That’s why I love an Irishman

SWMODave

Sergeant Major
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Location
Southwest Missouri
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A box of good things from home—the only one that ever reached me during the war—was the simple means of introducing me to my commanding general. We were camped at Young’s Point, Louisiana, where we were employed in digging that famous canal that was designed to carry the fleet around Vicksburg in that great campaign, when a man of my company came up from the river one day and said, “There’s a box addressed to you down on one of the steamboats.”

While he was yet speaking, it seems to me, I had ascertained the name of the boat, got a pass to the river and an order for my box and was on my way. I presented my order to a civilian commissioner on the boat and was informed that all the stores on the transport, private and public, were the property of the Sanitary Commission, having been seized for use in the hospitals. Get into the hospital, he said kindly, and I could have some of the contents of my box. I said there was a smallpox hospital a few miles up the river that I could get into, but I didn’t want the box so badly as that, although I did want it at almost any price short of the pest house.

I prowled around until I found my precious box. I showed it to the commissioner, feeling pretty certain that if it looked as good to him as it did to me he would relent and let me have it. The very sight of it produced in me a spasm of the same kind of homesickness I afterward contracted going up the Mississippi to St. Louis. He said he knew how tempting it looked, but duty—he paused impressively on the word and bade me remember what duty meant to a soldier. He pronounced it “d-double o.” I lost my temper and told him I had heard the colonel say it much better and far more emphatically.

I tried one more appeal. I knew there would be letters in the box. Might I open it and get my letters? I had made a mistake in being sarcastic, and he wouldn’t even let me do that, and finally ordered me off the boat. I think my lip must have hung down very pathetically, for the big Irish mate followed me to the gangplank.

“Ye'll get yer box, me lad,” he said, “if ye do as I tell ye. Go up on the cabin deck an’ ask the Ould Man.”

Who was the Old Man?

“Ould Grant, no less. He kem aboard about an hour ago, an’ he’s up there smokin’ this minute whin I kem down. I’ll pass ye the gyard and ye’ll go on up. Come an wid ye.” He led me up to the cabin deck. There sat the silent brown-bearded man whose features every soldier knew and whose great ness every western soldier held in unquestioning reverence. I saluted, the mate explained my errand, and the general looked out over the turbid Mississippi and smoked silently while I pleaded my little case.

Then he asked for my order. My heart beat high with the hope that he would write a military O. K. across it with magic initials. To my amazement, he read it and rose to his feet. “Come with me,” he said. And a bewildered private soldier, escorted by the General Commanding the Military Division of the Mississippi, followed him to the civilian commissioner. I pointed out my property, and General Grant handed the order to the civilian.

“Give the boy his box,” he said simply.

The commissioner bowed and I saluted. I wish I could imitate that salute now. It was a combination of reverence, admiration, kotow and renewed assurance of a distinguished consideration. Except possibly in China, the general never again received such an all-comprehensive obeisance. The cigar between the fingers swept a half-circle of smoke as the Commander, with military punctiliousness, returned the private’s salute, and with a half-smile playing under the brown mustache, created, I fear, by that all-comprehensive, unprecedented salute of mine, he returned to his chair on the cabin deck, while the big mate patted my back all the way to the gangplank.

That’s why I love an Irishman.

The Drums of the 47th
 

SWMODave

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Thread Medic
Joined
Jul 23, 2017
Location
Southwest Missouri
Often as I journey to New York I have time to go out to the stately mausoleum on Riverside Drive, bearing over its portals the message of the great captain to the warring world—“Let us have peace.”

I stand uncovered as I look at the sarcophagus that holds his dust. I think of his greatness and of his simplicity. The courage of the soldier, the rare abilities of the general, and the gentleness of the man.

I see him going with a private soldier, and hear him, in the voice that could have moved armies of half-a-million men, issuing the quiet command that gave to a boy a little box of things from mother.

