United States President; Union General in the Civil War.
Autograph Letter Signed, U.S. Grant / Brig. Gen. Com., one and one-quarter pages, quarto, Head Quarters, Cairo, [Illinois], December 5, 1861. To General Leonidas Polk, commander of Confederate forces in Columbus Kentucky.
Early in his command, Brigadier General Ulysses S Grant comments pointedly on the plight of the civilians divided by the war. He agrees to release a Confederate aide-de-camp and send, under flag of truce, a woman who wishes to see her family behind Confederate lines. “I return to day Lieut. Col. Chappell, Aid-de-Camp to Gen. J. Thompson, who would have been sent yesterday had I been made aware that he desired to go back. I also permit Mrs. [blank] of Evansville Indiana to accompany the Flag in the hope that you will permit her daughter, Mrs. Harris of Columbus and her son, a boy of some fourteen years of age to visit her on the Truce boat. This lady also desires to bring back her son.
“In this behalf I do not intrude knowing nothing of any of the parties. Being disposed myself to visit as lightly as possible the rigor of a state of War upon non combatants I have permitted this lady to go to you to plead her own case. I would prefer however that she be not permitted to go ashore, but allowed to see her family under the Flag of Truce, if it be your pleasure to grant her request. I am Gen. with great respect.”
Polk, an Episcopal bishop before accepting his Confederate commission, had established headquarters at Columbus, Kentucky, twenty miles south of Cairo, and was seeking to enlist local residents in the rebel cause. His troops were a threat to Missouri, Kentucky, and even Illinois. Ulysses S Grant, seeking to keep Polk off balance, had mounted an attack on Belmont, opposite Columbus on the Mississippi in early November. “If the action at Belmont was a battle,” writes William S. McFeely in Grant: A Biography, “Grant lost; if a raid, he won.” Regardless of terminology, it was the first offensive action of the Civil War in which Grant had sole responsibility.
This item is associated with these categories in our inventory:
- Civil War