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Thread: A Critical Look at Ulysses S Grant

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    Default A Critical Look at Ulysses S Grant

    A Critical Look at Ulysses S Grant

    “The literature is frequantley slanted in favor of Grant...Grants setbacks and errors in judgment are minimized or trivialized in the literature”
    -Thomas J Rowland George B McClellan and civil war history Kent state university press

    Grant is normally regarded as 1-3 on the list of top civil war generals. I agree, however his negatives are often overlooked and he often achieves success not because of his leadership, but at times in spite of his leadership. There were times when Grant was simply in the right place and the right time. His men saved the day for him. Other times his material advantages carried the day.

    Benefits of the Union

    Of course part of Grant success was simply he fought for the north and had the manpower, equipment, supply, naval, and material advantages. Grant was able to bring a more numerous, better supplied force often with a technological advantage to the field. Grant was also one of few generals that performed better in attack rather than on the defensive. Part of why Grant had success is because he fought for the union army on the offensive. Grant was a sub par defender, but an able attacker. Had he been a southern general fighting often on the defensive and outnumbered, I think his performance would have taken a large hit.


    The only time during the war Grant fought in a battle outnumbered was at Belmont MO. His force was outnumbered 3,114 to 5,000. Confederates reinforced by Polk [not a good general] attacked Grant's force with 600 causalities on each side during the battle. The battle ended with the retreat of Grant.

    Ft Donaldson

    Grant captured Fort Donaldson and he earned the nickname “Unconditional surrender Grant.” This was a great northern victory and a morale boast. However Grants great victory had little to do with his performance and was won in spite of his performance. The whole campaign was designed by Hallack [who would later be promoted in part for it] and Grant benefited from perhaps the worst southern handling of a situation during the war.

    First the southern generals Floyd and Pillow should not have retreated to the fort knowing a superior force could surround them with little food to supply the men. Than when they realized there mistake they decided to breakout against a superior force in the winter. Had they waited it out Grants army was low on supply and would soon need to retreat maybe before a surrender. However the breakout caught Grant completely by surprise and won the day. Despite an army of around 16,000 attacking in the winter the army under Grant of 25,000, the south was winning the field. The attack pushed the union men back and created enough room for an easy breakout for the entire force. The union line was being “rolled up.” Than, at the height of success, the confederate high command called off the attack and decided not to attempt a breakout. The men on the field were confused and angered as they had dominated the field, why than call off the attack?

    “Thus the confederates literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory”
    - David G Martin The Shiloh Campaign

    Had they continued the attack a great victory would have been had by the south. Or had they simply took advantage of the ground and left the fort for Grant, they would have avoided the surrender.

    “Confederate western command less skilled than their eastern counterparts, they also made egregious tactical decisions that enabled Grant and Sherman to overpower them”
    -Thomas J Rowland George B McClellan and civil war history

    Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was disgusted with the high command and asked permission to escape. He left with his command and sent word the whole garrison still could also escape, but the time had passed and the union closed the lines. The confederate high command decided to surrender and hundreds and even entire brigades simply walked off through rough terrain rather than surrender. Of the 13,000 that did surrender to Grant, 7,000 later escaped from Grant after there capture. The entire south saw it as a disgrace and said the soldiers had wanted to fight but the commanders forced them to surrender. The press said the terrible handling of the troops was

    “without parallel in the history of the world”
    -Atlanta Southern Confederacy march 18 1862

    Sometimes Grant is also given credit for the capture of Ft Henry, however that was captured by the navy under Admiral Fotte.


    “Of the 4 commanding generals, one died, the other three, grant included, should have been court martialed...Grant was the most negligent”
    -Historian Otto Eisenschiml

    Confederate General Albert Johnston's army of 44,000 sought to surprise and attack Grant's army of 47,000 before he could link up with Buell. Even before the battle started Grant erred in were to place the camp, his placement of divisions within the camp [green troops and veteran should have switched], his disregard of orders from his superior general Halleck to dig in, his neglect to do any scouting of the area, and his decision to camp miles away from his army. General Lew Wallace sent reports of large enemy troops directly to Grant and Grant dismissed them. Since Grant did nothing to entrench and did not set up any kind of defensive line his army was not organized in a defensive position. At one point Grant left his army and could not be contacted by his superior Halleck for 9 days. He ignored reports of large enemy units in the area and of confederate prisoners testimony.

