Ulysses Simpson Grant was born at Point Pleasant, Ohio, on 27 April 1822; was educated at local schools and attended the United States Military Academy, 1839-1843.  He was baptized as Hiram Ulysses Grant, but the Congressman appointing Grant to the Military Academy in 1839 stated his name as Ulysses Simpson (Simpson being his mother's maiden name), and thus his name was changed.  At his graduation from West Point, he ranked 21st in a class of 39. He ranked 16th in Engineering, 25th in Artillery and 28th in Infantry Tactics. 

 

He received a brevet to 2nd Lieutenant, 4th Infantry, there being no opening in any of the Army's cavalry regiments for the finest horseman at West Point. He received a promotion to 2nd Lieutenant, 4th Infantry, on September 30, 1845.

Serving in the Military occupation of Texas, 1845-1846, Grant joined General Taylor's army poised to invade Mexico from the Rio Grande base of operations. Grant was engaged in the Battle of Palo Alto, May 8, 1846 and Battle of Resaca-de-la-Palma, May 9, 1846.  As a Regimental Quartermaster in Charge of the Train, Grant took an active part in the Storming of Monterey, September 21-23, 1846. He was transferred to General Scott's Army and participated in the Siege of Vera Cruz, March 9-29, 1847; the Battle of Cerro Gordo, April 17-18, 1847; Capture of San Antonio, August 20, 1847; Battle of Churubusco, August 20, 1847; and Battle of Molino del Rey, September 8, 1947, for which he received a brevet to 1st Lieutenant for gallant and meritorious conduct. He was engaged in the Storming of Chapultepec, September 13, 1847 and the Assault and Capture of Mexico City, September 13-14, 1847. He received a brevet to Captain, September 13, 1847, for gallant conduct at the Storming of Chapultepec.

After the Mexican War, Grant served as Quartermaster, 4th Infantry, from April 1, 1847 to July 23, 1848; in garrison at Sackett's Harbor, NY, 1848-1849, as Quartermaster, 4th Infantry, September 11, 1849 to September 30, 1853. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, 4th Infantry, September 16, 1847. After frontier duty at Benicia, CA and at Columbia Barracks, OR he was promoted to Captain, 4th Infantry, August 5, 1853. While serving in the Northwest, Grant resigned his commission on July 31, 1854.

As the outbreak of Civil War loomed on the horizon, Grant raised and drilled a company of volunteers and was then employed by Governor Yates in the Adjutant-General's Department and made mustering officer. Soon after he was appointed Colonel, 21st IL Volunteers, and on August 7, 1861 was commissioned Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, with rank from May 17, assigned to the command of the District of Southwestern Missouri, headquartered in Cairo, IL.

Learning of the Confederacy's intent to seize Paducah, at the mouth of the Tennessee, he at once occupied the city which aided in keeping Kentucky loyal to the Union. Next, having survived an ill-advised attack on Belmont, MO, Grant prepared to attack the center of the Confederate line protecting Nashville.  The resulting surrenders of Forts Henry and Donelson in February, 1862, yielded 14,623 prisoners, a large amount of materiel and vast stretches of Confederate-held territory. For Grant, it brought the acclaim of the nation, the sobriquet of "Unconditional Surrender Grant", and a commission as Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, February 16, 1862.

Placed in command of the District of West Tennessee, grant led the Federal forces at the Battle of Shiloh and efforts to take of Vicksburg. The Confederate garrison at Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, 1863. Grant was widely acclaimed and rewarded with the appointment as Major-General, U. S. Army.  The rank of Lieutenant-General was revived and bestowed upon Grant, along with it command of all the Armies, as General-in-Chief, March 2, 1864.  Lincoln met the 41 year old Grant for the first time at a White House reception on March 8, 1864. 

Grant went to Cincinnati to confer with General Sherman, whom he had named his replacement in command of the western army.  When he returned to the East, General Meade would lead the fight against Lee, but Grant would be there with him to map the way.  Making his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac, Grant directed the battles at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, the North Anna, and Cold Harbor in May and June, 1864, suffering staggering losses.  Following the failure to take Petersburg, the siege lasted until the following spring. Sheridan's victory at Five Forks on April 1, 1865, and the penetration of the main Confederate line the following morning, drove Lee west in the hope of uniting with Johnston. However, Lee was stopped at Appomattox and surrendered on April 9, 1865. Johnston surrendered to Sherman in North Carolina on April 26. The War was over.

Grant held command of the Armies of the United States, August 12, 1866 to March 4, 1869. Following the Civil War, Congress revived the rank of full General, not used since the days of George Washington, and, on July 25, 1866, conferred it upon the General-in-Chief, Ulysses Simpson Grant. He served as interim Secretary of War, August 12, 1867 to January 14, 1868.  Grant became the Republican candidate for President in 1868, and was elected by a large margin.

Grant had a difficult Presidency marked by an economic depression in 1873. Following his retirement from the Presidency in 1876, Grant traveled abroad for two years and in 1880 was a leading contender for the Presidency again but a coalition of Grant's opponents agreed upon James A. Garfield.  Grant's last years were marked by misfortune and agonizing illness. He lived in New York in a home and on a trust fund provided by his admirers for a time, but the income failed and he entered a business in which his name could be exploited. The insolvency of the brokerage firm of Grant & Ward threw Grant into bankruptcy and his swords and souvenirs were lost as security on a loan he had been unable to repay.  In 1884 Grant learned he had throat cancer. He died on July 23, 1885. His remains lie in a mausoleum in New York City.

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