The Price of Freedom: Americans at War Home Collection Search

Object Record

    New Search

Ulysses S. Grant’s Letter from Fort Donelson
Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

Ulysses S. Grant’s Letter from Fort Donelson

Date: 1862
Catalog #: 18769    Accession #: 62012
Credit: Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 9.5" H x 7.75" W

Physical Description

Ink on paper.

Specific History

On 16 February 1862 General Buckner surrendered Fort Donelson. The unconditional surrender created jubilation throughout the North and shock in Dixie. It was the North’s first major victory of the Civil War, opening the way into the very heart of the Confederacy. When Buckner asked for terms, Grant replied, "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted." The Confederates surrendered, and President Lincoln promoted Grant to major general of volunteers. The Battle of Fort Donelson earned Grant the nickname, “Unconditional Surrender Grant.”

General History

Ulysses S. Grant was a West Point graduate who fought with distinction in the War with Mexico, but found post-war life in the West unbearable and resigned from the Army in 1854. When the Civil War began, he offered his services and soon took command of a volunteer regiment. In September 1861 he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers by President Abraham Lincoln. Grant fought one of the bloodiest battles in the West at Shiloh, but it was not the decisive victory that the Union wanted. President Lincoln believed in Grant and refused to remove him from command saying, "I can't spare this man--he fights." His next major objective would cut the confederacy in two. Grant maneuvered and fought skillfully winning Vicksburg, the key city on the Mississippi and breaking the Confederate hold on Chattanooga. Lincoln appointed him General-in-Chief in March 1864. Grant directed Sherman to drive through the South while he himself, with the Army of the Potomac, pinned down Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. On 9 April 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Lee surrendered. Grant wrote out magnanimous terms of surrender that would prevent treason trials.


Country: United States
State: Tennessee
War: Civil War
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center Printable ScriptVisit the MuseumEducationCredits