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General Grant in Washington.


March and April 1864

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, March 15, 1864.


The Presidential Levee – Ovation to Lieutenant-General Grant.

[From the Washington Republican, March 10.]

The Executive Mansion was crowded last evening, on the occasion of the usual weekly reception by the President and Mrs. Lincoln. More than usual interest marked the grand levee. In the great company of people who paid their respects to the President were many distinguished gentlemen. Among them were noticed Edward Count Pieper, Swedish Minister; the Chevalier Bertinatti, Minister of Italy; Mr. W. DeRazelooff, Chargé d’Affaires of Denmark. The Cabinet, the Governmental Departments, both houses of Congress, and the army and navy were well represented. There was also a host of ladies, many of them conspicuous for their beauty and grace of manner in the brilliant assemblage. The President and Mrs. Lincoln appeared to be in the best of health and spirits, and received their visitors with a charming affability of manner

Among the military gentlemen present, Col. Streight, the lately escaped hero from Richmond, attracted much attention, and was most warmly greeted by all.

About nine o’clock in the evening, Lieutenant-General Grant, attended by Brig. Gen. Rawlins and Col. Comstock, his staff officers, made their appearance. As he entered the reception room, the President and the General seem to recognize each other, although they had never met before. They entered into earnest conversation, and the General introduced his staff officers to the President, also to Senator Wilson, Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs. The President then introduced Gen. Grant to Secretary Seward.

After a brief but interesting conversation between the parties, the President requested Secretary Seward to take the Lieutenant-General under his escort. The latter was then presented by the Secretary of State to Mrs. Lincoln, General Grant introducing his staff officers. Here quite an interesting scene took place; the party of ladies and gentlemen forming the state group being elegantly attired, and composed of the very elite of the nation. By the time the arrival of General Grant was known throughout the assemblage, and they crowded behind the Secretary to get a glance at the hero of a dozen hard contested battles. The General was then conducted to the great East room, and as he passed through the Blue and Green rooms, he was recognized and cheered by the multitude.

When the General, accompanied by Secretary Seward, entered the East room, the greatest enthusiasm prevailed in the crowd that filled the spacious room. Three cheers were given for the General, and the throng pressed Grant ward in such a manner that there was some danger that he would be crushed or smothered. “Lift him up.” “Raise him so that we can see him.” was cried from various parts of the room, and the crowd were about to elevate the hero upon their soldiers and bear him in triumph about the apartment, when, by a strategic movement, he took a position upon a sofa near the eastern wall, where he stood, with Secretary Seward by his side, and received the ovation of the company. Three rousing cheers were given for General Grant, three for Secretary Seward, three for President Lincoln, until the rafters of the White House rang again. The General stood there several minutes, smiling and bowing his acknowledgments of the honors paid him, and shaking hands with the ladies and gentlemen who were able to get within hand-shaking distance.

During this grand levee of the Lieutenant General in the East room a demonstration was visible near the door leading to the Blue room, and it was immediately observed that Major General Sickles, accompanied by Major General Birney and several staff officers, had just entered the East room, and were endeavoring to make their way through the vast assemblage present, to pay their respects to the distinguished guest of the evening. As they approached the General, he inquired who they were, and after being informed he was introduced to them by Mr. Seward. The meeting of these heroes was very cordial and reciprocal, and for a few minutes they entered into close conversation. On one occasion, General Sickles remarked to General Grant – “General, this is one of your warmest campaigns;” to which General Grant replied – wiping the perspiration from his face – that it was true, and that “the enemy were not inclined to surrender.”

After this, the President, with Mrs. Frederick Seward, Mrs. President Lincoln, leaning on the arm of Lieutenant General Grant, followed by Secretary Seward, accompanying a lady, Secretary Stanton and lady, and private Secretary Nicolay and lady, promenaded down the East room, the General receiving the salutations of the other guests.

Major General Halleck was not present at the levee.

At twelve o’clock last night, General Grant was serenaded by the band of the 17th Infantry at his quarters in Willard’s Hotel. Hon. E. B. Washburne appeared at the window of General Grant’s apartment, and in response to the cheers for General Grant, given by the crowd that had assembled and Fourteenth street, he said:

“FELLOW-CITIZENS OF WASHINGTON: I am desired by Lieutenant-General Grant to tender you his profound and grateful acknowledgments for the distinguished compliment you have paid him to-night. [Applause.] He desires me to say to you that he is not in the habit of making speeches, [voices in the crowd – We know it;] but I can say to you, that while he cannot speak, he can, as you know, fight the rebels. [Great cheering.] He is a man of deeds, and not of words. [Continued cheering.]

Mr. Washburne then presented General Grant, who excused himself from speaking. The hero of Vicksburg was greeted with much enthusiasm by the spectators, who retired when they found he was inflexible on the subject of speechmaking.