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What made Grant great.. - U.S. Grant - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Tue May 6th, 2014 04:02 pm
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RebelRouser
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    U.S. Grant wasn't a great intellect, but in 1864 Lincoln didn't need intellectuals. He needed someone who could defeat the Confederate armies in the East. He needed someone who would fight and keep the pressure on General Lee.

   Grant's personality was first seen in the East in the Battle of the Wilderness.

Encyclopedia Virginia: Wilderness, Battle of the  Going on 150 years ago today.

   Taking tremendous casualties did not stop Grant from moving forward. It must have been clear to General Lee that the rules of the game had changed. Grant the brawler would keep moving forward on Lee the boxer, no matter how many jabs to the face that he had to take. Lincoln had found his man.

   While I've said that U.S. Grant was great, I might have also offended some Grant fans by saying that he was a brawler, and not a genius. In fact, two former presidents disagree with what I said so I'll add what they had to say.


ULYSSES S. GRANT HOMEPAGE  There. People can decide for themselves.  :D

 

Last edited on Tue May 6th, 2014 09:56 pm by RebelRouser



 Posted: Wed May 7th, 2014 01:04 am
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Hellcat
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Nothing actually made Grant great beyond being the general to receive Lee's surrender. I've said it on here a number of time, Grant was more of a bulldog compared to the other Federal generals Lee faced. Grant didn't typically retreat and then hole up while trying to figure out his next move when Lee defeated him. And Lee did defeat Grant more often than Grant defeated him. Out of fifteen major engagements where Lee and Grant were the commanding officers Grant claims about five wins. So Lee was more likely to beat Grant.

But I don't call Grant a bulldog for no reason. When Grant's defeated he's not as likely as some of the other Federal generals to lick their wounds and try to decide what to do next. He's more likely to change the direction of his march and keep moving forward. If he was headed in a more westerly direction, he'll head more towards the east. He didn't really let up as past generals had. For Grant it was more a war of attrition, especially after he ended the prisoner exchange. He knew full well that the North had the man power and industrial power that the South didn't have and that they could afford to suffer more loses than the South. Especially if he kept pressing.



 Posted: Wed May 7th, 2014 08:09 pm
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wondering
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Genius is over-rated; give me tenacity first, any day. I like your analogy of the brawler, value opinions of past Presidents. Those two fellows weren't light-weights when it came to fighting wars either.

Welcome to the Rangers, Reb. ;)

"When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."
- Jonathan Swift

"In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson



 Posted: Thu May 8th, 2014 11:07 pm
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Hellcat
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You think you might have offended folks, RebelRouser. I just took a look at my post and at that first sentence and realized what I said was not quite what I meant. I actually wasn't trying to say Grant was a great general because of Lee's surrender but rather he is viewed that way because of it, and hopefully some got the inference from the rest of my post. Today many seem to consider Grant a great general merely because he was the general Lee surrendered to. Go back and look at his performance in the western theater of the war, all that seems to be largely ignored in comparison to what happened after he came east. And even most of what happened between him and Lee is largely ignored in favor of the events at Appomattox Court House. I'd be willing to bet that if you went out on the street and asked folks if they thought Grant was a great general and why that seven out of every ten would say yes. And their why would be Lee's surrender. "Yeah, Grant was a great general because he beat Lee." That is, of course, if they even understand what you're talking about.



 Posted: Fri May 9th, 2014 12:22 am
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RebelRouser
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   In our society today, just about anything is bound to offend someone. Grant fans might be upset over any criticism of him, and its the same for Lee fans who might not be able to tolerate any criticism of their man. But however great these generals were, they were still human beings, and all human beings make mistakes.

   U.S. Grant made his reputation in the West, but I would still say that it wasn't due to genius. The word I used in my subtitle before was tenacity. It seems that word already has gotten a positive response.

   Grant certainly made mistakes, both in the West and the East. His career could have ended quickly when he got himself in a bad situation at Belmont. But he didn't panic and he got himself out. He was caught off guard at Shiloh, but again he didn't freak out, and after barely holding on the first day, he won on the second. He tried a number of things in the Vicksburg campaign that didn't work. When he was stymied, he would try something else. He was aggressive, and he was persistent. In the end, in both West and East, he won, but it wasn't without setbacks along the way.

   Some men can be great without being geniuses. Some men can be geniuses without being great. To me, both Grant and Lee were great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last edited on Fri May 9th, 2014 01:15 am by RebelRouser



 Posted: Sat May 10th, 2014 03:08 am
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Hellcat
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RebelRouser wrote:
When he was stymied, he would try something else. He was aggressive, and he was persistent.

Exactly. I've said he was a bulldog. Wondering has said to give him tenacity first. You've said aggressive and persistent. At the moment I'm thinking of Lincoln's famous quote from when folk were trying to pressure him to get rid of Grant following Shiloh. "I can't spare this man, he fights." Of course at that time the Peninsula Campaign had really only just started. As yet there had been Williamsurg, no Seven Days, no Second Bull Run(Manassas), no Antietam (Sharpsburg), no Frederiksberg, no Chancellorsville. And no Lee.

Yeah, I know where Lee was at the time. I also know he had already suffered a pair of defeats (Philippi at the hands of Rosecrans and Cheat Mountain at the hands of Reynolds in June and September 1861). But if you think about it, Lee really wasn't the name we think of today, that didn't happen until he took over for Johnston as commander of he Army of Northern Virginia. At that point the war in the east pretty much became destroy/defeat Lee, which is why I say "and no Lee."



 Posted: Thu May 22nd, 2014 12:15 pm
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Texas Defender
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   There has long been some Lincoln mythology. Perhaps there is some Grant mythology as well.

Grant's Vicksburg Supply Line



 Posted: Sat May 24th, 2014 12:10 pm
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Johan Steele
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The irony is that Grant never considered him great or a genius.

Grant was a brawler but the idea that he could do nothing but frontal attacks is pure moonshine. Frankly, the Vicksburg campaingn was perhaps the most brilliant of the war. Nothing describes success like success and a winning record cements it.



 Posted: Sat May 24th, 2014 12:17 pm
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RebelRouser
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   The irony to me is that Grant never really succeeded at anything before the Civil War. But when that event came, he proved to be the right man, at the right place, at the right time.



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