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General Grant's personal memoirs are a must read for all Civil War buffs and those even remotely interested in history. This book, which includes both Volume I and II, articulately spells out the military career of one of the United States' greatest generals. Grant's memoirs are well-written, thoughtful, insightful, and offer more than a glimpse into the mind of U.S. Grant. Volume I opens with a heartfelt preface where Grant explains how his diminishing health pushed him to complete this work and "asking no favor but hoping (his remarks) will meet the approval of the reader." They most definitely do. Following the preface, the reader is given a (very) short review of his early childhood, life at West Point, and early Army life. The next one hundred pages are dedicated to the Mexican War followed by his resignation from the military and civilian life in Illinois. The remainder of Volume I and all of Volume II extensively deal with the war between the states. Volume I (written before Grant realized he was critically ill) is rich in detail of the various military campaigns and his ascension through the military ranks. Volume II hurls the reader into the conflict, reads rapidly, and is rife with Grant's personal observations and insights. This second volume picks up where the first left off--following Vicksburg to the campaigns in Tennessee to the Battle of the Wilderness to Sherman's March to the Sea to the Battle of Franklin right up to Appomattox and all the events of April and May 1865. These campaigns are told from the commanding general's perspective with great overview and detail. However, what really makes Volume II special are all the personal observations and insightful comments about those Grant served with and against. Grant is thoughtful and displays much about himself as this great book draws to a close. An eloquently written, detailed, first-person account of the Civil War that offers much to those who read it.
About the Author
Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) was the 18th President of the United States (1869-1877) as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America. Grant began his lifelong career as a soldier after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1843. Fighting in the Mexican American War, he was a close observer of the techniques of Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. He resigned from the Army in 1854, then struggled to make a living in St. Louis and Galena, Illinois. After the American Civil War began in April 1861, he joined the Union war effort, taking charge of training new regiments and then engaging the Confederacy near Cairo, Illinois. In 1862, he fought a series of major battles and captured a Confederate army, earning a reputation as an aggressive general who seized control of most of Kentucky and Tennessee at the Battle of Shiloh. In July 1863, after a long, complex campaign, he defeated five Confederate armies (capturing one of them) and seized Vicksburg. This famous victory gave the Union control of the Mississippi River, split the Confederacy, and opened the way for more Union victories and conquests. After another victory at the Battle of Chattanooga in late 1863, President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to the rank of lieutenant general and gave him charge of all of the Union Armies. As Commanding General of the United States Army from 1864 to 1865, Grant confronted Robert E. Lee in a series of very high casualty battles known as the Overland Campaign that ended in a stalemate siege at Petersburg. During the siege, Grant coordinated a series of devastating campaigns launched by William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip Sheridan, and George Thomas. Finally breaking through Lee's trenches at Petersburg, the Union Army captured Richmond, the Confederate capital, in April 1865. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. Soon after, the Confederacy collapsed and the Civil War ended. During Reconstruction, Grant remained in command of the Army and implemented the Congressional plans to reoccupy the South and hold new elections in 1867 with black voters. This gave Republicans control of the Southern states. Enormously popular in the North after the Union's victory, he was elected to the presidency in 1868.