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come hereafter when he could not pull the statesmen of
this time away from that pro-slavery constitution. Wal-
ter Q. Gresham had helped on the battlefield to write into
that constitution the natural and inherent right of men,
and he intended to urge on the living the importance to the
race of the Republic of living up to these principles in do-
mestic' and international relations. The mass of mankind

1 See page 117.


"had not as yet learned that institutions are but ideas, and
that those ideas, when overthrown, involve in their fall
thrones and nations.

"Years and disease, pestilence and famine, never alter
a man so much as the loss of power." ' One gift the phi-
losopher may concede even to the poor weak woman. Her
instincts enable her to discern that force of character in
certain of the other sex that make them dominant. I was
brought into contact with many such men. I saw many
of them lose their power not simply the power, that goes
with official position and favors to give. That loss did not
come to Walter Q. Gresham.

1 Deveraux, vol. 2, p. 25.



**'T^HE errors we see in histories of our times and affairs
-*- weaken our faith in ancient histories."^ As bearing
on this I submit a memorandum of a talk in 1891 which
two lawyers had with Judge Gresham, supplied by William
R. Plum, General Thomas's Chief Telegrapher and author
of a very interesting work, "Telegraphy of the War." He
became a lawyer and a good one.^

Friday, February 26, 1891, Showalter (J. W.) and myself
called on Judge Gresham at his chambers in relation to the suit
of Keeler vs. Reynolds. From that our conversation soon drifted
to war matters, which we discussed for about an hour and a half,
Gresham doing most of the talking. Among other things he said
he was in command at Savannah when the battle of Shiloh began ;
that General Grant was in his tent when he first heard the cannon
opening the battle. Both were smoking in quiet conversation
when the sound of cannon came plainly down the river; that the
steamer always had steam up and Grant promptly had his staff
on board and started for Shiloh; that there was no sort of doubt
but Grant was taken by surprise; the Judge knew he was. He
had carefully noted what the General says in his book, and though
he does not say in so many words that he was not surprised yet
he does leave that inference, which the Judge says was an unfair
one. He further said that Sherman was back on the Ohio (Pa-
ducah, I think he said) when Grant ordered him to report to him,
that the order was not warranted because Shennan was expected
to remain where he was until released by the War Department,
but Grant boldly ordered him to the front, and it was important
as Sherman was somewhat under a cloud then to shield Sherman;
that Grant had done more than any other man would have done
to do that; that Grant had in apt time before the battle ordered
Sherman in writing to reconnoiter in his front until he felt the
enemy; that Sherman had reported on that order before the battle

1 Franklin's Biography, vol. 3, p. 203. 2 See page 183, on the Battle of Shiloh.



and Grant was not anxious for fear of an attack that it would
be interesting to have those two papers; that Colonel Worthing-
ton charged a surprise and published a pamphlet to that effect;
that that was just the course Sherman would have (or did) prefer
Worthington to take; that it enabled Sherman to arrest Worth-
ington and try him by court martial ; that that was what Worth-
ington expected and wished, as he intended thereby to prove the
facts of a surprise, but Worthington, though a very bright old
army officer, was not a lawyer and did not know or appreciate
that he would be tried for insubordination; that the course
Worthington should have taken would have been to prefer charges
against his superior officer and thus raise the question of surprise
fairly and legitimately; that Gresham was one of the officers ap-
pointed by Sherman to try Worthington; that there were (I
think he said) fifteen officers in all in the court; that one of the
first objections made was that Sherman could not prefer charges
and designate the court; that that question was argued, but he
was the only member of the court that voted to sustain the ob-
jection. It seemed to him then and ever as contrary to our insti-
tutions to allow such a thing. He spoke of other members who
were lawyers by profession, and who must have known better
than to have voted against the objection. Speaking of the battle
itself, he said that in the Worthington trial Sherman testified that
Grant rode over to Sherman and said, "How is it going?" "Bad
enough, bad enough, bad enough," said Sherman; that he looked
at Grant and found him so unperturbed that he, Sherman, took
fresh hope; that Grant said he would hold his own, keeping the
enemy at bay the rest of the day ; that at night the enemy would
be in possession of his camp and be in no shape to resist an early
attack in the morning, when Grant said we would pounce on them
and drive them pell-mell ; that such was his plan and it would have
been successful even without Buell's help.


