Anecdotes (March 6, 1865)

Samuel Crawford (Library of Congress).

Samuel Crawford (Library of Congress).

In his letter today, Theodore Lyman tells some amusing stories about Generals Crawford and Grant. Samuel Crawford was one of Meade’s fellow Pennsylvanians. A military surgeon, he had been at Fort Sumter when it was attacked and eventually rose to command of a division in the V Corps. In his book Campaigning with Grant, Horace Porter tells a story of a general who must be Crawford, but whom Porter identified only as “an officer serving in the Army of the Potomac who had formerly been a surgeon.” One day the officer arrived at Meade’s headquarters “in a high state of indignation.” As he had been riding over, some of the men had called him “Old Pills,” and he thought that was a great affront to his dignity. “I would like to have it stopped,” he said.

Meade put on his eyeglasses and glared through them at the complainer. “Well, what of that?” he demanded. “How can I prevent it? Why, I hear that, when I rode out the other day, some of the men called me a ‘damned old goggle-eyed snapping-turtle,’ and I can’t even stop that!”  Like Meade, Crawford is buried in Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery.

I think I must relate to you a small story which they have as a joke against Major-General Crawford. As the story will indicate, the Major-General has some reputation for possessing a decided admiration of the looks and figure of his own self. There came to the army a young artist, who was under a certain monied person. The young artist was to make models for bronze medallions, and the monied person was to sell the same and take the profits, if any. He proposed to model the commander of the army, and each of the corps commanders, and General Webb, but no one else. As the artist was modelling away at General Webb, he asked: “Isn’t General Crawford rather an odd man?” “What makes you ask that?” says the Chief-of Staff?” “Why, he waked me up in the middle of the night, and asked what I could make a statuette of him for! I told him $400 and he said he thought he would have it done!” Webb, who is a cruel wag, said naught, but, the next time he met C, asked him if he had seen the young sculptor who had come down. “Seen him!” quoth C. “My dear fellow, he has done nothing but follow me round, boring me to sit for a statuette!”

General Hunt was telling me an anecdote of Grant, which occurred during the Mexican War and which illustrates what men may look for in the way of fame. It was towards the last of the fighting, at the time when our troops took by assault the works immediately round the City of Mexico. Grant was regimental quartermaster of the regiment commanded by Colonel Garland; and, it appears, at the attack on the Campo Santo, he, with about a dozen men, got round the enemy’s flank and was first in the work. Somewhat after, he came to the then Lieutenant Hunt and said: “Didn’t you see me go first into that work the other day?” “Why, no,” said Hunt, “it so happened I did not see you, though I don’t doubt you were in first.” “Well,” replied Grant, “I was in first, and here Colonel Garland has made no mention of me! The war is nearly done; so there goes the last chance I ever shall have of military distinction!” The next time, but one, that Hunt saw him, was at Culpeper, just after he was made Lieutenant-General. “Well, sir!” cried our Chief-of-Artillery, “I am glad to find you with some chance yet left for military distinction!”

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 312-13. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

paperback scanThe paperback edition of Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg is now available! You can purchase it through Stackpole Books, Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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