Ulysses S. Grant
Union general, politician and 18th President of the United States (1822–1885)
Top 10 Ulysses S. Grant related articles
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Early military career and personal life
- 3 Civilian struggles, slavery, and politics
- 4 Civil War
- 4.1 Early commands
- 4.2 Belmont (1861), Forts Henry and Donelson (1862)
- 4.3 Shiloh (1862) and aftermath
- 4.4 Vicksburg campaign (1862–1863)
- 4.5 Chattanooga (1863) and promotion
- 4.6 Overland Campaign (1864)
- 4.7 Siege of Petersburg (1864–1865)
- 4.8 Appomattox campaign (1865), and victory
- 4.9 Lincoln's assassination
- 5 Commanding General
- 6 Presidency (1869–1877)
- 6.1 Reconstruction and civil rights
- 6.2 Native American policy
- 6.3 Foreign affairs
- 6.4 Gold standard and conspiracy
- 6.5 Election of 1872 and second term
- 6.6 Panic of 1873 and loss of Congress
- 6.7 Scandals and reforms
- 6.8 Election of 1876
- 7 Post-presidency (1877–1885)
- 8 Historical reputation
- 9 Memorials and presidential library
- 10 Dates of rank
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 Bibliography
- 15 External links
Ulysses S. Grant
|18th President of the United States|
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
|Preceded by||Andrew Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Rutherford B. Hayes|
|Commanding General of the U.S. Army|
March 9, 1864 – March 4, 1869
|Preceded by||Henry W. Halleck|
|Succeeded by||William Tecumseh Sherman|
|Acting United States Secretary of War|
August 12, 1867 – January 14, 1868
|Preceded by||Edwin Stanton|
|Succeeded by||Edwin Stanton|
Hiram Ulysses Grant
April 27, 1822
Point Pleasant, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||July 23, 1885 (aged 63)|
Wilton, New York, U.S.
|Cause of death||Throat cancer|
|Resting place||Grant's Tomb, New York City|
|Education||United States Military Academy (BS)|
|Branch/service||U.S. Army (Union Army)|
|Years of service|
18th President of the United States
Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant; / / HY-rəm yoo-LIS-eez; April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was an American military leader who served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. As president, Grant was an effective civil rights executive who created the Justice Department and worked with the Radical Republicans during Reconstruction to protect African Americans. As Commanding General, he led the Union Army to victory in the American Civil War in 1865 and thereafter briefly served as Secretary of War.
Raised in Ohio, Grant possessed an exceptional ability with horses, which served him well through his military career. He was admitted to West Point, graduated 21st in the class of 1843 and served with distinction in the Mexican–American War. In 1848, he married Julia Dent, and together they had four children. Grant abruptly resigned his army commission in 1854 and returned to his family, but lived in poverty for seven years. He joined the Union Army after the Civil War broke out in 1861 and rose to prominence after winning several early Union victories on the Western Theater. In 1863 he led the Vicksburg campaign, which gained control of the Mississippi River. President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to lieutenant general after his victory at Chattanooga. For thirteen months, Grant fought Robert E. Lee during the high-casualty Overland Campaign and at Petersburg. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. A week later, Lincoln was assassinated and was succeeded by President Andrew Johnson, who promoted Grant to General of the Army in 1866. Later Grant openly broke with Johnson over Reconstruction policies; Grant used the Reconstruction Acts, which had been passed over Johnson's veto, to enforce civil rights for recently freed African Americans.
A war hero, drawn in by his sense of duty, Grant was unanimously nominated by the Republican Party and was elected president in 1868. As president, Grant stabilized the post-war national economy, supported ratification of the 15th Amendment, and crushed the Ku Klux Klan. He appointed African Americans and Jewish Americans to prominent federal offices. In 1871, to help reduce federal patronage, Grant created the first Civil Service Commission. The Liberal Republicans and Democrats united behind Grant's opponent in the presidential election of 1872, but Grant was handily re-elected. Grant's Native American policy was to assimilate Indians into the White culture; the Great Sioux War was fought during his term. In Grant's foreign policy, the Alabama claims against Great Britain was peacefully resolved, but his prized Caribbean Dominican Republic annexation was rejected by the Senate. Grant's responses to federal corruption charges were mixed, at times defending culprits, but Grant also appointed cabinet reformers, for example, for the prosecution of the Whiskey Ring. The Panic of 1873 plunged the nation into a severe economic depression that allowed the Democrats to win the House majority. In the intensely disputed presidential election of 1876, Grant facilitated the approval by Congress of a peaceful compromise.
In his retirement, Grant was the first president to circumnavigate the world on his tour, meeting with many foreign leaders. In 1880, Grant was unsuccessful in obtaining the Republican presidential nomination for a third term. In the final year of his life, facing severe financial reversals and dying of throat cancer, he wrote his memoirs, which proved to be a major critical and financial success. At the time of his death, he was memorialized as a symbol of national unity. Militarily evaluated, Grant was a modern general and "a skillful leader who had a natural grasp of tactics and strategy." Historical assessments of Grant's presidency have improved over time. Grant was ranked 38th in 1994 and 1996 but ranked 21st in 2018. Although critical of scandals and Grant's loyal defense of culprits, modern historians have emphasized Grant's two-term presidential accomplishments. These included Grant's protection of African American civil rights, prosecution of the Klan, innovative Native American policy, and the settlement of the Alabama claims.