'T^HE following is an abstract of a speech delivered at
-^ New Albany, Indiana, October 4, 1864, by Colonel
John M. Harlan, afterwards Justice of the United States V
Supreme Court, from which we have quoted on page 347.
It shows better than anything the opposition there was in
the South to the Abolitionists and how the Union pro-
slaver}^ men of Kentucky turned against Mr. Lincoln on
the negro question, and is in strong contrast with the ut-
terances of Associate Justice Harlan.

Colonel Harlan took the stand and delivered one of the best
speeches of the campaign. We are furnished with the following
abstract, which is but a faint outline of his remarks.

He commenced by referring to the time when Kentuckians
came to the rescue of Indiana, when the people were threatened
with destruction by the merciless savage.

Years rolled by, and when Kentucky was invaded by the
armies of the rebellion, Indiana came to the rescue.

The first regiment which came to Kentucky from a free
State was the Sixth Indiana under Colonel Crittenden. The
last which came was the glorious band of Braves composing the
Tenth Indiana, then commanded by Colonel — afterwards General
— Mahlon D. Manson, now Democratic candidate for lieutenant-

He referred to the intimacy and cordial feeling which existed
in the army between the soldiers of Indiana and Kentucky. They
mingled as brothers, and have fought side by side upon many
battlefields in this bloody civil war. The interests of the people
of Indiana and Kentucky were identical, their destiny should and
he believed would, be the same. For his own part he would never
consent to see Kentucky and Indiana separated and living under
different hostile governments.

He then alluded to the contest of i860, resulting in the elec-
tion of Abraham Lincoln as President — an event which, while
it afforded no occasion for the dissolution of the Union, gave an



opportunity to bad men of both sections to excite sectional feel-
ing and disrupt the Union. That party should never have tri-
umphed, because it was based upon the single idea of hate and
hostility to the social institution of one section of our countr}-;
its candidate having been elected in accordance with the Con-
stitution, he was entitled to be respected as President.

The disunionists of the South, however, were not content to
await the slow process of the ballot box. They fired upon the
flag of the United States and then aroused the entire people of
the North, including those who felt and believed that the Aboli-
tionists could have averted the terrible calamity of civil war had
they been actuated by that spirit of conciliation and compromise
in which the Constitution was framed by our Fathers.

But for what purpose did the people of the North rise as one
man? It was to maintain the Union, and the Constitution which
was the only bond of that Union. It was for the high and noble
purpose of asserting the binding authority of our laws over every
part of this land. It was not for the purpose of giving freedom
to the negro. He referred to the Crittenden resolutions as indi-
cating the unanimous opinion of Congress as to the object of the
war, so far as the people of the loyal States were concerned.

Mr. Lincoln has in disregard of the then declared purpose of
the nation changed and perverted the character of the war. He
is warring chiefly for the freedom of the African race. He will
not be content with simply re-establishing the authority of the
Constitution and restoring the Union.

He will not accept peace upon any terms which do not embrace
the abandonment by the South of its local institutions. The
purpose he has in view is impossible of accomplishment. He
can not restore the Union that way. The war will be almost
interminable upon such basis. The Rebel army may be crushed
and dissipated, but under the policy of Mr. Lincoln the Union
can never be restored in the hearts and affections of the people
of the South.

The original policy of the war was the true one, and had it
been adhered to, we would ere this have built up a peace party
in the South which would have paralyzed the efforts of bad men
there, who, in connection with their Abolition confreres in the
North, have brought this terrible civil war upon us.


Common sense would seem to have dictated that in the man-
agement of this great rebelHon our national authorities should
have so acted as to produce a rupture between the people South
and their wicked leaders. He also reviewed and criticized Mr.
Lincoln's plan of reconstruction. That plan, if it prevailed,
would work a civil revolution in our system of government-
Mr. Lincoln has in. that respect assiuned unlimited and uncon-
stitutional powers. He holds and exercises the power to subvert
State government, and he even prescribes the terms upon which
people may vote.

A loyal man in Alabama, who has been true to his country
and has been a soldier in the War of 18 12 and the Mexican War,
could not vote in re-establishing civil authority in the State unless
he would first take Lincoln's oath to become an Abolitionist.
The triiunph of abolition would be the triumph of a spirit which
in order to effect its purpose would not hesitate to trample upon
constitutions and laws with impunity. There is no safety in
this land of ours except in rigid adherence to law — no safety for
life, liberty, or property.

In opposition to this fundamJental principle Lincoln says he
has the right to disregard the Constitution in whole or in part —
to whatever extent he pleases — whenever he deems it necessary
to take the notion.

He referred to McClellan, his life record, etc.; demonstrated
that he was the representative of that spirit of conservatism that
respected the Constitution and the laws.

He had adhered to the Constitution in whatever position he
had been placed.

He would never consent to a dissolution of the Union, but if
elected would so exert the power of the nation as to give us peace
— peace with an unbroken Constitution, peace upon the basis of
the Union of our fathers.

Lincoln commenced with a united North and a divided South.
He now has a divided North and a united South.

Colonel Harlan in conclusion said he was an unconditional
Union man, unconditional for the Union and the Constitution.

An Abolitionist is for the Union on condition that slavery is
abolished. A Secessionist is for the Union — if at all — only on
condition that slavery is presers^ed.


THE following letters form the major part of the cor-
respondence in connection with the threats of Gov-
ernor Oliver P. Morton to have Colonel Walter Q. Gresham
dismissed from the army. The copies of letters of Samuel
J. Wright, the enrolling officer, to Colonel Gresham, Colo-
nel Gresham's letters to Governor Morton, and to General
Cravens, a member of Congress from Indiana, I lost
because certain Union veterans thought they should never
be printed. Destroying records is one of the ways of
perverting the facts of history. Some place in the archives
of the War Department, there may be copies of these
letters, but I have never been able to get them.

Headquarters, i6th Army Corps,

Memphis, February 14, 1863
Brig.-Genl. L. Thomas,

Adj.-Genl. U. S. a.
General : —

I have the honor to enclose you a copy of a letter from
His Excellency Governor Morton of Indiana to Colonel W. Q.
Gresham, Fifty-third Indiana Infantry, a part of my command,
and to request that the attention of the Secretary of War may
be called to it.

Without any reference to the misunderstanding between the
Governor and Colonel Gresham, I desire simply to say that there
appears too much of a disposition on the part of His Excellency
to consider the officers and soldiers furnished by the State for the
service of the United States as within control of the State exec-
utive as to military rewards and punishments, and that this is a
growing evil tending to break up proper subordination and re-
spect to their military superiors. The threat included in the
last paragraph is an assumption of power.



Colonel Gresham has served under me for a year past, and I
have always found him a capable, brave, and energetic officer, in
no wise deserving the language contained in this letter.
Very respectfully, your obdt. servt.,


Major-Gcncral, U. S. A.
Commanding Sixteenth Army Corps.

War Department.
A. G. O. February 25, 1863
Respectfully submitted to the General-in-Chief.

Thomas M. Vincent,
Asst. Ad jt. -General.

No action seems to be required in this case. The evil referred
to by General Hurlbut tends to destroy all efficiency and dis-
cipline of the army. H. W. Halleck,

February 26, 1863. General-in-Chief.

Executive Department, Indianapolis,

February 4, 1863
Colonel W. Q. Gresham,

Sir: — Your letter is at hand and confirms the impression
before entertained of j^our purpose and character. If, as you
say in your letter, you are desirous of serving your country,
you can best do so by resigning the office you hold.
A reasonable time will be given you to do so.

(Signed) O. P. Morton.

I certify that the above is a true copy,

W. Q. Gresham,
Colonel 53d Indiana Volunteers.

The following are some of the protests that went to
President Lincoln against the threat of Governor Morton
to have Colonel Gresham dismissed.


To His Excellency, Abraham Lincoln,
President United States of America.

Sir: — Understanding that an effort is about to be made by
Governor Morton of Indiana to procure the dismissal of W. Q.
Gresham, Colonel Fifty-third Indiana Infantry, from the service,
I feel it no less a duty as a lover of my country, respectfully to
petition against the dismissal of so valuable an officer, than a
pleasure as an admirer of Colonel Gresham, to bear testimony to
his high merit as a gentleman, an officer, and a patriot.

The cause of this effort on the part of Governor Morton, I
am reliably informed, is a personal difficulty between himself
and Colonel Gresham which has grown out of a private corre-
spondence — a copy of which will be sent you — and not from any
failure on the part of the Colonel to perform his whole duty to
the entire satisfaction of all with whom he has been connected.

