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Grant Accommodates a Wounded Commander Who Had Four Horses Shot from Under Him at Shiloh
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After multiple wounds suffered at Shiloh forced him to leave his command of the 48th Ohio Volunteers, Colonel P. J. Sullivan served as post commander at Memphis, Tennessee, during Union occupation, and then as a judge on a military court of claims. Here, Grant gives him wide latitude to practice law in conformity with “existing orders.

ULYSSES S. GRANT. Autograph Letter Signed as Major General, to [P.J. Sullivan]. Memphis, Tenn., October 14, 1863. 1 p, 9¾ x 7¾ in.

Inventory #23849       Price: $3,500

Complete Transcript

Head Quarters, Dept. of the Tn,

Memphis, Ten., October 14th 1863,

            Col. P. J. Sullivan, late of the 48th Ohio Vols, is hereby authorized to remain within this Department and to practice his profession or engage in any business consistent with existing orders.

This is to recommend Col. Sullivan to the Dist. & Port commanders for such facilities as are allowed to loyal men.

                                                                        U. S. Grant,

                                                                        Maj. Gen.

Historical Background

In his account of the Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862), General William T. Sherman commended Sullivan for his bravery under fire, stating “Colonels Sullivan and Cockerill, behaved with great gallantry; the former receiving a severe wound on Sunday, and yet commanding and holding his regiment well in hand all day, and on Monday, till his right arm was broken by a shot.” Colonel R. P. Buckland wrote to Sherman, “As to Colonels Sullivan and Cockerill, I need add nothing more. My report shows that they were always where duty called them, regardless of danger. In the last action at McClernand’s camp Colonel Sullivan was wounded in the arm.”[1]  Leading his regiment at Shiloh, Sullivan had had four horses killed underneath him. He was wounded three times and as a result never took another active command nor fully recovered his health.

Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), born in Illinois as Hiram Ulysses Grant, was the leading Union general of the Civil War and the 18th President of the United States.  He graduated from West Point in 1843 and served in the Mexican War, but at the start of the Civil War, he was a little-known grocer in Galena, Illinois. In June 1861, he was appointed colonel of the 21st Illinois and quickly rose to prominence in the western theater. His victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga earned him fame and steady promotion. In March 1864, he was named lieutenant general (the first since George Washington) and general-in-chief of all Union armies. On March 8, Grant went to Washington and met President Lincoln for the first time.  His command was not without controversy.  After great numbers of dead at the battle of Shiloh, Lincoln responded to criticisms of Grant by saying, “I can’t spare this man—he fights.”  To complaints of Grant’s drinking, Lincoln quipped: “Tell me what brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.”  Grant remained in the Eastern Theater to take on Robert E. Lee. After the difficult Overland Campaign, the Siege of Petersburg, and the climactic Appomattox Campaign, Grant forced Lee to surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. He was commanding general of the U.S. Army after the war, and was elected as a Republican to the presidency in 1868 and 1872.

Peter John Sullivan (1821-1883) was born in Ireland and immigrated to Philadelphia with his parents as an infant.  He attended the University of Pennsylvania and served in the Mexican War. In 1848, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was admitted to the bar. At the beginning of the Civil War, Republican Governor William Dennison of Ohio refused to commission him, suspecting the Democrat Sullivan of having Confederate sympathies. To counter, Sullivan raised four regiments at his own expense that were accepted by the government. President Lincoln then insisted that Sullivan be commissioned lieutenant colonel of the 48th Ohio Volunteers. He rose to the rank of colonel and was brevetted a brigadier general at war’s end. President Andrew Johnson appointed him in 1867 as United States Minister to Colombia. In 1869, President Grant reappointed him to the same position, but poor health forced Sullivan forced to resign. He returned to Cincinnati to practice law, where he died at age sixty-one.


[1] William T. Sherman, Memoirs of General William T. Sherman, 2 vols. (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1875), 1:240; The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1884), ser. 1, vol. 10, part 1, 268.


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