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Ulysses S. Grant Information Center: Battles in the West

Information about General and President Ulysses S. Grant and resources for doing research. Includes material suitable for the K-12 audience.

Chronological List of Grant's Battles in the West

1. Battle of Belmont, Missouri, November 7, 1861.
2. Battle of Fort Henry, Tennessee, February 6, 1862.
3. Battle of Fort Donelson, Tennessee, February 11-16, 1862.
4. Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, April 6-7, 1862.
5. Campaign and Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, December 1862-July 4, 1863.
6. The Chattanooga Campaign, Tennessee, October-November, 1863.
Grant writes about each of these battles here in his Personal Memoirs.

1. Battle of Belmont, Missouri - November 7, 1861

Brief summary of the battle. Historians say it did not accomplish much, but Grant believed the experience gave his troops confidence in their fighting ability. Sponsored by the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission (CWSAC)
Much detail on particulars and people involved.
Julia and Ulysses Psychic Connection
Grant had a narrow escape from enemy bullets while supervising departure of his troops at Belmont. Julia, back home in Galena, at this very moment experienced a distinct and startling vision of her husband. Later Grant told her he had been thinking intensely of her at the same time. Julia writes of this in her Memoirs.

2. Battle of Fort Henry, Tennessee, February 6, 1862

CWSAC Battle Summary, Fort Henry

Brief summary of the battle. First of two battles to open the Tennessee River to Union transportation of men and supplies.

Union Army Organization

For information on Grant's progressively higher ranks as he achieved victory after victory, see the link below on his ranks and promotions. 

How many soldiers make up a Company, a Regiment, a Brigade, a Division and a Corps? How did Grant serve at each level? See the Union Army Organization link below.


       Ulysses S. Grant

Buttons and Stars

The military attire of Grant during the Civil War tells you something about his rank.

1861 June Colonel 21st Illinois volunteers. Eagle on his shoulder. Buttons in groups of 2.? Not sure.

Single Star on his shoulders, August, 1861, Brigadier General of Volunteer Soldiers. Buttons in groups of 2.

Two Stars on his shoulders, February, 1862, Major General of Volunteer Soldiers. Buttons in groups of 3.

Two Stars on his shoulders, Post-Vicksburg Victory, Major General, Regular Army. Buttons in groups of 3.

Three Stars on his shoulders, March 9, 1863, Lieutenant General all Union Armies. Buttons in groups of 3.

Four Stars on his shoulders, July, 1866, General of all the Armies. Buttons in groups of 4.

Colorized Portrait on U. S. Postage Stamp

       Grant on U. S. Postage Stamp

3. Battle of Fort Donelson, Tennessee, February 16-17, 1862

CWSAC Battle Summary, Fort Donelson

Brief summary of the battle. Followup battle to Fort Henry, this victory electrified the North, making Grant a hero and earned him the nickname "Unconditional Surrender."


Unconditional Surrender Blog Entry  from the New York Times. - Warning - Many advertisements.
The Surrender Letter, from the Smithsonian. Grant was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers after receiving General Buckner's "Unconditional Surrender."


Article from Civil War Times (undated) on the Civil War Trust website. Grant at Ft. Donelson and how he came to be called "Unconditional Surrender Grant."

4. Shiloh, Tennessee, April 6-7, 1862

Brief summary of the battle. The highly controversial first day's battle Sherman called "The devil's own day." Grant responded, "Lick 'em tomorrow though." And indeed he did.

Battle of Shiloh from Wikipedia

Shiloh National Military Park

Battle of Shiloh from the Civil War Trust
Many resources, including a great video. Click on Shiloh Animated Map. Includes narrated timeline.

Battle of Shiloh from the Essential Civil War Curriculum by Timothy B. Smith, leading tour guide at Shiloh National Military Park.

Grant at Cherry mansion, Savannah, Tennessee, a dwelling that served as his headquarters before the Battle of Shiloh. 

Testimony as to Grant's sobriety on opening day of the Battle of Shiloh by Mrs. W. H. Cherry, mistress of Cherry mansion. From the magazine Confederate Veteran, its first issue, February 1893.

The South suffered a major loss in this battle with the death of Confederate General Albert Sydney Johnston. Johnston was the highest-ranking casualty of the war on either side and his death was a strong blow to the morale of the Confederacy.

Marker at Shiloh

  Battle of Shiloh Marker


       Ulysses S. Grant

5. Vicksburg, December 1862-July 1863

​CWSAC Battle Summary, Vicksburg
Brief summary of what has been called the most brilliant campaign of the war.
From the Vicksburg National Military Park. Many links to material on the various battles.
Siege of Vicksburg from Wikipedia
Vicksburg, from the Civil War Trust
Many great resources, with a large map and videos.

Vicksburg During the Siege
Besides military information, scroll down to find much description of the suffering and privations of the Vicksburg citizens during the siege.
Siege of Vicksburg Video (3 minutes) from the History Channel
Discovery Tour of the Vicksburg Campaign. Scroll down to find a marked tour with descriptions of each stop.

Battles Preceding the Siege of Vicksburg
Port Gibson, May 1, 1863, CWSAC  Battle Summaries
Jackson, May 14, 1863, CWSAC Battle Summaries
Champion Hill, May 16, 1863, CWSAC Battle Summaries
Champion Hill, Virtual Tour
Big Black River Bridge, May 17, 1863 CWSAC Battle Summaries
Grierson's Raid, April 17th-May 20th, Wikipedia
  A Boy's Experience at Vicksburg, by Frederick Dent Grant.

Grant Monument at Vicksburg

Grant Monument at Vicksburg

Grant at Chattanooga

Cracker Line at Chattanooga

Grant arrived at Chattanooga on Oct. 23, 1863 to find his army starving. On October 29, 1863 the first supplies along thCracker Line reached Chattanooga. At first, the line transported mostly vegetables and small rations, but the shorter days and cold nights required other supplies such as blankets and firewood. Medicine was also coming into Chattanooga in large quantities. The somber attitude that had prevailed for the previous five weeks was gone overnight, although the men would not receive full rations for a week.