And that picture harmonizes perfectly with all the others.
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2017
I stand uncovered as I look at the sarcophagus that holds his dust. I think of his greatness and of his simplicity. The courage of the soldier, the rare abilities of the general, and the gentleness of the man.
What a wonderful description of Grant, and you definitely have a way with words.

I see him going with a private soldier, and hear him, in the voice that could have moved armies of half-a-million men, issuing the quiet command that gave to a boy a little box of things from mother.
I can only think he knew the meaning and longing that comes with such things after long weeks and months at times waiting for his own packages to arrive. And I can imagine the slight smile hovering as he granted such a wish.

The lovely lilting Irish accent only adds to the beauty of the story for me. It must have seemed like a voice coming down from heaven, encouraging the soldier's hope again.

The more I learn about Grant, the more I respect and admire him.

Wonderful addition the Grant forum, and thanks for adding it.
 

Dave DuBrucq

Corporal
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Location
Tennessee
A box of good things from home—the only one that ever reached me during the war—was the simple means of introducing me to my commanding general. We were camped at Young’s Point, Louisiana, where we were employed in digging that famous canal that was designed to carry the fleet around Vicksburg in that great campaign, when a man of my company came up from the river one day and said, “There’s a box addressed to you down on one of the steamboats.”

While he was yet speaking, it seems to me, I had ascertained the name of the boat, got a pass to the river and an order for my box and was on my way. I presented my order to a civilian commissioner on the boat and was informed that all the stores on the transport, private and public, were the property of the Sanitary Commission, having been seized for use in the hospitals. Get into the hospital, he said kindly, and I could have some of the contents of my box. I said there was a smallpox hospital a few miles up the river that I could get into, but I didn’t want the box so badly as that, although I did want it at almost any price short of the pest house.

I prowled around until I found my precious box. I showed it to the commissioner, feeling pretty certain that if it looked as good to him as it did to me he would relent and let me have it. The very sight of it produced in me a spasm of the same kind of homesickness I afterward contracted going up the Mississippi to St. Louis. He said he knew how tempting it looked, but duty—he paused impressively on the word and bade me remember what duty meant to a soldier. He pronounced it “d-double o.” I lost my temper and told him I had heard the colonel say it much better and far more emphatically.

I tried one more appeal. I knew there would be letters in the box. Might I open it and get my letters? I had made a mistake in being sarcastic, and he wouldn’t even let me do that, and finally ordered me off the boat. I think my lip must have hung down very pathetically, for the big Irish mate followed me to the gangplank.

“Ye'll get yer box, me lad,” he said, “if ye do as I tell ye. Go up on the cabin deck an’ ask the Ould Man.”

Who was the Old Man?

“Ould Grant, no less. He kem aboard about an hour ago, an’ he’s up there smokin’ this minute whin I kem down. I’ll pass ye the gyard and ye’ll go on up. Come an wid ye.” He led me up to the cabin deck. There sat the silent brown-bearded man whose features every soldier knew and whose great ness every western soldier held in unquestioning reverence. I saluted, the mate explained my errand, and the general looked out over the turbid Mississippi and smoked silently while I pleaded my little case.

Then he asked for my order. My heart beat high with the hope that he would write a military O. K. across it with magic initials. To my amazement, he read it and rose to his feet. “Come with me,” he said. And a bewildered private soldier, escorted by the General Commanding the Military Division of the Mississippi, followed him to the civilian commissioner. I pointed out my property, and General Grant handed the order to the civilian.

“Give the boy his box,” he said simply.

The commissioner bowed and I saluted. I wish I could imitate that salute now. It was a combination of reverence, admiration, kotow and renewed assurance of a distinguished consideration. Except possibly in China, the general never again received such an all-comprehensive obeisance. The cigar between the fingers swept a half-circle of smoke as the Commander, with military punctiliousness, returned the private’s salute, and with a half-smile playing under the brown mustache, created, I fear, by that all-comprehensive, unprecedented salute of mine, he returned to his chair on the cabin deck, while the big mate patted my back all the way to the gangplank.

That’s why I love an Irishman.

The Drums of the 47th
What a great story!
 
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