Ulysses S. Grant served as a Commander of the Union and later became the 18th President of the United States in 1869; at 46 he was the youngest president ever.
Grant began his military career during the Mexican American War, serving as quartermaster. When he later had the chance to lead a company into combat, Grant was credited for his bravery under fire.
Grant remained in the military and was sent to what is now Washington State. He missed his family and after several failed businesses, he began to drink and he developed a reputation that stayed with him through his military career. On July 31, 1854, Grant resigned from the army after allegations of heavy drinking and warnings of disciplinary actions.
The attack on Fort Sumter by the Confederate troops sparked Grant’s patriotism and he volunteered his military services to the Union.
Grant and his volunteer regiment were credited as achieving the earliest significant Union victories of the Civil War; earning Grant the nickname “Unconditional Surrender Grant.”
Though the battle at Vicksburg marked Grant’s greatest achievement and a boost for the Union, rumors of Grant’s heavy drinking followed him through the rest of the Western Campaign.
Grant saw the military objectives of the Civil War differently than most of his predecessors, who believed that capturing territory was most important to winning the war. Grant believed that taking down the Confederate armies was more important to the war effort, and to that end, set out to track down and destroy General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered his army, marking the end of the Civil War. In a magnanimous gesture, Grant allowed Lee's men to keep their horses and return to their homes, taking none of them as prisoners of war.
Source: Ulysses S. Grant
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