Did Grant win the Civil War?

Dead Parrott

Sergeant
Joined
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.
 

American87

Sergeant
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Location
PENNSYLVANIA
So the old 'I was only following orders' defense? Did Lee try to talk Davis out of consigning the ANV to certain immolation?

I think Lee's first strategic move was to reappoint Retreaten' Joe Johnston to active command of the South's remaining army. Lee pulled out of Petersburg and Richmond when he did, because Grant made him, not because he wanted to. Sheridan had turned Lee's flank at Five Forks, forcing Lee to retreat immediately, rather than later as he planned.

Are you comparing Lee following his Commander-in-Chief's order to the Holocaust? Or are you arguing that it is always optional for military subordinates to pick and choose which orders to follow? In either event, your comment hardly deserves a place anywhere near a serious discussion.

And no, Lee wanted to abandon Petersburg and Richmond as soon as he was given the authority to make his own strategic decisions. That is why he attacked Fort Stedman: to distract the Union army while he evacuated his position and moved west, then south.

The attack failed in this regard, however, and Lee's strategy was deferred, until of course, then, Sheridan captured Five Forks, compelling an immediate evacuation.
 

American87

Sergeant
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PENNSYLVANIA
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.

As you noted, Grant was compelled to detach a corps to defend Washington. The reason he did not have to detach more, to the extent of possibly bringing the Army of the Potomac back to Washington, is because Early was delayed by the Battle of Monocacy, and therefore failed to capture the defenseless city before the VI Corps arrived.

Had early captured the city, filling its defenses with his soldiers, and taking Lincoln and other dignitaries prisoner, there would almost certainly have been a drastic change in Grant's operations.
 

Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
Ok, but it sounds like he had a choice after hostilities ended. He could remain bitter in defeat or he could be conciliatory. I can see why some would see him as a traitor, but I don’t think that matters or is indicative of his character. Did he not do the right thing by “sticking with the blacks?” If it was a choice between keeping an allegiance to a cause that had ended due to the war having ended and aiding the newly emancipated then he did the moral thing. Or are you arguing something else?

Deeds can definitely be both righteous and self-seeking, I agree. Can you point me to where Longstreet exhibited these traits post-war?

How did he betray the cause and why did the Confederate generation loathe him? Just because he helped free blacks and became Republican?
Longstreet said some things about General Lee that he shouldn’t have in a 1866 news paper.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
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Location
los angeles ca
I am not sure what McClellan would have done, and will wait for someone that knows more to answer that. But I honestly don't believe anyone could match Lincoln's will, and perseverance for maintaining the Union at all costs. I think McClellan would have conceded.
Lubliner.
McCelllan made it abundantly clear in his letter accepting the 1864 Democratic Party nomination for President that he would not accept an independent Confedrate nation. By the time McCelllan would of been inagureated in March 1865 the Confedracy was basically defeated.
Leftyhunter
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
His subordinates including engineering, quartermaster officers played a big if largely overlooked role in his success and I don't mean that as a slight on Grant.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
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Location
los angeles ca
I am not sure what McClellan would have done, and will wait for someone that knows more to answer that. But I honestly don't believe anyone could match Lincoln's will, and perseverance for maintaining the Union at all costs. I think McClellan would have conceded.
Lubliner.
McCelllan made it abundantly clear in his letter accepting the 1864 Democratic Party nomination for President that he would not accept an independent Confedrate nation. By the time McCelllan would of been inagureated in March 1865 the Confedracy was basically defeated.
Leftyhunter
I just read the article and scholars state that Grant lost approximately 4k men at Cold Harbor vs Lee lost 6k men at Pickett's Charge. Neither battle did any good for their respective armies but Led who lost more lives for no gain is somehow not a butcher vs Grant his who lost less men.
Leftyhunter
 

