May CWRT Meeting May 2018: Joseph Rose, Grant Under Fire

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David Moore

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An
Of course, but they didn't. Grant did and that is the actual history of the war, not a what-if. You may espouse all the what-ifs your heart desires. The simple fact is that Grant did defeat all those Confederate Generals - not anyone else, he did capture whole three of the enemy's forces - and no one else did, he did accept Lee's surrender - and no one else did. He did all those things whether some coulda-shoulda-woulda might or might not have happened.
And perhaps too many Union soldiers died unnecessarily because of Grant being in command through political influence. This is not a new thought with me but was expressed during Grant’s lifetime. There must be a reason why historian Albert Castel said to write about Rosecrans would require courage. Toppling the accepted story is never easy.
 

Jimklag

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An

And perhaps too many Union soldiers died unnecessarily because of Grant being in command through political influence. This is not a new thought with me but was expressed during Grant’s lifetime. There must be a reason why historian Albert Castel said to write about Rosecrans would require courage. Toppling the accepted story is never easy.
Again, you may be right. But the plain simple fact is that Grant won where others didn't. His campaigns, with the exception of the pre-Vicksburg campaign, were not masterpieces of the military art. Even he was dissatisfied with some of his battles. Everything COULD have been better, but it wasn't. It happened the way it happened - not by playing what-ifs, not by calculating CEV's or whatever you call them, but on actual battlefields. Anything is possible, but I personally believe that neither Rosecrans, Buell, Halleck nor McClellan, could have done it any better.
 

Jimklag

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@David Moore , you and @67th Tigers and @Saphroneth should co-author an alternate history book like Newt Gingrigh's books. You guys could have any general that tickles your fancy be the hero of the war. You can have Grant and Sherman be losers. You can have McClellan win the presidency and Rosecrans rise to General-in-Chief if you want. I will stick to the real history of the war, as sloppy and as uncomfortable as it actually was. Wars are not neat, mathematical, linear events. In your alternate history, you can make it fit any statistical/analytical model you want, like @Saphroneth 's Trent War pipe dream.
 
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Cavalry Charger

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I do believe Grant may have strategized at different times to prevent a certain loss of life, but orders from Washington didn't allow him to do that. He was ordered to confront Lee head on in the final fight at Petersburg. Grant was a man following orders. Perhaps others may not have been as acquiescent as Grant in doing so. Some may have been more easily convinced by numbers the fight wasn't worth it. However you look at it, Grant was the man who ultimately helped win the war partially due to his sheer doggedness to do so. There was no alternative in his mind. And, of course, Lincoln himself recognized this and put it to full use. So, regardless of politics, or because of it, history determined that Grant was to be the man at the helm and his succcesses speak for themselves. That is not to denigrate any other man who fought ferociously and determinedly for the Union. There were many, but there was only one Grant. And, by whatever turn of events, he was the man chosen to lead the Union to victory.
 

OldReliable1862

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@David Moore , you and @67th Tigers and @Saphroneth should co-author an alternate history book like Newt Gingrigh's books. You guys could have any general that tickles your fancy be the hero of the war. You can have Grant and Sherman be losers. You can have McClellan win the presidency and Rosecrans rise to General-in-Chief if you want. I will stick to the real history of the war, as sloppy and as uncomfortable as it actually was. Wars are not neat, mathematical, linear events. In your alternate history, you can make it fit any statistical/analytical model you want, like @Saphroneth 's Trent War pipe dream.
I find your scorn for statistics and analysis confusing - what's wrong with using that to draw conclusions on real or possible scenarios?
 
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David Moore

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Again, you may be right. But the plain simple fact is that Grant won where others didn't. His campaigns, with the exception of the pre-Vicksburg campaign, were not masterpieces of the military art. Even he was dissatisfied with some of his battles. Everything COULD have been better, but it wasn't. It happened the way it happened - not by playing what-ifs, not by calculating CEV's or whatever you call them, but on actual battlefields. Anything is possible, but I personally believe that neither Rosecrans, Buell, Halleck nor McClellan, could have done it any better.
Did Rosecrans save Grant in 1862 by fighting at Iuka and Corinth? Could Grant have gotten to Chattanooga in 1863? One could say Grant through political influence reaped the benefits earned by others. Doesn’t seem to me that’s something to admire. Then there’s the Union dead buried in Virginia graves.
 

