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Grant biography gives a glimpse of man

May 26, 2009|By ZACH MULLER

"Grant" by John Mosier, published by Palgrave Macmillan

Ulysses Simpson Grant was born on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio.

Unfortunately, there is little else known about his childhood. In fact, the earliest records of Grant were written when he attended West Point.

Other than his birth record, historians have not found any records of him prior to his enrollment at West Point in 1839.

The fact that he was able to pass the entrance examination to West Point does indicate some level of education as many potential cadets failed this exam.

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Also, at age 17, Grant taught himself algebra, which shows both a high level of intelligence and self-motivation.

After graduating from West Point in 1843, Grant found himself fighting in the Mexican War under Gen. Zachary Taylor, who became Grant's hero.

Grant really admired Taylor's composure under fire. Grant displayed that same virtue throughout his life.

During one battle, the regiment he served in ran low on ammunition, so Grant made a daring ride for some more ammunition. His heroics allowed the regiment to continue fighting and repel the Mexican army.

The greatest thing Grant ever did was save the Union during the Civil War. He was expert at quickly moving troops and thereby outmaneuvering his enemies. Grant had an innate ability to adapt his tactics to the changing terrain.

After the war, he ran for, and became the 18th President. He was one of seven Presidents to serve two terms in office during the first 100 years of our nation. He was also one of only four generals to become president.

Grant's two main goals were to save the Union and to rebuild the South to its former glory.

I think Grant ultimately accomplished his first goal, but his second goal wouldn't be accomplished until another president came into power.

Grant had all the skills needed to accomplish his goals. He was calm in battle and knew what to do even when things went completely wrong.

Grant was also one of the only generals to see the need to change tactics and strategies to account for new technology, such as the Gatling gun, rifled cannons, repeating firearms, etc.

There were also things that hindered Grant. Grant's superior, Halleck, like most officers during the Civil War, was looking for personal glory in what they thought would be a short conflict.

Halleck intentionally overlooked Grant by sending incompetent officers to lead the Union's Tennessee army. They always came back defeated. Halleck was afraid Grant would outshine him, which did eventually happen.

As president, Grant was a little too trusting. He would place people he thought he could trust in high positions of power.

Some of these men got involved in scandals and made the president look bad. This is one of the reasons his presidency is one of the most underrated.

Grant had one of the greatest influences on the world. He helped save the nation that would one day become the undisputed superpower in the world.

After reading "Grant," I think that Grant was a military genius. He was the only Civil War general not to lose a battle. He was also one of the greatest generals of all time.

I would recommend this book to others. It's not like most biographies where they just tell you what they did and where they went. This biography tells you how he did it, who he was as a person, and what he was actually like.

Zach Muller is an eighth-grader at Heritage Academy west of Hagerstown. He enjoys history, math and reading nonfiction books.

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