Did Grant win the Civil War?

jackt62

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Atlanta wasn't sherman's goal. The AoT was.
Interesting observation that may not coincide with what actually played out. In Virginia, Grant clearly instructed Meade to go after the ANV, and not Richmond. Consequently, the AotP's flanking maneuvers were intended to get around Lee's flank in an effort to destroy that army. Yet in Georgia, Sherman's flanking movements around the AoT were a sort of a game of cat and mouse with the end goal of leading the AotT to Atlanta. The biggest proof of this is twofold. 1) The fall of Atlanta (and not the destruction of the AoT which of course was not accomplished by Sherman) was a major blow to the south and was perhaps a key factor in enabling Lincoln to be re-elected. 2) Sherman basically ignored the AoT after besting it in a series of battles around Atlanta; while Hood took the intact AoT in a retrograde movement to derange the W&A RR line and attempt an offensive into Tennessee and beyond, Sherman went in the opposite direction on his March through Georgia.

Clearly, the war in Georgia indicates that sometimes the seizure of an important enemy city was a critical goal for the Union.
 

Pat Answer

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Interesting observation that may not coincide with what actually played out. In Virginia, Grant clearly instructed Meade to go after the ANV, and not Richmond. Consequently, the AotP's flanking maneuvers were intended to get around Lee's flank in an effort to destroy that army. Yet in Georgia, Sherman's flanking movements around the AoT were a sort of a game of cat and mouse with the end goal of leading the AotT to Atlanta. The biggest proof of this is twofold. 1) The fall of Atlanta (and not the destruction of the AoT which of course was not accomplished by Sherman) was a major blow to the south and was perhaps a key factor in enabling Lincoln to be re-elected. 2) Sherman basically ignored the AoT after besting it in a series of battles around Atlanta; while Hood took the intact AoT in a retrograde movement to derange the W&A RR line and attempt an offensive into Tennessee and beyond, Sherman went in the opposite direction on his March through Georgia.

Clearly, the war in Georgia indicates that sometimes the seizure of an important enemy city was a critical goal for the Union.

Agreed. As is well known, "no battle plan survives contact with the enemy." As circumstances change, especially in a complicated mix of political and military opportunities and setbacks, smart generals adapt. Sometimes unexpected benefits come from deviations from "the plan."
 

jackt62

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I'm not sure Grant can be blamed for Hunter, Sigel, and Butler failing to execute their parts of the plan.
No he cannot. Grant was saddled with those mostly political generals, who had already demonstrated a level of mediocrity. But Grant had no choice in the matter. In any case, a field commander is directly responsible for their own operations; while Grant could lay out the overall strategy, it was up to the individuals to carry it out.
 

wausaubob

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Interesting observation that may not coincide with what actually played out. In Virginia, Grant clearly instructed Meade to go after the ANV, and not Richmond. Consequently, the AotP's flanking maneuvers were intended to get around Lee's flank in an effort to destroy that army. Yet in Georgia, Sherman's flanking movements around the AoT were a sort of a game of cat and mouse with the end goal of leading the AotT to Atlanta. The biggest proof of this is twofold. 1) The fall of Atlanta (and not the destruction of the AoT which of course was not accomplished by Sherman) was a major blow to the south and was perhaps a key factor in enabling Lincoln to be re-elected. 2) Sherman basically ignored the AoT after besting it in a series of battles around Atlanta; while Hood took the intact AoT in a retrograde movement to derange the W&A RR line and attempt an offensive into Tennessee and beyond, Sherman went in the opposite direction on his March through Georgia.

Clearly, the war in Georgia indicates that sometimes the seizure of an important enemy city was a critical goal for the Union.
Grant never publicly criticized the President, even in his memoirs. But by August 1, 1864, the US was clearly destroying the economic means of the Confederacy. Sherman tore up the railroads east of Atlanta. Farragut closed Mobile Bay to blockade runners, allowing the US fleet to realign on Wilmington. Warren's force settled on the Weldon RR, and Hill's force was unable to drive them off of it.
Sheridan defeated Early in the valley, then chased away the Confederate rear guard, then began to destroy and consume everything in the valley that was near a usable road.
By the time Sherman captured the last railroad connecting Atlanta, the Confederates were not able to evacuate the locomotives, the rolling stock or the precious artillery ammunition. After Atlanta fell, there was very little mobile artillery left in any of the Confederate armies. They had no way to feed the horses necessary to pull the guns.
 

