Saturday, September 04, 2004

Ulysses S. Grant Personal Memoirs. I am reading Grant's memoirs, which he wrote at the encouragement of his friend, Mark Twain. One of his signal successes occurred when he took command of the Union army at Chattanooga in October of 1863. The Union army was surrounded on three sides by General Bragg's Confederate forces, half-starved and discouraged, when Grant relieves the general who had been in charge. Bragg describes the situation in a letter to Jefferson Davis as follows:

"These dispositions [that is, the near surrounding of the Union army at Chattanooga by the Confederate army at the time Grant assumes leadersip], faithfully sustained, insured the enemy's speedy evacuation of Chattanooga for want of food and forage. Possessed of the shortest route to his depot, and the one by which reinforcements must reach him, we held him at our mercy, and his destruction was only a question of time."

But Grant acted quickly, and I will not describe what he did. But what is interesting is what he said about the results of what he did, and I will quote further from the book.

"But the dispositions were not 'faithfully sustained', and I doubt not but thousands of men engaged in trying to 'sustain' them now rejoice that they were not. There was no time during the rebellion when I did not think, and often say, that the South was more to be benefited by its defeat than the North. The latter had the people, the institutions, and the territory to make a great and prospeperous nation. The former was burdened with an institution abhorrent to all civilized people not brought up under it, and one which degraded labor, kept it in ignorance, and enervated the governing class. With the outside world at war with this institution, they could not have extended their terriroty. The labor of the country was not skilled, nor allowed to become so. The whites could not toil without becoming degraded, and those who did were denominated "poor white trash." The system of labor would have soon exhausted the soil and left the people poor. The non-slaveholders would have left the country, and the small slaveholder must have sold out to his more fortunate neighbor. Soon the slaves would have outnumbered the masters, and, not being in sympathy with them, would have risen in their might and exterminated them. The war was expensive to the South as well as to the North, both in blood and treasure, but it was worth all it cost".

No comments: