1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!
START BY JOINING NOW!

Question:Halleck / McClellan / Grant.

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by John Olexa, Jun 19, 2015.

  1. John Olexa

    John Olexa Corporal

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2012
    Messages:
    382
    Location:
    Charles County Maryland
    With Grant at Fort Donelson we know Halleck wrote McClellan a bad (false) letter about Grant & McClellan wrote back and said don't be afraid to arrest him if need be. Of course Lincoln ended it all by saying put up or shut up. While this was going on Grant wrote his wife saying something like there are not 2 people he would rather serve under than Halleck & McClellan.

    My question is, did Grant ever learn of their backstabbing? I know it would sure hurt my feelings finding out that after praising them!
     
    wausaubob and Specster like this.

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Messages:
    19,813
    Location:
    State of Jefferson
    This episode varies so widely in accounts! Everything from Halleck being a jealous backstabbing jerk to trying to protect Grant by setting him in a safe place. I'm not sure if Grant knew about McClellan but don't see how he could miss it - Halleck needed McClellan's ok to promote Grant. Myself, I believe Grant wasn't suspicious of Halleck, at least right off, but was frustrated at being taken out of the action. If Sherman hadn't talked to him like a Dutch uncle, Grant would have removed himself to another post, or maybe even out of the picture altogether, and not been around for his finest moment - Vicksburg. He was extremely vexed about the matter, to say the least, but seems to have gotten on with Halleck thereafter.
     
  4. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Messages:
    11,778
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    We're sort of handicapped by not having Halleck's memoirs, as he refused to write any. Grant's reactions to Halleck postwar seem to be at odds sometimes with his interactions with Halleck during the war; perhaps Grant found out later on what Halleck was up to.

    Halleck played political games, there's no doubt about it. Grant was the beneficiary of his machinations sometimes, and suffered from them at other times. One would think that Grant would have had a better sense of this at the time, but it seems to be a pretty consistent element of Grant's character that he expected everyone else to behave as he did.
     
  5. Eric Calistri

    Eric Calistri 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    May 31, 2012
    Messages:
    2,647
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    The story in several Grant biographies is that Adam Badeau, in the course of researching several articles and ultimately his 1868 bio of Grant, showed Grant the Halleck-McClellan correspondence, of which Grant had been unaware. Halleck had told Grant that Washington (ie McClellan) was unsatisfied with him, and that Halleck had stood up for him. In the correspondence however, it is Halleck stating Grant has resumed his "former bad habits" among other criticisms.
     
  6. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Messages:
    19,813
    Location:
    State of Jefferson
    Yes, I thought it was some time after the war Grant discovered what went on. He didn't really suspect anything during the war, except that maybe Halleck wanted a chance at some action himself. Sherman always thought Grant was a lamb among wolves - not quite, but Sherman did have something there!
     
    wausaubob, MC44, leftyhunter and 2 others like this.
  7. rbasin

    rbasin Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2013
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tampa, Fl
    Yep, Grant the innocent lamb.
     
  8. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Messages:
    11,778
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    It stretches the imagination, because Grant was not an unintelligent man-- maybe not a genius, but he clearly knew what he was about in quite a lot of things. He just seems to, over and over again, been easy to bamboozle or take advantage of, like he didn't have a good working B.S. meter. While that kind of simplicity is charming, I can't understand it (which is why I tend to gravitate towards Sherman, who with his blistering sarcasm is much easier to understand)...
     
  9. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Messages:
    19,813
    Location:
    State of Jefferson
    I've noticed that sort of naivete in a number of military minds. What makes a great soldier doesn't always make a great politician. Lincoln, a brilliant politician, dabbled at generalship and realized he was not a brilliant soldier! One advantage Sherman had was growing up in a highly political family - the Ewings - and having a brother in Congress. His BS meter was working overtime often, but he could read it well.
     
  10. hanna260

    hanna260 Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2015
    Messages:
    1,996
    Location:
    Just Around the Riverbend
    Think you hit the nail on the head. When you're a soldier, you have to trust that those you give orders to will go out and do it. That sort of implicit trust in the subordinates you pick, doesn't bode too well for politics. You see over and over in the ACW that Grant was very loyal to his friends, but it's pretty clear that he was a much better gauge of military talent, than political. You also have to have this singleminded purpose, such as Grant had- "lick em tomorrow". Grant didn't care about the setbacks, he just wanted to lick the rebels. That was one of his biggest strengths, I feel. However, I imagine that in politics, you can't just focus on a goal and charge towards it! Lots more sideways maneuvering and other details you have to focus on when you're in politics.
     
