Every year, Americans take time to remember and honor the fallen heroes of the civil war, a war that transformed America into what it is today. While most people in the country can make a list of civil war heroes, few of them actually know their personal backgrounds, what they did before the civil war and the contributions they made. The following infographic is a tale of two civil war titans — Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.
Robert E. Lee’s Pre-War Career
A faithful Episcopalian, Robert was born in Virginia on January 19, 1807. Lee’s father was himself a revolutionary war hero, while his mother was from a wealthy Virginia family. At the age of 24, he married Mary Randolph Custis with whom he fathered seven children.
Lee attended West Point and graduated second in his class in 1829. During his time at West Point, Lee was nicknamed Marble Model. He was later elected to serve in the Engineer Corps (U.S. Army). During the 1846 Mexican-American war, Lee served under General Winfield Scott, leading and planning reconnaissance missions and attacks. In 1852, the army officer returned to West Point as a superintendent. When the 2nd U.S. Calvary was formed in 1855, Jefferson Davis appointed Lee the Lieutenant Colonel in charge. Lee was given the chance to become the Union Army commander on April 18, 1861, but he turned down the offer because he did not want to lead a war against his home state. Four days after he declined the offer, Lee was appointed commander of the Virginia State forces.
Ulysses S. Grant’s Pre-War Career
Born in Point Pleasant, OH, on April 2, 1822, Grant worked in the family tannery as a child. While he was not known for his religious devotion, Grant was a Methodist. He married Julia Dent in 1848 and had four children. Grant graduated 21st in the West Point class of 1843, which had 39 graduates. Grant’s horsemanship skill was exemplary and contributed to his appointment to the 4th infantry. He served the military during the Mexican-American war in 1846, first under General Zachariah Taylor then under General Winfield Scott. Grant resigned from the military soon after the Mexican-American war was concluded due to a drinking problem and took a job at his father’s tannery after going back home to the mid-west.
Upon volunteering for military service in 1861, Grant was initially rejected, but he was later accepted. After the victory at Vicksburg in 1863, Grant was appointed commander of all the union forces from the Mississippi to the Appalachians.
The Most Famous Battles of the Civil War
- Battle of Shiloh: In April 1862, confederate troops surprised Grant and almost defeated him, but Grant won the Battle of Shiloh on the second day.
- Seven Days Battle: In June 1862, Lee saved Richmond after pushing back the Union army more than 20 miles.
- Second Battle of Bull Run: In August 1862, Lee succeeded in pushing Union forces commanded by General John Pope back to Washington.
- Battle of Antietam: In September 1862, Lee attacked General McClellan but was pushed back on northern soil.
- Battle of Fredericksburg: In December 1862, Lee experienced one of his greatest victories after inflicting a casualty of 12,000 troops on the Union forces.
- Battle of Chancellorsville: Between April to May 1863, General Stonewall Jackson together with Lee, defeated Union forces while outnumbered by over 40,000 troops.
- Battle of Gettysburg: This is one of the most famous battles of the civil war. Lee and the confederacy lost over 23,000 troops.
End of the Civil War
After years of war, Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant on April 9, 1865. Less than a month later, General Richard Taylor surrendered the confederate forces of Mississippi, East Louisiana and Alabama. On April 26, 1865, General Joseph Johnston surrendered the confederate forces of Tennessee at Bennet’s Place, NC. Two weeks later, the confederate president, Jefferson Davis was captured near Irwinsville, GA. On May 12, 1865, the last battle of the civil war was fought at Palmito Ranch, TX, and was won by the confederate side. Soon after, in May 1865, General Simon Bolivar entered into a terms of surrender of the Trans-Mississipi Army. Once the terms of surrender were agreed upon, the war officially ended.
Post-War Careers of Lee and Grant
After the civil war, Lee became the president of the Washington College in Lexington, VA. Lee’s health deteriorated after the war. He suffered a stroke in September 1870 and died from heart failure at his home on October 12, 1870. In the 1970s, Congress restored Lee’s full rights posthumously.
After the civil war, Grant presided over the reconstruction of the army as well as the construction of the railroad. He later served as the interim secretary of war from 1867 to 1868. Ulysses S. Grant was elected president of the United States in 1869 and served two terms until 1877. He died of throat cancer on July 23, 1885.
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