| Builders of Our Country: Book II|
|by Gertrude van Duyn Southworth|
| A lively account of American history told through 31 biographies, beginning with Patrick Henry at the start of the Revolution and ending with Andrew Carnegie at the close of the 19th century. The biographies are so chosen as to acquaint the reader with the chief personages and events in our national life, by including many vivid pictures of each. Ages 10-12 |
ULYSSES S. GRANT
 IF you had been in Georgetown, Ohio, any school day
about 1835, and had stepped into the little frame schoolhouse
there, you would have seen thirty boys and girls
bending busily over their slates, and at the desk the teacher
standing, probably with a long beech switch in his hand.
Little did he dream that behind one of those slates sat a boy
who in coming years
was to lead the armies of
the Union to victory, and
was to sit for eight years in
the Presidential chair. That
boy was Ulysses S. Grant.
Ulysses Grant's father
was a tanner in Georgetown
and owned considerable land
outside of the city. Ulysses
disliked the tanning business, but loved the farm,
especially when he could
use the horses. When only
eight years old he hauled all
the wood used in the house and in the shops. And from
the time he was eleven until he was seventeen, he did all
the plowing and hauling, besides taking care of the cows
 and horses, sawing the firewood, and going to school.
For play he used to go fishing, swimming, and skating;
and sometimes he rode on horseback to visit his
grandparents fifteen miles away.
Just before Ulysses was seventeen, he received an
appointment as a cadet to the United States Military
Academy and, in May, 1839, went to West Point.
The four years at West Point passed rather slowly but
pleasantly enough for Grant. He never stood very high in
his classes. In French his work was such that he himself
said, "If the class had been turned the other end
foremost, I should have been near the head." On being
graduated from West Point, he was commissioned an
officer in the United States Infantry.
In 1844 the regiment to which Grant belonged was
ordered to Louisiana. The young soldier was soon to
have his first taste of real war.
Some years before, the great state of Texas had made
herself independent of Mexico, to which she had formerly
belonged. She now asked to become a part of the United
States and, in 1845, was taken into the Union. But the
Mexicans were not willing to grant her as much land as she
claimed. Texas said that her territory extended to the
Rio Grande River. Mexico denied this, and said that it
extended only to the Nueces River, about one hundred miles
north of the Rio Grande. An American army then seized
the disputed land—a step which the Mexicans naturally
resented. Blood was shed, and the result was war declared
between the United States and Mexico in 1846. This war
General Grant said in later years, was "one of the most
unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation."
However, whether Grant thought the war was just or
unjust made no difference. It was his duty as a soldier
to fight at his country's call. Late in the summer of 1846,
 the army under General Taylor was headed for Monterey,
one of the important places on the road to the City of
Monterey was built on a high plane, at the entrance to
a pass in the Sierra Madre Mountains. The town was well
defended. Upon the low flat-roofed houses were soldiers,
protected by rows of sand bags. Over the tops of these
sand bags the Mexicans could shoot with but little danger
of being struck themselves. And it was only after a four
day battle that the American troops succeeded in taking
During this battle Lieutenant Grant performed a most
daring feat. Ammunition was getting low, and some one
had to go for more. It was a dangerous ride; and as the
General in command did not like to ask anyone to take the
risk, he called for a volunteer. Grant promptly responded.
Hanging over the farther side of his horse he galloped
through the streets so fast that the enemy's shots were
always too late to strike him.
At another time, when near the City of Mexico, he
caught sight of a church with a high steeple. With a few
men he took a cannon up into the belfry and showered
shots upon the enemy.
The city was finally taken, and a treaty was arranged
between the United States and Mexico. By the terms of
this treaty Texas extended her territory to the Rio Grande,
as she had claimed, and New Mexico and California were
secured to the United States. In return, the United States
paid Mexico $15,000,000.
FARMER, BUSINESS MAN, AND GENERAL
FOR the next few years Grant remained in the army.
In the meantime he married. Finding that he could
 not support a family on the pay of an army officer, he
resigned his position and became a farmer near St. Louis,
Missouri. Here he lived for four years, working hard in
good weather and bad, until fever and age forced him
to give up farm life.
In 1860 he went to Galena, Illinois, where his father
had a store; and in this store he clerked until President
Lincoln's first call for volunteers.
The night that the call reached Galena, Grant presided
over a great meeting of the citizens, at the Court House.
He never wrapped another package after that meeting.
He was selected to take charge of the volunteers of the
town, drill them, and take them to Springfield, where
they would be assigned to a regiment.
