The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: January 8 - March 31, 1862 - Vol. 4

The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: January 8 - March 31, 1862 - Vol. 4

The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: January 8 - March 31, 1862 - Vol. 4

The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: January 8 - March 31, 1862 - Vol. 4


Grant's career in the closing months of 1861 has been obscured by the success which came to him on the battlefield early in the following year, beginning with the victory at Fort Donelson in February 1862. Hence, Volume 3 of this definitive edition will be especially valuable to historians of the presidency as well as the Civil War for the clear, comprehensive insight itprovides into Grant's attitudes and motives on the eve of his military victories.

The fourteen-week period covered by this volume has been exhaustively researched, and includes a great store of previously unpublished material, which has been combined with already available Grant documents- many of them now printed from the original manuscripts. All the correspondence has been placed in context and annotated. As in previous volumes of the Papers, a deepening portrait of Grant emerges. Here is the key to his future actions and policies and a guide to the thought of generations who looked to him for military and political leadership.


On January 8, 1862, Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant, at Cairo, Illinois, received instructions from his commanding officer, Major General Henry W. Halleck, to demonstrate with his army in Kentucky. "Make a great fuss," wrote Halleck; "be very careful however to avoid a battle." Although the object of the subsequent demonstration was to keep the Confederates so wary of attack by Grant's forces that they would neglect to detach additional men for central Kentucky, reconnaissance developed evidence of the weak link in the Confederate line at Fort Henry on the Tennessee River.

On his return from Kentucky, Grant lost no time in leaving for St. Louis to ask Halleck for permission to move against Fort Henry. After some hesitation, Halleck gave permission, and Grant immediately mounted his expedition. Fort Henry fell easily to a gunboat attack when the Confederates decided to concentrate their forces eleven miles east at Fort Donelson, commanding the Cumberland River. As soon as Fort Henry surrendered, Grant began to plan his move toward Fort Donelson. Of all the messages between Grant and Halleck in this period, none is more intriguing than one never sent. "General Halleck did not approve or disapprove of my going to Fort Donelson," Grant recalled. "He said nothing whatever to me on the subject."

With the capture of an entire Confederate army at Fort Donelson after three days of battle, Grant won the first major Union victory of the Civil War. His demand for "unconditional surrender" gave him national acclaim and a promotion to major general. The victory had resounding impact as the Confederate line cracked, putting virtually half of Tennessee in U. S. possession.

Yet Grant's sudden rise to fame was nearly fatal to his military career. Both Halleck and Major General George B. McClellan . . .

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