The Civil War was a famous conflict of American history involving the Union and Confederate sides. States with many slave-dependant industries seceded from the Union in fear of the new president’s (Abraham Lincoln) opposition to slavery. The North (Union) wanted to preserve the Union and the South (Confederacy) wanted independence, and from there the Civil War was ignited. During the struggle, one of the most important generals of the Union was General Ulysses S. Grant. I believe General Grant was the right man for the job because of his ability to maintain stability even in difficult situations. His headstrong leadership allowed soldiers to place their trust in him. Grant was not only a great leader, he also proved to be a brilliant military strategist.
General Ulysses’s first battle was a minor one, but it was just the start of his resume. It also revealed the beginnings of his bravery and determined leadership. Kentucky’s neutral stance in the conflict was undermined when Confederate troops took occupancy there. Grant led inexperienced soldiers against Brig. Gen. Gideon J. Pillow and soon claimed victory. Always at the front of his men, General Grant fearlessly headed the charge, and even had a horse shot from under him. It was his first real conflict and already the General’s keen abilities were beginning to show.
A few months after the Battle of Belmont Grant would lead two major victories against the Confederacy: the first being the Battle of Fort Henry, a humiliating defeat for the South. Exploiting the Tennessee River, General Ulysses ordered a naval bombardment while simultaneously attacking Fort Henry on foot. But before the army even had a chance to attack, the Confederates surrendered the fort when the bombardment ensued. Grant emerged as a resourceful strategist from the successful conflict. The Union navy continued on the following days to eradicate the South’s naval occupancy of the Tennessee River, allowing smooth passageway to Fort Donelson.
General Ulysses would go on to lead many victorious battles, and eventually command the Union military, but he would have to earn it. Struggles such as the Battle of Fort Donelson—where his notoriety grew and where he earned the nickname “Unconditional Surrender” Grant; the bloody Battle of Shiloh—where his unassailable determination and strategic skills allowed him to return with triumph after enduring a surprise attack; and the battle at Vicksburg—where he conducted a daring battle plan on to victory. When Grant was appointed general-in-chief for his aptitude, and he did suffer costly defeats, such as Cold Harbor, but it was Grant who would devastate the “Stonewall” Division of the Confederacy and who would force Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House.
At the beginning of the war General Grant was just another face on the line of combat; just a leader of a decent sized unit… no one to turn a head for. But time passed and Grant’s portfolio grew, along with the army’s respect for him. I believe this respect was well earned. His masterful leadership, level head, unfailing determination, and keen strategizing skills were just what the general-in-chief of the Union military needed. I don’t know of a man better suited for his role, or who could’ve accomplished what he did. General Ulysses S. Grant’s infamy will no doubt survive many a century, and deservedly so.
Bunting, Josiah. Ulysses S. Grant. Throndike Press, 2004.
Haugen, Brenda. Ulysses S. Grant: Union General and U.S. President. Compass Point Books, 2005.