Leigh Cole

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I can't figure this out. If Grant was so bad, why oh why did he win the Civil War? Surely Lee must have had something to do about it?

I just realized that sounds harsh for our Southern friends. Lee was the best general, in a pitched fight? But how did Grant win?

It's like Lee gave it to him on a plate.

I think it was the body count.
I say he definitley did. Here is why. It was not really brilliant tactics in as much as he figured out how to let the South defeat itself. Simply stay close and don't let up. The constant attrition was something the North could afford and the South could not. But he also reorganized the Union army into the worlds most formidable fighting force at that time. He let Sheridan loose with his Cavalry Corps instead of treating the Cavalry as a second rate force. The destruction of the Shenandoah was no small thing. He turned Sherman loose in the west and off he goes and he will figure out the supply issues day by day. But all of these operations were designed to break the will of the people to fight. Some liken it to the American air campaign over Germany in World War 2. It was cruel, indifferent and it wrought much suffering on the homefront which affected the morale of the troops in the field. Grant figured all this out and inside of 18 months, the war was over. That was no coincidence.
 

unionblue

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The American Civil War was a long and violent struggle. In my opinion, the war was a process and Grant had the good fortune to be involved in the process at the end.
Timing is everything they say.

Up until Grant came along, no Union general was taking the long, the strategic view. He saw what needed to be done and Lincoln agreed with him.

Maybe, in your view, he came in late.

In my view, he came just in time.
 
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Hence why I said that I know that. But sherman's objection was the Confederate army, not Atlanta, much as Grant's was lee's army.
In a way this thread highlights the basic conundrum underlying the Confederate defeat. As much as I despise Bragg and his involvement in almost every significant defeat west of the Alleghaneys, I have to admit that behind everything was the malign hand of Jeff Davis.

In our adulation of Lee we forget that AS Johnson was just as highly regarded. The fact that he had to make the long trip to return from California puts him in command in the West not the East. He was hamstrung by Davis's insistance that everything must be defended, meant that nothing could be successfully defended. The rivers importance was ignored. New Orleans was not thoroughly protected. The Tennessee/Cumberland river systems ditto. His unwavering support of the "politically correct" Bragg was criminal. He lost an entire army insisting V'burg be defended. His vendetta against Johnston led to not just the capture of Atlanta but to the mauling of the army defending it.

You do not have to enter the world of fantasy to envision a world where Sherman captures the city and is left with the conundrum of what to do next. He is in an isolated position where Johnston can sever his supply lines or order Forrest to to do on the other side of the mountains. He can sit in Atlanta growing weaker day by day. If he tries to reach Savannah he has an army in his rear harrying him every step of the way. He can try for Mobile, freeing the POW's in Andersonville on the way. Only this weakens him even further as he can not forage with an intact army under Johnston harrying his footsteps. Perhaps the only successful strategy for the great Sherman is an ignominious retreat to Chattanooga.

But to get back to the main point. The vaunted Grant multi-pronged strategy had not perceivable effect. Lee's army was in no appreciable way diminished. If nothing else the Overland Campaign was over before anybody in Lee's army realized that anything outside of Va was even being threatened. And apart from Ga nothing successfully.
 

unionblue

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In a way this thread highlights the basic conundrum underlying the Confederate defeat. As much as I despise Bragg and his involvement in almost every significant defeat west of the Alleghaneys, I have to admit that behind everything was the malign hand of Jeff Davis.

In our adulation of Lee we forget that AS Johnson was just as highly regarded. The fact that he had to make the long trip to return from California puts him in command in the West not the East. He was hamstrung by Davis's insistance that everything must be defended, meant that nothing could be successfully defended. The rivers importance was ignored. New Orleans was not thoroughly protected. The Tennessee/Cumberland river systems ditto. His unwavering support of the "politically correct" Bragg was criminal. He lost an entire army insisting V'burg be defended. His vendetta against Johnston led to not just the capture of Atlanta but to the mauling of the army defending it.

