Grant Had A Vision How To Win.

by Daniel Russ on July 22, 2017

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Ulysses S. Grant was an odd fellow. Quite smart, and scholarly, and rather petite in person, and meticulously dressed if not from time to time, slightly threadbare . “He’s a little’un” quipped a hotel guest when Grant checked in in 1865 in Richmond. He unimpressed people, kept his tongue and when he spoke he seemed genteel and clever and to the point. Grant’s no nonsense sense of how the war was conducted before his purview was a frustrated realization that his forces were spread all over the countryside defending an ever burgeoning frontier. His intention was to put effective large scale army corps sized forces together and then march on Richmond, the Confederate capitol, or on Atlanta, the Confederate industrial core.


Many of the Union commanders were simply doing what they were ordered to do, orders that originated with Abe Lincoln and were disseminated through General Halleck.


For example Union Generals Nathaniel P Banks and George Steele were headed west to crush and occupy East Texas. Lincoln was worried that the forces of Napolean III on Mexico could link up with Confederate forces and stave off the northern invasion. After all the Confederacy was trading slaves and cotton with the ambitious French empire.


Shelby Foote writes about this in The Civil War Red River to Appomattox



“To achieve the first of these, the concentration of fighting men on the actual firing line, he proposed that most of the troops now scattered along the Atlantic coast in Florida Georgia and the Carolinas be brought to Virginia for a convergent attack on Richmond and that the army posted Northwards in this defense. All down the littoral various forces of various sizes were attempting to make their way towards various objectives. Few if any of them vital to Grant’s main purpose accordingly per pair of orders for abandoning all such effort south of James along with as much of the regional so far occupied as was not clearly needed to maintain the blockade…..

…..The Confederacy was not only to be defeated it was to be defeated utterly and not only in the field where the battles were fought but also on the home front were the goods of war were produced. “War is cruelty,” Sherman had said for months as he responds to a southern matron’s complaint that his troops have appeared hard handed on occasion. “There’s no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is this the sooner it will be over.” Grant felt much the same way about the matter in here to start formulating his plan for cheating when he called a speedy termination he was determined to be guided by two principles of action to use the greatest number of troops practicable and to hammer can troops continuously until such time even by attrition they cannot go on….”


Sherman’s own instructions, as stated afterward by Grant in his final report, we’re quite simple into the point. He was to “to move against Johnson’s army to break it up and go into the interior of the enemies country as far as he could inflicting all the damage she could upon their war resources.” …..For the launching of this drive on the confederate heartland admittedly a large order the Ohioan would have the largest army in the country even without the troops regrettably detached to Nathaniel P Banks across the way.

Grant wanted the 35,000 aggregate troops he could assemble to come away from the Red River red Herring and march on Mobile. There he would attack the garrisons from the land and from the sea with Union ships of the line in the Gulf Coast. Grant knew when to be timid and cautious, and when to srtike confidently.

When Grant took command, the view from the  Union Officer corps was that the reason Grant did so well and because he had not faced real opposition like they had. As one General put it, “It’s different out west when you haven’t faced Bobby Lee.” He changed their minds in short order.

Grant was why the Union won the Civil War. He had a grand vision on how to win, and he outclassed his ex classmates not by preening in fine vestments and high social affairs. He was thoroughly unhappy at balls and parties and disliked speaking in public except on policy. He won because he knew how to win. He had the power. He won in the West because he had the resources, and he had the know how. And it was why he won.












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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Louis October 19, 2017 at 10:20 am

One of the things that always struck me about Grant is that he was so goal oriented. He did not let anything, short of a major disaster, disuade him from his goal. After his first battle with Lee, in the Wilderness, he just moved his army to the left, to try and get around Lee, instead of getting back to quarters to lick his wounds like all of his predecessors. Yes, he lost the battle, but he was determined to win the war. so get up, and start going again. Not the sort of commander both armies in Virginia were used to. And he kept at it until the other side broke

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