Ulysses S. Grant Intro articles: 53
Early life and education
Hiram Ulysses Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, on April 27, 1822, to Jesse Root Grant, a tanner and merchant, and Hannah Simpson Grant. His ancestors Matthew and Priscilla Grant arrived aboard the ship Mary and John at Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. Grant's great-grandfather fought in the French and Indian War, and his grandfather, Noah, served in the American Revolution at Bunker Hill. Afterward, Noah settled in Pennsylvania and married Rachel Kelley, the daughter of an Irish pioneer. Their son Jesse (Ulysses's father) was a Whig Party supporter and a fervent abolitionist. Jesse Grant moved to Point Pleasant in 1820 and found work as a foreman in a tannery. He soon met his future wife, Hannah, and the two were married on June 24, 1821. Hannah descended from Presbyterian immigrants from Ballygawley in County Tyrone, Ireland. Ten months after she was married, Hannah gave birth to Ulysses, her and Jesse's first child. The boy's name, Ulysses, was drawn from ballots placed in a hat. To honor his father-in-law, Jesse declared the boy named Hiram Ulysses, though he would always refer to him as Ulysses.[b]
In 1823, the family moved to Georgetown, Ohio, where five more siblings were born: Simpson, Clara, Orvil, Jennie, and Mary. At the age of five, Ulysses began his formal education, starting at a subscription school and later in two private schools. In the winter of 1836–1837, Grant was a student at Maysville Seminary, and in the autumn of 1838, he attended John Rankin's academy. In his youth, Grant developed an unusual ability to ride and manage horses. Grant disliked the tannery, so his father put his ability with horses to use by giving him work driving wagon loads of supplies and transporting people. Unlike his siblings, Grant was not forced to attend church by his Methodist parents.[c] For the rest of his life, he prayed privately and never officially joined any denomination. To others, including his own son, Grant appeared to be an agnostic. He inherited some of Hannah's Methodist piety and quiet nature. Grant was largely apolitical before the war but wrote, "If I had ever had any political sympathies they would have been with the Whigs. I was raised in that school."
Ulysses S. Grant Early life and education articles: 22
Early military career and personal life
West Point and first assignment
Grant's father wrote to Representative Thomas L. Hamer requesting that he nominate Ulysses to the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York. Despite political differences with Jesse Root Grant, Hamer, a Democrat, nominated his 17-year-old son to West Point in spring 1839. Grant was accepted on July 1, although he doubted his academic abilities. Hamer, unfamiliar with Grant, submitted an incorrect name to West Point. On September 14 Grant was enlisted Cadet "U.S. Grant" at the national academy.[d] His nickname at West Point became "Sam" among army colleagues since the initials "U.S." also stood for "Uncle Sam".[e]
Initially, Grant was indifferent to military life, but within a year he reexamined his desire to leave the academy and later wrote that "on the whole I like this place very much". While at the Academy, his greatest interest was horses, and he earned a reputation as the "most proficient" horseman. During the graduation ceremony, while riding York, a large and powerful horse that only Grant could manage, he set a high-jump record that stood for 25 years.[f] Seeking relief from military routine, he studied under Romantic artist Robert Walter Weir, producing nine surviving artworks. He spent more time reading books from the library than his academic texts, including works by James Fenimore Cooper and others. On Sundays, cadets were required to march to and attend services at the academy's church, a requirement that Grant disliked. Quiet by nature, Grant established a few intimate friends among fellow cadets, including Frederick Tracy Dent and James Longstreet. He was inspired both by the Commandant, Captain Charles F. Smith and by General Winfield Scott, who visited the academy to review the cadets. Grant later wrote of the military life, "there is much to dislike, but more to like."
Grant graduated on June 30, 1843, ranked 21st out of 39 in his class and was promoted the next day to the rank brevet second lieutenant. Small for his age at 17, he had entered the academy weighing only 117 pounds (53 kg) at 5 feet 2 inches (1.57 m) tall; upon graduation four years later he had grown to a height of 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 m). Grant planned to resign his commission after his four-year term of duty. He would later write to a friend that among the happiest days of his life were the day he left the presidency and the day he left the academy. Despite his excellent horsemanship, he was not assigned to the cavalry, but to the 4th Infantry Regiment. Grant's first assignment took him to the Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. Lt. Col. Robert C. Buchanan fined Grant wine bottles for Grant's late returns from White Haven. Commanded by Colonel Stephen W. Kearny, the barracks was the nation's largest military base in the West. Grant was happy with his new commander but looked forward to the end of his military service and a possible teaching career.
Marriage and family
In Missouri, Grant visited Dent's family and became engaged to his sister, Julia, in 1844. Four years later on August 22, 1848, they were married at Julia's home in St. Louis. Grant's abolitionist father disapproved of the Dents' owning slaves, and neither of Grant's parents attended the wedding. Grant was flanked by three fellow West Point graduates, all dressed in their blue uniforms, including Longstreet, Julia's cousin.[g] At the end of the month, Julia was warmly received by Grant's family in Bethel, Ohio. They had four children: Frederick, Ulysses Jr. ("Buck"), Ellen ("Nellie"), and Jesse. After the wedding, Grant obtained a two-month extension to his leave and returned to St. Louis when he decided, with a wife to support, that he would remain in the army.
After rising tensions with Mexico following the United States annexation of Texas, war broke out in 1846. During the conflict, Grant distinguished himself as a daring and competent soldier. Before the war President John Tyler had ordered Grant's unit to Louisiana as part of the Army of Observation under Major General Zachary Taylor. In September 1846, Tyler's successor, James K. Polk, unable to provoke Mexico into war at Corpus Christi, Texas, ordered Taylor to march 150 miles south to the Rio Grande. Marching south to Fort Texas, to prevent a Mexican siege, Grant experienced combat for the first time on May 8, 1846, at the Battle of Palo Alto.
