Could Grant be Replaced?

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Grant never talked about his plans, because he always had several plans. He refused to play the press game which has passed into history, that he had some definite plan that could be picked apart and announced as failed.
Grant's usual plan was to say whatever worked had been the plan all along.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
What was Grant's plan? His friend Ingalls was already the chief quartermaster in the east. Ingalls was already experienced in all the logistical solutions that McClellan had used. Grant had met Meigs and worked with him. Grant was already familiar with Robert Allen, who was taking over in Louisville. Before Grant left the west, McCallum, who was the best railroad manager in the US, took over the USMRR in the Kentucky/Tennessee theater.
When Grant came east he brought Sheridan, who was a combat officer, and James Wllson, a young engineering officer with him. Sheridan and Wilson got commands in the eastern cavalry. General Meade very quickly found out that everything Hooker and Pleasonton had begun in the eastern cavalry was going to be continued and amplified.
Based on Grant having used a cavalry raid and a mounted infantry raid to screen his Vicksburg operation, these changes are evidence that there was going to be heavy cavalry raids as turn all of Virginia into a war zone. General Lee's worst nightmares were about to come true.
Its all like that. Even though Lincoln liked Banks, and wanted a fake government installed in Louisiana, Grant put continual pressure on the Red River operation, ended it and found infantry support for Farragut's attempt to take Mobile Bay.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
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.
It was nice of Grant to write that. But of course, Lincoln forced the Red River campaign. Lincoln allowed the German artillery officer Sigel, to have an independent campaign in the Shannondoah Valley, and maintained Butler in Virginia without telling Butler it was time for him to be a real general and not just an administrator.
Grant came to Washington, but it took him 5 months to organize the 2nd summer offensive.
 

Dead Parrott

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
Grant never talked about his plans, because he always had several plans. He refused to play the press game which has passed into history, that he had some definite plan that could be picked apart and announced as failed.
Grant's usual plan was to say whatever worked had been the plan all along.

First part, agreed entirely.

Last sentence, I think that's a tad unfair to Grant (though just a tad). Grant always foresaw multiple possible strategic outcomes (as in the overland campaign) and was very flexible in how those outcomes could be achieved. He was, at heart like Lee, an opportunist - hence his battle plans were always about flexibility to take action where it best presented itself, and positioning himself to be there. So yeah, he definitely did NOT plan out the battles weeks in advance - he comprehended strategic possibilities, moved to exploit them, and then, when it all went to hell anyway (Butler & Seigel), improvised and kept moving toward the objective a different way!

I think Sherman's assessment of him sums it up nicely. (apologies if this went a bit too far Off Topic).
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
First part, agreed entirely.

Last sentence, I think that's a tad unfair to Grant (though just a tad). Grant always foresaw multiple possible strategic outcomes (as in the overland campaign) and was very flexible in how those outcomes could be achieved. He was, at heart like Lee, an opportunist - hence his battle plans were always about flexibility to take action where it best presented itself, and positioning himself to be there. So yeah, he definitely did NOT plan out the battles weeks in advance - he comprehended strategic possibilities, moved to exploit them, and then, when it all went to hell anyway (Butler & Seigel), improvised and kept moving toward the objective a different way!

I think Sherman's assessment of him sums it up nicely. (apologies if this went a bit too far Off Topic).
1620920659916.png

We don't think Grant had piecemeal translations of von Clausewitz, but he did have Osterhaus and Turchin around, and Schurz certainly had read von Clausewitz. Grant probably just came to the same conclusion. Act: make the enemy respond: measure the response: and act again.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The men who had been out of the army for awhile, like Grant, Sherman and Hooker had an advantage. They knew both military life and civilian life. Early in the war, it gave Grant an advantage. McClellan too, had been a railroad manager, so he knew there were possibilities in railroad warfare the fit US conditions. After Vicksburg, Sherman, McPherson and Ord could have taken over. Meade was going to press Lee very hard in the east. Meade observed the Army of the Potomac still had a 3 day fight in it after Chancelersville, so it wasn't nearly as defeated as Hooker was depressed due to his injuries.
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
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.

Shiloh was fought on April 6-7, 1862. Pope was fighting at Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River then (Island No. 10 surrendered on April 7). Today, it is about 158 miles by road from New Madrid, Mo (close to what was Island No. 10) and Shiloh -- much further by river as Pope would have had to travel.

In real life, Pope did move to Shiloh with his Army of the Mississippi, but he was not promoted to take over Grant's Army or over Grant. Instead, Grant was kicked up and sideways into a do-nothing second-in-command spot. George Thomas was promoted to Major General and put in charge of Grant's Army. That seems like the most reasonable suggestion for Halleck to do -- exactly what he did in real life.

Two other suggestions:
  • William T. Sherman. Sherman was a good friend of Halleck, who had given him cover/protected him when Sherman was in disfavor in 1861. Sherman came out of Shiloh well, with Halleck pushing for him and Sherman being promoted to Major General as of May 1, 1862.
  • William Rosecrans. Rosecrans had gotten into a dispute with Stanton, which led to a feud (normal for both, although Rosecrans never seems to have realized his own behavior led to the disputes). That got Rosecrans out of the East and out to Shiloh, where he was appointed to command two divisions in Pope's Army of the Mississippi. Later that year, Rosecrans promotion would be backdated (March 21) to make him senior to Thomas (April 25). Pope's promotion would also be dated from March 21.
Pope, Sherman and Rosecrans would all be available, as would Thomas. All were Brigadiers about to be promoted to Major General when Shiloh was fought. Given what actually happened, Thomas seems the most likely to me. Appointing Pope seems less likely, because it requires someone else to be put in command of Pope's Army of the Mississippi.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
Shiloh was fought on April 6-7, 1862. Pope was fighting at Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River then (Island No. 10 surrendered on April 7). Today, it is about 158 miles by road from New Madrid, Mo (close to what was Island No. 10) and Shiloh -- much further by river as Pope would have had to travel.

