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Telegram from President Abraham Lincoln to Lieutenant General Grant, City Point, Virginia, August 17, 1864

President Lincoln urged Lieutenant General Grant to “Hold on with a bull-dog grip…” during the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, even as other politicians argued for Grant’s army to move north to protect Washington, D.C. Lincoln and Grant knew that victory at Petersburg was crucial to defeating the Confederate army.

Records of the Secretary of War, National Archives and Records Administration

Telegram from President Abraham Lincoln to Lieutenant General Grant, City Point, Virginia, August 17, 1864

Defending the Union

The secession of 11 Southern states in 1861 plunged the nation into the Civil War, pitting the confederacy against the Union. Three years later, the war still raged. President Abraham Lincoln, frustrated by the failures of his military leaders, turned to Ulysses S. Grant as a commander he believed could lead the Union to victory. Showing confidence in Grant, Congress revived the Army’s highest rank of Lieutenant General, and Lincoln nominated Grant for the position.