    This allowed the confederate army to surprise Grants army while Grant was not even on the field. This caused confusion in the union lines and delayed actions leading to the early rout of his army. Grant also delayed in sending orders to Lew Wallces division on day 1 effectively tacking him out of the battle for day 1.

    Shiloh Day 1

    Day 1 ASJ had taken Grant by complete surprise and the union lies were broken time and again. the south was able to push the union miles back to a single last hill and line of defense before the Tennessee river. They captured the union camps and dozens of cannons along with over 2,000 troops in the “hornets nest.” It was near the most lopsided complete victory of the war. The entire union army under Grant was literally one hill, one last line of defense away from complete destruction. Multiple factors saved this near disaster. The undisciplined confederates stopped to loot union camps/food during the day one attack. This slowed down the overall advance of the confederates. ASJ died right when the union center was smashed. A temporary slow happened as a result of the change in command and leadership from ASJ to Beauregard, it was very costly at this time to southern victory. Beauregard also changed the focus of attack from ASJ plan of pushing the union flank into the river and blocking all possible retreat, to attacking the hornets nest. This was successful but gave the routed union army time to assemble a last line of defense. After the surrender of the union in the hornets nest, many csa soldiers thought the battle was over and returned to union camps to plunder reducing units available to finish off the union army. Thus the south again “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory”

    Shiloh Day 2

    [Buell] “Saved Grant from total disaster.”
    - David G Martin The Shiloh Campaign

    There is no question that Buell's arrival saved Grant on day 2 at Shiloh. Buell arrived with his 18,000 men and
    initiated his own attack on day 2. Buell did not communicate with Grant, as he was disgusted with Grants performance and refused to communicate with him. His attack down the middle [later joined by Grants forces on the flanks] was a great success against the confederates. In the end the union won not because of Grant, but despite of him. Confederate losses were 10,699 and union losses 13,000. After Shiloh Grants army was demoralized and Grant was relived of command. General Hallack took command of Grants army after shiloh and Grant almost resigned. His own soldiers and northern newspapers blamed Grant for the defeat on day 1, many called for him to be court-martialed.


    Grant was than fooled along with Halleck by Beauregard at Corinth. Beauregard was vastly outnumbered but set up dummy positions to fake the federals out [like McClellan on the peninsula] and had his men cheer when trains came in to carry them off. The union command thought they were being reinforced, this allowed Beauregard to withdraw without harm.

    First Attempt on Vicksburg

    ”Grant remains stuck in the mud of northern Mississippi, his army no use to him, or anybody else.”
    -New York Times

    After Halleck was promoted Grant was than given the task to capture Vicksburg. His first attempt failed miserably, Grant was “Humiliated and disgusted.” Grant attempted an overland capture of Vicksburg but he could not protect his supply lines against Nathan Bedford Forrest and Van Dorm who both cut his supply line and destroyed his supply base at Holy Springs forcing Grants inglorious retreat. Even Grants wife Julia was almost captured. Grant had also sent Sherman on a river transport attack on fortified Vicksburg that ended in the disaster of Chicksaw Bayou where the federals lost ten times the number of causalities as the confederates.

    “It is questionable whether the Grant who was badly surprised and unprepared at Shiloh and who failed several times over the course of nearly a year to conquer Vicksburg, would have lived up to the expectations in the east”
    -Thomas J Rowland George b McClellan and civil war history Kent state university press

    Grant as a Defensive General

    Grant was far from a top defensive general. Belmont the only battle he was ever outnumbered in, he gave up the field and retreated from Polk. Ft Donaldson he was surprised and was not even on the field when the attack came. He was attacked by an inferior force yet his command was pushed back and were losing the day. It was only poor generalship that saved him from an embarrassing defeat. Than he was again taken by surprise and was not even on the field when attacked at Shiloh. His larger force again lost the day and was eventually saved by Buell. Grant showed when faced with a force that could attack, even with sub par generals, he showed great weakness. He would later show himself vulnerable to small scale attacks and counter attacks by Lee's inferior force in Virginia.

    The Capture of Vicksburg

    Grant capture of Vicksburg was one of the great campaigns of the entire civil war, and he fully deserves the credit. Operations like these are why Grant was one of the best generals of the war and its hard to be critical of it. However Grant faced sub par commanders and had a manpower/equipment advantage. He ordered two fruitless assaults with heavy loses before besieging it.


