Tuesday, December 27, 2011

J. Russell Jones, Mr. Belvidere

One man who is forgotten by many Galenians is J. Russell Jones.  Everyone in Galena, though, knows of his mansion, the Belvidere.
Jones was born on Febuary 17, 1823 in Conneaut, Ohio.  Once his father died, at J. Russell's age of two, the family moved on to Pecatonica, Illinois, up from the Rock River when his mother remarried.
"Taking companionship of Judge Fleming of Rockford and Colonel Broadhead, J. Russell traveled by wagon to see his family before setting out for adventure in Galena. Taking the loan of an old white horse from his cousin, selling some coon skins, he rode. Upon arrival buying a hat with his only remaining dollar. A large merchantile establishment owned by Benjamin H. Campbell finally offered him a means of support. WIth readiness to take on all tasks, made for a grand impression. In a few short years, he became the mainstay of the business. By 1846, at just 23 years of age, he was elected to the position of Secretary and Treasurer of the Galena and Minnesota Packet Line. This fine steamboat company operated "down the Galena River (then still known as the Fever River) the few miles to the Mississippi, and up that great artery of trade to Dubuque, Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Line's northern terminus. It also had connections to St. Louis and the South."
By 1857, married with family, he moved them into a "big Victorian mansion, styled in the fashionable manner of an Italian villa, which he had just built on the east side of the River, now known as 'Belvedere'." Later, after some misfortune, the home itself would acquire the name.
In 1860, his election to the legislature from JoDaviess and Carroll Counties sent him to Springfield and at the tender age of 37, he became the Honorable J. Russell Jones. Becoming tight friends with a Captain Grant, a West Point graduate and once a hero of the Mexican War who had fallen into hard times and had retreated to his father's business in Galena. Undetered, J. Russell saw the potential in this man and enlisted Grant to train the townsmen in the "rudiments of military tactics and discipline" as the country entered its darkest days. Jones was appointed by President Lincoln himself to the office of United States Marshals for the Northern District of Illinois just three weeks before the war broke out.
The likes of friendships with Washburne, Grant and Lincoln did not come without consequence. In the course of his duties, J. Russell seized upon two Galena lawyers (and neighbors) who saw opposition to Lincoln's stand. J. Russell, after open hostility of these two "copperheads," received orders from Secretary of War Stanton to arrest them. Jones acted. Johnson and Sheean were arrested, detained and eventually transferred to Fort Delaware (This will be discussed in a later post). The case eventually was dropped which set to motion a course of litigation against Washburne, Jones and others that lasted years. The sorry consequence after five years of upper court hearings for suit of wrongful imprisonment, eventually awarded damages to the defendants. In the course of all of the proceedings and final judgement of Johnson vs Jones, "Johnson succeeded to the ownership of the Jones mansion in Galena. Known through the years as the Jones House, then the (Henry) Corwith House, and then the Johnson House.
By 1863 J. Russell had gained control of the Chicago West Division Rail Company. He returned a favor to his once mentor, Benjamin Campbell and made him Vice President of his companies. His company grew and remained in tack through the devistation of the Chicago fire with minimal loses. At a value of nearly $6 million dollars in 1886, the company was sold with rewards to investors who believed in its sale.
In the days of Lincoln's presidency, Jones received a telegram from President Lincoln asking that J. Russell pay him a visit in Washington to enlist his advice about the stirrings of Grant's supporters for Grant to run for President two years hence. Lincoln wanted to know more about Grant, being aware that the warrants of impeachment might prevent Lincoln from serving a second term. However, the assassination brought speculation to a halt. "As early as 1866, Jones and Washburne apparently had been among those who promoted the name of Ulyesses S. Grant for President..."
Grant was awarded the Republican nomination and election. Jones "stood at the pinnacle of his career." Washburne would become Secretary of State. J. Russell Jones was named Minister Resident of Belgium as a foreign minister of the diplomatic service. In 1869, at the age of 64, Jones took his post and residence with his family in Brussels.
 "Up off the sidewalk of Michigan Avenue" he died on April 11, 1909."
The italicized portion of this blog is from a very informative page on the Belvedire Mansion's website dedicated to the home's original owner.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas/Winter Collage

For Christmas the Galena History Blog will not be writing until next week, so our gift to you is a collage of pictures of Galena in the winter.  Merry Christmas!!!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chetlain on Grant

I apologize for the long break, below is a piece from the Hamlin Garland Papers at USC.  It was an excerpt of an interview Chetlain did after Grant's death on his relationship with Ulysses.

Chetlain served under Grant during the Civil War, attaining the rank of Major General, and became a close friend of Grant's. He was one of Grant's card-playing partners in the White House and later spoke about their friendship at length in the following interview:
I was in Galena at the start of the war and I know the facts of how Grant got back into the Army. He was chairman of a meeting there and a Veteran, so naturally they approached him at once to be Captain of the company. Grant took me aside and said: "I hear there is talk of making me Captain of this company, but I cannot take that. I have been graduated at West Point, I have been a Captain in the regular army and I should have a Colonelcy or a proper staff appointment - nothing else would be proper.
Grant went with me to Springfield to see the Governor, but he probably did not make a favorable impression on the Governor. His dress was seedy, he had only one suit and that he had worn all winter; he had a short pipe, a stubby beard, and his old slouch hat did not make him look a very promising candidate for the Colonelcy. Grant was at that time a man of considerable talk, with his friends he was a great talker, talked well, too. He had not a wide command of words, but was vivid. I saw a great deal of him. He took a room across the street from the Chinnery House in Springfield, at $3.50 a week, and me invited me to share the room and bed with him. He was working during the day and I was at the camp, but at night we were always together and he sat and talked. I could write a volume on what the man told me then. He gave me the most valuable instruction.
A few days after I went up to see him in the State House, and was shown into a small poorly furnished room, used as a sort of anteroom to the Adjutant-General's office. Grant sat at a little square table, of which one leg was gone. A book and a pen and an inkstand formed his equipment. He had his hat on and was smoking his pipe. As I came up to him, I said, "Grant, what are you doing here?" He looked up with an expression of weariness and disgust on his face and said, "I am copying orders and I am going to quit and go home. Any enlisted man could do this as well as I, or better." I remember when he camp to my camp at Caseyville he helped my adjutant-general lay out a camp, spent a whole afternoon at it without pay or thought of pay. That was the kind of man he was, always ready to do anybody a service.
After he became famous, I saw Grant at Shiloh about two o'clock of the first say. He was calm and cool, perfect master of himself. He rode over where I was an asked me how I happened to be out that day. He knew I had been ill. I told him I could not help it for my regiment had no one to command it. He saw that I was sick and suffering and said quietly, "Take your regiment and retire to your old position; the enemy has done his worst, he will do no more today. Tomorrow Wallace and Buell will be here and we go finish them up."
Grant was generally just and considerate, but he could be unrelenting. He forgave Baldy Smith who failed him; he forgave Lew Wallace who failed him at Shiloh; he forgave Fitz John Porter, but he did not forgive Washburne. He played a double game in this matter of the third term. Grant did not really want the third term, but entered into it on account of Mrs. Grant. It was perfectly evident that he did not care particularly about it, but having entered into the race, he naturally wanted to go through. After his defeat, Grant said, "My friends have not been kind to me in pressing upon me this third term. I could not afford to go before the convention and be defeated. My friends were not just to me in saying that it was only a matter of form."
Grant was not afraid of Lee. He wanted to get at him. He knew Lee, respected him, but knew his limits as a soldier. He thought highly of Joe Johnston. Grant made mistakes judging men in civil life but not in military life. He got at the characters of his adversaries as well. He loved Sheridan. He introduced him once in Galena as "My friend, General Sheridan." He was as proud as a mother of a handsome son. After the war his friends presented him with a house in Galena all furnished, dinner on the table and the ladies of the town to wait on him at table. Excessive simplicity. He walked down to the little Methodist church the following Sunday. He went about shaking hands.
After the world tour, he was just the same simple man. A close observer, he had stored up a vast amount of facts which he related with great fluency and power. I was with him (in the early 1880's) when someone threw a rotten egg at him in Galesburg, Illinois. He was indignant. "I've been all 'round the world," he said, "and the first indignity I have suffered is in Illinois."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Elihu Washburne, the Radical Republican

