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Grant versus Lee - U.S. Grant - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Fri Aug 11th, 2006 02:22 pm
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calcav
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Casey (Longstreet),
As for Mr. White's statements, I didn't think Fort Donelson, though important, was not a HUGE battle of the Civil War
 

I think it's time to hit the books my friend. There are few Civil War battles that had such far reaching results as those that come from the Union victory on the Cumberland River. An entire army is captured, nearly 17,000 men. Two rivers are lost, both of which lead into the southern heartland. Gen. A.S. Johnston's defensive line is pierced and he is forced to withdraw into norhtern Mississippi, losing the capital at Nashville as well as all of southern Kentucky and most of central and west Tennessee. I would suggest the book "Where the South Lost the War: An Analysis of the Fort Henry-Fort Donelson Campaign" by Kendall D. Gott.

He couldn't beat Lee tactically, so he just pinned him against the wall and gradually wore him down.

But forcing a mobile opponent into a fixed position IS a tactic, as is attrition. As you point out, the cost of the Overland Campaign in human lives could not be sustained. General Grant  adapted his tacticts and was successful. General Lee could not adapt and was defeated.

Last edited on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 02:23 pm by calcav



 Posted: Fri Aug 11th, 2006 03:20 pm
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David White
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Longstreet:

You also need to revisit your casualty figures on Cold Harbor and check out the casualty figures for 1862 and see that Lee  was a "butcher" too, wasting men he could ill afford to lose.

Also look at what Grant did at the North Anna River and James River.  Those two events alone ought to convince you he was not just a heads down attritionist.  Lee laid the trap he wanted to lay for Burnside at the North Anna and Grant recognized it and avoided it-- a true bull in the China Closet would not have avoided the trap there.  He stole a march on the vaunted Lee crossing the James and would have had Petersburg if Butler and WF Smith hadn't botched that operation



 Posted: Sat Aug 12th, 2006 02:54 am
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James Longstreet
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I didn't say Ft. Donelson was unimportant, I was saying it was no Gettysburg.  I still cannot understand how the entire Civil War was lost at Donelson, so I guess I will have to hit the books.  Attrition IS a tactic, but I was pointing out how costly a tactic it is.  Lee, at Seven Days, did suffer many casulties, but the casulties Lee suffered were not as large, and it Lee didn't exactly hurl men over and over and try to break enemy lines in the way Grant or Burnside did.  The Confederate casulties suffered were high, but the Union casulties were also high.  This is not the case at Cold Harbor, or the Wilderness.  Granted, in first year of Lee's command, he did waste effort on frontal assaults, but I think he learned his lesson at Gettysburg.  But then, he taught Grant that lesson at Cold Harbor.  I don't know that Lee could not adapt...I think he just did not have the man power to fight Grant's kind of war.  But that doesn't make Lee any less of a commander.

--Casey

Last edited on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 02:58 am by James Longstreet



 Posted: Sat Aug 12th, 2006 04:05 am
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James Longstreet
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Well folks, this has turned into quite the disagreement.

Last edited on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 04:11 am by James Longstreet



 Posted: Sat Aug 12th, 2006 02:07 pm
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calcav
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Longstreet,

I think I am going to bow out of this "discussion". What at first seemed to be a promising debate has gone nowhere. I come into each new thread with an open mind and enjoy sharing and learning facts. But this conversation seems to be no more than a schoolyard argument of "my big brother can lick your big brother."

No one holds a higher opinion of General Lee than myself. In addition no one holds a higher opinion of General Grant. Two extrordinarily gifted military men. Your comparsion of General Lee to Jesus Christ in the other thread, joke or not, and your labeling his opponent as a butcher and drunk bring way too much bias to the discussion than I am prepared for. If you wish to deal in facts, I'm always available. And before anyone jumps on the Grant bashing bandwagon and says it is FACT that he was an alcoholic and he did order bloody assaults, I know and I agree. If merits and faults can be discussed and supported by facts without stereotypes I'm all for it. But if it becomes merely an impassioned argument for the "best man" I just get weary.

Best regards,

Tom

Last edited on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 03:23 pm by calcav



 Posted: Sat Aug 12th, 2006 05:37 pm
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James Longstreet
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Tom,

I agree with your statement that this has turned into a type of school yard argument, but if you will recall, though I referred to Grant as a butcher, I never once called him a drunk.  The comparison of General Lee to Jesus Christ was purely sarcastic, and I am sorry it caused such an outrage.