Grant served as regimental quartermaster, but yearned for a combat role; when finally allowed, he led a charge at the Battle of Resaca de la Palma. He demonstrated his equestrian ability at the Battle of Monterrey by volunteering to carry a dispatch past snipers, where he hung off the side of his horse, keeping the animal between him and the enemy. Before leaving the city he assured some wounded Americans he would send for help. Polk, wary of Taylor's growing popularity, divided his forces, sending some troops (including Grant's unit) to form a new army under Major General Winfield Scott. Traveling by sea, Scott's army landed at Veracruz and advanced toward Mexico City. The army met the Mexican forces at the battles of Molino del Rey and Chapultepec outside Mexico City. For his bravery at Molino del Rey, Grant was brevetted first lieutenant on September 30. At San Cosmé, Grant directed his men to drag a disassembled howitzer into a church steeple, then reassembled it and bombarded nearby Mexican troops. His bravery and initiative earned him his brevet promotion to captain. On September 14, 1847, Scott's army marched into the city; Mexico ceded the vast territory, including California, to the U.S. on February 2, 1848.
During the war, Grant established a commendable record, studied the tactics and strategies of Scott and Taylor, and emerged as a seasoned officer, writing in his memoirs that this is how he learned much about military leadership. In retrospect, although he respected Scott, he identified his leadership style with Taylor's. However, Grant also wrote that the Mexican war was morally unjust and that the territorial gains were designed to expand slavery, stating, "I was bitterly opposed to the measure ... and to this day, regard the war which resulted as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation." He opined that the Civil War was divine punishment on the U.S. for its aggression against Mexico. During the war, Grant discovered his "moral courage" and began to consider a career in the army.
Historians increasingly have pointed to the importance of Grant's experience as an assistant quartermaster during the war. Although he was initially averse to the position, it prepared Grant in understanding military supply routes, transportation systems, and logistics, particularly with regard to "provisioning a large, mobile army operating in hostile territory," according to biographer Ronald White. Grant came to recognize how wars could be won or lost by crucial factors that lay beyond the tactical battlefield. Serving as assistant quartermaster made Grant a complete soldier, and learning how to supply an entire army gave Grant the training to sustain large armies.[h]
Post-war assignments and resignation
Grant's first post-war assignments took him and Julia to Detroit on November 17, 1848, but he was soon transferred to Madison Barracks, a desolate outpost in upstate New York, in bad need of supplies and repair. After four months, Grant was sent back to his quartermaster job in Detroit. When the discovery of gold in California brought droves of prospectors and settlers to the territory, Grant and the 4th infantry were ordered to reinforce the small garrison there. Grant was charged with bringing the soldiers and a few hundred civilians from New York City to Panama, overland to the Pacific and then north to California. Julia, eight months pregnant with Ulysses Jr., did not accompany him. While Grant was in Panama, a cholera epidemic broke out and claimed the lives of many soldiers, civilians, and children. Grant established and organized a field hospital in Panama City, and moved the worst cases to a hospital barge one mile offshore. When orderlies protested having to attend to the sick, Grant did much of the nursing himself, earning high praise from observers. In August, Grant arrived in San Francisco. His next assignment sent him north to Vancouver Barracks in the Oregon Territory.
Grant tried several business ventures but failed, and in one instance his business partner absconded with $800 of Grant's investment. Concerning local Indians, Grant assured Julia, by letter, they were harmless, and he developed empathy for their plight. Grant witnessed white agents cheating Indians of their supplies, and the devastation of smallpox and measles, transferred by white settlers.
Promoted to captain on August 5, 1853, Grant was assigned to command Company F, 4th Infantry, at the newly constructed Fort Humboldt in California. Grant arrived at Fort Humboldt on January 5, 1854, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Robert C. Buchanan, a martinet officer, with whom Grant had earlier crossed paths at Jefferson Barracks. Separated from his wife and family, Grant began to drink. Colonel Buchanan reprimanded Grant for one drinking episode and told Grant to "resign or reform." Grant told Buchanan he would "resign if I don't reform." On Sunday, Grant was found influenced by alcohol, but not incapacitated, at his company's paytable. Keeping his pledge to Buchanan, Grant resigned, effective July 31, 1854. Buchanan endorsed Grant's letter of resignation but did not submit any report that verified the incident.[i] Grant did not face court-martial, and the War Department said: "Nothing stands against his good name." Grant said years later, "the vice of intemperance (drunkenness) had not a little to do with my decision to resign." With no means of support, Grant returned to St. Louis and reunited with his family, uncertain about his future.
Ulysses S. Grant Early military career and personal life articles: 57
Civilian struggles, slavery, and politics
In 1854, at age 32, Grant entered civilian life, without any money-making vocation, to support his growing family. It was the beginning of seven years of financial struggles, poverty, and instability. Grant's father offered him a place in the Galena, Illinois, branch of the family's leather business, but demanded Julia and the children stay in Missouri, with the Dents, or with the Grants in Kentucky. Grant and Julia declined the offer. Grant farmed (for the next four years), using Julia's slave Dan, on his brother-in-law's property, Wish-ton-wish, near St. Louis. The farm was not successful and to earn an alternate living he sold firewood on St. Louis street corners.
