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The Lost Hero

Ulysses S. Grant’s tomb sits in Riverside Park overlooking the Hudson River, on New York City’s Upper West Side. Grant lived in the city the last four years of his life, from 1881 to 1885, and his wife Julia decided that New York would be the best place to bury her husband. She believed his tomb would be “visited by as many of his countrymen there as it would be at any other place.” His neoclassical mausoleum, where Julia would also be interred, opened to great fanfare in 1897.

The once-shabby building, which is administered by the National Park Service, was renovated during the late 1990s and is now well kept. Its size and grandeur might surprise first-time visitors—as it did me. I was also surprised to find I had it pretty much all to myself. The visitor center was closed that day, and what meager interpretive information was available did little to enrich my tour of the site.

A bit like the missing tourists, Grant himself seems lost thus far in our observance of the war’s 150th anniversary, but it’s to be hoped his memory will receive its due in 2015, during Appomattox commemorations. Meanwhile if you’re in New York, visit Grant’s resting place. Help fulfill Julia’s wishes.


Originally published in the August 2012 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.