Book Review Why Grant won.

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
There only about 650 West Point graduates available to the US during the Civil War. They all knew much more about how an army worked and how soldiers had to be led than any civilian.
1629160298768.png

https://www.clevelandcivilwarroundtable.com/west-point-in-the-civil-war/
Many of them were too young to hold responsible positions and some of them were too old to be active in the field.
Men about the age of Grant and Sherman, and maybe McClellan, were probably going to dominate the US effort.
Grant probably had the stronger marriage of the three mentioned so far. Sherman and his wife disagreed about religion, which was important to Ellen Sherman, and I think McClellan's wife entertained some doubts about General McClellan's emotional ability to deal with stress.
Regardless of that, Grant had participated in the Mexico City campaign during the US/Mexican war. That was not a large operation, only about 12,000 men at the start. Thus the number of junior officers who emerged from the war with a positive record was again a restricted class.
The army was greatly reduced after the end of the US/Mexican war, but Grant stayed in the army.
1629160826118.png

https://history.army.mil/html/books/075/75-1/CMH_Pub_75-1.pdf

Eventually he was sent to California, and he also was stationed on the Columbia River for a time.
In the small US army of the time, he made captain. Its hard to find out how many captains the army had at that time, but I think one source asserted it was about 50 at that rank.
So regardless of his personal characteristics, he was in a small group that had been maintained by Winfield Scott.
So he really did not come from no where. If the Civil War was to involve serious warfare, Grant's odds of rising to the top were favorable.
The fact that he was an insatiable consumer of newspapers, and a superb horseman were also advantages.
Oh, and he drank a lot of whiskey while in California. The nation as a whole was on a beer, wine and whiskey binge, and I think it would be hard to find an army officer in California in that era, that was not a heavy drinker.
v
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
There only about 650 West Point graduates available to the US during the Civil War. They all knew much more about how an army worked and how soldiers had to be led than any civilian.
View attachment 411140
https://www.clevelandcivilwarroundtable.com/west-point-in-the-civil-war/
Many of them were too young to hold responsible positions and some of them were too old to be active in the field.
Men about the age of Grant and Sherman, and maybe McClellan, were probably going to dominate the US effort.
Grant probably had the stronger marriage of the three mentioned so far. Sherman and his wife disagreed about religion, which was important to Ellen Sherman, and I think McClellan's wife entertained some doubts about General McClellan's emotional ability to deal with stress.
Regardless of that, Grant had participated in the Mexico City campaign during the US/Mexican war. That was not a large operation, only about 12,000 men at the start. Thus the number of junior officers who emerged from the war with a positive record was again a restricted class.
The army was greatly reduced after the end of the US/Mexican war, but Grant stayed in the army.
View attachment 411141
https://history.army.mil/html/books/075/75-1/CMH_Pub_75-1.pdf

Eventually he was sent to California, and he also was stationed on the Columbia River for a time.
In the small US army of the time, he made captain. Its hard to find out how many captains the army had at that time, but I think one source asserted it was about 50 at that rank.
So regardless of his personal characteristics, he was in a small group that had been maintained by Winfield Scott.
So he really did not come from no where. If the Civil War was to involve serious warfare, Grant's odds of rising to the top were favorable.
The fact that he was an insatiable consumer of newspapers, and a superb horseman were also advantages.
Oh, and he drank a lot of whiskey while in California. The nation as a whole was on a beer, wine and whiskey binge, and I think it would be hard to find an army officer in California in that era, that was not a heavy drinker.
v
Interesting points. As an aside, the average annual alcohol consumption per capita in the US by the mid-19th century was "off the charts".
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
1.6 M gallons of wine. And all that booze was probably safer than the water.
Probably true of the wine and the beer. Not sure about some of the stuff that qualified as "spiritous liquors". If the cholera don't git ya, the wood alcohol will.
 