This post is centered on yet another man in which many posts following will be centered around, Elihu B. Washburne.  Below is a biographical sketch of this man who was the Representative for NW Illinois for many years.

Elihu Washburne was a member of the first family of Republicans, his brothers Cadwallader, Israel Jr., and William were also politicians, making them the original Kennedys in a way.  Elihu was born on September 23, 1816 in Livermore, Maine.  Washburne studied law at Kent's Hill Seminary in 1836 and Harvard Law School in 1839. After being admitting to the bar in 1840 Washburne he worked as a lawyer in Galena, Illinois. He married Adele Gratiot, noted as the first white child born in Galena.  A member of the Whig Party he failed in his attempt to be elected to the 31st Congress in 1848. However, he was successful in the 33rd Congress and took his seat in March, 1853.

An early member of the the Republican Party, and served as chairman of the Committee on Commerce and Committee on Appropriations. In 1860 Washburne played an important role in persuading radicals such as Joshua Giddings to support the nomination of Abraham Lincoln. He also persuaded Lincoln to appoint Salmon P. Chase as Secretary of the Treasury. However, he failed to stop William Seward (Secretary of State) and Simon Cameron (Secretary of War), entering the Cabinet.

He was known for his courage, and met President-elect Abraham Lincoln upon his arrival in Washington, D.C. on February 23, 1861. An assassination attempt was feared, and other Republican Party leaders were afraid to take on this duty. Washburne and his brothers had hidden the whereabouts of President-elect Lincoln by personally cutting telegraph wires in key locations.  Washburne had been the president-elect's confidential informant in the Capital, keeping him informed of developments in Washington and in Illinois when he was there. Shortly after Mr. Lincoln received the Republican nomination for President, he wrote Washburne: "I hope you will write often; and as you write more rapidly than I do, don't make your letters so short as mine."

Unlike Illinois Congressman William Kellogg, Washburne was a strong opponent of any compromise with the seceding states about slavery. Washburne wrote President-elect Lincoln on January 7: "Great commotion and excitement exist to-day in our ranks in regard to a compromise that is supposed to be hatching by the Weed-Seward dynasty. Weed is here and one great object now is to obtain your acquiescence in the scheme to sell out and degrade the republicans. Leonard Swett is the agent to be employed to get you into it. He is acting under the direction of Weed, and it is said writes a letter to you dictated by Weed. No word of caution from me to you can be necessary. If you waver, our party has gone."

Washburne also acted to secure lodging in Washington for the Lincoln family before the inauguration. With the approval of other Illinois Republicans, he arranged for President-elect Lincoln to stay in a private home rather than at a hotel. But on the way to Washington, other Republicans argued that such a residence might compromise Mr. Lincoln and he was better off staying in a hotel. Washburne's views actually proved prophetic: "At the hotel, you would be literally run over, but in your own house these things can be much better controlled."

In Congress, Washburne's strong personality interfered with his ambitions and deprived him of a chance to be speaker. Journalist Noah Brooks described Washburne as "one of the abler men in the House, of indomitable and imperious will; a governing mind, he leads men captive at his will by sheer semibrute force and not by force of logic or sweet persuasion. There is no softness of sentiment about that hard, iron-gray head." But Washburne himself was a controversial figure - often at odds with other Republican members of the House. Brooks wrote that one of Washburne's legislative maneuvers at the end of the 1864 session "was floored once more. Some men never will learn anything."

Elihu Washburne House
Even without such honors Washburne had developed a trump card in his career - he was the primary political sponsor for General Ulysses Grant, who had lived in Washburne's home town of Galena before rejoining the army at the outbreak of the Civil War. In early 1864 Washburne was the sponsor of legislation making Grant a lieutenant general. "Washburne had the pleasure of delivering Grant's commission as Lieutenant General into the hero's own hand; but he might have saved the journey which he took for that purpose, as Grant arrived in this city last evening about dusk," wrote Brooks of Grant's arrival in the nation's capital in March. But Washburne was primarily a Lincoln loyalist, noted Grant's top aide, General John A. Rawlins. About the time Grant was promoted, Rawlins wrote another military officer: "The Honorable E.B. Washburne I am sure is not in favor of Grant for the Presidency. He is for Mr. Lincoln." At one point before the capture of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863 even Washburne had wavered on Grant. President Lincoln told Ward Hill Lamon that 'even Washburne, who has always claimed Grant as his by right of discovery, had deserted him and demands his removal."

He was among the original proponents of legal racial equality. As a congressman, he served on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction which drafted the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. After the Civil War, Washburne advocated that large plantations be divided up to provide compensatory property for freed slaves. He may be best known for as a leader of the Radical Republicans.
Washburne served as President Ulysses S. Grant's Secretary of State, replacing William H. Seward, for twelve days in March 1869; it remains the shortest term of any Secretary of State. He then became minister -- head of the U.S. diplomatic mission -- to France, where he was influential in negotiating the armistice for the Franco-Prussian War.
Washburne retired from government in 1876, although he was mentioned as a presidential candidate at the Republican conventions in 1880 and 1884. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, and served as president of the Chicago Historical Society from 1884 to 1887. Washburne's son Hempstead (named after his law partner in Galena) served as mayor of Chicago from 1891 to 1893.  Elihu died on October 23, 1887 at the age of 71 in Chicago.  Washburne is buried in Galena at Greenwood Cemetery.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Meet the Generals: Ulysses S. Grant, Savior of a Nation, 1861-85

The quintessential Grant photograph

Grant as General

We left off last post discussing Grant pre-war, and the first year of the war.  The next 3 years of his story will not take place in Galena, rather many spots around the nation that he is trying to save.

