27 thoughts on “The Sunday Question: Rivals

  1. wgdavis November 27, 2011 / 7:38 am

    Army-Navy. Go Navy! Beat Army!

  2. Carl Schenker November 27, 2011 / 7:42 am

    Hamiltonians v. Jeffersonians.

    • Lyle Smith November 27, 2011 / 6:09 pm

      Jefferson v. Hamilton was my first thought too.

  3. James F. Epperson November 27, 2011 / 8:06 am

    I assume you are talking about rivalry between historical figures, like Jefferson-Hamilton or Lincoln-McClellan. The problem I have with answering is that I have no clue what “best” means in this setting. Most historically significant? Then I would have to go w/ Tom and Alex, with Abe and George being a close second.

    • Brooks D. Simpson November 27, 2011 / 1:15 pm

      I said best, not most historically significant. Some may see them as the same for their purposes. Sometimes the best rivalries are not the most significant (and isn’t “significant” just as subjective?).

      One of the rewards about asking a question that may be deliberately ambiguous is to see how people choose to answer it. This isn’t math.

  4. Al Mackey November 27, 2011 / 9:35 am

    The first thing that came to my mind was Lincoln and Douglas. Political rivals in Illinois, political rivals for the Presidency, and rivals for the affections of Miss Mary Todd.

  5. TF Smith November 27, 2011 / 9:58 am

    Washington vs. George III?

    Jefferson vs. Hamilton?

    Garfield HS vs. Roosevelt?

  6. Mark Pethke November 27, 2011 / 10:25 am

    Jefferson versus Hamilton. Set the political paradigm that runs right to the current day.

  7. Noma November 27, 2011 / 8:42 pm

    Best? Not sure? But extremely entertaining: Ulysses S. Grant vs. John A. McClernand. Typical McClernand vs. Grant at his mystical best, sitting patiently like a cat watching a squeaking, intoxicated mouse frantically running all around, and then finally tripping over the cat’s paw — at which time the cat makes one devastating swipe and instantly finishes the whole business.


    While I’m on the subject, I want to express my disappointment that there is this famous Alexander Gardner photo of Pinkerton – Lincoln – McClernand, but not one single photo of Ulysses S. Grant and Lincoln together…

    [Antietam Md.  Allan Pinkerton President Lincoln and Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand; another view] Date: c. 1862

    I realize that Pinkerton and McClernand look goofy, but at least they got their picture taken with Abe!

    (Can I also mention that I just discovered Robert E. Lee sharing a place of honor on the 1937 U.S. half dollar? How many other traitors in the history of the world can claim such an honor?)

    • Carl Schenker November 28, 2011 / 6:40 am

      Noma —
      You mention that there are no photographs of Lincoln and Grant together. Similarly, no war time photos of Grant and Sherman together, except that both can be seen sitting in the reviewing stand photos of the Grand Review in May 1865 (not together). Such a shame that there was no enterprising photographer at City Point in March 1865 to capture Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman together.

      • Noma November 28, 2011 / 2:14 pm

        “Such a shame that there was no enterprising photographer at City Point in March 1865 to capture Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman together.”

        Re: the March 28 meeting on the River Queen, I heartily agree. At least George Healy tried to document the event. (After the war, he traveled around to do separate portraits of Grant, Sherman and Porter for the painting.)


        “Similarly, no war time photos of Grant and Sherman together, except that both can be seen sitting in the reviewing stand photos of the Grand Review in May 1865 (not together).”

        Do you happen to have a link for this? Or even of any non-wartime photos of Grant and Sherman together?


          • Noma November 29, 2011 / 10:20 am

            Thanks, Carl. And for the other one, too. Just amazing how rare these photos are.

