Hiram Ulysses Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio on April 22, 1822. His parents were Jesse Root Grant, a tanner, and Hannah Simpson Grant. The family moved to the community of Georgetown the year following his birth. Soon afterward, his mother gave birth to two more boys and three girls. Ulysses did not like working in the family tannery, instead he preferred to work on the family farm. While growing up in Georgetown, he attended school on a regular basis. Then when he was 17 years old Congressman Thomas L. Hamer nominated him for the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Hamer mistakenly wrote down his name as Ulysses S. Grant. It did not take long before his fellow students started calling him Sam, in regards to his first two initials which were U.S. He graduated in 1843, ranked 21st out of 39. Renowned for his horsemanship he was assigned to to the 4th Infantry Regiment where he became a quartermaster in charge of supplies.
In 1846, Grant fought in the Mexican American War, as a lieutenant. He may have just been the quartermaster, but it did not slow him down. Not long afterward, he distinguish himself by leading the cavalry charge in the Battle of Resaca. Shortly afterward, Grant was assigned to General Winfield Scott's invading force. Scott and his men landed in Vera Cruz before turning their attention towards Mexico City. There in Chapultepec, on the outskirts of Mexico City, Grant saved the day by grabbing a howitzer cannon and taking it to the top of a church steeple. There he held off the opposing Mexican forces. His bravery did not go unrewarded. By the wars end, Ulysses had gained the rank of captain. Unfortunately, a short time later he would hit bottom when he began drinking heavily and was forced to resign from the army. He next tried opening several business's in St. Louis, Missouri, and all failed. Finally, he went to work for his father as a clerk in a leather goods store in Galena, Illinois.
When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Ulysses received a volunteer colonel's commission. It did not take long for his victories to mount. First he won at both Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. These victories brought him public attention and an elevation in rank to major general. Grant would then move to capture the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi. After a ferocious battle the Confederate Army surrendered on July 4, 1863. The victory gave the Union forces control of the Mississippi River, and it also had the effect of cutting the Confederacy in two. Grant was soon elevated to a major general in the regular army.
Soon afterward, President Lincoln made him lieutenant general and commander of all Union forces. He immediately took control of the Army of the Potomac with over 100,000 soldiers. Soon afterward, Grant lost as many as 60,000 soldiers at the battles of Spotsville and Cold Harbor. Lee and the Confederacy would only lose 30,000. Then in 1865 Grant's Union forces fought Robert E. Lee's Confederate forces mile after mile all the way to Richmond, finally surrounding them in Richmond and Petersburg. After a siege of several months,Lee and his men mounted an escape. They continued to fight until they had exhausted all resources. General Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia on April 9, 1865. After the conclusion of the war, in 1868, Ulysses S. Grant was elected president. During his 8 years in office he had to deal with raging Indian Wars, the French seizing control of Mexico, as well as the task of rebuilding everything that had been destroyed during the war.