John Charles Black.

Addresses at the celebration of the eighty-third anniversary of the birth of Major General Grenville M. Dodge .. online

. (page 1 of 2)
Online LibraryJohn Charles BlackAddresses at the celebration of the eighty-third anniversary of the birth of Major General Grenville M. Dodge .. → online text (page 1 of 2)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


• #

+ * I





(Erlrb ration of the
tiojitu-tljiro Annim? rsarn, of tlir tBirtb,


ittajcr (grnrral (Sratmll* $&. Sodgr

He was a brave, gallant and capable gen-
eral of the Union and. if possible, a more
mighty captain of Industry:

But, above all,

Is a delightful neighbor and our warm
and loyal friend.

g>aturimii Xatrn (Club
April 12. 1914

(Bene-ral 3obn (C. Hark

©ralur of tlje ©rraBion




(Sntrral Jtalin <E. Hark

Gentlemen of the Saturday Noon Club of Council Blitffsr:

I am here to join his neighbors in honoring a mar
whom I love, and I rise among yon with something of
apprehension, no1 of your judgment, for thai I know will
be kindly; not because of the subject of my remarks,
who is friend first and critic afterward, but from a sense
now present with me of the majesty of the things that
have passed in review before me since I received your
kindly imitation to be present and to speak at this

Sometimes in the course of the busiest affairs of
everyday life something will take us from the midst of
the hurly burly and cause us to review our way through
the long distances of the past. Its events come to us in

^procession, not always orderly as the3 r occurred, but
'xj rat her in the proportion of their personal importance to

.v us at the time w r e were actors in them. The impressions

>iof the time or occasion die down; the vast level view
(••niies as when one looks at an ocean of tumbling waves.
But when we think closely we recall the depths and the
heights through and upon which we moved. So tonight

.'I am thinking of the many incidents of a career which
has been contemporaneous with that of your guest of
honor, and full to me of the splendid life of the last fifty
years in which he has borne his great part.

All of my life nearly has been passed in this West.
T remember when its known borders stretched along the
.Missouri river; I remember when "Western Iowa was a
far country, isolated by distance and difficulty of com-
munication from the mass and center of the Union. I
remember what the West was, not only to me but to
every man and boy of that now vanishing period, a



period when there was no telegraph, when the mails came
to us once a week, when a newspaper was a rarity, a
great book, a treasure, and the man of a library a dis-
tinguished personage. The movements of population
were beginning; they were insignificant; the frontier
was pushed but slowly toward the "West. A few thou-
sands of peoples occupied Iowa, and a few hundreds of
thousands were all that dwelt in the great Northwest.

Still in the midst of this people, themselves frontiers-
men, restless, active, indomitable, there were those who
longed for a greater freedom and for wider fields of
enterprise and conquest. Now and then a colony went
out from this slenderly populated region, passing on
some unknown trail toward the unknown land. It went
guarded; its men were armed as for battle; its women
were prepared for all the hardships of discovery. "When
these colonies crossed the Missouri river and moved away
the memories of them were all that remained. "We that
lingered knew that upon them might fall destruction;
that they were gone from our lives ; we knew of the
perils, real and imaginary, of the journeys they were
undertaking; we knew of the long stretches of torrid
land and the long perils of drouth; we knew of the dry-
ing springs and the arid and sunburned plains that fur-
nished them passage ; we knew, too, of the disaster and
starvation which had befallen their forerunners: of the
raging torrents that sometimes burst their bounds and
overwhelmed them; of the mountains that raised their
awful barriers before them, and of the covert passes
where the savage stood on guard, and ambuscaded death
awaited the coming pioneer. AVe knew that the ways
across the Continent were dotted with the graves of the
young, the fair and the brave; we knew that at the last,
when successful and when they had reached the other
side of the Continent, they were gone, and forever.

