Grant's Promotion


Nov 2, 2018
West Michigan
Standard Caveat: I'm relatively new to this. You probably won't learn anything from me, move along, move along.

I came across this message from Grant to Sherman, shortly after Grant had been ordered to Washington to pin on his third star:

When Halleck's order to Grant came across the wire the previous day it was a simple, two-sentence order that made no mention of a promotion, or even that the act of Congress had reinstated the rank. All the same, Grant dutifully obeys the order, with a side comment that I'd never seen referenced in general histories; that Grant, at least in a personal message, indicated that he had no intention of accepting the promotion if it meant that he would have to be stationed in Washington (probably a reasonable concern):


As Grant indicates, his wariness about being stationed in Washington is not the primary reason for his message. He thanks Sherman and McPherson (to whom he elsewhere says he will write at a later date):



While I haven't read enough of Grant's writing to know whether it's characteristic, I found it surprising how modest he seems to be. The message is signed, simply, "Your friend, U.S. Grant/Major General". While the Grant/Sherman relationship is by some called the most important relationship of the war, I found it interesting that Grant, bothered to write this to Sherman. He suspects he's on the verge of becoming, officially, the most powerful soldier in the army and he takes the time to tell Sherman how much he credits him for it. It almost feels like a reassurance that, even if he does get the promotion, he won't be leaving Sherman behind, and he won't forget those whom he credits with his success. In my mind, this really speaks to the kind of leader Grant was and stands in contrast to the "butcher" title bestowed on him by others (the casualty figures also have something to say there, of course).