In 1856, the Grants moved to land on Julia's father's farm, and built a home called "Hardscrabble" on Grant's Farm. Julia described the rustic house as an "unattractive cabin", but made the dwelling as homelike as possible with the family's keepsakes and other belongings. Grant's family had little money, clothes, and furniture, but always had enough food. During the Panic of 1857, which devastated Grant as it did many farmers, Grant had to pawn his gold watch in order to buy Christmas gifts for his family. In 1858, Grant rented out Hardscrabble and moved his family to Julia's father's 850-acre plantation. That fall, after suffering from malaria, Grant finally gave up farming.
The same year, Grant acquired a slave from his father-in-law, a thirty-five-year-old man named William Jones. Although Grant was not an abolitionist, he was not considered a "slavery man", and could not bring himself to force a slave to do work. In March 1859, Grant freed William by a manumission deed, potentially worth at least $1,000, when Grant needed the money.[j] Grant moved to St. Louis, taking on a partnership with Julia's cousin Harry Boggs working in the real estate business as a bill collector, again without success and with Julia's prompting ended the partnership. In August, Grant applied for a position as county engineer, believing his education qualified him for the job. He had thirty-five notable recommendations, but the position was given on the basis of political affiliation and Grant was passed over by the Free Soil and Republican county commissioners because he was believed to share his father-in-law's Democratic sentiments. In the 1856 presidential election, Grant cast his first presidential vote for Democrat James Buchanan, later saying he was really voting against Republican John C. Frémont over concern that his anti-slavery position would lead to southern secession and war and because he considered Frémont to be a shameless self-promoter.
In April 1860, Grant and his family moved north to Galena, accepting a position in his father's leather goods business run by his younger brothers Simpson and Orvil.[k] In a few months, Grant paid off his debts. The family attended the local Methodist church and he soon established himself as a reputable citizen of Galena. For the 1860 election, he could not vote because he was not yet a legal resident of Illinois, but he favored Democrat Stephen A. Douglas over the eventual winner, Abraham Lincoln, and Lincoln over the Southern Democrat, John C. Breckinridge. He was torn between his increasingly anti-slavery views and the fact that his wife remained a staunch Democrat.
Ulysses S. Grant Civilian struggles, slavery, and politics articles: 16
On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began when Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The news came as a shock in Galena, and Grant shared his neighbors' concern about the war. On April 15, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers. The next day, Grant attended a mass meeting to assess the crisis and encourage recruitment, and a speech by his father's attorney, John Aaron Rawlins, stirred Grant's patriotism.[l] Ready to fight, Grant recalled with satisfaction, "I never went into our leather store again."[m] On April 18, Grant chaired a second recruitment meeting, but turned down a captain's position as commander of the newly-formed militia company, hoping his previous experience would aid him to obtain a more senior military rank.
Grant's early efforts to be recommissioned were rejected by Major General George B. McClellan and Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon. On April 29, supported by Congressman Elihu B. Washburne of Illinois, Grant was appointed military aide to Governor Richard Yates and mustered ten regiments into the Illinois militia. On June 14, again aided by Washburne, Grant was promoted to Colonel and put in charge of the unruly 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which he soon restored to good order and discipline. Colonel Grant and his 21st Regiment were transferred to Missouri to dislodge Confederate forces.
On August 5, with Washburne's aid, Grant was appointed Brigadier General of volunteers. Major General John C. Frémont, Union commander of the West, passed over senior generals and appointed Grant commander of the District of Southeastern Missouri.[n] On September 2, Grant arrived at Cairo, Illinois, assumed command by replacing Colonel Oglesby, and set up his headquarters to plan a campaign down the Mississippi, and up the Tennessee, and Cumberland rivers. After the Confederates moved into western Kentucky, taking Columbus, with designs on southern Illinois, Grant, after notifying Frémont, and without waiting further for his reply, strategically advanced on Paducah, Kentucky, taking it without a fight on September 6. Having understood the importance to Lincoln about Kentucky's neutrality, Grant assured its citizens, "I have come among you not as your enemy, but as your friend." On November 1, Frémont ordered Grant to "make demonstrations" against the Confederates on both sides of the Mississippi, but prohibited him from attacking the enemy.
Belmont (1861), Forts Henry and Donelson (1862)
On November 2, 1861, Lincoln removed Frémont from command, freeing Grant to attack Confederate soldiers encamped in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. On November 5, Grant, along with Brigadier General John A. McClernand, landed 2,500 men at Hunter's Point, and on November 7 engaged the Confederates at the Battle of Belmont. The Union army took the camp, but the reinforced Confederates under Brigadier Generals Frank Cheatham and Gideon J. Pillow forced a chaotic Union retreat.  Grant had wanted to destroy Confederate strongholds at both Belmont, Missouri and Columbus, Kentucky, but was not given enough troops and was only able to disrupt their positions. Grant's troops fought their way back to their Union boats and escaped back to Cairo under fire from the fortified stronghold at Columbus.  Although Grant and his army retreated, the battle gave his volunteers much-needed confidence and experience. It also showed Lincoln that Grant was a general willing to fight.
Columbus blocked Union access to the lower Mississippi. Grant and General James B. McPherson planned to bypass Columbus and with a force of 25,000 troops, move against Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. They would then march ten miles east to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River, with the aid of gunboats, opening both rivers and allowing the Union access further south. Grant presented his plan to Henry Halleck, his new commander in the newly created Department of Missouri. Halleck was considering the same strategy, but rebuffed Grant, believing he needed twice the number of troops. However, after Halleck telegraphed and consulted McClellan about the plan, he finally agreed on the condition that the attack would be conducted in close cooperation with the navy Flag Officer, Andrew H. Foote.  Foote's gunboats bombarded Fort Henry, leading to its surrender on February 6, 1862, before Grant's infantry even arrived.