The Wesl was a region not alone of romance l>ut of
mystery, and ye1 of allurements and of possibly greal
reward for success. Those wlio stood here upon the
western boundary and gazed into the distance, filled with
the restless spirit of the frontier, Looked and wondered
what they could do to make a pathway for the swarming
myriads that were to come and to plunge into these

There is a picture in the Nation's Capitol which, in

my judgment, is a work of great genius. qo1 from its
color nor its perspective, but because the artist who
painted it caught and put into it the spirit of the time of
which I am speaking. It is the picture of an emigrant
train, men, women, children, as 1 have sought to describe
them to you, toiling up through a narrow mountain pass,
until at last as they reach the summit the great West
breaks upon their wondering vision. They see its van-
ishing forms, and they see, too, the coming places, the
future happy homes, the future great cities, the future
growth of freedom. Holding his rifle, the leader of the
parly stands with his foot upon the highest rock in the
rough trail and shades his eyes with brawny hand while
he looks toward the splendor of the setting sun.

Thousands of such scenes, varied in detail, were
enacted by the humble unknown travelers of that time;
and they stood not always upon mountain peaks, but
upon those mental heights which genius builds for her
favored sons.

And amongst those who stood thus came a young
man from the regions by the seas, and his quickened
vision gazed into these long stretches of desolation and
peril. His spirit answered to the call of the region and
its needs, and he settled himself to Bubdue and conquer
and make safe a pathway for those that were to tread
in his trail. lie had paused long enough in Illinois to

—9 —

claim a wife from among our daughters, and thus given
us a proprietary and undying interest in him and his
fortunes; and in the earliest stages of his life, before he
had reached Iowa and while he still lingered in Illinois,
he had won the confidence of those about him by his
energy, bis industry and bis fidelity.

The career of Grenville M. Dodge here at his home
I will not depict to yon ; you all know it ; it has been
told over and over; it was always success, always en-
gagements in high enterprises, always with a view to
the ultimates of manhood, always looking forward for
the best for his people and his country.

And so he might have lived and passed away with
the other coming myriads ; but while so struggling and
while so succeeding there came the blast of the bugle,
the call of the country; and, responding to that call, he
gave up every occupation of civil life and devoted his
existence from that time until the close of the great
struggle solely to the cause of his country.

In the earlier days of that contest none were more
active than he in preparing therefor or in participating
therein. He held the borders of Iowa, when threatened,
safely against the enemy; and when invasion threatened,
he rushed to the front, drove back an active and confi-
dent foe, and made the borders of Iowa borders of peace
for all time; and when he repelled an invading foeman
from the Hawkeye state he earned a place in her Hall
of Fame which will be his until the end of time.

I am not going over all of this earlier period in de-
tail. But so it was that in the first of 1862 he, Colonel
Dodge, led the Fourth Iowa to the battlefield at Pea
Ridge, on which I was in service as the commander of
tbe Thirty-seventh Illinois. He was on the one wing aivl
I was in the center playing the humble part of the com-
mander of a regiment. On that field be felt the sting of

— 10—

the bullet; and so did I. In that contest, which the
strategists of the world have recognized as of prime im-
portance, for reasons which the soldier will appreciate
and the citizen can understand, in that contest, which
was the fiercest and most extensive which had been
waged anywhere on our far-spread battle line except at
Bull Run, his regiment was the heaviest loser, and mine
was next; and when the smoke had cleared and deserved
honor had fallen upon him my mind and thought turned
to the splendid Colonel of the Fourth Iowa ; and from
that day to this, thank God, we have been friends. And
this is the personal element which makes this occasion
peculiarly dear to me.

In the state of Illinois, where Dodge had passed the
earlier part of his young manhood, there had been nur-
tured another citizen with whose name honor will be
busy through a thousand years. The state had taken
to her bosom Ulysses S. Grant, the greatest conquerer
thai the earth has seen in a hundred years, and lie was a
conquerer not alone because he had the genius of war.
but because he had an intimate knowledge of men. He
had been a graduate of "West Point. In that school every
student passes daily under the microscopic observance
of his classmates, who there study, unconsciously, each
other's characteristics and learn them and store the
knowledge up for future use. They know each other as
intimately as children of the same family. They are as
a rule men of slenderest fortune, who enter the army
without factitious advantage, depending only upon their
individual merits for success. But army service itself
tends to develop only the tactical soldier. This is not
sufficient equipment for a great leader, and in the chap-
ter of events it came about that Granl lefl that service
through weaknesses of habit that then inhered in it. to
struggle, without help from the Government, for a bare

livelihood; and in the sad period of his retirement he was
thrown into intimate relations with the plain people of
the land. He came to earn his bread by the sweat of
his brow, to learn what the common man does under cir-
cumstances of difficulty and trial, what are his aspira-
tions, what his trials, and along what lines lie his suc-

