Military Service

Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) had never wished to become a soldier, but in 1839 his father sent him to the U.S. Military Academy primarily because it provided him with a free education.  Grant was not an outstanding cadet, but he finished 21st out of 39 in his 1843 graduating class.

He was a quartermaster in the Mexican-American War, during which time he was twice breveted (given an honorary promotion) for “gallant conduct.” After the war, he served for seven years in garrison and on frontier duty.  He resigned his commission in 1854 because of accusations of drunkenness. He carried this unfair stigma for the rest of his life and afterwards.

After six years of unsuccessful civilian life, Grant returned to the army as commanding colonel of the 21st Illinois Volunteer Regiment on June 17, 1861. He remained in the U.S. Army throughout the Civil War, during which time he rose to commanding general of all Federal armies.  His service during the war gained him the reputation of being one of the greatest soldiers in all of American history.

When the war was over, Grant attained the rank of “General of the Army of the United States” a position he held as commander of all American armies until he was inaugurated as president of the United States on March 4, 1869.  He was later restored that rank by Congress in 1885.

Service Summary

Compiled by George W. Cullum for the U. S. Military Academy Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates

Military History. –Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1839, to July 1, 1843, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to
Bvt. Second Lieut., 4th Infantry, July 1, 1843.
Served: in garrison at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., 1843-44;
on frontier duty at Natchitoches, La. (Camp Salubrity), 1844-45;
in Military Occupation of Texas, 1845-46;

(Second Lieut., 4th Infantry, Sep. 30, 1845)
in the War with Mexico, 1846-48, being engaged in the Battle of Palo Alto, May 8, 1846,
–Battle of Resaca-de-la-Palma, May 9, 1846,
–Battle of Monterey, Sep. 21-23, 1846,
–Siege of Vera Cruz, Mar. 9-29, 1847,
–Battle of Cerro Gordo, Apr. 17-18, 1847,
–Capture of San Antonio, Aug. 20, 1847,
–Battle of Churubusco, Aug. 20, 1847,
–Battle of Molino del Rey, Sep. 8, 1847

(Bvt. First Lieut., Sep. 8, 1847, for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Molino del Rey, Mex.)
–Storming of Chapultepec, Sep. 13, 1847,

(Bvt. Capt., Sep. 13, 1847, for Gallant Conduct at Chapultepec, Mex.)
–Assault and Capture of the City of Mexico, Sep. 13-14, 1847,
–and as Quartermaster, 4th Infantry, Apr. 1, 1847, to July 23, 1848;

(First Lieut., 4th Infantry, Sep. 16, 1847)
in garrison at Sackett’s Harbor, N. Y., 1848-49,
as Quartermaster, 4th Infantry, Sep. 11, 1849, to Sep. 30, 1853;
in garrison at Detroit, Mich., 1849-50, 1850-51,
–Sackett’s Harbor, N. Y., 1851-52,
–Ft. Columbus, N. Y., 1852,
–and at Benicia, Cal., 1852; and on frontier duty at Columbia Barracks, Or., 1852-53,
–Ft. Vancouver, Or., 1853,

(Captain, 4th Infantry, Aug. 5, 1853)
–and Ft. Humboldt, Cal., 1854.
Resigned, July 31, 1854.

Civil History.
–Farmer, near St. Louis, Mo., 1854-59.
–Real Estate Agent, St. Louis, Mo., 1859-60.
–Merchant, Galena, Ill., 1860-61.

Military History. –Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861-66:
in command of a Company of Illinois Volunteers, Apr.-May, 1861;
assisting in Organizing and Mustering Volunteers into service, May to June 17, 1861;

(Colonel, 21st Illinois Volunteers, June 17, 1861)
on march to Quincy, Ill., and in guarding the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, Mo., June 17 to Aug. 7, 1861;

(Brig.-General, U. S. Volunteers, May 17, 1861)
in command of Ironton, Mo., Aug. 7-17, 1861,
–of Jefferson City, Mo., Aug. 17-29, 1861,
–and of the District of Southwestern Missouri, headquarters Cape Girardeau, Mo., subsequently extended to embrace Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky, headquarters Cairo, Ill., Sep. 1, 1861, to Feb. 17, 1862,
being engaged in the Seizure of Paducah, Ky., at the mouth of Tennessee River, Sep. 6, 1861,
–Expedition to and Combat of Belmont, Mo., Nov. 7, 1861,
–and armed Reconnoissances into Western Kentucky, making demonstrations upon the Rebel defenses at Columbus, Ky.,
and Ft. Henry, Ten., Jan. 10-22, 1862; in the Tennessee Campaign (in command), Feb. to Apr., 1862, being engaged in Operations against Ft. Henry, Feb. 2-6, 1862,
–Investment and Capture of Ft. Donelson, with 14,623 prisoners and much material of war, Feb. 13-16, 1862,

