Friday, April 26, 2019 • 7:30 PM – $5 Admission or $20 for Full Weekend Pass
Grant’s Friendship with Abraham Lincoln
US Grant first-person impressionist Kenneth Serfass discusses the General’s close relationship with President Abraham Lincoln.
President Lincoln had faith in Ulysses S. Grant when few people did. During the Vicksburg Campaign, calls went out for the President to dismiss Grant because he had bogged down “somewhere in Mississippi”. Mr. Lincoln later said in Grant’s defense, “I really believe I am the only friend Grant has left. Grant advises me that he will take Vicksburg by the Fourth of July, and I believe he will do it; and he shall have the chance.”
The criticisms came in the form of letters, newspaper editorials, and delegations of irate citizens calling on Lincoln in person. The editor of the Cincinnati Gazette wrote, ‘Our noble army of the Mississippi is being wasted by the foolish, drunken, stupid Grant, He cannot organize or control or fight an army. I have no personal feeling about it; but I know he is an ass.'” Lincoln’s response, “I can’t spare this man, he fights”. Colonel Absalom H. Markland, a Washington postal official connected to Grant’s army made note: “Other friends may have wavered in their friendship for General Grant, and even recommended his removal from command, but Abraham Lincoln was faithful to General Grant through evil and good report.”
Because Grant began his civil war career with victories in battle, he soon was very much in Lincoln’s focus as a successful commander. Lincoln endured criticism of all sorts about Grant, but had faith as to the outcome of each battle and campaign. The Chicago Journal once published this exchange with a visitor who asked: “When will the army move?” Responded the President: “Ask General Grant.” The visitor replied: “General Grant will not tell me.” Responded the President: “Neither will he tell me.”
The two men sustained each other for what was to come before the surrender of confederate armies, and that shared responsibility built a profound bond between two people, and like-minded men regarding fairness and humanity towards a vanquished foe. It’s not always told in battle reports and dispatches, but the stories of friends go much deeper sometimes. This encounter will be a rare chance to see inside that friendship.