U.S. Grant – Interesting Quote on the “Lost Cause”

Buy US Grant: American Hero, American Myth at Amazon.comI have just finished reading Joan Waugh’s new book on Ulysses S. Grant, “U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth.”  Released earlier this month, by The University Press of North Carolina, it has been a very interesting read.  A full review is forthcoming, but many quotes struck me as I was reading the book.  While an avid reader of Grant’s life, and having read his Personal Memoirs, more than once, I have found much new material in Waugh’s book.  The following quote is one I really enjoyed, and will put in proper context.


“When I look for brave, noble characters in the war, men whom death has surrounded with romance, I see them in characters like (James B.) McPherson, and not alone in Southern armies……While I would do nothing to revive unhappy memories in the South, I do not like to see our soldiers apologize for the war.”(i)

Written late in Grant’s life, this quote was directed not just to the northern public, but to the entire United States citizenry.  By the 1880′s Federal soldiers, of the recent war, were caught in a whirlpool of Southern sympathy – sympathy that was tied to the “Lost Cause.”  Grant categorically denied the “Lost Cause” tenet that both sides were fighting for equally just causes.  Robert E. Lee’s reputation, by this time, was rocketing heavenward, while the reputation of Grant, the “butcher” general, was languishing.  Worse, in Grant’s mind, was that the brave Northern soldiers were becoming apologists for the Civil War.  Grant believed that the Southern soldiers were very brave, but fought for a terrible cause.  He believed that history would provide relief for the Northern armies and felt terrible that so many of the brave Yankee soldiers were apologizing to their Southern counterparts for their part in the recent war.

(i) Waugh, Joan, U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth, published by The University Press of North Carolina in 2009, Pg. 191.


About Michael Noirot

I grew up in the Central Illinois farming community, of Dunlap. Growing up, I played sports, tinkered with cars and enjoyed photography. While I did well in school, I did not become passionate about history until my early 30's. I have built a large library, of books on early America, politics and the Civil War. I am an avid reader. Fortunately, I have had plenty of opportunities to travel, over the years, and have been to most of the Civil War battlefields. I work while I travel, so more often than not, I am up, in the middle of the night, to get sunrise pictures, or I will be out until well after dark, exploring Civil War battlefields. I have other hobbies, and passions, that I really enjoy. Number one on the list would be guitar. I play my guitars on a regular basis, and enjoy the Bluegrass, and Contemporary Christian (CCM) genres. I play a style of guitar, called FLATPICKING, where using a flat pick, you play lead solos, similar to the way a fiddle would have been played during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Laura, my wife, and I also enjoy scuba diving, travel and spending time at our property, in the country. Lastly, we spend as much time with our families, as possible. Thanks for stopping by.
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One Response to U.S. Grant – Interesting Quote on the “Lost Cause”

  1. univpittmpc says:

    This is a very interesting post. I think this sentiment is directly applicable to our current situation with the war on terrorism. Only time can clarify such issues as these, and Grant realized this in his own time. Really very remarkable.

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