Grant - America’s Most Reconsidered General

diane

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...it's still my contention that 'Lyss could be a vindictive S O B, especially when he had been "upstaged" by someone ( especially when that someone was or had been his subordinate ), like McClernand here and Rosecrans at Corinth.

I've read a couple places detailing similarities between Lee and Grant, despite how different they seem at first. And it's kind of an eye-opener! One thing - both are considered genuinely modest men and that's so, but neither was an aw-shucks kind of guy. They were ambitious and they knew what they could do. Both removed, in their own subtle ways, people who were obstacles, and not all of it was for the good of the service!
 
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I've read a number of biographies of the WWII U.S. generals who came up in the Army's schools system established after 1908. Central to the War College and other post graduate programs were the staff rides on Civil War battlefields. The officers often wrote up critiques and I can't help but wonder how views of Grant and other CW leaders might have shifted in that process. These men were born in the 1880s and 1890s and came up with candles burning in front of portraits of Jackson, Lee, et al. ISTM that we see Grant's genes in the campaigns of Europe more than Lee's. Ike's quote from above might support my view. On one hand you have academics analyzing military matters based on the evidence. On the other hand you have military men bring their practical experience to the discussion. I can't help but compare Grant's "dust covered man" (Foote) with Ike meeting with the paratroopers on June 5.

Wouldn't you love to be in the room as three and four star generals of 1945 kill a couple of bottles and take these issues apart.
 

jgoodguy

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I DO disagree with that - It's been speculated that BOTH Grant AND Stonewall Jackson might not have come off nearly as well historically if they had faced really top-level opponents: Jackson - Schenck/Milroy? Banks? Fremont? Pope? ( I'm only considering actions where Jackson was in independent command, not part of Lee's larger army. ) Grant - Polk? Floyd? Pillow? Buckner? Pemberton? Bragg? ( Ditto Grant before '64. ) ALL certified LOSERS! The questionable pair would possibly be A.S. Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard at Shiloh, and there has been MUCH debate about both of them.

Add Lee to that list. It was on the job training for all.
 

diane

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That's an interesting prospect - did Jackson/Lee/Forrest/etc ever really meet their match? Lee and Grant I think did. Grant beat Lee but he had to pack a lunch! Jackson may not have had a match. He was very unique. Did Napoleon ever meet his match, or was he finally done in by everybody in Europe ganging up on him? He figured it was the British navy - he was likely right. In short, he was the one and only!
 

James N.

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Add Lee to that list. It was on the job training for all.

Both Lee and especially A.S. Johnston had one advantage over the other field commanders ( obviously not counting Scott - he wasn't a field commander and was a "special case" all to himself ): They had commanded, even if briefly in Lee's case, Departments in the U.S. Army ( Texas, in Lee's case; California, in Johnston's ), and Johnston led the expedition against the rebellious Mormons, then the largest ever mounted. ( Others who had commanded departments, like David Twiggs, were too OLD to function as field commanders, along beside Scott. ) At least they'd had SOME OJT in handling large masses of men; Joe Johnston was jealous because he'd had a higher rank in the "Old Army", but it was a staff position, not commanding troops.
 

James N.

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...Did Napoleon ever meet his match, or was he finally done in by everybody in Europe ganging up on him? He figured it was the British navy - he was likely right. In short, he was the one and only!

During the twilight of Napoleon's Empire, the 1813 Campaign that culmnated in the Battle of the Nations/Leipzig and 1814 Campaign of France, the Allies ( Austria, Russia, Prussia, Sweden, and their satellites ) agreed to do their best to AVOID battles where Napoleon was in command in person, and concentrate on trying to "pick off" units under his Marshals like Ney and Macdonald. Generally this strategy worked to "whittle away" at French strength until they could mass in overwhelming numbers like at Liepzig. Waterloo was fought ( and lost ) as a "spoiling attack" by the Emperor hoping to defeat the individual allied armies separately before they could concentrate again. ( Basically the same idea as Grant in Mississippi and Jackson in the Shenandoah. )
 