You do not have to enter the world of fantasy to envision a world where Sherman captures the city and is left with the conundrum of what to do next. He is in an isolated position where Johnston can sever his supply lines or order Forrest to to do on the other side of the mountains. He can sit in Atlanta growing weaker day by day. If he tries to reach Savannah he has an army in his rear harrying him every step of the way. He can try for Mobile, freeing the POW's in Andersonville on the way. Only this weakens him even further as he can not forage with an intact army under Johnston harrying his footsteps. Perhaps the only successful strategy for the great Sherman is an ignominious retreat to Chattanooga.

But to get back to the main point. The vaunted Grant multi-pronged strategy had not perceivable effect. Lee's army was in no appreciable way diminished. If nothing else the Overland Campaign was over before anybody in Lee's army realized that anything outside of Va was even being threatened. And apart from Ga nothing successfully.
And yet...Grant took Lee's and his "no appreciable way diminished army" surrender.
 

JerryD

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Lee's army was in no appreciable way diminished.
Disagree wholeheartedly. It took Grant just 45 days to take an army that he was a stranger to, and that held resentments against him as an intruder from the West, to pin Lee against Vicksburg and deny Lee the ability to maneuver. Lee himself knew that once Grant pinned him down in Petersburg it was simply a matter of time until the war was lost.
 

Pat Answer

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I say he definitley did. Here is why. It was not really brilliant tactics in as much as he figured out how to let the South defeat itself. Simply stay close and don't let up. The constant attrition was something the North could afford and the South could not. But he also reorganized the Union army into the worlds most formidable fighting force at that time. He let Sheridan loose with his Cavalry Corps instead of treating the Cavalry as a second rate force. The destruction of the Shenandoah was no small thing. He turned Sherman loose in the west and off he goes and he will figure out the supply issues day by day. But all of these operations were designed to break the will of the people to fight. Some liken it to the American air campaign over Germany in World War 2. It was cruel, indifferent and it wrought much suffering on the homefront which affected the morale of the troops in the field. Grant figured all this out and inside of 18 months, the war was over. That was no coincidence.

Or, in other words, Grant did not win the war but the grand strategy he was given enough authority to set in motion and see through in the face of inevitable setbacks did. It wasn't pretty because... war. But as you said certainly not a coincidence that the end came on his watch, so to speak, as C-in-C.
 

Lubliner

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Just the strategy of Sherman's March across Georgia had to have been unpredictable. I haven't seen what Hood had counseled about whether Sherman would follow him when he headed west out of Atlanta. But the sheer fact of knowing the armies in the east were battling against armies, and not the city of Richmond would make a common belief Sherman would do the same by battling Hood. Does anyone know if the confederacy was duped by the Goergia strategy, and if so, for how long?
Lubliner.
 

leftyhunter

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los angeles ca
In a way this thread highlights the basic conundrum underlying the Confederate defeat. As much as I despise Bragg and his involvement in almost every significant defeat west of the Alleghaneys, I have to admit that behind everything was the malign hand of Jeff Davis.

In our adulation of Lee we forget that AS Johnson was just as highly regarded. The fact that he had to make the long trip to return from California puts him in command in the West not the East. He was hamstrung by Davis's insistance that everything must be defended, meant that nothing could be successfully defended. The rivers importance was ignored. New Orleans was not thoroughly protected. The Tennessee/Cumberland river systems ditto. His unwavering support of the "politically correct" Bragg was criminal. He lost an entire army insisting V'burg be defended. His vendetta against Johnston led to not just the capture of Atlanta but to the mauling of the army defending it.

You do not have to enter the world of fantasy to envision a world where Sherman captures the city and is left with the conundrum of what to do next. He is in an isolated position where Johnston can sever his supply lines or order Forrest to to do on the other side of the mountains. He can sit in Atlanta growing weaker day by day. If he tries to reach Savannah he has an army in his rear harrying him every step of the way. He can try for Mobile, freeing the POW's in Andersonville on the way. Only this weakens him even further as he can not forage with an intact army under Johnston harrying his footsteps. Perhaps the only successful strategy for the great Sherman is an ignominious retreat to Chattanooga.

