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 Posted: Tue Apr 24th, 2012 06:18 pm
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JG6789
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Texas Defender wrote:
In the Eastern Theater, facing the Army of Northern Virginia, General Grant understood that it was his objective to wear down and defeat General Lee's army…The purpose was to use the AOP's great superiority to grind down the ANV until it could no longer resist effectively…Because Grant used mobility to try to improve his position relative to the ANV in no way changes the fact that his objective was to keep the pressure on General Lee in order to attrit the ANV's power until it could no longer effectively oppose him.

Grant, of course, was General in Chief in the spring of 1864, not the commander of the Army of the Potomac, so his strategic thinking involved every Federal army. The plan of campaign ultimately settled on was not his first choice (see Grant’s letters to Halleck, Jan 15, 1864 and Jan 19, 1864). In particular, he advised “an abandonment of all previously attempted lines to Richmond.” Instead, Grant wanted to completely turn Lee by operating from the coast of the Carolinas. Political considerations intervened, however.

Initially Grant hoped that Lee might be maneuvered into a battle in the open, but with the failure of generals Siegel, Butler, and Banks he recognized that this was unlikely. If that could not be done, at least the Army of the Potomac might, by keeping the pressure on, keep Lee from dispatching reinforcements to other commands. But he wasn’t after a battle of attrition; if he had been he would not have needed to leave the lines at Spotsylvania. That place would have done just as well as any other for a battle of attrition.

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