Personal Update & Grant's Teeth

A Gaff Covid-19 Update!!


Maureen and I are fine. We have plenty to eat and drink, as well as dozens of jigsaw puzzles to keep us busy for hours at a time. We have subscribed to Britbox, so we are also watching episodes of Midsomer Murders interspersed with old episodes of CSI. Additionally, we generally stay up between 2 and 3 a.m. reading. After all, what’s the use of getting up early? We hope everyone out there is safe and healthy (I avoid using the word “happy” intentionally). The crisis for Indiana is projected to come in 15-20 days, but we are ready for the long haul. There will be more posts about cheating in baseball, but I thought everyone could use a chuckle about one of our military heroes being brought to earth.

GENERAL GRANT’S TEETH

When news of the fighting at what is now referred to as the Battle of Shiloh reached Indianapolis on April 11, 1862, Governor Oliver P. Morton sprang into action. He immediately telegraphed the Indiana Sanitary Commission agent at Evansville to charter a steamer, load it with hospital supplies and food and employ as many doctors and nurses as could be found. A special train was loaded with supplies and medicine, along with as many medical professionals as could be spared from the state’s capital city. Telegraph messages were sent to every city along the route advising citizens to have physicians and nurses, along with stores for the wounded and sick Union soldiers, ready at every station.


Governor Morton placed the Indiana relief effort in charge of William R. Holloway, his private secretary. When he reached Evansville, Holloway found the steamer Courier loaded and ready to go. After transferring the train’s medical personnel and mass of donated goods to the steamer, Holloway set out on his mission of mercy. Upon approaching the battlefield, the Courier anchored in the Tennessee River a short distance from General Ulysses Grant’s headquarters boat.


Learning of Holloway’s arrival, Grant sent word for him to come to headquarters. Upon reaching Grant’s boat, one of his staff officers advised that the Old Man (as they called him behind his back) was out of sorts because he had lost his false teeth. With only army rations of tough beef and hardtack on hand, there was nothing that Grant could eat.


Holloway met Grant in his cabin and mentioned that one of his staff had mentioned the lost teeth. The army commander then explained the situation: “I put the plates containing my teeth in a glass of water last night as I was retiring and put the glass on the bureau in my stateroom. When I dressed this morning, I forgot them and my boy, who went in to do up the room, emptied the water in the glass in the Tennessee River. The water in the glass was muddy, having come from the Tennessee River, and he did not see the plates.”


Holloway offered Grant some of the delicacies that had brought for the Indiana soldiers, but he declined the offer, saying they were meant for the troops. Holloway explained that most of the goods had been purchased by the state for the use of soldiers, then tempted Grant by mentioning soft bread and no end of canned goods, along with other luxuries. Grant capitulated and within a matter of minutes his servant began toting aboard cans of chicken, vegetables and fruit, in addition to bags of bread. William Holloway’s mission of mercy had possibly saved Grant from virtual starvation after he had whipped the rebels, but lost his teeth.

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© 2020 by Alan D. Gaff