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Ulysses S. Grant

Facts and summary information and article on Ulysses S. Grant, a union General during the American Civil War

Ulysses S. Grant Facts

Born

April 27, 1822. Point Pleasant, Ohio

Died

July 23, 1885. Wilton, New York

Initial Rank

Colonel, 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment

Highest Rank Achieved

Lieutenant General in command of all Union Armies
18th President of The United States

Battles Engaged

Battle of Fort Donelson
Battle of Shiloh
Siege of Vicksburg
Chattanooga Campaign
Overland Campaign
Siege of Petersburg
Appomattox Campaign

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Ulysses S. Grant summary: Ulysses S. Grant was born April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio, to a leather tanner named Jesse Grant and his wife Hannah Simpson Grant. His birth name was Hiram Ulysses Grant, but an error when he went to West Point changed it to Ulysses Simpson Grant. Simpson was his mother’s maiden name; she had used some of her connections to get him the West Point appointment. He allowed the error to stand and became U. S. Grant. To friends, he was known as "Sam."

Grant at West Point

Graduating 21st of 39 in the West Point Class of 1843, he served as a regimental quartermaster during the Mexican War, and developed a reputation for getting food and supplies over even the roughest terrain. A man of action, he would go to the front during battles, in disobedience of orders. At the battles of Molino del Rey and Chapultepec he was breveted for bravery and gallantry. Following the war, he was posted to the West Coast with the rank of captain, but resigned July 31, 1854, under suspicion of heavy drinking.
 
The question of the extent of Grant’s drinking, especially during the Civil War, is still debated today. He did partake of alcohol, but he suffered severe migraines and it is believed some bouts with these were reported as bouts of drunkenness. The boredom of frontier duty and longing for his beloved wife, Julia, likely did lead him to imbibe to excess. During the Civil War, his aide-de-camp, John A. Rollins, was a teetotaler who had seen his own father drink himself to death and the family into poverty. He informed Grant that the first time he saw his commander drunk would be the last day he would serve as his aide. Rollins was still with Grant at the end of the war. There were occasional stories of drunken binges, but none substantiated.
 
Grant had married Julia Dent, from St. Louis, on August 22, 1848. They were introduced by her cousin, an Army friend of Grant’s named James Longstreet. During the Civil War, Longstreet became a renowned general of the Confederacy as Grant’s star was rising in the Union Army. In 1880, Grant convinced President Rutherford B. Hays to name Longstreet ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.
 
After resigning from the army, Grant tried his hand unsuccessfully at several business ventures. In Missouri, he operated a farm, using one slave given to him by his slaveholding father-in-law. When the farm failed, Grant emancipated the man, William Jones, rather than selling him, even though Grant was in debt.

Ulysses S. Grant in the Civil War

When President Abraham Lincoln called for troops to put down the Southern rebellion, Grant, Julia and their children were living in a seven-room room in a well-to-do section of Galena, Illinois, and he was working as a clerk in the family’s leather goods store. Initially, he did not get a commission in the army, but with the help of Congressman Elihu B. Washburne, he was named colonel of the 21st Illinois Regiment, June 17, 1861. At the end of July he was made a brigadier general of volunteers, to date from May 17.
 
Placed in command of a series of departments—one of which took him back to Missouri where he used his officer’s pay to settle with his old creditors—he first led troops in combat during the Civil War on November 7, 1861, at Belmont, Missouri. After initial successes, he was forced to withdraw his men when Confederate reinforcements arrived.

Grant at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson

In February 1862, he commanded the land forces in the Army-Navy operations in Tennessee that captured Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland, opening the door for the occupation of Nashville, the first Confederate state capital to fall under Union control. At Fort Donelson, his old friend, Confederate brigadier general Simon Bolivar Buckner, asked for surrender terms. Grant responded, "No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender," and he became known in the North as "Unconditional Surrender Grant"—a nickname inspired in part by his initials, U. S. His victory led to a promotion to major general.
 
An illustrator depicted him smoking a cigar at Fort Donelson—he actually was a pipe smoker at the time—and the published image resulted in admirers sending him cigars by the barrelful. Perhaps not coincidentally, he would die of tongue cancer.
 
A Confederate sympathizer in a telegraph office intercepted and destroyed his messages to the War Department following the battle at Fort Donelson, and until the truth was discovered Grant was temporarily removed from command for failing to communicate with his superiors.

Grant At The Battle of Shiloh

On April 6, 1862, Grant’s Army of the Tennessee was surprised in its camps around Shiloh Church near Pittsburg Landing in southern Tennessee. Though pushed back a couple of miles, Grant held. Reinforced overnight by Brig. Gen. Don Carlos Buell with the Army of the Ohio, Grant and Buell defeated the Confederate army the next day, forcing it back to Corinth, Mississippi. Shiloh showed Lincoln Grant was a general who fought, even under facing adverse circumstances. Over that spring and summer, Grant’s resolve with his Western army stood in stark contrast to the generals in the east: George B. McClellan had been driven back from the gates of Richmond during the Battle of the Seven Days; Nathaniel P. Banks was beaten at Cedar Mountain (Slaughter’s Mountain); and John Pope met defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Battle of Manassas). McClellan and Pope had retreated; in the West, Grant kept pushing south and west.
 
Grant turned his attention to Vicksburg, the Confederate "Gibraltar of the West" atop high, steep banks that gave it control of Mississippi River traffic. He was set back by a cavalry raid led by Confederate Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn that captured his supply base at Holly Springs while Grant was trying to invest Vicksburg from the rear. By December 1862, Grant had brought a sizable force down the Mississippi and began his campaign against Vicksburg in earnest.

Grant at Vicksburg

His first effort was a bloody repulse. He sent Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman to take Chickasaw Bluffs north of the city, but the Confederates in their high, fortified position inflicted nearly 1,800 casualties. Over the coming months, Grant tried various operations on the rivers and bayous north of Vicksburg and digging a canal on the Louisiana side of the river.
 
As at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, he joined forces with the navy. On April 16, 1863, at Hard Times, Louisiana, south of Vicksburg, he and Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter carried out the largest American amphibious operation prior to World War II. Grant, perhaps drawing on his experiences as a quartermaster in the Mexican War, cut loose from his supply lines and let his men live off the land. They won fights at Raymond, Jackson, Champion’s Hill and Big Black River Bridge. By May 19, the first of his troops arrived northeast of Vicksburg. Again, he ordered Sherman to make an assault; again, Confederates in a strong system of defensive works repelled the Federals, inflicting about 1,000 casualties, in the first action of the Battle of Vicksburg.
 
Grant then settled into the siege of Vicksburg. For weeks, his men dug trenchworks that snaked ever closer to the town. On June 25, they detonated barrels of black powder in a tunnel they’d dug beneath the defenses, but were driven out by counterattacks. Finally, on July 3, the town’s Confederate commander, Lt. Gen. John Pemberton, sent word he was ready to surrender his outnumbered garrison and the town in which the citizens had been reduced to eating dogs and cats—reportedly, even rats—because of the siege. The next day, July 4, Grant accepted Pemberton’s surrender. The siege of Vicksburg is still studied in war colleges around the world as a classic example of siege warfare. The Vicksburg Campaign was also an example of what made Grant an effective commander: he wouldn’t give up. If he tried one thing and it didn’t work, he’d try others until he achieved his goal.
 
President Abraham Lincoln, when told that Grant "was a drunkard" and should be relieved of command, responded, "I can’t spare this man. He fights!"

Grant’s ‘Jewish Order,’ Order No. 11

Lincoln did have to reprimand Grant, however, over an incident that occurred in December 1862. Grant’s father visited his headquarters, bringing with him several friends from Ohio, who turned out to be cotton speculators, men who would travel in the wake of the advancing Union armies, buy up cotton and sell it for a healthy profit to the cotton-starved factories of the North. Some of the men with his father were Jewish. Grant, angry over the cotton speculation that was causing corruption among the army’s officers, issued his infamous Order No. 11: "The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department (i.e., Grant’s military district, the Department of the Tennessee) within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order."
 
Congress went into an uproar, and in January Lincoln told the War Department to rescind the order. It was an odd episode because Grant wasn’t known to be particularly anti-Semitic. He could display temper, however, in contrast to his usually quiet mien, and this was one of his outbursts. He later admitted to his wife that the criticism of his actions was well deserved. As president, he named several Jews to high positions and carried the Jewish vote in the 1868 election.
 
Following the success in conducting a siege at Vicksburg, he was called upon to break one at Chattanooga, Tennessee. In September 1863, the Union Army of the Cumberland and Army of the Ohio had been defeated in the Battle of Chickamauga in north Georgia. They had routed from the field and were now bottled up by Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Confederates, who occupied the high ground around Chattanooga.

General Grant at the Battle of Chattanooga

On October 18, Grant was given command of all armies in the west. He went to personally take charge in Chattanooga though he was suffering the effects of a bad fall from his horse. From childhood, he had been known to have a special way with horses and was a superb rider, but this was the second time during the war he’d been injured while riding. The first was prior to the Battle of Shiloh.
 
After a 60-mile trip overland, in which soldiers at times had to carry him when he was unable to walk those stretches, he arrived in Chattanooga soaked to the skin on the evening of October 23. He’d already replaced the commander who’d lost at Chickamauga, William S. Rosecrans, with the officer who had made a last-ditch stand that had saved the army, George Thomas. Grant approved a plan by Maj. Gen. William "Baldy" Smith for breaking the siege to the southwest, and within five days a "cracker line" of supplies was opened.
 
Grant’s attacks against the Confederate right, beginning on November 23, were stymied. Lookout Mountain, the Rebel left, was captured in what became known as the "Battle Above the Clouds." But it was an unplanned attack by Thomas’ troops in the center that swept the besiegers from Missionary Ridge and routed the Confederates. Seeing the Union soldiers climbing the ridge when they had only been expected to make a demonstration, Grant threatened whoever had ordered that attack up the slopes. No one had, as it turned out; the men just kept going, handing Grant a major victory.
 
That winter, Congress reinstated the rank of lieutenant general—a rank no field officer had held since George Washington—promoted Grant to it and put him in charge of all Union armies in March 1864. He had fought with, knew and trusted (to various degrees) the commanders in the Western Theater, where the story had been largely one Union victory after another. He entrusted command there to William T. Sherman, went east, and attached himself to the largest Union army, the Army of the Potomac, which had done little since its victory at Gettysburg the previous July. He left the victor of Gettysburg, Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade, in command of the army, but Grant traveled with it to keep his eye on things.
 
In the spring of 1864, he summarized his plans for the armies to President Lincoln. He intended to "employ all the force of all the armies continuously and concurrently, so that there should be no recuperation on the part of the rebels, no rest from attack." He had grasped a truth that had eluded many other Union generals: even if the armies won no battles, they would win the war by continuing to advance, wearing down their outnumbered enemies. His object would not be to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond, but to destroy the Rebel armies.
 
Farther south, his wife’s cousin James Longstreet was warning officers of the Army of Northern Virginia, "That man will fight us every day and every hour till the end of this war." Longstreet would soon fall wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness.

Grant’s Overland Campaign

In May, the Army of the Potomac embarked on what is known as Grant’s Overland Campaign, a murderous slugfest of battles that took the federals from Northern Virginia to the gates of Richmond. The first clash came in the tangle of The Wilderness. After three days of intense fighting, May 5–7, with no gain in ground, Grant put the army in motion. He’d lost over 17,000 men, and his soldiers wondered if this was yet another commander who spilled their blood, then retreated north when he failed to whip Bobby Lee. At a road junction, they realized Grant was leading them south, not north. Morale soared in the Army of the Potomac; the men began to sing.
 
Their commander was trying to maneuver past Lee’s right, get to Spotsylvania Courthouse and flank Lee out of his entrenchments in the Wilderness. Lee anticipated him, however, got there first and erected strong works. For two weeks the armies battered each other in a series of fights along the front. On May 12, Grant’s men assaulted a semi-circular part of the defenses known as the Muleshoe. They broke through, capturing a division and nearly cutting Lee’s army in half, but the Confederates responded with a counterattack and the fighting raged for nearly 20 hours.
 
