“Of course Tad was far too young to serve, but twenty-one-year-old Robert was not. Robert was eager to drop out of Harvard and enlist, but his mother adamantly objected. ‘We have lost one son, and his loss is as much as I can bear, without being called upon to make another sacrifice,’ she insisted to the president. Lincoln replied: ‘But many a poor mother has given up all her sons, and our son is not more dear to us than the sons of other people are to their mothers.’ … In January 1865, when the First Lady finally yielded, Lincoln asked Grant to place Robert on his staff:”
Please read and answer this letter as though I was not President, but only a friend. My son, now in his twenty second year, having graduated at Harvard, wishes to see something of the war before it ends. I do not wish to put him in the ranks, nor yet to give him a commission, to which those who have already served long, are better entitled, and better qualified to hold. Could he, without embarrassment to you, or detriment to the service, go into your Military family with some nominal rank, I, and not the public, furnishing his necessary means? If no, say so without the least hesitation, because I am as anxious, and as deeply interested, that you shall not be encumbered as you can be yourself.