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General Grant

The Illustrated London News, vol. 46, no. 1311, p. 366.

April 22, 1865


Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant, the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal armies, is a native of the State of Ohio, and was born in the year 1828. He was educated for his profession in the United States Military Academy at West Point, in the State of New York. After leaving that institution, he received his appointment as Lieutenant in the 4th Infantry in 1845, and served with much credit throughout the Mexican War. In 1847 he was appointed Quarter-master of his regiment, but soon afterwards left the service and settled in the State of Illinois, where he carried on the business of a tanner. When the civil war broke out, in 1861, he volunteered for active service, and obtained the command of the 2nd Volunteer Regiment of Illinois, but was presently advanced to the rank of Major-General. In the battle of Belmont, on the Mississippi, fought in November of that year, he was opposed to the Confederate Generals Pillow and Polk; and, though he was compelled to retreat before a very superior force, he gave proofs of a high degree of judgment and military skill. The capture of Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River, and Fort Donnelson, on the Cumberland River, in the course of that winter placed the whole of the State of Kentucky and a great part of the State of Tennessee in the secure possession of the Federal Government; and the merit of these achievements belongs to General Grant, though he was materially assisted by the gun-boat squadron. On the 6th and 7th of April, 1862, was fought the battle of Shiloh, near Corinth, one of the fiercest and bloodiest conflicts of the war--General Grant having to contend with Beauregard and Sydney Johnston, who had united their armies to crush him before he could be joined by Buell. On this memorable occasion he sustained for twenty hours the attack of their combined forces, which greatly outnumbered his own, and succeeded in holding his ground until General Buell came up, when a complete victory rewarded the constancy and courage of the Federal commander. His next great performance was the siege of Vicksburg, in the early part of 1863. His plan for the reduction of that fortress, which Sherman had in vain attempted the year before, involved a march of 150 miles through the hostile country of Mississippi State, so as to arrive at the rear of Vicksburg. The misconduct of Pemberton, the Confederate General in command of Vicksburg, and the insufficient strength of General Joseph Johnston, who was to have raised the siege, contributed to the successful issue of Grant's bold enterprise, which had seemed one of the greatest hazard. He remained in Mississippi, having the chief command of the Federal armies in the south-western States during the autumn and winter of 1863; and, as soon as the position of Chattanooga had fallen into the hands of the Federals, he conceived the design of sending Sherman, then Brigadier-General, to invade North Georgia, whence the Confederate armies were drawing their principal supply of munitions and matériel of war. The execution of this plan was hindered for some months, having been postponed to that of the march towards Mobile, which produced no useful result. Meantime Grant was recalled to Washington, to take the supreme command of all the Federal armies, which, with the rank of Lieutenant-General, was conferred upon him in the spring of 1864. Within eight weeks from the date of this commission he began his celebrated march to Richmond, having divided his army into two columns, one of which crossed the Rapidan, seventy miles from the Confederate capital, and plunged headforemost into the midst of the intrenched positions of the enemy; while the other, having been conveyed by sea to Fortress Monroe, advanced towards Richmond along the banks of the James River. The frightful carnage which befell the first division of Grant's army in the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, and Cold Harbour, from the 5th of May to the 3rd of June last year, shocked all feelings of humanity, and brought some reproach upon Grant, as reckless of the lives of his soldiers. General Grant, however, disregarding these complaints, persisted in the campaign, which has now been brought to a termination. Finding it hopeless to attack Richmond by the direct road from the north, he turned aside to the left hand, and, in spite of heavy losses, contrived to reach the banks of the James River, which have since formed his base of operations. The town of Petersburg, some twenty miles to the south of Richmond, has been the point most obstinately contested in the circuit of the Confederate defences. It is doubtful how much longer the resistance of General Lee might have been prolonged but for the approach of Sherman's army, which has recently obliged Lee to detach from the lines before Richmond a considerable part of his force. The result, which seems likely to put an end to the war, is the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, which took place during the first two or three days of this month. There can be little doubt of the high military abilities of General Grant, and still less of the extraordinary degree of resolution and perseverance which he has displayed in these most arduous and difficult undertakings. The Portrait engraved on our front page is from a photograph by Mr. Brady, of the National Portrait Gallery, New York.

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