The next day, Grant again disengaged and tried to move past Lee’s right. Another 16,000 Federals would not fight again, but Lee had lost 12,000, in addition to 11,000 in the Wilderness. Grant’s meatgrinder was costly—Lincoln’s wife, Mary, called him a butcher—but it was achieving his goal. Lee’s army was being destroyed.
 
The man who had gotten Grant his first Civil War commission, Elihu Washburne, traveled with the army during the overland campaign, and as he prepared to return to Washington on May 11 he asked if Grant had any message for the president and the secretary of war. Grant said to tell them, "I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer."
 
Near Cold Harbor on June 3, Grant’s impatience led to a battle he later said he regretted badly. An uncoordinated series of attacks on Confederate works cost him 7,000 men—virtually all of whom died because the Union wounded lay between the lines for days while Grant engaged in a war of words with Lee, trying to avoid admitting a defeat. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles wrote in his diary the day before this battle, "Grant has not regard for human life."
 
In reality, Grant did have regard for human life, but he used what he had—numerical superiority—to wear down his famous opponent. He continued moving around Lee’s right, crossed the James River, and got south of Richmond, where another Union force, the Army of the James under Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler was already operating. The two armies began a 10-month siege of the Confederate capital and the city of Petersburg, the main Confederate supply base for the region because of the railroads there. This denied Lee the mobility he needed for maneuver. The campaign became one of trench warfare presaging that of World War I, fought in a series of costly battles.
 
On April 2, 1865, Federal troops broke through the Confederate lines at Petersburg; by the evening of April 3, that city and Richmond were both in Union hands. Lee escaped with his badly diminished force, but at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9 he met with Grant and surrendered his army. Grant, the "butcher" who had been unrelenting and uncompromising in pursuit of victory, extended very generous terms to the defeated Confederates.
 
On the night of April 14, when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater, Grant and Julia might have been in the Presidential Box with the Lincolns. Newspapers that day said they would be present, but instead they left for New Jersey to visit their children.
 
Post-war, Grant, promoted to full general in 1866, oversaw the military aspects of Southern Reconstruction. He knew of Lincoln’s plans to "Let ‘em up easy" and tried to follow that path until violent reprisals against the newly freed African Americans forced a crackdown.

President Ulysess S. Grant

In 1868, Grant won the presidency as the Republican candidate—both parties had courted him. His administration was scarred by scandal. Grant, a scrupulously honest man, was not personally involved and was reelected in 1872. During his second term the nation entered one of its worse financial crises, the Panic of 1873, primarily because of over-speculation in railroads. A third attempt to make him the Republican presidential candidate in 1880 failed. Grant and Julia traveled extensively overseas and were feted by the crowned heads of Europe.
 
Their son Ulysses S. Grant, Jr. ("Buck") borrowed $100,000 from his father to enter a partnership with Ferdinand Ward in the Marine National Bank and brokerage firm. Three years later, Ward asked for a loan of $150,000 for just 24 hours and Grant, unable to provide the money himself, borrowed it. Ward absconded with the money. Buck was left holding the bag; his parents sold their properties and traded their possessions to pay off the debt. Grant turned to writing articles for Century magazine about his Civil War experiences. He and author Mark Twain had become friends, and Twain arranged for a publishing company in which he was a partner to publish Grant’s memoirs.
 
Grant did not live to see them in print. In 1884, he was diagnosed with advanced cancer of the tongue. He spent the next year finishing the memoirs to provide income for his family when he was gone.
 
Ulysses S. Grant died July 23, 1885, shortly after turning in his manuscript. His memoirs sold very well, providing financial security for Julia and the children as the old general had hoped they would.


 

Ulysses S. Grant: The Myth of ‘Unconditional Surrender’ Begins at Fort Donelson

In January 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met in secret near Casablanca, Morocco, for their second wartime summit meeting. At the final press conference on January 24, Roosevelt announced to the world that the Allies would not stop until they had the “unconditional surrender” of Germany, Italy and Japan. It was an impulsive statement by the American president, who later explained that the idea for it had “simply popped into my mind” while contemplating Ulysses S. Grant’s ultimatum to Confederates during the Civil War. At the time the pronouncement stirred a flurry of debate among British allies and his own generals, with the consensus of opinion being that it was a disastrous policy that would goad the Axis powers into a fight to the death. Who knew Grant’s shadow was so long?

Conventional wisdom has always pigeonholed Grant as a great military captain but a dreadful president. Both are true as far as they go, but there was another side to Grant that was just as important: He was a master of the art of surrender. As the byproduct of a string of battlefield victories, he forced the unconditional surrender of three enemy armies, something no other general officer in American history ever accomplished — not Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, George Washington or Winfield Scott.

The learning curve for Grant began at the Battle of Belmont, Mo., on November 7, 1861. The fight was little more than a raid, but it gave Brig. Gen. Grant his first experience with negotiating military terms. After that action he and several Confederate officers, including Benjamin Cheatham, met to settle a variety of issues, specifically prisoner exchange. The discussions were light and friendly, starting with reminiscences and other trifling matters such as horse racing before proceeding on to serious matters.

But it was at Fort Donelson in Tennessee, during his first negotiated surrender, that Grant initially revealed the character traits and behavior patterns of the victorious captain. Operations against Donelson were part of an amphibious campaign launched in early 1862 to push the Confederates out of middle and western Tennessee, thereby opening a path into the Southern heartland. In cooperation with Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote, Grant put together a joint task force of some 15,000 foot soldiers and seven gunboats to seize Forts Henry and Donelson, respectively guarding the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.

Foote won the first laurels by capturing Fort Henry while Grant’s forces were bogged down in the mud miles away. When the Confederate garrison commander, Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, sent out a flag of truce asking the terms of surrender, Foote sent back a blunt reply, “No sir, your surrender will be unconditional!” In one sentence Foote, the Navy man, had shattered all the old-fashioned and gentlemanly protocols of surrender.

When Grant and Foote turned their attention to Fort Donelson, they found an objective considerably more formidable than Fort Henry had been. Donelson sat on bluffs overlooking the Cumberland River, 12 miles east of Fort Henry. Fortunately for the Federals, the Confederates had made the fatal flaw of dividing their command among four mediocre leaders: Brig. Gens. John B. Floyd, Simon Bolivar Buckner, Gideon Pillow and Bushrod Johnson, with Floyd the senior officer and Buckner the only West Pointer. Although it did not seem significant at the time, Buckner had a history with Grant. The two of them had forged a very close friendship during their West Point years and also served together in Mexico.

Despite Confederate command problems, Donelson would be a tough nut for the Northerners to crack. Albert Sidney Johnston, the department commander, had proclaimed his determination to “fight for Nashville at Donelson, and [to use] the best part of my army to do it,” while a resolute Pillow announced that surrender was not in his vocabulary. The garrison that would have to back up those words was made up of 17,000-18,000 men strongly fortified behind earth-and-log bastions, supported by 17 heavy guns, situated on a high bluff that made them impervious to assault from the river side. The fort’s 2l¼2 miles of meandering landward defenses were its weak point, but even those were well sited.

The Confederates had their headquarters in Dover Tavern, in the village of Dover, while Grant set up his command post on the river steamer New Uncle Sam — oblivious to the irony. On February 15, he would place himself closer to the action by moving his headquarters to the log cabin of a Mrs. Crisp, some two miles behind Union lines. Foote’s flagship headquarters was the ironclad St. Louis.

Grant was still getting acquainted with his lieutenants, none of whom could rightly be mistaken for Napoleon Bonaparte’s field marshals. Two were politicians turned generals: John A. McClernand, a former Illinois congressman angling for Grant’s job, and Lew Wallace, an Indiana state senator, lawyer and part-time author before the war. The only professional soldier in the group was Brig. Gen. Charles F. Smith, who had come up through the old Regular Army and helped teach Grant the art of war when he was a cadet at West Point. Now the student was the commander and the teacher was the lieutenant. Grant’s immediate superior was Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck, commanding the Department of the Missouri.

Grant opened the battle on February 13, hurling his newly bolstered force of 21,000 infantrymen against the Rebel earthworks in a series of uncoordinated attacks while the gunboats traded shots ineffectively with Confederate riverfront batteries. At the end of the day, neither the Federal army nor the navy had made much progress. A winter storm descended on the area that night, adding to everyone’s misery. The next day the infantry shivered in their siege lines while Foote, at Grant’s prodding, resumed his ineffective duel with Confederate batteries. After Foote was wounded and his boats were badly mauled, the navy withdrew, leaving it all up to Grant.

The second day’s fight encouraged the Confederates to go on the offensive on the third day to try to break out of their bottled-up position. When they struck early that morning, smashing into McClernand’s troops, Grant was off conferring with Foote onboard St. Louis. The situation quickly became critical. The Southern assault pierced the right of the Union line and threatened to collapse the center and left, held by Wallace and Smith respectively. Meanwhile both Union generals meekly awaited orders from a commanding general who was nowhere to be found. By noon, the Rebels had opened an escape route and Grant’s army was on the verge of crumbling when the day was saved by an inspired defensive stand from Wallace’s troops coupled with the timely arrival of Grant on the battlefield. Grant ordered an immediate counterattack and then went looking for his old mentor. He found the unflappable old gent sitting serenely under a tree whittling away while the battle raged nearby, but as soon as Grant ordered him to “Take Fort Donelson!” Smith leaped to his feet and quickly prepared an assault.

By the end of the 15th, the Confederates had lost heart and pulled back to their original lines, leaving Grant in tenuous control of the situation. That night at Dover Tavern, a gloomy Confederate council of war took up the question of capitulation. By consensus, they decided the situation was hopeless, with four of the general officers present (Floyd, Pillow, Johnson and Nathan Bedford Forrest) opting to escape the best way they could, leaving the disgraceful act of surrender to Buckner. Thus Buckner, mostly through no fault of his own, became the first general in gray to surrender an entire army. More important for this discussion, he became the first Confederate field commander who was forced to sue for peace terms.

Buckner gave his fellow generals a head start before beginning the painful process. He called for pen and paper to compose a message to his opposite number, though he was still not entirely clear on who that might be. Then he sent for a bugler and ordered him to sound the “parley” call, thereby alerting the Yankees that he wanted to talk. Finally he sent a staff officer, Major Nathaniel Cheairs, through the lines under a white flag to deliver the message to the first general officer he met. This is the communiqué that Grant received sometime before daylight on February 16: “In consideration of all the circumstances governing the present situation of affairs at this station, I propose to the commanding Officer of the Federal forces the appointment of Commissioners to agree upon terms of capitulation of the forces and fort under my command, and in that view suggest an armistice until 12 o’clock today.”

Buckner’s parley note first came into the hands of Smith, who read it and snorted, “I’ll make no terms with rebels with arms in their hands — my terms are unconditional and immediate surrender!” Having expressed his opinion, Smith properly sent the courier and dispatch on to Grant, who decided to consult with Smith before composing an official response. The crusty old veteran told Grant the same thing he had said to Major Cheairs: “No terms to the damned Rebels!” This, in essence, formed the basis of Grant’s official response. Although Grant’s historic ultimatum of February 16 echoed the words already pronounced by Foote at Fort Henry and Smith to Major Cheairs, Grant would make no mention of being influenced by either Smith’s or Foote’s words in his memoirs, written many years later. One reason for the unusually blunt language was that Grant believed he was dealing with Pillow, for whom he had nothing but contempt, and that Buckner’s signature only meant he was the amanuensis for his commanding general. Grant sent a terse message back to Buckner: “Sir, Yours of this date proposing Armistice, and appointment of Commissioners, to settle terms of Capitulation is just received. No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.”

As a member of the brotherhood of Old Army officers and Grant’s personal friend, Buckner had every reason to expect a sympathetic reply from his counterpart. That was the way such things were supposed to work among gentlemen. Just 10 months earlier, after Fort Sumter surrendered, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard had allowed Major Robert Anderson to march his troops out under arms while the victors formed ranks and delivered a salute.