Since the Battle of Shiloh I have been intimately associated
with the Colonel, eight months of the time in the same brigade
and all the time in the same division with him; and at all times,
whether on the march, in camp, or in the field, I have found
him prompt, faithful, and efficient. He is intensely loyal and has
promptly endorsed all measures of the government for crushing
this unholy rebellion, adopting as his motto, "Right or wrong,
always my country."

His dismissal from the service would not only wrong him, but
do great injustice to his regiment, and rob our country of the
services of one of her most ardent supporters whose ability as an
officer is equaled by few and surpassed by none in the volunteer

Hoping that neither the honor of a true man, the reputation
of an able officer, nor the interests of the cause so dear to us all ,
may be sacrificed for the gratification of personal spleen, I am,
with profoundest regard.

Your most obedient servant,

Cyrus Hall,
Colonel Commanding 2nd Brig.
4th Divis. 1 6th Army Corps.


LaFayette, Tenn., February 14, 1863
To His Excellenxy,
Abraham Lincoln, President United States.
Having learned incidentally that some misunderstanding ex-
ists between Governor Morton of Indiana and W. Q. Gresham,
Colonel of the Fifty-third Regiment, Indiana Volunteers Infantry,
and that in consequence of said misunderstanding an attempt
may be made to have Colonel Gresham dismissed from the serv-
ice of the United States, —

I therefore beg leave most respectfully to say that I have been
acquainted with Colonel W. Q. Gresham, have been intimately
associated with him, and have had the very best opportunity to
know him as a gentleman and officer during the last ten months.
I am therefore happy to have this opportunity to testify as
to his undoubted loyalty and eminent ability as an officer. He has
always during our acquaintance shown himself to be one of the
most worthy, competent, and efficient officers in the Brigade.
The service and the regiment would suffer an irreparable loss by
his dismissal from the servace, which would be considered very
unjust and would be greatly deplored by all who know him.
With assurance of my highest regard, I have the honor to be
Very respectfully, your obedient serv^ant,
B. Dornblaser,

Col. 46th 111. Vol. Infty.

LaFayette, Tenn. February 14, 1863
To His Excellency, Abraham Lincoln,

President of the United States of America.
Sir: — A personal difficulty having arisen between Governor
Morton of Indiana and W. Q. Gresham, Colonel Fifty-third
Regiment Indiana Infantry, and the Governor intimating, in a
recent note, that if Colonel Gresham does not, within a given
period, tender his resignation he, Governor Morton, will take
steps to procure his dismissal from the service, the Colonel
desires the testimon}^ of the officers with whom he has asso-
ciated since entering the service.

I feel it my duty as an officer, as a soldier, and a patriot, to
bear witness to the loyalty, gentlemanly bearing, and the faithful


efficiency of Colonel Gresham. We have been in the same brigade
since the commencement of the advance upon Corinth last spring,
until within a few weeks past, and the dictates of honor, duty, and
zeal for the cause compel me to protest against the dismissal of
Colonel Gresham at least without a hearing before a proper
tribunal. Respectfully,

William Cam,
Lt. Col., Comdng. 14th 111. Inf.

Headquarters 15TH III. Volunteer Infantry
LaFayette, Tenn., February 15, 1863
To His Excellency, President Lincoln,
Washington, D. C.

It is with extreme regret that I learn that an effort is being
made by Governor Morton of Indiana to procure the dismissal
of gallant Colonel Gresham of the Fifty-third Indiana Volunteer

Having belonged to the same brigade (2d Brigade, 4th Divi-
sion) with Colonel Gresham for a long time, I take great pleasure
in testifying to his good conduct on every occasion, and to his
many meritorious actions ; and I would enter, if I may be allowed
the expression, my earnest protest against his being disgraced.

I think he should be promoted instead of being dismissed from
the service.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

George C. Rogers,
Col. Commdg. 15th 111. Vol. Inftry.