I take it that you at this board are all men of suc-
cess; I take it that in your various advantages you have
turned inquiring eyes upon your associates, eyes of re-
spect upon those who have preceded you. eyes of appre-
ciation upon those among you who rise to honor. You
learn the intimacies of their character; and this great
genius of war of whom I am speaking beyond doubt
found the greatest educational period of his life in the
time of his trouble and depression. He came to look
under the surface, and at the man and for the man who
could serve and who could succeed ; and when he stepped
back into the ranks of war he was panoplied not alone
with the knowledge of arms, but doubly strong in the
knowledge of men.

With the history of his military career it is not my
province to deal. He rose from the unknown in a fashion
as wonderful as that which made the name of Bonaparte
illustrious in the campaigns in Italy. The rush of his
battalions was resistless, and the Valley of the Missis-
sippi is dotted with the great places where he fought and
succeeded; and at last the Nation called him to the su-
preme command of all its armies. And when at last that
summons came and he passed from Chattanooga, Look-
out Mountain, Missionary Ridge, to the supreme com-
mand, he scanned the field for those who had done well
and would be of help in the titantic struggles that lay
before him and who would be able to hold all that he
had gained and to assist in those things he had yet to

— l:

do. Going over, then, the list of the successful fighters
of his command, in the selection of men upon whom he
could utterly depend, his wisdom, not his partiality,
selected as one of the chiefest of these, Grenville M.
Dodge, making him his confident, his trusted and beloved

To you who are General Dodge's friends and neigh-
bors, let me relate this incident of that time which his
modesty has concealed. Atlanta's battle had been
fought. The Mississippi Valley to the north was under
the control of our arms. The campaigns of three years
were secure, and the death stroke was to be delivered to
the rebellion. "Who would bring together the widely sep-
arated armies of the Republic? Sherman was selected.
How greatly he discharged his duties the world knows,
but it is not generally known that second to Sherman,
the man upon whom the conquerer relied and who was
closest to Grant's heart, and who was only second in
his schemes that looked to the great march to the sea,
was Grenville M. Dodge. And with Sherman as with
Grant, he discharged every duty that lay before him;
and when on the 22d of July the Gray waves of valor
broke their bounds and came rolling on our scattered
lines and death claimed great McPherson, there was no
figure taller in that flghitng, determined and victorious
Army in Blue than that of Grenville M. Dodge. His
work was done then; the theater of mighty war was
transferred to regions farther south and beyond the Alle-
ghanies. There was demanded in the great Department
of the Missouri a man of utter reliability and of broad
knowledge of the people and the region to be controlled,
and that Department was given to him, and remained
under his control until the end of hostilities.

lb' had won enough of fame for an ordinary career;
he had accomplished successes which would have justi-


fied a quiet retirement from the great activities of life.
But he was still young ; he was resolute, he was resource-
ful; and when peace came he returned to new responsi-
bilities and new duties. He took up the burdens of civil
life where he had laid them down five years before. "What
a period that five years had been, of struggle, of victory,
of the great things that lie in the way of duties well and
nobly done !

So, with undiminished power, with resources all at
command, he devoted himself to the opening of that
pathway to the West of which I spoke in the earlier part
of my remarks, and became the eminent figure in smooth-
ing out the highway upon which the Nation should move,
over its own dominion, from ocean to ocean.

But he did not stand as the surveyor and thinker ;
he was the active, resistless, powerful man of affairs.
Under his leadership and direction the savage was driven
from the path of progress, the iron rails were stretched
from the Missouri to the Pacific Coast; and far distant
California, isolated by plains and mountains, proud of
the part that she had borne in the salvation of the Ee-
public, proud of her little contribution of citizen-sol-
diery, was furnished a thoroughfare by this man's ca-
pacity back to the old land and the old home; bonds
were stretched between the great oceans that never,
never will be dissolved.