        • Carl Schenker November 28, 2011 / 3:38 pm

          Noma — Scroll down on this linked page to a photo (1868, I think) showing Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan in mufti at Fort Sanders, Wyoming, I think. I believe there are several photos from that day. I am not aware of any other photos showing Grant and Sherman together besides at the Grand Review and Fort Sanders. Would happily learn of others, if anyone else knows of any. (Perhaps at one of Grant’s inaugurations?) CRS

        • Carl Schenker November 28, 2011 / 3:56 pm

          Noma — Re “The Peacemakers,” look at David Donald’s bio of Lincoln, before p. 225. “The Peacemakers” is shown there with a photo of Grant, in which he has the identical pose used by GPA Healy in the painting. Thus, if Grant sat for Healy, the artist nonetheless seems to have used the photo for the likeness in the painting, down to showing 4 stars in the painting at a time when Grant had only 3 stars. CRS

          • Noma November 29, 2011 / 10:07 am


            I just looked at the painting and photo in David Herbert Donald’s book, and it is clear that you are correct.

            I was taking my statement from Sherman’s letter to Isaac Newton Arnold, but possibly I misunderstood what he was saying:


            In a November 28, 1872 letter to Isaac Newton Arnold, General Sherman wrote:

            In Chicago about June or July of that year, when all the facts were fresh in my mind, I told them to George P. A. Healy, the artist, who was casting about for a subject for an historical painting, and he adopted this interview. Mr. Lincoln was then dead, but Healy had a portrait, which he himself had made at Springfield some five or six years before. With this portrait, some existing photographs, and the strong resemblance in form of [Leonard Swett], of Chicago, to Mr. Lincoln he made the picture of Mr. Lincoln seen in this group.

            For General Grant, Admiral Porter, and myself he had actual sittings, and I am satisfied the four portraits in this group of Healy’s are the best extant. The original picture, life-size, is, 1 believe, now in Chicago, the property of Mr. [Ezra B. McCagg]; but Healy afterwards, in Rome, painted ten smaller copies, about eighteen by twenty-four inches, one of which I now have, and it is now within view. I think the likeness of Mr. Lincoln by far the best of the many I have seen elsewhere, and those of General Grant, Admiral Porter, and myself equally good and faithful.

            I think Admiral Porter gave Healy a written description of our relative positions in that interview, also the dimensions, shape, and furniture of the cabin of the “Ocean Queen” ; but the rainbow is Healy’s—typical, of course, of the coming peace. In this picture I seem to be talking, the others attentively listening. Whether Healy made this combination from Admiral Porter’s letter or not, I cannot say; but I thought that he caught the idea from what I told him had occurred when saying ” that if Lee would only remain in Richmond till I could reach Burkesville we would have him between our thumb and fingers,” suiting the action to the word. It matters little what Healy meant by his historic group, but it is certain that we four sat pretty much as represented, and were engaged in an important conversation during the forenoon of March 28, 1865, and that we parted never to meet again.[5]



            One other possibility is that Healy did use the photo, but also visited Grant for a sitting, for color, etc.

          • Noma November 29, 2011 / 10:16 am

            It’s wonderful that we now have Porter’s account of that meeting on the River Queen. According to his account, Grant, as was typical of him, was mostly a listener. I do like Sherman’s response to Grant’s concerns about Johnston making a railroad get away.

            The President’s mind was made easy on this score, yet it was remarkable how many shrewd questions he asked on the subject, and how difficult some of them were to answer. He stated his views in regard to what he desired; he felt sure, as did every one at that council, that the end of the war was near at hand; and, though some thought a bloody battle was impending, all thought that Richmond would fall in less than a week.

            He wanted the surrender of the Confederate armies, and desired that the most liberal terms should be granted them. “Let them once surrender,” he said, “and reach their homes, they won’t take up arms again. Let them all go, officers and all. I want submission, and no more bloodshed. Let them have their horses to plow with, and, if you like, their guns to shoot crows with. I want no one punished; treat them liberally all round. We want those people to return to their allegiance to the Union and submit to the laws. Again I say, give them the most liberal and honorable terms.”

            “But, Mr. President,” said Sherman, “I can dictate my own terms to General Johnston. All I want is two weeks’ time to fit out my men with shoes and clothes, and I will be ready to march upon Johnston and compel him to surrender; he is short of clothing, and in two weeks he would have no provisions at all.”