Grant's first battles during the Civil War centered on Cairo, Illinois, where the Ohio River runs into the Mississippi River. The Confederate Army was stationed in Columbus, Kentucky under General Leonidas Polk. Grant, who was headquartered at Cairo, was given an open order by Union General John C. Frémont to make demonstrations against the Confederate Army at Belmont. Taking 3,114 Union troops by boat, Grant attacked Fort Belmont on November 7, 1861. Initially taking the fort, his army was pushed back to Cairo by Confederate General Gideon J. Pillow. Though considered a defeat, the battle gave confidence to Grant and the Union Army. Following Beltmont, Grant moved Union forces down the Mississippi River to capture Confederate water fortresses. Grant's troops, in collaboration with the Union Navy under Andrew H. Foote, successfully captured Fort Henry on February 6, 1862 and Fort Donelson on February 16. Fort Henry, undermanned by Confederates and nearly submerged from flood waters, was taken over with few losses; however at Fort Donelson the Union Army and Navy experienced stiff resistance from the Confederate forces under General Pillow. Grant's initial 15,000 troop strength was increased by 10,000 reinforcements. Grant’s first attack on Fort Donelson was countered by Pillow's forces, pushing the Union Army into disorganized retreat eastward on the Nashville road. However, Grant was able to rally the troops; he resumed the offensive and the Confederates forces surrendered. Grant’s surrender terms were popular throughout the nation: “No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender.” With these victories, President Abraham Lincoln promoted Grant to major general of volunteers.
Grant's first picture after being appointed Lt. Gen. in 1864

The Union army, known as the Army of the Tennessee, under Grant had increased to 48,894 men and were encamped on the western side of the Tennessee River. On April 6, 1862 a determined full-force attack from the Confederate Army took place at the Battle of Shiloh; the objective was to destroy the entire Western Union offensive once for all. Over 44,699 confederate troops led by Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard, vigorously attacked five divisions of Grant’s army bivouacked nine miles south at Pittsburgh Landing. Aware of the impending Confederate attack, Union troops sounded the alarm and readied for battle, however, no defensive entrenchment works had been made. The Confederates struck hard and repulsed the Union Army towards the Tennessee River. Grant and Maj. General William T. Sherman were able to rally the troops and make a stand. After receiving reinforcement troops from Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell and Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace's missing division, Grant succeeded in stabilizing the Army of the Tennessee. Confederate General Johnston was killed in the battle on the first day of fighting. On April 7, Grant launched a costly counter-offensive and pursuit that forced the Confederate Army, now under P.G.T. Beauregard, to retreat to Corinth.

The battle was the costliest in the Civil War up until this time, having 23,746 combined Union and Confederate casualties. The carnage at Shiloh demonstrated to both Confederates and Unionists that the Civil War was both very serious and extremely costly. Shiloh was the first battle in the American Civil War with tremendous casualties and Grant received much criticism for keeping the Union Army bivouacked rather than entrenched. As a result, Grant's superior Maj. Gen Henry Halleck demoted him to second-in-command of a newly formed 120,000-strong Union Army.

Grant with his prized possession, his horse Cincinnatus
Grant first campaigned to take Vicksburg by an overland route following a railroad in combination with a water expedition on the Mississippi led by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman. Confederate cavalry raiders Bedford Forest and Earl Van Dorn stalled Grant's advance by breaking communications, while the Confederate army led by John C. Pemberton concentrated and repulsed Sherman's direct approach at Chickasaw Bayou. During the second phase to capture Vicksburg, Grant attempted a series of unsuccessful and highly criticized movements along bayou and canal water routes. Finally, in April 1863, Grant marched Union troops down the west side of the Mississippi River and crossed east over at Bruinsburg using Adm. David Porter's naval ships. Grant previously had implemented two diversion battles that confused Pemeberton and allowed the Union Army to cross the Mississippi River. After a series of battles and having taken a railroad junction near Jackson, Grant went on to defeat Confederate General John C. Pemberton at the Battle of Champion Hill. After Champion Hill, Grant made two costly direct assaults on the Vickburg fortess and finally settled for a seven week siege. Pemberton, who was in charge of the fortress, surrendered to Grant on July 4, 1863.

The Vicksburg Campaign was Grant’s greatest achievement up to this time, having opened the south to Chattanooga and gave the Union army access to the vital grainery supply in Georgia. The fall of Vicksburg in 1863 combined with the Union naval capture of New Orleans in 1862 gave the Union Army and Navy control over the entire Mississippi; having divided the Confederacy in two.
On November 23, 1863 the situation at Chattanooga was urgent. Grant had organized three armies to attack Bragg on Missionary Ridge and Confederate troops on Lookout Mountain. On November 24, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman and four divisions of the Army of the Tennessee assaulted Bragg's right flank. Thomas and Army of the Cumberland, under order from Grant, overtook Confederate picket trenches at the base of Missionary Ridge. Maj. Gen. Hooker and the Army of the Potomac took Lookout Mountain and captured 1,064 prisoners. On November 25, Sherman continued his attack on Bragg's right flank on the northern section of Missionary Ridge. In response to Sherman's assault Bragg withdrew Confederate troops on the main ridge to reinforce the Confederate right flank. Seeing that Bragg was reinforcing his right flank, Grant ordered Thomas to make a general assault on Missionary Ridge. After a brief delay, the Army of the Cumberland, led by Sheridan and Wood, stormed over and captured the first Confederate rifle entrenchments. Without further orders, the Army of the Cumberland continued up hill and captured the Confederate's secondary entrenchments on top of Missionary Ridge; forcing the defeated Confederates into disorganized retreat. The victory at Chattanooga increased Grant's fame throughout the country. Grant was promoted to Lieutenant General, a position that had previously been given to George Washington and given to Winfield Scott as a brevet promotion. Grant was given charge of the entire Union Army. Grant gave the Department of the Mississippi to Maj. Gen. Sherman, and went east to Washington D.C. to make and implement an overall strategy in partnership with President Lincoln to finally win the Civil War. Grant was the only General consistently winning victories for the Union. The decisive 1863 Chattanooga battle opened Georgia and the heartland of the Confederacy to Union invasion by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman.
A depiction of US Grant during the Civil War.

