The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox

ALL THESE WERE HONOURED IN THEIR GENERATIONS

AND WERE THE GLORY OF THEIR TIMES

THERE BE OF THEM

THAT HAVE LEFT A NAME BEHIND THEM

THAT THEIR PRAISES MIGHT BE REPORTED

AND SOME THERE BE WHICH HAVE NO MEMORIAL

WHO ARE PERISHED AS THOUGH THEY HAD NEVER BEEN

AND ARE BECOME AS THOUGH THEY HAD NEVER BEEN BORN

AND THEIR CHILDREN AFTER THEM

BUT THESE WERE MERCIFUL MEN

WHOSE RIGHTEOUSNESS HATH NOT BEEN FORGOTTEN

WITH THEIR SEED SHALL CONTINUALLY REMAIN

A GOOD INHERITANCE

AND THEIR CHILDREN ARE WITHIN THE COVENANT

THEIR SEED STANDETH FAST

AND THEIR CHILDREN FOR THEIR SAKES

THEIR SEED SHALL REMAIN FOR EVER

AND THEIR GLORY SHALL NOT BE BLOTTED OUT

THEIR BODIES ARE BURIED IN PEACE

BUT THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE

Ecclesiasticus xliv

First Vintage Books Edition, September 1986

Copyright © 1974 by Shelby Foote

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
Originally published by Random House, Inc., in 1974.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Foote, Shelby.
The Civil War, a narrative.
Contents: v. 1. Fort Sumter to Perryville—
v. 2. Fredericksburg to Meridian—
v. 3. Red River to Appomattox.
1. United States—History—Civil War, 1861–1865.
I. Title.
E468.F7   1986      973.7      86-40135
eISBN: 978-0-307-74469-2

v3.1

CONTENTS

I

Another Grand Design

LATE AFTERNOON OF A RAW, GUSTY DAY in early spring — March 8, a Tuesday, 1864 — the desk clerk at Willard’s Hotel, two blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, glanced up to find an officer accompanied by a boy of thirteen facing him across the polished oak of the registration counter and inquiring whether he could get a room. “A short, round-shouldered man in a very tarnished major general’s uniform,” he seemed to a bystanding witness to have “no gait, no station, no manner,” to present instead, with his ill-fitting jacket cut full in the skirt and his high-crowned hat set level on his head, a somewhat threadbare, if not quite down-at-heels, conglomerate impression of “rough, light-brown whiskers, a blue eye, and rather a scrubby look withal … as if he was out of office and on half pay, with nothing to do but hang round the entry of Willard’s, cigar in mouth.” Discerning so much of this as he considered worth his time, together perhaps with the bystander’s added observation that the applicant had “rather the look of a man who did, or once did, take a little too much to drink,” the clerk was no more awed by the stranger’s rank than he was attracted by his aspect. This was, after all, the best known hostelry in Washington. There had been by now close to five hundred Union generals, and of these the great majority, particularly among those who possessed what was defined as “station,” had checked in and out of Willard’s in the past three wartime years. In the course of its recent and rapid growth, under the management of a pair of Vermont brothers who gave it their name along with their concern, it had swallowed whole, together with much other adjacent real estate, a former Presbyterian church; the President-elect himself had stayed here through the ten days preceding his inauguration, making of its Parlor 6 a “little White House,” and it was here, one dawn two years ago in one of its upper rooms, that Julia Ward Howe had written her “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” the anthem for the crusade the new President had begun
to design as soon as he took office. Still, bright or tarnished, stars were stars; a certain respect was owed, if not to the man who wore them, then in any case to the rank they signified; the clerk replied at last that he would give him what he had, a small top-floor room, if that would do. It would, the other said, and when the register was given its practiced half-circle twirl he signed without delay. The desk clerk turned it back again, still maintaining the accustomed, condescending air he was about to lose in shock when he read what the weathered applicant had written: “U.S. Grant & Son — Galena, Illinois.”

Whereupon (for such was the aura that had gathered about the name “Unconditional Surrender” Grant, hero of Donelson, conqueror of Vicksburg, deliverer of Chattanooga) there was an abrupt transformation, not only in the attitude of the clerk, whose eyes seemed to start from his head at the sight of the signature and who struck the bell with a force that brought on the double all the bellboys within earshot, but also in that of the idlers, the loungers roundabout the lobby, who soon learned the cause of the commotion in the vicinity of the desk. It was as if the prayers of the curious had been answered after the flesh. Here before them, in the person of this undistinguished-looking officer — forty-one years of age, five feet eight inches tall, and weighing just under a hundred and forty pounds in his scuffed boots and shabby clothes — was the man who, in the course of the past twenty-five months of a war in which the news had mostly been unwelcome from the Federal point of view, had captured two rebel armies, entire, and chased a third clean out of sight beyond the roll of the southern horizon. Now that he made a second visual assessment, more deliberate and above all more informed than the first, the bystander who formerly had seen only an “ordinary, scrubby-looking man, with a slightly seedy look,” perceived that there was more to him than had been apparent before the authentication that came with the fixing of the name. The “blue eye” became “a clear blue eye,” and the once stolid-seeming face took on “a look of resolution, as if he could not be trifled with.”

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