I have recently come from the heart of that region,
and all around I found men and things that showed the
affection of the multitudes who were aided by him in
their great expansion and who have gratefully preserved
his name in mountains and rivers and in the cities that
dot the plains, in the names of enterprises that have been
accomplished, in the names of successes that have been
assured, in the names of enterprises that are part and
parcel of the vivid, living "Western life today; and

wherever the pioneer lingers on that broad trail, now
grown to the width of an empire, the name of Grenville
M. Dodge is preserved in the speech and on the maps of
the dwellers.

While it is splendidly worth while to have been
spent in such a cause, it is sweeter to live and in the end
look upon projects all of which have benefited humanity,
all of which have strengthened the Nation, all of which
have added to the glories of this Republic. I am very
proud to have known and watched the great and stead-
fast and luminous growth of this character. There has
been nothing in his career meteoric, nothing of the
iridescent splendor that for a day may gild enterprise;
but he has trodden the plain path of duty, wherever it
might lead ; and the tallest monument that Avill be built
to him will be not of bronze or of stone, but in the his-
toric and affectionate remembrances of the great peoples
whom he has served.

Fellow Countrymen, we are now, as I take it, in the
youth and heyday of American life. Thousands of years
from this time, God willing — and we do not ask human
consent — God willing, the Republic will be here and her
commerce will move along that pathway of this man's
building, and he finally will stand revealed as among the
greatest of American men, a doer of great deeds well
done and benefitting the world. And what a character
the American character will be when fully disclosed !
We have had Washington, we have had Lincoln, we
have had Grant, we have had Jackson, we have had many
mighty men. civic and otherwise; but as yet they are
single st;irs in a great constellation. By and by as the
constellation recedes these scattered luminaries will
gather in a common purpose and a common form, and
that will be the ideal American, of whom this man, your
guest tonight, is a type, the doer of deeds, the thinker


of human thoughts. I congratulate you that one of the
men of this mighty type has made his abode with you.
He adds, in his declining days, the subdued luster of a
great life to this place where so many American path-
ways join, and where his memory will so long endure,
in the center of a region where have been developed the
explorers and the early builders of our time and race ;
great among all of them will be the character, the career,
and the honor of Grenville M. Dodge.

— 16—

Mr. Toastmaster and Gentlemen:

It was with great satisfaction thai I put my work
to one side and conic from my home to join with my
friends at Council Bluffs in paying tribute to General
Dodge and likewise General Black. Of course, I had
known of General Black for a great many years: I had
seen him here at one, perhaps two meetings of the Army
of the Tennessee.

Some six months ago I was riding in the observation
car on the Burlington road and I kept looking at a gen-
tleman and saying to myself, "I have seen him," and
he impressed me a good deal as General Joe Shelby was
impressed at Prairie Grove. Something told me to keep
my distance and not approach nearer than the middle of
the isle of the car. When he left the car, I knew that
he was a person of distinction; but I did not know him
until the next day when I read from the Council Bluffs
papers that General Black was visiting General Dodge.
Then I knew whom I had seen on the train.

Many years since, General Dodge was pointed out
to me. I have learned to honor and respect him. and
love him. I have one little story that I have told so
often that it may be stale to some of you, but I will tell
it again. This was when the Army of the Tennessee met
here a number of years ago. General Dodge wrote me
a letter to be present, stating that certain parties would
be here, and "I want you to be here to represent Gen-
eral James B. Mcpherson." 1 replied to General Dodge
that I eould not claim any near relationship to General
ftfcPherson. lie wrote me back that I would be heard,
and I must attend the banquet, so 1 concluded perhaps
that as good a subject as I could talk upon would be
General McPherson.


