Ulysses S. Grant was an outstanding military figure and the savior of the Union during the Civil War, as well as the 18th President of the United States. He was an author of unusual ability and his Memoirs
are widely regarded.
Born in 1822, Grant was the son of an Ohio tanner. A graduate of West Point, at the outbreak of the Civil War, he was appointed by the governor to command an unruly volunteer regiment, quickly rising to the rank of brigadier general of volunteers. In February 1862, he took Fort Henry and attacked Fort Donelson. When the Confederate commander asked for terms, Grant replied, "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted."
The Confederates surrendered, and President Lincoln promoted Grant to major general of volunteers. At Shiloh, Grant fought one of the bloodiest battles in the West and came out less well. Lincoln fended off demands for his removal by saying, "I can't spare this man - he fights." For his next major objective, Grant fought skillfully to win Vicksburg, the key city on the Mississippi, cutting the Confederacy in two. Then he broke the Confederate hold on Chattanooga.
Lincoln appointed him General-in-Chief in March 1864. Grant directed Sherman to drive through the South while he himself, with the Army of the Potomac, pinned down General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Finally, on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Lee surrendered. Grant wrote out magnanimous terms of surrender that would prevent treason trials.
As President, Grant presided over the Government much as he had run the Army bringing part of his Army staff to the White House. After retiring from the Presidency, Grant became a partner in a financial firm, which went bankrupt. About that time he learned that he had cancer of the throat. He started writing his recollections to pay off his debts and provide for his family, racing against death to produce these Memoirs. Soon after completing the last page, in 1885, he died.