Ulysses S Grant


"Grant: a biography" by William S. McFeely.
Published by: Norton,Ww
Copyright 1981

Ulysses Simpson Grant, (1822-1885), American general and 18th President of the United States. Grant, the most capable of the Union generals during the Civil War, was a master strategist. He won the first major Union victories. President Abraham Lincoln staunchly defended him against critics and promoted him to command all Union forces. Grant accepted Gen. Robert E. Lee\'s surrender at Appomattox Court House. However, Grant had no disposition for political leadership, and as president (1869-1877) he scarcely attempted to control events. He made injudicious appointments to public office, and official corruption tainted his administration, although Grant himself was not involved in the peculations.
Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, on April 27, 1822, and baptized Hiram Ulysses. The eldest son of Jesse Root Grant and Hannah Simpson Grant, he came from a family that, he proudly declared, had been American "for generations, in all its branches, direct and collateral." In 1823 his father moved his tanning business to Georgetown, Ohio, where "Lyss" spent his boyhood. His education at a grammar school in Georgetown, at Maysville Seminary in Maysville, Ky., and at the Presbyterian Academy of Ripley, Ohio, was superficial and repetitious, and the boy showed no scholarly bent. He became noted, however, for his sturdy self-reliance and for his ability to ride and control even the wildest horses.
In 1839, Jesse Grant secured for his son an appointment to the U. S. Military Academy. When he arrived at West Point he learned that he was on the muster roll as Ulysses Simpson Grant, through an error of the congressman who had nominated him. Finding it impossible to change this official listing, Grant accepted the inevitable and dropped Hiram from his name.
"A military life had no charms for me," Grant said later, and his only purpose at the academy was "to get through the course, secure a detail for a few years as assistant professor of mathematics at the Academy, and afterwards obtain a permanent position as professor at some respectable college." Understandably, his West Point record was not spectacular. In 1843 he graduated in the middle of his class (21st in a class of 39), was commissioned brevet 2d lieutenant, assigned to the 4th U. S. Infantry, and sent to Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, Mo. There he began to learn his army duties and, even more important, met his future wife, Julia Dent, sister of a West Point classmate. The orders that sent Grant\'s regiment to the Southwest frontier in May 1844 temporarily interrupted his romance.
Grant served with distinction in the Mexican War (1846-1848), a conflict that he privately deplored as an unjust war to extend slavery. Promoted on Sept. 20, 1845, to full 2d lieutenant, he took part in the battles of Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, and Monterrey. Grant\'s commanding general in all these engagements was "Old Rough and Ready," Gen. Zachary Taylor, whose informal dress and lack of military pretension he was to copy in later years. In 1847, Grant\'s regiment was transferred to the army of Gen. Winfield Scott, and he participated in all the battles that led to the capitulation of Mexico City: Veracruz, Cerro Gordo, Contreras, Churubusco, Molino del Rey, where he was made 1st lieutenant for his bravery, and Chapultepec, where he was brevetted captain. Besides teaching Grant the practical lessons of warfare, the Mexican conflict gave him a personal acquaintance with most of the men who were later to command the Confederate armies.
After the Mexicans surrendered, the American military establishment was drastically curtailed, and Grant was assigned to routine garrison duty. His four years at Sackets Harbor, N. Y., and Detroit, Mich., were pleasant, because Julia, whom he had married on Aug. 22, 1848, was with him. But in 1852, when the regiment was transferred to Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River, his wife and young family had to be left at home. Grant\'s next two years, spent in barracks life on the West Coast, were the most miserable in his career. His duties were dull and routine; his superior officer, Col. Robert Buchanan, rode him hard; his income was inadequate, and efforts to increase it by farming and cattle raising were unsuccessful. Most of all, he missed