In Washington D.C., President Lincoln met with Grant and discussed an overall "total war" military strategy to end the Civil War with a Union victory. The strategy consisted of combined military Union offensives attacking the Confederacy's armies, railroads, and economic infrastructures. The overall strategy was to keep the Confederate armies from mobilizing reinforcements within southern interior lines. Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman would attack Atlanta and Georgia, while the Army of the Potomac, led by Maj. Gen. George Meade with Grant in camp, would attack Robert E. Lee's Army of Virginia. Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler was to attack and advance towards Richmond, going up the James River. Depending on Lee's actions, Grant would join forces with Butler's armies and be fed supplies from the James River. Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel was to capture the railroad line at Lynchburg, move east, and attack from the Blue Ridge Mountains. However, the efforts of both Sigel and Butler failed and Grant was left alone to fight Robert E. Lee in a series of bloody battles of attrition known as the Overland Campaign that finally ended in a stalemate siege at Petersburg. Lee's objectives were to prolong the war and discourage the Northern will to fight, keep Grant from crossing south of the James River, and protect Richmond from Union attack.

Grant with his council in Virginia during the Overland Campaign. Grant is seated far left on the bench nest to the tree writing a dispatch.

After taking the month of April 1864 to assemble and ready the Union Army of the Potomac, Grant crossed the Rapidan River on May 4 and attacked Lee in the Wilderness, a hard-fought battle with many casualties, lasting three days. Rather than retreat as his Union predecessors had done, Grant flanked Lee's Army of Virginia to the southeast and attempted to wedge the Union Army between Lee and Richmond at Spotsylvania. Lee's army got to Spotsylvania first and a costly and lengthy battle began that lasted 13 days. During the battle, Grant attempted to break through Lee's line of defense at the Mule Shoe, which resulted in one of the most violent assaults during the Civil War, known as The Battle of the Bloody Angle. Unable to break Lee's line of defense after repeated attempts, Grant flanked Lee to the southeast east again at North Anna, a battle that lasted three days. This time the Confederate Army had a superior defensive advantage on Grant, however, due to sickness Lee was unable to lead the battle. Grant then maneuvered the Union Army to Cold Harbor, a vital railroad hub that was linked to Richmond, however, Lee was able to make strong trenches to defend a Union assault. During the third day of the 13-day Cold Harbor battle, Grant led a costly fatal assault on Lee's trenches, and as news spread in the North, heavy criticism fell on Grant, who was called "the Butcher", having lost 60,000 casualties in 30 days since crossing the Rapidan. Unknown to Robert E. Lee, Grant pulled out of Cold Harbor and stealthily moved his Army south of the James River, freed Maj. Gen. Butler from the Bermuda Hundred, and attacked Petersburg, Richmond's central railroad hub.

After Grant and the Army of the Potomac had successfully crossed the James River undetected by Lee and rescued Maj. Gen. Butler from the Bermuda Hundred, Grant advanced the Union army southward to capture Petersburg. Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, in charge of Petersburg, was able to defend the city until Lee's veteran reinforcements arrived. Grant forced Lee into a long nine month siege of Petersburg and the Union War effort stalled. Northern resentment grew as the Copperhead movement led by Clement Vallandigham demanded that the war be settled through peace talks. During the Petersburg siege, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman was able to take Atlanta, a victory that allowed President Lincoln to be reelected. Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan had also defeated Confederate General Early in the Shenandoah Valley; saving Washington D.C. from capture. Lee had sent Early up the Shenandoah Valley to attack Washington D.C. and draw troops away from Grant's Army of the Potomac. Sheridan's cavalry, after Early was defeated, destroyed vital Confederate supply farms in the Shenandoah Valley. Grant was able to blow up part of Lee's trenches from an underground tunnel, however, the Union troops were disorganized and unable to break through Lee's entrenchments and capture Petersburg. On August 9, 1864 Lieut. Gen. Grant, who had just arrived at his headquarters in City Point, narrowly escaped certain death when Confederate spies blew up an ammunition barge moored below the city's bluffs. The enormous explosion, similar to the Petersburg mine, killed 47 men; 146 injured.

This is a black and white photo of Grant, his wife Julia, and son Jesse at City Point.
Grant and his son Jesse at City Point, Va. in 1864

As the war slowly progressed, Grant continued to extend Robert E. Lee's entrenchment defenses southwest of Petersburg, in an effort to capture vital railroad links. By August 21, 1864 the Union Army had reached and captured the Weldon Railroad. As Grant continued to push the Union advance westward towards the South Side Railroad, Lee's entrenchment lines became overstretched and undermanned. Finally in April 1865, Grant was able to break through Lee's weakened entrenchments and capture Richmond. Knowing that Maj. Gen. Sherman's army, who had cost vast economic destruction in the south, would eventually link up with Grant's Army, Confederates troops in Lee's trenches deserted to the Army of the Potomac. Disease and lack of supplies also weakened Lee's forces. After an unsuccessful Confederate assault on Fort Stedman, Lee retreated from Petersburg and attempted to link up with the remnants of Confederate General Joe Johnson's defeated army in order to continue the war, however, Union cavalry led by Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan, a close friend of Grant, was able to stop the two armies from converging. Lee and the Army of Virginia reluctantly surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Grant gave generous terms; Confederate troops surrendered their weapons and were allowed to return to their homes on the condition they would not take up arms against the United States. Within a few weeks the Civil War was over.
On April 14, 1865, only 5 days after Grant's victory at Appomattox, President Lincoln was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater. The President—who had been one of Grant’s staunchest supporters, had consulted with the general on military strategy, and had become a close friend—died the next morning. Grant and his wife were originally invited to accompany Lincoln to the theater, but they declined and instead took a train to Philadelphia. Grant was, at various points, a potential target in the Lincoln assassination plot. An unknown assailant allegedly attempted to break into Grant's railroad car; however, with the car securely locked and protected by porters the assailant fled. Upon returning to Washington, D.C. the following day and having learned that Lincoln was dead, Grant, became enraged and carelessly ordered arrests of paroled Confederate officers. Maj. Gen. Edward Ord, however, was able to calm the growing hysteria in Washington through the use of accurate army intelligence and persuaded Grant to reverse his arrest orders. Attending Lincoln's funeral on April 19, Grant stood alone and wept openly. Grant said of Lincoln, "He was incontestably the greatest man I have ever known."

Ulysses S. Grant was the most popular man in the United States after the American Civil War. After President Lincoln was assassinated in April, 1865, Grant became America's first four-star general. On July 25, 1866, Congress promoted Grant to the newly created rank of General of the Army of the United States, a form of the rank General of the Armies of the United States. He would also aid Congress, led by the Radicals, in their effort to reconstruct the South. Grant often disagreed with President Andrew Johnson's conservative approach during the Reconstruction Era of the United States. Grant was looked on as a popular national leader who could mend the nations wounds and bring in an era of peace. Elected President twice in 1868 and 1872 Grant's terms in office were filled with federal corruption scandals and sectional violence over the constitutional citizenship rights of African Americans. Grant, as President, supported the efforts of Congress to protect the Civil Rights of African Americans and was able for a few years to legally and militarily defeat the Ku Klux Klan. After Grant retired from the Presidency, he went on an uprecedented World tour visiting Europe, the Mid East, and Asia, returning by ship to San Francisco in June, 1879.

