Did Grant win the Civil War?

American87

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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.

You are misunderstanding my argument. I never said Early invasion had the precise intent Lee wanted it to have. I said the exact opposite.

You are describing what happened, saying that Lee's plan had no ability to to alter Grant's operations. And your argument is based on what actually took place.

What I am saying is that Lee planned for Early to take Washington, or at least threaten it as much as possible. Had Early taken Washington D.C., filed his troops into its defenses, and taken Lincoln and other dignities prisoner, then it would have forced Grant to make drastic changes to his operations around Richmond. You disagree. You think Grant would have ignored the whole thing or at least have let Early have a field day in the U.S. capital. That is your opinion, but mine is that Lee's plan, if executed as planned, would have had a drastic effect on Grant's operations.

And you are wrong to say that Lee was unable to make any "large scale operational maneuverability" in 1864. Early's invasion and Valley Campaign prove that.
 
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Jantzen64

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Aug 10, 2019
You are misunderstanding my argument. I never said Early invasion had the precise intent Lee wanted it to have. I said the exact opposite.

You are describing what happened, saying that Lee's plan had no ability to to alter Grant's operations. And your argument is based on what actually took place.

What I am saying is that Lee planned for Early to take Washington, or at least threaten it as much as possible. Had Early taken Washington D.C., filed his troops into its defenses, and taken Lincoln and other dignities prisoner, then it would have forced Grant to make drastic changes to his operations around Richmond. You disagree. You think Grant would have ignored the whole thing or at least have let Early have a field day in the U.S. capital. That is your opinion, but mine is that Lee's plan, if executed as planned, would have had a drastic effect on Grant's operations.

And you are wrong to say that Lee was unable to make any "large scale operational maneuverability" in 1864. Early's invasion and Valley Campaign prove that.
We may be talking past each other; I don't think that Lee's plan had no chance to alter Grant's operations. And in fact, many commentators/historians believe that it moderated and/or delayed Grant's timeline of operations intended to force the issue in front of Richmond/Petersburg. See, e.g., Porter, p. 237. What it DIDN'T do, however, was force Grant to let up on the siege altogether or offer battle to Lee in a manner that would have broken the siege. (Note that, in Lee's report to Seddon on July 19, he stated that one purpose of sending Early on the raid was to "compel [Grant] to either weaken himself so much for their protection as to afford us the opportunity to attack him, or that he might be induced to attack us."). And because it didn't cause Grant to lift the siege, Grant succeeded in pinning Lee down, allowing Sheridan in the Valley and Sherman in Georgia/Carolinas to effectively gut the Confederacy - to use Lincoln's saying: "those who aren't skinning can at least hold a leg . . . " To the point of the original post - you can call Grant's strategy "attrition" or whatever name you like- but it ended the war by keeping Lee from doing what Lee was best at - using his operational manouverability on a large scale (not just 14,000 men) to disrupt the Union's plans and preventing the Union from holding onto any gains in the East (Early's raid, btw, while undertaken with energy and decent planning, simply did not have enough power behind it as compared to the invasions of 1862 and 1863 where the entire AoNVa was involved.)
 

American87

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We may be talking past each other; I don't think that Lee's plan had no chance to alter Grant's operations. And in fact, many commentators/historians believe that it moderated and/or delayed Grant's timeline of operations intended to force the issue in front of Richmond/Petersburg. See, e.g., Porter, p. 237. What it DIDN'T do, however, was force Grant to let up on the siege altogether or offer battle to Lee in a manner that would have broken the siege. (Note that, in Lee's report to Seddon on July 19, he stated that one purpose of sending Early on the raid was to "compel [Grant] to either weaken himself so much for their protection as to afford us the opportunity to attack him, or that he might be induced to attack us."). And because it didn't cause Grant to lift the siege, Grant succeeded in pinning Lee down, allowing Sheridan in the Valley and Sherman in Georgia/Carolinas to effectively gut the Confederacy - to use Lincoln's saying: "those who aren't skinning can at least hold a leg . . . " To the point of the original post - you can call Grant's strategy "attrition" or whatever name you like- but it ended the war by keeping Lee from doing what Lee was best at - using his operational manouverability on a large scale (not just 14,000 men) to disrupt the Union's plans and preventing the Union from holding onto any gains in the East (Early's raid, btw, while undertaken with energy and decent planning, simply did not have enough power behind it as compared to the invasions of 1862 and 1863 where the entire AoNVa was involved.)

