Could Grant be Replaced?

American87

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Shiloh was another example of Grant's "learning curve." He always claimed he was not taken by surprise, but the evidence indicates otherwise. In particular, Grant refused or did not fully comprehend the importance of entrenching (at that stage of the war, maybe no one else did), and was beset by confused orders to Wallace and his Division. Grant can be credited with rallying the troops, but the battle was actually won by the arrival of Buell's army in the nick of time. Still, Grant was following on the heels of his victory at Fts. Henry and Donelson, so he must have retained much goodwill on the part of Lincoln.

100%. You might be onto something about Grant and his low-budget modesty. He failed at Iuka, and several times in front of Vicksburg, but Lincoln still kept him in command. As Lincoln said, "I can't spare this man, he fights." It was true, and apparently Lincoln saw something in him that forced him to keep him in command, even though other fighters, like Rosecrans and Hooker, were removed when they experienced setbacks. Perhaps there was something in Grant's dispatches or reports, which Lincoln may very well have read, that indicated a clear-headed, forthright, and aggressive commander.
 

wausaubob

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What are you writing about? Grant was the Governor's special military agent until June 1861. He wasn't a Brigadier until July. His support of Fremont helped Fremont clear out Missouri. While Winfield Scott was still in charge, Grant was assigned to SE Missouri, posted at Cairo, IL, the southernmost point in the 16 eastern loyal states. From there he occupied Paducah without a shot. And his diversion at Belmont had exactly the affect intended, it helped concentrate the Confederates at Columbus. The rest of the post contains insufficient merit to deserve a response.
 

American87

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What are you writing about? Grant was the Governor's special military agent until June 1861. He wasn't a Brigadier until July. His support of Fremont helped Fremont clear out Missouri. While Winfield Scott was still in charge, Grant was assigned to SE Missouri, posted at Cairo, IL, the southernmost point in the 16 eastern loyal states. From there he occupied Paducah without a shot. And his diversion at Belmont had exactly the affect intended, it helped concentrate the Confederates at Columbus. The rest of the post contains insufficient merit to deserve a response.

Are you talking to me? I don't know what you're talking about.
 

DanSBHawk

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Shiloh was another example of Grant's "learning curve." He always claimed he was not taken by surprise, but the evidence indicates otherwise. In particular, Grant refused or did not fully comprehend the importance of entrenching (at that stage of the war, maybe no one else did), and was beset by confused orders to Wallace and his Division. Grant can be credited with rallying the troops, but the battle was actually won by the arrival of Buell's army in the nick of time. Still, Grant was following on the heels of his victory at Fts. Henry and Donelson, so he must have retained much goodwill on the part of Lincoln.
I would disagree with this part. The confederates used up their chance to win on the 6th. Even if Buell had not shown up, Grant had a fresh division on the 7th and the confederates were exhausted and hungry. They were not going to beat Grant's army on the 7th.
 

wausaubob

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I would disagree with this part. The confederates used up their chance to win on the 6th. Even if Buell had not shown up, Grant had a fresh division on the 7th and the confederates were exhausted and hungry. They were not going to beat Grant's army on the 7th.
Which is why Grant wondered: why did the Rebels leave their entrenchments and come to Pittsburgh Landing were we had both gunboats and transports? And why did they stay after the 6th when thet knew Wallace was going to get unlost, and they had been tracking Buell for days? Why were they moving towards our reinforcements?
 
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wausaubob

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I would disagree with this part. The confederates used up their chance to win on the 6th. Even if Buell had not shown up, Grant had a fresh division on the 7th and the confederates were exhausted and hungry. They were not going to beat Grant's army on the 7th.
They could have whipped the Army of the Tennessee, and even killed Grant. But they would have lost Island No. 10 in the process, and almost certainly New Orleans, Baton Rouge temporarily, and Pensacola, all to vindicate A.S. Johnstone's grievance with Grant. And still, Buell would have saved the remnants and there was nothing to stop Pope from going directly down river to Vicksburg. The Confederates were lucky to not lose Vicksburg immediately after losing Memphis.
 