Return to Galena

Grant's Home in Galena, a gift from 13 businessmen to Grant and his family when he returned on August 18, 1865.

Grant and his son Jesse outside their new home in Galena.

Grant became a national hero following the Civil War.  In August of 1865, Grant returned to his 'hometown' to a mass hysteria.  At the ceremony, held downtown, Grant was deeded a new house on Bouthilier Street.  The house was originally built by city clerk Alexander Jackson.  13 business men including Congressman Washburne paid $2,500 for the house, and it was completely furnished!  Grant did not live in Galena for an extended period of time.  He split his time for the first couple years between Galena and Washington, using Galena as a getaway.  In 1868, when he was elected President of the United States, Grant learned of the results at the Washburne House and ran up the street to his house to greet guests to the early hours of the morning. Even though Grant lived in many places throughout his life he always said that Galena was his favorite place to live.  The Grants sporadically visited their home in Galena including a visit before their World Tour in 1878.  The last time Ulysses and Julia visited the house was in 1881 when they moved to Mount McGregor.  Ulysses died in July 23, 1885 of throat cancer.  His children would visit on occasion to celebrate the annual Grant birthday celebration in April. Julia died in 1902 in Washington DC, they are both entombed in Grant's Tomb in New York.  The children deeded the house to the city in 1904, and the city handed it over to the state in 1931. 
More on Ulysses Grant will be coming to this blog including information on his house, his children, his life in Galena, and much more.

Grant writing his memoirs in the final year of his life, 1885.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Meet the Generals: Ulysses S. Grant, Savior of a Nation: 1822- August 1861

Grant as a Brigadier General in 1861
 We have finally reached the beginning of the end of the Meet the Generals series.  If you know anything about Galena, you know that this man Ulysses S. Grant has played a big role in the community's image.  I have actually benefited from Mr. Grant living in Galena, because I am a tour guide at his post war home (which will be discussed in the next section)

General Grant's Birthplace
 Hiram Ulysses Grant was born on April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio.  In the fall of the following year, Hiram and his family moved to Georgetown, Ohio so his father could expand his leather business. Unlike his younger siblings, Grant was neither disciplined, baptized, nor forced to attend church by his parents. Grant is said to have inherited a degree of introversion from his reserved, even "uncommonly detached" mother (she never took occasion to visit the White House during her son's presidency). At the age of 17, Grant entered the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York, secured by Congressman Thomas L. Hamer's nomination. An opening had been made at USMA when a cadet from Georgetown resigned in October 1838. Hamer mistakenly nominated him as "Ulysses S. Grant of Ohio." In the 1800s it was common to have your child's middle name be its mother's maiden name (Simpson), also it should be noted that Grant was only called Ulysses through most of his childhood.  Hamer, as a friend of the family, thought that his first name was Ulysses, and guessed at his middle name, regarding the era's customs.  At West Point, he adopted this name with a middle initial only. His nickname became "Sam" among army colleagues at the academy, since the initials "U.S." stood for "Uncle Sam". The "S", according to Grant, did not "stand for anything."

The influence of Grant's family brought about the appointment to West Point; he himself did not wish to become a soldier. Grant graduated from West Point in 1843, ranking 21st in a class of 39. Part of Grant's demerits were due to his refusal, at times, of compulsorily church attendance; then a West Point policy that Grant viewed as anti-republican. Grant openly stated that he was lax in his studies; however, he achieved above average grades in Mathematics and Geology. At West Point, Grant studied under artist Robert Walter Weir and produced nine surviving artworks. Trained under Prussian horse master, Herschberger, Grant established a reputation as a fearless and expert horseman, setting an equestrian high jump record that lasted almost 25 years. Although naturally suited for cavalry, he was assigned to duty as a regimental quartermaster in the 4th U.S. Infantry, achieving the rank of brevet second lieutenant. He helped to manage supplies and equipment.
Painting by U. S. Grant
One of Grant's paintings he did at West Point in 1840, Grant gave this to his girlfriend Kate Lowe.
This painting of a horse was one Grant did in 1842. This large draft animal was an obvious drawing choice for Grant, since he was enamored with horses his entire life. Considered the greatest rider in the army, one of the few instances when Grant became angry was when he saw a teamster mistreating a horse during the Civil War.

Grant in 1843.
Ulysses originally wanted to be a math professor when he attended West Point, but due to the lack of job openings, he decided to stick with a military career.  His first military aoppointment was to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Mo.  That is where he met up with his good friend, Frederick Dent, Jr.  Dent, invited Ulysses to stay at his home, and that is where he met his future wife Julia.  Julia and Ulysses were engaged three months later, but due to the Mexcian War their marriage was put on hold for four years, they were finally married on August 22, 1848.  Together Ulysses and Julia had four children Frederick (1850-1912), Ulysses (Buck) Jr. (1852-1929), Nellie (1855-1922), and Jesse (1858-1934). 

Following his service in the Mexican War, Grant was stationed all over the nation, and due to a growing family he decided to retire from the military and take up husbandry.  He struggled through seven financially lean years.  From 1854-58, he labored on a family farm near St. Louis he named "Hardscrabble".  Following the death of his mother-in-law in 1858, Ulysses had to operate two farms under one income.  Grant's father, consistently telling him to quit farming and work in his leather business finally got his promise.  Grant decided to move with his family to Galena in 1860.  He and Julia rented a house on High Street where they would live during the war.  His family would frequently attend the Methodist church in Galena, which sits right below his pre-war home, and right above his place of employment.

 Grant worked as a clerk in his father's leather shop (present-day Coatsworth Apartments) which was run by his two brothers Sam and Orville.  His brother Sam would die of tuberculosis in 1860, the only member of the Grant family buried in Galena. 
Grant was not involved in politics throughout much of his life.  In the election of 1856, it was noted that he voted for James Buchanan, a democrat, due to his pledge to keep the Union together.  Grant's father was a prominent Republican in Ohio, he never lived for a very long time in Galena because he was still operating his shop in Georgetown. His father-in-law was a prominent Democrat in St. Louis.
Grant's prewar home
Grant was swayed to the Republican Party and Lincoln after a masterful speech by his future chief of staff, and prominent Galena Republican John Rawlins, which told people to support the Union and fight for the country.  Another key friend, and prominent Republican, Elihu B. Washburne (he will be discussed following the two-part series on Grant), would aid the General in his meteoric rise in the Army.
When the war broke out, Grant helped organize a group of volunteers from Galena, originally he did not want to take part in the war, but agreed to help organize Galena's regiment being that he was the only man in Galena with West Point experience.  He would accompany it to Springfield, the capital of Illinois. He accepted a position offered by Illinois Gov. Richard Yates to recruit and train volunteers. Grant, who wanted a field command, was efficient and energetic in the training camps and made a positive impression on the volunteer Union recruits. With the aid of his advocate in Washington D.C.,Elihu Washburne, Grant was promoted to Colonel by Governor Richard Yates on June 14, 1861, and put in charge of the unruly Twenty-first Illinois volunteer regiment. By the end of August 1861, Grant was given charge of the District of Cairo by Maj. Gen John C. Fremont, an outside Lincoln appointment, who viewed Grant as "a man of dogged persistance, and iron will." Grant's own demeanor changed; having renewed energies, he began to walk with a confident step.

