Read an Excerpt
"Go back home, butcher." A man's voice richoted through the
Georgetown crowd. A ripple of approval and shouts followed the initial cry,
but no one spoke up to denounce the sentiments. The words cut into Ulysses S.
Grant’s psyche, piercing deeper than any Reb’s musket ball.
Grant swung around to locate the source, but the milling spectators prevented a search. Some people didn't understand the nature of war as he did. West Point and the Mexican War had seasoned him for the fight. The South would never have surrendered without massive losses. Grant felt at home on the battlefield, not making speeches and stumping for votes in an election three years hence. Yet despite his feelings, every city wanted his words. Or his head.
"Don't pay no nevermind to him, Hiram Grant. There's just a lot of people hurt by the war." He hoped so. Georgetown was more than home to him. He’d made the town a weathervane for 1868 and the presidency.
The old woman shuffling towards him pronounced his name "Harm". Despite the intervening years, Grant recognized his former teacher. Decades of care hunched her shoulders. Bird-like features poked from beneath a bonnet while loose flesh danced around her neck.
"Weren't we all?" Julia demurred. His wife was a striking woman with dark hair and eyes, a proper lady who supported him unconditionally -- his closest confidant even in matters of war. How he'd missed her over the past two years. Her infrequent letters had barely sustained him.
A commotion bubbled behind them and a tall wiry man shoved his way past the fray. He carried the July issue of Harper's Weekly under his arm though autumn was in full swing. His tie hung loose; white shirt dotted with sweat and dirt. The natty trousers told Grant that the reporter was not a horseman. No signs of a dusty ride. Scooping a bale of raven hair from his eyes, he stared at the trio. "Sorry I'm late, but there was a quilting bee over at the parson's wife's. Such is the life of a village reporter. Ambrose Hart. Any chance I can get an interview with you for the Brown County News?"
"Ambrose, where are your manners? I certainly taught you better than that when you were in my class." The schoolmarm's voice rang out of the wizened woman.