I agree that Early invasion, as it played out, had no material effect on Grant's operations around Petersburg. I've always said that. He just used less troops, but so did Lee, so it was a wash.

The original point of my argument, which you responded to, was that Early's invasion did not go as Lee planned, and had it gone as planned, it would have had a drastic effect on Grant's operations around Petersburg. Perhaps it would have compelled him to assault Lee's works, in an attempt to clean out Lee and move to secure Washington, or perhaps he may have detached part, a large part maybe, or all of the Army of the Potomac to Washington to retake the city. That was my point all along. And if you disagree fine, but I think it is a reasonable conclusion.

And Early's invasion was a large scale operational maneuver, in that in involved the detachments of corps from both the ANV and the AoP. And it also led to a separate, almost independent campaign, in the Valley, the result of which most likely had a huge effect on Northern morale going into the presidential election.

And yes I do consider The Siege of Petersburg attrition. That was Grant's plan from the outset. It served him well, as I stated in another post, but it certainly was attrition.

And I disagree that Early's invasion was not powerful enough. Had he not been delayed by the Battle of Monocacy, he would have taken Washington and filed his men into its defenses before the Union VI Corps arrived. Had that been the case, the power of Early's men would have been magnified, by a lot, by the strength of the Washington fortifications. It very well could have forced Grant to detach even more troops, perhaps even the whole AoP in a worst case scenario, or it could have forced Grant into a rash attack against Lee's works, in an attempt to bag Lee so that he could concentrate his forces on retaking Washington.
 

OpnCoronet

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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.
My point was that the relationship of a General and his superiors is a two way street. It is not just a a matter of silently receiving orders and following them blindly. Lee was in a losing position at Petersburg, but did he at least inform Davis that tis was so?

Trying to glean significance from anything that never happened, is another of those exercises in futility, because anything can be extrapolated from facts that do not and never existed. I do not say that such exercises do not have some use in the studying of history, only that it is not very fruitful in the study of history to get too deeply involved in trying to read much importance in its results.
 

American87

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My point was that the relationship of a General and his superiors is a two way street. It is not just a a matter of silently receiving orders and following them blindly. Lee was in a losing position at Petersburg, but did he at least inform Davis that tis was so?

Trying to glean significance from anything that never happened, is another of those exercises in futility, because anything can be extrapolated from facts that do not and never existed. I do not say that such exercises do not have some use in the studying of history, only that it is not very fruitful in the study of history to get too deeply involved in trying to read much importance in its results.

Jantzen64 already straightened out the timeline of Lee wanting to detach troops from Petersburg to join with Johnston. At least according to his source.

As to you last part, I'm not sure what you're talking about. What is an "exercise in futility" that you are specifically referring to?
 

OpnCoronet

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Jantzen64 already straightened out the timeline of Lee wanting to detach troops from Petersburg to join with Johnston. At least according to his source.

As to you last part, I'm not sure what you're talking about. What is an "exercise in futility" that you are specifically referring to?
Specifically in this case, if What If Early had not been delayed, what if he had taken Washington D.C., or if Lincoln had been captured, etc., etc., etc., etcl, and so on. A endless line of historical what ifs can be extrapolated from any of them, that might lead to interesting speculations, but would be historically sterile.
 

