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Letter: Gen. Grant wore humble uniform at 1865 surrender

From left, Coram's Steven DeFriest, dressed as Gen.

From left, Coram's Steven DeFriest, dressed as Gen. Robert E. Lee; Nancy Altman Guzzetta, owner of Antique Costume and Prop Rental in Port Jefferson; and Jim Ward, of Hauppauge, as Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, on March 24, 2015. Credit: Heather Walsh

I am disappointed in the photograph in the April 5 LI Life showing re-enactors as Gen. Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant during the Confederate surrender 150 years ago at Appomattox, Virgina ["Back to the Civil War"].

The photo shows a re-enactor as Grant in full dress uniform. According to the eyewitness accounts and Grant's own account of the surrender, Grant was in a private's uniform splattered with mud, with a pair of shoulder straps the only identification of his rank.

Why am I so picky? The difference between the two men is a symbol of the difference between the two societies. It is an important difference. Lee, dressed in his full uniform, represented the old aristocracy. Grant's simpler uniform represented the hardworking common man.

Grant noted that he did not expect the meeting to take place so soon, so he was dressed in "rough garb," without a sword, and he wore a "soldier's blouse" for a coat, with shoulder straps of his rank to indicate to the Army who he was.

Grant also noted, "In my rough traveling suit, the uniform of a private with the straps of a lieutenant general, I must have contrasted very strangely with a man so handsomely dressed, six feet high and of faultless form. But that was not a matter that I thought of until afterwards."

Michael Cacace