National Geographic : 1965 Apr
KODACHROME BY EMORY KRISTOF LC)NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY The Author: Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant 3rd, USA (Ret.), a West Pointer and class mate of the late Gen. Douglas MacArthur, marks his 84th birthday this July 4. Grand son of the Union general in chief, he likes to recall that as an Army engineer he oversaw design and construction of Arlington Memo rial Bridge at Washington-fulfilling Presi dent Jackson's wish that the Potomac River should here be spanned with arches of gran ite, symbolical of the firmly established union of the North and the South. In April, 1961, General Grant-then chair man of the United States Civil War Centen nial Commission-opened your Society's anniversary coverage with the story of the firing on Fort Sumter. In July, 1963, poet biographer Carl Sandburg and staff writer Robert Paul Jordan chronicled the deeds at Gettysburg and Vicksburg that brought the turning point of the conflict. Now General Grant, shown here in the reconstructed par lor where the North's Grant and the South's Lee shook hands, writes compassionately and fairly of the last days of the war that divided-and then united-our Nation. In these few words addressed to President Lincoln, my grandmother tells as much about the general's character as his biographers tell in their books. He was an uncomplicated man, direct and firm and fair to all. Yet there was a gentleness in him, and a rare appreciation of others. It is apparent in his PersonalMem oirs, as when he writes of what President Lincoln disclosed to him about the Hampton Roads peace conference. 440 "He ... said he had told them that there would be no use in entering into any nego tiations unless they would recognize, first: that the Union as a whole must be forever preserved, and second: that slavery must be abolished. If they were willing to concede these two points, then he was ready to enter into negotiations and was almost willing to hand them a blank sheet of paper with his signature attached for them to fill in the terms upon which they were willing to live with us in the Union and be one people. He always showed a generous and kindly spirit toward the Southern people, and I never heard him abuse an enemy." Sherman and Grant Close In Still, the Confederate peace commissioners found Mr. Lincoln's terms unacceptable. Bullet and sword, then, would settle it. March, 1865, wore on. Up from the south drove Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's army, marching, fighting, and hacking out a swath of destruction from Savannah, Georgia, starting February 1, all the way to Goldsboro, North Carolina, by March 21 (map, opposite). And by then the mauled Confederate forces of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston could do little more than annoy him. Sherman commanded some 80,000 troops as of March 23, Johnston about 37,000. Only 130 miles north of Goldsboro, Grant's sea soned 106,000-man legion held Lee's starving Army of Northern Virginia at bay-an army even smaller now, because of desertions and illness, than the 65,000-plus who had been available as the month began. Lee for some months had appreciated the danger to his army resulting from the thrust of Sherman to the Atlantic coast and then his march north. This now threatened an attack on Petersburg and Richmond by the com bined forces of Grant and Sherman. Of the conclusion of this grand maneuver, Maj. Gen. J. F. C. Fuller, the famed British soldier historian, writes:* "The one great strategical problem of the North was to maneuver in such a way as to create an enemy rear. This was accomplished from the West, the western Federal forces moving southwards down the Mississippi, eastwards through Chattanooga, Atlanta, to Savannah, and then northwards towards Richmond. A right flank wheel of over a thou sand miles extending in time over three years; a strategical movement compared to which the German right flank wheel in 1914, how ever powerful, was child's play." *The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant. Copyright @ 1958 by Indiana University Press, Bloomington.