Wainwright’s Diary, April 3, 1864: “I should fear that they would ruin him as they did McClellan”

Colonel Charles S. Wainwright reported April showers to lead his diary entry on this day 150 years ago:

Culpeper Court House, April 3, Sunday.  The rain which commenced during our review on Thursday continued until Friday night; so that we are now in the full enjoyment of all mud which properly belongs to this season of the year here in Virginia as well as on the Hudson. Today we have a high wind and some little sunshine, for which I am particularly thankful as I want to go up the railroad tomorrow to look a little after my batteries there….

Recall under Hunt’s plan to consolidate the artillery, in conjunction with the Army of the Potomac’s consolidation, Wainwright commanded eight batteries.  Of those, four were part of his old First Corps brigade – Lieutenant James Stewart’s Battery B, Fourth U.S. Artillery; Captain Charles Mink’s Battery H, First New York Artillery; Captain Gilbert Reynolds’ Batteries E and L, First New York Artillery; and Captain James Cooper’s Battery B, First Pennsylvania Artillery.  Three of the batteries came from the Fifth Corps – Lieutenant Aaron Walcott’s Battery C, Massachusetts Artillery; Lieutenant Benjamin Rittenhouse’s Battery D, Fifth U.S. Artillery; and Captain Charles Phillips’ Battery E, Massachusetts Artillery.  Captain George Winsolw’s Battery D, 1st New York Light Artillery came over from the Third Corps as part of the reorganization.  In addition, 2nd Battalion, 4th New York Heavy Artillery, under Major William Arthur, serving as support to the field batteries sans any artillery of their own, rounded out Wainwright’s brigade.

Wainwright added more observations about General U.S. Grant:

General Grant, I believe, has gone off for a time. He kept himself quiet while here; was very little seen or even talked of so far as I can learn. All the newspaper reports about the immense enthusiasm for him are bosh; as well as the stories of his having forbidden sutlers in the army, his living himself on pork and beans, and such stuff. I should fear that they would ruin him as they did McClellan, by leading the people to expect too much of him, were it not that their ideas at home have come down very much within two years as to what a general can do; and there seems to be a determination now to find no fault with Grant whether or no….

Grant was off to Fort Monroe for a meeting with General Benjamin Butler.  While Wainwright made no effort to conceal his fondness for McClellan, at least in his diary, it seemed any affinity felt towards Grant was closely linked to the prospects for success of the cause.  I submit it was possible to be a “McClellan-man” while being a “Grant-man” and even a “Meade-man.”  Read into it what you will.

(Citations from Charles S. Wainwright, A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, New York: Da Capo Press, 1998, page 339-40.)


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