Camp of the 53D Reg. Ind. Vol. Inftry.
CoLLiERviLLE, Tenn., Febitiary 15, 1863
To THE Honorable Abraham Lincoln,
President of the United States.
We, the undersigned, officers of the Fifty-third Regiment
Indiana Volunteer Infantry, learning that Governor Morton of
the State of Indiana either has exerted or intends exerting his
influence to bring about the dismissal of Colonel Walter Q.
Gresham from the service of the United States, most respectfully



represent that for the past twelve months we have been associated
with, and under the command of, the said Walter Q. Gresham,
and that it is our united opinion that but few regiments in the
service are more ably commanded or better disciplined. We
further represent that the said officer is thoroughly loyal and
devoted to the cause of the Union and the preservation of the
government of which you are chief executive. We also further
represent that, in our opinion, the dismissal of Colonel Gresham
would be a calamity to our regiment and to the great detriment
of the service of the United States, and we do most earnestly hope
that all efforts to get him out of the service may be unsuccessful.

The foregoing statements we make on honor.

We have the honor to be.

Most respectfully, your obedient servants,

James A. Hudson, Adjutant

M. H. Rose, Assislaul Surgeon

George Thomeas, Quarter master

W. L. Vestal, Captain Co. A.

L. B. Shively, Captain Co. F.

Seth Daily, Captain Co. D.

John Gibson, Second Lieutenant, Co. D.

Wm. S. Langford, Captain Co. I.

John W. Marshall, Captain Co. C.

E. D. Putney, First Lieutenant, Co. H.

H. B. Wakefield, Second Lieutenant Co. A.

George H. Beers, Captain Co. E.
R. M. Gibson, First Lieutenant Co. E.
Wm. H. Smith, Second Lieutenant Co. E.
M. McDonald, First LieuUnant Co. K.
Jno. Vestal, Second Lieutenant Co. K.
Joseph Whitaker, Captain Co. C, .53d.
John Donnelly, First Lieutenant Co. G., 53d.
M. Fitzpatrick, Second LitiU. Co. G., 53d.
Andrew M. Jones, Captain Co. B., 53d Ind.
A. H. Fabrique, First Lieutenant Co. B.
Wm. Reaugh, Second Lieutenant

Thos. N. Robertson, Second Lieut. Co. D. R. C. Slaughter, Surgeon 53d Reg. Ind.

I certify, on honor, that the above list contains the names of
all commissioned officers now present with the regiment.

W. L. Vestal,
The above is a true copy. Captain Company A.

James A. Hudson,
Adjt. 53d Indiana Volunteers

CoLLiERViLLE, Tenn., February i6, 1863
To His Excellency, Abraham Lincoln,
President of the United States.
Sir: — I regard Colonel Gresham, commanding the Fifty-third
Indiana Volunteers, as one of the best colonels in the service, loyal
and true, an officer who loves his country and his country's honor
more than he loves men or party, and the country has no braver
or truer man in its servdce. He is deservedly popular in his



regiment, brigade, and division, and commands the respect and
admiration of all who know him. He is a Republican in politics,
and as a true man is opposed to Copperheads and all who affiliate
with them. He is in earnest in his endeavors to help crush out
this rebellion. I commend him as a soldier that is safe to trust

Your obedient servant,

George E. Bryant,
Col. 1 2 th Reg. Wis. Vol.

Headquarters 28th Regt. III. Inftry.
CoLLiERViLLE, Tenn., February 16, 1863

Having learned with regret that His Excellency, Hon. O. P.
Morton of Indiana, has threatened and is now probably making an
effort to secure the dismissal of W. Q. Gresham, Colonel of the
Fifty-third Regiment Indiana Infantry Volunteers, from the service
by the President ; feeling and knowing as I do that if the Governor
should succeed in his effort that then our country and cause would
be "deprived of one of its most true, faithful, and loyal officers
whose place could never be supplied by a better and more efficient
officer; I deem it my duty in justice to my country as well as to
a worthy officer to protest earnestly against the same.

Having served for a long time in the same brigade with Colonel
Gresham and being well acquainted with him, I can say of my
own knowledge that he has always conducted himself in an
honorable and gentlemanly manner, has performed the duties
of his office with credit to himself and country alike, and proved
himself most devotedly attached to the best interests of our
common country.

Richard Ritter,
Lieut.-Col. Commdg. 28th Reg. 111. Vol.

Headquarters 25TH Regt. Ind. Vol.
Memphis, Tenn., February 14, 1863
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War,
Washington City.
The honor of a brother officer being in jeopardy, I have con-
cluded, in order that so sad a calamity may be averted, to respect-


fully and earnestly solicit a hearing in his behalf. I will be brief

Online LibraryMatilda GreshamLife of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) → online text (page 32 of 38)