“They have as much right to demand that their votes shall be counted … as those citizens who remain at home”

Sec. Stanton has received a request from the Democratic Party Executive Committee to allow soldiers to vote in the upcoming Presidential election.  He has written me to ask my opinion.  I wrote him,

CITY POINT, VA., September 27, 1864.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.

The exercise of the right of suffrage by the officers and soldiers of armies in the field is a novel thing. It has, I believe, generally been considered dangerous to constitutional liberty and subversive of military discipline. But our circumstances are novel and exceptional. A very large proportion of legal voters of the United States are now either under arms in the field, or in hospitals, or otherwise engaged on the military service of the United States. Most of these men are not regular soldiers in the strict sense of that term; still less are they mercenaries who give their services to the Government simply for its pay, having little understanding of political questions or feeling little or no interest in them. On the contrary, they are American citizens, having still their homes and social and political ties binding them to the States and districts from which they come, and to which they expect to return. They have left their homes temporarily to sustain the cause of their country in the hour of its trial. In performing this sacred duty they should not be deprived of a most precious privilege. They have as much right to demand that their votes shall be counted in the choice of their rulers as those citizens who remain at home. Nay, more, for they have sacrificed more for their country.

I state these reason in full, for the unusual thing of allowing in the field to vote, that I may urge on the other hand that nothing more than the fullest exercise of this right should be allowed, for anything not absolutely necessary to this exercise cannot but be dangerous to the liberties of the country. The officers and soldiers have every means of understanding the questions before the country. The newspapers are freely circulated, and so, I believe, are the documents prepared by both parties to set forth the merits and claims of their candidates.

Beyond this nothing whatever should be allowed. No political meetings, no harangues from soldier or citizens, and no canvassing of camps or regiments for votes.

I see not why a single individual not belonging to the armies should be admitted into their lines to deliver tickets. In my opinion the tickets should be furnished by the chief provost-marshal of each army, by them to the provost-marshal (or some other appointed officer) of each brigade or regiment who shall on the day of election deliver tickets irrespective of party to whoever may call for them. If, however, it shall be deemed expedient to admit citizens to deliver tickets, then it should be most positively prohibited that such citizens electioneer, harangue, or canvass the regiments in any way. Their business should be, and only be, to distribute on a certain fixed day tickets to whoever may call for them.

In the case of those States whose soldiers vote by proxy, proper State authority could be given to officers belonging to regiments so voting to receive and forward votes.

As it is intended that all soldiers entitled to vote shall exercise that privilege according to their own convictions of right, unmolested and unrestricted, there will be no objection to each party sending to armies, easy of access, a number of respectable gentlemen to see that these views are fully carried out. To the army at Atlanta, and those armies on the sea-coast from New Berne to New Orleans, not to exceed three citizens of each party should be admitted.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 212-14

O.R., I, xlii, part 2, p 1045-6

“Your victories have created the greatest consternation”

I received the following telegram from Gen. Sheridan,

HEADQUARTERS MIDDLE MILITARY DIVISION, Two Miles from Edenburg, September 24, 1864-6 p. m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT,
Commanding Armies of the United States:

The result of the battle of Fisher’s Hill gives us 20 pieces of artillery, 1,100 prisoners of war, a large amount of artillery ammunition, caissons, limbers, &c. Early expected to stay at Fisher’s Hill, and had placed all his artillery ammunition behind the breast-works. A large amount of entrenching tools, small-arms, and debris were also taken; no accurate list received. I have been disappointed in the cavalry operations which were to have formed a part of this battle. My advance was near Mount Jackson last night. The whole army is now moving forward. The country and small towns through this valley have a great many of the enemy’s wounded.


Major-General, Commanding.

I replied,

CITY POINT, VA., September 26, 1864-6.30 p. m.

