INTERESTING HISTORY NEWSLETTER
May 4, 2009
Julia and Hiram
Julia Boggs Dent was born near St. Louis, Missouri on January 26,
1826. She was the daughter of Colonel Frederic Dent and Ellen Wrenshall-Dent and grew up on a plantation called
White Haven in a rather southern atmosphere. The somewhat plain looking cross-eyed Julia attended the Misses
Mauros’ boarding school in St. Louis for seven years.
One day her brother Frederick brought home a friend and fellow West Point classmate
named Hiram. Before long Julia took a liking to young Hiram and agreed to wear his West Point ring despite her
parents reservations. In 1844, Julia and her handsome young Lieutenant became engaged but unfortunately the Mexican
war prevented them from being married until August of 1848. When he was ordered West in 1852, Julia moved in with
Two years later Hiram would resign his commission and try his hand at farming and
other business ventures in St. Louis. When those ventures failed he took his family including their four children
back to his home in Galena, Illinois and began working in his fathers’ leather goods store but that wouldn’t last
long. The following year, the Civil War broke out and he found himself back in uniform with his state’s
Within five months of the beginning of the Civil War, Hiram went from training
recruits in Illinois to a brigadier general in command of the District of Southeast Missouri. Early the next year
Hiram, in a daring counterattack, forced the surrender of over 12,000 confederates. This was one of the first major
Union victories of the war and it quickly got President Lincoln’s attention who promoted him to Major General of
During the Civil War, Julia joined her husband as often as she could. Hiram knew that
Julia was a positive influence on him and helped him stay focused, something he struggled with when he had spent
his time in the West. In fact during his time out West, without his family he was often depressed and had developed
somewhat of a reputation for being a drunk.
After a few setbacks in the winter of 1862-1863, Hiram once again impressed Lincoln
with his willingness to fight and was once again promoted, this time to Lieutenant General in the regular army and
then to General-in-chief of all the armies of the United States. In spite of his rise to the top, the name Hiram
was not well known. It wasn’t because they hadn’t heard of his successes. They just knew him by a different name.
When he was at West Point an error had occurred and instead of being enrolled as Hiram Ulysses Grant, he was
enrolled as Ulysses Simpson Grant.
Ulysses S. Grant would go on to become one of the most famous Generals in American
history as well as our 18th president (1869-1877) and Julia Dent-Grant would be our first lady.
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