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 Posted: Sun Jan 1st, 2012 04:56 am
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csamillerp
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If you could create a sandbox battle against Lee and Grant, where both have the same amount of men and resources, both having favorable ground upon which to fight, who do you think will come up on top?

Because I'm a southerner IMHO I give it to Lee all day long. While he was forced to fight a war with inferior odds he still was able to hold off a much stronger union army/armies for 3 years.

Grant had the superior numbers and resources and used them like no other commander would dare. He didnt care how he would look in the newspapers he just wanted to win the war as quickly as he could. Grant was a genius in the type of war he fought, but i doubt in an evenly fought battle he could have defeated Lee.

To clear things up these are the battle orders for both armies (corps wise) lets say each army consist of 75,000 men

 

-Grant/Meade

Hancock II

Sedgwick VI

Sheridan CAV

Warren V

 

-Lee

Longstreet I

Jackson II

Stuart CAV



 Posted: Sun Jan 1st, 2012 05:18 am
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csamillerp
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Sorry about the title i dont really know why it says Lee and Jackson, it's suppose to say Lee and Grant...lol



 Posted: Sun Jan 1st, 2012 11:28 pm
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Hellcat
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Just looking at history gives you your answer. With fewer men and resources Lee still one most of the battles he fought against Grant. The reason Grant ultimately defeated Lee was that he was a bulldog who wore Lee down. Whenever Grant lost a battle instead of backing off and taking the time to recover and plan his next move Grant just changed direction and kept going forward, which kept the pressure up on Lee. If everything were equal Lee would have won.



 Posted: Sun Jan 1st, 2012 11:48 pm
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Mark
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I think a great general understands and leverage his strengths against his opponent's weaknesses. Grant proved quite adept at maneuver and combined arms tactics out west where the forces were usually close to equal. In the east Grant found different terrain and a different operational situation and had to use different strengths (in this case men and material) to face an opponent with different weaknesses. I don't think it is possible to come up with an accurate answer.

Mark



 Posted: Mon Jan 2nd, 2012 01:53 am
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csamillerp
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the reason i made this post is because alot of people say grant was the better general because he defeated lee. but it was only because he had more troops then lee and had one of the best supplied armies in history.



 Posted: Mon Jan 2nd, 2012 05:21 am
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pender
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I would take Lee.

Pender



 Posted: Mon Jan 2nd, 2012 10:30 am
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BHR62
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I voted for Grant just so Grant wouldn't be shut out. If Lee and Grant have the same forces, defensive positions, and supplies....I think they stalemate each other until Sherman works his way through Georgia and the Carolinas :)

You're all thinking Grant would have fought the same kind of war he actually did.  Grant adapted his ways of fighting to the situation he faced.  So it is a question that really can't be answered with certainty.

Last edited on Mon Jan 2nd, 2012 10:43 am by BHR62



 Posted: Mon Jan 2nd, 2012 11:02 am
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Old Blu
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Grant wasn't as quick a learner as Lee.



 Posted: Mon Jan 2nd, 2012 08:32 pm
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omar
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I'll take Lee and the points



 Posted: Mon Jan 2nd, 2012 09:33 pm
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Hellcat
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If there was no pressure placed on him then yes it could have been a stalemate. But let's remember that Grant would have had pressure to break Lee's lines and being stalemated would have resulted in his being relieved under that pressure for failing to act. Stalemates seem like they could have only lasted for a few months as long as the Federal general was doing something to try and break the stalemate. I stick by what I said about what actually happened allowing us to figure out what would have happened if everything was even.



 Posted: Mon Jan 2nd, 2012 10:32 pm
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BHR62
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The Confederates couldnt stop Sherman....so it would still play out the same. Like what happened in real life Grant and Lee stalemate.....Sherman rips the heart out of the south.



 Posted: Tue Jan 3rd, 2012 06:41 am
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Hellcat
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No, I don't think it would. Grant's Overland Campaing began in May of 1864. Sherman didn't turn North until the Carolina's Campaign began in February 1865. With everything equal Lee would then have almost a year to deal with Grant. And with pressure put on Grant to produce results I believe Lee could have defeated Grant before Sherman could be brought North.

Grant would have had to have had Sherman abandon his attempts to capture Atlanta and then Savannah in order to join him against Lee sooner than he would have been able to in reality had the two armies managed to link up prior to Lee's surrender. Sherman didn't reach NC until what, late Febryuary/early March 1865? And even then it was a little bit before he was near the NC-Va border. Grant would have had to pull Sherman in 1864 to make a difference if everything were equal, and most likely before he even began the Overland Campaign. Which then put's Grant back in a position of more men and supplies than Lee and brings up again the fact that with fewer men and supplies Lee still won most of his battles against Grant. Though I think the number Lee would win may be fewer than actually happened. 

But remember Lee is still better equipped, better supplied, and has more men than he actually did even with Sherman there. So Appomattox may not have happened until later in 1865 or sometime in 1866, and then it would have been someplace else. It's gonna take a bit longer to wear Lee down if Sherman is brought North sooner. Even if Sherman reaches Grant when he would have historically the war would last longer.

