View single post by Michael C. Hardy
 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 05:34 pm
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Michael C. Hardy
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According to one of Grant’s biographers (McFeely), it was not Grant that tried to cover up his losses, but his did generals (171). McFeely goes on to say that had Grant taken Richmond in the spring on 1864, Grant most likely would have been the “seventeenth rather than the eighteenth president of the United States.” (170) Is it possible that Grant, refusing to call a truce, is an effort to protect his own job and future aspirations? Something to think about.

Something else that grabbed my attention while looking through McFeely’s book - Grant, save for a small period of time in the middle of the day, was not even on the field during the assaults. It was Meade’s job to run the army. Also, neither Grant nor Meade had inspected the field prior to launching the assaults. Nor was there any artillery support for the Federals. So one, or both of them are negligent.

Furthermore, Furgurson in Not War But Murder, provides us with this little tidbit (236):

Theodore Lyman, the most perceptive chronicler of events at either headquarters, came closest to explaining why Grant ordered the attack. The blunder was not “the outcome of a headstrong belief in brute combat,” Lyman wrote. “Rather may it be called a subjective mistake. Because [Grant’s] teeth were firmly set as ever, he supposed that the nerves of other people were still well strung. His want of imagination rendered it difficult for him to understand the condition of his soldiers, or to measure the spirit of the enemy.”
Grant had disclosed this “want of imagination” a week before he ordered the final assault at Cold Harbor, when he advised Washington that “Lee’s army is really whipped. The prisoners we take now show it, and the action of his army shows it unmistakably.” As [John C.] Ropes said, Grant had arrived from the West “ignorant, grossly ignorant” of his own army’s history, “thinking that it only needs to be fought thoroughly to destroy its formidable antagonist.”

So Grant, paraphrasing Furgurson, utterly fails to grasp his opponent, Bobby Lee. Furgurson adds that Grant does not even understand his own army (Army of the Potomac).

It appears that the only thing that Grant does comprehend is this (my thoughts): that to retreat back across the river after the loss in the Wilderness is to loss his job like so many before. To retreat back across the river is to, most likely, cost Lincoln the election, and to lose the war. It is interesting to note that Grant makes his comments about Lee’s army being whipped after he has failed to dislodge Lee from the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and the North Ann River.

While Grant holds his lines of communication and supply, the Overland Campaign is a failure. His objective was to get in between Lee and Richmond and force Lee out into the open where Lee can be fought without entrenchments and beaten. Grant fails at this.

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