Breaking News
More () »

Ulysses S. Grant posthumously promoted to 'General of the Armies'

President Grant is only the third person to achieve the highest military rank in the United States Army.
Credit: Brady-Handy Photograph Collection

ST. LOUIS — Former president, Civil War hero and one-time Missouri resident Ulysses S. Grant added another honor to his name last week.

Grant was conferred the rank of General of the Armies of the United States, the highest military rank in the Army.

Grant joins George Washington and John J. Pershing as the only generals to achieve the rank. This honor has been informally referred to as being a "six-star general." The highest official star rank in the U.S. Army is a five-star general, called the General of the Army. 

The legislation was approved by Congress at the end of the year. The request for this honor was led by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-2), Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri (R) and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio (D).

The honor was included in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act and signed into law by President Joe Biden Tuesday.

"As an Army mom, I have tremendous respect for anyone who answers the call of duty to protect and defend our nation," said Wagner in an online news release. "That’s why I am so proud to pass this legislation to honor one of the most influential military leaders in American history, Ulysses S. Grant. Missourians embody the values of President Grant. We are hardworking but humble, tough but generous, and feel a deep connection to our family, our neighbors, and our country. I look forward to the Senate passing this legislation and promoting Grant to General of the Armies of the United States."

The text in the National Defense Authorization Act reads, "The President is authorized to appoint Ulysses S. Grant posthumously to the grade of General of the Armies of the United States, equal to the rank and precedence held by General John J. Pershing pursuant to the Act titled ``An Act Relating to the creation of the office of General of the Armies of the United States'', approved September 3, 1919 (41 Stat. 283, ch. 56)."

The honor marks the 200th anniversary of Grant's birth, April 27, 1822.

Grant's legacy

Grant lived near St. Louis for many years. He was assigned to Jefferson Barracks at the beginning of his career and met his wife, Julia, in Missouri.

Grant's Farm in Grantwood Village, Missouri, has a cabin built by Grant for his family in 1856. 

He was born in Ohio and died in New York in 1885. Grant's Tomb is in New York City.

Grant is most known for overseeing the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in 1865, marking the end of the Civil War in Virginia.

Christmas came a bit early for General Grant this year, as on December 23 he was posthumously promoted to the rank of...

Posted by Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site on Tuesday, December 27, 2022

History of "General of the Armies"

Pershing was the first person to be given the rank of General of the Armies in 1919. The rank was created for Pershing following his distinguished service in World War I. 

Pershing is the only General of the Armies to hold the rank during his lifetime. The rank made Pershing the highest-paid official at the time, after the president.

In 1976, George Washington was posthumously promoted to General of the Armies as a part of the country's Bicentennial celebration.

A senate resolution once proposed to promote World War II General Douglas MacArthur to the rank, but it was never voted on.

Before You Leave, Check This Out