DanSBHawk

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Which is why Grant wondered: why did the Rebels leave their entrenchments and come to Pittsburgh Landing were we had both gunboats and transports? And why did they stay after the 6th when thet knew Wallace was going to get unlost, and they had been tracking Buell for days? Why were they moving towards our reinforcements?
And what would Beauregard have done on the 7th if Buell had not arrived? He couldn't flank Grant out of his position. He didn't have the time or the means to besiege Grant. Head-on assault would have been the only option, and that would have gone like an early version of Franklin.
 
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An interesting sub-question is had Grant begun the war in the east instead of the west would he have been as successful? Did he benefit from being isolated from the intense politics that befell Union eastern front generals from 1861 - 1864? By the time Grant got to Washington DC in March 1864 Lincoln made it clear that he would not pry into military affairs.
The answer to your sub-question is almost certainly not.

As far as your 2nd sentence, Grant was far from isolated from intense politics. Indeed up until the capitulation of Vicksburg his position on a daily basis was quite tenuous. If the history books told us that he had been relieved after Belmont, capturing the twin forts, Shiloh, the loss of his supply depot prior to Vicksburg would any of the history buffs on this forum be surprised.

Lastly and most egregiously is your statement that by '64 Lincoln had learned to leave strategy to the generals. In '62 McClelland had shown the simplest and best way to approach Richmond was from the sea. The fact that he managed to totally bollocks up the entire campaign left a bad taste in Lincoln's mouth that he never got over. The most serious consequence of the entire Overland Campaign was that Grant's conduct proved to Lincoln that he was willing to fight to the death. After all the flanking movements failed one after another, Grant could then propose the gamble to cross the James and approach Petersburg from the south and not have his boss think "OH NO. NOT ANOTHER GENERAL WHO'S AFAID TO FIGHT." Instead it was OK keep going.
 

Zack

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The answer to your sub-question is almost certainly not.

As far as your 2nd sentence, Grant was far from isolated from intense politics. Indeed up until the capitulation of Vicksburg his position on a daily basis was quite tenuous. If the history books told us that he had been relieved after Belmont, capturing the twin forts, Shiloh, the loss of his supply depot prior to Vicksburg would any of the history buffs on this forum be surprised.

Lastly and most egregiously is your statement that by '64 Lincoln had learned to leave strategy to the generals. In '62 McClelland had shown the simplest and best way to approach Richmond was from the sea. The fact that he managed to totally bollocks up the entire campaign left a bad taste in Lincoln's mouth that he never got over. The most serious consequence of the entire Overland Campaign was that Grant's conduct proved to Lincoln that he was willing to fight to the death. After all the flanking movements failed one after another, Grant could then propose the gamble to cross the James and approach Petersburg from the south and not have his boss think "OH NO. NOT ANOTHER GENERAL WHO'S AFAID TO FIGHT." Instead it was OK keep going.

I agree his position was tenuous, especially because of his rocky relationship with Halleck. But I do think there's a difference between the pressure on western generals and the breathing-down-the-neck in the east.

As for the last comment - I was referring to when Lincoln told Grant in March 1864 that he was not interested in learning his plan because everyone "was trying to find out from him something about the contemplated movements and there was always a temptation to 'leak.'" Obviously that's not the same as saying he would leave the strategy to the generals which is why I wrote specifically "he would not pry into military affairs."

I'm citing Rhea's book on the Wilderness page 43:
Screen Shot 2021-05-12 at 6.32.15 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-05-12 at 6.32.27 PM.png


Of course the obvious sidebar is Lincoln may never have intended to pry into military affairs but was just saddled with generals he didn't think were doing a good job.
 

NedBaldwin

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It also depends on how much Lincoln blamed or credited Grant with Shiloh....

... Banks, who also lost, was given random responsible positions. ...
Depends on how much Lincoln blamed or credited Banks with what happened. Banks was not blamed for retreating from Winchester when attacked by twice his numbers; he was credited for making a successful getaway.
 

wausaubob

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And what would Beauregard have done on the 7th if Buell had not arrived? He couldn't flank Grant out of his position. He didn't have the time or the means to besiege Grant. Head-on assault would have been the only option, and that would have gone like an early version of Franklin.
No surprise. Artillery arrayed. The Confederates had not captured the munitions tents. It would have been tough. But I think one division had crossed with Bull Nelson already. Since Buell was moving through hostile territory, news of his progress must have been relayed to Johnston.
 

