Ulysses S. Grant: U.S. President, Civil War Victor

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Part 1: Early Life and First War

Ulysses S. Grant was a President of the United States and the victorious top Union commander at the end of the American Civil War.

Ulysses S. Grant

He was born on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio. His name at birth was Hiram Ulysses Grant, but his family called him Ulysses, or "Ulys," for short. His father, Jesse, was a tanner, and young Ulys worked for his father for a time and then worked on the family farm, demonstrating an affinity for working with horses. He did his schooling in Kentucky and Ohio and then enrolled at the U.S. Military Academy in 1839.

He found that his named was listed on the West Point roster as Ulysses S. Grant and was told that if he wanted to change it, he would have to gain a new appointment. He kept that as his name and soon gained the nickname U.S. Grant. Other of his classmates called him "Uncle Sam" Grant, and if was from this moniker that he derived the nickname "Sam," by which he was most well-known at West Point.

Grant graduated from the Academy in 1843 and was assigned to the 4th Infantry at Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, Mo. His roommate during his last year of training was Fred Dent; while visiting Dent at his family's White Haven, Mo., home, Grant met Dent's younger sister, Julia, and the two eventually fell in love and were married.

He served in nearly every battle during the Mexican-American War, winning three citations, two for gallantry and one for meritorious conduct. He served under both Gen. Winfield Scott and Gen. Zachary Taylor. After the war, he lived in St. Louis, Mo, with his wife, Julia. They had not married until he returned from the war; the service was on Aug. 22, 1848.

Ulysses S. and Julia Grant

After the war, Grant was stationed in Michigan and New York and then on the West coast. He was separated at this time from his wife and from his infant son, Fred, born in 1850. In 1854, he resigned his commission and went to live with his family, who were living with her father on a farm in White Haven. Grant later built a cabin that he named Hardscrabble, in which he and his family lived.

Two more children came along: Ellen, born in 1855, and Jesse, born in 1858. Grant found it difficult to succeed in business and ended up working as a clerk in his family's Galena, Ill., store.

He volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army directly after the start of the Civil War and found himself as a colonel in charge of the 21st Illinois Infantry. After a promotion to the rank of brigadier general, Grant had command of the District of Southeast Missouri.

Next page > Early Success in the Civil War > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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