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 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 08:12 pm
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PvtClewell
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Michael,

Good stuff there. But I relish playing the contrary fool. Ask Joanie. I do this to bring balance and counter-balance to the debate, so don't be mad at me. I just do it to present a different perspective. Let's begin:

Is it possible that Grant, refusing to call a truce, is an effort to protect his own job and future aspirations?

In fact, Grant did ask Lee for a truce without actually using the word 'truce' for the reasons we discussed previously. And Lee rebuffed him. Twice. I'd forgotten that about Franklin at Fredericksburg, but even that request came three days after the battle was over. And again, the Confederates initially refused the request. I'm seeing a trend here. Besides, nobody goes running around shouting 'That butcher Burnside,' even though he suffers nearly twice as many casualties in a single day than Grant does at Cold Harbor.

I doubt that Grant was looking to a possible political future while in the middle of a war. That prospect would be something akin to Eisenhower planning Overlord and then thinking, 'Man, if I screw this up, I have no future in politics.' I don't know of any evidence that Grant aspired to a political career before or during the war.

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.

Would that be the same kind of negligence as when Lee pulled his artillery from Spotsylvania? Apparently, Bobby Lee didn't understand Sam Grant.

It's true that Meade was in command of the army at Cold Harbor, and that Grant made only brief appearances at the front (for which Meade was grateful). But clearly Grant is in overall command. Nobody goes running around screaming 'That butcher Meade.'

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.”

Well, isn't that what ultimately happened?

Furgurson adds that Grant does not even understand his own army (Army of the Potomac).

I love Furgurson. While I haven't read 'Not War But Murder', I loved his treatment of Chancellorsville. But for here, let me suggest that the AofP — after seeing one commanding general after another prior to Grant turn away after butting heads with Lee — didn't understand Grant. They did soon enough, though, cheering him when he turned south after the Wilderness instead of crossing back over the Rapidan.

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 Anna River.

Grant may have misunderstood Lee's strength, but I submit that Grant did dislodge Lee — through maneuver (which to my mind is Grant's true genius). After each of those battles, Grant is another step closer to Richmond.

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.

Maybe so, but Grant's still the one who has Lee under siege at Petersburg. In the end the Overland campaign ultimately resulted in Appomattox and surrender. Not bad for a guy who is ignorant of his own army.

All this has been incredibly interesting. I've now got it in my mind through these discussions that there were only a handful of requests for humanitarian truces throughout the war to recover the dead and dying. And if that's true, then why are we suddenly jumping down Grant's throat? If nobody else is asking for truces, why should we suddenly expect it of Grant? Now it becomes an anti-Grant issue, if it wasn't already.

True, Cold Harbor changed the character of the war, and most certainly the AofP, which was everafter reluctant to make frontal assaults on entrenched positions, and wisely so. Grant's actions at Cold Habror would probably warrent criminal investigation in the 21st century, but not so in the 19th. There was no call that I know of to remove Grant from command outside of noted military advisor Mary Todd Lincoln.

Most curiously, and maybe ironically, of all is that butcher Grant presents Lee with surrender terms so benevolent that even Lee is surprised. Maybe that's where Grant's true character rests. Butcher, indeed.

Last edited on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 11:29 am by PvtClewell

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