Ulysses S. Grant - Military Career & Time Between Wars
- Ulysses S. Grant - Index / Quick Reference
- Ulysses S. Grant - Overview
- Ulysses S. Grant - Early Life & Family
- Ulysses S. Grant - Military Career & Time Between Wars
- Ulysses S. Grant - Civil War
- Ulysses S. Grant - Reconstruction
- Ulysses S. Grant - Presidency 1869–1877
- Ulysses S. Grant - Post presidency
At the age of 17, Grant entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, after securing a nomination through his U.S. Congressman, Thomas L. Hamer. Hamer erroneously nominated him as "Ulysses S. Grant of Ohio," knowing Grant's mother's maiden name was Simpson and forgetting that Grant was referred to in his youth as "H. Ulysses Grant" or "Lyss." Grant wrote his name in the entrance register as "Ulysses Hiram Grant" (concerned that he would otherwise become known by his initials, H.U.G.), but the school administration refused to accept any name other than the nominated form. Grant adopted the form of his new name with middle initial only. Because "U.S." also stands for "Uncle Sam," Grant's nickname became "Sam" among his army colleagues. He graduated from West Point in 1843, ranking 21st in a class of 39. At the academy, he established a reputation as a fearless and expert horseman. Although this made him seem a natural for cavalry, he was assigned to duty as a regimental quartermaster, managing supplies and equipment.
Lieutenant Grant served in the Mexican–American War (1846–1848) under Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, where, despite his assignment as a quartermaster, he got close enough to the front lines to see action, taking part in the battles of Resaca de la Palma, Palo Alto, Monterrey (where he volunteered to carry a dispatch on horseback through a sniper-lined street), and Veracruz. Once Grant saw Fred Dent, his friend and later his brother-in-law, lying in the middle of the battlefield; he had been shot in the leg. Grant ran furiously into the open to rescue Dent; as they were making their way to safety, a Mexican was sneaking up behind Grant, but the Mexican was shot by a fellow U.S soldier. Grant was twice brevetted for bravery: at Molino del Rey and Chapultepec. He was a remarkably close observer of the war, learning to judge the actions of colonels and generals. In the 1880s he wrote that the war was unjust, accepting the theory that it was designed to gain land open to slavery. He wrote in his memoirs about the war against Mexico: "I was bitterly opposed to the measure, and to this day, regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation".
Time Between Wars
After the Mexican-American war ended in 1848, Grant remained in the army and was moved to several different posts. He was sent to Fort Vancouver in the Washington Territory in 1853, where he served as quartermaster of the 4th Infantry Regiment. His wife, eight months pregnant with their second child, could not accompany him because his salary could not support a family on the frontier. In 1854, Grant was promoted to captain, one of only 50 still on active duty, and assigned to command Company F, 4th Infantry, at Fort Humboldt, California. However, he still could not afford to bring his family out West. He tried some business ventures, but they failed. Grant resigned from the Army with little advance notice on July 31, 1854, offering no explanation for his abrupt decision. Rumors persisted in the Army for years that his commanding officer, Bvt. Lt. Col. Robert C. Buchanan, found him drunk on duty as a pay officer and offered him the choice between resignation or court-martial. Some biographers discount the rumors and suggest Grant's resignation, and his drinking, were both prompted by profound depression. According to this view, Buchanan hated Grant and concocted the drunkenness story years later to protect Buchanan's action in removing the man who became one of the most famous generals in history. The War Department stated, "Nothing stands against his good name."
A civilian at age 32, Grant struggled through seven lean years. From 1854 to 1858 he labored on a family farm near St. Louis, Missouri, using slaves owned by his father-in-law, but it did not prosper. Grant owned one slave (whom he set free in 1859); his wife owned four slaves (two women servants and their two small boys). In 1858-59 he was a bill collector in St. Louis. Failing at everything, in humiliation he asked his father for a job, and in 1860 was made an assistant in the leather shop owned by his father and run by his younger brother in Galena, Illinois. Grant & Perkins sold harnesses, saddles, and other leather goods and purchased hides from farmers in the prosperous Galena area.
Although Grant was essentially apolitical, his father-in-law was a prominent Democrat in St. Louis (a fact that lost Grant the good job of county engineer in 1859). In 1856 he voted for Democrat James Buchanan for president to avert secession and because "I knew Frémont" (the Republican candidate). In 1860, he favored Democrat Stephen A. Douglas but did not vote. In 1864, he allowed his political sponsor, Congressman Elihu B. Washburne, to use his private letters as campaign literature for Abraham Lincoln and the Union Party, which combined both Republicans and War Democrats. He refused to announce his political affiliation until 1868, when he finally declared himself a Republican..
- ↑ Smith, Grant, p. 24.
- ↑ Smith, Grant, p. 83. In a letter to his wife Julia dated March 31, 1853, Grant wrote, "Why did you not tell me more about our dear little boys ? ... What does Fred. call Ulys. ? What does the S stand for in Ulys.'s name? In mine you know it does not stand for anything!" McFeely, p. 524, n. 2: "Grant himself never used more than 'S.'; others converted the single letter to 'Simpson.'
- ↑ Ulysses S Grant Quotes on the Military Academy and the Mexican War
- ↑ According to Smith, pp. 87-88, and Lewis, pp. 328-32, two of Grant's lieutenants corroborated this story and Buchanan himself confirmed it to another officer in a conversation during the Civil War. Years later, Grant told educator John Eaton, "the vice of intemperance had not a little to do with my decision to resign."
- ↑ McFeely, p. 55-56; Simpson, Triumph, pp. 60-61. Buchanan tolerated drunkenness in other officers, and in Grant's successor, and surprised fellow officers by forcing Grant's resignation. Garland, p. 126, notes that at the time the War Department made clear that Grant did not leave under a cloud.
- ↑ His wife's slaves were leased in St. Louis in 1860 after Grant gave up farming. The land and cabin where Grant lived is now an animal conservation reserve, Grant's Farm, owned and operated by the Anheuser-Busch Company.
- ↑ McFeely, ch. 5.
- ↑ The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Retrieved April 28, 2007.
- ↑ Hesseltine, chapter 6.