In real life, Pope did move to Shiloh with his Army of the Mississippi, but he was not promoted to take over Grant's Army or over Grant. Instead, Grant was kicked up and sideways into a do-nothing second-in-command spot. George Thomas was promoted to Major General and put in charge of Grant's Army. That seems like the most reasonable suggestion for Halleck to do -- exactly what he did in real life.

Two other suggestions:
  • William T. Sherman. Sherman was a good friend of Halleck, who had given him cover/protected him when Sherman was in disfavor in 1861. Sherman came out of Shiloh well, with Halleck pushing for him and Sherman being promoted to Major General as of May 1, 1862.
  • William Rosecrans. Rosecrans had gotten into a dispute with Stanton, which led to a feud (normal for both, although Rosecrans never seems to have realized his own behavior led to the disputes). That got Rosecrans out of the East and out to Shiloh, where he was appointed to command two divisions in Pope's Army of the Mississippi. Later that year, Rosecrans promotion would be backdated (March 21) to make him senior to Thomas (April 25). Pope's promotion would also be dated from March 21.
Pope, Sherman and Rosecrans would all be available, as would Thomas. All were Brigadiers about to be promoted to Major General when Shiloh was fought. Given what actually happened, Thomas seems the most likely to me. Appointing Pope seems less likely, because it requires someone else to be put in command of Pope's Army of the Mississippi.
For it to be Thomas or Sherman or even Rosecrans would require some cleaver rearrangement of dates and/or commanders or a decision by Lincoln, since McClernand and Lew Wallace were both senior. That is why when Thomas was put in charge of a wing consisting of most of Grant's army, the divisions of McClernand and Wallace were separated into a "Reserve" and not under Thomas. .
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
For it to be Thomas or Sherman or even Rosecrans would require some cleaver rearrangement of dates and/or commanders or a decision by Lincoln, since McClernand and Lew Wallace were both senior. That is why when Thomas was put in charge of a wing consisting of most of Grant's army, the divisions of McClernand and Wallace were separated into a "Reserve" and not under Thomas. .
Yes -- but such things were commonly done when needed. Sometimes a soldier even willingly served below someone who ranked him: Thomas out-ranked Sherman, but served under him in the Atlanta Campaign. OTOH, Grant had problems with Burnside and Butler in Virginia. Both of them out-ranked Meade. Grant had the same problem with McClernand in the Vicksburg campaigns -- McClernand out-ranked Sherman. Grant managed both problems by being present as much as he possibly could, since they were all junior to him.

McClernand had the same date-of-rank as Pope (March 21, 1862).
 
Joined
May 11, 2017
Do you think Thomas could have taken Vicksburg?
There is no way to determine that. Knowing what we know and who accomplished it makes it difficult to imagine someone else in command. Example Ewell at Gettysburg we replay what if Jackson had been there well honestly we can speculate but we really don't know. Im not sure anyone was better than Grant, not saying he didn't make mistakes or get large numbers killed I just think he had a vision and he stuck to his plan no matter the cost.
 

American87

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Location
PENNSYLVANIA
There is no way to determine that. Knowing what we know and who accomplished it makes it difficult to imagine someone else in command. Example Ewell at Gettysburg we replay what if Jackson had been there well honestly we can speculate but we really don't know. Im not sure anyone was better than Grant, not saying he didn't make mistakes or get large numbers killed I just think he had a vision and he stuck to his plan no matter the cost.

Same thing here. I can't envision Thomas running the batteries, and abandoning lines of communication for a time, in an attempt to get around south of Vicksburg and attack from the east.

It seems too bold from what I've read on him thus far.
 

American87

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Location
PENNSYLVANIA
My inclination is no. You could probably count on 1 hand the commanders that could have done what Grant did, because he failed several times before succeeding and it took some imagination.

My thoughts exactly. I'll just have to repeat what I told wingatecivilwar5:

Same thing here. I can't envision Thomas running the batteries, and abandoning lines of communication for a time, in an attempt to get around south of Vicksburg and attack from the east.

It seems too bold from what I've read on him thus far.
 

rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Location
Tampa, Fl
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.
But he did.
 

rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Location
Tampa, Fl
Same thing here. I can't envision Thomas running the batteries, and abandoning lines of communication for a time, in an attempt to get around south of Vicksburg and attack from the east.

It seems too bold from what I've read on him thus far.
But there have been a different way to do it. Effectively shut Vicksburg off from the west and say at Jackson.
 

American87

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Location
PENNSYLVANIA
I would have to say no.

Grant and McClellan were the only two commanders on the Union side willing to use siege and attrition warfare. McClellan before Richmond, which was called off by the Seven Days, and Grant before the same city and Petersburg, which he was able to hold due to his vast numerical superiority and his deep and thorough construction of earthworks protecting his lines.

His incessant firing and attacks on the Confederate works, and his seizure of Confederate supply lines, reduced Lee's army to one quarter the strength of his own, which meant that the Appomittax Campaign would differ greatly, in result, from the Overland Campaign.

Since Grant was willing to do this, and actually did do it, where McClellan lacked the foresight to construct earthworks, I deem him irreplaceable. No commander was able to destroy Lee in open battle, until Grant figured out how to wear him down to a nub and put him in a position, where he decided to surrender at Appomattox.
 

Similar threads

Top