Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant — Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 453 pages of information about Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant — Volume 1.

Having made alternate choice of two different arms of service with different uniforms, I could not get a uniform suit until notified of my assignment.  I left my measurement with a tailor, with directions not to make the uniform until I notified him whether it was to be for infantry or dragoons.  Notice did not reach me for several weeks, and then it took at least a week to get the letter of instructions to the tailor and two more to make the clothes and have them sent to me.  This was a time of great suspense.  I was impatient to get on my uniform and see how it looked, and probably wanted my old school-mates, particularly the girls, to see me in it.

The conceit was knocked out of me by two little circumstances that happened soon after the arrival of the clothes, which gave me a distaste for military uniform that I never recovered from.  Soon after the arrival of the suit I donned it, and put off for Cincinnati on horseback.  While I was riding along a street of that city, imagining that every one was looking at me, with a feeling akin to mine when I first saw General Scott, a little urchin, bareheaded, footed, with dirty and ragged pants held up by bare a single gallows—­that’s what suspenders were called then—­and a shirt that had not seen a wash-tub for weeks, turned to me and cried:  “Soldier! will you work?  No, sir—­ee; I’ll sell my shirt first!!” The horse trade and its dire consequences were recalled to mind.

The other circumstance occurred at home.  Opposite our house in Bethel stood the old stage tavern where “man and beast” found accommodation, The stable-man was rather dissipated, but possessed of some humor.  On my return I found him parading the streets, and attending in the stable, barefooted, but in a pair of sky-blue nankeen pantaloons—­just the color of my uniform trousers—­with a strip of white cotton sheeting sewed down the outside seams in imitation of mine.  The joke was a huge one in the mind of many of the people, and was much enjoyed by them; but I did not appreciate it so highly.

During the remainder of my leave of absence, my time was spent in visiting friends in Georgetown and Cincinnati, and occasionally other towns in that part of the State.

CHAPTER III.

Army life—­causes of the Mexican war—­camp salubrity.

On the 30th of September I reported for duty at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, with the 4th United States infantry.  It was the largest military post in the country at that time, being garrisoned by sixteen companies of infantry, eight of the 3d regiment, the remainder of the 4th.  Colonel Steven Kearney, one of the ablest officers of the day, commanded the post, and under him discipline was kept at a high standard, but without vexatious rules or regulations.  Every drill and roll-call had to be attended, but in the intervals

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