--Thanks, Casey



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 Posted: Mon Aug 14th, 2006 11:15 pm
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James Longstreet
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Indy, I was saying Ft. Stedman and Mule Shoe were not huge battles, not that they were decisive.  I also already addressed Pickett's Charge, and I admit that it was entirely Lee's fault, and do not blame Longstreet in the least.  I said that Cold Harbor was the only doomed assault worse that Pickett's Charge earlier.  Lee was not a perfect general, but who was?  Just because I said Lee was a superior commander than Grant doesn't mean Lee is flawless.  And, if you'll recall, Lee had a lot more man power when he was against some of the other unsuccessful Yankee generals.  He never recovered from Gettysburg, a blow that was not delivered by Grant.  Sorry you did not understand my post, but maybe you should've read the whole argument before attempting to discredit me.



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 Posted: Tue Aug 15th, 2006 04:42 pm
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James Longstreet
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Look, when Grant fought Lee, Lee was outnumbered BADLY.  He ended up with what?  30 or 40 thousand men when surrendered?  At Seven Days, Little Mac and Lee were pretty much even.(Forces actually engaged in combat)  And Lee may not have smashed the Yankees at Chancelorsville as bad as he did if Grant had been in command.  But he wasn't.  And Lee was outnumbered.  And he still won very impressive battles, and kept the war going.  I mean, either way, you have to admit Chancelorsville was a masterpiece. 



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 Posted: Tue Aug 15th, 2006 07:45 pm
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James Longstreet
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Look, Grant was a good, solid commander, who was one of the few Union generals to really take advantage of his resources.  All I was saying, though maybe I should have made it clearer sooner, was that I would've ranked Lee a notch higher than Grant.  But I'm gonna surrender this one before I make too many enemies.  You win, Indy.

Last edited on Tue Aug 15th, 2006 07:47 pm by James Longstreet



 Posted: Fri Sep 8th, 2006 02:48 am
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COOK_R_S
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Grant's Vicksburg campaign is one of the few cw campaigns which can be taught as sound application of principles and tenacity.  It was not a matter of luck.  By contrast, Lee's tactics at Chancellorsville broke the rules, and his victory was the result of a breakdown on the Union side.  

If Grant had been at Chancellorsville, Lee would have been a prisoner of the Army of the Potomac.   



 Posted: Fri Sep 8th, 2006 06:54 am
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smawson44
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You can't say Grant was a bad commander.  He realized his positive, including brute force, and used that as no other Northern commander had.  He was the one who defeated Lee.  If Grant had been at Chancellorsville one might wonder how much earlier the war would have been won.  Just as Lee used his positives, his mobile and solid commanders, Grant used his strengths, his superiority of numbers and equipment.  Maybe Grant was a poor commander, but he was the first to realize that Lee could be defeated, which deserves him some credit.  Also no one can deny him his mastery of the overland campaign on Vicksburg.



 Posted: Fri Sep 8th, 2006 06:56 pm
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HankC
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One thing I have come to 'not understand' ;)

In late 1864, with Lee pinned at Petersburg and Sheridan revealing the lack of fighting prowess in what was left of the ANV, why wasn't a large column directed from Washington into Central Virginia to threaten Lee's rear? Fredericksburg is a good jump off point and many troops could move from the Petersburg front.

I can think of a few reasons: impending winter weather, Grant's dislike of retrograde movements, lack of secure supply.

Sheridan's success at pretty much destroying the 2nd corps in open combat demonstrates (to me) the feasibility of the idea...

 

HankC



 Posted: Sat Sep 9th, 2006 01:16 am
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Shadowrebel
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Cook_R_S wrote:

If Grant had been at Chancellorsville, Lee would have been a prisoner of the Army of the Potomac.   

 

What do you base this on?

smawsom44 wrote:

 If Grant had been at Chancellorsville one might wonder how much earlier the war would have been won.

What do you base this on?

If Grant had been at Chancellorsville the outcome would have been the same. Chancellorsville was a brilliantly executed plan. No Northern commander could have seen what was coming, no less, change the outcome.

smawson44 wrote:

Also no one can deny him his mastery of the overland campaign on Vicksburg.

Had Lee and Longstreet been at Vicksburg maybe that would have ended differently. Grant had no one of this caliber to oppose him at Vicksburg. Pemberton and Johnston are not exactly Lee and Longstreet. You can not have "mastery" when your opposition is far inferior.

Regards,

Shadowrebel



 Posted: Sat Sep 9th, 2006 01:21 am
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Shadowrebel
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HankC,

Good point, nothing could have stop what you suggest and might have ended the war sooner. The reasons you sight are good ones but, none serious enough to prevent a rear action, well worth the risks.

Regards,

Shadowrebel



 Posted: Sat Sep 9th, 2006 05:10 am
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James Longstreet
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My thoughts exactlty, Shadowrebel.



 Posted: Sat Sep 9th, 2006 11:40 pm
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smawson44
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I base my statement on Grants actions after the Battle of the Wilderness.  Which much like Chaneslorville was a strategic drawl, and yet instead of retreating across the river as Hooker did, Grant moved foward.  Maybe Pemberton was a weak commander, but which other Union commander would have taken the risks that Grant did to get to Vicksburg.

 



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