To be continued....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Meet the Generals: John Oliver Duer, Transient General

John Oliver Duer

The General with the least influence in Galena and the one that spent the least time in Galena is our last General before our two part general overview of Ulysses S. Grant. John Oliver Duer is also the youngest of the Generals to have come out of Galena.  Not much is noted on John Duer, but listed below are the key points of the story of his brief life.

John Oliver Duer was born on February 12, 1838 in Baltimore, Maryland.  Duer did not move to Galena until 1860 right before the outbreak of the Civil War.  Duer was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant of Company D of the 45th Illinois Infantry in September of 1861.  He was promoted 1st Lieutenant in  March of 1862, Captain in April of 1862, Major in June of 1863, Lt. Colonel in January of 1865,  Colonel in May of 1865, and finally was brevetted Brigadier General on July 12, 1865. 

Following the war Duer moved to Monticello, Iowa where he was the head of the dry goods firm Duer & Estey.  Duer was elected mayor of Monticello, and eventually died there on December 11, 1880.

Meet the Generals: William Rueben Rowley, Local Politician

William Reuben Rowley

General William Rowley was born on February 8, 1824 in St. Lawrence County, New York.  After teaching in Brown County, Ohio, Rowley moved to Galena in 1843 to continue teaching. Following his teaching career, Rowley held numerous local political offices.  These offices include Assessor and Collector, Deputy City Clerk, Sheriff, and Circuit Clerk.

During the war, Rowley was originally comissioned as 1st Lieutenant in Company D of the 45th Illinois Infantry in November of 1861.  Four months later, in February of 1862, Rowley was promoted Captain and Aide-de-Camp on the staff of U.S. Grant.  He distinguished himself at Shiloh by riding from the thickest of the fight at the Hornet's Nest toward Crump's Landing with orders to General Lewis Wallace to bring his troops to the field, for which service he was promoted major, November 1st, 1862.  He served on the staff until the siege of Vicksburg, when he was temporarily detached from headquarters, and acted as provost-marshal-general of the departments of the Tennessee and Cumberland, with headquarters at Columbus, Kentucky.  When General Grant was promoted lieutenant-general, Major Rowley was made lieutenant-colonel and military secretary on his staff, which office he held until 30 August, 1864, when he resigned, owing to impaired health.  He was brevetted brigadier-general of volunteers on 13 March, 1865. 

Following the war, Rowley resumed his post as Jo Daviess County Clerk until 1876.  Following his career as County Clerk, Rowley was elected county judge which he held until his death on February 9, 1886, a day following his 62nd birthday.  He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Galena, IL. 

William Reuben Rowley  William Reuben Rowley

Monday, December 12, 2011

Meet the Generals: John Corson Smith, Freemason

Above is a bronze medal with the General's depiction.

As mentioned previously, the next couple of generals will not have two much detail initially, but future posts will delve more into these generals' lives.  The first of these "no-name" generals is one who was an Illinois politician following his career in the military.

John Corson Smith was born February 13, 1832 in Philadelphia, Pa.  He moved to Galena in 1854, and was an active freemason.  When the Civil War broke out he enlisted in the 74th Illinois as a private, but later he formed Company I of the Illinois 96th Volunteers.  He took part in many battles, was wounded, and before being mustered out he attained the rank of General.  He was brevetted Brigadier General, US Volunteers on June 20, 1865 for "meritorious services".

Following the war, he served as Illinois State Treasurer from 1870-81 and from 1883-85, and then he served as Lieutenant Governor of the state from 1885-89.  In 1876, he served as Commissioner of the Centennial Exposition.  

John C. Smith may be best known for his long time service to the Masonic Order.  In his New York Times obituary, his service in the Masonry was the first thing to be noted.  He was noted as being "one of the most active members of the Masonic order in the United States for many years."  He also held many honorary offices in the order.  He was also known for his books on Masonic history,  including "History of Freemasonry in Illinois", which he wrote in 1903. Another book was entitled "The History of Freemasonry in Galena, IL"

John Corson Smith died on December 31, 1910 in Chicago.  He is entombed in Greenwood Cemetery in Galena.

John Corson Smith
His tombstone in Greenwood Cemetery in Galena. Below his headstone entitled "Father", he left behind three sons at the time of his death.
   John Corson Smith

Friday, December 9, 2011

Meet the Generals: John Eugene Smith, Galena Jeweler

I understand that this is a very quick turnaround, from my last post, but these next few generals (leading up to Ulysses S. Grant) do not take up to much space, due to the minimal knowledge the amateur civil war historian knows about these men.

The next general I will discuss will be General John Eugene Smith.  John E. Smith was born in Berne, Switzerland, on August 3, 1816, to a father who served for Napoleon Bonaparte during the Napoleanic Wars.  His family emigrated to Philadelphia after the downfall of the Napoleanic regime.  In Philadelphia, the young Smith was educated to be a jeweler.  After operating his jewelry shop for 20 years, he moved to Galena to continue practicing his trade.  

When the Civil War began in 1861, Smith served as an aide de camp to Illinois Governor Richard Yates. On July 23, 1861 he was appointed colonel of the 45th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He led his regiment at the battles of Fort Henry, Fort Donelson and Shiloh. On November 29, 1861 he was promoted to brigadier general of U.S. Volunteers. He briefly commanded a brigade before taking command of he 8th Division, XVI Corps. When Ulysses S. Grant began his final campaign against Vicksburg, Smith was placed in command of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, XVII Corps. He fought at the battles of Port Gibson, Raymond, Champion Hill and in the assaults on Vicksburg. In June, 1863 in the midst of the siege of Vicksburg, Smith was chosen to replace Gen. Isaac F. Quinby in command of the 7th Division, XVII Corps after Quinby became ill and took a leave of absence. In September, 1863 Smith was transferred to command the 2nd Division, XVII Corps and his division was sent with William T. Sherman to aid in the relief of Chattanooga. During the battle of Missionary Ridge, Smith took part in the attacks against the Confederate right flank at Tunnel Hill.
In December, 1863 Smith took command of the 3rd Division, XV Corps which he would command until the end of the war.  He saw action during the Atlanta Campaign, March to the Sea and the Carolinas Campaign.

