Ulysses S. Grant was born in Point Pleasant Ohio, on April 27th, 1822 to a modest middle class family. His father worked as a tanner, thus he developed a proficiency in the handling of equestrians, which was one of his only mertiable traits during his appointment to West Point. He graduated in 1843 ranking 21st out of 39 graduating students. Grant then served in the Mexican War. Although he served effectively with Zachary Taylor's army at Monterey and with Winfeild Scott's army in the campaign for Mexico city, where he won two brevets for meritorious conduct, he detested the war. Grant once said of the Mexican war, "one of the most unjust ever waged on a weaker country by a stronger."
After the war, Grant married Julia Dent, the daughter of a rich plantation owner in Missouri, on August 22, 1848. Grant was initially assigned to garrison duty in the central northeast United States in the Great Lakes region. He was transferred to the Pacific Northwest where he has unable to have his family with him. In 1854 he resigned from the military after rumors of drink clouded his name. He returned to the east only to fail in one business venture after another. In the April of 1861, Grant was clerking in his brothers leather shop, in Galena Illinois.
Despite any of his acquaintances at West Point, he was unable to obtain a position on General George B. McClellan's staff. His first duty in the Civil War was as Colonel of the "Governor Gate's Hellions" which he soon shaped up. After his success with the Illinois Hellions, he was appointed a Brigadier General on August 7th, 1861. In November of 1861, he launched an ill prepared and ill fated attack on Belmont, Missouri. Despite having the advantage, he fell back with acute loses. Three months later, however, with the heavy assistance of the navy, he took Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. His success with the forts earned him the promotion to Major General. In early April of 1862, Grant moved carelessly down the Tennessee river to Pittsburgh Landing, or Shiloh, Tennessee where one of the most devastating battles of the war took place. Taken by surprise, his forces were nearly defeated on the first day. Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston was mortally wounded at the height of the Confederate charge. Thanks to reinforcements from General Don Carlos Buell, the tide was turned on the second day. The Federalists slowly pushed the Confederates back to Corinth, which was already evacuated. General Henry Halleck took personal command of the forces, and Grant was shelved for several months after biased rumors of his drinking again surfaced.
On October 25th, 1862, Grant was again restored to a command post of prominence, with his appointment to the Army of Tennessee. He was soon ordered to take Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Vicksburg campaign started off on the wrong foot, with the capture of his base camp at Holly Springs, which caused his retreat in December. However in the spring of 1863, he executed a largely effective campaign and crossed the Mississippi south of Vicksburg. He defeated the forces of Pemberton, leading to the surrender of 20,000 troops. After a fierce 42 day siege, Vicksburg fell on July 4th 1863.
In September of 1863, Grant went to the rescue of William Rosecran's army at Chattanooga. He reinforced this army, and replaced Rosecrans with George H. Thomas opening up new lines of supply and communication. At the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, Grant defeated Braxton Bragg opening a new path for Sherman's March to the Sea.
Although attempting to remain distant from politics, Grant impressed Abraham Lincoln with his tenacity and self-reliance. Thus, early in 1864, he was placed in charge of all Northern Armies and promoted to Lieutenant General. He put Sherman in charge of the west, and worked closely with George G. Meade's Army of the Potomac. Together they led the driving advances against Lee, who out generaled both of them, and forced the toward Spotsylvania. After several months of blundering around the south, Grant was finally able to corner Lee at Appomtox Court House. Lee quickly agreed to Grant's generous terms of surrender.
After the war, he was advanced to General in Chief, and served momentarily as Secretary of War under Andrew Johnson. Grant's attempts to protect the southern occupational army soon earned him a presidential candidacy in the radical Republican party. In 1868 he won the election and served for 2 terms. After his terms in office, he went on a two year cruise, and returned to fail to receive the Republican party nomination. After years of cigars, Grant was finally stricken with throat cancer, and during this time, he wrote the Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, which netted his family $450,000, and became an American classic. Grant died at Mount McGregor, New York on July 23, 1885.