Grant is visited in his final days by old buddy (and ex-Confederate) Buckner

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
On July 23, the anniversary of Grant's death (1885), a remembrance:

Ulysses Grant spent his final year of life writing his memoirs – something he’d never intended to do, but was forced into by financial circumstances, having lost everything he and his family owned to a Wall Street con artist. Shortly after that catastrophe, he received a diagnosis of terminal throat cancer. A lesser man might have felt suicidal -- but not the man whose tenacity had saved the Union and ended the Civil War.

As Grant raced against the clock to finish writing the book whose royalties would provide for his widow after he was gone, many old friends came to visit him, first in New York City, then at a beautiful upstate country cottage that friends loaned him and his family. Some of these visitors had been friends with Grant since their days together at West Point and in the Mexican War afterward -- but had later joined the Confederacy and even fought against Grant. One such visitor was Simon Bolivar Buckner, who had surrendered his 10,000 men to Grant at Ft. Donelson in 1862, the first major Union victory in the war, and one that rocketed the relatively unknown U.S. Grant to national fame.

The tables had truly turned, for Buckner was the friend who, at the lowest point of Grant’s life, eight years earlier, had given him crucial financial and moral support. In 1854, Grant had been stationed in Ft. Humboldt, CA, where he was languishing from boredom and from being separated by over a thousand miles from his wife and children (the youngest of whom Grant had never even seen). He’d taken to drinking, been reported, and had chosen to resign rather than face court-martial. He was shipped back as far as New York, but lacked money to get back to his wife in St. Louis. Simon Buckner, an old army buddy of Grant’s who was in New York at the time, loaned him the money to get home. Eight years later, after Buckner surrendered Ft. Donelson to Grant, Grant in turn offered Buckner all the “travel money” he might wish from Grant’s own funds.

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Of all the visitors Grant received in his final weeks, Buckner stayed the longest. Grant could no longer talk and had to write his responses on a pad. He wrote: “I have witnessed since my sickness just what I wished to see ever since the war: harmony and good feeling between the sections. . . . I believe myself that the war was worth all it cost us, fearful as it was. Since it was over, I have visited every state in Europe and a number in the [Middle and Far] East. I know as I did not before the value of our inheritance.”

Buckner stayed until Grant tired. Buckner then took both of Grant’s hands in his, and the two of them parted with the only words they could manage by this point: “Grant.” “Buckner.”
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
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Location
State of Jefferson
That last is a remarkable statement by Grant. He didn't know what Americans had until he saw other places. Grant and Buckner show something unique about our CW. The men who fought each other so desperately did not, as a rule, hate each other. Buckner always liked Grant and, as far as surrendering Ft Donelson, Grant knew Buckner had just drawn the short straw! Many times this happened, though, where old warriors from the other side met with each other in their final hours.
 

John Davison

Retired User
Joined
Feb 28, 2014
Location
Guffin Bay, NY
On July 23, the anniversary of Grant's death (1885), a remembrance:

Ulysses Grant spent his final year of life writing his memoirs – something he’d never intended to do, but was forced into by financial circumstances, having lost everything he and his family owned to a Wall Street con artist. Shortly after that catastrophe, he received a diagnosis of terminal throat cancer. A lesser man might have felt suicidal -- but not the man whose tenacity had saved the Union and ended the Civil War.

As Grant raced against the clock to finish writing the book whose royalties would provide for his widow after he was gone, many old friends came to visit him, first in New York City, then at a beautiful upstate country cottage that friends loaned him and his family. Some of these visitors had been friends with Grant since their days together at West Point and in the Mexican War afterward -- but had later joined the Confederacy and even fought against Grant. One such visitor was Simon Bolivar Buckner, who had surrendered his 10,000 men to Grant at Ft. Donelson in 1862, the first major Union victory in the war, and one that rocketed the relatively unknown U.S. Grant to national fame.

The tables had truly turned, for Buckner was the friend who, at the lowest point of Grant’s life, eight years earlier, had given him crucial financial and moral support. In 1854, Grant had been stationed in Ft. Humboldt, CA, where he was languishing from boredom and from being separated by over a thousand miles from his wife and children (the youngest of whom Grant had never even seen). He’d taken to drinking, been reported, and had chosen to resign rather than face court-martial. He was shipped back as far as New York, but lacked money to get back to his wife in St. Louis. Simon Buckner, an old army buddy of Grant’s who was in New York at the time, loaned him the money to get home. Eight years later, after Buckner surrendered Ft. Donelson to Grant, Grant in turn offered Buckner all the “travel money” he might wish from Grant’s own funds.

Expired Image Removed

Of all the visitors Grant received in his final weeks, Buckner stayed the longest. Grant could no longer talk and had to write his responses on a pad. He wrote: “I have witnessed since my sickness just what I wished to see ever since the war: harmony and good feeling between the sections. . . . I believe myself that the war was worth all it cost us, fearful as it was. Since it was over, I have visited every state in Europe and a number in the [Middle and Far] East. I know as I did not before the value of our inheritance.”

