- NAME: Ulysses S. Grant
- OCCUPATION: General, U.S. President
- BIRTH DATE: April 27, 1822
- DEATH DATE: July 23, 1885
- EDUCATION: United States Military Academy at West Point
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Point Pleasant, Ohio
- PLACE OF DEATH: Mount McGregor, New York
- Originally: Hiram Ulysses Grant
- Full Name: Ulysses Simpson Grant
- Nickname: "U.S. Grant"
- Nickname: "Unconditional Surrender Grant"
- AKA: Ulysses S. Grant
- AKA: Ulysses Grant
Best Known For
Ulysses S. Grant served as U.S. general and commander of the Union armies during the late years of the American Civil War, later becoming the 18th U.S. president.
As a young, quiet man, Grant loved horses and excelled in equestrian events at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Unfortunately, a clerical error changed his name from Hiram Ulysses Grant to U.S. Grant.
In early April, 1862, Grant was surprised by Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard at the Battle of Shiloh. The sheer violence of the Confederate attack sent the Union forces reeling.
At the beginning of April 1865, Grant's relentless pressure finally forced Gen. Robert E. Lee to evacuate Richmond, and after a nine-day retreat, Lee surrendered his army at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
Lt. Grant served in the Mexican War under Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, taking part in the battles of Resaca de la Palma, Palo Alto, Monterrey, and Veracruz.
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He began to drink, and a reputation was forged that dogged him all through his military career.
In the summer of 1853, Grant was promoted to captain and transferred to Fort Humboldt on the Northern California coast, where he had a run-in with the fort's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Robert C. Buchanan. On July, 31, 1854, Grant resigned from the Army amid allegations of heavy drinking and warnings of disciplinary action.
In 1854, Ulysses S. Grant moved his family back to Missouri,
but the return to civilian life led him to a low point. He tried to farm land that had been given to him by his father-in-law, but this venture proved to be unsuccessful after a few years. Grant then failed to find success with a real estate venture, and was denied employment as an engineer and clerk in St. Louis. To support his family, he was reduced to selling firewood on a St. Louis street. Finally, in 1860, he humbled himself and went to work in his father's tannery business as a clerk, supervised by his two younger brothers.
On April 13, 1861, Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. This act of rebellion sparked Ulysses S. Grant's patriotism, and he volunteered his military services. Again he was initially rejected for appointments, but with the aid of an Illinois congressman, he was appointed to command an unruly 21st Illinois volunteer regiment. Applying lessons that he'd learned from his commanders during the Mexican-American War, Grant saw that the regiment was combat-ready by September 1861.
When Kentucky's fragile neutrality fell apart in the fall of 1861, Grant and his volunteers took the small town of Paducah, Kentucky, at the mouth of the Tennessee River. In February 1862, in a joint operation with the U.S. Navy, Grant's ground forces applied pressure on Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, taking them both—these battles are credited as the earliest significant Union victories of the American Civil War. After the assault on Fort Donelson, Grant earned the moniker "Unconditional Surrender Grant" and was promoted to major general of volunteers.
In April 1862, Ulysses S. Grant moved his army cautiously into enemy territory in Tennessee, in what would later become known as the Battle of Shiloh (or the Battle of Pittsburg Landing), one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Confederate commanders Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard led a surprise attack against Grant's forces, with fierce fighting occurring at an area known as the "Hornets' Nest" during the first wave of assault. Confederate General Johnston was mortally wounded, and his second-in-command, General Beauregard, decided against a night assault on Grant's forces. Reinforcement finally arrived, and Grant was able to defeat the Confederates during the second day of battle.
The Battle of Shiloh proved to be a watershed for the American military and a near disaster for Grant. Though he was supported by President Abraham Lincoln, Grant faced heavy criticism from members of Congress and the military brass for the high casualties, and for a time, he was demoted.
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The first U.S. president, former military leader George Washington, took his oath of office on April 30, 1789, on the balcony of Federal Hall. From that moment onward, the United States' highest office has been filled regularly by elected officials who aim to serve the people under the guidance of the U.S. Constitution. Learn more about the 43 men who have served as America's chief executive.
U.S. Presidents 43 people in this group