American87

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Specifically in this case, if What If Early had not been delayed, what if he had taken Washington D.C., or if Lincoln had been captured, etc., etc., etc., etcl, and so on. A endless line of historical what ifs can be extrapolated from any of them, that might lead to interesting speculations, but would be historically sterile.

We can make reasonable conclusions based on common sense. For example what if Early captured Washington, D.C., filed his men into its defenses, and took Lincoln and other dignitaries prisoner? The reasonable conclusion, imo, would be that Grant would drastically alter his operations in front of Petersburg.

It is surely more ridiculous to say that, had Early accomplished those things, we have no idea whatsoever of what would happen. Of course we do. Grant would respond, imo.

It's like saying, "What if the South won every battle and conquered the North and Britain and France joined on the side of the Confederacy?" Surely we can conclude, with a reasonable amount of assurance, that the South would have seceded. Of course this example is more radical than the first, and I am only making it to prove a point. But the example about early is well within the bounds of sound reasoning.
 

jackt62

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And yes I do consider The Siege of Petersburg attrition. That was Grant's plan from the outset
This sounds like Grant's plan was to surround Petersburg and its besieged garrison and starve it into submission. In other words, following a conventional siege scenario with regular approaches to constrict the lines and eventually cause the defender to capitulate. That is more or less what occurred in Vicksburg, after the failure of Grant's 2 direct assaults at that place. But Petersburg may not be quite the same. Grant never abandoned the concept of attempting to quash the enemy with offensive assaults during the entire 9 month period. Although the initial assaults on Petersburg in June 1864 failed dismally, there were recurring attempts to break the lines or force the ANV to give up its perimeter from the Crater through battles at New Market Heights and Chaffins Bluff, and Five Forks, to name just a few of the major offensives. So I would disagree that Grant's plan was simply to wage a war of attrition, which would denote a more static type of engagement.
 

American87

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This sounds like Grant's plan was to surround Petersburg and its besieged garrison and starve it into submission. In other words, following a conventional siege scenario with regular approaches to constrict the lines and eventually cause the defender to capitulate. That is more or less what occurred in Vicksburg, after the failure of Grant's 2 direct assaults at that place. But Petersburg may not be quite the same. Grant never abandoned the concept of attempting to quash the enemy with offensive assaults during the entire 9 month period. Although the initial assaults on Petersburg in June 1864 failed dismally, there were recurring attempts to break the lines or force the ANV to give up its perimeter from the Crater through battles at New Market Heights and Chaffins Bluff, and Five Forks, to name just a few of the major offensives. So I would disagree that Grant's plan was simply to wage a war of attrition, which would denote a more static type of engagement.

Yes, Grant kept up an offensive, to wear down the Confederates, while also attacking and attempting to, and actually carrying their supply lines. That is attrition.

So he also launched other offenses. So what? That does not reduce the fact that his main strategy was one of attrition, i.e. occupying PETERSBURG to deprive Richmond and Lee's army of it's resources. Had Grant been 100% devoted to destroying the Confederates in the field, then he would have A.) Tried to maneuver them into the field, rather than focuses on Petersburg, and B.) He could have just ignored Petersburg altogether, never assuming the risk of Crossing the James, and Just have executed his "siege" or whatever you want to call it, while focusing entirely on Richmond.

As it was, he specifically targeted the strategic site of Petersburg because of attrition, i.e. departing Lee and his army and Richmond of supplies, and his entire campaign in front of Petersburg was devoted to cutting Lee's supplies while also exerting pressure against their defenses, to wear them out, and to possibly drive them from Petersburg, which result in the loss of base for Richmond and Lee's army. Perhaps he meant to destory Lee within his Petersburg defenses, but I've never read that. The first all-out assault he made after crossing the James, to take on or destroy Lee's whole army, seems to have been after Five Forks, when he knew Lee was finally deprived of all Rail communication from Petersburg.
 
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The purpose of the Overland Campaign was to either defeat Lee on the field of battle or to move between him and Richmond. This was a total failure.

