"like Grant took Richmond"

Wed Sep 22 20:32:53 UTC 1999

        This past weekend one of NYC's local pro football teams was whipped
50 to 21.  The NYTimes quoted the coach as saying afterwards "they
went right through us like Grant took Richmond". . . .  (NYTimes,
September 21, 1999, p. D4, col. 2)  This is an old and familiar
phrase to me, having heard it often from my father in the 1950s,
though he would phrase it more consistently, eg., "he took him like
Grant took Richmond."  Presumably this expression dates to when the
Civil War was still a living memory -- it's hard to believe that it
was coined by some history buff and taken up by a generation that
wouldn't have understood the allusion.  Still, I don't find
it in The Making of America.  The other source I checked was the RLIN
cooperative library catalog, which showed a screenplay from 1949:
Miss Grant Takes Richmond, by Nat Perrin and Frank Tashlin.  Is it
possible that it originates with some piece of mid-20th century
popular culture?  I would expect Gone with the Wind to have given us
*"like Sherman took Atlanta".

        Any thoughts?

        My apologies to our southern correspondents if this awakens painful


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