Welcome to Hardscrabble

A Little Background

One of the songs (“Tara”) on this cd I wrote before I was married (been married over 40 years). On the cd all of our seven (now adult) children sing and/or play. In the early 80s I wrote the script for a Grant one-man play that included about ten of the songs. Then in the late 90s I wrote about ten more songs – from perspectives that wouldn’t work with a one-man performance – and with the help of one of my sons (Justin) -produced (in 2012) the cd “Hardscrabble, Grant Songs.” Right – I’ve been at this for a while.


My intent with the Hardscrabble site is to contribute in a small way to the continuing assessment of Ulysses S. Grant as soldier, President, and man. In particular, I hope that you might take an objective view of him and consider if the stereotypical conclusions about him are supported by fact. The three main stereotypes (that I have encountered) are that he was:

– A butcher,
– A drunk, and
– An incompetent and corrupt President.

Perhaps too, if you become interested in him, you might evaluate his positions/efforts related to

– Native American Indians,
– Reconstruction,
– and his Memoirs.

Assessments of Grant

I have included a very limited bibliography on this site. Most of those books will lead you to a greatly expanded bibliography. I am not a historian. The books about Grant in the last 20 or 30 years are very worthy of broad consideration. The Grant literature is (I think) worth your time. Anyway, I keep reading.

Grant biography took a turn (at least in my opinion) with McFeeley’s 1981 biography, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for History. McFeeley said that what started him on that book was looking at Grant in the Brady Wilderness photo – or rather, Grant looking at him (me too). McFeeley ‘s portrayal/assessment is, of course, skillfully, at times poetically, done … but mine does not always intersect. I think that what really started me (in my pursuit of trying to understand Grant) was Bruce Catton’s rendition of Grant and Lee at Appomattox. I think as a young boy (maybe I was 14), I was moved by this contrast (really didn’t understand it) and wanted to know what made Grant tick. So I read some more Catton and then the Memoirs and then the Grant scholars. And then I was blessed with children who could perform the songs I wrote.

The Hardscrabble Site Contents

The internal material includes:

– The song lyrics
– The cd illustrations
– A bibliography
– The ensemble
– A Memoirs page where comments about the Memoirs can be posted
– A Worksheet

An external link to the songs.

The Worksheet

The Worksheet could be used as part of a unit on Grant or maybe an extra credit assignment. Some suggestions for research papers/reports are included at the end of the Worksheet. Or outside of an academic setting, the Worksheet might just serve as a way to interact with the material.

Again, my hope is that some of this will encourage you to engage deeper issues, events,, challenges related to Grant and the Civil War.

Thank you for visiting “Hardscabble.”

My email follows and I would welcome any comments you might have about Grant or the cd.