But Grant was not Beauregard. Buckner was stunned by the tone of Grant’s reply and had to reread it several times. He had assumed that his forces would be allowed to go home with what West Point graduates had learned to call a parole d’honneur, although there was no formal protocol on such things between the North and South at this point in the war — and there would not be for another five months. What Buckner wanted was an extemporized agreement that would be strictly local and informal. Grant’s hard-nosed reply made him briefly consider taking back his offer to surrender, but he was in no position to be proud, with his men threatening to become unruly, his defenses breached and a parley already opened. For the rest of his life Buckner believed that if Grant had known who was in command at Donelson, then “the articles of surrender would have been different,” that is, more generous and chivalrous.

After weighing his options, Buckner decided that honor and protocol permitted no further resistance. He accepted Grant’s ultimatum, but sent back a reply that was more petulant than submissive: “The distribution of the forces under my command, incident to an unexpected change of commanders, and the over-whelming force under your command, compel me, notwithstanding the brilliant success of the Confederate arms yesterday, to accept the ungenerous and unchivalrous terms which you propose.”

The first high-level contact between the two armies involved Generals Wallace and Johnson, both of whom were freelancing. Accompanied by their aides, Union Lieutenant James R. Ross and Confederate Major W.E. Rogers, the generals met in front of Wallace’s lines, with Rogers given the unwelcome job of carrying the white flag. Following stiffly formal introductions, Wallace spoke first, asking whether the surrender was “perfected.” Johnson admitted that he did not know about the rest but his troops were already drawn up with their arms stacked and ready to be processed. Wallace ordered Ross to go with Rogers to carry the news to Grant’s headquarters, then he issued orders for his men to move forward and take possession of the Confederate lines. His orders included a strong prohibition against any taunting or cheering. Concluding their brief unauthorized parley, Johnson and Wallace rode into Dover. For the next several hours Wallace continued to operate entirely on his own, ignoring the chain of command and acting as if Grant were a thousand miles away instead of only two.

Grant may not have had everything under control, but he was far from passive during this time. His first actions after receiving Buckner’s capitulation were sensible. He dictated orders repositioning his troops to receive the Confederate surrender. Then he ordered his quartermaster to assume control over all public property, and strictly forbade any pillaging in or around Dover. At that point, however, his natural impatience got the better of him. He simply could not stand the thought of being stuck at headquarters and out of the action. He could have let commissioners handle things — that was customary — and waited for Buckner to come to him in supplication, but he chose instead to go in person to Buckner’s headquarters to finalize the surrender. He was not concerned with following military protocol or showing who was in charge, and at this point he was still unaware that Wallace was trying to grab the glory. Grant simply wanted to settle matters face to face. As he would later tell Confederate General John C. Pemberton, “I do not favor the proposition of appointing commissioners to arrange the terms of capitulation because I have no terms other than [unconditional surrender].”

Grant’s approach to surrendering was the same as it was to fighting: pragmatic and unpretentious. He had no intention of holding a formal, parade-ground surrender ceremony, with the Confederate commander handing over his sword. Not only was Grant uncomfortable with such formality, but he had no desire to rub the Southerners’ noses in it; capitulation was humiliation enough. To finalize the surrender on this Sunday morning, Grant simply mounted up and rode through the lines into Dover, taking along minimal staff and no bodyguards. The fact that Confederate troops were “in a bad humor,” and therefore liable to take a bead on the first Union officer they saw, apparently did not enter his mind. He did not request a Confederate escort to ensure his safety, and there is no indication that he traveled under a white flag.

Up to this point, Grant had been upstaged by his subordinate officers, Wallace and Smith, who had interjected themselves into the process uninvited. Smith was subsequently consulted by Grant, but Wallace continued to act separate of the chain of command. On his own initiative he rode to Dover Tavern to see Buckner. Like Grant, Wallace had been friends with Buckner before the war, but that hardly justified his presence at Confederate headquarters without Grant’s authorization. And, according to Wallace’s account of the meeting, they did not confine their conversation to prewar reminiscences or simple pleasantries. Buckner nervously asked his friend, “What will Grant do with us?” Wallace, choosing his words carefully, replied that the Grant he knew would treat them as “prisoners of war,” whatever that implied.

Wallace was not the only officer on the Union side with his own agenda. Shortly after Wallace arrived at the tavern, another Union officer came through the door — Commander Benjamin M. Dove, who was on a mission to accept the surrender of the fort on behalf of the U.S. Navy. Dove would have claimed the honor of receiving Buckner’s sword too if Wallace had not gotten there first. The two Union officers had a brief discussion before Dove withdrew. Afterward the Navy suspended him for letting the Army claim all the credit.

Grant arrived at Dover Tavern an hour and a half after Wallace to find the two generals enjoying a traditional Southern breakfast of coffee and cornbread. Wallace offered no explanation for his presence at enemy headquarters, and such a breach of military etiquette startled even the phlegmatic Grant, causing him to later write in his memoirs, “I presume that, seeing white flags exposed in his front, he rode up to see what they meant and, not being fired upon or halted, he kept on until he found himself at the headquarters of General Buckner.” Wallace’s presence thoroughly annoyed Grant and began a rift between the two that never healed. Grant’s ire, however, did not extend to Buckner.

When Grant arrived he peremptorily took over possession of the tavern as his temporary headquarters. Then, with Wallace on hand as a witness, the formal surrender discussions commenced. Until this moment Grant had not realized whom he would be dealing with, expecting that it would be Pillow. Face-to-face with Buckner, he adjusted his thinking accordingly, and the subsequent mood of the discussion was one of unfailing politeness. Still, as Buckner recounted the event many years later to an English friend, neither commanding general seemed eager to get down to business. Instead they broke the ice by reminiscing about the old days together at West Point and in Mexico. They even managed a wry exchange about their present situation when Buckner observed somewhat defensively that if he had been in command of the fort from the beginning, Grant would not “have got up to Donelson as easily as [he] did.” Grant graciously conceded the point, adding that if Buckner had been in command, he (Grant) “should not have tried in the way he did.”

The light banter continued as Grant asked about the missing General Pillow. “Why didn’t he stay to surrender his command?” Grant inquired. “He thought you were too anxious to capture him personally,” replied Buckner, to which Grant quipped mischievously: “Why, if I had captured him I would have turned him loose. I would rather have him in command of you fellows than as a prisoner.” The banalities helped soothe Buckner’s ruffled feelings, allowing the discussion to proceed smoothly to more substantive matters. It was an approach that would serve Grant well in similar situations later.

Apart from Grant and Buckner taking each other’s measure, very little was settled at this first meeting. The two commanders agreed to cease all operations immediately, and Grant asked for details on the condition of Confederate forces. Buckner, more out of ignorance than deceit, was unable to provide much helpful information, but he agreed to do so as soon as possible. He asked permission to send out search parties between the lines to bury Confederate dead. Grant agreed and immediately issued the appropriate orders. This was an act of generosity that Grant later regretted, believing that large numbers of Rebels took advantage of the opportunity to melt away. Two years later, after the Battle of the Wilderness, Grant would not be so generous and trusting.

One of the first rules of negotiation is to try to reach agreement early on minor points, then build on that foundation in addressing more substantive matters. Even though he was untrained in the art of surrender, Grant did this instinctively at Dover Tavern. The first day’s session between the two men set the tone for hammering out the major issues the next day.

Buckner had more to worry about than the fate of his men. He was under indictment back home in Kentucky for accepting a brigadier general’s commission in the Confederate Army in September 1861. Now, having been captured in the act of bearing arms against his country, he faced the very real prospect of trial for desertion and treason. Grant could easily have placed him under arrest and held him for court-martial, which was what many Northerners advocated for former U.S. Army officers who had resigned their commissions. Yet he offered no judgments of Buckner’s choices and would not hold the sword of Damocles over his head. Instead, he treated the Confederate as the duly authorized representative of a legitimate government and kept focused on matters at hand. As he left Dover Tavern at the end of this first meeting, Grant made a magnanimous gesture completely outside the scope of traditional surrender protocols: He drew Buckner aside and offered him money out of his own pocket.

“Buckner,” he said, “you may be going among strangers, and I hope you will allow me to share my purse with you.” According to an observer who knew both men well, Buckner was grateful for the kindness but told Grant he had already made provisions “so that he would not require financial assistance.” Writing in his memoirs in 1884, Grant recalled it as a “friendly conversation,” an entirely different take than what Buckner described to an interviewer in 1904. Forty-two years after the fact, he recalled their conversation as a “rancorous exchange,” ending when he struck the purse out of Grant’s hand and stalked away. Either way, Grant’s offer was commendable.

It did not come out of the blue, however. Back in 1854, just after Grant had left the Army and was down and out in New York City, the two old friends had bumped into each other and Buckner had loaned the penniless ex-captain money to get home to Ohio. Now Grant had an opportunity to repay what was both a financial obligation and a debt of honor. Grant was not one to forget a kindness, no matter how much time had gone by, nor to let the business of war trump friendship. On the other hand, he would not let his personal sense of obligation interfere with his responsibilities as a U.S. Army officer. In the end, he delivered his old friend into captivity along with 50 other Confederate field officers, and Buckner would spend six months at Fort Warren, Mass., until exchanged by formal cartel in August.

The final act in this little drama would come 24 hours later. In the meantime, Grant and Buckner busied themselves attending to the myriad details involved in giving and receiving the surrender of a large armed force. Lines had to be disentangled, the dead had to be buried, booty and prisoners had to be counted, transports had to be brought up to remove the POWs — and those were just the obvious things. Neither officer had any prior experience to fall back on, and the West Point curriculum did not include courses in how to surrender.

Grant made several errors of omission while feeling his way through his first surrender. For one thing, he should have appointed an experienced officer as provost marshal to handle the transfer of some 12,000 men. Instead things got so chaotic that Buckner complained to him on February 16, “There seems to be no concert of action between the different departments of your army in reference to these prisoners.” Still, Grant was more comfortable keeping a light hand on the reins.

Another consequence of his command style was that his senior officers, specifically Smith, felt free to hand out paroles to Rebel officers on their own initiative. Even Buckner got in on the act, insisting on issuing passes to his men that would be honored by Union sentries. Amiable as ever, Grant went along, seeing no harm in letting men move back and forth between the lines now that the fighting was over. This was another decision he came to regret. Finally, Grant was lax in regulating the behavior of his own men. In the first 24 hours of the truce, jubilant Union soldiers left their lines to parade through Confederate encampments with U.S. flags flying and bands playing. Only the intervention of Confederate officers prevented ugly confrontations with Rebel soldiers.

On February 17, in the salon of New Uncle Sam, the final terms were nailed down and the necessary documents signed. What would take no more than two hours to accomplish at Appomattox in 1865 took two days of dickering at Donelson before everything was settled.

It did not make Grant’s situation any easier that Buckner was a far tougher negotiator than Robert E. Lee, partly because Buckner was not shy about using his friendship with Grant to wring out every concession he could get, and partly because war-weariness had not set in and both sides still entertained hopes of ultimate victory. However, Grant was no gullible farm boy; his instincts were shrewd. For instance, he insisted on using his own headquarters on the second day instead of returning to Dover Tavern. He thereby forced his enemy to come to him, a valuable trump card in any peace negotiations.

When Buckner, accompanied by a pair of staff officers, came onboard New Uncle Sam, Grant was in conference with his senior officers. He got up immediately to receive the Confederates and make introductions all around. Then, since there were still substantive matters to be settled, they got down to business. Grant and Buckner took seats facing each other across a table in the center of the room while a recording secretary sat down at Grant’s elbow. Staff members arranged themselves behind their respective generals. As on the previous day, Grant was low-key, even affable, and steered the conversation away from politics and military affairs at the beginning. “Dignity and dispatch,” noted one observer, marked the day’s proceedings from beginning to end.

Neither brigadier general wore a dress uniform for the occasion, preferring to stay in campaign clothes — which were more suitable for a cold, wet February day. According to newspaper correspondent Charles C. Coffin, a witness to the affair, the short, round-shouldered, “rather scrubby looking” Union general, whose ill-fitting uniform emphasized his slight stoop, did not look the part of a victorious captain. But it did not matter, as Buckner hardly cut a dashing figure either, with his “meager whiskers” and mud-caked boots, casually attired in a “light-blue kersey overcoat and a checked neckcloth.” Their negotiations looked like the meeting of a couple of farmers across a pasture fence.

