Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Did Somebody Say They Wanted to Know When Ulysses S. Grant Visited Ypsilanti?

Tuesday, August 15th, 1865.

I was wrong when I said 1869. But I'm always happy to be wrong if it gives me a chance to learn something.

"Tues. 15th. Gen. U. S. Grant passed through in a special train which stopped + he shook hands with many (Com. 8-19-65)." So says an index card in the Ypsilanti chronology of Events file. The handwriting is that of Louis White, former Ypsilanti historian. James Mann, who was at the Archives today, very kindly found this card for me (waves).

I sped to the Archives' microfilm reader and feverishly threaded on the correct spool of film. June...July...ah hah! The microfilm reader does not have a printer, so I copied down the article from the August 19 Ypsilanti Commercial newspaper. Here 'tis:

General Grant in Ypsilanti

The special train conveying the hero of a hundred battles passed here Tuesday at 5 p.m. There was a large gathering of the people to greet him. The cars remained about 10 minutes giving quite a number of citizens an opportunity to take him by the hand. He was kept very busy in shaking hands.

General Cutcheon shook hands with him and remarked, "General, I was with you at Vicksburg." The great commander took off his hat and politely bowed.

Mr. Howland remarked to him, "I am a tanner," and he passed him the same compliment.

He took a number of children who pressed around him by the hand. In appearance he is some taller than we supposed. He looks every inch the soldier. He has an intellectual look. We endorse the poet Holland when he says "whose giant combinations and campaigns" won from his boys the sobriquet --'Old Brains'."

"That peerless man and soldier Gen. Grant." We call the especial attention of our readers to the poetry in another column. Unassuming, not a streak of vanity discernable in his nature, the people delight to do him honor--Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan a glorious trio. We honor them not in the spirit of man worship, but representing in their persons and acts the overthrow of the rebellion--the unity of the Republic disenthralled and marching on to a grand future." --Ypsilanti Commercial, August 19, 1865.


Diane said...

Following is a fascinating book about Grant. He was encouraged to write a book so his widow would have some money after he died. The soldiers who had served under him went door to door selling the book. He finished it just a few days before he died. It provides a really interesting view of the Civil War. My Great Grandfather was in Company K, 14th Regiment of the Michigan Volunteers and his unit left from Ypsilanti. I am always searching for more information on the battles and movements of that regiment.

"Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant"

Ulysses S. Grant

Considered among the greatest of military memoirs, these two volumes were an immediate bestseller. With the help of his publisher, Mark Twain, Grant wrote to the last month of his life to leave a legacy for his family after being defrauded a year earlier of his estate.

Wystan said...

Thanks, Dusty -- I'm glad to have this information.

General Cutcheon was Byron M. Cutcheon, who later was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Cutcheon is currently a resident of Ypsilanti's Highland Cemetery, but while he lived he moved around a lot. Wikipedia has a page on him.

Dusty D said...

Wystan: You are most welcome, of course. I didn't check if Grant made an AA stop just because neither the Halle Library nor the Ypsi Archives have AA News microfilm dating back that far--but the Bentley and I think the AADL does. You could write it up for a tidbit in the AA Observer that I'm sure readers would enjoy, coming from you. Just a thought.

Dusty D said...

Diane: "My Great Grandfather was in Company K, 14th Regiment of the Michigan Volunteers and his unit left from Ypsilanti."

That is fascinating. Do you know anything more about your ggf? Would you like to make a guest post here on Dusty D? I'd love to give you the spotlight, if you have info you'd like to share.

Diane said...

Dusty, I would be honored to do a guest spot. It will take me a few weeks to get something together. I just finished a research project for the history of the DAR chapter to which I belong. Next week I am organizing a workshop for Catholic ladies in northern Michigan. Things will settle down later in the month and then I will turn my attention to this project. I do have several of my great grandfather's civil war letters and yes, I do know quite a bit about him. Genealogy is a passion of mine.

Diane said...

Dusty, a little research for you! My husband, having been in the military, was curious where these Civil War troops were stationed in Ypsilanti. I know my Great Grandfather was in Ypsilanti for quite a while and he was just one of a number of men.

Do you have any idea where the men camped?

Dusty D said...

Dear Diane: Thank you for your kind reply. No rush on the story--but I'll be honored to post it here whenever it is written.

The short answer as to where the troops were stationed is: the recently burned Thompson Building. If I recall correctly, there was a kitchen for them in the basement and the men were in barracks on the 2nd and 3rd floor. Officers resided in the 3 historic homes just to the north of the Thompson Building, if I recall correctly--I'll check that with James Mann, however.

Thank you for visiting!

Diane said...

Wow! Just learned something new about the Thompson building. I have driven past that building for years and didn't realize it had any Civil War history. Thanks for posting the photo. I instantly recognized the building. How tragic to have had it burn!

Dusty D said...

It is very tragic.

I biked past it today en route to the Archives, and the southwest corner especially is not looking good. A big chunk has fallen from the 3rd-floor SW corner window and the whole corner is badly cracked. The whole building is heavily buttressed with planks. I do hope owner Stewart Beal can successfully repair it...fingers crossed. He said he intended to, so I'm pulling for him.

Dusty D said...

p.s. Checked the bit about the officers' homes with James Mann and he confirmed that the officers lived in the 3 homes just north of the Thompson Building. They're beautiful homes--you can see the history in their classic, graceful architecture.

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