  11. hanna260

    hanna260 Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2015
    Messages:
    1,996
    Location:
    Just Around the Riverbend
    Are you being sarcastic? I ask this not to be combative but because I know there has been some recent scholarship that has suggested that Grant could be a little bit more canny and perhaps even underhanded when it came to playing the military game himself than previously thought! I don't know if I agree but is that what you were getting at?
     
  12. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Messages:
    19,813
    Location:
    State of Jefferson
    :smile: Just to clarify - that was Sherman's opinion, not mine! I think Grant was considerably less a babe in the woods...except in the world of palace intrigue. He didn't make a good mandarin!
     
  13. rbasin

    rbasin Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2013
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tampa, Fl
    Yes.
     
  14. rbasin

    rbasin Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2013
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tampa, Fl
    From what I have read, Grant was very good at the political games within the military, simply awful out of it. I think Grant's reputation revolves around his autobiography, not necessarily the facts. Best example is Rawlins, who was not as important as he thought he was, but deserved better than what Grant written about him, or didn't write about him. I think Grant mentions him by name once in his book.
     
  15. Dave Wilma

    Dave Wilma 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,157
    Location:
    Elliott Bay
    I saw it written that those without darkness in their hearts often fail to see it in others.
     
    diane and Eagle eye like this.
  16. ErnieMac

    ErnieMac Captain Forum Host Trivia Game Winner

    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
    Messages:
    6,467
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I remember reading that Grant found the Halleck - McClellan correspondence in Washington after the War. That discovery pretty much ended the relationship between Grant and Halleck, which had been pretty cordial after Halleck was named General-in-Chief. All I have to do now is remember where I read that.
     
    wausaubob, MC44 and StephenColbert27 like this.
  17. Specster

    Specster First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2014
    Messages:
    1,522
    Location:
    Mass.
    I think others have pointed out that people with Asperger syndrome have done well in the military. These people typically do not do well in life at all, as compared to an average person. Perhaps it is a unique skill set which makes an extraordinary military leader. Stonewall Jackson was in a tailspin much of his life - not a failure by any means but certainly having his problems with social skills. He did well in the Mexican war, had a host of problems in the ensuing lull - many of which effected his health, and when he entered the ACW he hit his stride and the rest is history. Perhaps Grant was not able to read the intrigue of politics, Im sure his good friend Sherman would have given him advice, which he was certainly able of connecting the dots from.

    I dont know much about Grant's presidency but I have read many people state, on this board, that he was a sub par president. I think Eisenhower was a decent General and a good president. Bottom line, I don t think being a good General necessarily leads to political success....many of the skill sets may be exclusive.
     
    Eagle eye and diane like this.
  18. rbasin

    rbasin Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2013
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    Tampa, Fl
    I think Grant saw it after Halleck was dead. I would assume that death pretty much ends any relationship. Grant and Halleck were never friendly, at least in comparison to the Halleck-Sherman relationship (which Grant helped to ruin by omission). Did Grant ever mention the apparent benders that Sylvanus Cadwallader wrote of? I can't remember if that's in his auto, but I doubt it.
     
  19. Dave Wilma

    Dave Wilma 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,157
    Location:
    Elliott Bay
    Jean Edward Smith wrote bios of both Grant and Ike and he covers their presidencies. Smith highlights some major accomplishments of the Grant Administration which attempted to implement his fairly progressive policies towards Freedmen and Native Americans.
     
  20. jackt62

    jackt62 First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2015
    Messages:
    1,545
    Location:
    New York City
    As others have already noted, I too remember that Grant found out about the Halleck correspondance long afterwards, although I thought it happened later in the war. If I'm not mistaken, this is the correspondance in which Halleck accused Grant of insubordination because he did not respond to Halleck's repeated telgraphic communications after the battle of Ft. Donelson. Grant however, never saw those communications because they had been intercepted by a telegraph operator with southern sympathies.

    On the matter of Grant's presumed naivete, when as president he had to deal with politicians, financiers, and patronage seekers, he was too trusting of people and not a keen judge of character. This led to an environment during his presidency in which all sorts of financial scandals took place, although he himself remained honest and untainted.
     
    Eagle eye likes this.
  21. damYankee

    damYankee 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,483
    In reading Horace Porter's book Grant seldom criticized other generals. I do believe it true that Grant did not receive Hallecks early telegrams.
    It is also important to remember through out the war, there were self promoting back stabbing rumor mongers and ink dealers disguised as reporters spreading lies and innuendo like butter on toast.
    I think Grant understood this and just was not going to get drawn into it. There has always been stories about his drinking, take it or leave it, but one thing is undeniable, he was focused on the challenge in front of him and as Longstreet told Lee, "he has no quit in him"
     
    wausaubob, Eagle eye and jackt62 like this.

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)