“Grant is My Man and I am His”

Curt Fields as U. S. Grant on the steps of the Courthouse Museum in Vicksburg (photo by Mike Madell, courtesy Curt Fields)

The news of Vicksburg’s July 4 surrender didn’t reach President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C. until the following day. On the afternoon of July 5, Lincoln was talking with inner members of his circle when he expressed confidence in operations on the Mississippi. Ulysses S. Grant had been trying for well over seven months to get at the Key City, and Lincoln had patiently given him the leeway to keep trying.

“[I]f Grant only does one thing down there, I don’t care much how, so long as he does it right—why, Grant is my man and I am his the rest of the war!” Lincoln promised.[1]

Word soon arrived of Vicksburg’s surrender. “The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea,” Lincoln famously exclaimed.

Grant wast not so lucky. In the weeks after Vicksburg, he would face increasing vexation, most of it caused by his immediate superior, General in Chief Henry Halleck, who burned with jealousy at Grant’s ongoing successes. Rather than let Grant move on to a new objective, Halleck began stripping away Grant’s army from him, assigning bits and pieces to different, scattered commands.

It would take Lincoln a couple months to realize what was going on, but once he did, Lincoln remained true to the vow he made. He pulled Grant out from beneath Halleck’s envious thumb and remained Grant’s man–and Grant his–through the rest of the war.


For more on this topic, read:

Dan Davis’s essay “The Fall of Vicksburg” in The Turning Points of the American Civil War (SIUP, 2018)–from ECW’s Engaging the Civil War Series

Chris Mackowski’s essay “Moments of Contingency and the Rise of U.S. Grant” in Grant at 200: Reconsidering the Life and Legacy of Ulysses S. Grant (Savas Beatie, 2023)

The Summer of ’63: Vicksburg and Tullahoma (Savas Beatie, 2021)—part of the Emerging Civil War 10th Anniversary Series

Curt Fields discusses Grant’s time between Vicksburg and Chattangooa in this video from the Civil War Roundtable Congress.


[1] Brooks D. Simpson, Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865 (Minneapolis, MN: Zenith Press, 2000), 215.

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