A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 29, 2009
“Like Grant took Richmond”

"Like Grant took Richmond” refers to the Union forces taking Richmond, Virginia, ending the Civil War. Ulysses S. Grant was the general-in-chief of the Union Army; General Godfrey Weitzel actually was the general who took the city on April 3, 1865.

“Like Grant took Richmond” is a phrase that means a forceful, impressive, decisive victory. Circus entertainers, musicians, and baseball players often said that they would conquer the next city (not necessarily a southern city) “like Grant took Richmond.” Although the phrase could have occurred as early as 1865, the first recorded print citation is from 1911.


Wikipedia: Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant) (April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was general-in-chief of the Union Army from 1864 to 1865 during the American Civil War and the 18th President of the United States from 1869 to 1877.

The son of an Appalachian Ohio tanner, Grant entered the United States Military Academy at age 17. In 1846, three years after graduating, Grant served as a lieutenant in the Mexican–American War under Winfield Scott and future president Zachary Taylor. After the Mexican-American War concluded in 1848, Grant remained in the Army, but abruptly resigned in 1854. Struggling through the coming years as a real estate agent, a laborer, and a county engineer, Grant decided to join the Northern effort in the Civil War.

Appointed brigadier general of volunteers in 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln, Grant claimed the first major Union victories of the war in 1862, capturing Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee. He was surprised by a Confederate attack at the Battle of Shiloh, and although he emerged victorious, the severe casualties prompted a public outcry that could have resulted in driving him from the army. Subsequently, however, Grant’s 1863 victory at Vicksburg, following a long campaign with many initial setbacks, and his rescue of the besieged Union army at Chattanooga, established his reputation as Lincoln’s most aggressive and successful general. Named lieutenant general and general-in-chief of the Army in 1864, Grant implemented a coordinated strategy of simultaneous attacks aimed at destroying the South’s armies and its economy’s ability to sustain its forces. In 1865, after mounting a successful war of attrition against his Confederate opponents, he accepted the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House.
(...)
In March 1865, Grant invited Lincoln to visit his headquarters at City Point, Virginia. By coincidence, Sherman (then campaigning in North Carolina) happened to visit City Point at the same time. This allowed for the war’s only three-way meeting of Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman. At the beginning of April, Grant’s relentless pressure finally forced Lee to evacuate Richmond, and after a nine-day retreat, Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. There, Grant offered generous terms that did much to ease the tensions between the armies and preserve some semblance of Southern pride, which would be needed to reconcile the warring sides. Within a few weeks, the American Civil War was effectively over; minor actions would continue until Kirby Smith surrendered his forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department on June 2, 1865.

Wikipedia: Godfrey Weitzel
Godfrey Weitzel (November 1, 1835 – March 19, 1884) was a major general in the Union army during the American Civil War, as well as the acting Mayor of New Orleans during the Federal occupancy of the city.
(...)
On January 6, 1865, while on furlough in Cincinnati, Weitzel married Louise Bogen, daughter of Peter Bogen, a prominent pork-packer and grower of Catawba grapes for winemaking. During the final months of the war, Ulysses S. Grant named Weitzel to command all Federal troops north of the Appomattox River during the final operations against Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Weitzel took possession of the Confederacy’s capital, Richmond, on April 3, 1865, establishing his headquarters in the home of Jefferson Davis. His aide, Lieutenant Johnston de Peyster, is credited with raising the first Union flag over the city after its fall.

Urban Dictionary
like Grant took Richmond
something that happens really fast. You do not want to say this in the south, because it brings back bad memories.
They beat the Yankee from New York up like Grant took Richmond.
by Deborah Lee Jul 19, 2006

26 January 1911, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Ft. Worth Boosters To Take Cowmen’s Meeting In March,” pg. 17, col. 3
“We’re going to take things like Grant took Richmond and when our special train carrying 250 cattle men and stock yards men lands here equipped with badges boosting Fort Worth for the 1912 meeting, htere’ll be something doing in San Antonio, to say the least.”

5 April 1915, Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT), sporting section, pg. 1, col. 2:
Bradt is still conducting fights in the stadium, where Johnson trains, but from gossip by Americans who live in Havana, one gathers that the cauliflower eared talent from the state have taken him like Grant took Richmond.

20 October 1915, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, pg. 14 ad:
In walking down the boulevard, if your friend suggests a Moroney Army and Navy highball, you take it just like Grant took Richmond.

Google Books
Gus the Bus and Evelyn, the exquisite checker
By Jack Lait
Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Company
1917
Pg. 26:
“You don’ make me,” said Shorty. “What I says is you’re gonna win out. You’re gonna take Evelyn like Grant took Richmond.”

26 March 1917, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, pg. 20 ad:
Bad Bill Hart took New Orleans like Grant took Richomnd, in his latest play.

1 October 1918, Kansas City (MO) Star, “Main Street Was a Warpath,” pg. 1:
“He took Main Street from the Union Station to Eighteenth just like Grant took Richmond,” testified Sergt. W. G. “Buck” Stephenson in the South Side Court today.

Google Books
Man’s Grim Justice:
My life outside the law

By Jack Callahan
New York, NY: J. H. Sears
1928
Pg. 34:
“When I get out of here,” I told her, “I’m going to take him like Grant took Richmond; I can lick that mug and I mean to do it just as soon as I am better.”

OCLC WorldCat record
A bowl of cherries
Author: John Held
Publisher: New York : Vanguard Press, ©1932.
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : English
Genre/Form: Short stories.
Description: 241 p. : incl. plates. ; 20 cm.
Contents: Adam’s rib—The beard of the prophet—A cowboy’s lament—“The fruits of success”—“Not over fourteen hands to drive and ride”—“Wire”—The first hundred yeahs—As Grant took Richmond—Humans are so dumb—History repeats—Like father like daughter—Valedictory.

Google Books
Experiment in Rebellion
By Clifford Dowdey
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1946
Pg. 406:
With the shirttail fluttering on a stick they advanced toward General Weitzel’s troops, marching steadily toward the blazing capital. On this country road, a few miles outside the city, the old men formally surrendered Richmond and asked General Weitzel to bring order. Thus was born the catch phrase, “Like Grant took Richmond.”

The Internet Movie Database
Plot summary for
Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949)

A bookie uses a phony real estate business as a front for his betting parlor. To further keep up the sham, he hires dim-witted Ellen Grant as his secretary figuring she won’t suspect any criminal goings-on. When Ellen learns of some friends who are about to lose their homes, she unwittingly drafts her boss into developing a new low-cost housing development. Written by Daniel Bubbeo {dbubbeo@cmp.com}

Google Books
Battle Creek
By Scott Lasser
New York, NY: Rob Weisbach Books
1999
Pg. 38: 
Gil has other lines: “I’m up to my ears in apple crates” (I’m busy); “like Grant
took Richmond” (fast); “like molasses in January” (slow); ...

Google Books
Before They Changed the World:
Pivotal moments that shaped the lives of great leaders before they became famous

By Edwin Kiester
Beverly, MA: Quayside Publishing Group
2009
Pg. 141:
After a series of tough, stubborn victories in the West he (U. S. Grant—ed.) assumed command of all Union armies and by his willingness to accept heavy losses but keep pushing forward, he finally forced the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. The phrase, “Like Grant took Richmond,” became standard jargon for dogged perseverance toward a goal until it was achieved.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Wednesday, July 29, 2009 • Permalink