Saturday, May 12, 2012

Grant Effectively Marginalized

The back-and-forth between U.S. Grant and General Halleck is back, as evidenced in this correspondence from "Old Brains" to the brash young Major-General on this day in 1862.

Monterey, May 12, 1862.

Major-General GRANT,
Commanding, &c.:

GENERAL: Your position, as second in command of the entire forces here in the field, rendered it proper that you should be relieved from the direct charge of either the right wing or the reserve, both of which are mainly composed of your forces. Orders for movements in the field will be sent direct from these headquarters to commanders of army corps, divisions, brigades, or even regiments, if deemed necessary, and you will have no more cause of complaint on that score than others have.

I am very much surprised, general, that you should find any cause of complaint in the recent assignment of commands. You have precisely the position to which your rank entitles you. Had I given you the right wing or reserve only it would have been a reduction rather than increase of command, and I could not give you both without placing you in the position you now occupy.

You certainly will not suspect me of any intention to injure your feelings or reputation or to do you any injustice; if so, you will eventually change your mind on this subject. For the last three months I have done everything in my power to ward off the attacks which were made upon you. If you believe me your friend you will not require explanations; if not, explanations on my part would be of little avail.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Grant must have bristled at the circular argument that concludes the second paragraph, and there is no record of Halleck ever doing anything to defend Grant from the baseless accusations that had been hurled at him since his widely praised victories at Forts Henry and Donelson.  It was Halleck himself that had forwarded these rumors directly to Washington, D.C. with no attempted verification.  Although Halleck implies he has taken the general under his wing, to Grant it must feel more like a thumb.

*ORE correspondence courtesy of my Favorite Link, Ohio State's eHistory

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