Victor! A Great American Love Story

0 comments Posted on April 20, 2021

by Dr. Craig von Buseck

A reviewer of my new book writes, “Victor! is a MUST read … and a LOVE story, too!”

Most people would not equate General Ulysses S. Grant with a tale of love. But his lifelong love affair with his wife Julia was both poignant and inspiring. In public, Julia called him ‘Ulys.’ When they were with close friends or by themselves, Julia used the pet name she gave him after his victory at Vicksburg—‘Victor!’

During some of the darkest days of the Civil War, Ulys and Julia would sit alone in the corner of the mess tent, holding hands like teenagers. When someone approached they would blush at being caught in such a public show of affection.

One special encounter gives a glimpse into their mutual devotion.

After the triumphs of Vicksburg and Chattanooga, Ulysses was being spoken of as a future presidential candidate, Julia realized that she too was becoming something of a public figure. Suddenly self-conscious of her strabismus—the condition of crossed-eyes that she had from birth—Julia looked into surgery to correct the problem.

“I had often been urged in my girlhood by Dr. [Charles A.] Pope, the most distinguished surgeon in the country at that time, to permit him to make a very simple operation on my eyes,” Julia explained. “I had never had the courage to consent, but now that my husband had become so famous I really thought it behooved me to try to look as well as possible. So I consulted the Doctor on this, to me, most delicate subject, but alas! he told me it was too late.”

Ulysses was surprised when Julia gave him this news. “What in the world put such a thought in your head, Julia?” He drew his beloved wife to himself and said gently, “Did I not see you and fall in love with you with these same eyes? I like them just as they are, and now, remember, you are not to interfere with them. They are mine, and let me tell you, Mrs. Grant, you had better not make any experiments, as I might not like you half so well with any other eyes.”

Later as the victim of a giant Ponzi scheme, Grant lost everything—and then was diagnosed with incurable throat cancer only months later. To save Julia from poverty after his death, Ulysses worked through tortuous pain to write his memoirs during the last year of his life. Julia was still holding the hand of her ‘Victor’ as he quietly slipped away in July of 1885. Mark Twain published Grant’s Personal Memoirs, which provided more than $450 thousand dollars to Julia—the equivalent of $10 million today.

So you see, Victor! is not just the story of a triumphant general, but it is one of the great love stories of American history.

Order your copy of Victor! The Final Battle of Ulysses S. Grant today.

Dr. Craig von Buseck is an award-winning author and the Managing Editor at Learn more at


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