David Moore

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@David Moore , you and @67th Tigers and @Saphroneth should co-author an alternate history book like Newt Gingrigh's books. You guys could have any general that tickles your fancy be the hero of the war. You can have Grant and Sherman be losers. You can have McClellan win the presidency and Rosecrans rise to General-in-Chief if you want. I will stick to the real history of the war, as sloppy and as uncomfortable as it actually was. Wars are not neat, mathematical, linear events. In your alternate history, you can make it fit any statistical/analytical model you want, like @Saphroneth 's Trent War pipe dream.
I did write a book. Non fiction. Praised for its research. Why bring up Newt Gingrich? Seems you’re proving my point about history being used for current political purposes. The uncomfortable aspect of history may be power obtained through political influence.
 
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Jimklag

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Did Rosecrans save Grant in 1862 by fighting at Iuka and Corinth? Could Grant have gotten to Chattanooga in 1863? One could say Grant through political influence reaped the benefits earned by others. Doesn’t seem to me that’s something to admire. Then there’s the Union dead buried in Virginia graves.
Fine. Let's stipulate Rosecrans saved Grant's bacon at Iuka. Let's say too many Union troops died in Virginia in 1864. All of that is stipulated. Grant still won all his campaigns - that is a fact, not alt-history. Grant still captured three of his opponents' forces whole. Grant still accepted the surrender of the rebels' main army. All those thing are, however much y'all want it to be otherwise, absolute, irrefutable facts. And no one else did any of those things even once. Your favorite generals all ended the war doing something several rungs down the ladder from where Grant was - another fact. Given the same exact circumstances, one of them MIGHT have won the war as did Grant or maybe even more efficiently - BUT THEY DID NOT AND GRANT DID. Get over it - all your dreams and calculations cannot change that simple fact. Wishing does not make it so.
 

DanSBHawk

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Did Rosecrans save Grant in 1862 by fighting at Iuka and Corinth?
No.

In fact, one could make the point that the flawed Iuka plan thought up by Rosecrans and approved by Grant was the reason the battle was not a clear cut victory. Grant arguably would've been better off with some other commander (Sherman?) in northern MS.

One that could follow orders.
 

67th Tigers

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Okay, I'll bite. What was "alt" about what I've said Grant did. Did he do those things or not? Did anyone else do them? Did I say he was perfect? Hmmm?
Did he do what?

Did he follow orders to raid Belmont? Yes.
Did he screw it up, abandon the field, and have his army saved by McClernand? Yes.

Did he mismanage Shiloh, or rather not manage it at all? Yes.
Did Buell assume effective command and save the army? Yes.

Did he mismanage Iuka, or rather not manage it at all? Yes.
Did Rosecrans fight it out well? Yes.

Did Grant commit a comedy of errors against Vicksburg and fail constantly for eight months? Yes.
Did McClernand cross below Vicksburg, resulting in the eventual capture? Yes.

etc.

The problem with Grant is that he really is a Napoleon. Napoleon stole the glory of others, like Davout at Auerstadt. Grant could not allow anyone elses successes not to be claimed by him, whilst blaming his failures on others.
 
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DanSBHawk

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Did he do what?

Did he follow orders to raid Belmont? Yes.
Did he screw it up, abandon the field, and have his army saved by McClernand? Yes.

Did he mismanage Shiloh, or rather not manage it at all? Yes.
Did Buell assume effective command and save the army? Yes.

Did he mismanage Iuka, or rather not manage it at all? Yes.
Did Rosecrans fight it out well? Yes.

Did Grant commit a comedy of errors against Vicksburg and fail constantly for eight months? Yes.
Did McClernand cross below Vicksburg, resulting in the eventual capture? Yes.

etc.

