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«Grant Comes East», William Forstchen

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Newt Gingrich

General Bob Scales, former commandant of the Army War College, came to the fore with his insightful analysis of what Lee, Grant, Sickles, and Lincoln would have been facing the "day after" a Confederate victory at Gettysburg and had a major influence in the shaping of our scenario.

Professor Leonard Fullenkamp of the Army War College has, yet again, shown to us his remarkable grasp of the 1863 campaign and offered invaluable help, along with Professor Dennis Showalter, former president of the Society of Military Historians.

Thanks as well to the brilliant historical artist Don Troiani, not only for his remarkable cover art but for his analysis of our work, and to the historian Steven Sears for his books on Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, which helped to shape our own theories.

So many others were involved as well. Kathy Lubbers, my (Newt's) daughter, who helped keep us organized and on task in what proved to be a highly complex project and, at times, a physically demanding one as well, especially we were out signing books at Gettysburg in hundred-degree heat. Randy Evans and Rick Tyler of my (Newt's) staff for handling so much of the detail work as well. A tribute as well for Paul Breier and Dr. George Talbot, two dear friends of Bill's, both devotees of history who encouraged him in his work and passed away just as this book was completed.

While out promoting Gettysburg last summer, we met new friends and were filled with admiration for those devoted to the study of the Civil War. So many of you offered excellent comments, suggestions, and criticisms that helped us in the shaping of this second volume. In particular we'd like to extend our thanks to the team of Hardtack amp; Wool, a Civil War educational firm that helped us organize the Gettysburg signing event, and the administration of Montreat College, which provided Bill with a year-long sabbatical, in part to research and work on this series. We must also thank the owners and managers of so many bookstores around the country that warmly greeted us and arranged events.

As always, our fear is that in mentioning some names we fear we might miss others. If we did not mention you here, know that nevertheless we are thankful for your help and support.

Of course, there are three major acknowledgments… for our loving wives, Callista, Sharon, and Krys, who allow us time away from home and indulge us in our passion for history.

Finally, as always, for all those young men of a hundred and forty years past, North and South, who fought and, if need be, gave their lives for the causes they believed in. We believe that such strength and mettle are evident today with the men and women serving our nation on so many distant fronts. The bravery of the line infantry of both sides in the Civil War, the nobility of Lee, and the determination of Grant are clearly evident in those of you standing watch overseas. We are profoundly grateful to all of you, past and present, for your dedication and service to our country.

Chapter One

Cairo Illinois

July 16 1863

A cold rain swept across the river. To the east, lightning streaked the evening sky, thunder rolling over the white-capped Ohio River.

The storm had hit with a violent intensity and for a few minutes slowed the work along the docks, but already sergeants were barking orders at the drenched enlisted men while rain-soaked stevedores were urged back to their labors. Dozens of boats lined the quays, offloading men, horses, limber wagons, and field pieces.

To the eyes of Gen. Herman Haupt, commander of United States military railroads, the sight of these men was reassuring. They were the veterans of the Army of the Tennessee, the victors of the great campaign that had climaxed ten days ago at Vicksburg, a victory that had come simultaneously with what was now seen as the darkest day of the war, the day Lee defeated the Army of the Potomac at Union Mills.

The soldiers disembarking on the banks of the Ohio were lean and tough, their disciplined, no-nonsense carriage conveying strength and confidence despite their bedraggled, tattered uniforms, faded from rainy marching in the muddy fields of Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Headgear was an individual choice. Most wore battered, broad-brimmed hats for protection against hot southern sun and torrential rains. Regulation field packs were gone; most were carrying blanket, poncho, and shelter half in a horseshoe-shaped roll, slung over the left shoulder and tied off at the right hip. Except for the blue of their uniforms, they looked more like their Confederate opponents than the clean, disciplined, orderly ranks Herman Haupt was used to seeing in the East. Few if any would ever have passed inspection with regiments trained by McClellan. These Westerners were rawboned boys from prairie farms in Iowa and Ohio, lumberjacks from Michigan, mechanics from Detroit, and boatmen from the Great Lakes and Midwest rivers. The unending campaigning had marked them as field soldiers. Spit and polish had long ago been left behind at Shiloh and the fever-infested swamps of the bayous along the Mississippi.

They already knew their mission… pull the defeated Army of the Potomac out of the fire and put the Confederacy in the grave. They came now with confidence, swaggering off the steamboats, forming into ranks, standing at ease while rolls were checked, impervious to the rain and wind, their calmness, to Haupt's mind, a reflection of the man that he now waited for.

He could see the boat, rounding the cape from the Mississippi River into the Ohio, the light packet moving with speed, cutting a wake, smoke billowing from its twin stacks, sparks snapping heavenward, carried off by the wind following the storm. The flag on the stern mast denoted that an admiral was aboard, but mat was not the man Haupt was waiting for.

The diminutive side-wheeler, a courier boat built for speed, aimed straight for the dock where Haupt was standing, the port master waving a signal flag to guide it in.

Haupt looked over at the man accompanying him, Congressman Elihu Washburne, confidant of the president and political mentor of the general on board the boat Elihu, who had joined Haupt only the hour before, was silent, clutching a copy of the Chicago Tribune, out just this morning, its front page reporting the disaster at Union Mills, the advance of Lee's army on Washington, and the riots which had erupted in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.


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