- Jul 30, 2019
Well stated, OppnCoronet. I would add the following points:
1. Lee was appointed General in Chief on February 6, 1865 - he was still holding Richmond/Petersburg almost two months later when, as you note, he was forced out as a result of Five Forks.
2. The record does not support the argument that Lee "came close to lifting" the siege as a result of Early's operation. Grant did view the situation as being "grave", transferring the 6th Corps and redirecting the 19th Corps from LA (not in front of Richmond), BUT there is no indication that Grant ever considered abandoning the siege, not any indication Lee considered abandoning Richmond to join him. To the contrary, Lee advised Davis and Seddon that the sending Early to the Valley etc was hazardous to his position in front of Grant.
Agreed. Whenever I read attempts to denigrate Grant (the old 'mere attrition' canard, etc), I usually just shrug and go back to reading about the actual campaign. It really is a fantastic study in strategy, adaptation, mistakes, near-run events, ferocity, and brilliance - all in the limelight as the Heavyweight Championship bout of the War.
It's a incredible campaign to study, and it denigrates both commanders to employ cartoon caricature to either.