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To commemorate the 160th anniversary of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant taking control of the Union Army in March 1864, we highlight five facts about Grant

Updated: Mar 7

Born in 1822, Ulysses S. Grant is best known as a war hero and two-term president. Learn more about Grant’s strategies, successes and life after war.

Ulysses S. Grant

Five Interesting Facts About Grant’s Life and Career:

War Successes: President Abraham Lincoln appointed Ulysses S. Grant as General-in-Chief (Lieutenant General) of the Union Army in March 1864 — a decision that had a profound impact on the remainder of the Civil War.

But Grant’s achievements started long before this appointment. He was the only Union general to achieve the surrender of three significant Confederate armies during the American Civil War. The three surrenders were:

  1. Fort Donelson (February 1862): Grant's victory at the Battle of Fort Donelson marked the first major Union success of the war. The Confederate garrison, commanded by General Simon B. Buckner, surrendered to Grant, earning him the nickname "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.

  2. Vicksburg (July 1863): One of the most critical victories of the war, the Siege of Vicksburg, ended with the surrender of Confederate Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton to Grant. The fall of Vicksburg gave the Union control of the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy in two.

  3. Appomattox Court House (April 1865): The most famous and significant surrender came at the end of the war when Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. This event is often considered the effective end of the Civil War.

While other Union generals achieved victories and accepted surrenders during the war, Grant's role in securing these surrenders was particularly notable and contributed significantly to the Union's ultimate success.

Relentless Military Tactics: Grant’s military tactics and determination played a crucial role in shaping the outcome of the Civil War. These tactics were the aggressive and relentless pursuit of the enemy. Grant embraced the strategy of total war, aiming to destroy the Confederate Army’s ability to fight rather than just capturing territory. He understood that victory required not only defeating the Confederates, but also breaking the Southern economy and its will to resist. Grant utilized attrition and engaged in prolonged campaigns, emphasizing the importance of sustaining pressure on the Confederacy. Grant’s strategic mindset and willingness to engage decisively contributed significantly to the Union’s success.

Leadership: Grant's leadership style was characterized by decisiveness and directness. He was known for his clear communication and straightforward orders, which helped maintain discipline and focus within his ranks.

After the War: Grant's leadership played a pivotal role in the Union's victory during the American Civil War, and his successes contributed to his post-war political career. Regarded as an American hero, Grant was elected the 18th president of the United States and served two terms (1869–1877), working to implement Congressional Reconstruction and to remove the vestiges of slavery.

Final Days: After retiring from politics, Grant faced financial setbacks from failed investments. He decided to write his memoir to support his family. He finished it just days before succumbing to throat cancer in 1885 at age 63. That memoir reportedly earned $450,000, according to

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