Hall of Fame inductees are the pioneers, explorers and artists in America's river history. They were movers and shakers from the days gone by and the recent past. These men and women made significant contributions related to America’s rivers, which is why we honor them.
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Inducted in 2015
Ulysses S. Grant was born on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio. He served as U.S. general and commander of the Union armies during the late years of the American Civil War. Perhaps Grant’s greatest accomplishment was his capture and control of the Mississippi River, ultimately turning the tide of the Civil War to the north.
Without the Mississippi River, the Union may have indeed lost the war. Both President Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy, said that the Mississippi River was the key to victory in the Civil War.
Shortly after the Civil War began, Kentucky's fragile neutrality fell apart. Grant and his volunteers took the small town of Paducah, Kentucky, at the mouth of the Tennessee River. In February 1862, in a joint operation with the U.S. Navy, Grant applied pressure on Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, taking them both and gaining control over the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, the earliest significant Union victories of the American Civil War.
In December 1862, Grant moved overland to take Vicksburg—a key fortress city of the Confederacy and its stronghold on the Mississippi River. As Vicksburg went so went the war. Grant tried to open a waterway as part of his attack, but was stopped by the terrain and flow of the Mississippi. In his second attempt, Grant moved his men down the western bank of the Mississippi River and crossed the river south of Vicksburg. After several assaults, Grant initiated a long siege, and Vicksburg finally surrendered on July 4, 1863. Vicksburg marked Grant’s greatest achievement thus far. With the Mississippi River now firmly in Union hands, the Confederacy’s fate was all but sealed.
On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered his army to Grant, marking the end of the Civil War. In 1868, Grant was elected the 18th president of the United States.