Belfoured

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
When it was legal, and there were not pesticides in the corn, the whiskey was probably safe.
Not sure how quickly I'd be reaching for a shot, speaking for myself. There were no widely-accepted standards or regulation in the mid-19th century and there are plenty of anecdotes about people imbibing "cheap" whiskey. The term "rotgut" that was in use probably had some basis in reality.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Lincoln said it best in regard to the OP, when he said he could not spare Grant, 'He Fights' .

A commentary not only on what he thought of Grant, but also of certain other of his generals.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Lincoln said it best in regard to the OP, when he said he could not spare Grant, 'He Fights' .

A commentary not only on what he thought of Grant, but also of certain other of his generals.
Which was a large part of his success. He was willing to risk failure. And it cost him, and his soldiers at times. But his opposition had to constantly react to his new plans.
 

CaptSpook

Private
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
There only about 650 West Point graduates available to the US during the Civil War. They all knew much more about how an army worked and how soldiers had to be led than any civilian.
View attachment 411140
https://www.clevelandcivilwarroundtable.com/west-point-in-the-civil-war/
Many of them were too young to hold responsible positions and some of them were too old to be active in the field.
Men about the age of Grant and Sherman, and maybe McClellan, were probably going to dominate the US effort.
Grant probably had the stronger marriage of the three mentioned so far. Sherman and his wife disagreed about religion, which was important to Ellen Sherman, and I think McClellan's wife entertained some doubts about General McClellan's emotional ability to deal with stress.
Regardless of that, Grant had participated in the Mexico City campaign during the US/Mexican war. That was not a large operation, only about 12,000 men at the start. Thus the number of junior officers who emerged from the war with a positive record was again a restricted class.
The army was greatly reduced after the end of the US/Mexican war, but Grant stayed in the army.
View attachment 411141
https://history.army.mil/html/books/075/75-1/CMH_Pub_75-1.pdf

Eventually he was sent to California, and he also was stationed on the Columbia River for a time.
In the small US army of the time, he made captain. Its hard to find out how many captains the army had at that time, but I think one source asserted it was about 50 at that rank.
So regardless of his personal characteristics, he was in a small group that had been maintained by Winfield Scott.
So he really did not come from no where. If the Civil War was to involve serious warfare, Grant's odds of rising to the top were favorable.
The fact that he was an insatiable consumer of newspapers, and a superb horseman were also advantages.
Oh, and he drank a lot of whiskey while in California. The nation as a whole was on a beer, wine and whiskey binge, and I think it would be hard to find an army officer in California in that era, that was not a heavy drinker.
v
Your summary relative to Grant and the question of his drinking is worth repeating because it provides "period context" (my quotes). Period context is the dimension often overlooked when discussing historical figures. Too often, historians view facts and judge character through contemporary lenses, which can become very cloudy especially when one has a political agenda, for example, Southern Revisionists who may want to denigrate Grant while elevating Lee. I would like to add my own theory about Grant (this, after much research from primary through tertiary source material) that suggests Grant lacked the genetic means for metabolizing small quantities of alcohol, a not-so-rare phenomenon. Consequently, he would appear intoxicated after only one glass of wine or one drink of whiskey when others would not. Perhaps one day someone will get authorization to open his tomb and sample bone or tooth matter and test for the presence or absence of the genes responsible for producing the alcohol metabolizing enzymes ADH and ALDH. Meanwhile, I would agree that by the standards of the day, Grant was not a particularly heavy drinker, and certainly not a "drunk", which would imply an incapacity to think clearly and perform well.
 

J C J Barefoot

Private
Joined
Sep 10, 2019
Which was a large part of his success. He was willing to risk failure. And it cost him, and his soldiers at times. But his opposition had to constantly react to his new plans.
Born and have lived in Ohio my entire life. Ohioans have a distinct character and are firm in what social values are important. Give us crisis and we are at our top.
Grant was an Ohioan. As was Sherman, Sheridan, McPhearson , Rosie. Grant only became great when a crisis came. Same with Sherman and Sheridan. Very Ohio of them.
 
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