Grant then ordered an immediate assault on Fort Donelson, which dominated the Cumberland River. Fort Donelson, unlike Fort Henry, had a force equal to Grant's army. Unaware of the garrison's strength, Grant, McClernand, and Smith positioned their divisions around the fort. The next day McClernand and Smith independently launched probing attacks on apparent weak spots but were forced to retreat by the Confederates. On February 14, Foote's gunboats began bombarding the fort, only to be repulsed by its heavy guns. Seizing the initiative, the next day, Pillow fiercely attacked and routed one of Grant's divisions, McClernand's. Union reinforcements arrived, giving Grant a total force of over 40,000 men. Grant was with Foote, four miles away when the Confederates attacked. Hearing the battle noise, Grant rode back and rallied his troop commanders, riding over seven miles of freezing roads and trenches, exchanging reports. When Grant blocked the Nashville Road, the Confederates retreated back into Fort Donelson. On February 16, Foote resumed his bombardment, which signaled a general attack. Confederate generals John B. Floyd and Pillow fled, leaving the fort in command of Simon Bolivar Buckner, who submitted to Grant's demand for "unconditional and immediate surrender".
Grant had won the first major victory for the Union, capturing Floyd's entire rebel army of more than 12,000. Halleck was angry that Grant had acted without his authorization and complained to McClellan, accusing Grant of "neglect and inefficiency". On March 3, Halleck sent a telegram to Washington complaining that he had no communication with Grant for a week. Three days later, Halleck followed up with a postscript claiming "word has just reached me that ... Grant has resumed his bad habits (of drinking)." Lincoln, regardless, promoted Grant to major general of volunteers and the Northern press treated Grant as a hero. Playing off his initials, they took to calling him "Unconditional Surrender Grant."
Shiloh (1862) and aftermath
With great armies now massing, it was widely thought in the North that another western battle might end the war. Grant, reinstated by Halleck at the urging of Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, left Fort Henry and traveled by boat up the Tennessee River to rejoin his army with orders to advance with the Army of the Tennessee into Tennessee. Grant's main army was located at Pittsburg Landing, while 40,000 Confederate troops converged at Corinth, Mississippi. Brigadier General William Tecumseh Sherman assured Grant that his green troops were ready for an attack. Grant agreed and wired Halleck with their assessment. Grant wanted to attack the Confederates at Corinth, but Halleck ordered him not to attack until Major General Don Carlos Buell arrived with his division of 25,000. Meanwhile, Grant prepared for an attack on the Confederate army of roughly equal strength. Instead of preparing defensive fortifications between the Tennessee River and Owl Creek,[o] and clearing fields of fire, they spent most of their time drilling the largely inexperienced troops while Sherman dismissed reports of nearby Confederates.
Union inaction created the opportunity for the Confederates to attack first before Buell arrived. On the morning of April 6, 1862, Grant's troops were taken by surprise when the Confederates, led by Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard, struck first "like an Alpine avalanche" near Shiloh church, attacking five divisions of Grant's army and forcing a confused retreat toward the Tennessee River. Johnston was killed and command fell upon Beauregard. One Union line held the Confederate attack off for several hours at a place later called the "Hornet's Nest", giving Grant time to assemble artillery and 20,000 troops near Pittsburg Landing. The Confederates finally broke through the Hornet's Nest to capture a Union division, but "Grant's Last Line" held the landing, while the exhausted Confederates, lacking reinforcements, halted their advance. The day's fighting had been costly, with thousands of casualties. That evening, heavy rain set in. Sherman found Grant standing alone under a tree in the rain. "Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day of it, haven't we?" Sherman said. "Yes," replied Grant. "Lick 'em tomorrow, though."
Bolstered by 18,000 fresh troops from the divisions of Major Generals Buell and Lew Wallace, Grant counterattacked at dawn the next day and regained the field, forcing the disorganized and demoralized rebels to retreat back to Corinth. Halleck ordered Grant not to advance more than one day's march from Pittsburg Landing, stopping the pursuit of the Confederate Army. Although Grant had won the battle the situation was little changed, with the Union in possession of Pittsburg Landing and the Confederates once again holed up in Corinth. Grant, now realizing that the South was determined to fight and that the war would not be won with one battle, would later write, "Then, indeed, I gave up all idea of saving the Union except by complete conquest."
Shiloh was the costliest battle in American history to that point and the staggering 23,746 total casualties stunned the nation. Briefly hailed a hero for routing the Confederates, Grant was soon mired in controversy. The Northern press castigated Grant for shockingly high casualties, and accused him of drunkenness during the battle, contrary to the accounts of officers and others with him at the time.[p] Discouraged, Grant considered resigning but Sherman convinced him to stay. Lincoln dismissed Grant's critics, saying "I can't spare this man; he fights." However, Grant's victory at Shiloh ended any chance for the Confederates to prevail in the Mississippi valley or regain its strategic advantage in the West.
Halleck arrived from St. Louis on April 11, took command, and assembled a combined army of about 120,000 men. On April 29, he relieved Grant of field command and replaced him with Major General George Henry Thomas. Halleck slowly marched his army to take Corinth, entrenching each night. Meanwhile, Beauregard pretended to be reinforcing, sent "deserters" to the Union Army with that story, and moved his army out during the night, to Halleck's surprise when he finally arrived at Corinth on May 30.
Halleck divided his combined army and reinstated Grant as field commander of the Army of the Tennessee on July 11.
