This Day in History… July 25, 1866

‘General of the Army’ Rank Created for Ulysses S. Grant 

U.S. #281

Ulysses S. Grant became a household name and was considered a hero following his leadership during the Civil War. In recognition of this, Congress created an entirely new rank for him on July 25, 1866 – the four-star General of the Army of the United States.

Nothing in Grant’s early life predicted his eventual success. Grant’s father arranged a West Point appointment for his son, who did not want to be a soldier. But when the call for volunteers came at the start of the Civil War, Grant answered.

Grant impressed early on, capturing Fort Donelson and taking control of the Mississippi River during the Vicksburg Campaign. Further successes earned Grant command of the entire Union Army in 1863. In that role he worked closely with President Lincoln in developing a strategy to win the war. In circumstances that sent previous generals retreating, Grant pushed on, earning him both acclaim and criticism. But by the spring of 1865, Grant’s dogged determination had the Confederate Army scattered and defeated, forcing their surrender.

As a war hero, and America’s highest-ranking general at that time, Grant went on to become a popular choice for president in 1868.

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