As a result, Grant made an incredible gamble by making an amphibious move around Richmond to Petersburg pontoon bridges. At any point had Lee discovered his purpose he could have destroyed the AoP by attacking it in detail as well as using the CSA Navy to attack and destroy the pontoon bridges. Had he done so there is almost nothing that Grant could have done to prevent it.

As far as the C-in-C issue there is a basic difference between Lee And Grant. We tend to think of C-in-C as Marshall in WWII. While Lee may have nominally been C-in-C do you really believe that Jeff Davis would have pacively stood by and allowed Lee to reinstate Johnson after he had publically relieved him.

To compare, in WWII Omar Bradley, BY HIS OWN STANDARDS should have been relieved of command following the onset of the Battle of the Bulge. He was left in nominal command because his receipt of a 3rd star was so recent that taking it back would have called into question Marshall and FDR's judgement in granting it to him in the first place.

Grant on the other hand had proved his willingness to fight throughout the course of the Overland Campaign. As a result HE had noting to prove to his C-in-C. As long as he continued to press on to Richmond his job was safer than Ft Knos.
 

OpnCoronet

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This sounds like Grant's plan was to surround Petersburg and its besieged garrison and starve it into submission. In other words, following a conventional siege scenario with regular approaches to constrict the lines and eventually cause the defender to capitulate. That is more or less what occurred in Vicksburg, after the failure of Grant's 2 direct assaults at that place. But Petersburg may not be quite the same. Grant never abandoned the concept of attempting to quash the enemy with offensive assaults during the entire 9 month period. Although the initial assaults on Petersburg in June 1864 failed dismally, there were recurring attempts to break the lines or force the ANV to give up its perimeter from the Crater through battles at New Market Heights and Chaffins Bluff, and Five Forks, to name just a few of the major offensives. So I would disagree that Grant's plan was simply to wage a war of attrition, which would denote a more static type of engagement.
I agree, almost all great enterprises have some degree of attrition factored into them. This is even more so in military operations , where it is an important factor, even when in rear area camps and not actively engaged in any military operations at all.
 

Jantzen64

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I agree, almost all great enterprises have some degree of attrition factored into them. This is even more so in military operations , where it is an important factor, even when in rear area camps and not actively engaged in any military operations at all.
Yeah, I think one issue we're having is with the definition of the term "attrition." I have seen this term defined broadly, simply to differentiate it from a maneuver, quick strike strategy. But I've also seen it defined narrowly/specifically as throwing men into a meat grinder with the sole view of outlasting one's opponent because you have more men. In one sense - as you point out OpnCoronet - all warfare includes some degree of attrition and, in that broad sense, Grant was clearly using attrition in the Richmond/Petersburg siege to destroy Lee's logistic system and spread his lines thinly to achieve local numeric superiority. But in the narrow sense, there are too many orders from Grant counseling his lieutenants NOT to just throw men into the meat grinder - but to use them only where an advantage could be reasonably expected - to label Grant's strategy as pure attrition in that narrow sense.

The greatest consternation Lee caused during the war was when he was maneuvering freely, and although Grant failed to force a final set piece battle during the Overland Campaign, he realized that he was depriving Lee of that maneuverability. Even then, the operation over the James originally envisioned seizing a position that would have forced Lee to attack Grant - not attrition in that narrow sense. It was only after Butler and then Baldy Smith flubbed the attacks on Petersburg that Grant had to settle on "holding the leg" (including the broad notions of attrition of that strategy) while Sheridan and Sherman "did the skinning" by maneuvering through the Valley and in the Carolinas (and even then, he kept looking for ways to break the siege and force a pitched battle - e.g., the Mine).
 