Major-General SHERIDAN,

Woodstock, Va.:

Lee has sent no troops from here since your first victory, except two regiments and one city battalion to Lynchburg. This, I think, is reliable. Your victories have created the greatest consternation. If you can possibly subsist your army to the front for a few days more, do it, and make a great effort to destroy the roads about Charlottesville and the canal wherever your cavalry can reach it.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 208

O.R., I, xliii, part 2, p 162, 177

Meade: “I beg you will decide whether I had the authority to act as I have done”

I have been called upon to mediate a dispute between Gens. Meade and Butler over the command of the troops in my absence.  Gen. Meade had ordered that all rebel deserters be sent to him, and Gen. Butler countermanded the order. Meade wrote,

September 24, 1864-3 p.m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT:

I beg leave to refer to you a dispatch just received from General Birney. When you directed me to take command of all the troops and line now occupied by General Birney I requested him to send to these headquarters any deserters that might come in, that I might be apprised of the position and forces of the enemy in the immediate front I was directed to defend. It would appear Major-General Butler has, with a knowledge of this fact, countermanded, without any reference to me, this order. I beg you will decide whether I had the authority to act as I have done, and if so, you will notify Major-General Butler of your decision, and request him to rescind his order.


Major-General, Commanding.

I wrote back,

CITY POINT, VA., September 24, 1864.

Major-General MEADE:

The order giving you command of all the forces south of the Appomattox was given by telegraph whilst General Butler was absent, and may not have been known of by him. Your order to General Birney was right, but as troops of the Army of the Potomac take up the whole of the line occupied by the Tenth Corps to-night, it will only be necessary for me to inform General Butler why you gave Birney the orders you did.




I also wrote Gen. Butler,

CITY POINT, VA., September 24, 1864.

Major-General BUTLER:

During your absence, and when an attack was anticipated, at the suggestion of General Ord, I directed General Meade to hold himself responsible for all of the line south of the Appomattox, and that all troops occupying such line obey his orders. It was under these circumstances that General Meade directed General Birney to send prisoners and deserters to his provost-marshal. The Second Corps relieving the Tenth to-night will make it unnecessary either to repeal or withdraw the order. All prisoners and deserters taken by either army, however, should be sent to the provost-marshal-general at City Point as soon as questioned. I suppose they have been so disposed of heretofore.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 200-2

O.R., I, xlii, part 2, p 987-8, 1003

“I congratulate you and the army serving under you for the great victory just achieved”

I received a report from Gen. Sheridan of his great victory.

Six Miles from Woodstock, September 22, 1864 – 11.30 p. m.

I have the honor to report that I achieved a most signal victory over the army of General Early at Fisher’s Hill to-day. I found the rebel army posted with its right resting on the North Fork of the Shenandoah, and extending across the Strasburg valley westward to North Mountain, occupying a position which appeared almost impregnable. After a great deal of maneuvering during the day, General Crook’s command was transferred to the extreme right of the line on North Mountain, and he furiously attacked the left of the enemy’s line, carrying everything before him. While Crook was driving the enemy in the greatest confusion and sweeping down behind their breast-works, the Sixth and Nineteenth Army Corps, attacked the rebel works in front, and the whole rebel army appeared to be broken up. They fled in the utmost confusion. Sixteen pieces of artillery were captured; also a great many caissons, artillery horses, &c. I am to-night pushing on down the Valley. I cannot say how many prisoners I have captured, nor do I know either my own or the enemy’s casualties; only darkness has saved the whole of Early’s army from total destruction. My attack could not be made until 4 o’clock in the evening, which left but little daylight to operate in. The First and Third Cavalry Divisions went down Luray Valley to-day, and if they push on vigorously to the main valley, the result of this day’s engagement will be still more signal. The victory was very complete. A more detailed report will be made as soon as I can obtain the necessary data.


Major-General, Commanding.


I replied,

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES, In the Field, City Point, Va., September 22, 1864-10 p. m.

