The War YearsWhen the Civil War began, Ulysses S. Grant was working as a clerk in his brother's leather shop in Galena, Illinois. He decided to offer his services to the Adjutant General in Washington, but apparently the army lost his appli cation, for there was no response. Thus, when the Illinois governor offered him an appointment in the 21st Illinois Volunteers in June, 1861, Grant eagerly accepted. Two months later, to his surprise, he was promoted to brigadier general by President Abraham Lincoln and assigned a command at Cairo, Illinois. On September 6, 1861, Grant achieved his first major victory, seizing Paducah, Kentucky. Then, in early February, 1862, Grant captured Fort Henry on the Tennessee River, and when the Confederates fled to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River, Grant followed in pursuit. Finally, on February 16, the Fort's commander asked Grant for his surrender terms, and Grant's response was, "No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted." The surrender came quickly, and Grant, who became known as "Unconditional Surrender" Grant, was promoted again to major general. On April 6, 1862, Grant became involved in the second great battle of the Civil War when his Union force of 63,000 men met 40,000 Confederate troops at Shiloh, Tennessee. Although Grant barely emerged from the battle without suffering defeat, President Lincoln kept. him on. "I can't spare this man," Lincoln said. "He fights." Grant's next move was an advance on Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi, which finally surrendered on July 4, 1863. On March 9, 1864, at the White House, Lincoln promoted Grant to the newly revived rank of lieutenant general a rank previously held only by George Washington and issued an Executive Order naming Grant general-in-chief of all the Union armies. Grant reorganized the armies and joined with the forces of Major General George G. Meade to direct the Virginia campaign against General Robert E. Lee. In a series of battles that took an enormous toll in lives, Grant pushed Lee toward Richmond. First Petersburg fell after a long siege, then Richmond was abandoned, and finally the Confederate troops marched to Appomattox. There, on April 9, 1865, Lee and Grant met at Appomattox Court House to arrange the terms of the South's surrender. In Ulysses S. Grant, the Union found a military commander who could lead it to victory.
Illustration: Ulysses S. Grant in uniform, giving orders on horseback
© 1979 Panarizon Publishing Corp. USA
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