[caption id="attachment_1950" align="alignleft" width="202" caption="Unconditional Surrender Grant"][/caption]
Greetings Cosmic Americans!
Today is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Henry, which coupled with the Battle of Fort Donelson (the anniversary for this one is the next week), adds up to a slam dunk when it comes to great Civil War nicknames. On February 15th, after Confederate generals John Floyd and Gideon Pillow skedaddled and turned over their command of Fort Donelson to Simon Buckner (Grant's old pal, as it turned out), Buckner - the hapless fellow that he was - asked Grant for the terms of surrender. Grant's reply? “No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.”
Well now - isn't it interesting that Grant's initials were U. S. anyway? They weren't really...but that is a story for a different day. Still, the whole U. S. thing sure does make the "Unconditional Surrender" nickname sound all the more clever. It helps in terms of popular memory too. While it is hard to imagine Grant fading from the landscape of Civil War remembrance (although a lot of people tried to usher him out) what is for certain is that we will remember him as a resolute and determined fighter.
Nicknames tell us a lot about the subjects we study and about how individuals felt about their leaders both during and after the war. Folks in the Confederacy once called Robert E. Lee "Granny" and "King of Spades." Neither were complimentary - and these names were soon dropped after Lee proved to be an aggressive and audacious fighter in the Seven Days battles around Richmond in 1862.
Of course there is "Stonewall." Who will ever forget him? (No one in Virginia will any time soon). And there are lots of others too - William "Little Billy" Mahone, Richard "Old Bald Head" Ewell, Edward "Allegheny" Johnson, William "Grumble" Jones, John "Prince John" Magruder, George "Old Snapping Turtle" Meade, George "Slow Trot" Sykes, George "Rock of Chickamauga" Thomas, Henry "Old Brains" Halleck, Winfield "Old Fuss and Feathers" Scott, and the list goes on and on. Many of these names denote well-deserved accolades, many do not, and some just seem like good-natured ribbing. Either way, they give modern students a good insight into contemporary impressions of military leadership.
What are some of your favorites?