Thursday, December 03, 2015

U.S. Grant in North Carolina

Not long ago, I was reading William C. Davis's Crucible of Command, a dual biography of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. It is a really good book, and I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

Something caught my attention reading Davis's book. I'm sure I've come across it in the past, but I'm not sure where.

On January 19, 1864, Grant proposed that Meade shift his army to Norfolk, and then move southwest and capture Raleigh. After taking out the rail lines in the area, including those as far west as Greensboro, Meade could shift to New Bern or Wilmington. This would force Lee out of Virginia in an attempt to defend the area.

On April 9, 1864, Grant wrote to Maj. Gen. George Meade, commanding the Army of the Potomac. Grant's plan was to have the Army of the Potomac abandon Northern Virginia. Instead, the Army would land on the North Carolina coast and move inland, heading toward Lynchburg. Richmond could then be attacked from the southwest. Of course, we know that that instead, the Overland Campaign was launched.

Neither of these "ideas" was ever acted upon.

Of course, we know that Grant did eventually make it to North Carolina. On April 21, 1865, Grant was ordered to Raleigh to take over the negotiations regarding the surrender of the Army of Tennessee, from Sherman. Sherman had overstepped his bounds, meddling in civil affairs, at least according to the cabinet in Washington City. Grant arrived on April 24, coaching Sherman, and left a few days later, arriving back at his headquarters on April 28. As an aside, according to Jean Edward Smith's biography, there was an attempt on Grant's life while in North Carolina. The tracks were tampered with and only Grant's car did not derail.

So there you have it - US Grant, the War, and North Carolina.   


Frederick Walton said...

I just learned that General Grant was back in NC at the end of 1865 during a tour of Southern States. On November 29th, 1865 he was in Raleigh and visited the Provisional Governor, W. W. Holden and spent time at the North Carolina State Capitol. He ultimately visited both the House and Senate. Visitors to Raleigh can visit the Historic 1840 Capitol and walk in the footsteps of this General turned Statesman.

Michael Hardy said...

Thanks for the details!