This week in the Civil War | Ulysses S. Grant takes command of all Union armies

March 7, 2014 

On March 10, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed papers promoting Maj. General Ulysses S. Grant to the rank of lieutenant general of the U.S. Army, formally handing Grant command over the entire Union army.

The promotion by Lincoln allowed a key distinction that Grant was in charge as general-in-chief of the armies of the United States.

By this time in the Civil War, Grant had won fame for victories in western Tennessee and triumph at Vicksburg, Miss., cutting the Confederacy in two.

The Union victories around the same time in July 1863 at Vicksburg and Gettysburg would mark a turning point in the war.

In the weeks ahead, Grant would send forces to drive through the South while he sought to crush Confederate Robert E. Lee’s forces with the Union’s Army of the Potomac.

The New York Times, in reporting March 15 on the promotion of Grant, said the Army of the Potomac was expected to be reorganized for fighting ahead by being remade into three corps.

“The country will look anxiously for speedy and happy results as the consequence of these fundamental changes in command,” the newspaper said.

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