But to get back to the main point. The vaunted Grant multi-pronged strategy had not perceivable effect. Lee's army was in no appreciable way diminished. If nothing else the Overland Campaign was over before anybody in Lee's army realized that anything outside of Va was even being threatened. And apart from Ga nothing successfully.
Not to argue Davis was infallible and never made mistakes but the Confedracy was doomed from day one. Civil Wars are not won when the smaller side despises forty percent of their own population. The smaller side is not likely to win without foreiegn intervention. A smaller side dependant on agricultural exports without a competent blue water navy and enslaving forty percent of it's population is and proved to be extremely vunarable.
Leftyhunter
 

wausaubob

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Grant adhered to the correct side in the war. He had been to Mexico, crossed the Isthmus of Panama and did his duty in California. He had a good idea, his wife's family notwithstanding, that there was no future in slavery. As he commented in his memoirs a person not raised in the slave system had virtually no chance to learn how to work it.
Grant's early work in Missouri, was extremely important to the US. It put Grant in the same group as Butler in Baltimore and McClellan in w Virginia. Rosecrans and eventually Burnside got in that group as well. In the west, Frank Blair's contributions were greatly appreciated.
Grant was younger than his Confederate counterpart. His marriage was stronger. He was a superb rider, which in the days before airial surveillance, was extremely important. And no one on the US army side was as good at working with naval officers and learning about the professionalism and pride of the navy.
Grant was extremely good at doing what the US administration requested to the best of his ability. That had to affect his persuasive power when the began to suggest it was time to do something different. Between January 1863 and 1874 Grant made few mistakes. The pluralistic society that included blacks, the Irish and German immigrants, and even some indigenous people emerged. Of course if you don't like that pluralistic society, you probably think that was a bad result.
 
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I can't figure this out. If Grant was so bad, why oh why did he win the Civil War? Surely Lee must have had something to do about it?

I just realized that sounds harsh for our Southern friends. Lee was the best general, in a pitched fight? But how did Grant win?

It's like Lee gave it to him on a plate.

I think it was the body count.
Grant threw a series of left flanking movements which kept Lee's forces engaged. It was simply a tactic of attrition. The North had men and supplies. The South didn't.
 

JerryD

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Grant threw a series of left flanking movements which kept Lee's forces engaged. It was simply a tactic of attrition. The North had men and supplies. The South didn't.
It certainly was not a tactic of attrition. Grant had and wanted to keep the initiative, to keep Lee on his heels, and to dictate the place and time of battle. The left flanking movements were intended to force Lee to interpose between Grant and Richmond, essentially dictating to Lee his movements, plus it gave him a secure supply line by the rivers that ran in that are back to the the Potomac.
 

Lubliner

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It certainly was not a tactic of attrition. Grant had and wanted to keep the initiative, to keep Lee on his heels, and to dictate the place and time of battle. The left flanking movements were intended to force Lee to interpose between Grant and Richmond, essentially dictating to Lee his movements, plus it gave him a secure supply line by the rivers that ran in that are back to the the Potomac.
That river system also helped remove the wounded. This helped morale immensely.
Lubliner.
 

wausaubob

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Grant won the war. The campaign that started after President Lincoln won re-election closed the war out in 5 1/4 months. The Confederacy ended up with no open ports, no railroad system, and two armies without sufficient logistical capability to continue fighting,
How did that happen?
Grant allowed Sherman to march through Georgia, knowing Sherman had more than one point where he could contact the US navy. The navy and the US logistical system was ready for the contact.
Schofield had command of the Army of the Ohio and he successfully delivered a crippling defense to the desperate Confederates. Grant and Stanton harassed Thomas in Nashville, but it was all just words. Thomas and Wilson crushed the Confederate army which barely made it back to Mississippi.
Butler failed at Fort Fisher, and Grant had enough pull to get Butler relieved and Terry put in his place. Terry did not fail and Porter had enough faith in Terry to recommit to a much better directed operation to capture Fort Fisher. The fort and the city of Wilmington fell and war ended in three months.
Sheridan's cavalry was turned into a fighting force, which won at Five Forks and eventually got ahead of the Confederate retreat.
At the same time there were cavalry raids in North Carolina and Alabama. The Confederates had no place to hide. Jefferson Davis did not even make it out of the US.
Grant panicked a bit after the assassin murdered President Lincoln, but the fighting did not resume. Had the fighting resumed, not many Confederates would have survived. The nation was certainly not rational after the assassination.
The end was mercifully swift and victory complete. Another summer of fighting would have been expensive for the US and they may have conceded an armistice.
But another summer of fighting would have destroyed lives and ruined what was left of agriculture in the southern areas.
 
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