U. S. Grant Camp, No. 68: Grant in St. Louis/Biography


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US Grant Camp

Ulysses S. Grant in St. Louis

US Grant PortraitAfter his graduation from West Point in 1843, Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) was commissioned as a second lieutenant and was assigned to the Fourth Infantry Regiment stationed at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, MO. There he met Julia Dent (1826-1902), the sister of a West Point classmate.  Grant courted Miss Dent, and they soon became engaged. However, the threat of war with Mexico delayed their wedding. In 1844, the Fourth Infantry left St. Louis for Louisiana and eventually, Texas. Grant was in Texas when the Mexican War began in 1846. After seeing action in the battles at Cerro Gordo and Chapultapec, Grant returned to St. Louis in 1848. On August 22, 1848, Grant married Julia Dent at the White Haven plantation. The White Haven mansion still stands today, and is located on Gravois Rd. near Grant’s Farm.

HardscrappleGrant remained in the army after his marriage because he hesitated to risk the uncertainties of civilian life. After a confrontation with his commanding officer on the issue of excessive drinking, Grant resigned his commission is 1855 and returned to St. Louis. For the next six years, Grant’s life was one of failure. Frederick Dent, Julia’s father, white havengave them a farm with 80 acres of land that was owned by the Dents. Grant built a cabin there, which he named “Hardscrapple”. Years later, the cabin was moved to its current location at Grant’s Farm, about one mile from the original site. The family lived on the farm from 1855 to 1858. Grant  liked farming, but due to the poor quality of the land, he did not fare well. To make ends meet, he sometimes peddled firewood on the streets of St. Louis.

Grant as PresidentIn 1859, Grant sold the farm and moved into the city of St. Louis. A relative gave him a job in a real estate office, but Grant was not aggressive in collecting rents. He next obtained, then lost, a job in the U.S. Customs office.  During this same period, Grant’s brothers opened a leather goods store in Galena, Illinois. In 1860, urged by their father, the brothers offered Grant a $50 per month job in the store. He accepted, but showed no ability as a store keeper.

Grant was almost 40 years old when the Civil War began. When President Abraham Lincoln called for army volunteers, Grant helped drill a company that was formed in Galena. He then went to Springfield, the Illinois state capital, and worked for the Illinois adjutant general. Grant asked the federal government for a commission as a Colonel, but his request was ignored. After several months, Governor Richard Yates appointed him Colonel of the 21st Illinois Infantry. Grant led these troops on a campaign against Confederate guerrillas in Missouri. Thus, Ulysses S. Grant was headed down a path that would lead him to command of the entire Union Army during the Civil War and eventually, the presidency of the United States.


Credits for this page go to: Don Palmer for text and Scott Williams for graphics. Background tune, General Grant's Grand March, composed by Edward Mack (1826-1882), courtesy of Benjamin Robert Tubb [website] .


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