[caption id="attachment_2055" align="alignleft" width="290" caption="Map of Fort Donelson - New York Tribune, February 18, 1862"][/caption]
Greetings Cosmic Americans!
We all know Grant - of course we do. Whether you think of him as an unimaginative butcher or a determined fighter who out-generaled Robert E. Lee one thing is for sure. He did more to crush the Confederacy than any other Union commander. (Go ahead....just try to think of someone else.)
But in February 1862 he was relatively unknown. Not until the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson (the anniversary of the fall of the latter is tomorrow) did the contending parties get to know the Union hero (or adversary...if you like).
The New York Tribune managed to offer a few biographical notes about the man who would become, in very short order, a pretty heavy hitter:
Brig-Gen Ulysses S. Grant, the hero of Fort Donelson, is a man of about 40 years of age. He is a native of Ohio and a graduate of West Point. He was twice brevetted for gallantry and meritorious conduct in the Mexican War and was in every principal battle in which it was possible for any one man to be. He was in the 4th Infantry, he resigned in 1855, and went in to business in St. Louis. He subsequently moved to Galena Ill, where he now resides, and became interested in a large leather establishment.
At the breaking out of the rebellion he immediately offered his services to the Government, and was soon put in command of an Illinois regiment. He participated actively in a campaign in Missouri and obtained great credit. At the extra session his name was brought forward for a Brigadier- Generalship by Mr. Washburne of Illinios, of the House of Representatives, and the entire delegation joined in the recommendation, and he was appointed. He soon after went into command of the military district of Cairo.
And that is it - no one yet knew to what heights Grant would rise. Shiloh was on the horizon, as were the the great battles around and the siege of Vicksburg. But with these first reports of "Unconditional Surrender" Grant's handiwork we begin to get a glimpse of the man who would soon occupy the minds of citizens and soldiers North and South. Stay tuned - I'll be providing several of the many (and much more illustrious) reports on down the line. Learning about Grant as the people did. Bit by bit.