interview with Sam Grant
as General Ulysses S. Grant
1. How did you come to study Ulysses S. Grant? - Purely
accidental. My father purchased "Grant Moves South" by
Bruce Catton at the Quaker Fair one Autumn Saturday and, knowing
my interest in History, gave me this as a present. Upon completing
that volume, I went for "Grant Takes Command" - the next
in this series completed by Catton. That started to peak my
interest so I went for "Grant" by Wm. McFeely. I was
hooked, so I purchased the memoirs. Then, I needed to know more
regarding his early life so I got a copy of "Captain Sam
Grant" by Lloyd Lewis. This has to be the most definitive
single volume on Grant's early years. Since then I have studied
about a dozen biographies, a few several times over, plus related
topics and a number of bio's on those persons that affected his
life. I haven't yet learned all I am searching for in my quest to
know this man. The more I learn, the more questions I ask.
2. When did you decide to portray him? - This decision was
taken out of my hands by the public and re-enactors alike. From
the first season of re-enacting, this several years after my study
of Grant began in earnest. When ever I then portrayed a private in
the Federal service, I was constantly looked on as "that
looks like Grant". Hearing this too many times, over several
years and having already horses in service as Infantry Staff
mounts, I began to discuss this problem with my close fellow
re-enactors. It was decided, mostly by myself, but with their
concurrence, simply that if that is what I look like and that is
what I study, then maybe I should give to the public the benefit
of my knowledge and experience.
3. Talk to me about the "he" vs "me" defining
line that all re-enactors attempt to cross? - Well, this is
difficult to answer simply.
I find a lot to like in the personality and traits of this man:
His value of honest dealing,
His love of Family, obviously his love of horses,
His ability to know his failings, to learn from them and to be strong
enough to admit them, publicly if necessary.
His "no nonsense" way of getting a job done, he never did not
move forward because he lacked all his needs. He never argued that he
needed more of this or that before he could complete a job - He Moved
Forward, knowing just one simple fact, no matter how poorly trained his
troops were, so were those of the enemy. No matter how ill equipped his
troops were, thus was the enemy. The one to get in the first lick is
bound to win the contest. But in doing this he knew how to maximize his
own resources for the benefit of his soldiers, thus the benefit of a
These are traits in any man I would find most exemplary and should most
like to incorporate in my own 'personality', thus these are the feelings
and convictions that I hope to bring to the public's attention.
4. Do you have a favorite quote or anecdote about Grant? -
"All I want to do is advance."
5. When not representing Grant, I understand your work is with
horses. Do you feel this helps you to better understand the man? -
Grant was, first and foremost, a horseman. To know horses is certainly a
great help in understanding the man behind the myth. Actually, while I
admit my bias here, I do not know how you can really understand Grant
with out working closely with that which he so loved. The only thing he
loved more than horses would be his Wife and children.
6. Do you ever lose yourself in this role? - If I'm lucky, I'm
out there to bring Grant to the public's attention, not myself. This is
to honor one of America ís greatest average citizens, not to honor
myself. I owe the public an honest portrayal of this man, not, to the
best of my ability, myself as him.
7. What is your favorite part of presenting the General to the
public? - There is no particular part, all I want to do is bring
Grant and the world in which he lived to the attention of the public.
These were the most trying times ever witnessed by so many during the
entire history of the American experiment. To quote Mr. Lincoln, "A
country with no regard for its past will do little to remember in the
future." - This is as imperative now, I believe, than it ever has
been in years past.
8. In the near future, how do you believe Living History will
contribute to America's educational goals? - As history is not
sufficiently covered at the school level, on the field, whether
the High School ball field or at some other location, the ability
to teach by example will, I hope, peek the interest of all who
attend. Book learning is important, very important, but to weather
a storm with your friends and associates or blister in the baking
sun awaiting the battle, this brings true meaning to those words
and concepts found in the books. For a few moments one can feel
the pain and exhilaration felt by those who have left in print
their experiences. With this knowledge of who we are, we
collectively can go forth to continue this greatest of nations.
9. What advice might you have for people interested in
becoming involved with Living History of the Civil War? -
Learn your subject. You may find that your interest in the
particular subject is thus satiated. Or you may be diverted to a
subject yet unknown to you. This may well be where you want to go.
In all events you will find that these studies will open a
plethora of experiences and raise more questions than answered.
But 'you' and those you discuss these findings with will be the
better for you efforts.
U. S. Grant, inc.
a Federally Recognized 501c3 Non-Profit Organization
is dedicated to the memory of
Ulysses S. Grant,
the Soldiers and Sailors who served at his side,
the Preservation of the Land upon which they Fought,
the Women who supported them.