Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant
On April 27, 1822 a boy was born to Jesse Root Grant and Hannah
Simpson Grant in the small town of Point Pleasant, Ohio. They named their
son Hiram Ulysses Grant. In 1823 the family moved to a town nearby called
Georgetown, Ohio, where Ulysses’ father owned a tannery and some
farmland. Grant had two brothers and three sisters born in Georgetown.
Ulysses attended school in Georgetown until he was 14. He then spent
one year at the academy in Maysville, Kentucky, and in 1838, he entered an
academy in nearby Ripely, Ohio. Early in 1839, his father learned that a
neighbors son had been dismissed from the U.S. Military Academy. Jesse
asked his congressman to appoint Ulysses as a replacement. The
congressman made a mistake in Grant’s name. He thought that Ulysses was
his first name and his middle name that of his mother’s maiden name. But
Ulysses never corrected the mistake.

Grant was an average student at West Point. He spent most of his free
time reading novels and little time studying. He ranked high in math and was
very good at horsemanship. Ulysses did not like the military life and had no
intention of making it his career. Instead he considered teaching mathematics
in a college.
Grant graduated from West Point in 1843 and was commissioned a
second lieutenant. He was assigned to the 4th Infantry Regiment stationed
near St. Louis. It was there that he met Julia Dent. They fell in love and soon
became engages. The threat of war with Mexico delayed their wedding
In 1847, Grant took part in the capture of Mexico City and won a
promotion for his skill and bravery. He reached the rank of 1st Lieutenant by
the end of the war. Grant returned to St. Louis as soon as he could and on
Aug. 22, 1848, he was married to Julia Dent. During their marriage, the
Grant’s had four children: Frederick, Ulysses S. Jr., Ellen, and Jesse Root Jr.

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Civil War Era
Grant was almost 39 years old when the Civil War began in 1861. He
had freed his only slave in 1859 and strongly opposed secession. After
President Abraham Lincoln called for Army volunteers, Grant helped drill a
company that was formed in Galena. Then he went to Springfield, the state
capital, and worked for the Illinois assistant general. Grant asked the federal
government for a commission as colonel, but his request was ignored. Two
months later, Governor Richard Yates appointed him colonel of a regiment
that became the 21st Illinois Volunteers. Grant led these troops on a
campaign against Confederates in Missouri. During two months of
campaigning, Grant refreshed his memory about handling troops and
supplies. Upon the recommendation of Elihu B. Washburne, an Illinois
congressman, President Lincoln appointed Grant a brigadier general in
August 1861.
Grant established his headquarters at Cairo, Illinois, in September
1861. 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 enemy
rallied and retook the position. In January 1862, Grant persuaded his
commanding officer, General Henry W. Halleck, to allow him to attack Fort
Henry, on the Tennessee River. As Grant’s army approached Fort Henry,
most of the Confederates withdrew. A Union gunboat fleet, sent ahead to aid
Grant, captured the fort easily. On his own initiative, Grant then lay siege to
nearby Fort Donelson. When the fort commander asked for terms of
surrender, Grant replied: “No terms except an unconditional and immediate
surrender can be accepted.” The Confederate commander realized he had no
choice 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 April
6, 1862, the Confederates opened the Battle of Shiloh by launching a surprise
attack on Grant’s forces at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn. The Union troops barely
held off the enemy until reinforcements arrived. Persistence brought Grant a
great victory at Vicksburg, Miss. All through the winter of 1862-1863, his
troops advanced against this Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River.

In May 1863, Grant defeated a Confederate army and then besieged
Vicksburg. On July 4, 1863, the Confederates surrendered.
Grant succeeded consistently in the West while Union generals in the
East were failing. Early in 1864, Lincoln promoted Grant to lieutenant general
and put him in command of all Union armies. Grant went to Virginia and
began a campaign against the forces


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