jackt62

Captain
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Location
New York City
I just read the article and scholars state that Grant lost approximately 4k men at Cold Harbor vs Lee lost 6k men at Pickett's Charge. Neither battle did any good for their respective armies but Led who lost more lives for no gain is somehow not a butcher vs Grant his who lost less men.
My understanding is that Grant's total casualty count for the entirety of his command beginning with the AotT to the end of the war was less than the totality of Lee's casualty count for the entire period that Lee commanded (and percentage wise as well). But yes, Grant got tagged with that accusation and Lee did not. I suspect a lot has to do with the frustration that the northern press expressed with Grant during the Overland Campaign, while Lee has always benefited with a halo surrounding his Lost Cause reputation.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I am not sure what McClellan would have done, and will wait for someone that knows more to answer that. But I honestly don't believe anyone could match Lincoln's will, and perseverance for maintaining the Union at all costs. I think McClellan would have conceded.
Lubliner.
McCelllan made it abundantly clear in his letter accepting the 1864 Democratic Party nomination for President that he would not accept an independent Confedrate nation. By the time McCelllan would of been inagureated in March 1865 the Confedracy was basically defeated.
Leftyhunter
I just read the article and scholars state that Grant lost approximately 4k men at Cold Harbor vs Lee lost 6k men at Pickett's Charge. Neither battle did any good for their respective armies but Led who lost more lives for no gain is somehow not a butcher vs Grant his who lost less men.
Leftyhunter
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
And no, Lee wanted to abandon Petersburg and Richmond as soon as he was given the authority to make his own strategic decisions. That is why he attacked Fort Stedman: to distract the Union army while he evacuated his position and moved west, then south.
That's not what Lee told Davis in his March 26 Report. The idea of the attack on Fort Stedman was to force Grant to contract his lines so that Lee could "hold our position with a portion of the troops and with a select body unite with General Johnston and give him [Sherman, who was approaching] battle." Lee reported to Davis that he did not think he could hold his position if Sherman joined forces with Grant (which appeared very likely), but still did not take steps to prepare for abandoning Richmond until April 1.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
As you noted, Grant was compelled to detach a corps to defend Washington. The reason he did not have to detach more, to the extent of possibly bringing the Army of the Potomac back to Washington, is because Early was delayed by the Battle of Monocacy, and therefore failed to capture the defenseless city before the VI Corps arrived.

Had early captured the city, filling its defenses with his soldiers, and taking Lincoln and other dignitaries prisoner, there would almost certainly have been a drastic change in Grant's operations.
But Grant was of the view that once Wallace delayed early at Monocacy and once the VI and XIX Corp had been sent to Washington, the threat was over; i.e., they would be able to contain Early. Grant never loosened his grip on Lee and Richmond/Petersburg. I'm not saying that Lee's strategy was ill-founded; only that there is no indication that it adversely impacted Grant's continued strategy of pinning Lee to the cities and sidling to the west/southwest.
 

American87

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Location
PENNSYLVANIA
That's not what Lee told Davis in his March 26 Report. The idea of the attack on Fort Stedman was to force Grant to contract his lines so that Lee could "hold our position with a portion of the troops and with a select body unite with General Johnston and give him [Sherman, who was approaching] battle." Lee reported to Davis that he did not think he could hold his position if Sherman joined forces with Grant (which appeared very likely), but still did not take steps to prepare for abandoning Richmond until April 1.

So basically everything I said was true, except that instead of marching with his whole army, Lee only wanted to detach part of it to join Johnston. And that's if your quote is accurate. From what I remember, Lee wanted to move his whole army.
 

American87

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But Grant was of the view that once Wallace delayed early at Monocacy and once the VI and XIX Corp had been sent to Washington, the threat was over; i.e., they would be able to contain Early. Grant never loosened his grip on Lee and Richmond/Petersburg. I'm not saying that Lee's strategy was ill-founded; only that there is no indication that it adversely impacted Grant's continued strategy of pinning Lee to the cities and sidling to the west/southwest.

Yes, of course, that is how it played out.

But it only played out that way because Wallace delayed Early at Monocacy. It was a lucky break for the Union, which was aided by Wallace going out to meet Early.

Had Early arrived in D.C. before the VI Corps, and filed his men into the city's defenses, and taken Lincoln and other dignities prisoner, as Lee essentially planned when he first dispatched Early, then it is almost certain, imo, that Grant would have had to make serious and drastic alterations to his operations around Petersburg.
 