Buckner stayed until Grant tired. Buckner then took both of Grant’s hands in his, and the two of them parted with the only words they could manage by this point: “Grant.” “Buckner.”
I read an excellent recent biography several months ago that focused on the time he was writing his memoirs. He definitely was a tower of strength during that difficult time. It is amazing that he could turn out such a well written comprehensive work considering his fragile health and the pain that he endured.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Location
Near Kankakee
I read an excellent recent biography several months ago that focused on the time he was writing his memoirs. He definitely was a tower of strength during that difficult time. It is amazing that he could turn out such a well written comprehensive work considering his fragile health and the pain that he endured.
Sam Clemens had something to do with keeping him going. It does make a fine story though. The publication kept Julia solvent, at least.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Yes, when the silliness begins on Grant, the various agenda-filled nonsense calculated to doodle a horn and tail on the guy he doesn't require much defending. It's these men who supported him who can be pointed to- Twain most markedly, who did not suffer fools gladly and could smell a humbug underneath 20 layers of medals and awards. Even he found the Grants a little tough to help given their rigid refusals to accept ' charity '.

This idea of post-war animosities has been discussed here frequently, ' did they, didn't they' have it, post war. Doesn't seem to be a question that at least some did not. This is a lovely story of plain, old friendship- nothing to do with anything else. It's very nice. Thanks so much for posting.
 

John Davison

Retired User
Joined
Feb 28, 2014
Location
Guffin Bay, NY
Sam Clemens had something to do with keeping him going. It does make a fine story though. The publication kept Julia solvent, at least.
Sam helped US indeed. I believe that he and a couple of others might have helped financially -- he was flat broke and through a curious twist was not eligible for government pension. Sam Clemens also counseled him on negotiating a contract that led him to his eventual publisher -- one who treated him fairly. There was also the fellow who wrote an earlier biography of him that schemed to take much of the credit for the writing of US's memoirs. Also impressive was his funeral which, for the day, probably came close to equaling that of JFK. I had no idea he was so immensely popular at the time of his death. I'll go back and find the title and the author of that bio -- I must keep better a better track of what I what I read!!
 

Mdiesel

First Sergeant
Joined
Sep 28, 2010
Location
Maryland
That last is a remarkable statement by Grant. He didn't know what Americans had until he saw other places. Grant and Buckner show something unique about our CW. The men who fought each other so desperately did not, as a rule, hate each other. Buckner always liked Grant and, as far as surrendering Ft Donelson, Grant knew Buckner had just drawn the short straw! Many times this happened, though, where old warriors from the other side met with each other in their final hours.

Buckner himself is an interesting character with friends and family on the Union side. He had once been named his adolescent brother-in-law's guardian, after the death of his wife's father. The other guardian named was future Union General, Ambrose Burnside. That teen would grow to become Col. Kingsbury of the 11th Connecticut & was killed at Antietam attempting to take what became known as Burnsides Bridge. Kingsbury was shot at least four times & mortally wounded. Burnside wept at the news but was not alone among the mourners for Kingsbury at Antietam. Confederate Gen. David R. (Neighbor) Jones is said to have been extremely distraught at the news of Kingsbury's death. It was the Rebel troops under Jones command who defended the Burnside Bridge & who shot Kingsbury down during the charge of the 11th Connecticut. Sadly, like Buckner, Jones was another of Kingsbury's own Brother-in-law's in the Southern armies... Neighbor Jones would himself leave the army due to ill heath & grief. He would die from heart disease little more then 3 months later.

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Gen. David R. Jones

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Col. Kingsbury, 11th Conn.
 

Karen Lips

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 24, 2008
Location
Waxahachie,Texas
Buckner himself is an interesting character with friends and family on the Union side. He had once been named his adolescent brother-in-law's guardian, after the death of his wife's father. The other guardian named was future Union General, Ambrose Burnside. That teen would grow to become Col. Kingsbury of the 11th Connecticut & was killed at Antietam attempting to take what became known as Burnsides Bridge. Kingsbury was shot at least four times & mortally wounded. Burnside wept at the news but was not alone among the mourners for Kingsbury at Antietam. Confederate Gen. David R. (Neighbor) Jones is said to have been extremely distraught at the news of Kingsbury's death. It was the Rebel troops under Jones command who defended the Burnside Bridge & who shot Kingsbury down during the charge of the 11th Connecticut. Sadly, like Buckner, Jones was another of Kingsbury's own Brother-in-law's in the Southern armies... Neighbor Jones would himself leave the army due to ill heath & grief. He would die from heart disease little more then 3 months later.

View attachment 46971
Gen. David R. Jones

View attachment 46973
Col. Kingsbury, 11th Conn.
Was there ever a more tragic war than our CW?
 
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War Horse

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Lexington, SC
I've found Grant to be a very interesting subject. I enjoy reading stories about him. The day before he was to be promoted to Lt General of the Union Army ( a rank last held by George Washington) he was checking into a hotel in Washington. The clerk at the desk described him as a small man who's last drink was not far behind him. Uniform untidy and a stern look. He had his son with him. The clerk was unimpressed but non the less the man had stars on his shoulder and was a general. He gave Grant a room on I believe the third floor. Grant accepted without complaint. Once Grant signed the register the clerk read U.S Grant and Son. He Immediately informed Grant that he had made an mistake. There is a suite available the best in the house #6 Abraham Lincoln had stayed there himself. Now the clerks description of the man had changed completely. He Then described him as a battle worn man with a stern look and steel blues eyes. I guess he wasn't much on first impressions.
 

War Horse

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General Grant arrive to Appomattox and addresses his old friend General Longsteet.

"The next time we met was at Appomattox, and the first thing that General Grant said to me when we stepped inside, placing his hand in mine was, "Pete, let us have another game of brag, to recall the days that were so pleasant." Great God! I thought to myself, how my heart swells out to such magnanimous touch of humanity. Why do men fight who were born to be brothers?"
--General James Longstreet talking about General Ulysses S. Grant after his death, New York Times, July 24, 1885.
 

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