Later that year, on September 19, Grant's army defeated Confederates at the Battle of Iuka, then successfully defended Corinth, inflicting heavy casualties. On October 25, Grant assumed command of the District of the Tennessee. In November, after Lincoln's preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Grant ordered units under his command to incorporate former slaves into the Union Army, giving them clothes, shelter, and wages for their services. Grant held western Tennessee with almost 40,000 men.
Vicksburg campaign (1862–1863)
The Union capture of Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi, was vital, and would split the Confederacy in two. Lincoln, however, appointed McClernand for the job, rather than Grant or Sherman. Halleck, who retained power over troop displacement, ordered McClernand to Memphis, and placed him and his troops under Grant's authority. On November 13, 1862, Grant captured Holly Springs and advanced to Corinth. Grant's plan was to march south to Jackson, and attack Vicksburg overland, while Sherman would attack Vicksburg from Chickasaw Bayou. However, Confederate cavalry raids on December 11 and 20, 1862, broke Union communications and recaptured Holly Springs, preventing Grant and Sherman from converging on Vicksburg. Grant observed sabotage by civilians who had feigned loyalty and complained: "Guerrillas are hovering around in every direction." On December 29, a Confederate army led by Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton repulsed Sherman's direct approach ascending the bluffs to Vicksburg at Chickasaw Bayou. McClernand reached Sherman's army, assumed command, and independently of Grant led a campaign that captured Confederate Fort Hindman.
Contraband fugitive African-American slaves poured into Grant's district, whom he sent north to Cairo, to be integrated into white society as domestic servants in Chicago. However, Lincoln ended this move when Illinois political leaders complained. On his own initiative, Grant set up a pragmatic program and hired a young Presbyterian Chaplain John Eaton to administer slave refuge work camps. Compensated contraband freed slaves would be used to pick cotton that would be shipped north and sent to aid the Union war effort. Lincoln approved and Grant's camp program was successful. Grant also worked freed black labor on the bypass canal and other points on the river, incorporating them into the Union Army and Navy.
Grant's war responsibilities included combating an illegal Northern cotton trade and civilian obstruction. Smuggling of cotton was rampant, while the price of cotton skyrocketed. Grant believed the smuggling funded the Confederacy and provided them with military intelligence, while Union soldiers were dying in the fields. He had received numerous dispatches with complaints about Jewish speculators in his district. He also feared the trading corrupted many of his officers who were also eager to make a profit on a bale of cotton, while the majority of those involved in illegal trading was not Jewish. Outraged that gold paid for southern cotton, Grant required two permits, one from the Treasury and one from the Union Army, to purchase cotton.[q]
On December 17, 1862, Grant issued a controversial General Order No. 11, expelling "Jews, as a class", from his Union Army military district.[r] The order was fully enforced at Holly Springs (December 17) and Paducah (December 28). Confederate General Van Dorn's raid on Holly Springs (December 20), prevented many Jewish people from potential expulsion. After complaints, Lincoln rescinded the order on January 3, 1863. Grant finally stopped the order within three weeks on January 17.[s]
On January 29, 1863, Grant assumed overall command. Eventually, he attempted to advance his army through water-logged terrain to bypass Vicksburg's guns. The plan of attacking Vicksburg from downriver carried great risk because upon crossing the Mississippi River, his army would be beyond the reach of most of its supply lines. On April 16, Grant ordered Admiral David Dixon Porter's gunboats south under fire from the Vicksburg batteries to meet up with troops who had marched south down the west side of the river. Grant ordered diversionary battles, confusing Pemberton and allowing Grant's army to move east across the Mississippi, landing troops at Bruinsburg. Grant's army captured Jackson, the state capital. Advancing west, Grant defeated Pemberton's army at the Battle of Champion Hill on May 16, forcing their retreat into Vicksburg. After Grant's men assaulted the entrenchments twice, suffering severe losses, they settled in for a siege lasting seven weeks. During quiet periods of the campaign, Grant would take to drinking on occasion. The personal rivalry between McClernand and Grant continued until Grant removed him from command when he contravened Grant by publishing an order without permission. Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg to Grant on July 4, 1863.
Vicksburg's fall gave Union forces control of the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy. By that time, Grant's political sympathies fully coincided with the Radical Republicans' aggressive prosecution of the war and emancipation of the slaves. The success at Vicksburg was a morale boost for the Union war effort. When Stanton suggested Grant be brought back east to run the Army of the Potomac, Grant demurred, writing that he knew the geography and resources of the West better and he did not want to upset the chain of command in the East.
Chattanooga (1863) and promotion
Lincoln promoted Grant to major general in the regular army (as opposed to the volunteers) and assigned him command of the newly formed Division of the Mississippi on October 16, 1863, comprising the Armies of the Ohio, the Tennessee, and the Cumberland. After the Battle of Chickamauga, the Army of the Cumberland retreated into Chattanooga where they were partially besieged. Grant arrived in Chattanooga on horseback, after a journey by boat from Vicksburg to Cairo, and then by train to Bridgeport, Alabama. Plans to resupply the city and break the partial siege had already been set on foot before his arrival. Forces commanded by Major General Joseph Hooker, which had been sent from the Army of the Potomac, approached from the west and linked up with other units moving east from inside the city, capturing Brown's Ferry and opening a supply line to the railroad at Bridgeport.
