General Ulysses S. Grant Timeline

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US Grant Timeline
General US Grant Timeline.jpg
General US Grant Timeline


April 27: A son, later named Hiram Ulysses Grant, is born to tanner Jesse R. Grant and Hannah Simpson Grant at Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio.


Autumn: Jesse Grant moves his family to Georgetown, Brown County, Ohio. Here their oldest son receives his earliest education.


Autumn 1836 - Spring 1838: Ulysses attends the school of Richeson and Rand at Maysville, Kentucky.


Autumn 1838 - Spring 1839: Ulysses attends the Presbyterian academy at Ripley, Ohio.


March 3: Ulysses is appointed to West Point.

May 29: Ulysses arrives at West Point and discovers that the congressman who appointed him, in doubt about his name, has used his middle name first and has used his mother's maiden name (Simpson) for a middle name. In time, Ulysses will accept U. S. Grant as his true name, insisting that his middle initial stands for "nothing."


June: Grant graduates from West Point, ranked twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine.

July 28: Grant learns that he is assigned to duty, beginning September 30, with the Fourth U.S. Infantry at Jefferson Barracks, just outside St. Louis, Missouri. His rank, established automatically by his West Point graduation, will be brevet second lieutenant.


February: Grant had often visited the Dent family farm, White Haven, south of St. Louis. Frederick Dent had been Grant's West Point roommate. Now, Fred's sister, Julia Dent, returns from St. Louis. "After that I do not know but my visits became more frequent; they certainly did become more enjoyable."

May: While on a visit to his parents in Ohio, Grant learns that his regiment has been ordered to Louisiana. When he returns, Julia agrees to marry him.

June: Grant arrives at the camp of the Fourth Infantry near Natchitoches, Louisiana. "There was no intimation given that the removal of the 3d and 4th regiments of infantry to the western border of Louisiana was occasioned in any way by the prospective annexation of Texas, but it was generally understood that such was the case."


April: Grant obtains leave for twenty days. He travels to St. Louis to see Julia, and to gain her parents' consent to an engagement which has been a secret for almost a year. Colonel Dent doubts that Grant can support a family on a lieutenant's pay, but he likes Grant and cannot deny his daughter's obvious determination.

July: The Fourth Infantry is sent to New Orleans to await orders.

September: Grant sails from New Orleans, bound for Corpus Christi on the Nueces River in Texas. Soon, Grant is promoted to full second lieutenant. The land between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers is claimed by both the United States and Mexico.


March 11: Grant begins to march across the disputed territory. General Zachary Taylor's force reaches the Rio Grande on March 28. Small clashes between U. S. and Mexican units lead to a Mexican declaration of war on April 23. "Even if the annexation itself could be justified, the manner in which the subsequent war was forced upon Mexico cannot . . . The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions."

May 8: Taylor wins the battle of Palo Alto as Grant finds himself under fire for the first time. "You want to know what my feelings were on the field of battle! I do not know that I felt any peculiar sensation. War seems much less terrible to persons engaged in it than to those who read of the battles... During that night I believe all slept as soundly on the ground at Palo Alto as if they had been in a palace. For my own part I don't think I even dreamed of battles."

August 19: Taylor begins to move toward Monterey. Grant is detailed as regimental quartermaster.

September 21: During the battle of Monterey, Quartermaster Grant is expected to remain behind the lines. Without orders, he rides to the front and charges with his regiment. Grant now replaces the regimental adjutant.

September 23: Heavy fighting continues in Monterey. Short of ammunition, General Garland asks for a volunteer to carry a message to General Twiggs through streets occupied by Mexican forces. Grant runs the gauntlet, riding on the side of his horse with one foot hooked on the cantle of the saddle and an arm around the neck of his horse.


January 11: Grant's Fourth Infantry is ordered to leave General Taylor's force and join that of General Winfield Scott. The troops retrace their route across Mexico to Camp Page on the Gulf.

September 8: Grant participates in the assault on Molino del Rey.

