- 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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A war department investigation led to his reinstatement.
Union war strategy called for taking control of the Mississippi River and cutting the Confederacy in half. In December 1862, Grant moved overland to take Vicksburg—a key fortress city of the Confederacy—but his attack was stalled by Confederate cavalry raider Nathan Bedford Forest, as well as due to getting bogged down in the bayous north of Vicksburg. In his second attempt, Grant cut some, but not all, of his supply lines,
moved his men down the western bank of the Mississippi River, and crossed south of Vicksburg. Failing to take the city after several assaults, he settled into a long siege, and Vicksburg finally surrendered on July 4, 1863.
Though Vicksburg marked both Grant's greatest achievement thus far and a moral boost for the Union, rumors of Grant's heavy drinking followed him through the rest of the Western Campaign. Grant suffered from intense migraine headaches due to stress, which nearly disabled him and only helped to spread rumors of his drinking, as many chalked up his migraines to frequent hangovers. However, his closest associates said that he was sober and polite, and that he displayed deep concentration, even in the midst of a battle.
In October 1863, Grant took command at Chattanooga, Tennessee. The following month, from November 22 to November 25, Union forces routed Confederate troops in Tennessee at the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, known collectively as the Battle of Chattanooga. The victories forced the Confederates to retreat into Georgia, ending the siege of the vital railroad junction of Chattanooga—and ultimately paving the way for Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's Atlanta campaign and march to Savannah, Georgia, in 1864.
Ulysses S. Grant saw the military objectives of the Civil War differently than most of his predecessors, who believed that capturing territory was most important to winning the war. Grant adamantly believed that taking down the Confederate armies was most important to the war effort, and to that end, set out to track down and destroy General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. From March 1864 until April 1865, Grant doggedly hunted for Lee in the forests of Virginia, all the while inflicting unsustainable casualties on Lee's army.
On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered his army, marking the end of the Civil War. The two generals met at a farm near the village of Appomattox Court House, and a peace agreement was signed. In a magnanimous gesture, Grant allowed Lee's men to keep their horses and return to their homes, taking none of them as prisoners of war.
During post-war reorganization, Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to full general and oversaw the military portion of Reconstruction. He was then put in an awkward position during President Andrew Johnson's fight with the Radical Republicans and Johnson's impeachment. Subsequently, in 1868, Grant was elected the 18th president of the United States.
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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