Grant planned to have Sherman's Army of the Tennessee, assisted by the Army of the Cumberland, assault the northern end of Missionary Ridge, preparatory to rolling down it on the enemy's right flank. On November 23, Major General George Henry Thomas surprised the enemy in open daylight, advancing the Union lines and taking Orchard Knob, between Chattanooga and the ridge. The next day, Sherman failed to achieve his mission of getting atop Missionary Ridge, which was the key to Grant's plan of battle. Hooker's forces took Lookout Mountain using an ingenious maneuver to flank the enemy, in an unexpected success. On the 25th, Grant ordered Major General George Henry Thomas to advance to the rifle-pits at the case of Missionary in an effort to help Sherman, after Sherman's army failed to take Missionary Ridge from the northeast. Four divisions of the Army of the Cumberland, with the center two led by Major General Philip Sheridan and Brigadier General Thomas J. Wood, chased the Confederates out of the rifle-pits at the base and, against orders, continued the charge up the 45-degree slope and captured the Confederate entrenchments along the crest, forcing a hurried retreat. The decisive battle gave the Union control of Tennessee and opened Georgia, the Confederate heartland, to Union invasion. Grant was given an enormous thoroughbred horse, Cincinnati, by a thankful admirer in St. Louis.
On March 2, 1864, Lincoln promoted Grant to lieutenant general, giving him command of all Union Armies. Grant's new rank had only previously been held by George Washington. Grant arrived in Washington on March 8, and he was formally commissioned by Lincoln the next day at a Cabinet meeting. Grant developed a good working relationship with Lincoln, who allowed Grant to devise his own strategy. Grant established his headquarters with General George Meade's Army of the Potomac in Culpeper, north-west of Richmond, and met weekly with Lincoln and Stanton in Washington.[t] After protest from Halleck, Grant scrapped a risky invasion plan of North Carolina, and adopted a plan of five coordinated Union offensives on five fronts, so Confederate armies could not shift troops along interior lines. Grant and Meade would make a direct frontal attack on Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, while Sherman—now chief of the western armies—was to destroy Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee and take Atlanta. Major General Benjamin Butler would advance on Lee from the southeast, up the James River, while Major General Nathaniel Banks would capture Mobile. Major General Franz Sigel was to capture granaries and rail lines in the fertile Shenandoah Valley.
Grant now commanded in total 533,000 battle-ready troops spread out over an eighteen-mile front, while the Confederates had lost many officers in battle and had great difficulty finding replacements. He was popular, and there was talk that a Union victory early in the year could lead to his candidacy for the presidency. Grant was aware of the rumors, but had ruled out a political candidacy; the possibility would soon vanish with delays on the battlefield.
Overland Campaign (1864)
The Overland Campaign was a series of brutal battles fought in Virginia for seven weeks during May and June 1864. Sigel's and Butler's efforts failed, and Grant was left alone to fight Lee. On the morning of Wednesday, May 4, Grant dressed in full uniform, sword at his side, led the army out from his headquarters at Culpeper towards Germanna Ford. They crossed the Rapidan unopposed, while supplies were transported on four pontoon bridges. On May 5, the Union army attacked Lee in the Wilderness, a three-day battle with estimated casualties of 17,666 Union and 11,125 Confederate.
Rather than retreat, Grant flanked Lee's army to the southeast and attempted to wedge his forces between Lee and Richmond at Spotsylvania Court House. Lee's army got to Spotsylvania first and a costly battle ensued, lasting thirteen days, with heavy casualties. On May 12, Grant attempted to break through Lee's Muleshoe salient guarded by Confederate artillery, resulting in one of the bloodiest assaults of the Civil War, known as the Bloody Angle. Unable to break Lee's lines, Grant again flanked the rebels to the southeast, meeting at North Anna, where a battle lasted three days.
- Cold Harbor
Grant believed breaking through Lee's lines at its weakest point, Cold Harbor, a vital road hub that linked to Richmond, would mean the destruction of Lee's army, the capture of Richmond, and a quick end to the rebellion. Grant already had two corps in position at Cold Harbor with Hancock's corps on the way. The recent bloody Wilderness campaign had severely diminished Confederate morale and hence Grant was now willing to advance on Lee's army once again.
Lee's lines were extended north and east of Richmond and Petersburg for approximately ten miles, but there were several points where there were no fortifications built yet, and Cold Harbor was one of them. On June 1 and 2 both Grant and Lee were still waiting for reinforcements to arrive. Hancock's men had marched all night and arrived too exhausted for an immediate attack that morning. Grant agreed to let the men rest and postponed the attack until 5 p.m., and then again until 4:30 a.m. on June 3. However, Grant and Meade did not give specific orders for the attack, leaving it up to the corps commanders to decide where they would coordinate and attack the Confederate lines, as no senior commander had yet reconnoitered the latest Confederate developments. Grant had not yet learned that overnight Lee had hastily constructed entrenchments to thwart any breach attempt at Cold Harbor. Grant had put off making an attack twice and was anxious to make his move before the rest of Lee's army arrived. On the morning of June 3, the third day of the thirteen-day battle, with a force of more than 100,000 men, against Lee's 59,000, Grant attacked not realizing that Lee's army was now well entrenched, much of it obscured by trees and bushes. Grant's army suffered 12,000–14,000 casualties, while Lee's army suffered 3,000–5,000 casualties,[u] but Lee was less able to replace them.
The unprecedented number of casualties was shocking by all accounts and heightened anti-war sentiment in the North. After the battle Grant wanted to appeal to Lee under the white flag for each side to gather up their wounded, most of them Union soldiers, but Lee insisted that a total truce be enacted and while they were deliberating all but a few of the wounded died in the field. Without giving an apology for the disastrous defeat in his official military report, Grant confided in his staff after the battle and years later wrote in his memoirs that he "regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made. I might say the same thing of the assault ... at Vicksburg."
