Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant rose to command all the Federal armies in the Civil War and lead
them to victory. He was respected so much that he went on to be president of the United
States for two terms. His time of glory didn’t last forever though, he developed cancer and
Ulysses Hiram Grant was born April 27, 1822, in a two room frame house
at Point Pleasant, Ohio(Ulysses S. Grant 1). His father, Jesse Root Grant, was foreman in
a tannery and a farmer. His mother, Hannah Simpson Grant, was a hard working frontier
woman. When Ulysses was a year old, the family moved to Georgetown. There his father
bought a farm, built a house, and set up his own tannery. Jesse and Hannah had five more
children there, two boys and three girls(Ulysses S. Grant 1).
Grant love horses and learned to manage them at an early age. When he was seven
or eight he could drive a team and began hauling all the wood used in the house and shops.
From that point on until he reached seventeen, Grant did all the work done with horses;
such as breaking up the land, furrowing, plowing corn, bringing in the crops when
harvested, and hauling wood(Ulysses S. Grant 1). Three months each winter when work
was minimized Grant went to a one room schoolhouse, and that’s how he was educated
until he went to West Point at age seventeen.
When Grant turned seventeen, his father got him an appointment to the United
States Military Academy at West Point. The congressman who made the appointment did
not know Grants’ full name, so he left out Hiram and added Simpson. Simpson, was
Grants’, mothers’ maiden name(Ulysses S. Grant 1). He was pleased with his new name
because he disliked his old initials H.U.G.
Cadet Grant did not care for military life and never expected to stay in the army.
He was good in mathematics and hoped sometime to teach it. In other subjects he was
about average. He was, however, the finest horseman at the academy. Quiet and shy, he
made few friends(The Civil War).
When he was commissioned, Ulysses was ordered to Jefferson Barracks, near St.
Louis, Missouri. While stationed there he met Julia Dent, daughter of a slave owning
Southern family(Ulysses S. Grant 2). Within three months he proposed to her and was
accepted. Since he had only his pay as lieutenant, the wedding was postponed(Ulysses S.
Grant was in almost every battle of the Mexican War. He fought on foot,
observing many different commanders and how they lead their troops. This experience, he
said, was of great value to him, because he became acquainted with nearly all the officers
of the regular army. Some of them including the great soldier Robert E. Lee were to be on
the Confederate side in the Civil War(Krick 15).
Grant came back from Mexico a captain, with favorable mention. He at once
married Julia and took her to his new station, Sackett’s Harbor, New York. During the
Mexican War Grant formed the habit of drinking. At Sackett’s Harbor he joined a
temperance society, but he forgot the pledge the next year when he was sent to
Detroit(Ulysses S. Grant 1).
In 1852 Grant?s regiment was ordered to the Pacific coast by way of the Isthmus of
Panama. Mrs. Grant stayed with her parents because she didn?t want to take their two year
old child on a trip like that. Cholera attacked the regiment in Panama. Grant showed great
leadership and resourcefulness in getting the mules to carry the delirious men across the
isthmus(Krick 16). He kept his cool and showed how he could lead men when times got
Grant spent two years on the Pacific coast. He missed Julia and wasn?t there when
his second child was born. He turned again to drink and wore slovenly uniforms. His
colonel asked for his resignation, and Grant borrowed money to return home(Ulysses S.
Julia?s father gave Grant 80 acres to farm, near St. Louis. Grant called the place
Hardscrabble(Ulysses S. Grant2). He cleared the land, built a log cabin, and worked hard
but could not make farming pay. Two more children were born and Grant couldn?t
support his family. Grant sold his stock and implements and turned to selling real estate in
St. Louis. He failed again and walked the streets looking for something to do. Finally his
father persuaded his younger sons to take Grant into their leather business at Galena,
Illinois. Grant worked as a clerk, selling hides to saddle makers and cobbles. When the
Civil War broke out he was 39 years old and was generally regarded as a failure(Ulysses S.
After Fort Sumter was fired on April 12, 1861, President Lincoln issued a call to
arms(The Civil War). Within two weeks Grant was drilling volunteers in Galena, because,
as he said, there was no one else to do the job. He went with the volunteers to Springfield,
Illinois, wearing his threadbare citizen’s clothes(The Civil War).
At Springfield, the governor made him first a clerk, then a mustering officer. When
the gathering was completed Grant left. A few weeks later the governor telegraphed him to
come back and accept the rank of colonel because the men he had recruited had asked for
him. Officers were expected to supply their own uniform and horse, but Grant didn’t have
either one. Still, he enforced discipline on the rough farm youths and in a month had a
trained regiment(The Civil War). He marched his men into Missouri, and in St. Louis he
read in a newspaper that he had been made a brigadier general of volunteers.
Grant reached his headquarters at Cairo, Illinois, September 4, 1861(Ulysses S.
Grant 1). Two days later, without firing a shot, he occupied Paducah, Kentucky. In
November his raw recruits made an unsuccessful attack on a Confederate camp at
Belmont, Missouri. Grant then set to work to prepare his men for a long, hard struggle.
Volunteers poured in until he had nearly 20,000 men(The Civil War).
In February 1862 Grant advanced into Tennessee. With the aid of Commodore
Foote’s gunboats, he captured Fort Henry on the Tennessee River(The Civil War). Then he
moved against the more formidable Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River. While he
was invading this fort, the Confederate general, Simon B. Buckner asked for a truce. This
was the same officer who in had loaned Grant money to rejoin his family in 1858(Ulysses
S. Grant 2). Grant’s answer became famous in American history: “No terms except an
unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately
upon your works”(The Civil War). Buckner surrendered the fort with 14,000 prisoners.
Newspapers in the North were filled with praise of “Unconditional Surrender”(Ulysses S
Grant 2). Lincoln named him a major general.
The objective of the campaign in the West was to cut the Confederacy in two by
winning the Mississippi Valley. The first major success came during1862 in the battle of
Shiloh in southern Tennessee. In two days of desperate fighting, Grant pushed the
Confederate forces back to Corinth in Mississippi(The Civil War).
Losses on both sides were heavy. Grant was severely criticized for his conduct in
this battle because he had failed to anticipate an attack by the enemy, but President Lincoln
said, “I can’t spare this man–he fights”(The Civil War). Grant made no excuses but spent
the rest of 1862 making plans to take Vicksburg, the stronghold on the Mississippi River
that served as a major transportation point for the Confederacy.
Vicksburg was a brilliant operation and showed Grant at his best. The fort
surrendered unconditionally on July 4, 1863, a day after the battle of Gettysburg(The Civil
War). Five days later Port Hudson fell. Grant’s son Frederick, 13 years old, was with him
in the Vicksburg campaign. Fredrick said, “He looked out for himself in every
battle”(Ulysses S. Grant 1).
As a reward for his victory at Vicksburg, Grant was given supreme command of all
the armies in the West(The Civil War). When he returned to Tennessee, he set out to
relieve a Federal army penned up in Chattanooga. The Confederates occupied Lookout
Mountain and Missionary Ridge, those two locations were the only things in the way
approaching the city. On November 24 and 25, the Federal troops stormed the heights, and
the Confederates fled into Georgia(Ulysses S. Grant 2). All Tennessee was now captured,