One minute with US Grant

Grant,_Ulysses_S._(03)-1I named my Mixed In protagonist Ulysses after the Civl War general to allude to the instability of the Cochtonville city-state.  But what was the real US Grant like?

He was born April 27, the eldest of six.

Unambitious, he only went to West Point because his father, an ambitious tanner, applied for him and secured admittance.

His real name was Hiram Ulysses Grant, but he did not appreciate that his initials spelled out HUG. He ditched the Hiram and used his mother’s maiden name, Simpson, for his middle initial. However, at West Point, people assumed it stood for Samuel and even called him Sam.

He was a shy child and not particularly smart. For this reason, he earned the nickname “Useless” in school. His talent was working with horses. This talent was useful to him as a solider. One of his abilities was riding a horse while hanging off its side–giving the appearance that the horse was riderless. This made him valuable as a messenger in the Mexican-American War.  Following the war, he took to farming but did poorly at it. His family of four children often had little to eat. So when the Civil War started, he enlisted enthusiastically.

His siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi ended the Southern control of the river. Subsequent battles at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor inflicted high casualties on the South.  Mary Lincoln called him a butcher. Grant was the man to whom Lee surrendered.

He would not allow General Lee to be spoken ill of in his presence.

He was faithful to his wife, Julia. She was the sister of his West Point roommate and although unattractive and cross-eyed, was an excellent horse rider as he was. She lavished him with affection and even called  him Victor for “victory.” He was able to overlook that her family owned slaves. After his marriage, he was given a slave by his in-laws but he freed the man. At the end of his life, he knew money would be tight for Julia so he stubbornly refused to die until his memoirs were finished and she could benefit financially from the sales. She lived a comfortable life following his passing and even became friends with an actress.

Julia Grant disliked Mary Lincoln, whom she considered volatile, and did everything she could to avoid her. Julia found Mary’s rages when the president was in the company of other women without her intolerable. Julia was an excellent hostess and loved concerts and plays. But when the Lincolns invited them to the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater, the Grant’s declined.


US was a loyal man and this got him into trouble as a president. Although he was a modest and honest man, his cohorts were not. He appointed people he liked and stuck by them, making his time as president one of corruption. (Ironically, this method of management has been pushed in the book Good to Great.)

It’s believed that he was an agnostic. He was a heavy drinker and smoker.

He is featured on the fifty dollar bill.

Here is his daughter, Nellie.


For fun, I’ll send a US Grant dollar to the first person to comment below. And I’ll send a photo of Grant to the first person who requests one.

And while you are here, check out my post about Sheros of History.

Thank-you for reading!

3 thoughts on “One minute with US Grant

  1. 1smallisland

    Good morning,

    I love reading your bites of history. Fascinating little tidbits that I never knew. Interesting and fun to read about and I love those old photos. Thank you for sending them to me.

    Do you ever listen to Peter B Collins? Here’s a link to his latest. We hook up our external speakers and listen to him as we work. I think you’ll find him interesting.



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