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 Posted: Thu Apr 4th, 2013 09:39 pm
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JG6789
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Hellcat wrote: Technically Lee did beat Grant even though he surrendered to Grant. If you look at it Lee and Grant actually are involved in fourteen battles against each other. Lee claims victory in nine of those, Grant only in five.

 

I guess that all depends on how you look at it.  For one thing, it’s not clear whether the overland campaign should be viewed as one long battle, or a succession of separate ones, as you suggest.   It’s all a bit arbitrary, given the constant nature of the fighting.  More importantly, scoring these battles as “wins” or “losses” is kind of meaningless; they weren’t sporting competitions.  All that matters is outcome, and that, at least, is clear: McClellan never truly threatened the existence of Lee’s army, and Grant destroyed it.   

More to the point, though, even if Lee’s quote about McClellan is authentic—and I suspect it isn’t—what does that even mean?  Grant is supposed to have said to John Russell Young, “I never ranked Lee so high as some others in the army, that is to say, I never had so much anxiety when he was in my front as when Joe Johnston was in front…Lee was of a slow, cautious nature, without imagination or humor, always the same, with grave dignity. I never could see in his achievements what justified his reputation.” 

And: “ I question whether [Jackson’s] campaigns in Virginia justify his reputation as a great commander. He was killed too soon, and before his rank allowed him a great command. It would have been a test of generalship if Jackson had met Sheridan in the Valley, instead of some of the men he did meet.  From all I know of Jackson, and all I see of his campaigns, I have little doubt of the result. If Jackson had attempted on Sheridan the tactics he attempted so successfully upon others he would not only have been beaten but destroyed.”

 
What are we to make of that?

 

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