Siege of Petersburg (1864–1865)
Undetected by Lee, Grant moved his army south of the James River, freed Butler from the Bermuda Hundred, and advanced toward Petersburg, Virginia's central railroad hub. Beauregard defended Petersburg, and Lee's veteran reinforcements arrived on June 18, resulting in a nine-month siege. Northern resentment grew. Sheridan was assigned command of the Union Army of the Shenandoah and Grant directed him to "follow the enemy to their death" in the Shenandoah Valley. When Sheridan suffered attacks by John S. Mosby's irregular Confederate cavalry, Grant recommended rounding up their families for imprisonment at Fort McHenry. After Grant's abortive attempt to capture Petersburg, Lincoln supported Grant in his decision to continue and visited Grant's headquarters at City Point on June 21 to assess the state of the army and meet with Grant and Admiral Porter. By the time Lincoln departed his appreciation for Grant had grown.
To strike at Lee in a timely capacity Grant was forced to use what resources were immediately available, and they were diminished by the day. Grant had to commit badly needed troops to check Confederate General Jubal Early's raids in the Shenandoah Valley and who was getting dangerously close to the Potomac River, and Washington. By late July, at Petersburg, Grant reluctantly approved a plan to blow up part of the enemy trenches from a tunnel filled with many tons of gunpowder. The massive explosion created a crater, 170 feet across and 30 feet deep, killing an entire Confederate regiment in an instant.[v] The poorly led Union troops under Major General Burnside and Brigadier General Ledlie, rather than encircling the crater, rushed forward and poured directly into it, which was widely deemed a mistake. Recovering from the surprise, Confederates, led by Major General William Mahone, surrounded the crater and easily picked off Union troops within it. The Union's 3,500 casualties outnumbered the Confederates' by three-to-one. The battle marked the first time that Union-colored troops, who endured a large proportion of the casualties, engaged in any major battle in the east. Grant admitted that the overall mining tactic had been a "stupendous failure".
Grant would later meet with Lincoln and testify at a court of inquiry against Generals Burnside and Ledlie for their incompetence. In his memoirs he blamed both of them for that disastrous Union defeat. Rather than fight Lee in a full-frontal attack as he had done at Cold Harbor, Grant continued to force Lee to extend his defenses south and west of Petersburg, better allowing him to capture essential railroad links.
Union forces soon captured Mobile Bay and Atlanta and now controlled the Shenandoah Valley, ensuring Lincoln's reelection in November. Sherman convinced Grant and Lincoln to send his army to march on Savannah. Sherman cut a 60-mile path of destruction unopposed, reached the Atlantic Ocean, and captured Savannah on December 22. On December 16, after much prodding by Grant, the Union Army under Thomas smashed John Bell Hood's Confederate Army at Nashville. These campaigns left Lee's forces at Petersburg as the only significant obstacle remaining to Union victory.
By March 1865, Grant had severely weakened Lee's strength, having extended his lines to 35 miles. Lee's troops deserted by the thousands due to hunger and the strains of trench warfare. Grant, Sherman, Porter, and Lincoln held a conference to discuss the surrender of Confederate armies and Reconstruction of the South on March 28.
Appomattox campaign (1865), and victory
On April 2, Grant ordered a general assault on Lee's entrenched forces. Union troops took Petersburg and captured Richmond the next day. Lee and part of his army broke free and attempted to link up with the remnants of Joseph E. Johnston's defeated army, but Sheridan's cavalry stopped the two armies from converging, cutting them off from their supply trains. Grant was in communication with Lee before he entrusted his aide Orville Babcock to carry his last dispatch to Lee requesting his surrender with instructions to escort him to a meeting place of Lee's choosing. Grant immediately rode west, bypassing Lee's army, to join Sheridan who had captured Appomattox Station, blocking Lee's escape route. On his way, Grant received a letter sent by Lee informing him that he was ready to surrender.
On April 9, Grant and Lee met at Appomattox Court House. Upon receiving Lee's dispatch about the proposed meeting Grant had been jubilant. Although Grant felt depressed at the fall of "a foe who had fought so long and valiantly," he believed the Southern cause was "one of the worst for which a people ever fought." After briefly discussing their days of old in Mexico, Grant wrote out the terms of surrender. Men and officers were to be paroled, but in addition, there was amnesty: "Each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by U.S. authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside." Lee expressed satisfaction and accepted Grant's terms. At Lee's request, Grant also allowed them to keep their horses. Grant ordered his troops to stop all celebration, saying the "war is over; the rebels are our countrymen again." Johnston's Tennessee army surrendered on April 26, 1865, Richard Taylor's Alabama army on May 4, and Kirby Smith's Texas army on May 26, ending the war.
On April 14, 1865, five days after Grant's victory at Appomattox, he attended a cabinet meeting in Washington. Lincoln invited him and his wife to Ford's Theater, but they declined as upon his wife Julia's urging, had plans to travel to Philadelphia. In a conspiracy that also targeted top cabinet members in one last effort to topple the Union, Lincoln was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth at the theater and died the next morning. Many, including Grant himself, thought that he had been a target in the plot and during the subsequent trial, the government tried to prove that Grant had been stalked by Booth's conspirator Michael O'Laughlen. Stanton notified Grant of the President's death and summoned him back to Washington. Vice President Andrew Johnson was sworn in as president on April 15. Attending Lincoln's funeral on April 19, Grant stood alone and wept openly; he later said Lincoln was "the greatest man I have ever known." Grant was determined to work with Johnson, while he privately expressed "every reason to hope" in the new president's ability to run the government "in its old channel."