Monday, February 4, 2013

Ulysses Grant's Civil War Coat

Sometimes, I'm amazed at how many truly phenomenal antiques still remain in private hands. Such is the case with the only surviving Civil War uniform of General (later President) Ulysses S. Grant. This "blouse" or "sack coat" was supposedly worn by Grant during the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House in 1865. The coat is owned by Texas collector Ray Richey, who founded the Texas Civil War Museum to house his collection. It's be under wraps for some years, but Grant's simple coat will soon be on public display for the very first time, according to this story. As to its authenticity, well, that's up to you to decide for yourself.

The coat has a chest of 35.5" and a waist of 31" and has replacement buttons. The original buttons, along with much of Grant's other clothing, were probably given away or sold as souvenirs by his wife Julia after Ulysses died in 1885. This uniform is really in a league of its own when it comes to Civil War objects. It's too bad that, according to Richey, "it's never going to leave Texas." As Indiana Jones once said, "that belongs in a museum." And I can't help thinking that the museum where this coat belongs is at Appomattox, not West Texas.

Collector Ray Richey and Grant's Appomattox coat, from here.

On an unrelated note, readers may remember that, back in September, I wrote about the possible discovery of the grave and remains of England's Richard III. Today, researchers announced that DNA from the skeleton confirmed what physical features already suggested. Spinal deformities, battle injuries, and all, the remains are those of Richard III. 


  1. The mention of Richard III reminded me of recent facial reconstructions in the news. I love that as a society, we can't get enough of trying to figure out precisely what historical figures' faces looked like. Is there no getting closer to history than through someone's visage? It's doubly interesting to consider we are typically interested in figuring out the faces of "great men" such as Mozart (, George Washington (, and Richard III ( I do not deny the value in such searches for "truth"--such reconstructions, I think, help humanize historical figures. But I think it's a shame we don't do this more often with ordinary people. This, at least, has been done with Hunley's crew ( We can learn as much about the history of the human condition through these men as we can through the likes of the Farther of Our Country.

  2. A friend pointed out that the rank on the shoulder boards of the coat doe not match the rank Grant was at Appomattox.