While officers and men alike brought their families along with them into camp when possible during the Civil War, Grant stood out for his attachment to his family.
When separated from Julia and their children, Ulysses was sad and lonely. Even before their marriage, Ulysses wrote longing love letters to Julia, especially after the two became engaged and while Ulysses was away fighting in Mexico.
After they married, Julia accompanied Ulysses to army postings in the Eastern US, but when Grant was ordered to the West Coast, he decided to leave Julia and his growing family behind for their safety. This turned out to be a wise decision. Taking the standard route at the time across the narrow isthmus of Panama, many in Grant’s party died of tropical disease, and he barely escaped with his own life.
In lonely frontier posts in California, Oregon and Washington, Grant had little to do but pine for Julia and their kids. At this time, Grant was accused by a commander of drinking to excess, though historians are unsure if it was actually the case of if his superior Colonel Buchanan, who nursed ill feeling towards Grant ever since an encounter in Missouri years earlier, exaggerated or made up the charge to get rid of Grant.
Grant resigned his army commission and returned to Missouri, spending a few years with Julia and their children at the Dent family farm, White Haven. Though Grant was poor the whole time, we can presume that he was happy living near his beloved family.
When the Civil War came, Grant again had to endure long absences from Julia and their children. But Julia and sometimes one or all of their children were able to join Ulysses in the field, especially during the campaigns against Vicksburg and Petersburg.
Approaching Vicksburg, son Fred accompanied his father through Mississippi, even joining an attack by Grant’s troops where Fred was hit in the leg by a Confederate sniper, crying “I am slain!” Through quick action by an aide to his father who checked Fred’s wound, bandaged it up and set Fred back behind the lines, followed by skillful medical care in camp, Fred was able to avoid the usual treatment, amputation, and make a full recovery. Later, Fred was infected with a common ailment of army camps, typhoid fever, from which he also recovered.
At City Point, Virginia, Grant’s headquarters during the nine-and-a-half month siege of Petersburg in 1864-1865, Julia and the children spent time with Ulysses in his modest but comfortable cabin.