Major-General SHERIDAN,
Strasburg, Va.:

I congratulate you and the army serving under you for the great victory just achieved. It has been most opportune in point of time and effect. It will open again to the Government and to the public the very important line of road from Baltimore to the Ohio, and also the Chesapeake Canal. Better still, it wipes out much of the stain upon our arms by previous disasters in that locality. May your good work continue is now the prayer of all loyal men.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 191-2

O.R., I, xliii, part 1, p 26-7, 61-2

… I think Uncle Abe will give us a twenty days’ leave of absence to see the young folks.”

I received the following lengthy reply from Gen. Sherman,

Atlanta, Ga., September 20, 1864.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,

Commanding Armies of the United States, City Point, Va.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge at the hands of Lieutenant-Colonel Porter, of your letter of September 12, and accept with thanks the honorable and kindly mention of the services of this army in the great cause in which we are well engaged. I send by Colonel Porter all official reports which are completed, and will, in a few days, submit a list of names I deem worthy of promotion. I think we owe it to the President to save him the invidious task of election among a vast number of worthy aspirants, and have ordered my army commanders to prepare their lists with great care and to express their preferences based upon claims of actual capacity and services rendered. These I will consolidate and submit in such a form that if mistakes are committed they will at least be sanctioned by the best contemporaneous evidence of merit, for I know that vacancies do not exist equal in number to that of the officers that really deserve promotion.

As to the future, I am pleased to know your army is being steadily re-enforced by a good class of men, and I hope it will go on until you have a force that is numerically double that of your antagonist, so that with one part on you can watch him and with the other you can push out boldly from your left flank, occupy the South Shore [Side] Railroad, compel him to attack you in position, or accept on your own terms. We ought to ask our country for the largest possible armies that can be raised, as so important a thing as the “self-existence of a great nation” should not be left to the fickle chances of war. Now what Mobile is shut out to the commerce of our enemy it calls for no further effort on our part, unless the capture of the city can be followed up by the occupation of the whole Alabama River and the railroad across to Columbus, Ga., when that place would at once become a magnificent auxiliary to my farther progress into Georgia, but until General Canby is much re-enforced, and until he can more thoroughly subdue the scattered armies WEST of the Mississippi, I suppose that much cannot be attempted as against the Alabama River and Columbus, Ga.

The utter destruction of Wilmington, N. C., is of importance only in connection with the necessity of cutting off all foreign trade to our enemy, and if Farragut can get across the bar, and the move can be made quick, I suppose it will succeed. From my knowledge of the mouth of Cape Fear, I anticipate more difficulty in getting the heavy, ships across the bar than in reaching the town of Wilmington, but of course the soundings of the channel are well known at Washington as well as the draft of his iron-clads, so that it must be demonstrated as feasible or else it would not be attempted. If successful, I suppose that Fort Caswell will be occupied and the fleet at once sent to the Savannah River. Then the reduction of the city is the only question. If once in our possession, and the river open to us, I would not hesitate to cross the State of Georgia with 60,000 men, hauling some stores and depending on the country for the balance. Where a million of people live my army won’t starve; but, as you know, in a country like Georgia, with few roads and innumerable, an inferior force could so delay an army and harass it that it would not be a formidable object, but if the enemy knew that we had our boats on the Savannah I could rapidly move to Milledgeville, where there is abundance of corn and meat, and would so threaten Macon and Augusta that he would give up Macon for Augusta; then I would to interpose between Augusta and Savannah, and force him to give me August, with the only powder mills and factories remaining in the South, or let us have the Savannah River. Either horn of the dilemma would be worth a battle. I would prefer his holding Augusta as the probabilities are; for then, with the Savannah River in our possession, the taking of Augusta would be a mere matter of time. This campaign could be made in winter. But the more I study the game the more am I convinced that it would be wrong for me to penetrate much farther into Georgia without an objective beyond. It would not be productive of much good. I can start east and make a circuit south and back, doing was damage, to the State, but resulting in no permanent good; but by mere threatening to do so I hold a rod over the Georgians who are not over loyal to the South. I will therefore a give my opinion that you army and Canby’s should be re-enforced to the maximum; that after you get Wilmington, you strike for Savannah and the river; that General Canby be instructed to hold the MISSISSIPPI River and send a force to get Columbus, Ga., either by the way of the Alabama or the Appalachicola, and that I keep Hood employed, and put my army in fine order for a march on Augusta, Columbia, and Charleston, to be ready as soon as Wilmington is sealed as to commerce, and the city of Savannah is in our possession. I think it will be found that the movements of Price and Shelby WEST of the MISSISSIPPI are mere diversions. They cannot hope to enter Missouri save as raiders, and the truth is Rosecrans should be ashamed to take my troops for much a purpose. If you will secure Wilmington and the city of Savannah from your center, and let Canby have the MISSISSIPPI River, and WEST of it, I will send a force to the Alabama and Appalachicola, provided you give me 100,000 of the drafted men to fill up my old regiments, and if you will fix a day to be in Savannah, I will insure our possession of Macon and a point on the river below Augusta.