            “And,” added the President, “two weeks is an age, and the first thing you will know General Johnston will be off South again with those hardy troops of his, and will keep the war going indefinitely. No, General, he must not get away; we must have his surrender at all hazards, so don’t be hard on him about terms. Yes, he will get away if he can, and you will never catch him until after miles of travel and many bloody battles.”


            “Mr. President,” said Sherman, “there is no possible way of General Johnston’s escaping; he is my property as he is now situated, and I can demand an unconditional surrender; he can’t escape.”

            “What is to prevent him from escaping with all his army by the Southern railroads while you are fitting out your men ?” asked Grant.

            “Because,” answered Sherman, “there are no Southern railroads to speak of; my bummers have broken up the roads in sections all behind us—and they did it well.”

            “But,” said Grant, “can’t they relay the rails, the same as you did the other day, from Newbern and Wilmington to Goldsboro’?”

            Sherman laughed. “Why, no,” he said, “my boys don’t do things by halves. When they tore up the rails they put them over hot fires made from the ties, and then twisted them more crooked than a ram’s horn. All the blacksmiths in the South could not straighten them out.”

            “Mr. President,” said Sherman, turning to Mr. Lincoln, “the Confederacy has gone up, or will go up. We hold all the line between Wilmington and Goldsboro’, where my troops are now fitting out from the transports. My transports can come up the Neuse River as far as Newbern. We could flood the South with troops and provisions without hindrance. We hold the situation, and General Johnston can surrender to me on my own terms.”

            “All very well,” said the President, “but we must have no mistakes, and my way is a sure way. Offer Johnston the same terms that will be offered to Lee; then, if he is defiant, and will not accept them, try your plan. But as long as the Confederate armies lay down their arms, I don’t think it matters much how it is done. Only don’t let us have any more bloodshed if it can be avoided. General Grant is for giving Lee the most favorable terms.”

            To this General Grant assented.


    • Bob Huddleston November 28, 2011 / 5:01 pm

      Also, no photos of Abe and Mary. Indeed, the only “family” photo of AL is the one taken in March ’65 of Abe and Tad.

    • Tony Gunter November 29, 2011 / 2:27 am

      You know … I think I finally figured out something about McClernand. His greatest strength was that he knew he was not a professional military figure, so he generally deferred to the man he deemed to be the most professional military subordinate available.

      I’m thinking: Shiloh / Arkansas Post.

      But his greatest weakness was that he generally deferred to the man he deemed to be the most professional military subordinate available.

      I’m thinking: Port Gibson / Champion Hill / Vicksburg.

  8. John Foskett November 28, 2011 / 8:11 am

    Early vs. Longstreet. Not quite Bruins-Canadiens in length of hatred, but equal in depth.

    • John Foskett November 29, 2011 / 11:28 am

      How about Dale vs. Mark in the infamous Good Friday game?

  9. Carl Schenker November 29, 2011 / 6:25 am

    But is that Canadian history? Anyway, Joe Kapp v. Angelo Mosca apparently ranks way up there in rivalries from Canadian history. Imagine Joe Johnston trying to clock WT Sherman with a walking cane in their seventies. CRS

    • Noma November 29, 2011 / 10:22 am

      But weren’t Joe Johnston and WT Sherman BFF at that point? For example, Johnston with no hat at Sherman’s funeral…

  10. Ethan S. Rafuse November 29, 2011 / 9:47 am

    I can’t. Joe Johnston would have just walked away. John Bell Hood on the other hand . . .

  11. Terry Walbert November 29, 2011 / 2:08 pm

    Henry Clay vs. Andrew Jackson

    John Adams vs. Alexander Hamilton

  12. John Buchanan December 1, 2011 / 12:14 pm

    1. Bruins v Canadiens

    2. Red Sox v Evil Empire

    3. George McClellan v AP Hill

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