|View single post by Michael C. Hardy|
|Posted: Mon Feb 11th, 2008 07:17 pm||
Michael C. Hardy
|I'm thinking that Grant's detractors must consider him a dim bulb capable only of throwing troops in wasteful frontal assaults against fortified positions because he knew he had endless resources from which to draw. That's way too simple and misses the mark.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have never been a Grant supporter. He gets credit for winning the war, and therefore "must" be a great general. The more I study about Grant, the more his bulb dims. I’m just finishing a intense study of the battle of Chattanooga. Yes, the Federals won, but no thanks to Grant. At the end of the battle, even Sherman was calling Grant "daft" for his management of the battle. Given Sherman’s mental condition, that’s saying a great deal. And at the end of the day, when Grant was writing his reports and his memoirs, Grant rewrote history, saying that Sherman’s attack on Tunnel Hill was a mere feint, and Thomas’s attack was the real thrust. Communication between Grant, Thomas, and Hooker was almost non-existent, and I don’t recall that Grant was ever actually on the field.
He knows when to disengage (Burnside, for one, apparently didn't, either at Fredericksburg or crossing that bridge at Antietam).
So that last attack that Grant called for at Cold Harbor, the one that the men in line refused to execute because all of the previous attacks had failed miserably, was Grant knowing how to disengage?
His movements to outflank and outmaneuver Lee are brilliant, particularly after North Anna.
But was it not at North Anna that he allowed a portion of his army to become isolated and almost destroyed? Then there is the whole fiasco at Petersburg when his army failed to waltz right into the city. A mere handful of Confederates stopped him. How about first and second Deep Bottom? We should also not forget his "brilliant" performance at the Crater. How about Ream’s Station?
I'm guessing it must be aggravating for Lee's admirers that Grant, the dim bulb, losses four major battles in the Overland campaign and is still the one to force Lee's surrender. How could that have happened to the brilliant Lee? It certainly isn't because Grant might be Lee's military equal, could it? So, for the Grant detractors, the feel-good answer must be to demonize the man who forced Lee's capitulation.
Grant forcing Lee to capitulate has much more to do with the loss of Georgia, the loss of the supplies from other areas that fed into the ANV, the loss of the AofT, the loss of Wilmington. Yes, Grant is overall commander, but he had almost no tactical control in those spheres of operation. Others are out making sure that Lee is forced out of his entrenchments.