Perhaps not so much a problem of “text book wisdom” which would help anyone... maybe more a factor of having to previously struggled in one’s life which teaches invaluable lessons.I too think age was a factor not to be ignored in this discussion. But, IMO, not just age, but also ranking in graduating from West point , i.e., it seems to me, that the better Union commanders to come out of the war, were not in the highest percentile of graduates. It would seem being younger and not too weighted down with too much text book wisdoms, was not always a disadvantage, at least in the Union Army.
Lee lived a patrician life. Though the Lees weren’t wealthy at this time, his mother saw to it in his childhood through connections with the Virginia Gentry that he was brought up an aristocrat- and his new Custis relatives secured it. When you compare this to the childhood and upbringing of Grant who, while gaining an appointment to West Point, had to actually work with his hands for everything he gained, the differences are staggering.
I’ve always wondered why the “pull up your bootstraps” crowd show such a fondness for the aristocratically brought up Lee and such a dismissiveness for the guy who worked in a tannery as a child (Lee had “servants” to do that), physically chopped wood to sell and feed his family (Lee had servants to do that), and worked by winning battles his way up through the rats nest of northern army politics. Talk about using hard work to realize the American Dream.