Ulysses S. GrantOn April 27, 1822 a boy was born to Jesse Root Grant and HannahSimpson Grant in the small town of Point Pleasant, Ohio. They named theirson Hiram Ulysses Grant. In 1823 the family moved to a town nearby calledGeorgetown, Ohio, where Ulysses’ father owned a tannery and somefarmland. Grant had two brothers and three sisters born in Georgetown. Ulysses attended school in Georgetown until he was 14.
He then spentone year at the academy in Maysville, Kentucky, and in 1838, he entered anacademy in nearby Ripely, Ohio. Early in 1839, his father learned that aneighbors son had been dismissed from the U.S. Military Academy. Jesseasked his congressman to appoint Ulysses as a replacement. Thecongressman made a mistake in Grant’s name.
He thought that Ulysses washis first name and his middle name that of his mother’s maiden name. ButUlysses never corrected the mistake.Grant was an average student at West Point. He spent most of his freetime reading novels and little time studying. He ranked high in math and wasvery good at horsemanship. Ulysses did not like the military life and had nointention of making it his career. Instead he considered teaching mathematicsin a college. Grant graduated from West Point in 1843 and was commissioned asecond lieutenant.
He was assigned to the 4th Infantry Regiment stationednear St. Louis. It was there that he met Julia Dent. They fell in love and soonbecame engages. The threat of war with Mexico delayed their weddingplans. In 1847, Grant took part in the capture of Mexico City and won apromotion for his skill and bravery. He reached the rank of 1st Lieutenant bythe end of the war. Grant returned to St.
Louis as soon as he could and onAug. 22, 1848, he was married to Julia Dent. During their marriage, theGrant’s had four children: Frederick, Ulysses S. Jr., Ellen, and Jesse Root Jr.Civil War EraGrant was almost 39 years old when the Civil War began in 1861. Hehad freed his only slave in 1859 and strongly opposed secession.
AfterPresident Abraham Lincoln called for Army volunteers, Grant helped drill acompany that was formed in Galena. Then he went to Springfield, the statecapital, and worked for the Illinois assistant general. Grant asked the federalgovernment for a commission as colonel, but his request was ignored. Twomonths later, Governor Richard Yates appointed him colonel of a regimentthat became the 21st Illinois Volunteers.
Grant led these troops on acampaign against Confederates in Missouri. During two months ofcampaigning, Grant refreshed his memory about handling troops andsupplies. Upon the recommendation of Elihu B. Washburne, an Illinoiscongressman, President Lincoln appointed Grant a brigadier general inAugust 1861. Grant established his headquarters at Cairo, Illinois, in September1861.
He soon learned that Confederate forces planned to seize Paducah,Kentucky. Grant ruined this plan by occupying the city. On Nov. 7, 1861,his troops drove the Confederates from Belmont, Missouri, but the enemyrallied and retook the position.
In January 1862, Grant persuaded hiscommanding officer, General Henry W. Halleck, to allow him to attack FortHenry, on the Tennessee River. As Grant’s army approached Fort Henry,most of the Confederates withdrew. A Union gunboat fleet, sent ahead to aidGrant, captured the fort easily. On his own initiative, Grant then lay siege tonearby Fort Donelson.
When the fort commander asked for terms ofsurrender, Grant replied: “No terms except an unconditional and immediatesurrender can be accepted.” The Confederate commander realized he had nochoice but to accept what he called Grant’s “ungenerous and unchivalrous”demand. Northerners joyfully declared that Grant’s initials, U. S., stood for”Unconditional Surrender.” Grant was promoted to major general. On April6, 1862, the Confederates opened the Battle of Shiloh by launching a surpriseattack on Grant’s forces at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn.
The Union troops barelyheld off the enemy until reinforcements arrived. Persistence brought Grant agreat victory at Vicksburg, Miss. All through the winter of 1862-1863, histroops advanced against this Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River.In May 1863, Grant defeated a Confederate army and then besiegedVicksburg. On July 4, 1863, the Confederates surrendered.
Grant succeeded consistently in the West while Union generals in theEast were failing. Early in 1864, Lincoln promoted Grant to lieutenant generaland put him in command of all Union armies. Grant went to Virginia andbegan a campaign against the forces