Born in 1822 in Ohio, Ulysses S. Grant graduated from West Point in 1843. He fought in the Mexican War, served out west and then resigned from the U.S. Army in 1854. He spent the next seven years in various jobs. Joining the army with the start of the war Grant gained national attention with his victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, and Vicksburg. Promoted to Lieutenant General March 9, 1864 after his victory at Chattanooga, he was then made General in Chief of the Armies of the United States just three days later.
While accompanying Gen. Meade's Army of the Potomac, Grant directed a national, multi-theater strategy aimed at outflanking the Confederates and destroying their communications and subsistence. At Petersburg Grant displayed his mastery of logistics. His supply base at City Point was one of the world's busiest seaports and combined with the use of the Military Railroad for communication and transportation, the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James were able to maintain its siege operations around Petersburg and Richmond. Grant's success in doing this manifested itself in the collapse of Lee's lines on April 2, 1865 and the subsequent surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865.
Grant was elected President of the United States twice (1869-1877). In 1884 he lost all his savings in a financial venture and ended up writing his autobiography to get his family out of poverty. He completed the book a few days before his death of throat cancer in July of 1885. The book was a success and his memoirs are considered one of the best ever written.
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Did You Know?
Slaves who entered Union lines and came to City Point, Virginia (present day Hopewell) during the Siege of Petersburg, were typically employed unloading ships and working in the hospitals. (Petersburg National Battlefield)