September 13: During the assault on San Cosme Garita, outside Mexico City, Grant orders a howitzer placed in a church belfry where it can be fired effectively. This comes to the favorable attention of General Worth. During the night, civic officials of Mexico City ask for surrender terms.


June 12: The occupation of Mexico ends for Grant as Worth's division marches out of Mexico City. Grant's transport will sail from Vera Cruz on July 16.

July 23: The Fourth Regiment lands at Pascagoula, Mississippi. As soon as another officer is assigned to the quartermaster's duties, Grant hurries on leave to White Haven.

August 22: Grant and Julia Dent are married.

November 17: Grant reports at Detroit, Michigan. He learns that he has been assigned to duty at the dreary outpost of Madison Barracks at Sackett's Harbor, New York, on Lake Ontario. By spring of the following year, Grant has obtained a transfer to Detroit.


May 30: Julia and Ulysses Grant's first child, Frederick Dent Grant, is born.


Spring 1851 - Spring 1852: Grant spends a full year at Sackett's Harbor. Then the Fourth Infantry is ordered to the Pacific Coast. Grant says goodbye to his wife and son, who will be staying with his parents, and reports at Governor's Island, New York, for embarkation on the steamer Ohio.


July 16: The Ohio anchors off Aspinwall (now Colon) on the isthmus of Panama. The trip across steamy and deadly Panama begins.

July 22: While Ulysses is still in transit, his and Julia's second child, Ulysses S. Grant Jr., whom they call Buck, is born.

September 20: Grant arrives at Fort Vancouver, Oregon (later Washington) Territory. Prices are inflated on the Pacific Coast, and Grant's attempts to supplement his captain's pay are unsuccessful. Discouraged and unhappy about the long separation from his family, which now includes the second son he has never seen, and with no prospect of reunion, Grant finds consolation in drink, as fellow officers will later recall. He begins to consider resigning.


September 30: Grant receives notice that he has been promoted to captain as of August 5, to take the place of an officer who had died, along with orders to report at Fort Humboldt, California.


April 11: Grant receives his official commission as captain and writes his resignation from the army the same day. On June 2, the resignation is accepted by Secretary of War Jefferson Davis.


Summer: After living for nearly a year at White Haven with Julia's parents, the Grant family moves to Wish-ton-wish, another farm on the Dent estate. Here their third child, Ellen Grant, whom they call Nellie, is born on July 4.


Summer: The Grant family moves into its own home, built largely by Grant alone. Almost every farm in the neighborhood has a name, often a pretentious one; Grant calls his Hardscrabble.

November: Grant casts his only presidential ballot prior to the time he is himself elected. The nation is deeply divided over the issue of slavery. "It was evident to my mind that the election of a Republican President in 1856 meant the secession of all the Slave States, and rebellion. Under these circumstances I preferred the success of a candidate whose election would prevent or postpone secession, to seeing the country plunged into a war the end of which no man could foretell. With a Democrat elected by the unanimous vote of the Slave States, there could be no pretext for secession for four years. I very much hoped that the passions of the people would subside in that time, and the catastrophe be averted altogether; if it was not, I believed the country would be better prepared to receive the shock and to resist it. I therefore voted for James Buchanan for President."


December 23: Grant pawns his watch, presumably to buy Christmas gifts for his family. The Panic of 1857 has withered crop prices. Only a few weeks later, February 6, 1858, the fourth Grant child, Jesse Root Grant Jr., is born.


Spring: Grant rents out his Hardscrabble farm and himself rents White Haven from his father-in-law. Following another poor season, plagued by poor health, he enters the real estate business in St. Louis.


January: Grant moves into a back room in St. Louis rented from his business partner, while his family temporarily remains at White Haven. In March, his family joins him in a rented cottage in St. Louis.

March 29: Despite the financial troubles of the Grant family, there is one remedy Grant refuses to consider. He sets free his slave, William Jones, who had come to him through his wife's family.

August 15: Grant submits his application for the position of County Engineer of St. Louis. Although qualified, Grant will be passed over by politicians who prefer a Republican.


