Ulysses S. Grant: The Appomattox Parole Perks

Presidential History Blog

April 9, 1865 was arguably among the most important days in U.S. history.

U.S. Grant: The Surrender

images_207 General Lee surrenders to General Grant. It was over in an hour.

The Civil War had dragged on for four long years, and the casualty count was in the hundreds of thousands and would go higher. It had lasted far longer than anyone ever expected with casualties far more than anyone ever imagined.

Soldiers and civilians, North and South, were exhausted, but Union soldiers outnumbered the dwindling Confederates, both in manpower and supplies. That included food; it was rumored that their army was literally starving.

Lincoln met with his Generals only weeks before Lee surrendered. He outlined his policy for the surrender.

The war had gone beyond the point of diminishing returns. Thus it was with a heavy heart that Confederate General Robert E. Lee agreed to meet with Union General Ulysses S…

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Intermission (6) – The Janitor Who Won the Medal of Honor

Pacific Paratrooper

William J. Crawford William J. Crawford

During every intermission I include at least one story from the European Theater.  This following article showed me once again the honor and humility that was common to the Greatest Generation.

Perhaps it was the way he carried himself in an unassuming and humble manner, but day after day hundreds of Air Force Academy cadets would pass this janitor in the hall oblivious to the greatness that was among them.

In the mid-1970s, William Crawford might spend one day sweeping the halls and another cleaning the bathrooms, but it was a day approximately 30 years prior that would create for him a special place in the history of war. In 1943 in Italy, the only thing  Private William Crawford was cleaning out was German machine gun nest and bunkers.

William Crawford – Medal of Honor recipient

Under heavy fire and at great risk to himself, his gallantry…

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Review of “Kennedy” by Theodore C. Sorensen

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

Theodore Sorensen’s “Kennedy” was published in 1965, little more than a year after JFK’s assassination. Sorensen served as chief legislative aide to Senator Kennedy and as Special Counsel, adviser and speechwriter to President Kennedy. He also reportedly wrote or edited much of JFK’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Profiles in Courage.” Sorensen died in 2010 at the age of 82.

Sorensen’s 758-page biography of Kennedy is nontraditional in many ways: by virtue of its extraordinary proximity to both its subject and the times, for its strictly thematic coverage and for its commitment to revealing the inner workings of a presidency at the expense of broader context and character development.

The unique access Sorensen provides readers is undoubtedly the book’s best attribute…as well as its most significant shortcoming. During most of its twenty-five chapters, the reader is treated to a fascinating “fly on the wall” account of the Kennedy presidency:…

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Is it the Fourth?

Americans, largely through the efforts of a lewd media, used the Fourth of July 2017… to denigrate and trivialize Thomas Jefferson’s memory.  Salacious accusations disguised as legitimate archaeology and scholarship dragged the author of our Declaration of Independence down into tabloid scandal-mongering.  We have fallen to the point where Jefferson’s name cannot be mentioned without alleged slave mistresses.  We forget what he gave us- focusing instead on trifling conjecture.  We have forgotten what the Fourth of July truly means….

“I thank heaven that the 4th. of July is over. It is always a day of great fatigue to me”

Jefferson said… “And even should the cloud of barbarism and despotism again obscure the science and liberties of Europe, this country remains to preserve and restore light and liberty to them. In short, the flames kindled on the 4th. of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism. On the contrary they will consume those engines, and all who work them.”


Remember what Jefferson gave us…….. never forget what he gave mankind. 


To stop desecrating my memory

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A Day to Remember


John Adams considered our independence a moment for all time. All the celebrations we enjoy this day can be traced to this letter sent to his wife shortly after the vote was held.

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells,Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).

Founding brothers

50 years after the momentous day, Jefferson still had strong feelings for the cause and the day. He was comforted knowing Americans continued celebrating the day.

” I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made….For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.” [22

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A Cold Shot 

“Few men have risen so high upon so slight a foundation.” 

(Subordinate describing Ambrose Burnside) 
When you realize the quote also applies to you …..

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July 3, 1863


Rising to the occasion is a concept so misunderstood… it borders on the cliché.  When used in the wrong context it cheapens actual heroic achievement.  Too often, historic deeds are overlooked because well-worn studies have rendered them routine because of historic scope.  In the pivotal battle of the war, at its decisive moment, actions speak louder than the words of any biographer…. as Confederate soldiers stormed over the stonewall at the “Angle”- decisive action was needed, and General Alexander Webb provided it.

The 72nd PA and Webb's charge

The 72nd PA and Webb’s charge

Alexander Webb received the Medal of Honor for his actions on July 3, 1863.  Webb’s brigade occupied the crucial position at the “copse of trees” which was the focal point of Lee’s attack.  Webb marched defiantly up and down his line during the fierce bombardment that preceded Pickett’s charge.  The confederates under Armistead  charged into Webb’s position and the two brigades were locked in deadly combat.  Seizing the colors of the 72nd Pennsylvania, Webb led a charge into the confederates  at the famous “angle” in the stone wall.   The two generals nearly came to personal blows as Webb’s counter attack brought them to within feet of each other.  Armistead fell mortally wounded while a ball passed through Webb’s upper thigh, but he remained on the field.  Webb describes the action in his report of the battle.  General George Gordon Meade nominated Webb for the Medal of Honor which he received in 1891.


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