(Maj.-General, U. S. Volunteers, Feb. 16, 1862, to July 4, 1863)
–and Battle of Shiloh, Apr. 6-7, 1862;
in command of the District of West Tennessee, Mar. 5 to Oct. 16, 1862;
in the Mississippi Campaign (second in command), Apr. to Oct., 1862, being engaged in the Advance upon, and Siege of Corinth, Apr. 10 to May 30, 1862,
in immediate command of the Right Wing and Reserve of Major-General Halleck’s Army,
–and subsequently to July 18, 1862, directed the operations resulting in the Battles of Corinth, Oct. 3-4, and of the Hatchie, Oct. 5, 1862, and commanded in person at the Battle of Iuka, Sep. 19, 1862;
in command of the Department of the Tennessee, Oct. 16, 1862, to Oct. 16, 1863;
in command of the Army on the Mississippi, in the Vicksburg Campaign, Nov. 4, 1862, to July 18, 1863, comprising the flank movement to Oxford, Mis., Nov.-Dec., 1862, from which he was compelled to fall back by Col. Murphy’s surrender, Dec. 20, 1862, of his principal depot of supplies at Holly Springs,
–Descent of the Mississippi to Young’s Point, Jan., 1863,
–Advance to Bruinsburg and flanking Grand Gulf, Apr., 1863, after fruitless efforts to turn Vicksburg by Williams’s Canal, Yazoo Pass, Steele’s Bayou, Lake Providence, etc., Feb.-Mar., 1863,
–Battle of Port Gibson, May 1, 1863,
–Battle of Raymond, May 12, 1863,
–Capture of Jackson, Mis., May 14, 1863,
–Battle of Champion’s Hill, May 16, 1863,
–Combat of the Big Black, May 17, 1863,
–Assaults on Vicksburg, May 19 and 22, 1863, and Siege of the place, May 22, till its unconditional surrender, July 4, 1863,

(Major-General, U. S. Army, July 4, 1863)
with stores and garrison of 31,500, resulting in the Re-occupation of Jackson, Mis., July 16, 1863, and forcing the retreat of General J. E. Johnston’s Rebel army beyond Brandon, Mis.;
in organizing various Expeditions in the department under his command, July-Aug., 1863;
on tour of Inspection from Cairo, Ill., to Natchez, Mis., Aug. 23 to Sep. 2, 1863;
in command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, Oct. 16, 1863, to Mar. 2, 1864, including the Armies of the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee, being engaged in Defense of and Operations about Chattanooga, Oct. 23 to Nov. 23, 1863,
–Battle of Chattanooga, Nov. 23-25, 1863,
–Pursuit of the enemy, with large captures of Prisoners, Nov. 26-27, 1863,
–and on tour of Inspection, Jan., 1864;

(Lieut.-General, U. S. Army, Mar. 2, 1864)
and in command, as General-in-Chief, of the Armies of the United States, Mar. 17, 1864, to Aug. 12, 1866;
in the Richmond Campaign, May 4, 1864, to Apr. 9, 1865, in direct command of all the forces in the field, which were engaged
in the Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864,
–Battles about Spottsylvania, May 8-21, 1864,
–Battles of North Anna, May 21-25, 1864,
–Battle of Totopotomy, May 28-29, 1864, –Battle of Bethesda Church, May 30, 1864,
–Battles of Cold Harbor, June 1-13, 1864,
–Assaults on Petersburg, June 16-18, 1864,
–Military Operations about Petersburg, and Siege of the place, June 18, 1864, to Apr. 3, 1865,
–Pursuit of the Rebel Army, Apr. 3-9, 1865,
–Battle of Sailor’s Creek, Apr. 6, 1865,
–and Capitulation of General Lee, with the Army of Northern Virginia, at Appomattox C. H., Apr. 9, 1865.

(General, U. S. Army, July 25, 1866)
Served: in command of the Armies of the United States, Aug. 12, 1866, to Mar. 4, 1869. Secretary of War, ad interim, Aug. 12, 1867, to Jan. 14, 1868.

Vacated Commission of General, U. S. Army, Mar. 4, 1869.

Civil History.
–President of the United States, Mar. 4, 1869, to Mar. 4, 1877.

Military History.
–Re-appointed by Act of Congress,

General, U. S. Army, Mar. 3, 1885, on the Retired List.
Died, July 23, 1885, on Mount MacGregor, N. Y.: Aged 63.
The thanks of Congress were presented, Dec. 17, 1863, to General Grant, and also a Gold Medal. Resolutions of thanks were also passed by the Legislatures of most of the loyal States.

Military Staff

  • Babcock, Orville Elias
  • Badeau, Adam
  • Bowers, Theodore S.
  • Chenoweth, B. P.
  • Comstock, Cyrus B.
  • Dent, Frederick T.
  • DuBarry, Beekman
  • Duff, William Latimer
  • Dunn, Jr., William McKee
  • Hawkins, John P.
  • Hillyer, William
  • Hudson, Peter T.
  • Janes, Henry W.
  • Kittow, Edward (Dr.)
  • Lagow, Clark B.
  • Leet, George K.
  • Morgan, Michael R.
  • Parker, Ely Samuel
  • Poe, O. M.
  • Rawlins, John Aaron
  • Riggin, John
  • Ross, O. H.
  • Rowley, William
  • Smith, W. F.
  • Smith, William Sooy
  • Stockdale, S. A.
  • Towner, H. A.
  • Webster, Joseph