May: After many years of financial disappointment in Missouri, Grant turns to his father for help. He takes a clerkship in a leather goods store owned by his father and operated by his brothers Orvil and Simpson in Galena, Illinois.

November 8: The Republicans of Galena, supporters of Abraham Lincoln, hold a victory celebration in the Grant store. Grant helps his Republican brother Orvil serve oysters and liquor. Grant has not lived in Illinois long enough to be eligible to vote, and is apparently undecided about the merits of Lincoln and his opponent, Stephen Douglas.


April: The local Republican congressman, Elihu B. Washburne, favorably impressed by Grant, arranges for him to preside over a public meeting held in Galena to respond to Lincoln's call for troops after war breaks out between the North and the South at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Grant drills the company of Jo Daviess Guards raised at the meeting, but declines the captaincy. Instead he travels to Springfield, Illinois to offer his services to Governor Richard Yates. Grant finds temporary employment as a clerk in the adjutant's office.

May 8: Grant is appointed mustering officer. It is a temporary job which ends within two weeks.

May 10: While Grant is in St. Louis seeking a commission, he witnesses the disorder following the capture of Camp Jackson by Unionists under Nathaniel Lyon and Frank Blair.

May 22: Grant finishes his mustering and returns to Galena. Two days later he writes to Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas: "I feel myself competant to command a Regiment if the President, in his judgement, should see fit to entrust one to me." The letter is never answered.

June: Grant visits the headquarters of General George B. McClellan in Cincinnati, seeking a staff appointment. McClellan does not receive him.

June 15: Grant returns to Springfield and accepts Governor Yates' offer of the colonelcy of the Seventh District Regiment, an unruly group which has driven its first colonel into retirement.

June 16: Grant boards a streetcar in Springfield to ride out to his regiment at Camp Yates.

June 28: Following patriotic oratory from two Illinois Democratic congressmen, John A. Logan and John A. McClernand, 603 members of the regiment volunteer to enter the U. S. service as the Twenty-First Illinois.

July 3: The Twenty-First Illinois begins its first march: from Springfield to Quincy, Illinois, on the Mississippi River.

July: Grant is ordered to proceed from the Salt River against Colonel Thomas Harris, some twenty-five miles south at Florida, Missouri. "As we approached the brow of the hill from which it was expected we could see Harris' camp, and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois, but I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do; I kept right on. When we reached a point from which the valley below was in full view I halted. The place where Harris had been encamped a few days before was still there and the marks of a recent encampment were plainly visible, but the troops were gone. My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards." Grant's regiment is soon located at Mexico, Missouri.

July 31: President Lincoln appoints Grant a brigadier general of volunteers following the recommendations of a caucus of Illinois congressmen. Grant is now in command at Ironton, Missouri.

August 17: As Grant prepares to move against the enemy, General Benjamin M. Prentiss arrives to claim command; wrongfully asserting that he outranks Grant. Without prolonged argument, Grant departs for St. Louis, where General John C. Frémont reassigns him to Jefferson City.

August 27: Replaced by General Jefferson C. Davis at Jefferson City, Grant again returns to St. Louis. This time he is given command of all troops in southeast Missouri (August 28), with headquarters temporarily at Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

September 4: Grant establishes headquarters at Cairo, Illinois. On September 3, Confederate General Leonidas Polk had violated the self-proclaimed neutrality of Kentucky by occupying Columbus. News reaches Grant on September 5. Grant then occupies Paducah (September 6). His quick action prevents the Confederates from consolidating their defense line in Kentucky.

November 7: Grant leads his troops to Belmont, Missouri, across the Mississippi River from Columbus, Kentucky, in a diversionary movement to prevent Confederate reinforcement of General Sterling Price. The Union troops overrun a Confederate camp and begin to celebrate victory. Then the Confederates return with a superior force. Grant's men scramble for their transports, and the general himself barely escapes death or capture.

Gen. US Grant
US Grant.jpg
US Grant

Credits: PBS online; This is an abridged version of Professor John Y. Simon's Ulysses S. Grant Chronology, available in its entirety at the Ulysses S. Grant Association Web site (

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