NedBaldwin

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I DO disagree with that - It's been speculated that BOTH Grant AND Stonewall Jackson might not have come off nearly as well historically if they had faced really top-level opponents: Jackson - Schenck/Milroy? Banks? Fremont? Pope? ( I'm only considering actions where Jackson was in independent command, not part of Lee's larger army. ) Grant - Polk? Floyd? Pillow? Buckner? Pemberton? Bragg? ( Ditto Grant before '64. ) ALL certified LOSERS! The questionable pair would possibly be A.S. Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard at Shiloh, and there has been MUCH debate about both of them.

If Jackson had faced equal or close to equal numbers at Winchester he would have lost to Banks. Jackson won because he outnumbered Banks heavily. Jackson benefitted from the unity of command he had with Ewell and Ed Johnson and from the disunity on the US side.
 

Joshua Horn

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I DO disagree with that - It's been speculated that BOTH Grant AND Stonewall Jackson might not have come off nearly as well historically if they had faced really top-level opponents: Jackson - Schenck/Milroy? Banks? Fremont? Pope? ( I'm only considering actions where Jackson was in independent command, not part of Lee's larger army. ) Grant - Polk? Floyd? Pillow? Buckner? Pemberton? Bragg? ( Ditto Grant before '64. ) ALL certified LOSERS! The questionable pair would possibly be A.S. Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard at Shiloh, and there has been MUCH debate about both of them.

This is true for nearly any great Civil War victory - the loser played a part. But another point is that Lee, Jackson, etc may not have done what they chose to do if they had been facing different opponents. They often knew the men they were fighting, and so could decide how much to risk.
 

ForeverFree

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One thing I'd like to see one day is a comparative analysis of say the top 25-50 most notable officers from either side, and then rate them. It's easy to say that any one officer is good or bad in isolation. But a general who might seem ordinary when looked at individually might seem like a military genius compared to others.

My read on the rise of Grant to general in chief is that Lincoln thought that other people he tried were not up to the task. It seems Grant won the war of attrition in terms of "competing" with other officers for recognition of success and gaining promotion on account of that. In a bloody 4 year war, maybe that's as good as it gets. But I'd be interested to hear what the military experts think of that.

- Alan
 
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My read on the rise of Grant to general in chief is that Lincoln thought that other people he tried were not up to the task. It seems Grant won the war of attrition in terms of "competing" with other officers for recognition of success and gaining promotion on account of that. In a bloody 4 year war, maybe that's as good as it gets. But I'd be interested to hear what the military experts think of that.
I think Grant was like many other soldiers and citizen soldiers who just wanted to do a good job. He was strongly committed to the preservation of the Union, but moving up from clerk in his younger brother's tannery he had some things to prove to himself. His only ambition was to do a good job.
 

OpnCoronet

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I DO disagree with that - It's been speculated that BOTH Grant AND Stonewall Jackson might not have come off nearly as well historically if they had faced really top-level opponents: Jackson - Schenck/Milroy? Banks? Fremont? Pope? ( I'm only considering actions where Jackson was in independent command, not part of Lee's larger army. ) Grant - Polk? Floyd? Pillow? Buckner? Pemberton? Bragg? ( Ditto Grant before '64. ) ALL certified LOSERS! The questionable pair would possibly be A.S. Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard at Shiloh, and there has been MUCH debate about both of them.


You are correct, that is speculation. However, Grant's accomplishments are well documented.
 

BillO

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Oh but he did. In the AoP and the Army of the James he was stuck with generals with strong Republican constituencies. Some better choices could have made critical differences in the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg.
I suspect he did know quite well who had power in DC and who didn't. I also suspect that if he had wanted to transfer Butler he could have. I agree completely with your statement that better decisions could and should have been made we just don't seem to agree as to you made those decisions.
 
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