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The Captain Departs

Ulysses S. Grant's Last Campaign

Thomas M. Pitkin

Publication Year: 2010

Early in 1885 Americans learned that General Ulysses S. Grant was writing his memoirs in a desperate race against time due to an incurable cancer. Newspaper readers followed the dramatic contest for six months, and the hearts of Americans were touched by the general’s last battle. In this book Thomas M. Pitkin tells the story of the last campaign of the general who was called “the great captain of the Union’s salvation.”

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Copyright Page

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pp. 7-9


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pp. ix

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xv

EARLY IN 1885 Americans learned that General Ulysses S. Grant was writing his memoirs in a desperate race for time against an incurable cancer. For six months newspaper readers followed the dramatic contest, and the hearts of Americans were touched by the general's last battle. ...

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pp. xvii-xix

THIS STUDY of the last year in the life of General Ulysses S. Grant is the outgrowth of a report on the Grant cottage at Mount McGregor, New York, prepared for the Office of State History, New York State Education Department, at the instance of Mr. Horace Willcox, Principal Museum Curator. ...

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1. General Grant Becomes an Author

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pp. 1-22

AFTER LEAVING the White House in 1877, following his two terms as president, General Ulysses S. Grant made a grand tour of the world. He was received as an honored guest by crowned heads and presidents. It was a triumphal and spectacular journey, but it was expensive and funds ran low. ...

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2. The General Is Stricken

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pp. 23-45

GENERAL GRANT had been in excellent health. A letter from Long Branch to the Denver News in the summer of 1882 described his modest cottage there, in the midst of ostentation. "The short, stumpy figure of the ex-President" was as familiar at Long Branch as it had been in Washington, ...

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3. Mount McGregor Becomes a Summer Resort

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pp. 46-56

THE MEDICINAL virtues of springs in the general vicinity of Saratoga were known to the Indians. The Mohawks in 1767 took their ailing friend Sir William Johnson to one of these springs to drink the waters. He was greatly benefited. The word of what seemed a remarkable cure to one of the most distinguished men in the American colonies spread quickly. ...

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4. Last Days at Mount McGregor

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pp. 57-93

THE COTTAGE that Joseph W. Drexel bought at Mount McGregor, ostensibly to afford him a change from the social activity and occasional sultry periods of the summer season in Saratoga, was destined and probably intended to serve a different purpose. ...

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5. The General Leaves the Mountain

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pp. 94-116

COLONEL GRANT, exhausted by long vigils, was ably and tactfully assisted in the many arrangements that had to be made following his father's death by W. J. Arkell, whose cottage was only a short distance away. Within half an hour of the general's death, the waiting engine at the mountain depot was on the way to Saratoga to bring Holmes, the local undertaker. ...

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6. The Cottage Becomes a Shrine

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pp. 117-129

ON THE very day of Grant's death there was discussion of what should be done with the cottage. "It has been proposed that the cottage should be deeded to the Government," the New York Times reported, "that a fence should be put around it, and that it be preserved about as the Grant family leave it."

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Appendix: The Death of General Grant

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pp. 133-140

I had become very apprehensive, and had been so for several days. The reporters were asking me if it was safe for them to go to Saratoga. I replied that I thought sufficient warning would be given, but should advise them not to absent themselves for any time from the mountain. ...


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pp. 141-152

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Bibliographical Note

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pp. 153-158

GRANT MANUSCRIPTS for the final year of the general's life are scattered and unaccountably thin. There are very few letters of this period in the principal collection, the Ulysses S. Grant Papers, at the Library of Congress. This collection does include the manuscript of the Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, as far as it was drafted by the general and not dictated. ...


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pp. 159-164

Back Cover

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p. 188-188

E-ISBN-13: 9780809386116
E-ISBN-10: 0809386119
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809306374
Print-ISBN-10: 080932976X

Page Count: 186
Illustrations: 24 B/w halftones
Publication Year: 2010