I met today with Grant, Rawlins, Sheridan, Granger and Dodge. We discussed the transfer of command in the West and what Grant had planned for the East. Grant will leave Meade in place but wants to take many of the best officers from the West with him. I must plead my case to keep as much consistency in command as possible. General Grant occupied a large house in Nashville, which was used as an office, dwelling, and every thing combined.
Today, I issued orders assuming command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, and was seated in the office, when the General Grant came in and said they were about to present him a sword, inviting me to come and see the ceremony. I went back into what was the dining room of the house; on the table lay a rose-wood box, containing a sword, sash, spurs, etc., and round about the table were grouped Mrs. Grant, Nelly, and one or two of the boys. I was introduced to a large, corpulent gentleman, as the mayor, and another citizen, who had come down from Galena to make this presentation of a sword to their fellow-townsman.
Rawlins, Bowers, Badeau, and one or more of General Grant’s personal staff, were present. The mayor rose and in the most dignified way read a finished speech to General Grant, who stood, as usual, very awkwardly; and the mayor closed his speech by handing him the resolutions of the City Council engrossed on parchment, with a broad ribbon and large seal attached. After the mayor had fulfilled his office so well, General Grant said: “Mr. Mayor, as I knew that this ceremony was to occur, and as I am not used to speaking, I have written something in reply.” He then began to fumble in his pockets, first his breast-coat pocket, then his pants, vest; etc., and after considerable delay he pulled out a crumpled piece of common yellow cartridge-paper, which he handed to the mayor. His whole manner was awkward in the extreme, yet perfectly characteristic, and in strong contrast with the elegant parchment and speech of the mayor. When read, however, the substance of his answer was most excellent, short, concise, and, if it had been delivered by word of mouth, would have been all that the occasion required.
I could not help laughing at a scene so characteristic of the man who stands prominent before the country; and to whom all have turned as the only one qualified to
guide the nation in a war that has become painfully critical.