An Oversized Photo of General Grant
Taken after Lincoln’s Assassination
Click to enlarge:
ULYSSES S. GRANT.
Photograph. By Frederick Gutekunst. Philadelphia, Pa., [May 1865] 15½ x 18 in., mounted on 20 x 24 in. board. Likely dated “October 1865” [perhaps the date of production] in light pencil on Gutekunst’s label on verso. Blind stamp of Chicago Historical Society, and “Chicago Historical Society dupl” in pencil on verso.
Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), born in Illinois as Hiram Ulysses Grant, was the leading Union general of the Civil War and the 18th President of the United States. He graduated from West Point in 1843 and served in the Mexican War, but at the start of the Civil War, he was a little-known grocer in Galena, Illinois. In June 1861, he was appointed colonel of the 21st Illinois and quickly rose to prominence in the western theater. His victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga earned him fame and steady promotion. In March 1864, he was named lieutenant general (the first since George Washington) and general-in-chief of all Union armies. On March 8, Grant went to Washington and met Lincoln for the first time. His command was not without controversy. After great numbers of dead at the battle of Shiloh, Lincoln responded to criticisms of Grant by saying, “I can’t spare this man—he fights.” To complaints of Grant’s drinking, Lincoln quipped: “Tell me what brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.” Grant remained in the Eastern Theater to take on Robert E. Lee. After the difficult Overland Campaign, the Siege of Petersburg, and the climactic Appomattox Campaign, Grant forced Lee to surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. He was commanding general of the U.S. Army after the war, and was elected as a Republican to the presidency in 1868 and 1872.