Friday, May 22, 2015

A Shout Out to Mrs. Grant and Her Holly Springs Connection.

Julia Dent Grant was born January 26th 1826 and died December 14th 1902 at the age of 74. She married Ulysses S. Grant August 22nd 1848 at the age of 22.  During the civil war, Mrs. Grant supported her husband and travelled with him across the country which included The Depot at Holly Springs, MS.
Currently, Mrs. Grant is buried alongside her husband, President Ulysses S. Grant, in Grant's Tomb located in New York City, NY.

I was lucky enough to visit Grant's Tomb this May.



Okay, so Mrs. Grant came through Holly Springs and passed through The Depot.

Is there anything else that happened to her during this time in Holly Springs?

The answer is YES!

Despite her short visits in Holly Springs, Mrs. Grant enjoyed her time in this town and bonded with it's people.

1. Mrs. Grant  was so taken by the hospitality that she  forgot she was in enemy territory.  
2. Only in Holly Springs did Mrs. Grant willingly listen to Rebel War songs.  
3.  Only in Holly Springs did Mrs. Grant take her one and only civil war souvenir. 
4.  Only because of her connection to Holly Springs did Mrs. Grant use her influence over her husband to save a Holly Springs family member, Captain Jack Govan, from certain death.  An order that had her husband disobey a direct order from Washington!

The following text and photos (with the exception of Walter Place) came from:
Grant, Mrs. Ulysses S. The Personal Memoirs of Julia Dent Grant. Ed. J. Y. Simon. New York:  Southern Illinois University Press, 1975. Print.
This was apparently taken around two years after her stay in Holly Springs, MS.
Mrs. Grant stayed at Walter Place during her first visit to Holly Springs, MS.  This is where she made friends with Mrs. Pugh Govan. Mrs. Govan was in charge of the house while Mr. Walter was away fighting in the war.
Mrs. Grant says the owner of the home was Mr. Walker but in reality she was stationed at Walter Place. The endnote number 36 explains this situation in more detail. 
This endnote explains how it is Mr. Walter's (not Mr. Walker's) house since he is the one who left his mansion in the hands of Mrs. Pugh Govan.


The next page states how Mrs. Grant thought Mrs. Govan  "was a fine, noble woman" whose hospitality had Mrs. Grant forget she was in enemy territory.  It also mentions how the Holly Springs ladies "sang grandly, with power, pathos, and enthusiasm" to Mrs. Grant's first and last sitting of rebel war songs.  She refused to hear anymore for fear she would be labeled a traitor.

Not everyone was fighting the war since Mrs. Govan's son and Mrs. Grant's son Jesse, "played amiably together as warm friends." While Mrs. Grant and the children were at Walter Place, General Grant wrote General Orders No. 11.  I'll explain more about this order in a future post. This page also sheds light on what happened with Mrs. Grant during General Van Dorn's raid.  Mrs. Grant was in Oxford with her husband when news came of General Van Dorn's capture of Holly Springs.  However, Mrs. Grant's luggage was still in Holly Springs under Mrs. Govan's protection.  Mrs. Govan refused to give over Mrs. Grant's luggage to the confederate cavalry and managed to keep it safe until Mrs. Grant's return.  Contrary to gossip, the luggage did not hold anything of irreplaceable value.  It did not contain General Grant's sword or his war plans.  However, in my opinion, Mrs. Govan's defense of Mrs. Grant's property probably gained favor of Mrs. Grant which in turn helped spare the town or, at least, spare Captain Jack Govan's life.

The story continues explaining Van Dorn's raid and how Col. Murphy pocketed General Grant's orders during the night.  After the raid, General Grant went back to Holly Springs with his wife.  They stayed at Colonel William H. Coxe's place now known as Airliewood.

Needing a glass to serve her son Jesse,  Colonel Coxe came to the rescue by offering a"beautiful, slender-stemmed wineglass, saying, 'Will this answer, Mrs. Grant?'  To my demur, not wishing to break his set of glass, he replied, 'Ah, no! Keep it as a souvenir of the house.  I only wish I could add to it a bottle of rich, old wine, but mine is all gone.' And that slender, little pink glass was the only souvenir I ever brought from the South."

Washington demanded that no confederate be paroled.  Mrs. Grant, who was on good terms with the Govan family insisted that "Ulys" (General Grant) parole Captain Jack Govan.  Mr. Grant refused and for two hours Mrs. Grant ignored him and gave him the silent treatment.

The next page describes how General Grant conceded to his wife's wishes and Captain Jack Govan was paroled!  Yay!  Go Mrs. Grant!
This was supposedly taken three years after the Grant family was in Holly Springs.



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