where the writers are
Grant's Indian, a novel by Peter Johnson
Grant's Indian
$15.00
Paperback
See Book Details »

BOOK DETAILS

  • Paperback
  • Oct.11.2009
  • 9780981984209
  • Create Space

Peter gives an overview of the book:

Appomattox, 1865. A clock slowly ticks, and the scratch of a pen is the loudest sound besides Lee and Grant's small talk. History has a joker up its sleeve, the first of many in Grant's Indian, as the scribe copying the surrender spills the ink and blots the paper. "Parker, you'll have to do this," he says, and a Seneca Indian steps in and copies all the letters in a big, round hand. Based on the real life of Ely Parker, the Indian, Grant's Indian pivots at Appomattox, then loops back to Parker's adventures as an Indian boy in upstate New York, his youth as tribal translator and diplomat in Washington and his career as a U.S. engineer, which leads to his meeting "Useless" Ulysses Grant in a barroom brawl in Galena, Illinois. After Appomattox, Parker travels with the western Sioux, marries a white girl half his age, becomes commissioner of Indian...
Read full overview »

Appomattox, 1865. A clock slowly ticks, and the scratch of a pen is the loudest sound besides Lee and Grant's small talk. History has a joker up its sleeve, the first of many in Grant's Indian, as the scribe copying the surrender spills the ink and blots the paper. "Parker, you'll have to do this," he says, and a Seneca Indian steps in and copies all the letters in a big, round hand. Based on the real life of Ely Parker, the Indian, Grant's Indian pivots at Appomattox, then loops back to Parker's adventures as an Indian boy in upstate New York, his youth as tribal translator and diplomat in Washington and his career as a U.S. engineer, which leads to his meeting "Useless" Ulysses Grant in a barroom brawl in Galena, Illinois. After Appomattox, Parker travels with the western Sioux, marries a white girl half his age, becomes commissioner of Indian affairs, resigns in disgrace, makes and loses a fortune on Wall Street and spends his last twenty years as a clerk in the New York City Police Department. Parker is an American Indian becoming an American, wearing "Janus masks, one looking inward and one outward, one forward and one back, the two occasionally catching a mutual glimpse and staring like an ape at its own reflection." His quest gets him into all sorts of trouble, including his comic-opera wedding, which he misses once by getting drunk and throwing himself into the Potomac. He dons successive careers, ultimately succeeding inwardly (while his outer success fades) through his young wife's urging him not to be an Indian or a white, "Just be a man!"  

Parker's journey follows the grand sweep of the 19th century:         

  • From Dolley Madison to Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt;
  • From the Mexican War to the Civil War to Custer and Crazy Horse;
  • From the woodland Seneca to the western Sioux to Mohawk iron workers on the Brooklyn Bridge. 

Read an excerpt »

 

Oh, did I want to eat Lee's brain that day, as we used to say, to get into his head and look around.  One thing I wanted to know was where his surrender uniform came from, that beautiful dress gray with all the brass and the dress sword with all that gold.  We, after all, had been pelting after him so fast we just had the clothes on our backs, and he'd been in even direr straits.  I've thought about it often, sitting here thirty years later at my desk and shuffling my papers, and I've begun to think maybe he had it with him the whole war, packed away in his traveling trunk, waiting for just such an inevitability as this. 

Sometimes in an antic reverie I imagine the outfit, empty, following him, its legs and sleeves flapping, up from Richmond after the Seven Days, to Manassas and Antietam, where he would have needed it if our Burnside hadn't wasted the afternoon trying to fight his way across a bridge over a river that he could have waded, and if McClellan had figured out he was winning and renewed the attack next day.  I see it trekking back with him down to Fredericksburg, where maybe it was in his saddlebags that December day while he sat astride Traveller on Marye's Heights and watched his riflemen make windrows of Burnside's troops and history has him muttering to Longstreet, "It is well that war is so terrible.  We should grow too fond of it."  Did it then battle with him through Chancellorsville, where Jackson lost his way, his arm, and his life, and up to Gettysburg, where it would have had to be aired and ironed double-quick if Meade had dared to come down off Cemetery Ridge?  Did it then fight backwards, shadowing Lee through the Wilderness and Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor, staggering back over all those rivers all the way to Richmond, where it got unpacked and hung up for the long siege, then packed up again for the final dash west which brought it to rest, finally with Lee's elusive body in it, here in Wilmer McLean's parlor, sitting, one elegant, creased knee crossed over the other, boots polished, brass buttons tapping on the little marble table-top?

Grant didn't have a surrender uniform.  He barely had a uniform at all.  When he met General Lee that day he was wearing what he always wore, a private's blues with three stars on the shoulders so you'd see he was a general if you looked hard enough.  His coat was misbuttoned and his boots were muddy.  "In my rough traveling suit, the uniform of a private with the straps of a lieutenant-general," he later wrote, "I must have contrasted very strangely with a man so handsomely dressed, six feet high and of faultless form."

peter-johnson's picture

Note from the author coming soon...

About Peter

 

PETER JOHNSON is an award-winning author, actor and lawyer. A graduate of Harvard and New York Law School, he has written many legal articles, including Can You Quote Donald Duck? Intellectual Property in Cyberculture and Pornography...

Read full bio »