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Grant (Ulysses S.) Correspondence
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Custodial History
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Processing Information
  • Related Materials
  • Arrangement
  • Publication Note

  • Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    Title: Ulysses S. Grant correspondence
    Creator: Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885
    Identifier/Call Number: mssGrant
    Physical Description: 12.87 Linear Feet (11 flat boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1864-1865
    Abstract: This collection contains correspondence sent by Ulysses S. Grant, primarily from City Point, Virginia, to Abraham Lincoln, Edwin M. Stanton, Henry W. Halleck, George Gordon Meade, Benjamin F. Butler, Philip Henry Sheridan, William T. Sherman, and others during Civil War operations from May 1864 to April 1865.
    Language of Material: Materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Ulysses S. Grant correspondence, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Purchased from William Bixby, 1918.

    Custodial History

    William K. Bixby purchased various parts of the collection from 1904 to 1914 from S.H. Beckwith, Grant's secret cipher operator, and from the sons of Colonel George K. Leet who was a member of Grant's staff.

    Biographical / Historical

    Ulysses S. Grant (April 27, 1822-July 23, 1885), the eighteenth president of the United States, was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio. He graduated from West Point in June 1843 and in 1844 was sent to serve along the U.S./Mexico border under General Zachary Taylor, subsequently fighting in the Mexican War from 1846 to 1848. Grant resigned from the army in 1854, taking up farming and real estate. In 1860, he moved with his wife Julia Dent Grant (married 1848) and family to Galena, Illinois.
    Grant reenlisted in the army following the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War. In June 1861, he was designated a colonel of the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry; in August, he was promoted to brigadier general and assigned to a post at Cairo, Illinois. Following his promotion to major general in 1862, Grant lead Union troops during engagements at Shiloh, Tennessee in 1862 and Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1863. In March 1864, he was put in command of the Union Army and promoted to lieutenant general, overseeing campaigns at numerous sites in Virginia, 1864 to 1865, including the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Richmond. Grant's army headquarters was located at City Point, Virginia, from June 1864 until the end of the war in spring 1865.
    In 1867, Grant served briefly as the Interim Secretary of War in the administration of Andrew Johnson. He was elected president in 1868, serving two terms from 1869 to 1877. Accomplishments of his tenure include the passage of the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in 1870, which guaranteed the right to vote for Black men; his presidency, however, was often marked by ineptitude and corruption by subordinates. In 1874, Democrats took over the House of Representatives, effectively ending the Reconstruction period. Grant chose not to run for a third term in 1876.
    Grant traveled for two years following his presidency and then moved to New York. He devoted much of his final years to writing his Personal Memoirs, published in 1885 and 1886. Grant died in Wilton, New York of throat cancer at age 63.

    Scope and Contents

    This collection contains correspondence sent by Ulysses S. Grant, primarily from City Point, Virginia, to Abraham Lincoln, Edwin M. Stanton, Henry W. Halleck, George Gordon Meade, Benjamin F. Butler, Philip Henry Sheridan, William T. Sherman, and others during Civil War operations from May 1864 to April 1865. The correspondence is in the form of signed letters, most in Grant's hand and on army letterhead; the letters were then resent as telegrams, many after being ciphered.
    Correspondence primarily pertains to Union Army campaigns in Virginia from August 1864 to February 1865. Items sent to Philip Henry Sheridan also discuss campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley and the Confederate battalion of John S. Mosby; items sent to William T. Sherman discuss the capture of Atlanta and Sherman's campaign through Georgia and into South Carolina; several other items mention campaigns in the deep south and western edges of the war.
    The letters detail Union troop movements, orders and plans; intelligence on Confederate Army and government officials' movements and plans, including reports from deserters and Confederate newspapers; Union supplies, stores, and artillery; the capture of prisoners-of-war and enemy artillery; POW exchanges; soldier enlistments; the state of roads and railroads, especially in Virginia; Union general and officer appointments and dismissals; the recruitment of Black soldiers; and Grant's movements and whereabouts.
    Correspondence are autograph letters signed and sent by Grant from City Point, Virginia, unless otherwise noted. Most messages are marked "cipher" (see individual Scope & Contents notes for exceptions). The times noted in the date were in Grant's hand in some cases; in others, they appeared to have been added later and may have indicated the time the telegram was sent. Many of the items addressed to Major General Philip Sheridan in Virginia were actually locations in the newly created state of West Virginia.

    Processing Information

    This collection was reprocessed in 2020-2021 by Melissa Haley as part of the American Presidential Papers Project. The items had been assembled physically and arranged chronologically by Huntington Library staff in early- or mid-20th century; material was rehoused during reprocessing. Previously assigned item-level call numbers have been retained. The number of pages for each item is noted in parentheses in item-level Scope and Contents notes.
    According to the Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, several items in this collection were misdated—see Scope & Contents notes at the item level for details. These dates were corrected to reflect their apparent actual dates during reprocessing, though the items were not physically refiled.

    Related Materials

    The Huntington Library holds a number of individual Ulysses S. Grant letters from this time period, see library catalogs for details.


    Material is arranged chronologically.

    Publication Note

    Most correspondence in this collection has been published in The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, John Y. Simon, editor (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-2012) under the item's date, either as featured correspondence or in a footnote. If the item is located in a footnote under a different date or in a calendar, volume and page numbers are noted in item-level Publication Notes. Items not located in the Papers of Ulysses S. Grant are also noted.
    Items may also be published in Ulysses S. Grant, Memoirs and Selected Letters: Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, Selected Letters 1839-1865 (New York: Library of America, 1990) and in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900).

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Generals -- United States -- Correspondence
    Petersburg (Va.) -- History -- Siege, 1864-1865
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns -- Virginia
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Correspondence
    Virginia -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns
    Virginia -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- Civil War, 1861-1865
    Military records -- United States -- Civil War, 1861-1865
    Butler, Benjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1818-1893
    Halleck, H. W. (Henry Wager), 1815-1872
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
    Meade, George Gordon, 1815-1872
    Sheridan, Philip Henry, 1831-1888
    Sherman, William T. (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891
    Stanton, Edwin M. (Edwin McMasters), 1814-1869