Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 89
James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
Page 89
exhausted by the severe battle to retreat in order over a road covered with snow and ice. Nor were all the men provided with rations; nor had certain other precautions been taken that are generally deemed indispensable for a retreat in the face of the enemy.  9
  Early that morning Foote had requested Grant to come to his flag-ship for a consultation, he himself being too badly injured to leave the boat. Having complied with this request, the commanding general of the Union army was not in the field when the Confederates attacked; on going ashore after his conference with Foote, he met a Captain of his staff “white with fear … for the safety of the national troops.” 1 He rode back with the utmost speed over the four or five miles of icy roads.  10
  Here was a critical moment in Grant’s life. The war had given him an opportunity to mend a broken career; should he fail in this supreme hour, another chance might never come to him and his unfortunate absence during the morning’s battle would certainly be misconstrued.  11
  Anyone used to affairs knows that there are times when, after a bad beginning everything seems to go awry, perplexity reigns and no remedy appears; when ordinary men are bewildered and know not what to do. All at once the Master appears, takes in the situation, cheers up his associates, gives a succession of orders and the difficulty is unravelled; failure gives way to success. Such was the case on the field of Donelson. Grant arrived; out of confusion came order; determination out of despair. When he learned of the disaster to his right wing, his face flushed slightly and he crushed some papers in his hand; but, saluting McClernand and Wallace, he said in his usual quiet voice, “Gentlemen, the position on the right must be retaken.” Then galloping
Note 1. Grant, I, 306. [back]


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