Happy Birthday, General Grant

April 27 is the birthday of Ulysses S. Grant.

Grant 1868

This is my favorite photograph of him. It was taken in 1868. A clearer print shows his eyes off to best advantage.

Then there is my favorite monument to him … the equestrian monument west of the U. S. Capitol in Washington, DC:


It captures the grim, silent, determined warrior rather well.

grant 52164 closeup

And here he is on May 21, 1864, smoking and thinking about what to do next.

We have only one image of Grant and Lincoln together … thanks to Winslow Homer’s pencil:

Lincoln Grant homer

Occasionally I wonder what it would be like to discuss matters with the general:



I’d even let George McClellan join in the conversation. Notice I’m the only one not drinking.


15 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, General Grant

  1. Patrick Young April 27, 2014 / 4:34 pm

    I love the monument outside the Capital. I often take immigrants there to explain the Civil War in 15 minutes or less,

  2. Shek April 27, 2014 / 5:18 pm

    Brooks, any more information on the photo? I’d like to try and track down a high resolution version of it for potential use in a classroom. Thanks.

  3. Noma April 27, 2014 / 6:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing with us!

  4. Will Hickox April 27, 2014 / 8:51 pm

    My favorite Grant photo shows him standing on what looks like a photographer’s stand, in three-quarter profile or so, with a hand in his pocket. It was used to good effect in the Ken Burns documentary as a voice actor reads the famous line about Grant habitually wearing an expression as though he meant to drive his head through a brick wall. It’s been years since I saw it and I can’t find it anywhere now.

    • Brooks D. Simpson April 27, 2014 / 10:31 pm

      It’s even more interesting than that. It was part of a session in which Grant was photographed all around for what was called a photosculpture.

  5. Nancy Winkler April 27, 2014 / 11:09 pm

    That one was printed in Blue & Gray several years ago. I bought a copy of it made from the original negative from the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.

  6. jfepperson April 28, 2014 / 4:16 am

    My favorite is the Cold Harbor picture, where he is in front of a tent with his hand on a tree.

  7. John Foskett April 28, 2014 / 7:09 am

    In the fifth photo, I see 3 people but the guy in the middle counts 6. I hope you asked him what’s for lunch on the Galena. And is it a good idea for a prominent Grant student and biographer to be shown enabling the General to have a stiff one before lunch? 🙂

  8. Buck Buchanan April 29, 2014 / 12:44 pm

    I am partial to the one from early in the war when he was a newly minted brigadier general. He wears a Hardy Hat with ostrich plume tilted back on his head, has his new sword and a fine new general officers uniform. And he has the gold sash of a general…as well as the bemused look of how not too long before he was a disgraced captain…and now look at him!


    I also like this one a lot. It shows him more worn…he looks like a field soldier.

  9. Jeff Giacomel October 8, 2017 / 6:45 am

    I sometimes wonder, given how the South holds on to its traditions after having lost the War of Northern Aggression how the
    Original 13 Colonies would view England had they lost the Revolutionary War?
    Unlike India, Hong Kong etc, the US had a much stronger link to England than many of her other holdings. Might we be like more like Canada?

  10. Jacksonian October 15, 2017 / 9:55 am

    Dear Dr. Simpson – Have you stopped posting new items?

  11. Shoshana Bee October 17, 2017 / 9:24 pm

    I am glad that this post re-surfaced: I have not seen it before today. I have at least 4 Grant books within arm’s reach, and all of the cover photos are impressive. Not one for big, toothy smiles, myself, I enjoy Grant’s serious, introspective expressions worn throughout his life.

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