|Grant, Ulysses Simpson|
|April 27, 1822
Point Pleasant, Ohio
|July 23, 1885
Mount McGregor, NY
|Colonel / Brigadier General /Major General / Lieutenant General / General of the Army|
At the age of 17, Grant went to West Point in 1839. His U.S. Congressman, Thomas L. Hamer erroneously nominated him as Ulysses Simpson Grant, and although he protested the change, it was difficult to resist the bureaucracy. Upon graduation, Grant adopted the form of his new name with middle initial only, never acknowledging that the "S" stood for Simpson. He graduated from West Point in 1843, ranked 21st out of 39 in his class. At the academy, he established a reputation as a fearless and expert horseman. He drank distilled liquor and smoked huge numbers of cigars which may have contributed to his throat cancer of later life.
Grant married Julia Boggs Dent (1826–1902) on August 22, 1848. They had 4 children: Frederick Dent Grant, Ulysses S. (Buck) Grant, Jr., Ellen (Nellie) Grant, and Jesse Root Grant.
Posted to the 4th Infantry, since there were no vacancies in the Dragoons, Grant served as regimental quartermaster during most of the Mexican War. He served in the Mexican War under Gens. Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, taking part in the battles of Resaca de la Palma, Palo Alto, Monterrey, and Veracruz. He was twice brevetted for bravery: at Molino del Rey and Chapultepec.
After the Mexican War ended in 1848, he remained in the army until resigning on July 31, 1854. Seven years of civilian life followed, in which he was a farmer, a real estate agent in St. Louis, and finally an assistant in the leather shop owned by his father and brother in Galena, Illinois.
He came to greatly admire his chief but was transferred with his regiment to Gen. Winfield Scott's army operating from the coast. He received brevets for Molino del Rey and Chapultepec. With the resumption of peace, he was for a time stationed in Mexico, and then was posted to the West coast. Separated from his wife, he tried numerous business ventures to raise enough capital to bring her to the coast but proved singularly unsuccessful. On July 31, 1854, he resigned his captaincy amid rumors of heavy drinking and warnings of possible disciplinary action by his post commander.
His return to civilian life proved unsuccessful. Farming on his father-inlaw's land was a failure, as was the real estate business and attempts to gain engineering and clerk posts in St. Louis. He finally became a clerk in a family leather goods store in Galena, which was run by his 2 younger brothers. Before he had been there long, the Civil War broke out. Offering his services to the War Department and to Gen. George B. McClellan in Ohio, he met with no success in gaining an appointment. After organizing and mustering state volunteers and with the aid of local Congressman Elihu B. Washburne, he got his second military career off to a start.
When Kentucky's fragile neutrality was falling apart, Grant moved quickly from his Cairo, Illinois base to take Paducah, Kentucky at the mouth of the Tennessee River. His subsequent action at Belmont turned into a defeat following early success. In a joint operation with the navy, his land forces arrived too late to take part in the capture of Fort Henry, but at nearby Fort Donelson, a major engagement was fought by the ground forces, defeating a Confederate breakout attempt. When asked for terms, his reply earned him the nickname "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. He got in hot water with his superior, Henry W. Halleck, over reports not being filed and his unauthorized trip to Nashville. Ordered to remain at Fort Henry while his forces advanced up the Tennessee, he was restored to field command upon the injury of Gen. Charles F. Smith.
In early April 1862, he was surprised by Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston at Shiloh. The sheer violence of the Confederate attack sent the Union forces reeling. Nevertheless, Grant refused to retreat. With grim determination, he stabilized his line. Then, on the second day, with the help of timely reinforcements, Grant counterattacked, turning a serious reverse into a victory.
Despite Shiloh being a Union victory, it came at a high price, with over 23,000 casualties. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, Grant's theater commander, was unhappy by his being surprised and the disorganised nature of the fighting. In response, Halleck took command of the Army in the field himself. Removed from planning strategy, he decided to resign. Only by the intervention of his subordinate and good friend, Major Gen. William T. Sherman, did he remain. When Halleck was promoted to general-in-chief of the Union Army, he resumed his position as commander of the Army of the Tennessee.
Again in trouble with Halleck, he was demoted to second-in-command of Halleck's field army in the slow advance on Corinth, Mississippi. Subsequently restored to command, he was thwarted in his attempt to reach Vicksburg by following the railroads through central Mississippi when his supply base at Holly Spring was destroyed by Confederate cavalry. In the spring of 1863, Grant launched his real plan for taking the city. The resulting operation is considered one of the most masterful in military history. He marched his troops down the west bank of the Mississippi and crossed the river by using the U.S. Navy ships that had run the guns at Vicksburg. There, he moved inland and, in a daring move, defying conventional military principles, cut loose from most of his supply lines. Operating in Confederate territory, he moved swiftly, never giving the Confederates, under the command of Gen. John C. Pemberton, an opportunity to concentrate their forces against him. he shifted his troops south of the city and advanced on Jackson to defeat Gen. Joseph E. Johnston before scoring 2 victories over Lieutenant Col. John C. Pemberton at Champion's Hill and Big Black River Bridge - and finally besieging Vicksburg. Ahter he had severed the rail line to Vicksburg.