    “Grant’s virtues were not that of a great general so much as a resolute and fearless “manager” of war.”
    -Alan Farmer head of history at St Martin’s College, Lancaster

    Again its near impossible to apply criticism to his victory at Chattanooga. Grants attacking army of 56,359 defeated Bragg's army of 44,010. However it was more his managing skills than his military brilliance. It was William Smith and George Thomas that planned the breakout of Chattanooga, opening up the supply line, and advanced across the river that Grant accepted. The confederate high command Grant faced of the army of Tennessee was in shambles and infighting, and morale was low. The combination of Bragg, Polk, and Hardee was not a formidable command. Grant literally fought the worst led army that the confederacy could muster in the war.

    Grants plan of having Sherman flank the confederates and roll up the army failed. So he was forced to send Thomas on the impossible attack on the entrenched confederate center on missionary hill. Thomas pulled out a miracle, meant to only be a holding force he broke the confederate center and won the day with maybe the grandest charge of the war. Grant would also admit that the victory had as much to do with confederate blunders as anything he did. Grant deserves credit, but so does Thomas and the poor confederate high command for the union victory.

    Grant moves East Against the Mighty Army of Northern Virginia?

    “If Grant had commanded during the first years of the war, we would have gained our independence”
    -John Mosby Virginian cavalrymen the “gray Ghost” of the confederacy

    After his victories at Vicksburg and Chattanooga Grant was moved east to face Lee and the army of northern Virginia, the premier army of the confederacy. However Lee's army was no longer the aggressive, fearless, dominate army of old, recent battles had taken there toll.

    At Chancellorsville the confederates lost 22-23% causalities [higher than the union] and Lee's best subordinate in Stonewall Jackson. So not only was Lee down his best corps commander, but he know was forced to reorganize his army into 3 corps. In the book The Chancellorsville campaign by David martin you will notice in his chapter on army organization how well the confederate army at Chancellorsville was organized. It is streamlined command with talented veterans at every position. Jackson and Longstreet complimented each other and the whole army was collected into just 2 corps controlled by Jackson and Longstreet. After the Loss of Jackson there was no other commander who could control such a force effectively. Lee was forced to reorganize his entire army.

    ”I know not how to replace him, gods will be done”
    -Robert E Lee

    The effects of this on the performance of the army is often under noticed. Lee had to create 2 new corps under Richard Ewell and A.P Hill, neither performed close to as well as Jackson. This depleted the talent of the army a great deal. New division commanders were needed to replace Hill and Ewell, new commanders also to fill in the newly created divisions, than new brigade commanders all the way down the line.

    At Gettysburg Lee would lose even more men, just over 28,000 causalities and 1/3 of his commanders. With the new 3 corps and the high % of losses at Gettysburg to commanders, Lee's army was heavily watered down in talent and untested commanders at new higher levels. Many would say between Gettysburg and Vicksburg the confederacy lost its offensive power. Confederate manpower peaked in 63, by the middle of 64 causalities and desertion had greatly reduced the number of soldiers in the CSA army. The draft increasing brought young boys and old men to fight for the confederacy. As Grant said in 64 the confederacy had “robbed the cradle and the grave” to fill its ranks. And as Gary Gallagher said, this was a new army and it fought different than the old army of northern Virginia.

    “By the time Grant arrived east, the time was ripe for helped enormously that the foe he faced was but a mere shadow of its former self”
    -Thomas J Rowland George B McClellan and civil war history Kent state university press

    When Grant came east he was able to continuity put pressure on Lee without fear of a major counter attack. Had Jackson been their and had Lee the manpower, its likely it could have changed the campaign. Jackson's best qualities were being unpredictable, to hit the enemy where they where weak, best flank attacker in the war, and surprise attacks. These were all of Grants weaknesses as he showed at Fort Donaldson and Shiloh.

    Further as Gary Gallagher argues Lee's high command was in shambles by the time the overland campaign began. Of Lee's 4 most important generals Longstreet, Stuart, A.P Hill and Ewell, Longstreet was injured at Grants and Lee's first battle the Wilderness, and out for the next 10 months, to some back late in the siege of Petersburg. Stuart was killed in action in early May around a week after the wilderness. Hill was often sick and out of duty, and Ewell was injured on May 12th and did not return to command with the army. Even Lee himself was fighting failing health issues and old age that would come into play at North Anna. After the defeat at Gettysburg Lee offered his resignation saying to Jefferson Davis in letter his health was not what it should be for the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, and he asked Davis to replace him with a “younger and abler man.” Than later in 63 during the Mine Run campaign. Lee was unable to finish off a isolated union force and said “ I am to old to command this army. We should not have permitted those people to get away.”

