General Grant Promoted

The recently-passed 2023 National Defense Act included a provision promoting Ulysses S. Grant to the rank of General of the Armies of the United States.

This rank has only been used twice before – for John Pershing in the wake of World War I, and posthumously in 1976 to make George Washington the seniormost officer in the U.S. Army, past or present. Now Grant will rank with those two as the topmost American generals of all time.

Washington, Pershing, and now Grant all rank above the General of the Army (5-star) officers of World War II and after: George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, and Omar Bradley. (Hap Arnold was a General of the Army, but became General of the Air Force in 1947.)

The rank of General of the Armies of the United States is sometimes called a “six-star general,” but there is not a formal rank insignia of six stars. Pershing wore four gold stars on his uniform during his life. The 5-star officers all regarded Pershing as the preeminent officer in the Army.

No matter the technicalities, this is a singular honor for General Grant. As his 1864 promotion elevated him into the pantheon of American commanders alongside George Washington, so does this posthumous honor do the same.

10 Responses to General Grant Promoted

  1. What those with good intentions fail to realize, is that by gilding the lily and anointing someone after-the-fact as Super-General or Never-to-be-surpassed General-in-Chief, is that by comparison, the enemy they defeated appears “hardly worth the effort.” In effect, a Super-Star General Grant defeating a mere General Lee comes across as pre-ordained: the expected outcome. But, if Grant deserves Super Dooper-Star Generalissimo rank, the obvious question reveals itself: “Why did it take sooo long to defeat a mere General Lee?”


  2. I understand that the Apotheosis of Old “Reconnaissance? Who needs reconnaissance? Just go get em, boys!” is continuing merrily along, matching that of the parallel and virtuous acts of dorm relabelling, statue demolition, and base renaming (Although my replacement suggestions of Fort Sigel, Camp Fremont and Base Butler have been returned unopened by Joint Chiefs Head Edna St Vincent Milley). And such populist movements, left and right, are historically known to defeat such impediments as logic, historical evaluation, or, in the case of the military, self awareness and criticism. However, the idea that Grant, whose ultimate military talents were dogged determination and the ability to continuously apply vastly superior number at numerous points, should be elevated to a military status equal to Washington’s is laughable. Washington’s Bicentennial elevation had as much, if not more, to do with his postwar actions of nation building and assuring a stable political transition. It is hardly Lost Cause rhetoric to point out the obvious: Grant, even with his endorsement of African American Civil Rights, was a tragic political novice, appointing the corrupt, ignoring their peculations until they were exposed, and possibly, in the case of the Whiskey Ring, having deeper foreknowledge than he admitted. In creating a split in the Republican Party over the issue of corruption, it weakened it’s ability to maintain an effective two party system down South. I pass on this one, he doesn’t deserve it. Now George Thomas….

  3. Other than scoring political points for someone I really don’t see the usefullness of it. I’m not a Grant hater, but the man is dead and can’t appreciate the gesture. It would be nice if congress put effort into fixing present day problems instead of taking time to make empy gestures like this.

  4. It’s the least they could do after the crowd mentality idiots in San Francisco brought down his statue.

  5. Teddy Roosevelt once said the three great Americans were Washington, Lincoln, and Grant. Many biased writers have worked hard at smearing Grant over the last century and a half. It’s good to see him get the credit he deserved.

  6. Henry, the truth isn’t a smear. But the modern overboard hero worshipping of him rivals the Saint Bob cult.

    1. Yes, it’s a smear. Grant has been smeared by conservatives and racists ever since Reconstruction.

  7. General Grant was the man that Abraham Lincoln and the Country needed at its most trying time. It took time for Lincoln to weed out the political and theoretical Generals that couldnt put all the pieces in place to drain the Confederacy of life. Many attempted to do the top job, but few had what it takes. They had the same training, West Point, the same levels of experience, and they all talked a good game. All were verbose and self-promoting. General Grant was a quiet unassuming, but hard charging man that achieved success through preserverence, like all great men.
    It truly only took several months for Grant to “Out-General” Lee, from early spring to late fall of 1864, when Lee stopped campaigning and hid behind walls in Petersburg Va. But just like Vicksburg, MS, Grant found a way to go through, around, or over, the obstacles that the Confederacy through at him.
    General Washington, like General Grant, worked military miracles that created or saved our nation at a time when winning didnt look possible to many folks. When the politicians got clever with the title for General Pershing during a war that did not have a life or death nell for America, and made him the historically top General, its only right that Washington and Grant be elevated to equality.

  8. John Pryor, you’re welcome to whatever personal bias you like, but you’re not the arbiter of historical truth. Anyone who studies history is free to judge and come to conclusions on their own. There’s no comparison, with any Civil War figure, to the cultlike worship of Lee.

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