The problem with Grant is that he really is a Napoleon. Napoleon stole the glory of others, like Davout at Auerstadt. Grant could not allow anyone elses successes not to be claimed by him, whilst blaming his failures on others.
Great start on the alternative history.
 

Jimklag

Lt. Colonel
Joined
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Location
Chicagoland
Did he do what?

Did he follow orders to raid Belmont? Yes.
Did he screw it up, abandon the field, and have his army saved by McClernand? Yes.

Did he mismanage Shiloh, or rather not manage it at all? Yes.
Did Buell assume effective command and save the army? Yes.

Did he mismanage Iuka, or rather not manage it at all? Yes.
Did Rosecrans fight it out well? Yes.

Did Grant commit a comedy of errors against Vicksburg and fail constantly for eight months? Yes.
Did McClernand cross below Vicksburg, resulting in the eventual capture? Yes.

etc.

The problem with Grant is that he really is a Napoleon. Napoleon stole the glory of others, like Davout at Auerstadt. Grant could not allow anyone elses successes not to be claimed by him, whilst blaming his failures on others.
You're hatred for Grant is breathtaking. Regardless, however you try you cannot make the history of the Civil War different from what it was - no matter how much it hurts and no matter how hard you try. You really should write that alt-history book so you can make it come out any way you want.
 

David Moore

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Location
Washington, DC
Fine. Let's stipulate Rosecrans saved Grant's bacon at Iuka. Let's say too many Union troops died in Virginia in 1864. All of that is stipulated. Grant still won all his campaigns - that is a fact, not alt-history. Grant still captured three of his opponents' forces whole. Grant still accepted the surrender of the rebels' main army. All those thing are, however much y'all want it to be otherwise, absolute, irrefutable facts. And no one else did any of those things even once. Your favorite generals all ended the war doing something several rungs down the ladder from where Grant was - another fact. Given the same exact circumstances, one of them MIGHT have won the war as did Grant or maybe even more efficiently - BUT THEY DID NOT AND GRANT DID. Get over it - all your dreams and calculations cannot change that simple fact. Wishing does not make it so.
So should Rosecrans and Thomas And Lew Wallace ( as a soldier not an author) and Warren even McClernand be not just ignored but derided? You have conceded much more than the Grant’s defenders on this site usually do. I have no illusions about Grant being brought down from his lofty pedestal but the contemporary criticisms of him should be discussed. That is too much to allow for some on this site. I got back on this site to show support for Joseph Rose someone I never met before his book was published. I feared he would be ignored and then attacked. He has undertaken a Herculean task. He should be applauded for that But for some on this site that is not to be allowed. I haven’t mentioned McClellan because I haven’t studied him in depth but I have come across musings from the 19th century that politics played a role in his career too. Who had a better 1862 Grant or McClellan? Who had better political support in Washington? These things should be examined not ignored or mocked.
 
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Jimklag

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So should Rosecrans and Thomas And Lew Wallace ( as a soldier not an author) and Warren even McClernand be not just ignored but derided? You have conceded much more than the Grant’s defenders on this site usually do. I have no illusions about Grant being brought down from his lofty pedestal but the contemporary criticisms of him should be discussed. That is too much to allow for some on this site. I got back on this site to show support for Joseph Rose someone I never met before his book was published. I feared he would be ignored and then attacked. He has undertaken a Herculean task. He should be applauded for that But for some on this site that is not to be allowed. I haven’t mentioned McClellan because I haven’t studied him in depth but I have come across musings from the 19th century that politics played a role in his career too. Who had a better 1862 Grant or McClellan? Who had better political support in Washington? These things should be examined not ignored or mocked.
I have not derided those generals you talk about, but you and others have derided Grant mercilessly. I don't think anyone has said that Grant was perfect, just successful. You take him down a notch for the losses in Virginia. Does he not get a little let-up for fighting an opponent who would not get out of his trenches? Soldiers fighting from trenches are going take a higher toll on the attacker than those who fight in the open and fewer of the guys in the trenches are going to be casualties. Isn't it possible that this was a huge factor in the casualties ratio during the Overland Campaign rather than just Grant's alleged "butchery?" You say he got credit for things others did. I don't think it's as bad as you say, but isn't that just like every other great captain in history. They do not fight alone and never have and the guy at the top usually gets most of the credit. Why is it so d**ned important for you guys to tear Grant down? You say Grant benefited from political sponsorship. I say no kidding. He had Washburn and Dana as his sponsors. But they didn't fight his battles. They gave him the opportunity and he ran with it. That is not a negative as far as I'm concerned. How long was Rosecrans in command of the Army of the Cumberland? He had ample opportunity to do the things Grant did and didn't do them. McClellan was in command in the east four months longer than Grant was and he couldn't bottle Lee up and force him to surrender. However you measure it, and however much you want it to be different, Grant was the most successful general of the war, warts and all.
 