And abandoning Atlanta would possibly mean Lincoln does't get re-elected as the capture of Atlanta and Mobile Bay greatly helped his attempts at re-election. Despite his own opinions, had McClellan thus managed to win the election he'd have been forced to bow to the Democrat Party's platform of ending the war and negotiating a settlement with the Confederacy. Which then means that if Grant doesn't pull Sherman north sooner then the war could end before Sherman could hook up with Grant. And with them hooked up from Sherman being brought north sooner it's still going to end before Grant can defeat Lee.

If we do say Sherman takes Atlanta before Grant calls Sherman up, then figure Savannah doesn't happen. And likely the battles towards the end of the Atlanta campaign don't happen. So now Thomas has to defend Atlanta. Thomas now has to divide his forces to keep Atlanta and prevent Hood from taking central Tennessee. Which then leads to a second division to try to protect Nashville and chase Hood. Hood may then be able to defeat Thomas and retake Nashville before the 1864 election, which would negate Sherman's taking Atlanta in the public's view because it would put a captured Confederate capital back in Confederate hands. Which then increases the possibility of Lincoln loosing to McClellan because it would be seen as Federal forces being willing to trade one Confederate capital for another.



 Posted: Tue Jan 3rd, 2012 07:40 am
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BHR62
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All things being equal in supplies and manpower I just don't see Lee or Grant being able to decisively defeat the other. They both admitted that the other was different from the generals they had faced before. So like in real life they battle each other into a standstill. Sherman is still free to do what he did in real life. He marches through Georgia and then up through the Carolinas while Grant and Lee continue to hammer each other in a series of non-decisive battles..

The war was won in the west. Grant and then Sherman's efforts there turned the tide on the Confederacy. So in this scenario all that is required of Grant is to keep Lee busy and prevented from helping the Western Theater. Sherman's march through the south was then and would be here the deciding factor. That march wouldn't be effected or changed by this scenario, IMO.

I think Lee and Grant were pretty much equal when it comes to generalship. The feeling in the north when Grant went east was finally we got the top guy going up against Lee. Its been awhile since I read/heard it, but respected southern historian Shelby Foote gave the edge to Grant over Lee.



 Posted: Tue Jan 3rd, 2012 08:32 am
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Hellcat
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I definately agree with you that the war was won out west.



 Posted: Sun Jan 8th, 2012 02:44 am
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jojotater
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You also have to take in account the officers and men under these great generals. Early on, with Jackson still alive, I'd take Lee.

Grant knew what to do with a bigger and better equipped force. He was a great general. Lee was better.

http://civilwartale.blogspot.com



 Posted: Sun Jan 8th, 2012 03:36 am
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csamillerp
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thats the key Jojo, it's not just Lee that Grant would be facing, he'd be facing arguably the most successful pair of generals in history. Most likely with grant still alive lee would not have taken the defensive, not with the two armies being so closely matched. I'm don't know of anyother major defensive battle Grant fought other than Shiloh, which he nearly lost on the 1st day.

I appreciate everyone's comments, to me this battle would be the equivalent of watching Ty Cobb and Derek Jeter go head to head in baseball. Something we all have our opinions on but will never know



 Posted: Sun Jan 8th, 2012 12:32 pm
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BHR62
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I wanted to make sure Grant got some props in this thread. His campaign against Vicksburg was taught in British military schools during the days of "the sun never sets on the Union Jack." I'm sure some of Lee's campaigns were also. Grant stated his only mistake was Cold Harbor. But the reason he launched the frontal assaults there was because he thought the Confederate army was on the verge of collapse and one good strong push would break their lines and Richmond would fall. He was very wrong obviously and he admitted it.

The Lost Cause glorification is powerful and inspiring. The South showed incredible defiance and valor in resisting the North. They were starving by wars end but still remained bitterly defiant. Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet led their troops well. A true testament to the American character.

But what often gets lost is the valor shown by the Yanks in the war. After all it was the guys pulling the triggers that decided this war for the most part. The Yank assaults at Fredericksburg amazes me. Regiment after regiment marched towards the wall stepping over their dead or dying comrades. It had to be a hellish scene but yet they still made the assaults. It was an incredible display of bravery by the common soldier.

I agree with you though that a Grant-Lee battle on equal terms would be something to see.



 Posted: Sun Jan 15th, 2012 10:11 am
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csamillerp
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i agree with you, any soldier that fought during the civil war has my undying respect, i know i wouldnt be able to walk alongside any of them, whether yank or reb. Not to put down the soldiers of today, but the courage the soldiers had to have in 1861-1865 is something different then what soldiers have to have today.

the ordinary soldier was the one that won gettysburg for the north, and 2nd manassas for the south... not the generals



 Posted: Thu Jan 19th, 2012 07:55 pm
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Gettysburger
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I would have to say it would be impossible to determine accurately.
I realize csamillerp wanted to get a discussion going but this discussion might be a classic apples and orange comparison.

Both generals fought in the style they did based mostly on the situations they found themselves in.

Even though the federal forces fought mainly in enemy territory, they still waged offensive campaigns sometimes from untenable positions.

According to the Napoleonic tradition the generals were taught in the Academy some of those offensive campaigns should not have been fought like there were.

After the battle, it is very easy to look back and examine
all the mistakes that were made that were not considered
in the planning and execution of those battle plans.



 Posted: Thu Jan 19th, 2012 08:01 pm
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Gettysburger
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ps. I might guess the replies to this question might be
affected by geographic location?

Would people from the South or with Rebel sympathies might
choose General Lee as the greatest commander and vise versa.

Might be a good topic for another thread?




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