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Oscar Diggs

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31 years old
Kansas City
Missouri
United States
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Grant's first assignment after graduation took him to the Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri in September 1843. It was the nation's largest military bastion in the West, commanded by Colonel Stephen W. Kearny. Grant was happy with his new commander, but still looked forward to the end of his military service and a possible teaching career. Grant spent some of his time in Missouri visiting the family of his West Point classmate, Frederick Dent, and getting to know Dent's sister, Julia; the two became secretly engaged in 1844.Rising tensions with Mexico saw Grant's unit shifted to Louisiana that year as a part of the Army of Observation under Major General Zachary Taylor. When the Mexican American War broke out in 1846, the Army entered Mexico. Not content with his responsibilities as a quartermaster, Grant made his way to the front lines to engage in the battle, and participated as a de facto cavalryman at the Battle of Resaca de la Palma. The army continued its advance into Mexico. AtMonterrey, Grant demonstrated his equestrian ability, carrying a dispatch through sniper-lined streets on horseback while mounted in one stirrup. PresidentJames K. Polk, wary of Taylor's growing popularity, divided his army, sending some troops (including Grant's unit) to form a new army under Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott. Scott's army landed at Veracruz and advanced toward Mexico City. The army met the Mexican forces at battles of Molino del Rey and Chapultepecoutside Mexico City. At the latter battle, Grant dragged a howitzer into a church steeple to bombard nearby Mexican troops. Scott's army was soon into the city, and the Mexicans agreed to peace not long after.In his memoirs, indicating he had learned extensively by closely observing the decisions and actions of his commanding officers, particularly admiring Taylor's methods, and in retrospect identified himself with Taylor's style. At the time he felt that the war was a wrongful one and believed that territorial gains were designed to spread slavery throughout the nation; writing in 1883, Grant said "I was bitterly opposed to the measure, and to this day, regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation." He also opined that the later Civil War was inflicted on the nation as punishment for its aggression in Mexico.

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