A Victor, Not A Butcher: Ulysses S. Grant's Overlooked Military Genius

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Lost Cause

2nd Lieutenant
Sep 19, 2014
As a positive for Grant supporters, in a few years, the Overland Campaign will likely be revised to a minor, and relatively bloodless bump on the path to victory.


May 27, 2011
los angeles ca
Cute post. Except, Robert E. Lee was never tactically defeated by a U.S. Army General. U.S. Grant is on the list of Generals who couldn't do it.

Do I need to re-post the list of U.S. Army Generals who figured out how to whip their adversary? Sadly, Ulysses Grant will not be on the list.
If Lee was never tactically defeated then what do we call Antietam and Gettysburg?
Even the entire Overland Campaign is not a tactical or strategic victory for Lee. One dies not defeat one's enemy by being besieged or at least tied down at Petersburg.
Yes Lee was able to detach General Early to attempt an attack on Washington DC but that didn't really do the Confederacy all that much good.
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Jul 24, 2017
Grant shared his proposal with Halleck in January 1864. The Plan outlined a military campaign into North Carolina to pull Lee out of Virginia and take the last major port of Wilmington.

To: Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck
Confidential Head Quarters, Mil. Div. of the Miss. Nashville Ten. Jan.y 19th 1864,

Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck, Gen. in Chief of the Army, Washington D. C. General,

I would respectfully suggest whether an abandonment of all previously attempted lines to Richmond is not advisable, and in line of these one be taken further South. I would suggest Raleigh North Carolina as the objective point and Suffolk as the starting point. Raleigh once secured I would make New Bern the base of supplies until Wilmington is secured. A moving force of sixty thousand men would probably be required to start on such an expedition. This force would not have to be increased unless Lee should withdraw from his present position. In that case the necessity for so large a force on the Potomac would not exist. A force moving from Suffolk would destroy first all the roads about Weldon, or even as far north as Hicksford. From Weldon to Raleigh they would scarsely meet with serious opposition. Once there the most interior line of rail way still left to the enemy, in fact the only one they would then have, would be so threatened as to force enemy him to use a large portion of his army in guarding it. This would virtually force an evacuation of Virginia and indirectly of East Tennessee. It would throw our Armies into new fields where they could partially live upon the country and would reduce the stores of the enemy. It would cause thousands of the North Carolina troops to desert and return to their homes. It would give us possession of many Negroes who are now indirectly aiding the rebellion. It would draw the enemy from Campaigns of their own choosing, and for which they are prepared, to new lines of operations never expected to become necessary. It would effectually blockade Wilmington, the port now of more value to the enemy than all the balance of their sea coast. It would enable operations to commence at once by removing the war to a more southern climate instead of months of inactivity in winter quarters. Other advantages might be cited which would be likely to grow out of this plan, but these are enough. From your better opportunities of studying the country, and the Armies, that would be involved in this plan, you will be better able to judge of the practicability of it than I possibly can.
I have written this in accordance with what I understood to be an invitation from you to express my views about Military operations and not to insist that any plan of mine should be carried out. Whatever course is agreed upon I shall always believe is at least intended for the best and until fully tested will hope to have it prove so.
I am General, very respectfully
your obt. svt.
U. S. Grant
Maj. Gen.
There's a remarkably similar debate about Grant's "butchery" in an adjacent thread. @GrantCottage1885 contributed this letter by Grant to Halleck before the Overland campaign to show that Grant's first choice was a more indirect approach, rather than the dreadful arithmetic.
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