Question about Grant and R. E. Lee in Mexico

I received Bill O'Reilly's Killing Crazy Horse -The Merciless Indian Wars in America as a Christmas gift and just started reading it. O'Reilly provides a bibliography but does not provide endnotes or footnotes. On page 98 of this book, he writes the following:

"On August 18, 1847, the Mexican War offered Sam Grant another yet another encounter. He had just returned to General Scott's headquarters after a day of foraging for food to feed the troops. His uniform was unbuttoned, and his face was covered in dust and grime. A colonel approached, his uniform spotless, and he sharply scolded Grant for his slovenly appearance. The man spoke with a Virginia drawl and insulted Grant so completely that the memory would never fade.
In this way Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee met for the first time. They will not speak again until 1865, at a remote farmhouse in the Virginia village of Appomattox Court House, where Grant will accept thee surrender of Lee's Confederate troops, bringing the American Civil War to an end."

I have never heard this before. Are any of you familiar with this and if so, do you remember the source? I checked Grant's Memoirs and unless I missed it, I could not find any mention of this. I also checked Grant biographies by Smith, Simpson, Garland and Woodward without finding any mention of this.
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2017
I received Bill O'Reilly's Killing Crazy Horse -The Merciless Indian Wars in America as a Christmas gift and just started reading it. O'Reilly provides a bibliography but does not provide endnotes or footnotes. On page 98 of this book, he writes the following:

"On August 18, 1847, the Mexican War offered Sam Grant another yet another encounter. He had just returned to General Scott's headquarters after a day of foraging for food to feed the troops. His uniform was unbuttoned, and his face was covered in dust and grime. A colonel approached, his uniform spotless, and he sharply scolded Grant for his slovenly appearance. The man spoke with a Virginia drawl and insulted Grant so completely that the memory would never fade.
In this way Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee met for the first time. They will not speak again until 1865, at a remote farmhouse in the Virginia village of Appomattox Court House, where Grant will accept thee surrender of Lee's Confederate troops, bringing the American Civil War to an end."

I have never heard this before. Are any of you familiar with this and if so, do you remember the source? I checked Grant's Memoirs and unless I missed it, I could not find any mention of this. I also checked Grant biographies by Smith, Simpson, Garland and Woodward without finding any mention of this.
Is the suggestion here that it was Lee, as the Colonel, who pulled Grant up on his appearance? I don't remember reading of this event before either and it sounds like part of an anti-Lee narrative rather than something Grant might have commented on himself. The convenience of not having a reference could be telling, but in the overall picture it would not be incorrect for a senior officer to pull up a junior officer on his appearance I would imagine. From my perspective, it's more how the story is presented that is telling.
 
Is the suggestion here that it was Lee, as the Colonel, who pulled Grant up on his appearance?
Yes, O'Reilly writes that this was the first meeting between Grant and Lee and they would not speak to each other again until the ANV's surrender at Appomattox Court House. I'm not sure if he is anti-Lee; I'd have to hear from someone who read his Legends and Lies: The Civil War to see if that was the case. All I can say if that incident is true, if it was me in a war zone, coming in from foraging all day down in that hot-*** country and I was hot, sweaty and dirty with my uniform unbuttoned and some officer came up to me and called me out on it, I'd be in the stockade for what I said back to him (assuming I could control myself from going further).
 

LetUsHavePeace

Volunteer
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
On August 18, 1847 Robert E. Lee was awarded promotion to the Brevet rank of Lt. Colonel for his actions is scouting and building a road across the lava field at El Pedregal. It is doubtful that anyone in the American Army was "out foraging" that day since Scott's Army was preparing for the direct assault on Mexico City. Lee and Grant had other things to do. The next day they were both directly involved in the attack at San Geronimo (August 19, 1847); the day after that they were participants in the Capture of San Antonio and the Battle of Churubusco (August 20, 1847). Given Lee's temperament and character, it would be impossible to explain how he could give Grant a dressing down and then approve the awards to Grant of two field promotions within the next 3 weeks: September 8, 1947, brevet to 1st Lieutenant for gallant and meritorious conduct; September 13, 1847, brevet to Captain. It is highly doubtful that Lee had the time on August 18, 1947 for any lectures about uniforms; it is laughable to think that Grant would have given it any thought if he had been a direct recipient of such a dressing down. No one who survived having Jesse Grant as a father was ever going to worry about hearing some harsh words, no matter who said them.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
On August 18, 1847 Robert E. Lee was awarded promotion to the Brevet rank of Lt. Colonel for his actions is scouting and building a road across the lava field at El Pedregal. It is doubtful that anyone in the American Army was "out foraging" that day since Scott's Army was preparing for the direct assault on Mexico City. Lee and Grant had other things to do. The next day they were both directly involved in the attack at San Geronimo (August 19, 1847); the day after that they were participants in the Capture of San Antonio and the Battle of Churubusco (August 20, 1847). Given Lee's temperament and character, it would be impossible to explain how he could give Grant a dressing down and then approve the awards to Grant of two field promotions within the next 3 weeks: September 8, 1947, brevet to 1st Lieutenant for gallant and meritorious conduct; September 13, 1847, brevet to Captain. It is highly doubtful that Lee had the time on August 18, 1947 for any lectures about uniforms; it is laughable to think that Grant would have given it any thought if he had been a direct recipient of such a dressing down. No one who survived having Jesse Grant as a father was ever going to worry about hearing some harsh words, no matter who said them.
According to his Memoirs, Grant mentioned to Lee that they had met once before in Mexico and they had a conversation about Mexico, but there isn't any mention of the rebuke incident. Obviously, it isn't dispositive but if the rebuke had occurred about Grant's uniform, it seems not only that it would have been recalled but that Grant would have elaborated, given how he and Lee were (again) attired on April 9. That seems to be the sort of thing Grant would mention. Pure speculation on my part, but this sounds like it might be something "ironic" that O'Reilly invented. FWIW
 