Belfoured

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Yeah, I think one issue we're having is with the definition of the term "attrition." I have seen this term defined broadly, simply to differentiate it from a maneuver, quick strike strategy. But I've also seen it defined narrowly/specifically as throwing men into a meat grinder with the sole view of outlasting one's opponent because you have more men. In one sense - as you point out OpnCoronet - all warfare includes some degree of attrition and, in that broad sense, Grant was clearly using attrition in the Richmond/Petersburg siege to destroy Lee's logistic system and spread his lines thinly to achieve local numeric superiority. But in the narrow sense, there are too many orders from Grant counseling his lieutenants NOT to just throw men into the meat grinder - but to use them only where an advantage could be reasonably expected - to label Grant's strategy as pure attrition in that narrow sense.

The greatest consternation Lee caused during the war was when he was maneuvering freely, and although Grant failed to force a final set piece battle during the Overland Campaign, he realized that he was depriving Lee of that maneuverability. Even then, the operation over the James originally envisioned seizing a position that would have forced Lee to attack Grant - not attrition in that narrow sense. It was only after Butler and then Baldy Smith flubbed the attacks on Petersburg that Grant had to settle on "holding the leg" (including the broad notions of attrition of that strategy) while Sheridan and Sherman "did the skinning" by maneuvering through the Valley and in the Carolinas (and even then, he kept looking for ways to break the siege and force a pitched battle - e.g., the Mine).
All good points. To follow up, there is the distinction between "attrition" resulting from constant contact and "attrition" resulting from brute tactics. Warfare in that era - apart from sieges - was often a set-piece battle of 1-maybe 3 days followed by a prolonged period when the opponents weren't in contact. What changed was that in the Overland Campaign the armies were in contact almost every day for nearly 6 weeks. The only analogy that comes to mind in the ACW is the Seven Days, and that was limited to one week. The Atlanta Campaign might also fit, but that featured a lot of maneuver interspersed with occasional combat.
 

jackt62

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Trying to put Grant (or any other commander) into a tight box that defines their method of warfare is not very useful. It is probably a safe bet to say that Grant conducted operations by attrition, maneuvering, direct assaults, or a combination of these tactics at one time or another. Even the definitions of what constitutes say, attritional warfare, may be debated or may be confused with other tactics. Grant believed in an active type of warfare and was an innovator rather than a textbook general. Depending on circumstances, Grant shifted tactics, but always with an aggressive mindset.
 

OpnCoronet

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Yeah, I think one issue we're having is with the definition of the term "attrition." I have seen this term defined broadly, simply to differentiate it from a maneuver, quick strike strategy. But I've also seen it defined narrowly/specifically as throwing men into a meat grinder with the sole view of outlasting one's opponent because you have more men. In one sense - as you point out OpnCoronet - all warfare includes some degree of attrition and, in that broad sense, Grant was clearly using attrition in the Richmond/Petersburg siege to destroy Lee's logistic system and spread his lines thinly to achieve local numeric superiority. But in the narrow sense, there are too many orders from Grant counseling his lieutenants NOT to just throw men into the meat grinder - but to use them only where an advantage could be reasonably expected - to label Grant's strategy as pure attrition in that narrow sense.

The greatest consternation Lee caused during the war was when he was maneuvering freely, and although Grant failed to force a final set piece battle during the Overland Campaign, he realized that he was depriving Lee of that maneuverability. Even then, the operation over the James originally envisioned seizing a position that would have forced Lee to attack Grant - not attrition in that narrow sense. It was only after Butler and then Baldy Smith flubbed the attacks on Petersburg that Grant had to settle on "holding the leg" (including the broad notions of attrition of that strategy) while Sheridan and Sherman "did the skinning" by maneuvering through the Valley and in the Carolinas (and even then, he kept looking for ways to break the siege and force a pitched battle - e.g., the Mine).
I agree and, I think it necessary to make the distinctions you, et. al., have made.

