Was Shiloh The Day The War Was Won?

LetUsHavePeace

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The battle provided PLENTY of opportunities to adversely impact the careers of both and it was largely luck that prevented their disgrace and removal. Grant could easily have made his friend Sherman the scapegoat for most of the gaffes made by Federal forces prior to the battle - I can certainly imagine any of the other Federal commanders at the time - McClellan, Halleck, Pope, Burnside, etc., etc. - eagerly grasping the opportunity to save their own skins by throwing Uncle Billy under the bus! In fact it's a wonder that Halleck didn't take the same opportunity to remove Grant instead of just kicking him upstairs into the do-nothing and dead-end position of Second-In-Command during the subsequent advance on Corinth.
Halleck's "kicking Grant upstairs" was his attempt to remove Grant. One must give Halleck his due. He was a masterful "insider" politician who had great instincts for sensing who was the greatest threat to his ambitions. When Lincoln called Halleck to Washington to become General in Chief, Halleck no longer had to worry about Grant as a revival; instead, he could build Grant back better so that he and Buell's successes would become further evidence of how much Lincoln needed Halleck to be in overall charge. (Halleck was careful to make certain that Grant had no more soldiers than Buell.) The great irony is that Halleck could have achieved his ultimate ambition - to be President - if he had simple let Grant be the field commander. When Halleck went back East, he discovered that his ego was going to be matched by those of Pope, McClellan and Burnside and Stanton. They were not going to take orders and work towards victory as Grant had. What saved him was Grant's lack of malice and appreciation for what Halleck did well; instead of thinking about paying Halleck back for his political back stabbing, Grant made him Chief of Staff and then arranged for Halleck to be able to return to his home state of California in triumph.
 

James N.

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Halleck's "kicking Grant upstairs" was his attempt to remove Grant. One must give Halleck his due. He was a masterful "insider" politician who had great instincts for sensing who was the greatest threat to his ambitions. When Lincoln called Halleck to Washington to become General in Chief, Halleck no longer had to worry about Grant as a revival; instead, he could build Grant back better so that he and Buell's successes would become further evidence of how much Lincoln needed Halleck to be in overall charge. (Halleck was careful to make certain that Grant had no more soldiers than Buell.) The great irony is that Halleck could have achieved his ultimate ambition - to be President - if he had simple let Grant be the field commander. When Halleck went back East, he discovered that his ego was going to be matched by those of Pope, McClellan and Burnside and Stanton. They were not going to take orders and work towards victory as Grant had. What saved him was Grant's lack of malice and appreciation for what Halleck did well; instead of thinking about paying Halleck back for his political back stabbing, Grant made him Chief of Staff and then arranged for Halleck to be able to return to his home state of California in triumph.
My impression is that Grant didn't fully realize or appreciate the true nature and extent of Halleck's treachery until he became C-in-C and likely even then not until the war was over. It wasn't until after the fighting ended and Grant's return to Washington on a full-time basis that he was able to delve into the correspondence that had built up in the War Department and see it for himself.
 

LetUsHavePeace

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My impression is that Grant didn't fully realize or appreciate the true nature and extent of Halleck's treachery until he became C-in-C and likely even then not until the war was over. It wasn't until after the fighting ended and Grant's return to Washington on a full-time basis that he was able to delve into the correspondence that had built up in the War Department and see it for himself.
I agree. Grant's character - and his political understanding (the quality that is least well understood about him) - are revealed by his having Halleck stay on as Chief of Staff. Paying Halleck back would have served no purpose except to give Stanton even greater influence over Lincoln's decisions as Commander-in-Chief.
 

Ole Miss

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Grant was a decent man swimming in a pool of sharks! The DC crowd then, as now, are not concerned with truths and facts when it comes to climbing the political ladder. The Army has always had movers and shakers and many are behind the scenes
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David
 
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It seems that nobody want to admit to what Grant's forte really was. Unlike McClelland, Pope, McClelland again, Burnside, Hooker, and Meade, Grant alone realized the North's advantage. His army was bigger. He could afford losses if Lee also suffered losses.

At the end of the day, Grant would still have an army and Lee wouldn't. Is that not the exact definition of Appamatox.

Grant had 2 goals. He had to stay in command. He had to defeat Lee. To do the second he had to do the first. Lincoln had gone through a truck load of generals who he did not think were willing and/or able to fight. When Grant proved he was willing to fight, Lincoln was willing to give him slack to eventually defeat Lee.
 

19thGeorgia

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I would say the idea of "The Day The War Was Won" (or "The Night the War was Lost") comes from the process of selling books whatever it's about- Vicksburg, Shiloh, New Orleans, etc. Of course, the writer and publisher want to promote it as the most important battle of the war.

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Ole Miss

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@th'anchoriticsybarite i agree that Grant knew he had numbers on his side in 1864. However at Shiloh he was still operating under Halleck’s thumb and was still learning how to operate an army of 40,000 with all the requirements such as logistics, clashing personalities of generals, individual state governors practicing state rights, bureaucratic layers and other problems that I do not about

Grant was a learner and seldom made the same mistakes. His ability to get along with troublesome individuals, such as McClernand and Halleck till he was able to move them or they were moved is a little recognized skill
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David
 

James N.

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... Grant was a learner and seldom made the same mistakes. His ability to get along with troublesome individuals, such as McClernand and Halleck till he was able to move them or they were moved is a little recognized skill
Regards
David
I was surprised to learn fairly recently that he also got along well with such dubious characters as Ben Butler and Banks - at least as long as they were in favor with the administration. Of course both were eventually sidelined, but not until AFTER they had essentially slit their own throats, Banks in the Red River and Butler at Fort Fisher. Persons like Buell, McClernand, Rosecrans, and eventually Halleck not so much though, especially once he got the idea they were working against him or trying to replace him.
 

trice

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I agree. Grant's character - and his political understanding (the quality that is least well understood about him) - are revealed by his having Halleck stay on as Chief of Staff. Paying Halleck back would have served no purpose except to give Stanton even greater influence over Lincoln's decisions as Commander-in-Chief.
Grant and Halleck had a rocky relationship in 1862. They managed to work together, though, and by the end of 1862 they were in cahoots together to grab McClernand's troops for Sherman's expedition against Vicksburg.

Through it all, Grant felt that Halleck had acted to protect him when McClellan wanted to remove him (after Donelson, in the spat Halleck-Buell had over Nashville) and perhaps again after Shiloh. It would not have been too surprising, because Halleck definitely acted to save the careers of Sherman (Halleck's good friend) and Sheridan (about to be court-martialed) in late 1861 and early 1862.

So Grant's feelings about Halleck are a mixed bag, but not as harsh as we might think in 1864. Keeping two HQs (Halleck in Washington, Rawlins in the field) allowed Grant to separate the work, letting Halleck deal with the Washington politics and bureaucracy (and acting as Grant's eyes and ears back in the capital). This was useful to Grant and worked out well.

Things changed for the worse after the war. Grant was now commanding general, Andrew Johnson was President, and Grant had more time. He called for the records on Henry and Donelson. He saw the messages where Halleck was essentially shopping Grant as a potential scapegoat for problems up on the Cumberland -- realizing that McClellan wasn't actually trying to get rid of Grant, that Halleck was the one floating that trial balloon. Grant was often forgiving, but he was good at holding a grudge when he wanted to be. Post-war Grant is much harsher about Halleck.
 
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