Besides their education and military background, Grant and Buckner shared a fondness for the occasional stogie. Both men lit up during the meeting, filling the small room with pungent smoke. Afterward the Northern newspapers picked up on this detail and recast it as a defining quirk of Grant. Those newspaper reports would result in thousands of admiring citizens sending him boxes of cigars, leading to a 20-cigar-a-day addiction — which eventually led to his death from cancer of the throat in 1885.

The first item on Grant’s agenda was getting detailed intelligence on the size and structure of the Confederate forces. According to Coffin, Buckner freely gave all the information Grant requested about Confederate fortifications, troop dispositions and the intentions of the high command. Grant was not indulging idle curiosity; the fact was, he did not have an intelligence operative on his staff to ferret out such information. As a result, he had only a fuzzy notion of what he had won.

For his part, Buckner was still trying to get all the wiggle room he could under the original “unconditional surrender” dictum. He asked for both military and humanitarian concessions, and as they talked, Grant began to realize just how many perfectly reasonable conditions could attend an unconditional surrender. Step by step, Grant backed off his original demand. Grant the relentless bulldog on the battlefield became Grant the compassionate conqueror at the peace table.

The suffering of Buckner’s cold and hungry men in particular touched the Union general’s heart. Grant had come to negotiate a surrender, not to feed the multitudes. Now he found himself in uncharted waters, where no American commander had ever gone before. It was Buckner who broached the subject, explaining that his men had eaten almost nothing for two days, and now they were facing a delay of at least another two days before reaching their final destination. Could Grant see his way clear to provide food out of the ample Union stores?

This was Grant’s first notification of the chronically poor state of the Confederate commissary supply. It took him a few moments to digest this new information and respond appropriately. At first he demurred that he would like to help but his own commissary staff was not up to speed yet. Buckner did not give up so easily. “My staff is perfectly organized, and I place them at your disposal,” he said. Grant was a thoroughly practical man, and this was a practical albeit unorthodox solution. He accepted Buckner’s offer and issued the special orders for his commissary supply officers to deliver two days’ rations to the Confederates.

Buckner continued to lead the conversation, making additional requests, each of which received a fair hearing from Grant. For example, Grant “readily acceded to” Buckner’s request for “special treatment” for his wounded officers. It was not just their injuries that aroused his sympathy but the fact that these were brother officers, some of whom Grant knew well from West Point and service in the Old Army. That was the same reasoning behind his decision to allow commissioned officers to retain their side arms, although it meant that Rebel officers would be going into captivity carrying pistols and swords. Grant knew that an officer’s sword was more than just a weapon; it was the traditional symbol of his rank and authority. And many revolvers were family heirlooms that had great sentimental value. In the military world of rank and privilege, Grant was cognizant of both.

His generosity did not stop with opposing officers. Without Buckner even asking, Grant sent the sick and wounded of both sides off to Union hospitals in Paducah, Ky. “No distinction has been made between Federal and Confederate [casualties],” he notified his superiors. Grant agreed to let the rest of the Southerners, who were facing extended incarceration in prison camps, keep whatever clothing they possessed as well as blankets and “such private property as may be carried about the person.” By tradition, as Grant knew, POWs were relieved of everything but the clothes on their backs. Grant saw no need to impose unnecessary suffering.

In fact, Grant was proving so agreeable that it was beginning to seem as if there were no request he would refuse. If that was what Buckner thought, however, he had misjudged his opponent. Buckner asked that he be allowed to send a brief report to his department commander, Albert S. Johnston, explaining his actions. And he asked that his officers be allowed to send open letters to their families or friends back home to put their minds at rest.

Although the historical record is inconclusive on Grant’s response, there is no evidence that Johnston’s headquarters at Nashville received any communiqué from Buckner at the time. There is, however, good evidence that Grant allowed at least some correspondence of a personal nature to go out, in the form of a letter from Buckner to his wife Mary, which opens, “I am a prisoner of war.” It is dated February 18, 1862, and its contents suggest that Grant was not too concerned about military intelligence being leaked. In the letter, the general mingled professions of love with descriptions of final Confederate operations, the conduct of his two fellow commanders (Floyd and Pillow), Confederate losses and his destination as a POW.

As the discussions wound down, Grant continued to demonstrate exceeding generosity, charging Buckner to see to it that his troops laid down their arms and proceeded in an orderly fashion to the Dover landing, where they would board prison transports. Grant told Buckner to accomplish the objective however he deemed best, with the proviso that Confederate regimental and company grade officers should remain in command of their troops right up until the men boarded the transports. Even Buckner was struck by how trusting Grant was.

This was more than a matter of trust, however. Grant, it should be remembered, had no provost guard, no prisoner stockade and no experience handling large bodies of POWs. Simple necessity forced him to trust his enemies to be men of honor, and at least one of them did take advantage and escaped after surrender protocols were invoked. Johnson went over the hill on February 18, a prospect that Grant did not foresee when he telegraphed Henry Halleck two days earlier that he had both Johnson and Buckner in custody.

If he was less than rigorous about the details, it was because Grant did not consider himself a prison warden. He saw his job as winning battles and regarded the POW problem as a distasteful byproduct of victory on the battlefield. Concerning the thousands of prisoners captured at Donelson, he wrote his superiors that he would be “truly glad” to get rid of the lot of them. They were easier captured than taken care of, he groused, predicting they would “prove an elephant” for the government. His preferred solution would have been to parole all captured Confederates on the spot, but that decision was not his to make.

Grant was not so nonchalant about his own men being held by the enemy. During the first day’s fighting, Confederates had captured some 250 Yankees. While their river access was still open they had shipped these men to a point safely behind Confederate lines. Now Grant announced he would keep an equal number of Confederate prisoners behind until those men were returned. As for the rest, they would go to Cairo, Ill., to await further disposition. There is no evidence that Grant’s ploy was successful in prying Yankee POWs out of Confederate hands, but the fact that he made a good-faith effort is admirable.

After the last “i” was dotted and the last “t” crossed, Grant considered his work done. He wanted no stage-managed surrender ceremony that would demean the Southerners and force everybody to stand out in the cold, wet weather, and he certainly did not want Buckner’s sword. He felt so vehemently about it that when Dr. John H. Brinton, the army’s chief medical officer, asked when the official ceremony would be held where the Rebels marched by on parade, stacked their weapons and lowered their standard, Grant gave a waspish reply: “There will be nothing of the kind. The surrender is now a fact. We have the fort, the men, the guns. Why should we go through vain forms and mortify and injure the spirit of brave men, who, after all, are our own countrymen?”

Having won the victory, Grant did not waste time crowing about it either. He dashed off a perfunctory report to Halleck at St. Louis on the 16th, writing in the plural: “We have taken Fort Donelson….” The rest of the telegram was nothing more than an accounting of what was captured. He also sent off a brief handwritten dispatch to Brig. Gen. George W. Cullum, Halleck’s chief of staff at Cairo, commending his officers and troops for their performance. Unofficially, Grant was more exuberant in a letter to his wife Julia, calling Fort Donelson “the greatest victory of the season” and “the largest capture I believe ever made on the continent.”

The fruits of this victory were sweet indeed. The entire military situation in Tennessee and Kentucky now swung in favor of the North, setting the stage for the campaign that would ultimately wrest control of the Mississippi River from the Confederacy. The news reverberated as far away as London and Paris in short order. Halleck’s headquarters issued official commendations for both Grant and Foote, and Grant got a fast-track promotion to major general of volunteers. He became the man of the hour to a Northern public starved for victories early in the war. “Unconditional Surrender Grant” was largely a legend created by the Northern press, but it served him well. He never took credit for coining the phrase that first made him famous, and he remained the same man after Donelson as he had been before.

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Historynet Image

In Galena, Illinois, in early 1861, one would have been hard pressed to find two men less alike than Ulysses S. Grant and John A. Rawlins. The 39-year-old Grant was a failed former Army officer of limited horizons and dubious sobriety who passed his days as a clerk, shuffling around his father’s general store. Rawlins, nine years Grant’s junior, was an abstemious, ambitious attorney and the town’s leading Democrat. Although Rawlins represented Grant’s father in the store’s legal business, he and Ulysses were only passing acquaintances.

All that changed with the outbreak of the Civil War. On April 16, 1861, two days after Fort Sumter fell, town leaders held a meeting at the courthouse. Grant attended but said nothing. Rawlins, however, electrified the crowd. Dismissing talk of compromise, he proclaimed: “There can be but two parties now, one of patriots and one of traitors….Only one course is left for us. We will stand by the flag of our country, and appeal to the God of battles.”

A fellow lawyer, upon meeting Rawlins eight years earlier, had described him as “a strong, sturdy looking young fellow, swarthy in complexion, with hair and eyes black as night, which when they looked at you looked through you.” His arresting countenance masked what had been a difficult youth. Born in East Galena on Febru­ary 13, 1831, Rawlins received only a few months of schooling. He worked with his father cutting wood and burning it to create charcoal, needed to feed the furnaces and smelting works of Galena’s rich lead mines.

The elder Rawlins was a shiftless hard drinker, and John came of age hating liquor. Although known as somewhat of a prude, John Aaron Raw­lins could be generous and affable. But he also had a sharp temper and foul mouth. And he had the talent and drive needed to rise quickly to prominence. In 1854 he took his savings from the charcoal business and enrolled in a local academy. Three years later he became Galena’s city attorney.

Rawlins’ courthouse oratory convinced Grant to return to his first calling. He told his brother, “I think I ought to go into the service.” In August 1861, Grant became a brigadier general of volunteers, and he asked Rawlins to join him in Missouri as captain and assistant adjutant general on his brigade staff. Military service seemed the best path for Rawlins at the time, as he had just watched his wife slowly succumb to tuberculosis.

Grant had chosen Rawlins because of his sharp mind, sound judgment and blunt talk. But Grant also knew he could benefit from the attorney’s friendship with U.S. Congressman Elihu Washburne, also from Illinois.

The bereaved Rawlins assumed the role of Grant’s protector, shielding him from scheming officers and, in Rawlins’ mind at least, from Grant’s fondness for the bottle. He knew liquor had ruined Grant’s Regu­lar Army reputation just as it had his own father’s life, and he was vigilant for signs that Grant might revert to his old ways. Rawlins, however, knew nothing of military affairs. At the Battle of Belmont in November 1861, he was too green to do much more than draft orders and accompany the general into action. But he showed Grant that he could stand firm under fire. “I have been in one battle,” Rawlins wrote his mother, “heard the whistling of bullets and the whizzing of cannonballs, and I tell you I thought no more of the first than of the last. I never thought of running.”

Rawlins was surprisingly radical when it came to making war. Before Belmont he had told Grant to ignore Kentucky’s neutrality, arguing that “conditional neutrality [was] absolute hostility to the government.” This was a risky proposition that ran counter to Lincoln administration policy, but the Rebels had violated Kentucky neutrality first. Belmont convinced him that it was always best to strike the first blow. Afterward, whenever Rawlins thought Grant hesitant, he pushed for immediate action.

Rawlins’ loyalty to Grant found its first expression that winter when a crooked contractor whom Rawlins had expelled from the department spread rumors that Grant was a drunk. Rawlins hastened to squelch them, assuring Congressman Washburne that, if ever Grant did drink, Rawlins would be the first to speak out. “I regard his interest as my interest,” he declared, “all that concerns his reputation concerns me; I love him as a father; I respect him because I have studied him well, and the more I know him the more I respect and love him. But I pledge you my word, that should General Grant at any time become an intemperate man or a habitual drunkard, I will ask to be removed from duty on his staff or resign my commission.”

During the Fort Henry and Fort Donelson campaigns, Rawlins’ duties extended little beyond keeping an eye on Grant and writing orders. But in the confused fury of Shiloh he emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Raw­lins and Grant were in Savannah, Tenn., on the morning of April 6, 1862, when the rumble of cannon fire told them the Army of the Tennessee, camped upriver (south) near Pittsburg Landing, was under attack by Albert Sidney Johnston’s Army of Mississippi. Rawlins set off with Grant on the steamer Tigress for Pittsburg Landing, where they found hundreds of dazed soldiers huddled around the bluff. The two rode forward at 9 a.m. to inspect the five divisions in action. Grant then sent Rawlins back to Tigress to write orders calling up Lew Wallace’s division, camped nearly six miles away at Crump’s Landing.

