After resigning his commission, Ulysses and his family moved to a farm adjoining the Dent farm in St. Louis. He spent the next four years working as a farmer but made little money. He had no head for business, but he had a very generous nature. Then he tried managing real estate but didn't like to collect rents. Finally, in 1860 he moved the family to Galena, Illinois, where he worked in his father's leather shop.
In June 1861, Ulysses S Grant rejoined the U.S. Army as a Colonel of the Illinois Infantry. A month later, he was promoted to Brigadier General. His first battle as a general was three months later. His horse was shot out from under him, and they lost the battle. In spite of that, Grant considered it to be good fighting experience for his men.
His Tennessee win at Fort Donnellson in February 1862 was an important strategic victory. Other generals who were jealous over his success started spreading unfounded rumors that he was drinking again.
In April, Grant and Sherman engaged the Confederates at the Battle of Shiloh. Grant's tenacity and resistance to giving up helped the Union to win on the second day of battle.
Over the next year Grant's forces pushed south. He was determined to split the Confederate army apart into East and West groups. To do this he needed control of the Mississippi River. The city of Vicksburg was all that stood between him and his goal. He finally defeated the city by laying siege to it. It was one of his greatest moments.
That summer Grant was injured in a riding accident. He was unable to walk for weeks and spent the time resting with his family near Vicksburg. He was finally back in action in October, when he took up his command again in Tennessee.
Grant's victories there brought his name before President Lincoln. By the following March (1864) Grant was promoted and then put in charge of all the Union armies by Lincoln. The Union army had been plagued with generals who were poor leaders. Lincoln recognized Grant as a real fighter and wanted him to lead the Union forces.
That May, Grant's and Lee's forces met for the first time. They each continued to seek the advantage until Confederate forces were so worn down they could not fight effectively.