    The Army of Northern Virginia was also fighting severe supply shortages. Lee told Richmond he did not think he could keep the army together due to lack of supply. One solider said they did not get a “We never got a square meal that winter.” This was not the army of northern Virginia of fame, it was a beaten down army that Grant faced.

    Grant's First Encounter with Lee- The Wilderness

    ``The Wilderness was a useless battle, fought with great loss and no result,''
    -Carl Roebling

    The Wilderness campaign started with Grant's army of just over 100,000 men attempting to slip past Lee's flank through the wilderness before Lee could react. His goal was to get on Lee's flank, or between Lee and Richmond forcing Lee to attack Grant in open ground or be forced to fall back to Richmond. Or, even possibly connecting with Butler and than move on to Richmond. However Lee had anticipated the move and was able to maneuver his force of around 60,000 men faster than Grant had assumed, forcing Grant to do battle in the wilderness where his numbers would be of less importance. On May 5th Grant ordered his men to attack unknown numbers of confederates unsupported in the wilderness, they were flanked and took high losses and were unable to remove the confederates from the ground.

    “Grant had thrown his forces in piecemeal up against Lee's two corps only to suffer repulse after repulse”
    -John Cannan The Wilderness Campaign Combined Books PA

    The next day the battle raged back and fourth with heavy losses. Longstreet came on the scene and led a counter attack that saved A.P Hill corps and crushed the union assault and pushed them back in panic while capturing hundreds of prisoners. Longstreet had used a hidden rail line to flank the union forces. He was preparing for yet another flank attack hidden from union eyes further up the rail line that would have shattered the union flank.

    “I have felt despair for the cause for some months but am relived, and feel assured that we will put the enemy across the rapidan before knight”
    -Micah Jenkins Commander with Longstreet preparing the flank maneuver

    But Longstreet was shot and wounded by his own men. Instead of Longstreet's flanking maneuver, Lee did not trust Longstreet inexperience replacement Anderson to accomplish the flanking maneuver. So Lee instead ordered a frontal assault on fortified union lines supported by artillery that failed. Many confederates believed had Longstreet not been injured, Lee's army “would have swept the army of the Potomac back across the rapidan.” However on the other flank Ewell corps led a flanking attack on Grant's line that curled up his defenses and met with success, but ended at nighttime.

    “Smashed Grants right, captured 2 generals and 600 prisoners and nearly cut grants supply line...Grants first move had been a disaster. The wilderness had cost 17,000 men ”
    - Ken Burns The Civil war PBS Documentary

    In the end Grant suffered around 18,000 causalities as a result while Lee suffer around 11,000 with some estimates as low as 8,000. Grants flanking maneuver had failed.

    “The army of the Potomac had encountered near disaster on may 6th, suffered thousands of causalities while achieving no perceived gain. Indeed the federal campaign in the wilderness had all but utterly failed. Grant had been unable to flank his adversary, his attacks in the woodland had all been severely repulsed, and both his flanks narrowly escaped collapse...Grant had feared no better than McClellan, Burnside or hooker...Grant had been defeated at the wilderness, a fight he mismanaged tactically with assistance from Meade”
    --John Cannan The Wilderness Campaign Combined Books PA


    “Again and again Lee anticipated Grant”
    -PBS Civil war Ken Burns Documentary

    The battle of Spotsylvania came close on the heels of the wilderness. Grant's replenished army of around 100,000 men moved south in an attempt to flank Lee's army know of 52,000. However Lee anticipated Grants move and his Calvary were quick to react and got there first. Lee was able to force Grant to attack him on fortified entrenched, high ground, over the campaign. On May the 10th Grant

    “Launched unwise assaults up and down the confederate line on may 10th which had stood no chance of success”
    -John Cannan The Spotsylvania Campaign Combined Books PA

    “Like sheep to the slaughter”
    -J.D Bloodgood 144th Pennsylvanian

    His piecemeal attacks were repulsed and Grant overconfidence that Lee's army was about to break at any moment, cost many union lives. Later Grant would have success with Upton's attack and netted 1,000-1,200 prisoners. Lee, due to bad intelligence removed artillery from the muleshoe area allowing for a major union attack the next day. Grant sent 20,000 men and was able to break the fortified lines again capturing thousands of troops. This victory was however counterattacked by confederates who regained most the lost ground and rifle pits. New lines were drawn and Grant than attempted a wide flanking maneuver that resembled Burnside's mud march and exhausted and demoralized his men. A weak attack was made the next morning and repulsed by the exhausted federals. In all, the battle had repulsed Grants attacks and the north had suffered 18,000 casualties to 12,000 for the south.

