General Ulysses S. Grant brought overwhelming force to defeat the Confederacy and to preserve the Union. From May 4 to May 7, 1864, General Grant led the Union forces in the Wilderness Campaign. Although he did not win the battle, he also did not retreat, thereby winning a strategic victory. He then led his troops on to Spotsylvania Courthouse where the next battle of the overland campaign against the Confederacy took place.
With grit, determination and mental focus he fought almost continuously until Lee’s final surrender on April 12, 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse where the Confederacy’s struggle to secede from the Union ended. There Grant displayed his magnanimity, allowing Robert E. Lee, a fellow West Pointer, to walk away defeated but a free man. To allow the healing process to begin, Grant told Confederate officers they were free to go home along with their horses and mules. "The Confederates were now our countrymen, and we do not want to exult over their downfall."
|Clock stopped at moment of death||Note found in Grant's pocket|
Grant’s character on the battlefield was mirrored in the last two weeks of his life. A New York financier friend invited Grant, accompanied by his family, servants and physician, to use his comfortable cottage high on Mount McGregor, near the resort of Saratoga Springs. In dreadful pain and dying from a large cancer in his jaw and throat, in precise penmanship, Grant hand wrote the last three chapters of his autobiography. The writing was a task he had taken on at the behest of his friend and admirer, Mark Twain, in order to restore his family’s lost fortune. He wanted both to tell the story of the War and also give his wife financial security — admirably accomplishing both goals with the same grit, determination and absolute mental focus he had shown in battle during the Civil War. Grant completed his autobiography in the few days remaining to him, from his arrival on June 16, 1885 to just before his death on July 20,1885.