If you have been on this board for any length of time, you will see that there is school of though presented by some poster that reflect one of the articles of faith present in the so called Lost Cause myth, to wit, that the Southern armies were not actually defeated, but, were only Overwhelmed by the use of the North's limitless manpower to drown the South under a mass of Union bodies, otherwise there was no other way the southern armies could have been defeated.

The South and General Lee were not above sacrificing lives to achieve their goals, after all Malvern Hill, Pickett's Charge, or Franklin were Southern battle of Attrition.
 

American87

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Trying to put Grant (or any other commander) into a tight box that defines their method of warfare is not very useful. It is probably a safe bet to say that Grant conducted operations by attrition, maneuvering, direct assaults, or a combination of these tactics at one time or another. Even the definitions of what constitutes say, attritional warfare, may be debated or may be confused with other tactics. Grant believed in an active type of warfare and was an innovator rather than a textbook general. Depending on circumstances, Grant shifted tactics, but always with an aggressive mindset.

Grant put himself into a box for us:

"Second, to hammer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his resources, until by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be left to him but an equal submission with the loyal section of our common country to the constitution and laws of the land."

-Grant's report as Lieutenant General, 5th paragraph.

So all of Grant's "aggressiveness," as you say, was directed towards attitrution. That was his one goal during the Siege of Petersburg.

A victory in the field would have been just as good, he seems to say, but he never made that attempt after crossing the James.
 

OpnCoronet

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Grant put himself into a box for us:

"Second, to hammer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his resources, until by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be left to him but an equal submission with the loyal section of our common country to the constitution and laws of the land."

-Grant's report as Lieutenant General, 5th paragraph.

So all of Grant's "aggressiveness," as you say, was directed towards attitrution. That was his one goal during the Siege of Petersburg.

A victory in the field would have been just as good, he seems to say, but he never made that attempt after crossing the James.
Grant was doing exactly what he had been doing before crossing the James. Get around Lee's flank and position his army across his supply lines and force Lee to retreat or fight for line of communications and supplies, and, that was exactly how he ended the siege at Petersburg and coincidentally brought Lee to the surrender table. Which was the whole point of his campaign in the first place and, he did it in slightly less than a year after beginning his campaign.
 

American87

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Grant was doing exactly what he had been doing before crossing the James. Get around Lee's flank and position his army across his supply lines and force Lee to retreat or fight for line of communications and supplies, and, that was exactly how he ended the siege at Petersburg and coincidentally brought Lee to the surrender table. Which was the whole point of his campaign in the first place and, he did it in slightly less than a year after beginning his campaign.

No, Grant's objective, when he first crossed the Rapidan, as you know, was to "find Lee's army and destroy it." Those were his orders to Meade.

His campaign of attrition, which began after crossing the James, was his back-up plan, as he stated in his report,

"Second, to hammer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his resources, until by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be left to him but an equal submission with the loyal section of our common country to the constitution and laws of the land."
-Grant's report as Lieutenant General, 5th paragraph.

So Grant's original plan having failed, in the Overland Campaign, he had to shift strategy and focus on depriving Lee of his base of supplies, which was essentially Petersburg.

Grant did an able job, perhaps taking longer than expected and hoped, but finished nonetheless.
 

jesse_james

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I think they can both be excellent commanders in the same universe. Although its hard to believe Lee would ever have put Dan Butterfield in such a position of power that he could bungle his presidency- that's a Mr. F.J. Hooker move.

It would be almost impossible for anyone to effectively manage the giant, fat, corrupt federal government in the aftermath of the Civil War. I doubt Lee would have avoided making faulty appointments, among the thousands that needed to be made.

Grant certainly was a great military leader. He, however, was called “The Butcherer” for a reason. At Cold Harbor he sacrificed a lot of his men to achieve victory. He was a failure in many things in life, but he certainly won the war for the Union.

Did any other Generals do anything like what Grant did at Cold Harbor? I can think of a few...

And Lee was still an offensive threat after the Overland Campaign. Very much so. See Jubal Early and Fort Stedman.