One thing that made Grant a great commander was
his power to drill and manage men. He could take men
who knew nothing about handling guns or about military
discipline and could make fine soldiers of them in a few
weeks. He said very little, but thought a great deal,
and did his thinking at the right time. When he did speak,
he always said something worth hearing.
Grant was soon made Colonel of a regiment in General
Pope's division of the Union army, and in August was
promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.
At this time the Confederates held forts along the
Mississippi River from its mouth to Columbus, Kentucky.
They had also Fort Donelson on the Cumberland, and
Fort Henry on the Tennessee. General Grant saw the
importance of taking these two forts and gaining control
of this section of the enemy's country. He talked over
his plans with Commodore Foote, who had charge of the
gunboats near Cairo. Both telegraphed to headquarters
for leave to attack the forts and received permission in
 Fort Henry was the first point of attack. Here the
gunboats had the advantage. While Grant with his land
forces was wading through the flooded creeks and the
deep mud of the roads, Commodore Foote sailed up and
took the fort.
At Fort Donelson it was different. For three days the
land and naval forces carried on a siege. Then the
commander of the Confederates asked Grant what terms would
be allowed if the fort were given up. Grant replied, "No
terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender
can be accepted." This was characteristic of General
Grant. He was the kindest of men to a conquered enemy,
but he was firm and would not budge an inch before he
had gained a victory. After the siege of Fort Donelson
people said that Grant's initials stood for "unconditional
THE UNION GUNBOATS ATTACKING FORT DONELSON.
 The surrender of Nashville soon followed the capture
of Fort Donelson, and General Grant with his victorious
soldiers marched along the Tennessee River to Shiloh.
Here they were attacked and driven back. But the next
day, more Union troops having come, Grant again won a
Another post of vast importance held by the South
was Vicksburg, and in the spring of 1863 Grant laid siege
to that city. Never was a city more nobly defended than
was Vicksburg. Week after week Grant and Sherman
kept up their attack by day and by night. Within the
besieged city the food became so scarce that a soldier had
only one cracker and a small piece of pork for a days
rations. During the last days the Confederates were
compelled to use cats and rats for food.
In some places the Union and Confederate lines were
so close that the Confederates would call across, "Well,
Yank, when are you coming into town?"
"We propose to celebrate the Fourth of July there,"
the Union men would call back.
"The Yankee soldiers say they are going to take dinner
in Vicksburg on the Fourth," said the Vicksburg paper.
"The best receipt for cooking a rabbit is, 'First catch your
 rabbit.'" The last issue of the newspaper was printed on
the back of wall paper on the Fourth of July and admitted
that the Yankees had "caught their rabbit." Vicksburg
When the Yankee soldiers entered the city, all hard
feelings between the two armies were at an end. "I
myself," said General Grant, "saw our men taking bread
from their haversacks and giving it to the enemy they had
been so recently engaged in starving out." When the
Confederate soldiers passed out of the works they had
defended so bravely, not a cheer nor an insulting word
was uttered by the Union soldiers.
After the battle of Chattanooga in the following
November, President Lincoln saw that the one man who
ought to be at the head of the whole army was General
Grant. So he made him Lieutenant General, with the
power to manage the rest of the war according to his
LIEUTENANT GENERAL AND PRESIDENT
WHEN Ulysses S. Grant took command of the Union
forces, there were two Confederate armies in the field,—one
under General Johnston in Georgia, the other under
General Robert F. Lee, in Virginia. General Grant
decided that he himself would lead the Army of the Potomac
and march against Lee. Sherman was to conquer
Johnston, and then push his way through Georgia to the sea.
They were to hammer away at the two Confederate armies
at the same time.
One of the first things that General Grant did was to
look around for the man most fit to take charge of the
cavalry of the Army of the Potomac. He chose General
 General Sheridan made it his business to torment
Lee's army as much as possible. He captured its
supplies in the Shenandoah Valley. He destroyed miles of
railroad and telegraph lines. He defeated Lee's cavalry
in several battles. In fact he made the United States
cavalry seem like a swarm of hornets, buzzing around the
Confederate army. He burned so many barns, and mills
stored with grain that some one said, "If a crow wants to
fly down the Valley, he must carry his provisions with him."
In the meantime General Grant and General Sherman
were "hammering away" at the enemy. Sherman went
first to Atlanta, conquering the troops that he met on the
way. Then, having taken Atlanta and destroyed everything
that might be of use to the Southern army, he began
his famous march to the sea. On the 22nd of December,
1864, Sherman telegraphed to President Lincoln, "I beg
to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah."
