Ulysses S. Grant — Facts and APUSH Notes

April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885

APUSH Definition — Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885) was the 18th President of the United States. He rose to prominence as an officer in the United States Army during the Civil War, where he rose through the ranks to General-in-Chief of the United States Armies and defeated Robert E. Lee, forcing his surrender at Appomattox Court House in 1865.

Ulysses S Grant, at Cold Harbor, Portrait

Ulysses S. Grant rose from humble beginnings to become General-in-Chief of Union forces during the Civil War and, afterward, the eighteenth President of the United States. [Wikimedia Commons]

Who was Ulysses S. Grant?

When the Civil War began, Ulysses S. Grant accepted an appointment as a colonel in the Illinois militia. In August, he accepted a commission as a brigadier general in the volunteer army, and on September 1, Major General John C. Frémont selected Grant to command the District of Southeast Missouri.

Grant’s first Civil War action took place in Missouri at the inconclusive Battle of Belmont in November. One month later, Major General Henry W. Halleck placed Grant in command of the District of Cairo. Grant quickly established his credentials as an able commander by capturing Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in February 1863. Halleck rewarded Grant by assigning him to command the newly created District of West Tennessee.

Grant’s reputation suffered when Confederate forces under the command of Joseph E. Johnston surprised him at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862. Nearly defeated on the first day of the conflict, Grant rallied his troops on the second day and drove the Confederate forces back. Although the Army of the Tennessee prevailed at the Battle of Shiloh, the Northern press condemned Grant for being surprised by Johnston’s attack. Rumors circulated that Grant was drunk as Confederates bayoneted Union soldiers in their tents as they slept. After two weeks of criticism, Halleck relieved Grant of field command. During the Siege of Corinth, Grant served as Halleck’s second-in-command. Following the Union victory at Corinth, Halleck restored Grant’s command. 

Battle of Shiloh, Illustration, Thulstrup
Battle of Shiloh. Image Source: Library of Congress.

In July 1862, President Lincoln placed Halleck in charge of all federal armies. Before departing for his new post in Washington, Halleck expanded Grant’s responsibilities as commander of the District of West Tennessee. In October, the War Department created the Department of Tennessee and placed Grant in command of Union forces that came to be known as the Army of Tennessee.

Grant spent the rest of 1862 and the first half of 1863 trying to capture the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi. After several failed attempts to assault the city, followed by a long siege, the Confederate garrison at Vicksburg surrendered the city on July 4. Grant’s victory propelled him to new heights. Within the month, Grant was promoted to major general in the regular army.

Although a great Union victory, the Vicksburg Campaign was not without some controversy for Grant. Exasperated by black-market trade between Northern merchants and Confederates, Grant issued his ill-conceived General Order Number 11, on December 17, 1862, expelling all Jews from the Department of the Tennessee. The order created such a protest throughout the North that President Lincoln rescinded it on January 4, 1863.

Siege of Vicksburg, Grant Behind Federal Lines, Illustration
Siege of Vicksburg. Image Source: Library of Congress.

In October 1863, the War Department merged the departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Tennessee under Grant’s command, and ordered him to move as soon as possible to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the Army of the Cumberland was under siege. Within a month, forces under Grant’s leadership lifted the siege and drove the Confederate forces into northern Georgia. Grant’s victory at the Battle of Chattanooga prompted Congress and President Lincoln to confer upon him the rank of lieutenant general, in command of all of the armies of the United States on March 10, 1864.

Grant drafted a plan to get the various Union armies in the field to act in concert. He also devised his Overland Campaign to invade east-central Virginia and destroy Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. On May 4, 1864, Grant accompanied the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General George Meade, as it launched the Overland Campaign. For the next eleven months, Grant doggedly pursued Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia through the Overland, Petersburg, and Appomattox campaigns until Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865, marking the third time an entire Confederate army surrendered to Grant.

Surrender at Appomattox Court House, Thomas Nast
Surrender at Appomattox Court House by Thomas Nast. Image Source: Wikipedia.

Following the Civil War, Grant remained in the United States Army. On July 25, 1866, Congress enacted legislation reviving the grade of General of the Army. On the same day, President Andrew Johnson appointed Grant to the post. In 1868, the Republican Party selected Grant, as its presidential nominee. The popular general easily won both the popular election and the Electoral College vote to become the nation’s 18th President. Grant sought reelection in 1872 and easily won again. Political scandals and a major recession marred Grant’s presidency. Several leaders and cabinet members engaged in corrupt activities. Grant remained above the controversy of Gilded Age Politics, but many Americans faulted him for his political appointments and his inability to control his cabinet and resolve the nation’s economic woes.

Following his presidency, Grant settled in New York where he became a silent partner in a brokerage firm that swindled him of his life savings and left him $150,000 in debt. Determined to repay his debts and provide for his family, Grant began writing articles about his military life. In November 1884, doctors informed Grant that he had throat cancer. The ex-president spent the next seven months painfully narrating the first volume of his memoirs. After he could no longer speak, Grant used pencils to scribble the second volume on paper tablets for transcription. He completed the second volume on July 19, 1885. Four days later, Grant died at Mount McGregor, New York. Grant’s remains are buried in Grant’s Tomb, in Riverside Park in New York City.

Ulysses S. Grant Facts for APUSH

Birth and Early Life

  • Full Name: His full name was Ulysses Simpson Grant (AKA Ulysses S Grant).
  • Parents: His parents were Jesse Root Grant and Hannah Simpson Grant.
  • Date of Birth: He was born on April 27, 1822.
  • Birthplace: He was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio.