After Grant had severed the rail line to Vicksburg he knew that the Confederates could no longer send reinforcements to the Vicksburg garrison. The defeated Confederates retreated inside their fortifications at Vicksburg, and Grant promptly surrounded the city. Finding that assaults against the impregnable breastworks were futile, he settled in for a 6-week siege. Cut off and with no possibility of relief, Pemberton surrendered to Grant on July 4, 1863. It was a devastating defeat for the Southern cause, effectively splitting the Confederacy in two, and, in conjunction with the Union victory at Gettysburg the previous day, is widely considered the turning point of the war. It was the second time Grant captured a Confederate army in its entirety. With the July 4, 1863, capture of the city, he was awarded a major generalcy in the regular army. His return was complete.
After some minor operations in Mississippi, he was given charge of all the armies in the West and raised the siege of Chattanooga at Orchard Knob, Missionary Ridge, and Lookout Mountain, Next, he sent Sherman to end the Confederate's Knoxville Campaign . That winter, he was appointed to the re-created grade of lieutenant general and given command of all the Union armies. He also received the thanks of Congress.
Making his headquarters with Major Gen. George G. Meade's Army of the Potomac, he hammered away at Lee in his Overland Campaign. Despite heavy losses at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor, Grant kept going. His attack at the latter was one of two movements he wished he had never ordered, the other was the first attack on Vicksburg. Swinging south of Richmond, he besieged Petersburg and after a 10-month siege took both cities. At the beginning of April 1865, Grant's relentless pressure finally forced Gen. Robert E. Lee to evacuate Richmond and after a 9-day retreat, Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. There, Grant offered generous terms that did much to ease the tensions between the armies and preserve some semblance of Southern pride, which would be needed to reconcile the warring sides. Within a few weeks, the Civil War was effectively over, although minor actions would continue until Gen. E. Kirby Smith surrendered his forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department on June 2, 1865. Meanwhile, the other armies under his direction had torn the Confederacy apart. Immediately after Lee's surrender, Grant had the sad honor of serving as a pallbearer at the funeral of his greatest champion, Abraham Lincoln.
After the war, Congress authorized Grant the newly created rank of General of the Army. He was appointed as such by President Andrew Johnson on July 25, 1866. He oversaw the military portion of Reconstruction and the reduction of the army. During Andrew Johnson's fight with the Radical Republicans in Congress, Grant was in an awkward position. He was ordered to replace the suspended Edwin M. Stanton as secretary of war, in violation of the Tenure of Office Act. He weathered the storm and became the party's nominee for president in 1868.
Grant was the 18th President of the United States and served two terms from March 4, 1869, to March 4, 1877. In the general election that year, he won with a majority of 3,012,833 out of a total of 5,716,082 votes cast. He served 2 terms during (March 4, 1869 - March 4, 1877) which there were many scandals, especially in relation to the Whiskey Tax and the appointment of Indian agents. Despite his interest in creating a peace with the Indians, Custer's Massacre occurred during his tenure. Also the freedmen lost much ground during his term, as the white supremacists regained control in the Southern states.
Thwarted for a third term, he embarked on a 2-year tour around the world, which took on the appearance of a political campaign. Denied renomination in 1880, he was involved in a number of unsuccessful ventures, the worst of which-in the brokerage firm of Grant & Ward-wiped him out.
Grant wrote his excellent "Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant," while dying of cancer of the throat. His family realized profits of almost $450,000. Shortly before his death, he had been placed on the retired list with the rank of general in order to ease his financial situation.
Grant died at 8:06 A.M. on Thursday, July 23, 1885. His body lies in a mausoleum on the Riverside Drive in New York City, beside that of his wife, in Grant's Tomb, the largest mausoleum in North America.
Although Grant was a successful general, he is considered by historians to be one of America's least successful presidents, who led an administration plagued by scandal and corruption. They agree that Grant was not personally corrupt, it was his subordinates in the executive branch who were at fault. He is instead mostly criticized for not taking a strong stance against the corruption, and not acting to stop it. More recent treatments have emphasized the accomplishments of his administration, including his struggle to preserve Reconstruction. His support for the legal rights of blacks to vote and hold public office were unpopular at the time, but have gained him more respect in modern times.