Of the many famous Civil War generals, many can name Robert E. Lee, William T. Sherman, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, and others. But do you remember one of the more famous whose given name was Hiram?
Hiram was born on April 22, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio. Due to his family’s position, he received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. There his records recorded his name incorrectly as Ulysses S. – a point Hiram accepted, so as not to rock the boat.
Hiram, known by his cadet classmates as “Sam” and sometimes “Uncle Sam” from the initials U.S., graduated from West Point on 1843, achieving the rank of 21st in a class of 39. In spite of declaring along the way that “a military life had no charms for me”, he did, however, excel as a horseman in both the Mexican War and American Civil War.
In one of his earliest Civil War actions, he captured at Fort Donelson coaxing an unconditional surrender from his Confederate foe, causing some to say his U.S. initials now stood for “Unconditional Surrender.”
A huge Union victory at Vicksburg propelled “Sam” into the position of commander of the entire western theater for the Union. By March 1864, “Uncle Sam” had become the commander of all Union armies. When the war ended at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee, it was Lt. General Hiram Ulysses Grant who accepted the terms.
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