David Moore

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Location
Washington, DC
I have not derided those generals you talk about, but you and others have derided Grant mercilessly. I don't think anyone has said that Grant was perfect, just successful. You take him down a notch for the losses in Virginia. Does he not get a little let-up for fighting an opponent who would not get out of his trenches? Soldiers fighting from trenches are going take a higher toll on the attacker than those who fight in the open and fewer of the guys in the trenches are going to be casualties. Isn't it possible that this was a huge factor in the casualties ratio during the Overland Campaign rather than just Grant's alleged "butchery?" You say he got credit for things others did. I don't think it's as bad as you say, but isn't that just like every other great captain in history. They do not fight alone and never have and the guy at the top usually gets most of the credit. Why is it so d**ned important for you guys to tear Grant down? You say Grant benefited from political sponsorship. I say no kidding. He had Washburn and Dana as his sponsors. But they didn't fight his battles. They gave him the opportunity and he ran with it. That is not a negative as far as I'm concerned. How long was Rosecrans in command of the Army of the Cumberland? He had ample opportunity to do the things Grant did and didn't do them. McClellan was in command in the east four months longer than Grant was and he couldn't bottle Lee up and force him to surrender. However you measure it, and however much you want it to be different, Grant was the most successful general of the war, warts and all.
It did take Grant more than all summer in 1864. A Democrat sponsored general probably would have been replaced. Didn’t Rosecrans accomplish his objective with the AOC : the permanent possession of Chattanooga? Do you think Grant in Rosecrans’
place could have taken Chattanooga? Is there any evidence Grant had the engineering skills much less the military skills to cross the mountains and rivers from Murfreesboro to Chickamauga? Don’t you think there was going to be a battle for Chattanooga and Chickamauga was it? Longstreet wasn’t sent south to take part in a siege. Do you think an outnumbered Grant could have done better than Rosecrans?
Again I am not saying anything new. Washburne’s own brother Gen Washburn (no e) made some scathing comments about Grant in 1862-3.
The deeper lesson of Grant may be the old adage it’s not what you know (how to do) but who you know. That it is never an inspiring thing to teach or learn.
 

GrantCottage1885

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People can debate the veracity Grant's humbleness and lack of selfish ambitions, but I've encountered little evidence that questions its genuineness. It appears the hardest thing to prove is that Grant was not predominantly motivated by duty. Grant recognized Washburne's role but I don't understand how that diminishes Grant's abilities and accomplishments. Could it have been that Washburn just simply recognized enough potential and results to advocate for his advancement? Grant certainly had a trait for having somewhat short tolerance of perceived shenanigans among commanders and this sometimes led to him writing them off for good. This is probably due to the fact that he knew there was a huge army full of untapped talent while a bunch of "political" generals ran around "playing" war to secure some fame & honor. I think an important factor to consider is that advancement brought a lot of undesirable things Grant's way; celebrity status subjected him to unwanted attention (he was very uncomfortable being the center of attention at public gatherings), the papers shredded his character (which he said he wished he had a small quiet command where they wouldn't find him newsworthy), once he became Lt. Gen. the weight of the world was on his shoulders and he had everything to lose, once he came east he admitted he knew he would never escape Washington (one of the places he found least desirable to live), he took the presidency knowing it was not necessarily a positive move for his and his families long term financial security (no presidential pension). I see in all this a pattern of someone making choices based on fulfilling duty and not scrambling for advancement, fame, fortune or the like. It seems the only thing Grant received and took pride in was some level of financial security for his family, which he had struggled to do earlier in his life. I think he was human; he wrote some people off and therefore had a tainted view of them, had fierce loyalty that clouded his judgment at times, put trust in or admired the wrong people at times and made decisions he later regretted. It is not overly constructive to dwell solely on his flaws or on his strengths but it seems it is much more relevant to focus on how he was able to rise above his flaws to fulfill his duty.
 
