When I had left camp that morning I had not expected so soon the result that was then taking place, and consequently was in rough garb. I was without a sword, as I usually was when on horseback on the field, and wore a soldier's blouse for a coat, with the shoulder straps of my rank to indicate to the army who I was. When I went into the house I found General Lee. We greeted each other, and after shaking hands took our seats.
I had my staff with me, a good portion of whom were in the room during the whole of the interview. What General Lee's feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed.
I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us We soon fell into a conversation about old army times.
He remarked that he remembered me very well in the old army; and I told him that as a matter of course I remembered him perfectly, but from the difference in our rank and years there being about sixteen years' difference in our ages , I had thought it very likely that I had not attracted his attention sufficiently to be remembered by him after such a long interval.
Our conversation grew so pleasant that I almost forgot the object of our meeting. After the conversation had run on in this style for some time, General Lee called my attention to the object of our meeting, and said that he had asked for this interview for the purpose of getting from me the terms I proposed to give his army. Grant also makes asides to clear up legends that had grown up around his leadership.
After dismissing one tale, Grant wrote "Like many other stories, it would be very good if it were only true. The narrative ends shortly after the Army of the Potomac 's final review in Washington in May Grant deliberately avoids comment on Reconstruction , apart from saying that he favored black suffrage. The final chapter, "Conclusion," is a reflection on the war and its effects, the actions of foreign countries during it, and the reconciliation of North and South.
In the final paragraphs, Grant makes note of his own condition and expresses optimism that "Federal and Confederate" can live together. I cannot stay to be a living witness to the correctness of this prophecy; but I feel it within me that it is to be so.
The universally kind feeling expressed for me at a time when it was supposed that each day would prove my last, seemed to me the beginning of the answer to "Let us have peace. The expression of these kindly feelings were not restricted to a section of the country, nor to a division of the people. They came from individual citizens of all nationalities; from all denominations—the Protestant, the Catholic, and the Jew; and from the various societies of the land—scientific, educational, religious or otherwise.
Politics did not enter into the matter at all. I am not egotist enough to suppose all this significance should be given because I was the object of it. But the war between the States was a very bloody and a very costly war.
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One side or the other had to yield principles they deemed dearer than life before it could be brought to an end. I commanded the whole of the mighty host engaged on the victorious side.
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I was, no matter whether deservedly so or not, a representative of that side of the controversy. It is a significant and gratifying fact that Confederates should have joined heartily in this spontaneous move. I hope the good feeling inaugurated may continue to the end.
The work was published in a two-volume set after his death. Grant's printed signature followed the dedication: "These volumes are dedicated to the American Soldier and Sailor. The press and public followed Grant's symptoms throughout his final year, and his work on the book was well known.
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While interest in his memoirs would have been high had Grant not been ill, his struggle to finish it before his death gave it even more attention. On release, the book received universal critical praise. Twain compared the Memoirs to Julius Caesar 's Commentaries. Matthew Arnold praised Grant and his book in an essay. Twain, however, felt Arnold's tone was condescending to both Grant and the United States, and the two authors feuded until Arnold's death in Gertrude Stein also admired the book, saying she could not think of Grant without weeping. Ulysses S.
Grant sought to deliver his moral, political, economic and social argument for waging the war against the South in his Personal Memoirs. As the commander of the Union army and a two-term president, he had a unique perspective on the war that interested both the public and historical scholars, as they wanted to hear his side of the story.
One hundred years ago, at 11am on November 11, , a volley of gunfire sounded over London , marking the end of World War I.
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The war had taken the four people she loved most: her brother, Edward; her fiance, Roland; and her two closest friends, Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow. Vera Brittain pictured documented the pain of World War I in her autobiography first published in The memoir is set to be reissued to mark the centenary of the Armistice. A new age was beginning; but the dead were dead and would never return. Fifteen years later, in , Vera published an autobiography, Testament Of Youth, reissued this month to mark the centenary of the Armistice. On publication day, the first print run sold out: her agonisingly personal memoir was a bestseller.
While the war, in which she served as a nurse in London, Malta and France, was the defining experience of her early life, Vera right also wrote movingly about her struggle for independence and a career. Rebecca West wrote that it was "a vivid testimony". Virginia Woolf noted in her diaries that she felt compelled to stay up all night to finish the memoir. When it was later published in America, the New York Times reviewer wrote that Brittain's autobiographical account was "honest… revealing… heartbreakingly beautiful". Over the next six years, Testament of Youth sold , copies.
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With the outbreak of the second world war, Brittain's pacifist philosophy fell out of favour. It remains deeply influential. Even now, eight decades after its publication, it continues to inspire a new generation. A film adaptation co-produced by BBC Films and starring Saoirse Ronan, who won an Oscar nomination for her role in Atonement , is in development, and the book seems to strike a chord with contemporary readers who have themselves lived through an era of renewed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's a legacy that would have surprised Brittain herself.
When she died, in , she believed, according to Bostridge, "that her reputation was at the lowest ebb it had ever been. It's one of the sad things about her literary career that she never lived to see the success of Testament of Youth. Although Brittain is no longer alive to witness it, her book has shaped the consciousness of modern-day feminists. The literary editor and author Diana Athill wrote in a article for the Guardian that Brittain "was brave, and her strong feelings would always express themselves in action. And she was honest… as blazingly honest as anyone can be". When I came to write my own second novel, Home Fires , in which a young girl struggles to cope with her father's return from the front, Brittain's memoir was my first port of call.
There was almost nothing else available that conveyed the personal devastation of the first world war from a young woman's point of view with such candour. Many contemporaneous accounts portrayed women as victims who endured the shattering impact of world events, rather than as agents of their own change. By contrast, Brittain's feminism courses through her memoir.
Growing up in a conservative middle-class family in Buxton, Derbyshire, she writes unapologetically about her own ambitions to better herself, and wins an exhibition to Oxford despite her parents' traditional ideas about a woman's place being in the home. When the war breaks out, she rages against the injustice of it and, frustrated by her own powerlessness, volunteers as a nurse in order to make a difference.
She was saying: 'This is awful. I think that's an outrage, myself. I think you feel the same when you see these people dying in Iraq. Vera Brittain taught millions of people that you didn't have to put up with war if it wasn't a just war. For the author and feminist Natasha Walter, it is Brittain's ability to weave the political into the personal that makes her memoir so riveting. And it's true that, feminism aside, Brittain's writing is deeply accessible.
She has an eye for the telling detail that helps the reader to understand the trauma she experiences. When Brittain's fiance was killed just before Christmas , she had been expecting him home on leave. Instead of receiving a call to confirm his arrival, she was telephoned with news of his death. In Testament of Youth she writes that, in the weeks after his death, a series of disconnected pictures rolled through her mind: "A solitary cup of coffee stands before me on a hotel breakfast-table.
I try to drink it but fail ignominiously. Walter first read Testament of Youth at school but returned to it later in life when she was researching her work Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism. She was drawn back to Brittain because of her "unapologetically intellectual ambition. We've lost a bit of that in feminism… We need to reclaim it. Brittain was indeed one of the only writers of her time able to chronicle the female experience of war with such visceral force.
As a woman, Brittain was arguably the first to blend emotional resonance with intellectual clarity. She relayed her own life story — first as the daughter of a provincial paper factory owner who struggled to emancipate herself, then as a young woman trying to make sense of the personal ravages wreaked by war. In doing so, she laid out her political beliefs.
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