The Ulysses Roller Coaster
By Chris Webber (4034141)
American Public University System
July 10, 2015
HIST101: American History to 1877
What do George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower and Andrew Jackson all have in common? They were all war proven generals that later became president. Another name that can go on this list is General Ulysses Simpson Grant. Grant is considered one of the most important men for the Union during the Civil War and he rode that fame into the White House. His roller coaster life had many lows that would have crushed the average man, which made is highs even grander. This is story of Ulysses S. Grant, his early life, early military career, ...view middle of the document...
2. Joan Waugh, U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth (North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 16.
Due to a clerical error by the congressman that submitted Grants paperwork to West Point, Hiram Ulysses Grant was enrolled as Ulysses Simpson Grant. This change of name was embraced as Ulysses never liked the name Hiram. It did however lead to more teasing as Ulysses quickly picked up the nickname “Useless”. With average grades and more than a few reprimands Ulysses finally graduated West Point twenty first out of thirty-nine students3. He hated both school and being in the military and vowed at that point to do his obligated four years of service and then get out. This mindset started to change once he got to his first duty station and met Julia Dent, the sister of one of his fellow officers. She too had an affection for horses and soon they were engaged.
Before Julia and Ulysses could get married he was ordered to serve in the Mexican War. Here is where Ulysses S. Grant first started to see his calling as a true military officer. He was fortunate enough to work for, and learn from, two of Americas’ greatest generals, General Zachary Taylor and General Winfield Scott. Both of these men were drastically different in their approach which gave Grant a broad understanding of the benefits and pitfalls of both. General Scott was known as a spit and polish leader. He instilled the importance of drill and ceremony upon young Ulysses. General Taylor did not care about these things. He had no concern about his appearance but was a tactical genius that thought outside of the box. He would take risks and showed Grant the benefits of unconventional warfare. These two great examples of leadership quickly molded Grant and he was served with distinction during this time. He was known to borrow horses and lead raids deep into enemy territory. His fearless style made him a favorite amongst his men.
3. Waugh, U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth, 24.
Coming off a very successful tour in the Mexican War, Ulysses was at a high point in his life. He returned to St Louis to marry Julia Dent and start a family. Just like every good rollercoaster however, once one is at a high point, they must come crashing down. This happened to Grant when he was stationed in Fort Vancouver, which is now the state of Washington. He was there for multiple years without his wife and children. Depressed from numerous failed attempts to get them out to him, he resorted to drinking. In 1853 after obtaining the rank of Captain, his drinking caught up to him and was forced to retire or risk being Court Marshalled for drunkenness on duty. After retiring Grant went back to St Louis were he quickly reestablished that he was not very good at anything other than war and horses. He failed at being a farmer, real estate agent, and firewood peddler before moving his family...