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 Posted: Fri Feb 10th, 2012 12:08 am
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Wordsmith
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          On the subject of General Ulysses S. Grant what did Shelby Foote, Military Historian T. Harry Williams, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, and General John B. Gordon C.S.A have in common?  All of them, among historians and military leaders, agreed that Grant was one of the greatest of Civil Wars generals.  In spite of Robert E Lee's fearless reputation and ability to win battles, Grant, in the final analysis, won the decisive battles and helped inspire General William T. Sherman in modern and total warfare.  For Foote, Grant's greatness was in his strength--that four o’clock in the morning courage when a crisis was at hand and he never panicked but kept his calm even when it appeared as if his army was in peril.  For historian Williams, it was his far-ranging foresight.  According to Williams, “Grant was fundamentally superior to Lee because he had a modern mind and Lee did not.  Lee was the last of the great old fashioned generals and Grant was the first of the great moderns.”  For Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the hero of Little Round Top, it was the insight of a contemporary and fellow soldier.  For him, Grant embodied the attributes of great man, who never wavered in his belief of the cause.  General John B. Gordon, who was there at Appomattox, it was Grant's indomitable character.  His modesty, freedom from vanity, nobility in victory, sympathy for his defeated foes, and willingness against criticism, to protect paroled Confederates against assault set him apart from other generals. 

         How could a student of history think otherwise.  Ulysses Grant had changed the way our country fought its wars.  Many Americans of his day credited him for saving the Union.  Even his onetime enemies were won over by his magnanimity and begrudgingly gave him praise.  Of all of his contemporaries, however, it was General William T. Sherman who gave his onetime commander his highest accolade: "It will be a thousand years before Grant's character is fully appreciated. Grant is the greatest soldier of our time if not all time... he fixes in his mind what is the true objective and abandons all minor ones. He dismisses all possibility of defeat. He believes in himself and in victory. If his plans go wrong he is never disconcerted but promptly devises a new one and is sure to win in the end. Grant more nearly impersonated the American character of 1861-65 than any other living man. Therefore he will stand as the typical hero of the great Civil War in America."

---- Wordsmith

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