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Famous Ohio Soldiers
by [?]

First among these I count the great chief Pontiac, who led the rebellion of the mid-western tribes against the English after the French had abandoned them, and who was born in Auglaize County. I count the renowned chief Tecumseh, too, that later and lesser Pontiac, who attempted to do against the Americans what Pontiac tried to do against the English.

It was some time before the great white men of Ohio began to be born here, but in the meanwhile there were those born elsewhere who, like General Harrison, became Ohioans, and so did what they could to repair the defect of birth. There is no reason to think that such men were shaped by Ohio influences, but it is the habit of our generous Ohio state patriotism to claim as Ohioans not only those who were born here, and those who came to live here, but those who were born here and then went to live elsewhere.

Valiant and able generals came from the different parts of Ohio, and from the different races which settled there. But the Scotch race, descending through New England, has the highest place in our soldiers’ ancestry, and the county of Clermont has the deathless glory of being the birthplace of Ulysses Simpson Grant, one of the greatest captains of all time, one of the purest patriots, one of the best and gentlest men. I need not speak of his career as a soldier, for that has become a part of the nation’s history. The beginnings of his life were rude and hard; it was afterwards often clouded with failure; it brightened out into such splendid success as few lives have ever known; it was again darkened by trouble and disaster, and it closed in a long anguish of suffering. But if ever a life was worth living it was his, and his memory is safe forever in the love of his country and the honor of the world.

His parents removed soon after he was born to Brown County, where Georgetown was his home until he was sent to West Point at seventeen. His whole boyhood, therefore, was spent in Southwestern Ohio, where a boy may live the happiest life on earth, and where Grant played, worked, planned, and studied not only without a dream of the place he was to take in history, but without special thought or liking for the calling in which he was to stand with Caesar and with Napoleon.

When he was eight years old, he began to work in his father’s tannery, where he drove the horse that turned the bark mill, and broke the bark into the hopper. He did not like the work, and he escaped from it when he could, and did jobs of wagoning about the village. He loved his horses and kept them sleek and fat; and it is told of him that when he first traded horses he was so eager to get a certain colt that he offered the man even more than he asked. He was fond of all boyish sports, but he was never rough, or profane, or foul-mouthed, and he was noted among his mates for his truth and honesty. The girls liked him for his gentleness, the younger children for his kindness; he never teased them, and he never tormented any living creature. There may have been better boys, but I have never heard of them; and if Grant passed only his first seventeen years in his native state, they were years of as true a greatness relatively as any that followed. From the first he was self-reliant, and taught himself to trust to his own powers and resources. When seven years old, he got an unbroken colt from the stable in his father’s absence, hitched it to a sled which he loaded with wood in the forest, and then drove home with a single line. He once wished to ride his father’s pacer on an errand he was sent upon; but his father could not spare it and the boy took his colt. “I will break him to pace,” he said, and he came back with the colt pacing. At twelve he hauled logs with a heavy draft team. Once the men who were to load for him did not come, and Grant managed with the help of a fallen tree to get the logs on the truck alone and drove home with them. After eleven he had scarcely any schooling except that of hard work, until he was appointed to West Point.