It has always been my practice to go to General
Dodge for history pertaining to the Western Armies. I
remember on one occasion I told him of the various
histories I had read, and I was then reading Fiske's
history. General Dodge told me to put it away and stop
instanter; he told me it was the most unreliable — that
Fiske was the biggest liar this side of Munchausen.
However, I concluded to pursue it, and in my study of
General James B. McPherson I found what I thought
was the greatest tribute to General Dodge. It related
to the terrible battle of July 22d. Matters had been go-
ing quite badly over on the left of the army. Sherman
and McPherson had been having trouble getting reports,
and everything was going to the bad and finally Mc-
Pherson said that he could not remain there, that he
must go to the left and see if he could not do something
to help. When he got through there and the smoke had
cleared away and he saw what had happened, he waived
his hat to his staff and yelled, "Hurrah for Dodge, he's
got 'em." And so far as anyone was ever able to ascer-
tain those were the last words of General McPherson.

That banquet was on the sixth floor of this hotel.
Father Sherman, General Fred Grant, General Black and
General Dodge urged me to say a few words, and I told
this story. Immediately afterwards, General Dodge told
me that he wanted to see me out in the corridor. I went
out with him and he says, "Where did you get that." I
said, "I cannot tell you." He says, "You will;" I says,
"I will not." The next day at another banquet there
were two or three generals present, including General
Dodge, and I asked General Dodge what he thought of
Fiske as a historian. He said he was the biggest liar
that ever used a pen. General Dodge said that it is not
a lie, that McPherson said, "Hurrah for Dodge, he's got


'em," Imt he said that Fiske is unreliable. From that
time mi General Dodge read Fiske with more considera-

I always feel at home at Council Bluffs, where my
home once was, and I sincerely thank the gentlemen of
the Saturday Noon Club for inviting me to be present at
this occasion in honor of General Dodge and General

— !9—

8*tt. A. <8. A. luxtott, §. i.

.1//-, Toast master and Gentlemen of the Saturday Noon Club:

It seems to me almost impossible to say anything
that would be worth while after what has been said and
said so beautifully that if it were within the character
of rhetorical construction to cut the words uttered, they
would bleed. The expression of regard and appreciation
for our honored guest and citizen, this man of achieve-
ment, who surmounting obstacles so great as to extract
the defying ingredient from the seemingly impossible
and turn the channel of difficulty into accomplishment
and victory, have come forth from the lips of the orator
and speaker of the evening, like odors from the new-born
bud, fresh from the womb and life of spring.

While sitting here, I have been mediating, thinking
and listening to the articulate music in the voice of this
soldier, this scholar and this statesman of American
product, General John C. Black, who has beautifully por-
trayed with words of eloquence and truth this man of
men, General Dodge. I have been thinking of that power
and potent energy which makes possible the epochs of
human history in the expression of life's noble career.
To say that George AVashington, and the Continental
Army, made possible the birth of this Country without
the direction and protection of a Divine Providence, is
to state an untruth. To say that the wars of the '60s
with their conquests and conflicts, grew and blossomed
into the laurels of victory on the side of right and hu-
manity, without the intervention of a Divine Hand, is to
discredit the presence and favors of the Great God, "Who
led the armies of this Country, and Who's manifest pur-
pose was so impregnate in American endeavors with the
qualities of freedom, and Who crowned our efforts with


the handiwork of thai Colonial Dame, "Betsy R<
who's silken emblem still waves and will forever float,
iu it's heaven tinted array, over "the Land of the Kree,
and the Home of the Brave." God 1ms appointed Bis men
in the day of great moment, in the day when the man of

purpose was needed to Lubricate the wheels of evolution
with the mental oils of his psychic genius, whether in
the destruction of the enemy's stronghold, or in the lay-
in": of steel rails, over which to transmit the commerce
of progressive civilization from the middle-west to
where the spray of the great and beautiful Pacific cools
the evening of his Laborious and successful exertion,
with the refreshing and well-earned rest of the soldier,
the commander, and ingenious surveyor. Such is the
history in brief of our honored guest, the epitome of
American genius, the exemplar of perseverance. One
of God's men in war and railway construction, one whom
we all Love, and one, whom the future generations will
respect and regard, General Grenville M. Dodge. Gen-
eral Black has related in a most pleasing and eloquent
manner the story of his experience and association with


Online LibraryJohn Charles BlackAddresses at the celebration of the eighty-third anniversary of the birth of Major General Grenville M. Dodge .. → online text (page 1 of 2)