Family Tree

  • Spouse: He married Julia Dent on August 22, 1848.

Death

  • Death: He died on July 23, 1885.
  • Place of Death: He died in Mount McGregor, New York.
  • Burial: He is buried at Grant’s Tomb, NY, NY.

Education

He attended the United States Military Academy and graduated in 1843.

Career

He worked as a military officer and politician.

Career Summary

He was a U.S. Army lieutenant general, General-in-chief of the Army of the United States, and the 18th President of the United States.

Nickname

He was known as “Unconditional Surrender Grant”.

Ulysses S. Grant — Timeline of His Life and Accomplishments for APUSH

  • Ulysses S. Grant’s birth name was Hiram Ulysses Grant.
  • Ulysses S. Grant and his family moved to Georgetown, Ohio in 1823.
  • Ulysses S. Grant attended public school in Georgetown, as well as the school of Richeson and Rand at Maysville, Kentucky (1836-1838), and the Presbyterian Academy at Ripley, Ohio (1838-1839).
  • New York Congressman Thomas L. Harvey’s nominated “Ulysses S. Grant of Ohio” for an appointment to the United States Military Academy but mistakenly did not use his birth name. Once at West Point, Grant adopted the name on the application, with the middle initial only.
  • Ulysses S. Grant entered the United States Military Academy in 1839.
  • Ulysses S. Grant was the best horseman in his class at the United States Military Academy.
  • Ulysses S. Grant graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1843, ranked twenty-first in his class of thirty-nine.
  • Ulysses S. Grant was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army on July 1, 1843.
  • Ulysses S. Grant fought in the Mexican-American War.
  • Ulysses S. Grant married Julia Dent on August 22, 1848.
  • Ulysses S. Grant resigned his commission in the United States Army on April 11, 1854. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis accepted his resignation on June 2.
  • On March 29, 1859, Ulysses S. Grant freed William Jones, a slave he had inherited from his wife’s family.
  • Ulysses S. Grant was commissioned as a colonel in the 21st Illinois Infantry on June 17, 1861.
  • President Lincoln appointed Ulysses S. Grant as a brigadier general of volunteers on July 31, 1861 (retroactive to May 17, 1861).
  • Ulysses S. Grant commanded his first Civil War engagement at the Battle of Belmont on November 7, 1861.
  • Ulysses S. Grant captured Fort Henry, in western Tennessee, on February 6, 1862.
  • Ulysses S. Grant captured Fort Donelson, in western Tennessee, on February 16, 1862.
  • After capturing Fort Donelson, Ulysses S. Grant acquired the nickname of “Unconditional Surrender” Grant, because of the terms of surrender that he dictated.
  • Official promoted Ulysses S. Grant to major general of volunteers on February 16, 1862.
  • Ulysses S. Grant rallied his soldiers to victory at the Battle of Shiloh on April 7, 1862, after being surprised and driven back by a Confederate attack on April 6.
  • Ulysses S. Grant was vilified in the press and accused of being drunk when Confederates launched a surprise attack at the Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862).
  • Ulysses S. Grant lost his field command of the Army of the Tennessee when Major General Henry Halleck personally took command of operations in western Tennessee after the Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862).
  • Ulysses S. Grant was restored to command of the Army of the Tennessee on July 11, 1862, when Major General Henry Halleck was promoted to general-in-chief of the Union Armies.
  • Ulysses S. Grant issued his ill-conceived General Order Number 11, on December 17, 1862, expelling all Jews from the Department of the Tennessee. The order created such a protest throughout the North that President Lincoln rescinded it on January 4, 1863.
  • Ulysses S. Grant accepted the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi on July 4, 1863, following a six-week siege.
  • Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to major general in the regular army on July 3, 1863.
  • Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi on October 16, 1863.
  • Ulysses S. Grant lifted Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s Siege of Chattanooga by establishing the “Cracker Line” and winning the Battle for Chattanooga (November 23-25, 1863).
  • Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to lieutenant general and General-in-Chief of the United States Armies on March 17, 1864.
  • Ulysses S. Grant traveled with Major General George Meade’s Army of the Potomac and personally oversaw the pursuit of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia toward the end of the Civil War.
  • Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865.
  • Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to General of the Army of the United States on July 25, 1866.
  • Ulysses S. Grant served two terms as President of the United States, from March 4, 1869 to March 4, 1877.
  • Ulysses S. Grant was swindled out of his life savings and left in debt following the collapse of the firm of Grant and Ward on May 6, 1884.
  • Ulysses S. Grant was diagnosed with throat cancer in November 1884.
  • On February 27, 1885, Grant signed a contract with his friend Mark Twain to publish his memoirs and thereby provide for the support of his family after his death.
  • On March 4, 1885, President Chester A. Arthur signed legislation restoring Ulysses S. Grant to the rank of General of the Army, providing Grant’s family with a much-needed pension.
  • The first volume of the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant went to press on May 23, 1885. By that time Grant could no longer speak. Wracked with pain, Grant used pencils to scribble the second volume of his memoirs on paper tablets. Grant completed the second volume on July 19, 1885.
  • Ulysses S. Grant died on July 23, 1885, at age 63, at Mount McGregor, New York.
  • Ulysses S. Grant was buried in Riverside Park, New York on August 8, 1885.
  • Workers broke ground for Ulysses S. Grant’s Tomb on April 27, 1891.
  • Grant’s Tomb was dedicated on April 27, 1897.
  • Ulysses S. Grant’s portrait appears on the front of United States $50 bills.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title Ulysses S. Grant — Facts and APUSH Notes
  • Date April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date April 19, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update February 14, 2024

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