User menu


Williams, George Forester (1837-1920)

Journalist, War Correspondent

George Forster Williams worked as a journalist for the New York Times. When the Civil War began, Williams was one of several Pfaffians who left New York City to work as war correspondents. Williams wrote a piece about Sheridan's military operations that General Grant liked so much he invited the author to dine with him (L. Starr 277). The article also brought the young man to the attention of President Lincoln. About his dinner invitation from Lincoln, Williams later said, "but being very young I supposed the President's invitation was merely a compliment" (qtd. in L. Starr 161). When Williams returned to Washington a month later, John Hay told him the President had seen him on the Avenue and was surprised he had not visited him yet. When he was at the White House, Lincoln said to Williams: "I am always seeking information, and you newspaper men are so often behind the scenes at the front I am frequently able to get ideas from you which no one else can give." After this statement and some small talk, Lincoln asked Williams for his opinion of Sheridan as an army commander, and began musing on Grant's abilities in the army. Lincoln would often ask news reporters to the White House and "sometimes unburdened himself to trusted reporters when he was worried about the military situation, talking with remarkable candor -- perhaps, as Williams suggested, more to himself than them" (161-162).