The Men Who Fought the Long Fight and Won
Generals Hiram Ulysses "U.S." Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman

Hiram Ulysses “U.S.” Grant

As a cadet at West Point, Grant didn't excel at his studies--or much of anything else--except horsemanship. Unlike Robert E. Lee who never received a single demerit, Grant earned several for slovenly dress and tardiness. In 1843, he graduated 21st out of 39.

Both Grant and Sherman were in St. Louis on May 10, 1861 when more than two dozen people including eight women and children were killed in the melee at Camp Jackson.

After stints in the Army, stabs at farming, bill collecting and selling firewood, he packed it in to work for his father in Galena, Illinois.

When Lincoln was elected, war was sure to follow. Grant knew his duty to the Union and so traveled to St. Louis in the spring of 1861 to seek an appointment.

An Illinois congressman helped him gain command of the 21st Illinois Volunteers. His first task, other than shaping up the unruly mob of men, was to guard a railroad bridge near Hannibal. He caught the eye of General John Charles Fremont--who chose him to spearhead a key Union strategy--to slice down the Mississippi cutting off the Far West from the Confederacy. He was well on his way when he took Cairo which meant control of the upper Mississippi and the mouth of the Ohio in September of 1861.

From there, army and navy worked together to take Fort Donelson and Island number 10--and on down river.  Despite staggering casualties at Pittsburgh Landing and Shiloh, Grant forged ahead with bulldog determination. Breaking the long siege at Vicksburg meant success on the river--and earned him overall command of the armies.

William Tecumseh Sherman

After graduating 6th in his 1840 class at West Point, Sherman fought in the Mexican War, superintended the military academy which has since become Louisiana State University and made his home in St. Louis as president of the Broadway Streetcar Company. Upon his death in 1891, he was buried in Calvary Cemetery after the grandest funeral St. Louis had ever witnessed.

When Civil War erupted, Sherman turned down the rank of general of volunteers to become a colonel in the regular army. A cloud over his judgment caused him to be sent to St. Louis as commander of Benton Barracks, a prisoner of war and hospital camp. He then was sent to central Missouri in the spring of 1862. That turned out to be the beginning of close ties with General Grant. Sherman even waived his seniority rights to take command under Grant. When Grant was sent east to take overall command of the armies, Sherman was made brigadier general and given command in the west--largely thanks to Grant’s recommendation.

He then began his famous march to the sea--destroying and demoralizing as he flanked the main reb armies and convinced the CSA that their cause was well and truly lost. The South hated him for his scorched earth policies and his marauding stragglers known as “Sherman’s Bummers.”  Opinion in the North was very different. He was the only man to receive official “Thanks from Congress” twice--for success at Chattanooga and Atlanta. Even so, his plan to give 40 acres and a mule to each black man failed to pass muster.

When Grant became President in 1869, he named Sherman Commander-in-Chief of the entire United States Army. In St. Louis, General Sherman remained a celebrity throughout his life. He was given the honor of opening the Eads Bridge on the Fourth of July 1874. The opening day celebration featured a parade that stretched fifteen miles through the streets of St. Louis. When the General died on 14 February 1891, President Benjamin Harrison ordered all national flags to be flown at half mast. Sherman's funeral and burial in Calvary Cemetery was the largest St. Louis had ever seen.

Ultimately, it is most fitting that the heartland of this country, the place where violence first flared, also produced the statesman and soldiers who ended it.


Statues and Memorials
St. Louis-Where the West Began
What Caused the Civil War?
The Men Who Started the Shooting War
Lincoln and Douglas
Abraham Lincoln
Bellefontaine Cemetery
More St. Louis Stories
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Victorian Verity
Donna Ross's Speaking Site