Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: A History of the Union Cause

Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: A History of the Union Cause

Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: A History of the Union Cause

Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant: A History of the Union Cause

Synopsis

Among the autobiographies of generals and statesmen, the Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant ranks with the greatest. Mark Twain called it the best of any generals since Caesar. And few historians would disagree. Unquestionably, it is the finest literary achievement by any American president, the frankest, least pretentious, most nearly tragic account we have of the failings and triumphs of leadership.Written as Grant was dying of cancer, it tells the straightforward story of his boyhood in Ohio, graduation from West Point, and the grimy military campaigns in the West and Mexico that ended with his resignation in disgrace and a return to Galena where he ran the family store. Then began the rebellion that broke the Union and recast Grants fortune: the capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Appomattox, Five Forks, Sailors Creek, Vicksburg and Lookout Mountain, the bloody Wilderness campaign, Shermans March to the Sea,. Grant the tactician, the victim of his friends, the alcoholic, the plain and tough professional soldier, the ideal commander--all of these images are brightened in the work of Grant the writer as he assesses himself and the events that forged his character.

Excerpt

His troubles began on a festive holiday. Christmas Eve in the year of 1883 was cold and rainy, and by late evening the sidewalk was frozen in front of Ulysses S. Grant's house on 3 East 66 Street in New York City, not far from Central Park. Stepping out of a rented carriage, Grant slipped on the ice and sustained a painful inj ury. As the formerly robust general struggled to regain his health, another blow struck. in May of 1884, he learned that Grant and Ward, an investment firm that held his fortune, had failed. Aged 62, Grant was penniless.

Friends and supporters rallied around Ulysses and his wife, Julia. He was able to keep his residence, but little else. in desperation, he agreed to write an account of the battle of Shiloh for the Century Magazine. He did it for the money at first, but found that he liked the task. He decided to write more articles. One thing led to another, and before he knew it he had signed a book contract. a brief period of happiness ensued, but fate once again intervened. in the summer of 1884 Grant bit into a peach and was immediately seized with a terrible pain in his throat. a few months later, his doctors confirmed the worst: he had a fatal throat cancer. Most men might have abandoned an ambitious writing project at such a time. Not Grant. Famed for his quiet determination on the battlefield, he decided to finish the manuscript before he died.

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