Both of those evoke how very much Lee had been neutered. Lee still had his mind and his penchant for brilliant maneuvers. But he lacked the men, resources, and spirit to actually exploit any attack. Stedman was a disaster after all and Early got crushed. Those were dying gasps, not potent threats, and that's what Grant did to the AoNV.
 

trice

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No, Grant's objective, when he first crossed the Rapidan, as you know, was to "find Lee's army and destroy it." Those were his orders to Meade.

His campaign of attrition, which began after crossing the James, was his back-up plan, as he stated in his report,

"Second, to hammer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his resources, until by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be left to him but an equal submission with the loyal section of our common country to the constitution and laws of the land."
-Grant's report as Lieutenant General, 5th paragraph.

So Grant's original plan having failed, in the Overland Campaign, he had to shift strategy and focus on depriving Lee of his base of supplies, which was essentially Petersburg.

Grant did an able job, perhaps taking longer than expected and hoped, but finished nonetheless.
With all due respect, you can only make assumptions like this by ignoring most of what Grant actually says in that report.

You appear to be quoting from the Report of Lieut. Gen. U.S. Grant, U.S. Army, Commanding Armies of the United States, Of Operations March, 1864 - May, 1865 which was sent on July 22, 1865 to E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War. Here are the first five paragraphs, with the part you are quoting in light blue text. Looks like it is actually the 4th paragraph if this is the document and it appears to be part of a sentence instead of a complete sentence. The "first" part of the sentence is in underlined bold text.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the armies of the United States from the date of my appointment to command the same:
From an early period in the rebellion I had been impressed with the idea that active and continuous operations of all the troops that could be brought into the field, regardless of season and weather, were necessary to a speedy termination of the war. The resources of the enemy and his numerical strength were far inferior to ours; but as an offset to this, we had a vast territory, with a population hostile to the Government, to garrison, and long lines of river and railroad communications to protect, to enable us to supply the operating armies.
The armies in the East and West acted independently and without concert, like a balky team, no two ever pulling together, enabling the enemy to use to great advantage his interior lines of communication for transporting troops from east to west, re-enforcing the army most vigorously pressed, and to furlough large numbers, during seasons of inactivity on our part, to go to their homes and do the work of producing for the support of their armies. It was a question whether our numerical strength and resources were not more than balanced by these disadvantages and the enemy's superior position.
From the first, I was firm in the conviction that no peace could be had that would be stable and conducive to the happiness of the people, both North and South, until the military power of the rebellion was entirely broken. I therefore determined, first, to use the greatest number of troops practicable against the armed force of the enemy, preventing him from using the same force at different seasons against first one and then another of our armies, and the possibility of repose for refitting and producing necessary supplies for carrying on resistance; second, to hammer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his resources, until by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be nothing left to him but an equal submission with the loyal section of our common country to the constitution and laws of the land. These views have been kept constantly in mind, and orders given and campaigns made to carry them out. Whether they might have been better in conception and execution is for the people, who mourn the loss of friends fallen and who have to pay the pecuniary cost, to say. All I can say is, that what I have done has been done conscientiously, to the best of my ability, and in what I conceived to be for the best interests of the whole country.

None of that says anything at all about Grant losing his aggressiveness. He continued to be aggressive from the first to the last. You seem to want to see only the tiniest portion of what was said and done so you can fit it into your conception. When he reached Petersburg, Grant realized his Virginia troops were exhausted for the moment. They needed rest and refit before the campaign could be continued with the AoP.

What you miss is that Grant does not command the AoP. Grant commands the combined Army of the United States. Grant commands Sherman and Banks and many others. Grant commands ===ALL=== of the others. When he decides to change to ***greater*** emphasis on the offensive on other fronts, Grant is still being aggressive, still pushing the enemy -- and he pursues a very active siege in Virginia to keep the pressure on Lee and assist his other commanders.
 
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