The possession of the Savannah River is more than fatal to the possibility of a Southern independence; they may stand the fall of Richmond, but not of all Georgia. I will have a long talk with Colonel Porter and tell him everything that may occur to me of interest to you. In the mean time know I admire your dogged perseverance and pluck more than ever. If you can whip Lee and I can march to the Atlantic I think Uncle Abe will give us a twenty days’ leave of absence to see the young folks.

Ever, yours,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 156-7

O.R., I, xxxix, part 2, p 411-3

“I have just received the news of your great victory and ordered each of the armies here to fire a salute of 100 guns”

I have been forwarded the following dispatch from Gen. Sheridan,

GENERAL: We fought Early from daylight until between 6 and 7 p. m. We drove him from Opequon Creek through Winchester and beyond the town. We captured 2,500 to 3,000 prisoners, 5 pieces artillery, 9 battle-flags, all the rebel wounded and dead. Their wounded in Winchester amount to some 3,000. We lost in killed General David Russell, commanding division, Sixth Army Corps; wounded, Generals Chapman, McIntosh, and Upton. The rebels lost in killed the following general offices: General Rhodes, General Wharton, General Gordon, and General Ramseur. We just sent them whirling through Winchester, and we are after them to-morrow. This army behaved splendidly.


I wrote him,

CITY POINT, VA., September 20, 1864-2 p. m.

Major-General SHERIDAN,

Winchester, Va.:

I have just received the news of your great victory, and ordered each of the armies here to fire a salute of 100 guns in honor of it at 7 a. m. to-morrow morning. If practicable, push your success and make all you can of it.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 177-8

O.R., I, xliii, part 2, p 118, 124

“I shall go to Burlington, N. J., to make arrangements for sending my children to school”

I notified Gen. Halleck that I am going to Baltimore.

HARPER”S FERRY, September 17, 1864.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Chief of Staff:

I leave for Baltimore in a few minutes. Hold all new regiments coming into service in Washington until further orders. It is possible, through not probable, that Sheridan may want to throw a force suddenly into Hagerstown.



I then wrote him that I will be stopping in on my family to get my children situated at their school.

BALTIMORE, MD., September 17, 1864 – 5 p. m.

Major-General HALLECK, Washington:

I will not leave Baltimore for City Point until to-morrow evening. In the meantime I shall go to Burlington, N. J., to make arrangements for sending my children to school.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 171

O.R., I, xliii, part 2, p 96

Meade: “it is feared this herd and its guard has fallen into the enemy’s hands”

I have received a disturbing report that a Rebel cavalry raid has made off with a herd of our cattle.  Gen. Meade writes,

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, September 16, 1864-10 a.m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT,
Harper’s Ferry, or Washington, or Baltimore:

