Each Volume has gilt medallions on the front and back covers.  Clemens, when speaking of Charley Webster, said:  “He liked to go into the statistics.  He liked to tell it took thirteen miles of gold leaf to print the gilt titles on the book backs” (Webster, p. 312).  The medallions are replicas of the medal that was awarded to Grant by Joint Resolution of Congress on December 17, 1863 in celebration of the Mississippi Campaign.   The front of the medal is a profile of Grant and the back is the Mississippi River.                     

Image 15

Image 16

Image 17

The original medal awarded to Grant was made of gold.  Mrs. Grant gifted it to the Smithsonian Museum. 

The spine of Memoirs contains the title of the book, the volume number, the name of the publisher and four stars, representing Grant’s army rank.  

Eight different binderies were used to bind the hundreds of thousands of first edition copies of Memoirs (Demand for Gen. Grant’s Book, New York Times, December 3, 1885).  The volumes were available in five different bindings.  My set was bound in green cloth, which has faded to a blue-gray color.  The green cloth binding was the cheapest binding available, costing $7.00.  The sheep binding was $9.00; half-morocco leather was $11.00; full-morocco leather was $18.00; and tree calf leather was $25.00 (McFeely & McFeely, 1990, p.1166).                 



Below is a gallery of some original Memoirs bindings.              

Image 22 Green Cloth Binding


The binding in Volume II of my set is damaged, allowing a view of the spine of and the internal binding.  The style of the bindings on my set of Memoirs is “Cardboard or Tagboard, Cloth Back”:   

A stitched or sewed book with cardboard sides and cloth back.  On saddle-stitched books the board is reinforced with muslin, then stitched.  The board for sewed books is guarded around the outer signatures; for side-stitched books the boards are hinged.             

 (Pleger, 1915, p. 3)            


As shown below, in Image 23, there are five distinct holes, indicating that the octavos were drilled in five places to allow for saddle-stitching   

Image 23


Image 24

Above, in Image 24, the muslin that was used to reinforce the board can be seen in its current stretched and frayed condition.  Additionally, the silk threads used to sew the signatures are visible.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Inside the front cover of each volume is marbled pastedown end paper, followed by two blank fly pages.  On the fly pages in both volumes of my set of Memoirs, the original owner, Bryan Cauley, signed his name. 

On the next page is a daguerreotype type of General Grant, protected by tissue paper.  The tissue is smaller than then page (7.25” x 5.25”) and covers the daguerreotype.  As shown in Images 25 and 26, the tissue paper is rolled back into the spine to illustrate the original daguerreotypes.  In my Volume II, the daguerreotype image has bled through the tissue on to the title page, which is on the right, opposite the daguerreotype.

Image 25

Image 26

On the next page is the copyright page – Ulysses S. Grant – is the copyright holder, and the name of the printer, J.J. Little & Co.  The following page contains a holograph inscription by Grant, which appears in Volume I only.  


Each of the volumes contains an extensive table of contents and maps and illustrations.  Volume I begins with a brief introduction of Grant’s ancestry and boyhood and ends with Vicksburg.  Volume II begins with Chattanooga and ends with the Grand Review in Washington D.C. at the end of the Civil War.  Memoirs are a military history of the Mexican-American War and the Civil War from Grant’s perspective as a West Point graduate and military officer.  Accordingly, the volumes are filled with maps and military related correspondence.  

(Grant, 1885, Vol. I, p. 1)

Image 27

On July 20, 1885, before either volume of Memoirs was published, Charles L. Webster & Co. described the contents of Memoirs: Volume I was to contain 584 pages, 38 chapters, 15 maps; Volume II was projected to contain 1200 pages, 80 chapters, over 50 maps, and “valuable fac-similes of important letters and documents never before published” (“Agents Wanted”).  These details were very important to the 19th century book buyer.  “As a selling point in the subscription-book trade, the quantity and diversity of visual experience mattered more than quality or taste in design or execution, or originality, or ethical conduct with regard to the use of images belonging to others” (Michelson, p. 44).  Memoirs did not fail to deliver.


Once published, Memoirs did not have “over 50 maps”   It had 43 maps.  Below are two examples.  Image 28 is a foldout map titled “Map of the Seat of War” and is in Volume II. 

Image 28 Seat of War

The map is made of thinner paper than the text pages — possibly parchment.  The map is 10 inches long when unfolded.  There is a fold in the page creating a 4.5 inch overlay.  When the map is fully closed, it is .25 inches from the fore edge.  Image 29 is an example of a typical map in Memoirs – it is printed on a single page in the text.  The Map of Fort Donelson appears in Volume I and is in the chapter addressing the surrender of Fort Donelson to Grant. 

Image 29 Ft. Donelson

Of the “valuable fac-similes of important letters and documents never before published,” there are two foldout letters.  In Volume I, there is a fold out page which is a “fac-simile” of written communication between General Grant and General Buckner concerning General Buckner’s surrender of Fort Donelson to Grant (Image 30).  The second foldout letter, as listed in Maps and Illustrations of Volume II is the  “Fac-simile of the Original Terms of Lee’s Surrender as Written by General Grant.”  It is a letter dated April 9, 1865 from General Grant to General R.E. Lee wherein Grant “very respectfully” lays out the terms of the surrender of the Confederate Army.


Image 30

Memoirs also contains two etchings.  In Volume I there is an etching of Grant’s birthplace at Point Pleasant, Ohio.  In Volume II there is an etching of McLean’s Home at Appomattox where General Lee’s Surrender took place (Image 31).  Both etchings are protected by tissue paper. 

Image 31 Etching

Memoirs contains no coloration or rubrication.  Memoirs was printed in black ink on white paper (which has now faded).  There is no explicit.  Grant simply ends Volume II with two words:  “THE END.”