American87

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Depends on how much Lincoln blamed or credited Banks with what happened. Banks was not blamed for retreating from Winchester when attacked by twice his numbers; he was credited for making a successful getaway.

Do you have a source for that? I'm not doubting Lincoln might praise Banks for that, but it seems a bit off to praise a general for falling back and opening up a possible invasion of the North, which Lincoln was quick to act on.
 

NedBaldwin

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Do you have a source for that? I'm not doubting Lincoln might praise Banks for that, but it seems a bit off to praise a general for falling back and opening up a possible invasion of the North, which Lincoln was quick to act on.
Why might it be off? Banks was being attacked by a force at least twice his size and got away, taking up a new position blocking movement across the Potomac. No possible invasion of the north really existed.


In August of 1862, Lincoln allegedly told the editor of the New York Tribune that "I regard General Banks as one of the best men in the army. He makes me no trouble; but, with a large force or a small force, he always knows his duty and does it.” (can be found in various books on Lincoln)


Right after the battle of Winchester, the Washington DC reporter of the New York Times reported:
"There is universal sympathy felt and expressed here for Gen. BANKS, and the hope of all is that he may be furnished an army suitable to his rank, and allowed to become his own avenger. It is not believed that his loss is serious, except in KENLY's regiment, the first attacked; and the fact that he retreated so far in the face of an enemy so overwhelming, and crossed his men in good order and good spirits, is taken as proof of the highest generalship. No other course could have kept JACKSON from crossing into Maryland.

The dispatch this morning received from Gen. BANKS, dated at Williamsport, Md., and announcing the belief that his whole force, trains and all, would cross the Potomac in safety, was hailed with the liveliest satisfaction. The dispatch from the Secretary of War which Gen. BANKS refers to as having read to his troops amid the liveliest cheers, is understood to have contained the thanks of the President and Secretary, for his excellent conduct of the retreat. High military authority pronounces it one of the most masterly movements of the war, and regular officers here, who have been slow to acknowledge the generalship of Gen. BANKS, now accord to him great tact and ability as a commander. The fact that at Winchester, with a small force of less than five thousand men, he stubbornly held his ground, and resisted the enemy's force of three times his own, and afterwards retreated in order, is taken as evidence of superior generalship."
https://www.nytimes.com/1862/05/27/archives/what-is-thought-in-washington.html
 

American87

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Why might it be off? Banks was being attacked by a force at least twice his size and got away, taking up a new position blocking movement across the Potomac. No possible invasion of the north really existed.


In August of 1862, Lincoln allegedly told the editor of the New York Tribune that "I regard General Banks as one of the best men in the army. He makes me no trouble; but, with a large force or a small force, he always knows his duty and does it.” (can be found in various books on Lincoln)


Right after the battle of Winchester, the Washington DC reporter of the New York Times reported:
"There is universal sympathy felt and expressed here for Gen. BANKS, and the hope of all is that he may be furnished an army suitable to his rank, and allowed to become his own avenger. It is not believed that his loss is serious, except in KENLY's regiment, the first attacked; and the fact that he retreated so far in the face of an enemy so overwhelming, and crossed his men in good order and good spirits, is taken as proof of the highest generalship. No other course could have kept JACKSON from crossing into Maryland.

The dispatch this morning received from Gen. BANKS, dated at Williamsport, Md., and announcing the belief that his whole force, trains and all, would cross the Potomac in safety, was hailed with the liveliest satisfaction. The dispatch from the Secretary of War which Gen. BANKS refers to as having read to his troops amid the liveliest cheers, is understood to have contained the thanks of the President and Secretary, for his excellent conduct of the retreat. High military authority pronounces it one of the most masterly movements of the war, and regular officers here, who have been slow to acknowledge the generalship of Gen. BANKS, now accord to him great tact and ability as a commander. The fact that at Winchester, with a small force of less than five thousand men, he stubbornly held his ground, and resisted the enemy's force of three times his own, and afterwards retreated in order, is taken as evidence of superior generalship."
https://www.nytimes.com/1862/05/27/archives/what-is-thought-in-washington.html

I guess—see the bold—but that's not really a source, just a supposition. Lincoln and/or Stanton might have thanked him, but I'm not going any further than that.
 

