Review of Grant Moves South

Grant Moves South by Bruce Catton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Grant Moves South tracks Ulysses S. Grant’s early career in the Civil War to just after the surrender of Vicksburg in July, 1863. In the early phase, Grant was a nobody; a washed up ex-US Army captain who was appointed to command a volunteer regiment. Grant was able to turn a bunch of citizen-soldiers into the army which beat the Confederates in the western theater of the war.

According to, this is a #2 in the series, but I think it is more like the first. Catton accurately described and highlighted Grant was a humble soldier and remained a humble person throughout his army career, even though he was promoted to Major General of the Regulars and then Lieutenant General. At that point, out of respect for General Washington, no one ever held the same rank as the great man until Grant. A lot of people make Grant out as a man of destiny from the outset, but Catton reminded us that in 1862, Grant was nearly sidelined due to Army politics.

It is also interesting to read President Lincoln’s first letter to Grant. The two had never met or corresponded until after Vicksburg. Lincoln had been watching Grant’s maneuvers and had thought Grant had made a tactical error. But when Grant was proven right, Lincoln’s letter to Grant said: “I am glad that you were right and I was wrong.” What a way to highlight two humble men who led the greatest nation on earth during its worst time in history.

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