Ulysses S. Grant's Letter from Fort Donelson

Physical Description
Ink on Paper.
Specific History
On February 16, 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 went to West Point, graduating in the middle of his class. At the beginning of the Civil War, he was working in his father's leather store but took command of a volunteer regiment. Grant's leadership was rewarded and by September 1861 he had risen to the rank of Brigadier General of Volunteers. 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 April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Lee surrendered. Grant wrote out magnanimous terms of surrender that would prevent treason trials.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
associated date
1861 - 1862
Buckner, Simon Bolivar
Grant, Ulysses S.
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
overall: 9 1/2 in x 7 3/4 in; 24.13 cm x 19.685 cm
Place Made
United States: Tennessee, Fort Donelson
associated place
United States: Tennessee
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Civil War
Civil War and Reconstruction
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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