Smith, John Corson
Two Autograph Letters Signed, as Lt. Governor of Illinois: Senate Chamber, Springfield, March 23, 1887, and, as Illinois Deputy of a Masonic Organization, Chicago, August 7, 1890, both sent to General Ely S. Parker, New York

quarto, 7 pages, in very good clean and legible condition

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“… You and I agree fully when matters relating to Generals Grant and Rawlins and I very much regret that someone competent has not given us a life of Rawlins. The country does not know, I fear never may, the great debt due our friend. I have no knowledge of Mr. Cadwallader, hence had no means of knowing his means of information… Mr. Washburne … does not recall Mr. Cadwallader and asked me who he is … spent an hour or two with Mr. and Mrs. W. … I was agreeably surprised to have each of them denounce the charges against Gen. Grant, each having been much in his company. Mr. Washburne stated that in all the time he had visited the General in the field that he had never seen any indications of his drinking to excess and Mrs. W. spoke of when in company that his glass was turned bottom up … While there is much that is valuable in Grant’s memoirs, I cannot understand how he came to not only fail in justice to Rawlins but as you say actually do him an injustice – if not charge him with disloyalty. The friends of Genl. Rawlins thought injustice was done him when living, they feel that a great wrong has been done his memory since death. These are however facts that are known to you, Gen. John E., myself and a few others. The future historian must certainly look for some reason why Grant does not speak of Rawlins when they look over the war period and find how closely he was associated with his commander … John E. will be … here in a day or two as an making arrangements to have Artist of Grant Monument spend the evening with me and of course want “Uncle” here then. Had a long letter from Col. Ehler giving me an account of his visit to you … Now that you cannot think I want it for your Obituary, I wish you would give me such a biographical sketch of yourself that I might use it should I survive you or while living that I can have the facts so as to answer correctly the many questions asked me relative to you. I am now asked for your photo and a sketch and brief of your life but refuse until I have the bas relief assured. Mr. Kohlsatt, the donor of the monument asks ‘Is the General a good man, one whom the citizens of Galena would like to have in the group’. I answer Yes and aside from that it is historically true’ I … fear unless I manage to keep it quiet the pressure will be brought to have others, all will be discarded and only the 3 or 4 Generals Grant, Lee, Sheridan and Rawlins will appear … our old friend B. H. Campbell … wants his son in law Col. Babcock in the group. I put my foot down on this and so quieted him for I said if there was any such effort I would open upon the man who betrayed his old Commander, using his name to further the interests of the infamous St. Louis Whisky ring. Porter or his friends may make a dash and to that I answer. Both Armies were present why not add them all? I shall insist that no matter who were present at Appomattox or even under the ‘famous apple tree’, the only ones actively engaged in arrangements for surrender were Generals Grant and Lee, the principals, Gen. Sheridan, who received the flag of truce, Gen. Rawlins, the chief of staff and Military Advisers of Gen. Grant and Gen. Parker, his Military Secretary who engrossed the terms of surrender written by Gen. Grant and made the manifold copies the only one of which is now known to be in existence is in his possession … You have overlooked my question as to height of Gen. Grant. Do you know his exact height? I am pleased with copy of letter of Gen. Rawlins to yourself. It is John all through. Did you know Gen. Wilson is engaged in writing a biography of Gen. Rawlins? … Wilson has recently been in correspondence with David Sheearn, Gen. Rawlins old law partner and obtained from him many of Rawlins’ letters. Have you ever thought of my suggestion that you write reminiscences of Gen. Grant? … your history should be preserved …”

 

While Galena, Illinois, a lead-mine boomtown of 12,000 people is remembered as the hometown of General and President Ulysses S. Grant, it was also reputedly the home of more Civil War Union Generals – nine in all- than any other city in the nation. The writer, who commanded the 45th Illinois Infantry, was one, as was his correspondent, Grant aide-de-camp Ely S. Parker, an engineer of Native American descent, who wrote the final draft of the Confederate surrender terms at Appomattox. Other Galena generals named in the letter are: John E. Smith and John A. Rawlins, Grant’s wartime Chief of Staff and Secretary of War during the Grant Presidency, who, despite the alleged “injustice” done to him in Grant’s posthumous memoirs, was the chief post-war defender of his commander against charges of insobriety. These letters discuss plans to create a monument in Galena to Grant and his chief aides at Appomattox and mention Orson’s outrage that Orville Babcock, Private Secretary to Grant as President, should wish to be included, given Babcock’s involvement in the various corruption scandals of the Grant Administration. The statuary group was apparently never completed. Instead, in 1892, the citizens of Galena erected a statue (by sculptor Johannes Gelert) of Grant standing alone in military uniform, with only a small bronze bas-relief of the surrender scene on the base below.