Remembering Gen. William Grose

Posted by on Jul 20, 2013 in General William Grose, Historically Speaking |

Remembering Gen. William Grose
‘Look out, here comes Gen. Grose!’
Grose was a leader in war, peace and local advancement
This painting of Gen. William Grose hangs by the staircase in the Henry County Historical Society museum on South 14th Street. He's pictured here with his horse
This painting of Gen. William Grose hangs by the staircase in the Henry County Historical Society museum on South 14th Street. He’s pictured here with his horse “Tennessee.” (David Burns / C-T photo)

By DARREL RADFORD
Historically Speaking

Let’s turn back the clock to 19th century New Castle. You’re on Broad Street on a quiet, peaceful day. Then suddenly you hear the sound of a galloping horse and someone says “Look out — here comes Gen. Grose.”

It apparently was a common occurrence. Even in his later years, the general was known to live life at a brisk pace.

“If you were a resident of New Castle in the 19th century, you undoubtedly were cautioned on occasion while walking the streets of New Castle to move aside a bit while a militant gentleman on a galloping horse charged down the streets, splattering mud on passersby during rainy days or stirring up billowing clouds of dust during the droughts of summer and autumn,” read an essay on Grose’s life from Henry County Historical Society archives.

That image of Grose galloping down the street speaks volumes about New Castle’s Civil War hero, who died 113 years ago this month at the age of 87.

His death not only made headline news but took up most of the front page in some publications. His funeral service was reported to one of the largest in New Castle history.

A tribute to Gen. Grose, typed in red ink on plain newsprint, is part of the Henry County Historical Society archives. It indicates the galloping horse was a symbol of his life.

“It wasn’t necessarily true that the General’s haste meant he was on a life-or-death errand,” the essay read. “More likely, he was headed for his downtown office, where he practiced successfully the profession of law. Or perhaps he was on his way to the post office to get the day’s mail. Maybe he was headed for the country to check on things at his farm, just west of the county poor farm.

“But this was the way William Grose did things — if he were alive today, he would be called a go-getter, a spark plug, a member of the lively generation. Energy and ambition — these attributes Grose possessed in abundance.”

For many years — even generations — the Grose name symbolized patriotism, leadership and courage. Both of his grandfathers had served in the Revolutionary War and one of them actually died trying to give America its first taste of freedom. His father was a soldier during the War of 1812 — the war that broke the bondage with England for good, and produced our national anthem in the process.

As we have said in previous columns, the general was where “the bullets flew the thickest” during the Civil War. The names of commanders he served under reads like a PBS documentary — Buell, Nelson, Thomas, Sherman.

In the spring of 1856, he attended the Pittsburg convention which organized the Republican Party and, as the newspaper said, “had the high honor of being one of the founders of the greatest and most successful political party of modern times. He served in both the Indiana House and the Indiana Senate.

Grose was called “a progressive thinker.” Anyone today that drives Dublin Pike or purchases goods delivered by railroad have Grose, in part, to thank.

“In 1848, when the railroad boom was beginning throughout the Midwest, Grose was an active participant in local meetings to bring railroad service to New Castle. Three years later, the laying of tracks from Richmond to this city was underway. In 1852, Grose was elected president of a company to build a turnpike or plank road from Dublin to New Castle. And when the need for a machine and foundry shop became apparent in 1870, Grose put his stamp of approval on the project by saying he had a lively interest in anything that would improve the town.”

Yet, the archives also indicate Grose had, at times, a somewhat grouchy demeanor. That reputation struck fear in the hearts of some.

“The late Judge John Morris delivered papers at the Grose home as a boy,” Historical Society archives read. “This building at that time was practically out in the country. Judge Morris would run up and leave the paper, then dash away before encountering the mean old general. Today, he’d probably be called a crusty old so-and-so.”

The historical society archives include a quote from Judge Eugene Bundy about Grose, spoken at the 13th reunion of the 36th regiment during the general’s twilight years.

“This old gray-headed man here,” Judge Bundy said, pointing to Gen. Grose alongside him, “is an inspiration to the citizens of New Castle and every citizen in Henry County. How many communities can boast of such a grand old man as your old commander?

“I do not over-estimate or over-state when I say that the war produced no braver or greater soldier than your old commander. He is an inspiration to every young man, every old man, and to every one that lives in the community and to everyone who knows him. His career has been one of the grandest and if he should die tomorrow, he would die the honored and respected friend of all the community.”

Bundy — one of the founders of the Henry County Historical Society — would no doubt be pleased to see the picture of Gen. Grose as a young man greeting museum visitors into his home today. He’d also be interested in going upstairs — where a tribute of another war hero is located — that of his brother, Gen. Omar Bundy, the hero of Bellau Wood credited with turning around World War I for the United States.

Darrel Radford is a staff writer for The Courier-Times and a board member for the Henry County Historical Society. For more info on the museum, go to www.henrycountyhs.org.

 

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