Warren’s reconnaissance was withdrawn yesterday about 12 m. Signal officers reported the movement of the enemy’s troops toward our left at various times yesterday from 9 a.m. till sunset. These were believed to be counter movements to meet an expected advance on our part. This view was confirmed by Warren’s pickets on the Vaughan road reporting the return of the enemy to Petersburg, and by a deserter this morning, who states his command left the trenches and moved to their right yesterday afternoon and returned during the night. This morning daylight our cavalry pickets and reserves were strongly attacked between the Blackwater and the James. At the same time a dash was made on the cattle herd at Coggins’ Point, and it is feared this herd and its guard has fallen into the enemy’s hands. A prisoner taken reports the movement as being executed by Hampton with three brigades of cavalry, who left Stony Creek Depot last night, and after crossing the Blackwater took the shortest and most direct road to Coggins’ Point. Immediately on receiving intelligence of this movement General Davies, commanding cavalry, was directed to pursue with all his available force, and a brigade of infantry, with a battery of artillery, was at the same time sent down the Prince George Court-House road to re-enforce Kautz. Warren reports demonstrations on his front this morning, his pickets being driven in, but at last report he had re-established his line. It is believed this movement was a diversion in favor of the cavalry raid. This raid was one which I have feared for some time, as with the limited force of cavalry under my command and the great extent of country to be watched, I have always considered Coggins’ Point an unsuitable position for the cattle herd, it being liable to capture at any time by a coup-de-main of the enemy in force. Every effort will be made to recover the herd or a portion of it.




I replied,

HARPER’S FERRY, September 16, 1864.

Major-General MEADE:

If the enemy makes so rich a haul as to get our cattle herd he will be likely to strike far to the south, or even to the southeast to get around with it. Our cavalry should either recover what is lost, or else, in the absence of so much of the enemy’s cavalry, strike the Weldon road far to the south of where it has been destroyed.



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 167-8

O.R., I, xlii, part 2, p 852-3

“I shall leave here to-morrow morning for General Sheridan’s headquarters”

A few days ago, I received the following communication from President Lincoln.

“Sheridan and Early are facing each other at a dead lock. Could we not pick up a regiment here and there, to the number say of say ten thousand men, and quietly, but suddenly concentrate them at Sheridan’s camp and enable him to make a strike? This is but a suggestion—”

Yesterday, I sent him a telegram,

“It has been my intention for a week back to start to-morrow, or the day following, and to see Sheridan and arrange what was necessary to enable him to start Early out of the Valley. It seems to me it can be successfully done.”

I wrote Gen. Meade,

CITY POINT, September 14, 1864-3 p.m.

Major-General MEADE:

I shall leave here to-morrow morning for General Sheridan’s headquarters. Will be gone five days. General Butler also leaves to-day to be absent a few days. You will, therefore, assume command of all the forces operating in this field if you find it necessary.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 163-5

O.R., I, xlii, part 2, p 816

“I hope to be up to see you all before many weeks and before many months to be with you most of the time”

I received a letter from my sons Frederick and Ulysses Jr.  I wrote them back,


City Point Va. Sept. 13th 1864.

Dear Fred. & Buck,
I was very glad to get your letters the other day and still better pleased to see so few mistakes. There was some mistakes though. Write often to me and when you do write always keep a dictionary by you. When you feel any doubt about how a word should be spelled look at your dictionary and be sure to get it right. Missy did not write? Why did she not? She writes very pretty letters and by writing often now she will write a better letter at twelve years of age than most grown up young ladies.
I have sent to get Jess’ pony brought into town from your grand pa’s. If he is left there long I am afraid he will be stolen.
I hope to be up to see you all before many weeks and before many months to be with you most of the time. Is Jess sorry he run off and left his pa the way he did? I thought he was going to be a brave boy and stay with me and ride Jeff Davis. Ask Jess if Jeff ain’t a bully horse.
Kiss your Ma, little Nelly & Jess for your



The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 162