Lincoln was not a man of impulse, and did nothing upon the spur of the moment; action with him was the result of deliberation and study. He took nothing for granted; he judged men by their performances and not their speech.
If a general lost battles, Lincoln lost confidence in him; if a commander was successful, Lincoln put him where he would be of the most service to the country.
"Grant is a drunkard," asserted powerful and influential politicians to the president at the White House time after time; "he is not himself half the time; he can't be relied upon, and it is a shame to have such a man in command of an army."
"So Grant gets drunk, does he?" queried Lincoln, addresing himself to one of the particularly active detractors of the soldier, who, at that period, was inflicting heavy damage upon the Confederates.
"Yes, he does, and I can prove it," was the reply.
"Well," returned Lincoln, with the faintest suspicion of a twinkle in his eye, "you needn't waste your time getting proof; you just find out, to oblige me, what brand of whiskey Grant drinks, because I want to send a barrel of it to each one of my generals."
That ended the crusade against Grant, so far as the question of drinking was concerned.
From "Abe" Lincoln's Yarns and Stories, © 1901, Henry Neil