INTERIOR OF A CONFEDERATE FORT ON THE COAST.
 His army had mowed down everything in the way and
had reached the coast. He now turned northward to
march through the Carolinas and advance upon Lee from
But General Grant did not need Sherman's help. He
had met the Confederates in several fierce battles in the
"Wilderness," the desolate woody region south of the
Rapidan River. His losses had been great; but in spite
 of everything he would not turn back. "I propose to
fight it out on this line if it takes all summer," he insisted.
Then he turned his attention to Petersburg, south of
Richmond; and the city was captured on April 2nd, 1865.
THE WAR IN THE EAST.
On the fall of Petersburg, Lee withdrew his army along
the Appomattox River. The next day, April 3rd, the
Union army marched into Richmond; and for the first
time in four years the stars and stripes floated over the
capital of the Confederacy.
It was at Appomattox Court House, about seventy-five
miles west of Richmond, that General Lee, Commander-in-chief
of the Confederate army, finally surrendered to
General Grant. This was a few days after the fall of
Richmond. General Lee was tall, handsome, and noble
looking. Dressed in a beautiful new Confederate uniform
he looked most splendid beside the plain, round-shouldered,
quiet man, in rough soldier's dress, with nothing
but the straps on his shoulders to tell that he was
Lieutenant General of the Union army.
In the terms of surrender Grant's usual kindness
showed itself. He would not take the officers' swords and
allowed the soldiers to keep their horses, as they would
need them for the spring plowing. The men in the
Union lines, hearing that Lee's army had surrendered,
were about to fire a salute of one hundred guns in honor
of the victory. But Grant would not allow his men to
rejoice over a fallen foe, and forbade the firing.
When the news of Lee's surrender reached Sherman's
army, the men went nearly wild with joy. They shouted,
threw up their caps and turned somersaults. Indeed the
whole country rejoiced that the long, hard war was ended.
But into the midst of all the joy came the appalling
tidings of President Lincoln's assassination. When a new
President was to be elected in 1868, there was but one
 man great enough for the place. That was the Ohio
plowboy, the quiet modest soldier, the Commander-in-chief
of the Army of the United States.
"Let us have peace," he said in accepting his nomination.
And during the eight years of his presidency Grant
fought as hard for peace as ever he had fought in war. The
Southern States were once more received into the Union;
and, in 1871, for the first time in more than ten years,
there was a representation of all the states in Congress.
HONORS AND DEATH
AT the end of his second term, General and Mrs. Grant
took a trip around the world. Great men gathered to see
them off. Crowds lined the shore, greeting them with
cheers. Bells rang and whistles sounded.
When the steamer arrived in Liverpool, it was welcomed
with even greater display. In France, Germany, on the
Mediterranean—everywhere, it was the same. Grant was
entertained by kings and emperors and received many
beautiful and costly gifts. At last, after traveling through
Asia, he sailed eastward across the Pacific to San Francisco,
and was received home at the west gate of the country.
But General Grant's fighting days were not over. One
more hard struggle lay before him after his trip around the
world. Going into business in New York City with a
faithless friend, he lost all his property, and found himself
penniless and obliged to live on borrowed money. The
hand of the last great silent conqueror was already upon
him; but he did not falter. Courageously he went to work
writing the two big volumes of "Memoirs," the sale of
which he hoped would support his family after he was gone.
On General Grant's last Memorial Day, the old soldiers
of the Grand Army of the Republic in New York City rose
 early. They unfurled their old battle flags, and formed
their lines in the streets. At home, upon his bed, lay the great
commander. Suddenly the
sound of the drum
and the slow heavy
tread of many
marching feet came
to his ears. He
could not lie there
motionless with the
music of Vicksburg
and the Wilderness
ringing in his ears.
With all his strength
he dragged himself
to the window. He
saw the tattered,
blood-stained, bullet-pierced battle
flags dipped to him
in salute. Once
more as of old he
raised his hand to his brow. It was his last salute to the
soldiers and the flag he loved so well.
On July 23, 1885, General Grant died. During the
hour of the funeral, services were held over the entire
country. Thousands followed his body to the vault where
it was laid.
THE TOMB OF GENERAL GRANT.
April 27th was the anniversary of Grant's birth, and on
that day in the year 1897 his casket was removed from the
vault and carried to a splendid mausoleum raised by his
countrymen on Riverside Drive in New York. Over the
portico are his words, "Let us have peace."
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