Following the war, General Smith was mustered out of the volunteer service, but chose to stay in the regular army. He was appointed colonel of the 27th U.S. Infantry Regiment. He received a promotion to brigadier general in 1867 and a brevet promotion to major general in 1869.  He retired from the army in 1881.
Smith resided in Chicago, Illinois during his final years of life and died there on January 29, 1897. He is buried in Galena.

We are now half way through the general series, this is the 5th general (US Grant will have a two part piece at the end of the series).

Meet the Generals: Jasper Adalmorn Maltby, Gunsmith

Jasper Adalmorn Maltby was born in Kingsville, Ohio on November 3, 1826.  He lived in Ohio until he came back from the Mexican War. He subsequently moved to Galena, Illinois, and became a gunsmith, living in a room above the shop with his wife and son. 

Maltby is noted as being one of the first inventors of a telescopic sights for rifles. 

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Maltby enlisted as a private in the 45th Illinois Infantry (known as the "Lead Mine Regiment") on December 26, 1861. He was elected as the regiment's lieutenant colonel that same day. He participated in the 1862 attack on Fort Donelson in Tennessee, and was wounded in the elbow and both thighs. He was eventually shipped home to Galena to recuperate. After his recovery, he was promoted to colonel.
The following year he commanded his Illinois troops in Ulysses S. Grant's operations against the Confederate defenses of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Maltby was again wounded during an attack on Fort Hill on June 25. Union troops had tunneled under the 3rd Louisiana Redan and packed the mine with 2,200 pounds of gunpowder. The resulting explosion blew apart the Confederate lines, while troops from John A. Logan's division of the XVII Corps followed the blast with an infantry assault. Maltby's 45th Illinois charged into the 40-foot (12 m) diameter, 12-foot (3.7 m) deep crater with ease, but were stopped by recovering Confederate infantry. The Union soldiers became pinned down while the defenders rolled artillery shells with short fuses into the pit with deadly results. Maltby suffered severe injuries to his head and right side and never fully recovered, but was able to continue in the army.
He was promoted to brigadier general on August 4, 1863. On September 8, he took command of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, of the XVII Corps in the Army of the Tennessee. For much of 1864, his brigade was in the 1st Division of the Department of Vicksburg, but for part of summer was temporarily commanded by Colonel John H. Howe while Maltby recovered from complications from his Vicksburg wounds. Maltby's Brigade remained in Vicksburg throughout the year while much of the army fought in northern Georgia and later in Tennessee.

After the war, Maltby remained in Vicksburg in the Regular Army. He served as the city's military governor from September 6, 1867, until December 12 when he stepped down due to illness. Maltby died ten days later in Vicksburg from either yellow fever or a cardiac arrest. His body was returned to Galena and buried there in Greenwood Cemetery.
His brother William H. Maltby was the captain of a Confederate artillery battery and was taken as a prisoner of war in a skirmish on Mustang Island along the Texas Gulf Coast. Jasper Maltby used his influence to get his brother released and sent to Vicksburg until he could be exchanged.

As noted in the previous blog post, the remaining generals in this series will not have as much information as the previous three we have discussed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Meet the Generals: Augustus Louis Chetlain, First in War

General Augustus Louis Chetlain maybe one of the lesser known generals in Galena, but his impact and his accounts on General Grant deem him a valuable resource and an important figure.  If you have ever lived in Galena, you have heard of Chetlain Lane, this street is named after this man. 
Chetlain was born December 26, 1824 in St. Louis, Missouri.  As an infant Chetlian and his family arrived in Galena, by 1852 Chetlain began his business career as a clerk, and eventually became an owner of a local business in Galena.  By 1859, it was noted that Mr. Chetlain was very wealthy.  That year, he sold his business and began to travel Europe. 
By the time war broke out in 1861, he chose the side of the union, and he always said that he was the first man to volunteer in the state of Illinois. On April 16 he was part of a meeting held in Galena to raise a volunteer company, and with Ulysses S. Grant was prominent in its creation. When Grant declined the post (and at his suggestion) Chetlain was elected as the company's captain. In Springfield in late April the 12th Illinois Infantry was organized, and Chetlain's company was added to it. On May 2 he entered the Union Army as captain of the 12th Illinois, and the next day he was elected the regiment's lieutenant colonel.

On April 6, 1862, Chetlain led his regiment with distinction during the Battle of Shiloh. In the fight he lost about a quarter of his men and Chetlain was wounded when both his face and chest were seriously bruised. On April 27 he was promoted to colonel for gallantry during the action at Fort Donelson. That May his command participated in the Siege of Corinth and then the battle there on October 3 and 4, during which Chetlain was again highly praised for his performance. Chetlain was then given command of Corinth, Mississippi, where he began to organize and train black soldiers for Union Army service. This assignment lasted until May 1863, and on December 18 he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. On the advice of Grant, Chetlain was given the task of raising black troops in Tennessee and Kentucky, with his headquarters located in Memphis. By October 1864 he had trained a force of about 17,000 men that were "well armed, drilled, and disciplined."
On June 18, 1865, Chetlain was brevetted to the rank of major general. Between 1865 and 1866 he commanded at Memphis and then at Talladega, Alabama. On January 26, 1866, Chetlain was mustered out of the Union Army. His war-time performance has been described as:
"Gen. Chetlain throughout his varied army career had military ardor, and a love for the profession of arms. He proved himself a brave commander in action, a successful organizer, an excellent disciplinarian and tactician, and possessed a high order of administrative ability."
-James T. White, National Cyclopedia of American Biography

After the war,  Chetlain was assessor of Internal Revenue for the district of Utah from 1867–69. From 1869–72, he was at U. S. consul in Brussels. During the Grant administration, Chetlain was also noted as beign one of Grant's card playing partners in the White House.  In 1872, he established himself in the banking business in Chicago and also as a stock broker. He was president of the Home National Bank, organizer of the Industrial Bank of Chicago, director of the Chicago Stock Exchange, and member of the Board of Education. In 1893 he wrote Recollections of Seventy Years. On March 15, 1914, at the age of 89 he died in Chicago. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Galena.

There will be more added on Chetlain as the blog continues to grow, stay tuned.  Including Chetlain's recollections on his close friend U.S. Grant.
Also note that this will be the last long intro for the generals (excluding Gen. Grant), the other four are not as well known as Rawlins, Parker, and Chetlain.

Augustus Louis Chetlain 
Augustus Chetlain's gravemarker in Greenwood Cemetery in Galena.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Meet the Generals: Ely S. Parker, Engineer of Surrender

For those thinking I was going to write on US Grant right off the top, you are mistaken.  The next general I will be talking about is General Ely Parker.  Unlike John Rawlins, Parker was not born in Galena, Parker was born on a Native American Reservation in New York.   His story is unlike any  who reached the rank of general in the Civil War.