    “Their [federal] leadership was certainly competent, but in no way compare to that which they faced [Lee]...Grants continual folly in believing the confederates were one step away from disaster”
    -John Cannan The Spotsylvania Campaign Combined Books PA

    Cold Harbor/Grants Fredricksburg

    “Again Lee got there first”
    -PBS Civil war Ken Burns Documentary

    Grants maneuver to attempt to get around Lee was blocked by the confederates at Cold Harbor. Grant decided to delay assaults on Lee's army a day for his men to rest. This allowed Lee to entrench and proved costly for the federal soldiers the next day. Grant ordered the attacks against entrenched confederates on the high ground over terrible attacking terrain. The attacks were repulsed with heavier losses than the south received during Pickett's charge. The federals lost 7,000 men in a half hour. Overall northern losses were 12,700 and Southern losses were 4,500 similar to Fredricksburg.

    "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made... No advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained."
    -U. S. Grant

    Grant Earns the Nickname “The Butcher”

    “Grant is a butcher and not fit to be at the head of an army. He loses two men to the enemies one. I could fight an army as well myself”
    -Mary Todd Lincoln

    “The felling here in the army is that we have been absolutely butchered, that our lives have been periled to no purpose and wasted”
    -Union Colonel Stephen minot Weld, petersbrug June 1864

    In the time span of just 1 month, Grant had lost 50-60,000 men, half the losses of the army of the Potomac in the first 3 years of fighting. He was out commanded and beaten to the spot by Lee's smaller army time and again. He was unable to destroy Lee, or capture Richmond, as was hoped by the public from the victorious western general. His belief that Lee was always near defeat and his underestimation of Lee as a commander, proved costly on federal losses and morale.

    “The army of the Potomac was never enthused much over Grant....the men of the union army firmly believed from the first, just what the next 60 days proved. That Grant didn't have the least idea what he was up against”
    -Pennsylvanian solider Harold George

    Grants war in Virginia had so far failed.

    “Had proved an almost unmitigated disaster. He [Grant] had failed to permanently interrupted traffic over the Virginia Central Railroad. He had failed to destroy Lee's army or drive it into Richmond fortifications. McClellan had had gotten that far in 1862 with less than 10% of the 63,000 causalities that Grant and Butler had suffered”
    - John Horn The Petersburg Campaign

    North Anna Grant is Trapped

    "game of war seldom presents a more effectual checkmate than was here given by Lee."
    -Northern newspaper

    Grant had wanted to bait Lee out of his works by using Hancock's corps as the bait, to than fight Lee in the open. Yet Lee turned the tables on Grant. Lee was able to deceive Grant, trap and split Grants army into three, around the north Anna River. This was without question Lee's best opportunity to destroy a large section of Grants army. Grant had thought Lee was pulling back south towards Richmond but in actuality Grant was “Unaware that he was marching into Lee's trap.” This was a sure major confederate victory.

    “Lee's moment had come. His plan to split the Union army had worked, isolating Hancock east of the Confederate position, Burnside north of the river at Ox Ford, and Warren and Wright several miles to the west, near Jericho Mill. Hill, holding the Confederate formation's western leg, could fend off Warren and Wright while Anderson and Ewell, on the eastern leg, attacked Hancock with superior numbers. "[Lee] now had one of those opportunities that occur but rarely in war,"
    -Gordon Rhea North Anna Campaign

    However two incidents prevented this campaign changing victory for the south. First Lee became sick with dysentery and was confined to his tent, his failing health caught up with him at the most vital moment. The second was Lee's decimated high command no longer contained men like Jackson or Longstreet to carry out the complex attack.. Anderson was new to his post, Ewell had proven unreliable. His last corps commander A.P Hill who Lee had just scolded soon before saying "Why didn't you throw your whole force on them and drive them back as Jackson would have done?" had exercised poor judgment at Jericho Mill and inconstant performances. “Physically unable to command and lacking a capable subordinate to direct the army in his place, Lee saw no choice but to forfeit his hard-won opportunity.” Grant was saved.