Rawlins scratched out a note to the chief quartermaster to find Wallace, then returned to the front and stayed with Grant under fire until midafternoon when, despairing of Wallace, Grant ordered him and fellow staff officer James B. McPherson to locate the Indianan. They found Wallace on a back lane, four miles from the fighting. Furious at the “cool and leisurely” pace of his march, Rawlins marshaled his choicest oaths to implore Wallace to make haste.

“The roar of battle swelled from the direction of Pittsburg Landing,” Rawlins recalled. “We knew that it was our heavy guns, and that the enemy had attained a nearness to the river that filled our minds with terrible apprehension.” As Wallace’s division drew nearer the battlefield, he continued to move too slowly to suit an always exacting and then overexcited Rawlins. Grant’s loyal aide never forgave Wallace for what he considered a gross neglect of duty. McPherson, in fact, had to talk him out of arresting Wallace on the spot.

Rawlins reached the landing with Wallace’s advance at sunset, and was reassured by Grant that the Rebel attack could be stopped. Grant was right, but that costly victory cast a cloud over him that lingered until the fall of Vicksburg. Rawlins never forgave Wallace, and stood by Grant in condemning him, believing his presence before nightfall on April 6 might have hastened a Federal victory the next day.

In the 15 months between Shiloh and the final operations against Vicksburg, Rawlins—who became chief of staff on November 1, 1862—found new challenges in his self-ordained role as Grant’s protector. Major General Henry Halleck had concentrated the Western armies to capture Corinth, Miss., and he relegated Grant to second in command of the whole: “fifth wheel to a coach,” as Grant put it. Grant wanted to resign, but Sherman and Rawlins persuaded him to stay on. When Halleck was called East, Grant assumed command of both the armies of the Tennessee and the Mississippi. Sherman and Rawlins had rescued him from almost certain military oblivion.

Rawlins’ next task was to diffuse doubts about Grant’s competence and sobriety, which grew, in early 1863, as Grant’s offensive against Vicksburg foundered. Major General John McClernand, a War Democrat whose corps operated independently at Vicksburg under Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton’s authori­ty, was angling to replace Grant. Brigadier General Cadwallader Washburn wrote Congressman Washburne, his brother, that Grant was unsuited to high command, and that his staff officers were imbeciles. Only Rawlins had any military ability, he said. The letter found its way to Abraham Lincoln, and Stanton decided to send Charles Dana, a former journalist destined to become assistant secretary of war, to investigate.

Rawlins had just exacted another pledge from Grant not to drink (whether because Grant had been drinking or because Rawlins feared he would is uncertain) when Dana arrived in April. Most in camp were for turning Dana out on his heels, but Rawlins’ faith in Grant led him to counsel prudence. He took Dana into his confidence, and the two became warm friends. Dana came to champion Grant, and his support allayed doubts in Washington. Dana had no qualms Grant was a great general, but he also believed that without Rawlins, Grant “would not have been the same man.” In Dana’s judgment, “Rawlins was one of the most valuable men in the army. He “bossed everything at Grant’s headquarters. He had very little respect for persons, and a rough style of conversation. I have heard him curse at Grant when the general was doing something that he thought he had better not do.”

Now a lieutenant colonel, Rawlins had begun to assert himself in matters of strategy. After failed attempts to get below and behind Vicksburg by canal and bayous, Raw­lins advocated a bold, direct approach: Run the Vicksburg batteries with gunboats and transports, then ferry troops to the east bank of the Mississippi for a land advance against the city. After careful consideration, Grant adopted the plan over Sherman’s objections. The effort succeeded and set the stage for victory.

One brief bout with the bottle almost lost Grant Rawlins’ services. In early June 1863, the general fell ill, perhaps with a migraine. A doctor at Sherman’s headquarters induced Grant to take at least one glass of wine to help ease his pain. A few days later Rawlins found him sipping wine with some staff officers. To make matters worse, Rawlins found a box of wine in front of Grant’s tent. Rawlins disposed of it, only to learn that the general had forbidden anyone to remove it; he wanted to pass it around when Vicksburg fell. On the morning of June 6, Rawlins penned a rebuke to Grant. His “great solicitude of this army” compelled him to remind Grant of the general’s pledge of abstinence made to him nine months earlier. He added, “You have the full control of your appetite and can let drinking alone.” Perhaps his concern was unfounded, Rawlins wrote, but if it was not, and Grant took another drop a liquor, “let my immediate relief from duty in this department be the result.”

That same night Grant took a steamboat up the Yazoo River with Charles Dana on a reconnaissance. When he returned, rumors circulated that the general had been “stupidly drunk.” James H. Wilson, a fellow staff officer and friend of both Rawlins and Grant, scribbled in his diary, “General G. intoxicated.” The rumors were apparently unfounded, however, since Rawlins added an endorsement on his own copy of the letter that his admonitions had been heeded, and “all had went well.” There was no more talk by Rawlins of Grant’s drinking that summer.
Grant not only took Rawlins’ scolding well, but in late July also recommended him for promotion “for gallant and meri­torious services” and “extreme fitness for higher command.” Concluded Grant, “He comes the nearest being indispensable to me of any officer in the service.” The promotion was granted but not confirmed until March 1864.

After Vicksburg a season of quiet descended upon Grant’s army. Julia Grant and her children had settled into army headquarters, occupying a large white house belonging to William and Ann Lum. The Lums’ Connecticut governess, Mary Emma Hurlbut, soon caught Rawlins’ eye. Shy in the presence of women, Rawlins overcame his reserve and proposed. Much to the pleasure of Grant and his wife, Emma accepted.

Vicksburg earned Grant a pro­­motion to major general in the Regular Army. His first act was to try to end the politi­cal threat posed by McClernand, whom he had removed from corps command in June after the Union setback at Haynes’ Bluff. Rawlins traveled to Washington, ostensibly to deliver Grant’s report of the Vicksburg Campaign but really to indict McClernand, who, although now un­der Grant’s command, still enjoyed Lincoln’s confidence. On July 31, he was Lincoln’s guest at a cabinet meeting. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles admired his “frank, intelligent, and interesting descriptions of men and of army operations….The unpolished and unrefined deportment of this earnest and sincere patriot and soldier interested me more than that of almost any other officer whom I have met.” Rawlins’ arguments convinced Welles, the president and Stanton that Grant was right to remove McClernand.

In late October the Lincoln administration sent Grant to Chattanooga to break the Confederate stranglehold on the city and its defenders. Reinforcements arrived from the Army of the Tennessee and the Army of the Potomac. It was then that Rawlins’ power of persuasion was at its peak, said Wilson: “Grant consulted him more freely than ever, and the chief of staff did not hesitate to express his views whenever he thought it necessary.”

The necessity for Rawlins to speak was most evident as Federal fortunes hung in the balance on the afternoon of November 25. From atop Missionary Ridge, Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee had repelled an attack by Sherman on their right flank, and Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker was foundering against their left. Only Maj. Gen. George Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland in the center remained uncommitted. Grant, Thomas and their staffs watched the stalemate from Orchard Knob, three-quarters of a mile away from Missionary Ridge.

Grant wanted Thomas to move against the Rebel rifle pits at the base of the ridge, but Thomas resisted. Grant yielded, much to Rawlins’ disgust. After Wilson suggested Rawlins do something to break the impasse, Rawlins strode over to Grant and in a low voice shamed him into ordering Thomas forward. The men of the Army of the Cumberland surged across the plain, over the rifle pits and, without orders, up the top of Missionary Ridge and beyond, shattering the Army of Tennessee.
The stunning victory at Missionary Ridge removed all doubt about Grant’s fitness for high command. With his chief’s reputation secure and operations halted for the winter, Rawlins took leave to marry Emma Hurlbut and cure what he thought was a persistent cold.

Rawlins rejoined Grant in January 1864 and accompanied him to Washington in March, taking pride in his chief’s promotion to lieutenant general and commander of all Federal armies. But given his new responsibilities, Grant felt the need to staff his headquarters with Regu­lar Army officers. He brought in Colonel Charles Comstock and Captains Horace Porter and Orville E. Babcock, all honor graduates of West Point.

Rawlins and Grant began to drift apart—perhaps in part because Rawlins was very ill. What he thought was a cold was really the onset of tuberculosis, contracted from his first wife. Raw­lins assured Emma he would recover, but he sank still lower that spring and summer. A rough cough racked his body. To maintain his strength, he resorted to drinking a concoction of bourbon and cod’s liver oil, which mortified him. In late July, Rawlins went home to convalesce, but when he returned in October he found himself almost a supernumerary. He protested in vain against Grant’s decision to permit Sherman to cut loose from Atlanta and head for the sea as Confederate General John Bell Hood began marching north into Tennessee.

On March 3, 1865, Rawlins was promoted to brig­adier general in the Regular Army. In the war’s final two weeks he recovered some of his old influence with Grant, much to the relief of Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan. Just as Lee had begun to abandon Petersburg and retreat west, Grant decided to detach Sheridan and his cavalry corps and send them from Virginia to North Carolina to help Sherman. Convinced his departure would hobble the Army of the Potomac, Sheridan hastened to headquarters to object. Rawlins, Sheridan said, swore a blue streak when they talked of the order. Encouraged by Rawlins’ support, Sheridan convinced Grant to suspend it. Then and there, said Sheridan’s chief of staff, James W. Forsyth, an “exceedingly close” friendship formed between Sheridan and Rawlins. Sheridan went daily to Grant’s headquarters “for the purpose of seeing General Rawlins and helping him brace up and sustain Grant.”

Rawlins did so forcefully on March 30 after torrential rains forced Grant to order Sheridan to halt his operations against Lee. The commander of the Army of the Potomac, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, apparently had convinced Grant to withdraw the army until the roads dried. Again Sheridan hurried to headquarters. Entering Grant’s tent, he found Grant and Rawlins arguing the matter, the latter so harshly that Grant suggested Rawlins take command of the army. “Seeing that there was a difference up between Rawlins and his chief,” Sheridan said, “I made the excuse of being wet and cold and went outside to the fire.” Grant soon emerged and, after some words with Sheridan, relented. Said Colonel Forsyth, “The men who prevented that withdrawal were General Sheridan and General Rawlins,” a conclusion with which Sheridan’s brother and staff officer, Michael Sheridan, agreed.

After Appomattox, Rawlins stayed on as Grant’s chief of staff. On March 11, 1869—though he was by that time a tubercular shadow of his former self—Rawlins accepted a position in President Grant’s cabinet as secretary of war. His doctors implored him to go to Arizona to prolong his life, but Rawlins refused to leave Grant’s side.

Rawlins’ term as secretary of war was brief. On September 6 he died in Washington, D.C. In his last moments, Rawlins told Sherman that his greatest fear was that Emma and his children would be left in poverty. He asked for Grant repeatedly, but died in great pain an hour before the president, who had been at Saratoga, N.Y., arrived.

As Grant had not been there to help ease Rawlins’ agony, neither did he favor Rawlins for posterity. In his memoir, written as his own death loomed, Grant mentioned his former adjutant just four times. Grant praised Raw­lins only for having shielded him from fools and knaves, but he also attacked his character, accusing him of having appealed to Lincoln to halt Sherman’s planned March to the Sea after Grant overruled him, a charge of insubordination based on nothing better than hearsay.

Grant’s treatment of Rawlins stunned their mutual friends. James Wilson and Charles Dana, both of whom fell out with Grant for other reasons, tried to right the record. But journalist Sylvanus Cadwallader went further, insisting that Rawlins “was the power behind Grant; greater even than Grant himself.

Major General Jacob D. Cox thought Rawlins had been “a living and speaking conscience” to Grant. Lieutenant General John M. Schofield considered Rawlins a “military genius” equal to his commanding general. Grant’s former secretary, Adam Badeau, whom Grant fired when newspapers suggested that Badeau had authored part of his memoir, told historian Henry Adams that Rawlins had regu­larly fed Grant ideas that the latter claimed as his own. Badeau could “never follow a mental process in [Grant’s] thought,” nor was he sure that Grant did think.