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Jimklag

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It did take Grant more than all summer in 1864. A Democrat sponsored general probably would have been replaced. Didn’t Rosecrans accomplish his objective with the AOC : the permanent possession of Chattanooga? Do you think Grant in Rosecrans’
place could have taken Chattanooga? Is there any evidence Grant had the engineering skills much less the military skills to cross the mountains and rivers from Murfreesboro to Chickamauga? Don’t you think there was going to be a battle for Chattanooga and Chickamauga was it? Longstreet wasn’t sent south to take part in a siege. Do you think an outnumbered Grant could have done better than Rosecrans?
Again I am not saying anything new. Washburne’s own brother Gen Washburn (no e) made some scathing comments about Grant in 1862-3.
The deeper lesson of Grant may be the old adage it’s not what you know (how to do) but who you know. That it is never an inspiring thing to teach or learn.
I'm finished with this thread. No amount of truth is going to stop the Grant bashers. I cannot believe a guy who has been dead for over 130 years has aroused so much hate in people. All Grant did was win, win, win. It is a sad state that your favorite generals can only be raised up from their low historical status by tearing down Grant. Well @David Moore , @67th Tigers and @Saphroneth the field in this thread is yours. Your malignant clawing at one general's reputation in a lame attempt to improve the reputations of other generals is sad and deserves no more of my attention. I didn't know there was still that much hate and venom left. Shame on you all.
 

David Moore

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Washington, DC
People can debate the veracity Grant's humbleness and lack of selfish ambitions, but I've encountered little evidence that questions its genuineness. It appears the hardest thing to prove is that Grant was not predominantly motivated by duty. Grant recognized Washburne's role but I don't understand how that diminishes Grant's abilities and accomplishments. Could it have been that Washburn just simply recognized enough potential and results to advocate for his advancement? Grant certainly had a trait for having somewhat short tolerance of perceived shenanigans among commanders and this sometimes led to him writing them off for good. This is probably due to the fact that he knew there was a huge army full of untapped talent while a bunch of "political" generals ran around "playing" war to secure some fame & honor. I think an important factor to consider is that advancement brought a lot of undesirable things Grant's way; celebrity status subjected him to unwanted attention (he was very uncomfortable being the center of attention at public gatherings), the papers shredded his character (which he said he wished he had a small quiet command where they wouldn't find him newsworthy), once he became Lt. Gen. the weight of the world was on his shoulders and he had everything to lose, once he came east he admitted he knew he would never escape Washington (one of the places he found least desirable to live), he took the presidency knowing it was not necessarily a positive move for his and his families long term financial security (no presidential pension). I see in all this a pattern of someone making choices based on fulfilling duty and not scrambling for advancement, fame, fortune or the like. It seems the only thing Grant received and took pride in was some level of financial security for his family, which he had struggled to do earlier in his life. I think he was human; he wrote some people off and therefore had a tainted view of them, had fierce loyalty that clouded his judgment at times, put trust in or admired the wrong people at times and made decisions he later regretted. It is not overly constructive to dwell solely on his flaws or on his strengths but it seems it is much more relevant to focus on how he was able to rise above his flaws to fulfill his duty.
The problem is Grant and Sherman are extolled to the neglect of other deserving Union generals. I don’t believe Grant was particularly ambitious before 1864 but Washburne was. The full story should be told. I think much of the 20th century hagiography of Grant was to counter 19th century criticism. But that criticism has been forgotten or dismissed now. Rose and others have revived that discussion and have been censured by some for it. Not the purpose of history.
 
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