Grant Takes Command

Emerging Civil War

This weekend marks the 150th Anniversary of Ulysses S. Grant’s promotion to Lieutenant

Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant

General and designation as Commanding General of the U.S. Army. Often discussed in passing as regards the 1864 campaigns, to contemporary eyes this was a major event in the war. Grant’s promotion reveals much about the political and military undercurrents in March 1864.

Recreation of the rank of Lieutenant General was no small thing. Only the two most prominent soldiers in American history up to that time (George Washington by substance and Winfield Scott by brevet) had held this rank before, and in the 1864 mind whoever next got this rank would be placed into their pantheon. By making Grant a Lieutenant General, Lincoln doubled down on the idea that Grant was the man to win the war. (To put this in modern terms, it would be like recreating the General of the…

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