|View single post by Texas Defender|
|Posted: Sat Feb 11th, 2012 02:12 pm||
|Wordmith and Gettysburger-
I have to take issue with some of what you have written here.
First of all, I will say that General Grant was the right man, in the right place, at the right time, to finally bring the war to an end. Mr. Lincoln finally found the right general, after years of employing the wrong ones. But in my view, Grant was not a brilliant man in either vision or intellect. I don't think that he ever claimed to be.
What General Grant was was a fighter, a brawler. He had an ardent desire to engage the enemy, and was happiest when he could bring his opponents to battle. He was a puncher, not a boxer. He was like the one time heavyweight champion, Rocky Marciano. He never ceased coming forward, and would hit the opponent any time and anywhere that he could.
Grant had no strategy beyond using the north's advantages in manpower and equipment to wear down his opponents in a war of attrition. That is why he ended prisoner exchange (The right thing to do from his position). He used his army to keep pounding away at the Confederates, continually bleeding and weakening them until they ran out of resources to resist. Like Mr. Lincoln, General Grant was willing to suffer whatever losses that were required to achieve the final victory.
General Lee in his campaign in the north was attempting to win a significant victory for the purposes of gaining foreign intervention on the side of the Confederacy and to try to weaken the resolve of the northern people to continue the war. I believe that he was able to hold out in the eastern theater as long as anyone could have. In my view, the Confederacy was defeated in the west. Eventually, it became a hollow shell. Sending a significant portion of the ANV to the west would only have weakened Lee's ability to maintain the stalemate in the east. This he was able to do effectively until late in 1864, when the re-election of Mr. Lincoln ended the Confederacy's last hope of gaining independence.
The generation of West Pointers that became senior leaders in the war was trained in Napoleonic tactics based on previous wars. At least in the early stages of the war, they failed to recognize that these tactics had to be modified due to advances in firepower and defensive tactics. It wasn't just General Lee who made at least one mistake in this way. Virtually all of the major figures did something similar. In the case of General Grant, there was the disaster at Cold Harbor in the spring of 1864. He freely admitted afterwards that it was a great blunder on his part.
If there was a visionary of modern warfare among the northern generals, then that man was General Sherman, not General Grant. It was he who conceived the idea of the March, which was considered a risky scheme at that time. Grant trusted Sherman's judgement, and so gave his recommendation to Mr. Lincoln, who also went along. General Sherman was very admiring of Grant, but considered himself superior in knowledge and intellect. He said:
"I'm a darn sight smarter than Grant; I know a great deal more about war, military histories, strategy and grand tactics than he does; I know more about organization, supply, and administration and about everything else than he does...."
In spite of this, Sherman was all too happy to have General Grant in overall command. The reason was not that Grant was brilliant, but that he was fearless and kept his cool under pressure.
General Grant was indeed a great general, because he knew how to use the great army that he was given to command. But he was not a visionary. He was a fighter who kept coming forward no matter how many times his nose was bloodied. He kept this up until he was able to pummel his opponents into submission.
Last edited on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 02:19 pm by Texas Defender