has nearly worried
the life out of me at times
I should be sorry
Sometime history can come alive for me and I have to talk about it.
I have been fighting my way through the Civil War campaigns of Ulysses S. Grant this summer.
I started Chattanooga and have worked backwards in time through Vicksburg and am now in the middle of the Shiloh campaign.
In my reading, I came across a minor character by the name of Col. Thomas Worthington, of the 46th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
By all accounts the Colonel, a graduate of West Point in 1827, was a perfect pest of a person.
General Sherman especially found the man to be beyond belief and took pains to describe him in ways so that others would understand how unbelievably bad the feller was.
The accounts in the books I was reading were so overwhelming in both their statements on the man’s inability and the total agreement of all the authors that the man was useless and his own worst enemy that I had to stop for a minute.
Could this Colonel Worthington have been such a jerk?
Or, after the passage of time, when history revealed that General’s Grant and Sherman were great officers, that it became open season on anyone who didn’t recognize their virtue at the time and everyone is just jam piling on poor Colonel Worthington.
I had never heard of the guy to be honest and I thought could he really have been so bad?
So I searched him out.
With the wonder that can be the World Wide Web, I found copies of two letters about the Colonel that were written back in 1864.
The first one is hand written and states simply:
“Today I verbally told Col Worthington that I did not think him now fit for a Colonel; and now upon his urgent request, I put it in writing.”
The note is on letter paper printed with the heading, EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington.
It is dated, March 31, 1864.
It is signed, A. Lincoln.
So maybe the Colonel was unwell and was requesting permission for sick leave and that is what Mr. Lincoln meant when he told him he was ‘not fit for a Colonel.”
The Colonel came back later to see Mr. Lincoln a few months later and this time, the President tried send him off to someone else.
The other letter is actually a transcription of a telegram:
It is dated: (Recd Cipher – 6:30pm) City Point, 3:10pm August 29, 1864.
It is addressed to:
His Excellency., A Lincoln, President of the US.
Your dispatch of 1.40 p.m. in relation to permitting Col. Worthington to come here is received.
I should be very sorry to see the Colonel. He has nearly worried the life out of me at times when I could not prevent an interview.
It is signed, US Grant, LT General.
I can imagine Mr. Lincoln laughing as he sent off his message to the General.
I can hear him say, “Grant will love this.”
It took the General less than 2 hours to get the telegram from the President, think about it and dictate his reply and get the reply encoded and say, nope, not me, don’t send him here.
That those two guys took time out from the Civil War to play guess who’s coming to dinner made me laugh.
It made them a little more real.
All respect to Colonel Thomas Worthington, but if Abraham Lincoln and US Grant felt this way I have to feel that the verdict of history has been just.
Colonel, you must have been one world record of a pest.