Parker was born in 1828 into a prominent Seneca family.  Parker worked in a law firm, but due to his Seneca heritage, he was unable to take the bar exam.  Native Americans were not citizens until 1924.  Parker began his career in public service by working as an interpreter and diplomat to the Seneca chiefs in their negotiations about land and treaty rights, in 1852 Parker was made sachem (chief) of the Seneca.

His story in Galena, though, does not begin until 1855.  He was hired that year to be the supervisor of government projects in Galena, which included the building of the Customs House.

Above is the Old Post Office (Customs House) built by Ely Parker and his staff.  This post office is the second oldest continously operating post office in the United States

The two men became friends and during the war Grant made a position on his staff for the able Parker.
He then sought to join the Union Army as an engineer, but was told by Secretary of War Simon Cameron that as an Indian, he could not join. Parker contacted his colleague and friend Ulysses S. Grant, who intervened. His forces suffered from a shortage of engineers, and Parker was commissioned a captain in May, 1863 and ordered to report to Brig. Gen. John Eugene Smith, also from Galena. General Smith appointed Parker as the chief engineer of his 7th Division during the siege of Vicksburg. Smith said Parker was a "good engineer".

When Ulysses S. Grant became commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi, Parker became his adjutant during the Chattanooga Campaign. He was subsequently transferred with Grant as the adjutant of the U.S. Army headquarters and served Grant through the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg. At Petersburg, Parker was appointed as the military secretary to Grant, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He wrote much of Grant's correspondence.
At the time of the surrender Parker was a lieutenant colonel, but received the rank of brevet brigadier general after the Civil War.

Lieutenant Colonel Ely Parker made the formal ink copy of General Grant’s letter that spelled out the terms of surrender. “Having finished it, I brought it to General Grant, who signed it, sealed it and then handed it to General Lee” - Lt. Colonel Ely Parker.
At the surrender meeting, seeing that Parker was an American Indian, General Lee remarked to Parker, “I am glad to see one real American here.” Parker later stated, “I shook his hand and said, 'We are all Americans'.”

Among members of Grant’s staff Parker was known for his fine handwriting, his knowledge of the law, his sense of humor, and as a good fellow to have around in a fight. Parker once described himself as “a savage Jack Falstaff of 200 weight.”

Following the War, Grant appointed Parker as Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1869 to 1871. He was the first Native American to hold the office. Parker became the chief architect of President Grant's Peace Policy in relation to the Native Americans in the West. Under his leadership, the number of military actions against Indians were reduced in the west.
After leaving government service, Parker invested in the stock market. He eventually lost the fortune he had accumulated, after the collapse of 1873. Parker died in poverty on August 31, 1895 in Fairfield, Ct.
There will be more stories on Parker at a later date, this is a brief overview of his life.

Ely Parker (right) and General Grant (left) during the war.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Meet the Generals: John Aaron Rawlins, Savior of an Image

John A. Rawlins on the left with General Ulysses S. Grant, and another member of Grant's staff on the right

Why did I decide to start my post with John Rawlins? In my opinion, he is the most important, and interesting, general to come out of Galena.  Rawlins was one of a few of the nine generals to be born in Galena, and the only one, other than Ulysses S. Grant, to hold a national office, he was Grant's Secretary of War. 

John Rawlins was born on February 13, 1831 in Galena, Illinois.  Rawlins was originally a lawyer in the town, he operated a law office with David Sheean, an influential Galena republican who will be discussed later in this blog.  Rawlins was named city attorney of Galena in 1857 and served in that post until 1861, when the war broke out. In April 1861, Rawlins, standing in front of the JoDaviess County Court House delivered a rallying speech for volunteers, which caught the attention of Ulysses S. Grant. 

When the war erupted Rawlins helped form the 45th Illinois, the Lead Mine, infantry regiment joining himself with the rank of major. Ulysses S. Grant, then a colonel, asked Rawlins to accept a commission as a 1st lieutenant in the regular army and become his aide-de-camp. On 30 August 1861 Rawlins was commissioned a captain and assigned as assistant adjutant on Brigadier General Grant's staff. As Grant moved up so did Rawlins. He was promoted to major on 14 May 1862, lieutenant colonel on 1 November 1862, and brigadier general of volunteers on 11 August 1863. Rawlins would run Grant's staff throughout the war, his duties ranging from issuing orders to by some accounts maintaining the commanding general's sobriety. Grant referred to him as the most nearly indispensable man he had around him. He was breveted major general of volunteers on 24 February 1865. On 3 March 1865 Rawlins was appointed brigadier general in the regular army and given the new title, created specifically for him, of Chief of Staff of the Army. This was the last appointment of brigadier general in the regular army made during the war. He was breveted major general in the regular army on 9 April 1865

Rawlins was noted many times for saving Grant's image during the war and hiding his vices from the public.  Rawlins remained with Grant after the war as well, serving as Ulysses's Secretary of War from March to September of 1869.  On September 6, 1869, Rawlins succumbed to tuberculosis and died while in office.  His loyalty to Ulysses Grant showed even in his last days. His doctors recommended that Rawlins go to Arizona, where the dry desert climate would allow him to live longer. Rawlins refused, wishing to stay at Grant's side as his Secretary of War. He died in Washington and was buried in Congressional Cemetery, but his remains were later relocated to Arlington National Cemetery.

Rawlins is not well known by amateur civil war historians due to the small attention paid to him in Grant's memoirs.  In his memoirs, written shortly before his death, Grant only mentioned Rawlins twice, and essentially ignored their professional and personal relationship. Surviving members of Grant's former staff were outraged at the fact that Grant would snub someone who had been as loyal to him—literally to the death—as Rawlins had been. The most likely explanation for this is given by historian E.B. Long, who wrote, "It might be that Grant did not wish to praise Rawlins too profusely because of the current reports picturing Rawlins as the protector of Grant from his own bad habits."

The life of General John A. Rawlins is one that is short, only 38 years, and not well known to many, but his loyalty to his General may have saved the Union, and that is why he is the first general I have touched upon on this blog.

The General John A. Rawlins statue in Washington D.C. is located at Rawlins Park.  Rawlins township in JoDaviess County, Rawlins, Wyoming, and Rawlins County, Kansas are named in honor of him. 




Introduction to blog

Galena is one of the most fascinating cities in the old Northwest Territory.  Nine generals from Galena served during the Civil War, the most important being Ulysses S. Grant.  Also, 85% of the buildings in Galena are apart of the National Register of Historic Places, coining the town as "The Town that Time Forgot".  This blog will not only be about the civil war and Galena, but much more. If you enjoy history please check in on a regular basis to read very interesting posts.