The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Civil War 150th

May 12, 2011

Part 5. Putting the ‘U.S.’ in U.S. Grant


Ulysses S. Grant was an unlikely conqueror.

   Grant didn’t amount to much as a farmer, businessman or even a peacetime soldier. As a commander-in-chief after the Civil War, he ranks among the nation’s worst presidents.

   But Grant excelled at war. His superiors during the Mexican-American War commended him for battlefield bravery. They included a captain named Robert E. Lee.

   “The art of war is simple enough,” Grant would later say. “Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.”

   Grant learned a lesson early in the war he said he never forgot: Opponents feared him as much he feared them.

   His friend and fellow general William Tecumseh Sherman would later write: "I'm a darned sight smarter than Grant; I know a great deal more about war, military histories, strategy and grand tactics than he does. ...

   “I know more about organization, supply and administration and about everything else than he does. But I'll tell you where he beats me and where he beats the world; he don't care a damn for what the enemy does out of his sight, but it scares me like hell."
   In February 1862, Grant’s gift for war led to the capture of Fort Henry and nearby Fort Donelson in western Tennessee. After Grant's forces encircled the Southerners at the latter, along the Cumberland River, Southern Commander Simon Bolivar Buckner petitioned for terms of surrender.

   “No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted,” came Grant’s famous reply. “I propose to move immediately upon your works.”

   Grant forced 12,000 Confederate soldiers to surrender.

   Those conquests gave a dispirited North its first victories. “The shame of Bull Run was erased,” historian Shelby Foote noted.

   Grant’s victories in February of 1862 did more than lift the spirits of the North. They helped keep Kentucky in the Union and opened up river routes that would allow Union armies to penetrate Tennessee that spring.
   For his victories, the people of the North bestowed upon Grant a new nom de guerre: The U.S. in U.S. Grant, they said, stood for “Unconditional Surrender.”
   As for Grant, who was promoted to Major General after the capture of Fort Donelson, his gift for war was only beginning to emerge.

   He would go on to do something unparalleled in the annals of the Civil War: He would capture two more Southern armies, the next at Vicksburg in 1863 and finally that of Lee – the same man who once singled out Grant for recognition – at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865.



Quick Fact: Father and Son


   Simon Bolivar Bucker is remembered as the man who surrendered to Ulysses Grant at Fort Donelson. His son, Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., was a lieutenant general who died during World War II at Okinawa, the highest-ranking U.S. officer killed by enemy fire in that war.

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Civil War 150th
  • 082412newtonia.jpg Living history events will commemorate 1862 Newtonia battle

    One of the oldest and most historic homes in Southwest Missouri — the two-story brick mansion built by Matthew Ritchey about 160 years ago — will be the centerpiece for the 150th anniversary of the first Civil War battle at Newtonia.

    September 1, 2012 2 Photos

  • More Civil War events scheduled for this fall

    The 150th anniversary of the 1862 battle at Newtonia isn’t the only Civil War event slated for the region this fall. A site dedication and sesquicentennial celebration will take place in late October at the Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site near Butler.

    September 1, 2012

  • Confederate Gen. Price led 1864 campaign into Missouri to liberate state, disrupt election

    When former Missouri governor and Confederate Maj. Gen. Sterling Price led an invasion of the state in 1864, he hoped to liberate Missouri from what he believed was Union occupation that had been in place since the first year of the war.

    December 17, 2011

  • PrairieGrove BayonetorRetreat.jpg 'Angel of death'

    Maj. Henry Frisbie of the 37th Illinois — a Union veteran of the campaign that culminated near here in December 1862 — wondered after the Civil War why events in the East so often overshadowed events in the West.

    October 18, 2011 12 Photos

  • painting Civil War: Order No. 11 reduced border to a wasteland

    Solomon Young epitomized everything Americans admire in one of their own: self-made, a restless, westering soul hewing a life out of the wilderness with nothing but “a gun and an ax and two babies and a blanket,” according to family tradition.

    September 24, 2011 1 Photo

  • Battle of Baxter Springs William Quantrill’s legacy remains mixed 150 years after Civil War

    In the spring of 1881 — the American Civil War had been over for 16 years — a newspaper editor from Dover, Ohio, wrote an open letter to Joplin residents, asking them to tell their stories about William Clarke Quantrill.

    September 3, 2011 2 Photos

  • Ricky Dodson Battle of Wilson’s Creek played key role in Civil War

    The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, 150 years ago this week, was a victory for the Confederates. It also resulted in the first death of a Union commander, Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon.

    August 11, 2011 1 Photo

  • Ann Raab Battle of Island Mound marked first time blacks fought in Civil War combat

    In October 1862, Rufus Vann’s journey brought him to the farm of imprisoned bushwhacker John Toothman in Bates County.

    July 30, 2011 1 Photo

  • (8)EliWhitney.jpg Part 8. King Cotton 


    Slavery arrived in the New World before the Pilgrims, and it might not have survived to see Southern secession had it not been for Eli Whitney’s cotton gin.

    May 19, 2011 3 Photos

  • (7)Johnston.jpg Part 7. ‘Pavement of Dead Men’

    Having captured Forts Henry and Donelson in February 1862, Ulysses Grant and his Army of the Tennessee pushed up the river of the same name as spring came.

    May 19, 2011 2 Photos