January 6, 2013

When I first started working with Moscow 57, no one could figure out exactly what I might do outside of music, but I got a sense that in moving our various projects along a bit of a pep talk might come in handy, so I sent out the following email. It was well received, and shortly afterwards, I decided that whenever I sent out some kind of related email, I should call it The Daily Nudzh. “Nudzh” is a Yiddish word meaning “a boring person, a badgering person.” I always thought it also was used to describe the particular tool with which the nudzh badgered someone else. I also know a joke when it’s a verb, as in “Don’t  nudzh me!” Anyway, here is the first Daily Nudzh, which had not yet been named as such.
This is one of my favorite stories when I need a kick in the ass.  It’s about Ulysses S. Grant, a hero of mine for someone who persisted.
·  General William Tecumseh Sherman related a story about Grant, during the battle of Shiloh, that is the epitomy of the Clan Grant motto “Stand Fast!”:
At the end of the first day of the battle of Shiloh, the Union Army had suffered terrible losses after confederate forces under Albert Sydney Johnston had launched a surprise attack on their encampment at Pittsburgh Landing on the Tennessee River near the old church at Shiloh. The Union Army had seen their lines almost break during the most intense and terrible fight of the war to that point. Sherman’s corps had taken it the hardest. It was one of the worst battles yet seen in the war. The Union commanders were convinced that they must retreat across the Tennessee River and regroup. Most of Grant’s officers were in a panic.
Thousands of men lay dying and injured on the battlefield and a terrible thunderstorm started during the night. Grant went out with the intent to sleep under an oak tree to escape the screams of the dying and injured men who had been moved to his headquarters which was used as a temporary hospital, but the pounding rain kept him awake. Sherman went to find him during the night, with the intent of telling Grant they were whipped and to ask about organizing a retreat.
Sometime after midnight, amidst the flashes of lightning and the roll of thunder, he came upon Grant standing under the oak tree holding a lantern. The collar of Grant’s long frock overcoat was pulled up around his ears, and the brim of his slouch hat was pulled down low, with the rain pouring off it. Grant had a lit cigar clamped between his teeth. Sherman wrote that he somehow felt “moved”, in that moment, not bring up the idea of retreat and instead he said,
“Well, Grant, we’ve had the Devil’s own day, haven’t we?”
“Yes”, said Grant, and took a puff on his cigar which lit up his face in the darkness, “Yes. Lick ’em tomorrow, though.”
(Instead of a retreat, Grant ordered an attack at first light, the next day, and he drove the Confederate forces from the field, resulting in one of the first major Union victories of the war.)

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