Ulysses S. Grant
Branch: United States Union Army
Time Enlisted: 1839–1854 1861–1869
Location: Company F, 4th Infantry 21st Illinois Infantry Regiment District of Southeast Missouri District of Cairo Army of the Tennessee Division of the Mississippi United States Army
Battles / War(s): Mexican–American War American Civil War
On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began as Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. Two days later, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers and a mass meeting was held in Galena to encourage recruitment. Recognized as a military professional, Grant was asked to lead the ensuing effort. Before the attack on Fort Sumter, Grant had not reacted strongly to Southern secession. The news of the attack came as a shock in Galena, and Grant shared his neighbors' mounting concern about the onset of war. After hearing a speech by his father's attorney, John Aaron Rawlins, Grant found renewed energy in the Union cause. Rawlins later became Grant's aide-de-camp and close friend during the war. Grant recalled with satisfaction that after that first recruitment meeting in Galena, "I never went into our leather store again." Without any formal rank in the army, Grant helped recruit a company of volunteers and accompanied the regiment to Springfield, the state capital. During this time, Grant quickly perceived that the war would be fought for the most part by volunteers and not career soldiers. Illinois' Governor Richard Yates offered Grant a position recruiting and training volunteer units, which he accepted, but he still wanted a field command in the regular army. He made several efforts through contacts (including Major General George B. McClellan) to acquire such a position. McClellan refused to meet him, remembering Grant's earlier reputation for drinking while stationed in California. Meanwhile, he continued serving at the training camps and made a positive impression on the volunteer Union recruits. With the aid of his advocate in Washington, Illinois congressman Elihu B. Washburne, Grant was formally promoted to Colonel on June 14, 1861, and put in charge of disciplining the unruly 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. To restore discipline, Grant had one troublemaker bound and gagged to a post for being drunk and disorderly. Transferred to northern Missouri, Grant was promoted by Lincoln to Brigadier General, backdated to May 17, 1861, again with Washburne's support. Believing Grant was a general of "dogged persistence" and "iron will", Major General John C. Frémont assigned Grant command of troops near Cairo, Illinois by the end of August 1861. Under Frémont's authority Grant advanced into Paducah and took the town without a fight.
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