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Grant knew...

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Amazing what you find when you're not looking... and this was too good not to share. Was reviewing random articles in The Century magazine, and ran across this short exchange between Senator J. W. Johnston and General U.S. Grant, which took place many years after the war:

General Grant's Premonition 

General Grant's reticence in talking about himself has always been one of his marked characteristics. The only occasion known to many well-informed persons when General Grant ever was heard to express an opinion of his own qualifications was at a dinner he gave at the White House in March 1874. There were but a few guests, among them Roscoe Conkling, Simon Cameron, and Senator John W. Johnston of Virginia. The last-named gentleman sat next to General Grant at the table. The talk turned on the war, and while the others were discussing it, Senator Johnston turned to General Grant and said to him:

"Mr. President, will you permit me to ask you a question which has always been of great interest to me? Did you, at the beginning of the war, have any premonition that you were to be the Man of the Struggle?"

"I had not the least idea of it," replied General Grant. "I saw a lot of very ordinary fellows pitching in and getting commissions. I knew I could do as well and better than they could, so I applied for a commission and got it."

"Then," asked Senator Johnston, "when did you know that you were the Man of Destiny?"

General Grant looked straight ahead of him, with an expression on his inscrutable face that Senator Johnston had never seen there before.

"After the fall of Vicksburg," he said, after a pause. "When Vicksburg capitulated, I knew then that I was to be the man of the war; that I should command the armies of the United States and bring the war to a close."

"But," pressed Senator Johnston, "you had had great and notable successes before the days of Vicksburg. You had fought Shiloh and captured Fort Donelson."

"That is true," responded General Grant. "But while they gave me confidence in myself, I could not see what was before me until Vicksburg fell. Then I saw it as plainly as I now do. I knew I should be Commander in Chief and end the war."

[From The Century Magazine, volume 30, issue 6 of OCT 1885, attributed to M.E. Seawell.]



http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/c/cent/  The Century Magazine (all issues 1881-99) compliments "Making of America" (Cornell)




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