EIGHTEEN

Ulysses S. Grant
1869-77

For a military hero, Ulysses S. Grant ( 1822-85) was singularly mildmannered and pacific. He disliked hunting, shunned profanity, abhorred cruelty to animals, hated the sight of blood, and was sickened by the spectacle of a bullfight in Mexico. He never read a book on military strategy or tactics, moreover, and he enjoyed military pomp and circumstance or wearing full-dress uniforms no more than Zachary Taylor. As he told Bismarck after the Civil War while attending a military review in his honor at Potsdam: "I am more of a farmer than a soldier. I take little or no interest in military affairs."1 This was, to be sure, an exaggeration. Still, it is a fact that when he met the second Duke of Wellington he said, innocently enough, "They tell me, my Lord, that your father was also a military man."2

As a young man Grant was not eager for a military career. When his father told him he had been appointed to a cadetship at the Military Academy at West Point, he said, "I won't go.""I think you will," said his father, and that settled the matter. 3 Grant did only fair work at the Academy, hoped that Congress would abolish the institution, and graduated twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine. He saw his first action during the Mexican war and performed creditably enough, but was utterly without enthusiasm for the war. The Mexican War, he said afterward, was "one of the most unjust wars ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance

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