Badeau wrote with a poison pen. But why did Grant try to erase Rawlins from history? Perhaps because to do other­wise would have been to acknowledge that he played a greater role in his success than Grant cared to confess.

Peter Cozzens, a frequent contributor on Western theater topics, is the author of Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign, among other books.

 

Ambrose Bierce and America's First Great War StoriesAuthor and Civil War veteran Ambrose Bierce wrote of an ugly war, not the romanticized version found in most writings by his fellow veterans. His war was waged deep within the conscience of the individual solider and was often cloaked in supernaturalism.
A surprise visit from Morgan's RaidersThomas Lewis had avoided war -- until it invaded his own farm
'John Brown's Body' - Stephen Vincent Benet and Civil War Memory'John Brown's Body' by Stephen Vincent Benet, published in 1928, remains a vibrant tapestry of America's diversity and its unity, its 15,000 lines re-imagining the Civil War as Lincoln understood it.
Union at Shiloh

A letter from Pvt. William Christie, 1st Minnesota Battery, to his father. Christie's battery lost three men killed and six men wounded.

I supposed you have heard of the great battle on the 6th and 7th of this month. …

Confederates at Shiloh

On April 6, 1862, following the first day of fighting, General Ulysses Grant ordered Union gunboats on the Tennessee River to fire broadsides all through the night, in an effort to unnerve the enemy. John S. Cockerill of the 70th

Eyewitness Account: The Battle of ShilohUnion Lieutenant William M. Reid recounts the Battle of Shiloh. PLUS: Three other accounts of the battle.
In Time of War - 150 years ago

January

1 - The Lincoln administration releases Confederate emissaries James Mason and John Slidell from Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, ending the Trent Affair. The diplomats continued their voyage to Europe, on an unsuccessful mission to win support for the …

Wounds from the Washita: The Major Elliott AffairThe death of popular 7th U.S. Cavalry officer Major Joel Elliott at the 1868 Battle of the Washita—and Lt. Col. George Custer's response to it—spawned disunity within the ill-starred unit
McClellan's War-Winning StrategyThe "young Napoleon" had a viable plan to beat the Confederacy. What went wrong?
Walmart Withdraws from Wilderness Battlefield

Preservationists win Wilderness battle

Rather than face what would likely have been an image-bruising court fight, Walmart has abandoned plans to build a retail supercenter on the doorstep of the Wilderness battlefield in central Virginia.

"This project has been controversial, …

Robert E. Lee Takes ChargeGeneral George McClellan thought he was timid. Newspapers called him ‘Granny Lee.’ But once in command, the General Robert E. Lee attacked quickly and boldly.
Black Jack John Logan Goes to WarUnlike most politicians, John Logan played a pivotal role on the battlefield.
Survivors Remember Shiloh7 Lives Altered by Shiloh: Two Fateful Days Can Make Reputations, Shatter Families, and Shape Destinies
Was Secession Legal

Southerners insisted they could legally bolt from the Union.
Northerners swore they could not.
War would settle the matter for good.

Over the centuries, various excuses have been employed for starting wars. Wars have been fought over land or honor. …

The Last Waltz: Prelude to the Siege of VicksburgIn August 1863 astonished Vicksburg revelers watch a convoy of Federal gunboats successfully pass the town's batteries, thanks to the keen observations and ingenuity of Union admiral David Porter.
Murder in the Civil War

Getting away with murder
The battlefield claimed many a brave officer, but there were a few others who met not-quite-so-honorable ends

The death toll among general officers during the Civil War was staggering. Because military necessity often placed a general …

Lee's Unwritten MemoirWhy didn’t Robert E. Lee write his memoirs?
Emmitsburg Road Preservation Campaign

Civil War Preservation Trust announces latest campaign

Fundraising has begun for the preservation of a crucial two-acre parcel on the Gettys­burg battlefield. The property, originally part of the historic Philip Snyder farm, lies along the Emmitsburg Road and is entirely …

Who kept U.S. Grant sober?John Rawlins used his brains and blue language to keep his boss in check.
Why Doesn’t Grant Get the Love?: December 2009/January 2010Ulysses S. Grant has occupied dramatically different positions in the American pantheon. His im­posing stature between the end of the Civil War and the early years of the 20th century cannot be disputed.
Murder and Mayhem Ride the Rails - Union Soldiers Rampage in Virginia

Smoke and fire filled the skies south of Petersburg in December 1864 as the Army of the Potomac's V Corps targeted the Weldon Railroad. Dur­ing a raid along this vital supply line linking southeastern Virginia with North Carolina, liquor-fueled Federals …

Digging deeply into the earthworks at PetersburgIn the Trenches at Petersburg:
Field Fortifications & Confederate Defeat

by Earl J. Hess
University of North Carolina
Press, 2009

New biographies that focus on Civil War–era figures inevitably face the dilemma of how to interpret race, politics and equality …

Key Third Winchester Site Saved: April/May 2009Third Winchester, the bloodiest battle to take place in the Shenandoah Valley, will likely draw more visitors than ever now that a larger portion of the battlefield is being preserved
Grant and Lee: MIA in New York: April/May 2009Visitors to the New-York His­tori­cal Society’s ongoing ex­hibit on Ulysses S. Grant and Rob­ert E. Lee will likely be intrigued by the first artifacts they see: artwork created by the legendary com­manders themselves long before they were famous.
Mothers of the Lost CauseAn army of determined Southern women buried the dead but kept the mythic Confederate legacy of the Lost Cause alive
Fighting Dick and his Fighting Men

On a bleak hillside overlooking the battleground of Sailor's Creek, General Robert E. Lee watched as hundreds of his men fled through the fields and wooded ravines below. "Men without guns, many without hats," one witness recalled, "all mingled with …

Decision at The Battle of Five Forks - 1865


The headstrong Gen. Philip Sheridan (left) had little patience for the careful battle tactics of Gen. Gouverneur Warren (right) and replaced him at Five Forks. But in 1880 Sheridan would be forced to justify his actions before a court of …

Shiloh's False HeroIn exchange for waving a white flag, Benjamin Prentiss was hailed as the savior of the “Hornets’ Nest”
Letters from the Front - Correspondence Spanning Two Centuries of American WarCorrespondence from a two-century span of American wars, from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror. Several feature audio recordings, including Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., reading the letter he wrote home about his experiences as a POW in World War II.
When Railroad Guns RuledFor 85 years, railroad guns were regarded as the ultimate weapon, large enough to do substantial damage but movable to wherever railroad tracks could go. Unparalleled bunker busters, they also terrorized civilians by firing on cities from afar.

Stumbling in Sherman's PathStandard histories of Major General William T. Sherman’s celebrated March to the Sea invariably portray the Confederacy’s response as inconsequential. Such broad generalizations may assuage wounded Southern pride, but they also rewrite history.
The 9 Lives of General John Brown GordonIndestructible Confederate general John B. Gordon survived multiple wounds and serious illnesses during the Civil War. From First Manassas to Appomattox, he proved nothing could keep a good man down.
Reimaginining the SouthA Southerner learns the skeleton in her family closet wore a coat of Union blue.
'A Stupid Old Useless Fool'William Nelson Pendleton was far more effective behind a pulpit than he was as Robert E. Lee's chief of artillery in the Army of Northern Virginia.
Coming Apart From the Inside: How Internal Strife Brought Down the ConfederacyPoliticians and generals on the Confederate side have long been lionized as noble warriors who heroically fought for an honorable cause that had little chance of succeeding. In reality, the Confederate leadership was rife with infighting.
Grenade!: The Little-Known Weapon of the Civil WarGrenades were used in the Civil War from Vicksburg to Petersburg, but they were often as dangerous to their users as to their targets.
William T. Sherman's First Campaign of DestructionBefore Gen. Willliam T. Sherman made Georgia howl, he burned a path through Mississippi, waging a war of destruction that left Southern civilians just enough for survival but not enough to support Confederate military activity.
Load the Hopper and Turn the Crank: Rapid-Fire Guns of the Civil WarRapid-fire weapons like the Gatling gun and the Coffee Mill gun were Civil War novelties, technology that was ahead of its time.
American Indian Sharpshooters at the Battle of the Crater

Lieutenant Freeman S. Bowley was fighting for his life in the man-made hellhole that was the Petersburg Crater when he noticed that the former slaves in his company of the 30th United States Colored Troops were not the only men …

John Singleton Mosby's Revenge

A ragged line of Union soldiers stood in a field along Goose Creek in Rectortown, Virginia, on November 6, 1864. They jostled, chatted and joked with each other, pleased to be outdoors on a brisk autumn day. As prisoners of …

Custer's Last Stand Still Stands UpThe Battle of the Little Bighorn is like a 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle on the south-central Montana landscape - the stuff of legend and historical gamesmanship.
Burning High Bridge: The South's Last Hope

In the final week of the war in Virginia, small villages, crossroads and railroad depots previously untouched by the fighting took on enormous importance as Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant sought to bring General Robert E. Lee to bay and …

Ulysses S. Grant: The 'Unconditional Surrender Continues

For most general officers, a headline-making victory accompanied by the abject surrender of an entire enemy army, such as Ulysses "Unconditional Surrender" Grant accomplished at Fort Donelson in February 1862, would have been quite enough for one career. But Grant …

Ulysses S. Grant: The Myth of 'Unconditional Surrender Begins at Fort Donelson

In January 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met in secret near Casablanca, Morocco, for their second wartime summit meeting. At the final press conference on January 24, Roosevelt announced to the world that the Allies would not stop …

General Bragg's Impossible Dream: Take KentuckyThe 1862 invasion of Kentucky had great promise, but disappointing results.

By Frank van der Linden

Battle of Cold Harbor: The Folly and HorrorThe blame for a broad command failure that led to 7,000 unnecessary Union casualties in a single hour applies to more than just the commander in chief.

By Robert N. Thompson

America's Civil War: Little Round Top RegimentsRenowned for their valorous stand at Gettysburg, the Little Round Top Regiments saw many more days of combat, glory and horror before the Civil War ended.
Battle of RaymondIn his push toward Vicksburg, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant purposely tried to shield his inexperienced young subordinate,James B. McPherson, from the enemy. But Confederate Brig. Gen. John Gregg was not so concerned with McPherson's welfare.

By Al W. Goodman, Jr.

Battle of Peachtree CreekNear the sluggish creek on the outskirts of Atlanta, new Confederate commander John Bell Hood struck the first 'manly blow' for Atlanta,living up to his lifelong reputation as a fighter--but accomplishing little. It would be a bad omen for all Hood's subsequent campaigns.

By Phil Noblitt

Battle of Dinwiddie Court HouseUlysses S. Grant sent his trusted cavalry commander Phil Sheridan to flank Robert E. Lee out of Petersburg. The crossroads hamlet of Dinwiddie Court House soon became the focal point for one of the most pivotal cavalry battles of the war.

By Mark J. Crawford

Battle of Belmont: Ulysses S. Grant Takes CommandWith Union and Confederate troops jockeying for position in neutral Kentucky, an inexperienced brigadier general -- Ulysses S. Gran- - led his equally green Federal troops on a risky foray along the Kentucky-Missouri border.

By Max Epstein

James Longstreet: Robert E. Lee's Most Valuable Soldier

The words resonate through Confederate history like an unwelcome truth. As General Robert E. Lee made preparations for an assault on the center of the Union line at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, his senior subordinate, Lieutenant General James Longstreet, …

Account Of The Battle of ShilohIn the aftermath of a staggering Confederate surprise attack, skulking Union fugitives huddled alongside the bluffs overlooking the Tennessee River near Shiloh.
Battle of Shiloh: Shattering MythsEvents that have been distorted or enhanced by veterans and early battlefield administrators have become part of the accepted story of the April 1862 battle -- until now. Case in point: The Sunken Road wasn't.
Robert E. Lee and His Horse TravellerRarely have horse and rider gone so well together as Traveller and Robert E. Lee.
Battle of Fisher's HillGeneral George Crook's flank attack at Fisher's Hill swept down on the Rebel left like a force of nature.

