Born in 1822, Grant was the son of an Ohio tanner. He went to West Point reluctantly and graduated in the middle of his class. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Grant was appointed by the goverr to command an unruly volunteer regiment, quickly rising to the rank of brigadier general of volunteers. In February 1862, he took Fort Henry and attacked Fort Donelson. When the Confederate commander 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. At Shiloh in April, Grant fought one of the bloodiest battles in the West and came out less well. Lincoln fended off demands for his removal by saying, ?I can't spare this man'he fights.' For his next major objective, Grant then maneuvered and fought skillfully to win Vicksburg, the key city on the Mississippi, cutting the Confederacy in two. Then he broke the Confederate hold on Chattaoga. 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 General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Finally, on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Lee surrendered. Grant wrote out magnanimous terms of surrender that would prevent treason trials. As President, Grant presided over the Government much as he had run the Army. Indeed he brought part of his Army staff to the White House. After retiring from the Presidency, Grant became a partner in a financial firm, which went bankrupt. About that time he learned that he had cancer of the throat. He started writing his recollections to pay off his debts and provide for his family, racing against death to produce these Memoirs. Soon after completing the last page, in 1885, he died.