Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/174
168 Southern Historical Society Papers.
an ardent lover of good horses, and while he was in command of all the United States armies he had a large number of exceedingly fine animals at his disposal. It is an equine axiom that a merciful man is merciful to his beast, but though Grant had as full a share of mercy in his heart as most men, he was so earnest and stubborn as a sol- dier that he never hesitated to sacrifice human or animal life to gain a decided end. He was, in fact, cruel to be kind. He sat in the saddle rather ungainly, that is to say, he had an exceedingly good seat, but his utter indifference regarding the uniform of his rank some- what detracted from his appearance as a. horseman. He never wore a sword or a sash after becoming a brigadier, even on parade days for review, While on the march or campaign General Grant carried his flat-brimmed hat down over his eyes, and wore a coat supposed to be one that had done duty at Vicksburg. It certainly looked like it. Grant always went at a hard gallop when following the move- ments of his troops, an unlighted cigar clenched firmly in his power- ful jaws. When the Army of the Potomac was pursuing Lee's forces, after the evacuation of Richmond and the Petersburg siege-works, Grant wore out no less than six horses inside of three days. So furiously did he ride from point to point, it frequently happened that all of his orderlies were left behind. Indeed, very few of the headquarter staff could keep up the pace. Grant once covered fifty miles in four hours on three horses.
General Lee had a very graceful carriage in the saddle. While in motion he sat erect and composed, but he seldom rode at a faster gait than a canter. He had a curious habit of laying his hands on the pom- mel on halting to converse with any one. Leaning gently forward Lee's attitude was at once courteous and engaging. I chanced to meet the great Confederate leader on two occasions. Being a wounded pris- oner after the battle of the Wilderness, I was lying under a locust tree by the roadside, when Lee came riding slowly past. Quietly halt- ing, he leaned over me and began asking questions concerning the Federal army. On my politely declining to answer some of his queries, the General's face grew sad. He bowed slightly, acknowl- edging my right to refuse, and then rode on in deep thought, for I had told him that Grant was present and in real command of the Army of the Potomac.
Major-General Meade was one of the most perfect riders in the service. He sat erect at all times, and it was an inspiring sight to see him gallop past a halted corps. In answer to the tumultuous cheers that invariably greeted him on such occasions, he would lift