The Rise of "Unconditional Surrender- Grant.
He sat opposite the impeccably dressed Lee, in plain clothes and muddy boots. His overall appearance did little to suggest that he was the highest ranking general in the union army. How such an unlikely hero attained this position then managed to outmaneuver the most talented general of both armies, is a question worthy of investigation. Ulysses Simpson Grant's rise through the ranks of the union army was nothing short of remarkable. The following pages will reveal how Grant achieved that ascent, as well as providing a glimpse into Grant's character, and war philosophy.
The onset of the war found Grant working as a clerk in his father's leather shop. Some viewed him as a failure, although it is apparent that Grant never saw himself in that light. A West Point graduate and Mexican War veteran, he entered the union volunteers a colonel. By a political fluke he was promoted to brigadier general, of which his father gave him some practical advice, "Be careful, Ulysses, you're a general now: it's a good job, don't lose it-(Foote, Vol 1 196).
Grant gained notoriety in the western theatre, where most of the fighting was waged for control of arteries of commerce, such as rivers and railroads. His first action would be at Belmont on the Mississippi River. Instead of a demonstration, as was suggested to him, he made an all out assault. They routed the enemy, then were surrounded by the enemy, then cut their way back out through the enemy. It was an indecisive battle but it decisively defined Grant as a soldier. He was calm under fire, poised, confident, and aggressive (Grant, Encarta).
Ever eager to go on the offensive, Grant finally convinced his superior officer, Halleck, to permit him to attack Fort Henry, then Fort Donelson. The result was two impressive victories. The victory at Fort Donelson lifted Grant onto the national stage. An old friend of Grant's, general Buckner, commanded the confederate soldiers at Fort Donelson.