Hugh Glass: Legendary Trapper in America's Western FrontierBloody and battered from an encounter with a she-grizzly, old trapper Hugh Glass was eventually left to die by two of his comrades. When he refused to die before exacting revenge, a legend was born.
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad: The Union's Most Important Supply LineThe Baltimore & Ohio Railroad survived numerous hardships of the Civil War in its service to the Union.
Battle of New Market Heights: USCT Soldiers Proved Their HeroismOn a gunfire-swept slope near Richmond on September 29, 1864, USCT soldiers stood to the test and proved black men made good professional troops. Fourteen of them received the Medal of Honor for their bravery.
Account Of The Battle of the WildernessIn the dark, forbidding woods of Virginia's Wilderness, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee stumbled blindly toward their first wartime encounter. Neither had a clear idea of his opponent's intentions, but each planned to do what he did best--attack.
Account Of The Battle of ChickamaugaOverconfident and overextended, the Union Army of the Cumberland advanced into the deep woods of northwest Georgia. Waiting Confederates did not intend for them to leave. At Chickamauga Creek, the two sides collided.
Union Captain Judson KilpatrickAn unknown farm boy, he attended West Point. Homely, he had an endless string of mistresses. An inept commander, he became a major general. What was Judson Kilpatrick's secret?
Battle of Sailor's CreekThe April 6, 1865 Battle of Sailor's Creek constituted one of the darkest days in the Army of Northern Virginia's history.
America's Civil War: Images of Peace at AppomattoxEvery picture tells a different story about Lee's surrender.
America's Civil War: Horses and Field ArtilleryWorking side by side with soldiers, horses labored to pull artillery pieces into battle. Without them, field artillery could not have been used to such deadly effect.
44th Georgia Regiment Volunteers in the American Civil WarThe hard-fighting 44th Georgia suffered some of the heaviest losses of any regiment in the Civil War.
Battle of Champion's HillWith Ulysses S. Grant's army steadily menacing Vicksburg, Confederate General John Pemberton left the town's comforting defenses to seek out the enemy army. Too late, he found it, at Champion's Hill.
Battle of Shiloh: The Devil's Own DayAt a small Methodist meeting house in southwestern Tennessee, Union and Confederate armies met for a 'must-win' battle in the spring of 1862. No one, however, expected the bloodbath that ensued. It was, said General William Sherman, 'the Devil's own day.'
Father John B. Tabb: Aboard Confederate Blockade RunnersFather John B. Tabb, an unreconstructed Rebel to the end, had served the Confederacy aboard blockade runners.
Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi (Book Review)

Reviewed by Mike Oppenheim
By Michael B. Ballard
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2004

Popular writers tell us the Confederacy successfully fought off the Union until July 1863. Then came Vicksburg and Gettysburg, after which defeat became inevitable. Meant …

Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi (Book Review)

Reviewed by Brian J. Murphy
By Michael B. Ballard
University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 490 pages

Michael B. Ballard's new book on the Vicksburg campaign offers a refreshing experience. The research is exhaustive, and the writing is lively. …

America's Civil War: Pre-dawn Assault on Fort StedmanLed by select groups of sharpshooters, the weary, muddy troops of the Army of Northern Virginia made one last desperate push to break out of Petersburg.
Major General George Stoneman Led the Last American Civil War Cavalry RaidEven as General Robert E. Lee was surrendering at Appomattox, a vengeful Union cavalry horde led by Maj. Gen. George Stoneman made Southern civilians pay dearly for the war. It was a last brutal lesson in the concept of total warfare.
Lieutenant Colonel Horace C. Porter: Eyewitness to the Surrender at AppomattoxLieutenant Colonel Horace C. Porter provides a firsthand account of Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House in April 1865.
Edwin Booth Saved Robert Todd Lincoln's LifeA Lincoln family incident during the Civil War became a remarkable snippet of assassination lore.
37th North Carolina Infantry Regiment in the American Civil WarThe service of the 37th North Carolina epitomized the grit and determination of Tar Heel fighters.
America's Civil War: Assault at PetersburgSixth Corps Yankees stumbled out of their earthworks and toward the muddy pits of the Army of Northern Virginia. It was the beginning of the end at Petersburg.
Battle of Gettysburg: Fighting at Little Round TopThe Battle of Gettysburg, and perhaps the fate of the Union, was decided in one hour of desperate fighting on the rocky ledges of Little Round Top.
African American Troops of Company K, 9th Cavalry Fought in the Battle of Fort LancasterCaptain William Frohock, Lieutenant Frederick Smith and the black troopers of Company K, 9th Cavalry, received an after-Christmas surprise from Kickapoo raiders in 1867.
Truth Behind U.S. Grant's Yazoo River BenderMurky facts and contradictions confuse the story of a purported 1863 drinking spree by the general.
Harry Macarthy: The Bob Hope of the ConfederacyHe could make tired soldiers laugh, and his 'Bonnie Blue Flag' churned southern audiences into a frenzy. That was why Harry Macarthy was loved from one end of the confederacy to the other.
Ulysses S. Grant's Lifelong Struggle With AlcoholThroughout his legendary military and political career, U.S. Grant battled accusations that he was overly fond of the bottle. Did his alleged excessive drinking make him an alcoholic, or for that matter, did he really drink that much more that the average man of the nineteenth century?
Battle of VicksburgUlysses S. Grant thought his formidable Army of the Tennessee could take Vicksburg from a 'beaten' foe by direct assault. He was wrong, thanks to near-impregnable fortifications, renewed Southern spirit, and surprisingly suspect Northern generalship.
The Irish Brigade Fought in America's Civil WarTheir casualties were enormous but their courage and capacity for fun were legendary. General Lee, himself, gave highest praise to these Yankees of the Irish Brigade.
Grierson's Raid During the Vicksburg CampaignU.S. Grant, bogged down outside Vicksburg, needed a diversion to ease his way. He got just that from a music teacher turned cavalryman--one who hated horses, at that.
Drones in the Great Hive: A Letter from an African-American Civil War SoldierChristian A. Fleetwood -- an African-American Medal of Honor-winner -- writes bitterly of the way the Union army treats its black soldiers.

America's Civil War: Last Ditch Rebel Stand at PetersburgAfter nearly 10 months of trench warfare, Confederate resistance at Petersburg, Va., suddenly collapsed. Desperate to save his army, Robert E. Lee called on his soldiers for one last miracle.
An Englishman's Journey Through the Confederacy During America's Civil WarSuave, gentlemanly Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle of Her Majesty's Coldstream Guards picked an unusual vacation spot: the Civil War-torn United States.
America's Civil War: The South's Feuding GeneralsIt sometimes seemed that Southern generals were more interested in fighting each other than in fighting Yankees. Their inability to get along together contributed greatly to the South's demise.
Battle of Nashville: Enemies Front and RearUnion forces under George H. Thomas destroyed the Confederate Army of Tennessee at Nashville as Thomas endured his own battle of resolve with Ulysses S. Grant.
The Fall of VicksburgOn July 4, 1863, Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton surrendered the Confederate bastion of Vicksburg, Mississippi, to Union forces under Major General Ulysses S. Grant. The surrender brought an end to 47 days of unendurable siege, but it also brought an end to Confederate control of the Mississippi River.
Major General J.E.B. Stuart: Last Stand of the Last KnightMajor General J.E.B. Stuart posted his horsemen at Yellow Tavern -- between Union attackers and Richmond -- and waited for the collision. It would come with a deadliness he could never have imagined.
Ulysses S. Grant: America's Second Three-Star GeneralNot since 1798 had congress trusted a soldier with the full power of the lieutenant generalcy. Clearly, great things were expected from the Union's new three-star general, Ulysses S. Grant.
Camp William Penn: Training Ground for FreedomUnder the stern but sympathetic gaze of Lt. Col. Louis Wagner, some 11,000 African-American soldiers trained to fight for their freedom at Philadelphia's Camp William Penn. Three Medal of Honor recipients would pass through the camp's gates.
America's Civil War: Philip SheridanAt an obscure railroad station in northern Mississippi, an equally obscure Union cavalry colonel faced a personal and professional moment of truth. His name was Phil Sheridan, and his coolness and dash clearly marked him for bigger things.
Siege of Petersburg: The City and Citizens Were Impacted from the StartCircled by Confederate trenches, hard pressed by Union forces, the people of Petersburg had nothing left to do but endure -- and pray for a miracle.
Winchester, Virginia: A Town Embattled During America's Civil WarWinchester, Virginia, saw more of the war than any other place North or South.
Northern Volunteer Nurses of America's Civil WarA cadre of dedicated Northern women from all walks of life traveled to the charnel houses of the Civil War to care for the sick and wounded.
Battle of the Wilderness With General Robert E. LeeAs the Union army crossed the Rapidan River to commence its powerful 1864 spring offensive, Confederate General Robert E. Lee scrambled to divine his enemy's intentions. But not even Lee could fully pierce the fog of war.
Reno Gang's Reign Of TerrorLong before the James brothers began robbing trains, the Reno brothers tried their hand at it in post--Civil War Indiana, but the outlaw Hoosiers' reign didn't last long.By William Bell
Old Dominion Brigade in America's Civil WarThe Virginia regiments originally under the brigade command of William Mahone seemed to save their best for last. After two years of average service, they became Robert E. Lee's go-to troops in the Wilderness and at Petersburg's Crater.
Eyewitness to American Civil War: Iron Brigade Soldier's Wartime LettersTimothy Webster survived Fredericksburg and Gettysburg with the Iron Brigade, but not Petersburg.
Battle of Yellow TavernBadly misunderstanding his opponent's intentions, Jeb Stuart played into Phil Sheridan's hands at Yellow Tavern. A swirling cavalry fight ensued.
Book Review: Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier and President (Geoffrey Perret) : CWT


Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier and President, by Geoffrey Perret, Random House, New York, (800) 762-0600, 560 pages, $35.

It is one of the puzzles of Civil War scholarship that Ulysses S. Grant has rarely been the subject of a full-length …

Book Review: The Armies of U.S. Grant (James R. Arnold) : CWT


THE ARMIES OF U.S. GRANT
The Armies of U.S. Grant by James R. Arnold, Arms and Armour, London, distributed by Sterling, New York, 320 pages, $29.95. Arnold traces Ulysses S. Grant's lineage of Civil War commands from colonel of the …

Book Review: Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph over Adversity, 1822-1865 (by Brooks Simpson): CWT


Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph over Adversity, 1822-1865, by Brooks Simpson, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 523 pages, $35.

In Let Us Have Peace (1991), Brooks Simpson's first book about Ulysses S. Grant, Simpson told us what we already knew about his …

Book Review: Island No. 10: Struggle for the Mississippi Valley (Larry J. Daniel and Lynn N. Bock) : CWT


Island No. 10: Struggle for the Mississippi Valley,by Larry J. Daniel and Lynn N. Bock (University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 213 pages, $24.95).

Island No. 10: Struggle for the Mississippi Valley is the first book ever to be devoted entirely …

Book Review: Echoes of Battle: The Struggle for Chattanooga (Richard A. Baumgartner and Larry M. Strayer) : CWT


ECHOES OF BATTLE: THE STRUGGLE FOR CHATTANOOGA
Echoes of Battle: The Struggle for Chattanooga, by Richard A. Baumgartner and Larry M. Strayer, Blue Acorn, Huntington, West Virginia, $43.75. Accounts of 450 Union and Confederate soldiers and a collection of 465 …

Book Review: A Place Called Appomattox (by William Marvel): CWT


A Place Called Appomattox, by William Marvel, University of North Carolina Press, 400 pages, $34.95.

The history industry is replete with scholars hawking startling, or at least intriguing, reinterpretations of familiar stories. Revisionism is the engine that keeps the history …

Book Review: Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant (U.S. Grant/ Brooks D. Simpson) : ACW


Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, introduction by Brooks D. Simpson, University of Nebraska Press (Bison Books), Lincoln, 1996, $26.
For Civil War buffs and scholars alike, there are certain books that are required reading, as indispensable as ErnestHemingway's novels are …

Book Review: Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier & President (Geoffrey Perret) : ACW


Ulysses S. Grant was an unremarkable man, except at the times when it mattered most.