Georgia Sixth

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You are correct. Grant had achieved a brilliant series of victories in early 1862 that busted the Confederate defense line across Kentucky and Tennessee. So he was able to bank that for the lack of success that followed. But even so, Grant was given a lot of wiggle room; Pope was also a successful western commander who was brought east to command the Army of Virginia in August 1862. But Pope didn't last long after his defeat at 2nd Manassas.

If Grant had been killed or disabled at Shiloh, I believe Pope would have been his likely successor given his success at Island No. 10 and the Union's grand objective of Vicksburg. He would have been the obvious choice. It's tempting to say Pemberton and Van Dorn would have stymied him, but Pope did appreciate the value of the brown water navy and would no doubt try to maximize that advantage.
 
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I agree his position was tenuous, especially because of his rocky relationship with Halleck. But I do think there's a difference between the pressure on western generals and the breathing-down-the-neck in the east.

As for the last comment - I was referring to when Lincoln told Grant in March 1864 that he was not interested in learning his plan because everyone "was trying to find out from him something about the contemplated movements and there was always a temptation to 'leak.'" Obviously that's not the same as saying he would leave the strategy to the generals which is why I wrote specifically "he would not pry into military affairs."

I'm citing Rhea's book on the Wilderness page 43:
View attachment 400544View attachment 400545

Of course the obvious sidebar is Lincoln may never have intended to pry into military affairs but was just saddled with generals he didn't think were doing a good job.
I agree that Grant and Lincoln seemed to have had a very good rapport almost from day one. And I would wholeheartedly agree that Lincoln wanted a commanding general who would take the war aggressively to the South. He in fact spent almost the entirety of the war trying one general after another looking for that special person.

All I'm saying is that if Grant in that initial meeting you cite had disclosed to Lincoln that he planned to use his expertise gained in the riverine campaigns of the west to initiate an amphibious landing somewhere between the Peninsula and North Carolina to strategically isolate Richmond from the rest of the South, the only question to be answered would be if Grant would need to pay his RR ticket back to the west or would the President pay for his return.
 
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I really have to amend one of my previous replies. There was in fact one general officer in the Union Army who I think not could have taken on Lee successfully but almost undoubtedly would have defeated him and in pretty short order. Unfortunately to do so would have required the services of a time machine.

I refer to General Winfield Scott. Had the war occurred 10-15 years earlier, I believe Scott would have been physically been able to take to the field and command an army.

For at least 20 years I have come to realise that the finest general ever to command a US Army from Washington to Stormin' Norman was Scott. And this is from a young man/boy who grew up practically worshipping Lee, Jackson, Patton and MacArthur.
 

Zack

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All I'm saying is that if Grant in that initial meeting you cite had disclosed to Lincoln that he planned to use his expertise gained in the riverine campaigns of the west to initiate an amphibious landing somewhere between the Peninsula and North Carolina to strategically isolate Richmond from the rest of the South, the only question to be answered would be if Grant would need to pay his RR ticket back to the west or would the President pay for his return.

:bounce::giggle::rofl: well said I definitely chuckled.
 

jackt62

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I would disagree with this part. The confederates used up their chance to win on the 6th. Even if Buell had not shown up, Grant had a fresh division on the 7th and the confederates were exhausted and hungry. They were not going to beat Grant's army on the 7th.
I admit I was being a bit harsh on Grant. Yes, the Confederates were used up after the 1st day and Wallace's Division was fully deployed on the 2nd. That might have been enough to turn the tide even without Buell.
 

wausaubob

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I admit I was being a bit harsh on Grant. Yes, the Confederates were used up after the 1st day and Wallace's Division was fully deployed on the 2nd. That might have been enough to turn the tide even without Buell.
The US might not have been able to push the Confederates out of Shiloh. But with Nelson's division on the eastern end, and Wallace on the western end, and with the gunboats anchoring the line on the river, the Confederates were not going to push the US force into the river. They did not get the chance to try.
Normally pushing an enemy against an unfordable river is a good tactic. When is it not a good tactic? When the enemy has naval vessels and transports on the river and can be bring in reinforcements and supplies by water transport.
 

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