Hiram’s dad had no worries, despite the smirk on the carnival barker’s face. This was a sure bet. Everyone knew these ponies were trained to throw young boys on command, but many in the crowd also knew eleven-year old Hiram, his peculiar way with horses, and they began cheering the boy on. He mounted up, and knowing what was coming leaned close in on the pony’s neck, entangled himself in the mane, and put his legs as tight as he could behind the beast’s shoulders. Off they went around the track at a brisk canter. The crowd couldn’t hear him, but they could see his mouth softly whispering in the pony’s ear. The carnival barker cracked his buggy whip .. HYAAHHH! The pony seemed to go through the motions of bucking, but with little enthusiasm, and in a steady manageable rhythm. The barker scratched his head, and cracked the buggy whip again, but all that did was pick up the pace. The boy was as tight as a tick on that pony. Frustrated, the barker finally picked up one of the performing monkeys and hurled him onto Hiram’s back. The monkey clawed and scratched at the boy’s head, then settled in snugly, holding on to Hiram’s hair in just the same fashion as he was holding on to the mane. Round and round the three of them went – monkey, boy and pony. The crowd went wild. The barker knew he’d been beat. Realizing that he’d have paid money to see THAT again, he stopped the pony and gave the boy his five dollars.
That knack with horses came in handy during the Mexican War. As a young lieutenant, Hiram was asked to deliver a message from one wing of the army to another, but right across the Mexican front line. As the Mexicans began to take potshots at him, at a full gallop he took his right foot out of the stirrup, leaned over to the horse’s left side, wrapped his right leg behind his left and placed his entire body along the left flank of the horse, something most of his companions thought only a Comanche could do. The message got through.
The next war got his name nationally known, when the papers got hold of a note he wrote to an old friend. His classmate from West Point – a buddy who had once loaned him money so he could go home -was in command of a Confederate fort called Donelson and had asked for terms. What he got back shocked him:
"No terms except immediate and unconditional surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works."

The newspapers didn’t call him "Hiram" though. Back decades before when he was accepted to West Point the congressman who nominated him accidentally deleted his first name, giving his middle name as his first. He was fine with that – He’d always hated the name "Hiram." He decided he should still have a middle name, and so he adopted his mother’s maiden name – Simpson – for that purpose. After he took Fort Donelson however, the papers said that "U.S. Grant" stood for "Unconditional Surrender" Grant – the man whose dogged persistence, despite a variety of "monkeys on his back," would eventually bring the proud South to its knees, thus saving for posterity the United States of America.
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