Ulysses S. Grant


Ulysses S. Grant    1822 - 1885

    18th President of the United States

    U.S. Civil War General

Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885)
Ulysses S. Grant was one of the greatest military generals and the 18th President of the United States. He led the Union forces to victory in the American Civil War.

Ulysses S. Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, on April 27, 1822. His father was named Jesse, and his mother was named Hannah. He had two brothers and three sisters.

Ulysses' Name
Ulysses S. Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant. At Ulysses' birth, his family had not decided on what to name him. Eventually, each member of the family wrote a name on a piece of paper and dropped it into a hat. They drew the name Hiram Ulysses Grant from the hat, and that became his name. He was known as Ulysses to his family and friends.

Ulysses' Boyhood
When Ulysses was a boy, his family moved to Georgetown, Ohio. Ulysses developed a love for horses. At age 10, he was so good at handling horses that people brought horses to Ulysses for him to train. By age 12, he was an excellent horseman. Ulysses also worked in his father's tannery by cutting and delivering wood. Did you know a tannery is a place where hides of animals are turned into leather?

U.S. Military Academy at West Point
Ulysses attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. When Ulysses registered, his name appeared on West Point's records as Ulysses Simpson Grant, rather than Hiram Ulysses Grant. So, Ulysses changed his name to Ulysses Simpson Grant. He was known as U.S. Grant or "Uncle Sam" Grant. His good friends shortened this name and called him Sam.

In 1843, Ulysses graduated from West Point and became a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

The Mexican War
In 1848, the United States fought a war with Mexico. It was called the Mexican War. Ulysses fought in the Mexican War and won two brevets for meritorious conduct at Molino del Rey and Chapultepec.

After the Mexican War, Ulysses served in Michigan, Oregon, and California. Ulysses missed his family. In 1854, he resigned from the U.S. Army and returned to civilian life.

The American Civil War
On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began. The Union Army needed strong and competent leaders to match the brilliant generals of the Confederate Army. Ulysses, then 38 years old, was appointed colonel of the 21st Illinois Volunteers.

"Unconditional Surrender" Grant
In February, 1862, Ulysses led the Union forces to victories at Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee. He earned the nickname "Unconditional Surrender" Grant at Fort Donelson when he stated to the surrendering General, "No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted."

Ulysses also won victories at Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga.

The Battle of Shiloh
On April 6 and 7, 1862, Ulysses led the Army of the Tennessee and the Army of the Ohio to victory against Confederate General Albert S. Johnston's Army of the Mississippi at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee.

Important landmarks and buildings from this battle include Pittsburg Landing, Hornet's Nest, Shiloh Church, and the Bloody Pond.

The Siege of Vicksburg
From May 18 to July 4, 1863, Ulysses led the Army of the Tennessee to victory against Confederate Lieutenant General John Pemberton's army during the Siege of Vicksburg in Mississippi.

Important landmarks and buildings from this siege include the Mississippi River, the Great Redoubt, Fort Hill, and the Shirley House.

From November 23 to 25, 1863, Ulysses led the Armies of the Tennessee, Cumberland, and Potomac to victory against Confederate General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee at the Battle of Chattanooga in Tennessee.

Important landmarks include the Tennessee River, Orchard Knob, Missionary Ridge, and Lookout Mountain.

Did you notice one of Ulysses' Union Armies was called the Army of THE Tennessee, whereas Bragg's Confederate Army was called the Army of Tennessee (without a "the")? Why? Because the Union Army was named after "The Tennessee" as in the Tennessee River, and the Confederate Army was named after "Tennessee" as in the state of Tennessee.

General in Chief
Ulysses was a leader on the battlefield and gained respect from his men. His aggressive tactics stood out above those of the other cautious Union Generals. In 1864, Ulysses was promoted to Lieutenant General and appointed General in Chief of the Armies of the United States.

Appomattox Court House
In April, 1865, Ulysses' Union Army was closing in on Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army in Virginia. The Confederate forces stayed one town in front of Union's forces from Petersburg to Appomattox Court House. The Confederate troops were hungry and tired, and Lee knew his Army could not continue.

On April 9, 1865, Ulysses and Robert E. Lee met at Appomattox Court House. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses in the front parlor of the McLean House in Appomattox Court House. This surrender ended the American Civil War and united the country.

Ulysses was known as "Unconditional Surrender" Grant at the beginning of the Civil War. But now Ulysses offered lenient terms to the Confederate soldiers who would once again be his countrymen. The officers and the soldiers of the Confederate Army were allowed to go home. The officers were allowed to keep their swords, and the soldiers were allowed to keep their horses.

Four Star General
In 1866, Ulysses was promoted to a Four Star General. This was a new rank in the military, and Ulysses was the first person promoted to a Four Star General. Ulysses was head of the U.S. Army. From 1867 to 1868, he served as Secretary of War under President Johnson.

Ulysses becomes President
After the Civil War, Ulysses became the 18th President of the United States. He went from Brigadier General to Lieutenant General to President in just eight years. He is the only person to have risen to that high of a position in that short of time. Ulysses served two terms as U.S. President from 1869 to 1877.

Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant
During his life, Ulysses saved the Union, served two terms as President, and traveled around the world. He told about these experiences in his autobiography called Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant.

Ulysses finished writing the book two days before he died. His autobiography has become an American classic and is considered one of the greatest autobiographies in the English language.

Remembering Ulysses
Ulysses died on July 23, 1885, in Mount McGregor, New York. He was 63 years old.

A train carried Ulysses' body from upstate New York to New York City. While the train passed West Point, the Corps of Cadets stood at attention and presented arms in a salute to Ulysses. The cadet captain was John J. Pershing. Pershing would become the commander of all the American forces in World War I.

Ulysses' funeral procession passed through the streets of New York City for seven miles. President Grover Cleveland led the procession. One million people lined the route and said good-bye to Ulysses.

Ulysses is buried at Grant's Tomb in New York City. Grant's Tomb is the largest burial vault in America. It is located in Riverside Park overlooking the Hudson River. On the front of the tomb Ulysses' words, "Let us have peace," are carved over the entrance. In 1959, the National Park Service took over the operation of Grant's Tomb. It is called the General Grant National Memorial and is still known as Grant's Tomb.

Remembering Ulysses
Ulysses is pictured on the United States currency. His picture is on the front of the fifty dollar bill, and the U.S. Capitol is on the back. There was also a Grant Centennial half-dollar coin to commemorate Ulysses.

Ulysses is honored at the Grant Memorial located on the west side of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. There is a statue of Ulysses riding his favorite horse, Cincinnati. It faces west towards the Lincoln Memorial.

Ulysses is also remembered in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California. These parks are home to the giant sequoias which are the largest living things on earth. A grove within Kings Canyon is called Grant Grove and contains a tree named after Ulysses. It is called The General Grant Tree. The General Grant Tree is The Nation's Christmas Tree and a living National Shrine in memory of Americans who have died in war.

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©  2009 D. K. Malowney