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
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Location
Laurinburg NC
AFAIK he was a respected general during the war. Others here have said that he disparaged Lee. Was this enough to ruin his legacy…and is that fair to him as a man?
AFAIK he was a respected general during the war. Others here have said that he disparaged Lee. Was this enough to ruin his legacy…and is that fair to him as a man?
It wasn't just the disparagement of Lee, There was the collaboration with the occupation forces during Radical Reconstruction. You could say Longstreet was his own worse enemy during the post-war years.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
So basically everything I said was true, except that instead of marching with his whole army, Lee only wanted to detach part of it to join Johnston. And that's if your quote is accurate. From what I remember, Lee wanted to move his whole army.
No, you argued that, from the moment Lee was appointed GiC, he wanted to abandon Richmond. Yet, Lee was appointed GiC on February 9, but he took no action to abandon Richmond until early April. You then argued that his attack on Fort Stedman showed he wanted to abandon Richmond. That attack did not occur until March 25, and appears mostly prompted by Sherman's march north. Lee's March 26 report to Davis shows that the goal of the attack was not to abandon Richmond, but to allow a portion of his army to join Johnston and defeat Sherman, while the remainder continued to hold Grant in the trenches before Richmond. Lee even told Davis that "if successful, [he] would then be able to return to my position . . . ." (emphasis added). The point is that, contrary to your argument to OpnCoronet, Lee was not pushing to abandon Richmond. He knew what that signaled for the Confederacy. And that is the brilliance of the Overland Campaign, whether you call it attrition, maneuver or a whatever: Grant succeeded in largely depriving Lee of the initiative and pinning him to a siege.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
Yes, of course, that is how it played out.

But it only played out that way because Wallace delayed Early at Monocacy. It was a lucky break for the Union, which was aided by Wallace going out to meet Early.

Had Early arrived in D.C. before the VI Corps, and filed his men into the city's defenses, and taken Lincoln and other dignities prisoner, as Lee essentially planned when he first dispatched Early, then it is almost certain, imo, that Grant would have had to make serious and drastic alterations to his operations around Petersburg.
I agree it was an audacious plan, and we can all hypothesize what could have happened had Lew Wallace failed to engage. But the fact remains that nothing in the raid ultimately caused Grant to loosen his grip on Richmond/Petersburg. The XIX Corps was coming from Louisiana and was not in the trenches. While the VI Corps did leave the trenches, there is no evidence that Lee was able to use this departure to any material effect along the lines. Grant said that he thought that the only day where there was any real risk to DC was July 10, but Early did not marshall an attack until the 12th, by which time the VI and XIX Corps had arrived. Tellingly, after Early retreated from DC, Grant did not order those troops to return to the siege lines, but instead sent them into the Valley, ultimately realizing the strategy he had envisoned Sigel/Hunter to deploy back in May. All the while, he continued to extend his lines and threaten Lee's right. Again, I'm not saying that Early's raid was a bad plan, it just didn't have the level of impact on the siege that your comment suggested. Call it by whatever name you want, but Grant's 1864 campaign succeeded in pinning Lee down and depriving him of his most valued resource - large scale operational manouverability.
 

American87

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No, you argued that, from the moment Lee was appointed GiC, he wanted to abandon Richmond. Yet, Lee was appointed GiC on February 9, but he took no action to abandon Richmond until early April. You then argued that his attack on Fort Stedman showed he wanted to abandon Richmond. That attack did not occur until March 25, and appears mostly prompted by Sherman's march north. Lee's March 26 report to Davis shows that the goal of the attack was not to abandon Richmond, but to allow a portion of his army to join Johnston and defeat Sherman, while the remainder continued to hold Grant in the trenches before Richmond. Lee even told Davis that "if successful, [he] would then be able to return to my position . . . ." (emphasis added). The point is that, contrary to your argument to OpnCoronet, Lee was not pushing to abandon Richmond. He knew what that signaled for the Confederacy. And that is the brilliance of the Overland Campaign, whether you call it attrition, maneuver or a whatever: Grant succeeded in largely depriving Lee of the initiative and pinning him to a siege.

Ahh, gotcha, thank you for the clarification of Lee's timeline on wanting to detach troops to Johnston.
 
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