    Petersburg's Missed Chance

    Grant was able to cross the James before Lee properly reacted and thought the capture of Petersburg would be easy. However Beauregard gave stiff resistance and denied Grant what should have been the capture of the city instead, leading to the long siege. Grant had placed no one in control of the attack on the city, and no concentrated effort was made when the chance was there. He was to slow in later sending Burnside and putting Meade in charge, this gave time for the confederates to react and reinforce Peterburg.

    “For this leaderlessness, Grant bears the responsibility...the crossing of the James River seems to have absorbed all the energy of Grant and his staff. They apperd to have assumed that the occupation of the city would be assured by a successful crossing and gave no thought th what action would appropriate if they encountered serious opposition” Grant also bears the responsibility for Butlers failure to interfere with Lee's progress towards Petersburg”
    -John Horn The Petersburg Campaign

    Grant conducted or ordered multiple failed assaults on Petersburg before it was taken. Grant approved the battle of the creator which Grant called “A stupendous failure.” Grant selected commander James Ledlie by drawing names from a hat. For political reasons Grant would not allow fresh black troops to lead the assault as Butlers plan called for. This change to Butlers plans may have decided the outcome of the failed attack.

    “Grant and mead, who had caused the disaster by their interference with Burnsides plan.”
    -John Horn The Petersburg Campaign

    “Grant was lucky [Lincoln] could have seen the episode as evidence of incompaitance lunatic enough to put McClellan and all of Grants predecessors in Virginia to shame”
    -Thomas J Rowland George B Mcclellan and Civil war History in the Shadow of grant and Sherman

    It took a total of 9 assaults to finally break the lines at Petersburg over many months. “Grants tactical control ended in failure the crater, second deep bottom” “disaster that constituted grants second offensive Wilson raid , Samaria church, battle of reams station all failed with heavy losses”

    Grant was only able to break the lines after the south had all but given up hope after the re-election of Lincoln. Between Jan-April 2 1865 Lee lost 40% of his army to desertion, transfers, and combat losses. Grant not only started with a 2-1 advantage, he was able to bring in constant reinforcements while Lee was not. Because of Lee's reduced army “Lee could not protect Richmond and take the offensive elsewhere.” Grant did not have to fear for a major counter offensive from Lee. During the entire Peterburg campaign Grant suffered around 60,000 causalities to Lee's 40,000.

    Diversion in the valley

    Lee sent Jubal Early's corps to the valley on June 16th to distract from the fight around Richmond and gather much needed food for his army. Grant would not believe that Lee had done so until July 8th. Early had near crossed into Maryland. Grant had thought Lee would send men to Atlanta instead. Since Grant was slow to reinforce the valley this allowed Early to have great success clearing out the valley and even come to the outskirts of D.C skirmishing with the garrison. Early also burnt a town to the ground in Maryland, won a battle on northern soil, and captured a Pennsylvania town. This led to panic and loss of morale across the north. Many thought that Grant had failed in all his objectives so far and Richmond would not fall. This led many in the north to call for a peace and an end to the war.


    “By then, many of the southern defenders had given up any hope for for an independent nation...Sheer exhaustion and the lack of proper food was tacking a major toll on the condition of the southern troops ”
    -Chris M Calkins The Appomattox Campaign

    The Appomattox campaign was well fought by Grant and Sheridan to keep the pressure on Lee's army and cut of his lines to North Carolina. However it was clear by this time Lee's army was low on food, morale, men and equipment. An analogy that has been given was “Grant was a 200 pound, fully equipped boxer, who fought a half starved, bare handed man half his weight.” Lee originally had the step on Grant but the trains meant to supply his army with food, clothing etc instead were weapons and ammo due to a mix up. Lee had to forage the area for a day allowing Grant and Sheridan to catch up the lost time and leading to the eventual surrender of his starved, fatigued army.

    “Their [Grants]1864-5 campaigns were won because their forces were larger and better equipped than those of the enemy.
    -Alan Farmer is head of history at St Martin’s College, Lancaster.

    Did Grant win the war for the Union?