By Richard F. Welch

The image of Ulysses Simpson Grant that has most endured with the American public is that of a brisk, no-nonsense general …

Book Review: Grant Wins the War: Decision at Vicksburg (by James R. Arnold)


Grant Wins the War: Decision at Vicksburg, by James R. Arnold, John Wiley and Sons, New York, (212) 850-6000, 398 pages, $30.

When General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck congratulated Major General Ulysses S. Grant on capturing Vicksburg, he rejoiced that in …

Banners to the Breeze: The Kentucky Campaign, Corinth and Stones River (by Earl J. Hess) : ACW


Banners to the Breeze: The Kentucky Campaign, Corinth and Stones River, by Earl J. Hess, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000, $32.


The year 1862 proved critical for Confederate fortunes in the Western theater. It began with a series of …

Book Review: Gettysburg: A Battlefield Guide (by Mark Grimsley and Brooks D. Simpson) Chickamauga: A Battlefield Guide With a Section on Chattanooga (by Steven E. Woodworth): ACW


Gettysburg: A Battlefield Guide, by Mark Grimsley and Brooks D. Simpson, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1999, $17.95, paperback.
Chickamauga: A Battlefield Guide With a Section on Chattanooga, by Steven E. Woodworth, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1999, $16.95, paperback.…

Book Review: Custer: The Controversial Life of George Armstrong Custer (Jeffry D. Wert) : ACWGeorge Armstrong Custer's controversial life ended in an equally controversial death at the Little Bighorn.
Book Review: Lee vs. Pickett: Two Divided By War : ACWLee vs. Pickett: Two Divided by War will stand as a groundbreaking study of a fascinating relationship.

Book Review: A Place Called Appomattox (By William Marvel): ACW


Two volumes offer new interpretations and shatter some myths about the end of the Civil War.

By A. Wilson Green

William Marvel knows how to tell a good story. He is also a master at debunking myths and reinterpreting historical …

Book Review: The Confederate War (Gary Gallagher) : ACW


In his provocative new book, The Confederate War, author Gary Gallagher revises the revisionists.

By Richard F. Welch

Over the past 15 years an influential school of Civil War historians–now perhaps the dominant orthodoxy–has argued that class, race and gender …

Book Review: The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope (James R. Arnold and Roberta Wiener) : AH


The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope, by Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr., Savas Publishing, Campbell, California, (800) 848-6585, 623 pages, $32.95.

While most aspects of the American Civil War have been examined in minute detail by an infinite body …

Book Review: Wisconsin in the Civil War: The Home Front and the Battle Front, 1861-1865 (Frank L. Klement) : AH


Wisconsin in the Civil War: The Home Front and the Battle Front, 1861-1865, by Frank L. Klement, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 816 State Street, Madison, WI 53706, 141 pages, $35 (includes shipping).

At the start of the Civil War, …

Battle of Gettysburg: Major Eugene Blackford and the Fifth Alabama SharpshootersAs fighting swirled all around the little town of Gettysburg, Major Eugene Blackford and his sharpshooters infiltrated the usually quiet streets to snipe at Union soldiers often mere paces away. It was dangerous duty, but also a sort of reckless sport.
American History: December 2000 From the Editor


An American Named Ulysses

Recent months have seen the publication of no less than three novels about Ulysses S. Grant. Even taking into consideration the public's enduring fascination with the Civil War, I find that somewhat astonishing. Yet, on further …

A Tar Heel's Tale - October 1999 Civil War Times Feature

A Tar Heel's Tale

SUBMITTED BY LONNIE R. SPEER OF SWANNANOA, NORTH CAROLINA

 


NAME Charles Dock Jenkins
DATES May 16, 1829, to January 20, 1915
ALLEGIANCE Confederate
HIGHEST RANK Sergeant
UNIT 29th North Carolina Infantry, Company F
SERVICE RECORD …

South's Feuding Generals - November '99 America's Civil War Feature


South's Feuding Generals

By Richard Selcer

It sometimes seemed that Southern generals were more interested in fighting each other than in fighting Yankees. Their inability to get along together contributed greatly to the South's demise.

Imagine a situation in the …

A Solider's Legacy - August 1999 Civil War Times Feature

A Soldier's Legacy

SUBMITTED BY REX ROWLAND OF CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE

 


NAME Calvin Kelley
DATES 1834(?) to May 22, 1864
ALLEGIANCE Confederate
RANK Private
UNIT 8th Arkansas Infantry, Company K
SERVICE RECORD Enlisted on October 12, 1861. Wounded in the …

THE SAVIOR OF CINCINNATI - February 1999 Civil War Times Feature


THE SAVIOR OF CINCINNATI

Long before he published Ben-Hur, Lew Wallace rose from a career as an obscure small-town Indiana lawyer to take a prominent role in the Civil War.

BY ROBERT E. MORSBERGER

During the first months of the …

MANTLED IN FIRE AND SMOKE - July '99 America's Civil War Feature


MANTLED IN FIRE AND SMOKE

By David F. Cross

The Battle of Gettysburg, and perhaps the fate of the Union, was decided in one hour of desperate fighting on the rocky ledges of Little Round Top.

In June 1863, Confederate …

Camp William Penn's Black Soldiers In Blue - November '99 America's Civil War Feature


Camp William Penn's Black Soldiers In Blue

By Donald Scott

Under the stern but sympathetic gaze of Lt. Col. Louis Wagner, some 11,000 African-American soldiers trained to fight for their freedom at Philadelphia's Camp William Penn. Three Medal of Honor …

they paid to enter Libby Prison - February 1999 Civil War Times Feature


they paid to enter Libby Prison

A drafty Richmond deathtrap for captured Yankees became a tourist trap after the war–600 miles away!

BY BRUCE KLEE

The Union officers who stepped into the huge brick prison's reception room knew all too …

The North's Unsung Sisters of Mercy - September '99 America's Civil War Feature


The North's Unsung Sisters of Mercy

By Alice P. Stein

A cadre of dedicated Northern women from all walks of life traveled to the charnel houses of the Civil War to care for the sick and wounded.

They came from …

Why the South Lost the Civil War - Cover Page: February '99 American History Feature


Why the South Lost the Civil War

Ten Civil War historians provide some contrasting–and probably controversial–views on how and why the Confederate cause ultimately ended in defeat.

Interviews by Carl Zebrowski

"The art of war is simple enough. Find out …

War's Last Cavalry Raid - May '98 America's Civil War Feature


War's Last Cavalry Raid

By Chris Hartley

Even as General Robert E. Lee was surrendering at Appomattox, a vengeful Union cavalry horde led by Maj. Gen. George Stoneman made Southern civilians pay dearly for the war. It was a last …

Hard-Fighting John Hammond - Sidebar: January '98 America's Civil War Feature

Hard-Fighting John Hammond

Although many citizens heeded the call to defend and preserve the Union, no one in Essex County, New York, felt more strongly about serving his country than John Hammond. The son of Charles F. Hammond, a local …

"Never Were Men So Brave" - December 1998 Civil War Times Feature


Never Were Men So Brave

Their casualties were enormous but their courage and capacity for fun were legendary. General Lee, himself, gave highest praise to these Yankees of the Irish Brigade.

BY JOHN F. McCORMACK, JR.

Out Hanover Street in …

Out of a Frozen Hell Part 2 - May 1998 Civil War Times Feature


Out of a Frozen Hell part 2

A misplaced pocketbook jeopardizes the escape of three Rebel prisoners struggling to reach Canada.

BY ROGER LONG

Editor's Note: In our last issue, we followed four Confederate officers on their daring escape from …

Tall Tales of the Civil War - August '96 Civil War Times Feature

TALL TALES OF THE CIVIL WAR

Being a compendium of poppycock, balderdash, and malarkey told by civil warveterans for the amusement and amazement of future generations

BY: WILLIAM C. DAVIS

Men are deceivers ever," wrote William Shakespeare in Much Ado …

Valley of the Shadow - Sept. '90 America's Civil War Feature

VALLEY OFTHE SHADOW

Overconfident and overextended, the Union Army
of the Cumberland advanced into the deep woods
of northwest Georgia. Waiting Confederates did not
intend for them to leave. At Chickamauga Creek,
the two sides collided.

By Mike Haskew

In …

Horsepower Moves the Guns - March '96 America's Civil War Feature

Working side by side with soldiers, horses labored
to pull artillery pieces into battle.Without them, field artillery
could not have been used to such deadly effect.
By James R. Cotner

The field artillery of the Civil War was designed to …

The Lightning Brigade Saves the Day - July '97 America's Civil War Feature


The Lightning Brigade Saves the Day

Armed with their new, lethal seven-shot Spencer rifles, Wilder's
Lightning Brigade was all that stood between the Union Army
and the looming disaster at Chickamauga Creek.

By Hubert M. Jordan

Historically, the Battle of …

Wintry Fury Unleashed - Jan. '97 America's Civil War Feature


Wintry Fury Unleashed

Union General William Rosecrans bided his time, waiting to attack
Braxton Bragg's Rebel army at Murfreesboro, 30 miles south of Nashville.

By Michael E. Haskew


Steadily the rain had pelted down all day, and now as wintry …

Hancock's 'Well-Conducted Fizzle' - Jan. '97 America's Civil War Feature


Hancock's 'Well-Conducted Fizzle'

With Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia stubbornly
clinging to Petersburg,Ulysses S. Grant decided to cut its
vital rail lines. To perform the surgery, he selected one of
the North's proven heroes– 'Hancock the Superb.'

By …

The Proving Ground - April '96 Civil War Times Feature

thePROVINGground

The Mexican War gave future civil war generals their first taste of combatJOHN C. WAUGH

Chatham Roberdeau Wheat would one day lead a famous Louisiana battalion called "Wheat's Tigers" into battle for the Confederacy. He would fight and die …

A Town Embattled- February '96 Civil War Times Feature

Winchester, Virginia, saw more of the war than any other place North or Southa town EMBATTLEDCHRIS FORDNEY

Ten thousand Confederate troops filled the small town of Winchester, Virginia, early in the summer of 1861. Soldiers were quartered in almost every …

A Tour of 'Mosby's Confederacy' - Jan '96 America's Civil War Feature

TRAVEL
A tour of 'Mosby's Confederacy' gives a taste of thefamed cavalryman's hair-raising exploits.

By Karen M. Laski

"They had for us all the glamour of Robin Hood and his merry men, all the courage and bravery of the ancient …

The 44th Georgia Suffered Some of the Heaviest Losses - March '96 America's Civil War Feature

The hard-fighting 44th Georgia suffered some of the heaviest losses of any regiment in the Civil War.
By Gerald J. Smith

On March 10, 1862, companies of Georgians from Henry, Jasper, Clarke, Spalding, Clayton, Putnam, Fayette, Pike, Morgan, Henry and …

Father John B. Tabb Aboard Confederate Blockade Runners: Jan '96: America's Civil War Feature

PERSONALITY
Father John B. Tabb, an unreconstructed Rebel to the end, had served the Confederacy aboard blockade runners.

By Charles A. Earp

The Tabbs of Amelia County were one of the oldest and wealthiest families in Vir-ginia, owning vast acreage …

Last-Ditch Rebel Stand at Petersburg - Cover Page: May '97 America's Civil War Feature

Last-Ditch Rebel Stand at Petersburg
By Ronald E. Bullock

After nearly 10 months of trench warfare, Confederate resistance
at Petersburg, Va., suddenly collapsed. Desperate to save his
army, Robert E. Lee called on his soldiers for one last miracle.

After …

Father John B. Tabb Aboard Confederate Blockade Runners: Jan '96: America's Civil War Feature

PERSONALITY
Father John B. Tabb, an unreconstructed Rebel to the end, had served the Confederacy aboard blockade runners.

By Charles A. Earp

The Tabbs of Amelia County were one of the oldest and wealthiest families in Vir-ginia, owning vast acreage …

Battle of Gettysburg: Union General George Stannard and the 2nd Vermont BrigadeThe first Vermonter to enlist in the war, Union General George Stannard helped turn the tide at Gettysburg.
Mexican War: The Proving Ground for Future American Civil War GeneralsFor young American army officers of the time, the Mexican War was not only the road to glory, it was the road to promotion--a proving ground for future Civil War generals.

 

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