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Grieving about Grant

Discussion in 'Ulysses S. Grant' started by KansasFreestater, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    Anyone who studies the Civil War in any depth will end up studying the decades-long lead-up to it. But study it long enough, and you'll eventually be studying the decades-long aftermath as well. @Pat Young is providing wonderful service here with his "Reconstruction 150" work, sharing information about Reconstruction as we hit one 150-year milestone after another.

    Perhaps there should also be a "Westward Expansion 150" project. After all, the triggering issue of the Civil War -- the issue that inspired the formation of the Republican party in 1854 and won Lincoln the presidency in the election of 1860 -- was the question of whether or not slavery would be allowed to expand into the new western territories.

    Once the Civil War had settled that question, the westward expansion accelerated, with the U.S. Army -- most of whom were Civil War veterans -- providing the protection for white settlers making incursions into Native territory.

    The great war against the Lakota -- which I would date from 1868 to 1877 (although others might set the dates differently) overlaps almost perfectly, I am sad to say, with the presidency of my longtime hero Ulysses Grant.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018

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  3. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    Because of where I live -- just three townships east of the 98th meridian, "where the West begins" -- and in the same county where several of the civilian scouts were recruited for the expedition that ended in the Battle of Beecher Island -- the Plains Indian Wars hit very close to home for me. Within a couple hours' drive are several important frontier forts -- forts that Sherman and Grant visited in 1868 in their tour of the western forts, forts where Sheridan and Custer served, including Ft. Hays, from which so many federal expeditions against Native Americans were launched. I've been reading books about that era, and am particularly intrigued by Lakota hero Crazy Horse, who was truly "a man in full" -- admirable in just about every way there is. When I traveled to the Sand Hills of Nebraska for the total solar eclipse in August 2017, I viewed the eclipse from a place that happened to be very near the sandstone bluff where Crazy Horse had the unexpected vision that directed the rest of his life. It moved me profoundly to be there.

    This heroic, humble, virtuous man was betrayed by... Ulysses Grant.

    "Ulysses S. Grant Launched an Illegal War Against the Plains Indians, Then Lied About It"

    This Smithsonian magazine article was written by the well-respected historian Peter Cozzens, whom many here on the forum know for his Civil War books. He has also written several books on the western Indian wars; his 2016 The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West won several prizes including the Gilder Lehrman Prize, and has been widely praised by historians including William C. Davis and James M. McPherson.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  4. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    For some reason. I'd always assumed that Sherman was the "bad guy" in the Plains Indian Wars, but at least as far as the Black Hills Betrayal is concerned, it appears that Sherman had more respect for treaties with the Indian nations than Grant did.

    From the article:

    Opposition to [President] Grant’s plan might have come from his highest-ranking military officer, Sherman. He was one of the men who had signed the [1868] Fort Laramie Treaty on behalf of the United States. He advocated using force against Indians when warranted, but he had once written Grant of his anger at “whites looking for gold [who] kill Indians just as they would kill bears and pay no regard for treaties.” And though Grant and Sherman had become close friends when they led the Union to victory, they had grown apart over politics since the Civil War. After [Secretary of War William] Belknap usurped the general’s command prerogatives with no objection from Grant, Sherman had moved his headquarters from Washington to St. Louis in a fit of pique.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  5. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

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    Thanks for the shoutout Kansas. Good idea for a project!
     
  6. Bee

    Bee Captain Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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  7. contestedground

    contestedground First Sergeant

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    Cozzens is a fine historian, but his Civil War books betray an anti-Grant bias, so somehow I'm not surprised. But the evidence isn't quite as solid as he might like it to be, as a close read suggests.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
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  8. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  9. Bee

    Bee Captain Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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    @KansasFreestater , I cannot help but to wonder if Peter Cozzens was influenced by Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which is sitting about six inches from me. It is a book that is in every reservation library, and an expected read of anyone who is either descended from Indian blood, or wishes to study the topic. I have not read any of the Indian-related works by Cozzens, but as one who was practically forced to read BMHaWK from the time I could put two words together, I almost get a "vibe" that reminds me of this old First Edition, sitting here, when I read the linked article (just a casual observation -- nothing "official").


     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  10. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    I read Dee Brown's book when I was in 8th or 9th grade -- very formative age. It was one of the few hardbound books I ever owned as a kid, since it was a Christmas or birthday gift from my mom, who knew all about my intense interest in all things Native American. That book did indeed break my heart.

    You might be interested to know that Dee Brown was also the author of the little masterpiece Action at Beecher Island, which is told more from the standpoint of the white scouts (who were mostly civilians, though the leaders were U.S. Army officers). I read the book in preparation for my stop at the Beecher Island battlesite on my way up to the Sand Hills. The battle site is maintained by a volunteer organization, and it's one of the more remote places I've ever been. I was there for 3 hours and did not run into another soul! Even on the highway nearest to it, I saw scarcely any other vehicles on a Saturday afternoon! With impressions fresh in my mind from just having read the book, being at the site of what the Cheyenne call "the battle where Roman Nose was killed" was a deeply moving experience indeed. I found myself looking northeast at the hills where Forsyth's scouts could see the fires burning at night and hear the Cheyenne women keening in mourning. I plan to go back there this September for the 150-year commemoration. And I plan to read Brown's book about it again in preparation.

    One of the things that amazed me about the book -- since it was the first and only thing I've read by Dee Brown since Bury My Heart back in junior high -- was that Brown could write just as compellingly and sympathetically about white men as about red men. What a great writer. It's like how the greatest actors can play both saints and villains. Perhaps the inherent drama of the place would have struck me to the core no matter what, but I believe that Brown's book was a huge part of my appreciation of the spot. (Similarly to the way @Rob9641's All the Slumberers shaped my whole experience of Antietam.) When I was at the site, the heroism of a few dozen men enduring hunger and dehydration for days and days as they held off a surrounding force of several thousand warriors was mind-blowing. Looking across the dry riverbed to where Roman Nose was fatally wounded nearly made me cry. And as I walked up the canyon that was hidden from the eyes of the besieged Army scouts, where the Indian warriors had silently massed under cover of night in order to swoop down like a flood in their surprise attack the next morning, I had goosebumps the whole way.

    Dee Brown made the heroism, the terror, the privation, the grief, the suffering, the drama and the high stakes for both sides in the battle vivid and unforgettable.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  11. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    While I question your choice in hero's I do thank you for the link, fascinating reading of a subject I know little about.
     
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  12. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

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    I read it back around 1971. It was required reading for young people trying to understand the racism all around us.
     
  13. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    The racism all around us? I feel you brother, this bigoted, racist country has yet to elect a Norwegian- American president and I'm offended! Where's my safe space?
     
  14. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    On your couch, watching your favorite program, with a hot dog AND mustard, NO KETCUP! :smile:
     
  15. Bee

    Bee Captain Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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    Mayo!!
     
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  16. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    Ketchup on a hot dog ! horror! I would be offended.
    Onions are good for the soul though.
     
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  17. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    MUSTARD!
     
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  18. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    MUSTARD AND ONIONS! You hard headed Yankee.
     
  19. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    At last! A forum member speaking SENSE!

    Onions are good for the soul! :wink:

    (With Mustard.)
     
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  20. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    If we had been around back then there wouldn't have been a Civil War. We'd have settled over hotdogs in a couple hours.
    LOL
     
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  21. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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    Remember, the complete extermination of the Indians was openly advocated at the time. And put into practice. Most people assumed that no matter the origins of any dispute between the Indians and the white westerners, the army was obliged to take the side of the white westerners.
    Which President stated publicly that wars of extermination are wicked?
     
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