    Grant is often credited for defeating Lee and winning the war. However it was really Sherman who won the war for the union when he captured Atlanta. With the re-election of Lincoln the war was already won by the north. The best hope the south had was for Lincoln to lose the election and instead for peace democrats win. Atlanta ensured union victory. Grants failures to either destroy Lee or capture Richmond up until the election, had almost cost Lincoln re-election. His heavy losses turned the north against the war and his slow reaction to Early in the valley also pushed the north towards peace. Grant almost cost the north the war. Grant underestimated his opponents in the east, showed himself unimaginative in attack to often, and showed himself vulnerable to small scale counter attacks when Lee could muster the power.

    Major Battles and Causalities of Union Generals vs Lee

    Union commander/ Battle Union Losses Lee loses Union causality per
    Pope- Second Manasas 13,879 Lee 8,353 1.65 per
    Hooker- Chancellorsville 17,100 Lee 12,151 1.43 per
    Burnside- Fredricksburg 13,353 Lee 4,576 2.95 per
    Grant- Wilderness 18,400 Lee 11,400 1.61 per
    Grant- Spotsylvania 18,000 Lee 12,000 1.5 per
    Grant- Cold Harbor 12,737 Lee 4,594 2.8 per
    Grant- Total 49,100 Lee 27,900 1.75 per
    Meade- Gettysburg 23,049 Lee 28,063 .82
    Meade- Total [Above] 72,049 Lee 55,963 1.29
    McClellan - Total 28,250 Lee 30,449 .92 per

    -Great Campaigns Jackson's Valley Campaign David G Martin Combined Books PA 1994
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    -Great Campaigns The Chancellorsville campaign David G Martin Combined Books PA 1991
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    Last edited by total relism; 01-24-2017 at 16:48.
    “Its been said that when human beings stop believing in god they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse, they believe in anything.” Malcolm maggeridge

    The simple believes every word: but the prudent man looks well to his going. Proverbs -14.15
    The first to present his case seems right,till another comes forward and questions him -Proverbs 18.17

    In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
    Genesis 1.1

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    Default Re: A Critical Look at Ulysses S Grant

    I agree with virtually all of this. Grant was a better tactical commander than his critics credit him with, but it is his perseverance that was his biggest hallmark of success. He recognized that constant pressure on Lee would deny any reinforcements to the West and that the overall combination would be too much for the South. It was NOT an elegant strategy, but it was more or less guaranteed to succeed. If the Union could field 3-1 in overall numbers, then losing 1.6 to 1 would engender victory.

    If the North had recognized early enough that it would come down to numbers, and not some single victory, then they could have used Scott's anaconda earlier and with fewer real casualties. Grant's version of attrition was less elegant, but even so, had you taken McClellan's army and given it to Grant 1 week after it landed on the Peninsula, the war would have ended in 1862 with far fewer overall casualties (though the Union dead on the Peninsula and around Richmond would have been many).
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

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  3. #3

    Default Re: A Critical Look at Ulysses S Grant

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    I agree with virtually all of this. Grant was a better tactical commander than his critics credit him with, but it is his perseverance that was his biggest hallmark of success. He recognized that constant pressure on Lee would deny any reinforcements to the West and that the overall combination would be too much for the South. It was NOT an elegant strategy, but it was more or less guaranteed to succeed. If the Union could field 3-1 in overall numbers, then losing 1.6 to 1 would engender victory.

    If the North had recognized early enough that it would come down to numbers, and not some single victory, then they could have used Scott's anaconda earlier and with fewer real casualties. Grant's version of attrition was less elegant, but even so, had you taken McClellan's army and given it to Grant 1 week after it landed on the Peninsula, the war would have ended in 1862 with far fewer overall casualties (though the Union dead on the Peninsula and around Richmond would have been many).
    I think the north thought it possible to not go with grants 64 strategy and avoid the losses. Nothing says that could not have happened. I think Grant 64 strategy would not have worked in 62 when mac was in command. But i think he likely would have come up with another plan that would have fit the position of the north in 62. I however disagree that if he were in command, he would have made much a difference in 62. I think the pressure to succeed would have forced him out unless he could win a decisive victory. I dont think that happens in 62. I think he may very well have been able to formulate a great strategy, but what the press and Lincoln needed, would only allow for a decisive victory and intimidate capture of Richmond, or replacement.
    Last edited by total relism; 01-26-2017 at 01:51.
    “Its been said that when human beings stop believing in god they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse, they believe in anything.” Malcolm maggeridge

    The simple believes every word: but the prudent man looks well to his going. Proverbs -14.15
    The first to present his case seems right,till another comes forward and questions him -Proverbs 18.17

    In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
    Genesis 1.1


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