Ulysses S. Grant on Fear

Ulysses S. Grant, having been appointed to his first military command shortly after the Civil War began, was nervous. He was leading his troops toward what he believed to be the encampment of “Tom Harris and his 1200 secessionists”:

As we approached the brow of the hill from which it was expected we could see Harris’ camp, and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois, but I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do; I kept right on.

Then, at last being able to look into the valley, he saw signs that there had been a large camp below, but the secessionists had departed:

My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards. From that event to the close of the war, I never experienced trepidation upon confronting an enemy, though I always felt more or less anxiety. I never forgot that he had as much reason to fear my forces as I had his.

I really like this guy. I’m glad he was on our side.