt the rebels are anxious to hold out until after the Presidential election.  They hope for the election of the peace candidate—in fact like Micawber, they hope for “something to turn up.”  Our peace friends, if they expect peace from separation are much mistaken.  It would but be the beginning of the war, with thousands of northern men joining the South, because of our disgrace.  In allowing separation to have peace on any terms, the South would demand restoration of their slaves already freed ;  they would demand indemnity for losses sustained ;  and they would demand a treaty which would make the North slave hunters for the South.

Yours truly,                    U. S. GRANT.

1. Elihu Benjamin Washburne (1816-1887), was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Illinois who served from 1853 to 1869. He was a strong supporter of Gen. Grant and would serve as Secretary of State during Grant’s first presidential term for only eleven days, after which he became the United States Minister to France.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 22, 2014 6:34 am

    Nice post; I had never seen this quote of Grant’s before. It certainly reflects his strategic thinking. Given the date of it, I think we should regard it as a bit of politicking for the Lincoln Administration’s re-election. The popular myth that Gettysburg was the “decisive” battle of the war has obscured the fact that, despite Union victories, many of the northern voters were war weary and the Election of 1864 was a very critical one. Had Lincoln lost, all the bloodshed on the part of Union troops would have been for naught. The outcome of that election was by no means a foregone conclusion.

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