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Local History

Myron Harrison Strong

“At the second assault of Vicksburg, May 19-22, 1863, Strong was wounded in action. As a matter of fact he was later decorated for bravery in action during the assault and probably his detail to Grant’s headquarters was more or less directly the result of his heroism.

“‘You see I enlisted in the army to fight and they put me in the medical detachment because I had had some experience as a druggist.’ Strong told a visitor at his home in Ozark recently. ‘Things were a bit less formal and discipline perhaps a little less strict in those days than they were in the recent war, you know. So, shortly before the second assault of Vicksburg, I picked up an abandoned rifle and declared that I’d use it in the next action. My opportunity came a few days later, and you may be sure that I got all the fighting I wanted in the second assault.’

“No amount of hinting from his visitor, however, sufficed to extract from him the exact nature of his act which won for him a silver medal for bravery.

“Following his injury Strong was invalided for several weeks during which time he had a furlough. When he reported back to his organization he was surprised to learn that he was to be detailed to General T.E.G. Ranson. Upon reporting to Ranson he was handed some ‘sealed orders’ and sent up to General John A. Rawlins, later Grant’s chief of staff, and when Grant became president, his secretary of war.

“The ‘sealed orders’ stated informally that ‘the carrier is a valuable man.’

“It was the beginning of Strong’s official connection with Grant’s headquarters. From that time till the close of the war he was constantly near the general, who then was only ‘commander of the Department of Tennessee.’

“A chat with Strong revealed a number of incidents of the several campaigns which Grant executed, and which shed new light upon the character of the quiet man who fought the war out before Richmond.

“One time as they were about to break camp, the tents having been pulled down, General Grant was sitting, smoking, on a pile of baggage. The headquarters were near enough to the front not to be entirely out of danger from enemy artillery, and balls, more or less spent, were dropping not far away.

“‘One of the balls whizzed by General Grant so close that I cannot understand how it missed him, Mr. Strong declared. ‘It rolled to the ground some distance away. Those of us who saw it were given a real scare. But Grant’s expression did not change. He turned slowly and noted where the ball had dropped, hailed a lieutenant who was standing near, and said: ‘Suppose we see that ball there, and examine it to determine the kind of ammunition the enemy is using.’

“‘He always was completely self-possessed in any crisis. ‘Part of my duties in his headquarters was copying his orders for record. I recall one peculiarity of his writing which since has caused me some embarrassment. In writing the words ‘at all’, which he used a great deal, he invariably dropped the last ‘l’ making it ‘at al’. I spoke of this peculiarity to a newspaper man one time and he published it in a paper which came to the attention of Mrs. Grant. Some time later I received a letter from Mrs. Grant protesting that the general’s orthography was not as bad as I had suggested. And I assure you, as I did Mrs. Grant, that I did not intend to cast any reflection upon the general’s spelling, it was only one peculiarity.’ 

“Mr. and Mrs. Strong have lived in the Ozarks since 1888. They came here for Mr. Strong’s health. Last month they celebrated their golden wedding. Mrs. Strong then told of her husband’s whirlwind courtship a half century previous.

“‘You see, he met me one afternoon at tea, I never had seen him before, and we were married the next day,’ she said. ‘Yes. I believe in short engagements, but my poor dear aunt, who was my guardian, didn't. I am English, you know, and we had come to America just for the visit. But when I married Mr. Strong on such very short notice she was very angry. We have been so happy, however, that I never can feel really sorry for my aunt.’

“Most of their relics of the war unfortunately were destroyed in a recent fire which consumed everything in their home. He has still, however, the original of the order detailing him to Grant’s headquarters. It reads:
Headquarters, Department of Tennessee
Special Orders
No. 289, Extract 8,
Corporal M. Harrison Strong, of Company D, 73rd Regiment Illinois Infantry Volunteers, is hereby detailed for special service in Adjutant General’s Department, and will report in person without delay to Brig. Genl. John A. Rawlins at these headquarters.
By order of Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant
John A. Rawlins,
Brig. Genl. and Asst. Adjust. Genl. Corporal M. Harrison Strong, 72nd Illinois”

Daily Leader, November 1, 1921. The photograph is courtesy of Elizabeth Davis on

For more information about President Grant see:
Grant by Ron Chernow 
Grant at 200: reconsidering the life and legacy of Ulyssess S. Grant edited by Chris Mackowski
Grant. The complete miniseries

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