LetUsHavePeace

Volunteer
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
According to his Memoirs, Grant mentioned to Lee that they had met once before in Mexico and they had a conversation about Mexico, but there isn't any mention of the rebuke incident. Obviously, it isn't dispositive but if the rebuke had occurred about Grant's uniform, it seems not only that it would have been recalled but that Grant would have elaborated, given how he and Lee were (again) attired on April 9. That seems to be the sort of thing Grant would mention. Pure speculation on my part, but this sounds like it might be something "ironic" that O'Reilly invented. FWIW
Grant's subtleties get lost in all the "who's up, who's down" journalism that is the usual narrative for historical events. Of course, Lee and Grant knew each other from the Mexican War. Lee was on Scott's staff; there would have been a ceremony for each one of Grant's brevet promotions that Lee would have attended. In apologizing for his own uniform, Grant was doing his best to spare Lee the further humiliation of having to surrender to the highest ranking soldier in the history of the American republic - someone who outranked Lee's lifelong model and hero - George Washington. It would be far better for Lee - and all the defeated Southerners - to have the satisfaction of having won the battle of good manners at Appomattox. As the son-in-law of Colonel Dent, Grant was well aware of how much presentation mattered in the Southern way of life and how much the pain of the ANV surrender could be softened on that day by his appearing as Longstreet's scruffy old friend and acknowledging his memory of Lee as the higher-ranked officer in the Mexican War. Grant's abiding distaste for Custer comes from his and other "victorious" Union officers' desire to have a proper formal ceremony at which the secessionists would have to make one final unconditional surrender.
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Though I enjoy his books, they are not always thoroughly researched, in “Killing Lincoln”, I believe, he calls the Confederate battle flag, the stars and bars (Sailor’s Creek). He also calls a knapsack a rucksack, a term that wasn’t used until much later and originated in Germany, I believe. Nit picking, I know, but when you are imparting knowledge make sure to get it as right as possible. He also co-writes many of his books........
 

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
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Jan 16, 2015
In Ronald C. White's, American Ulysses, Grant told Lee at Appomattox that he recalled meeting him in Mexico, "but because of the difference in their rank and years, he did not expect Lee to remember him. Lee replied that he knew he had met Grant but did not remember the particular occasion."
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
In Ronald C. White's, American Ulysses, Grant told Lee at Appomattox that he recalled meeting him in Mexico, "but because of the difference in their rank and years, he did not expect Lee to remember him. Lee replied that he knew he had met Grant but did not remember the particular occasion."
It would have been interesting if Grant had elaborated. This is his full account:

"In my rough traveling suit, the uniform of a private with the straps of a lieutenant-general, I must have contrasted very strangely with a man so handsomely dressed, six feet high and of faultless form. But this was not a matter that I thought of until afterwards. We soon fell into a conversation about old army times. He remarked that he remembered me very well in the old army; and I told him that as a matter of course I remembered him perfectly, but from the difference in our rank and years (there being about sixteen years difference in our ages), I had thought it very likely that I had not attracted his attention sufficiently to be remembered by him after such a long interval. Our conversation grew so pleasant that I almost forgot the object of our meeting. After the conversation had run on in this style for some time, General Lee called my attention to the object of our meeting, ...."

I think O'Reilly simply made it up using "artistic license". As I said, it's a nice little piece of irony given how they were attired on April 9. It makes little sense that Grant would have completely forgotten the alleged incident or wouldn't have mentioned it here, even if he didn't mention it to Lee. @LetUsHavePeace also makes good points about Lee having weightier matters to deal with than an issue like this on August 20, 1847, in the midst of a lengthy active campaign and preparing for an attack. I'll wager that Lee was not himself in his finest dress blues for the occasion.
 

Acbernsen

Private
Joined
Jul 12, 2016
I just finished USG’s Memoirs (which is great, by the way), and he mentions nothing about this during the Mexican War, but he interesting does say that he was not necessarily expecting the meeting at Appomattox CH in on that day in 1865, and was somewhat self-conscious that he was poorly dressed and without sword, etc., and that Lee was dressed perfectly.
 
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