Grant Memorial Poetry: “Let Us Have Peace”

AEJ mastheadWhen Ulysses S. Grant arrived on Mt. McGregor on June 16, 1885, for what would be the last six weeks of his life, the regional newspaper, the Albany Evening Journal, provided extensive daily coverage. One of the world’s biggest stories had arrived by the afternoon train in the newspaper’s backyard.

Grant finally passed away on Thursday, July 23, at 8:08 a.m. In the days that followed, the Evening Journal was crammed full of news about funeral arrangements, biographical information about the late hero, updates about friends and family, and condolences from around the world.

The newspaper also printed several memorial poems about Grant—poems either sent in by the paper’s loyal readers or reprinted from other sources. As we lead up to the 132nd anniversary of Grant’s death, I want to share some of those memorial poems with you, one a day between now and July 23.

This piece, originally published in Puck, appeared in the Albany Evening Journal on Aug. 1, 1885, in the “Bric-a-Brac” section on page 2:

Grant Poem-Let Us Have PeaceLet Us Have Peace
by H.C. Bunner

His name was sword and shield,
His words were armed men,
He moved his foemen as a field
Of wheat is mowed—and then
Set his strong hand to make the shorn earth smile again.

Not in the whirlwind of his fight
The unbroken line of war,
Did he best battle for the right—
His victory was more—
Peace was his triumph, greater far than all before.

Who in the spirit and love of peace,
Takes sadly up the blade,
Makes war on war, that wars may cease—
He striveth undismayed,
And in the eternal strength his moral strength is stayed.

Peace, that he conquered for our sake—
This is his honor dead.
We saw the clouds of battle break
To glory o’er his head—
But brighter shone the light about his dying bed.

Dead is thy warrior, King of Life,
Take thou his spirit flown,
The prayer of them that knew his strife
Goes upward to thy throne—
Peace be to him who fought—and fought for people alone.

3 Responses to Grant Memorial Poetry: “Let Us Have Peace”

  1. Chris:

    Thanks for this tribute. He deserves it. Frequently characterized as a “butcher”, the truth is that he took proportionately fewer casualties than Lee. He wanted to put an end to the whole nasty business and did whatever it took to achieve that goal, even if that meant an occasional grievous error, such as he made at Cold Harbor. He knew that the war had its roots in our “transgressions” in Mexico and had the courage to say so. He was fearless, often ignoring exploding ordnance that made his subordinates cower. He was a military genius, but modest and unassuming. He refused to “exult” over the downfall of his enemy. He would resign the presidency rather than see his former foe prosecuted. He was the man Lincoln was looking for as he went through his chain of mediocrities–McDowell, McClellan, Pope, Burnside and Hooker, the man who, with the preponderance of Northern men and materiel, would win the war, which he did.


  2. The best piece of poetry about Grant:

    And, after that, the chunky man from the West,
    Stranger to you, not one of the men you loved
    As you loved McClellan, a rider with a hard bit,
    Takes you and uses you as you could be used,
    Wasting you grimly but breaking the hurdle down.
    You are never to worship him as you did McClellan,
    But at the last you can trust him. He slaughters you
    But he sees that you are fed. After sullen Cold Harbor
    They call him a butcher and want him out of the saddle,
    But you have had other butchers who did not win
    And this man wins in the end.

    Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

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