by Andy Mateja

Ulysses S Grant learned the hard way that the price of fame can be expensive for any man – the cost can even be higher if the fame is unsought and unwanted.
With Grant’s rapid rise to fame through a string of decisive victories, jealousy from his “brother West Point officers “became more and more apparent. After all, Grant had to resign from the army years before over alleged drunkenness, which in their minds would automatically disqualify him from future greatness.
The Battle of Shiloh brought Grant more national notoriety, although most of it was unfavorable. Soon after the battle, rumors of his drunkenness resurfaced, propagated by many of his own officers and men.
After Shiloh there was a push to have Grant relieved of command for alleged drunkenness and dereliction of duty. Northern newspapers along with Senators and Congressmen of both parties were denouncing Grant for incompetence and joined the chorus for Gant’s removal from command.
When confronted with these mounting pressures for Grants removal, President Lincoln calmly spoke the following words which have become immortal “I can’t spare this man……. he fights!”
Grant’s real problem however, was with his commanding officer at the time – Major General Henry Wager Halleck. Halleck called “Old Brains”, became jealous of all the accolades Grant was receiving for morale building battlefield victories, with none of the “glory” going his way as Grant’s immediate superior. Halleck felt superior to Grant in intellect and military bearing and was determined to cut his subordinate down to size.
After Grants strategic victories ant Fts Henry & Donelson, Halleck , with apparent spiteful intention, wired Washington to congratulate the Naval Commander and one of Grants subordinate generals for these impressive victories and recommending that general (CF Smith) be promoted over Grant and that he (Halleck) be given command of all the Union armies in the West. When no response came for his requests, Halleck raised the ante and began to complain to General –in-Chief George B McClellan about Grant’s lack of communication to him and made the preposterous claim that Grant’s army was “demoralized” after the Ft Donelson victory. McClellan agreed and gave Halleck the green light to arrest Grant if the insubordination continued. Halleck immediately followed up by falsely implying Grant may have resorted to drinking once again and that CF Smith is ready to take over command. Halleck did order Grant to turn over command to CF Smith and deliberately lied that he had no choice because of the critical telegrams he was receiving from Washington DC about Grant. No such telegrams were ever received.
Grant’s fortunes began to improve when, at the prompting of President Lincoln, the army’s adjutant general demanded specific charges are filed by Halleck against Grant. Since most were lies, Halleck had no choice but to drop the charges and reinstate Grant to command. Grant also requested to see the charges against him, but his numerous requests were ignored.
Halleck now tried to convince Grant that he was all the while just trying to protecting his subordinate from those in Washington who were trying to remove Grant from command. All the while it was HALLECK himself who was behind these deceitful attempts.
After the Battle of Shiloh, rumors began to circulate once again about Grant being “drunk”, due to the shellacking his army took on the first day of the battle. Halleck now decided to make his move and took personal command of all the Union forces in the area (approx. 120,000 men) and assigned command of Grant’s army to Gen. George H. Thomas. He then made Grant his deputy department commander, effectively relegating him to a staff position and removing him from battlefield command.
It was at this critical time that Grant seriously considered resigning from the army once and for all. He felt that despite his continuing battlefield victories, he would always be held down by jealous superiors and as a “staff officer” never have battlefield opportunities again……. However fate stepped in through the pleadings of his personal friend Gen William T. Sherman. Sherman , who was vilified and called “crazy” by his superiors for predicting early in the war that it would take over 200,000 men for victory in his department, appealed to Grant to not let the detractors win the day and continue to fight for the cause they both believed in. Sherman also had firsthand experience at being relieved from command. However Sherman believed he was right and wanted to continue to fight for the Union….even in a subordinate role.
Sherman told Grant not to give up –that “war is a strange business and that anything might happen”
Grant acquiesced and found that Sherman’s prophetic statement came to fruition a few months later. With McClellan’s dismal failure outside of Richmond, Halleck was promoted to General-In-Chief and transferred to Washington DC in July 1862. Grant was renamed commander of the Army of the Tennessee.
Grant went on to win his greatest battlefield victory at Vicksburg the following year, and later at Chattanooga. In March 1864 Grant was promoted to Lt General and command of all the Union forces. Halleck became his chief of staff. Grant defeated Lee in April 1865 and the Civil War ended a few weeks later. Because of Grant’s national fame he went on to become our 18th President of the United States.
One can only wonder how the Civil War would have turned out if Grant had been forced out of the Union Army in early 1862 through deceit, deception and skullduggery by jealous superiors. Thanks to the moral support of his true and dear friend, William T Sherman, Grant was allowed to persevere and attain the destiny that he and Abraham Lincoln envisioned for our great nation and the preservation of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA !!!!!

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