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Ulysses and Jesse

May 15, 2019

General Grant had just been surprised twice: the first time on April 6, 1862 when the Confederates attacked his position; the second time shortly after April 26 when he wrote to his father.  He had not considered that his father would share the letter with the Cincinnati Commercial.  The Battle of Shiloh was a Union victory, but the Union Army had more killed in action, more wounded, and more captured or missing in action than the Confederates.  The Northern press had reacted with severe criticism for the General, and Jesse Grant was only trying to defend his son’s reputation.  The General did not appreciate his father’s efforts.

By September 17 Grant was at the end of his patience.  He wrote to his father: “I have not an enemy in the world who has done me so much injury as you in your efforts in my defense.  I require no defenders and for my sake let me alone.”

This was not the first time he had to deal sternly with his father.  Back in 1861 Jesse had tried to use his son’s influence to get an army contract.  Jesse ran a leather goods business in Galena, Illinois, and he had hoped Ulysses would help him sell some harnesses.  Grant informed his father: “It is necessary both to my efficiency for the public good and my own reputation that I should keep clear of government contracts.”

By the end of 1862 Jesse would try his son’s patience one more time, and Ulysses would rightly send his father away on the next train.  He would also send his father’s business partners packing.  Then General Grant would do one more thing which he would greatly regret.





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