On the evening of the first day out from Goliad we heard the most unearthly howling of wolves, directly in our front. The prairie grass was tall, and we could not see the beasts, but the sound indicated they were near.
To my ear it appeared that there must have been enough of them to devour our entire party, horses and all, at a single meal.
The part of Ohio I hailed from was not thickly settled, but wolves had been driven out long before I left. Benjamin was from Indiana, still less populated, where the wolf yet roamed over the prairies. He understood the nature of the animal and the capacity of a few to make believe there was an unlimited number of them. He kept on towards the noise, unmoved. I followed on his trail, lacking the moral courage to turn back…but Benjamin did not propose turning back.
When he did speak it was to ask, “Grant, how many wolves do you think are in that pack?”
Knowing where he was from, and suspecting he thought I would over-estimate the number, I determined to show my acquaintance with the animal by putting the estimate below what possibly could be correct, and answered, “Oh, about twenty,” very indifferently. He smiled and rode on.
In a minute we were close upon them, and before they saw us. There were just TWO of them. Seated upon their haunches, with their mouths close together, they had made all of the noise we had been hearing for the last ten minutes.
I HAVE OFTEN THOUGHT OF THIS INCIDENT SINCE, WHEN I HAVE HEARD THE NOISE OF A FEW DISAPPOINTED POLITICIANS WHO HAVE DESERTED THEIR ASSOCIATES. THERE ARE ALWAYS MORE OF THEM BEFORE THEY ARE COUNTED.
Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, December, 1845 near Goliad, Texas.
He never ceases to impress me!