I was reading a review of a recent US Grant biography, U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth, that had this interesting description of Grant

During his presidency, to be sure, the Democratic press condemned Grant as at once feeble, conniving, and imperious--attacks similar to those that the Democrats had made on Lincoln.
Or George Bush for that matter.

Grant also got undeserved bad press in BHL Hart's classic Strategy while Sherman got praise. Forgetting that Grant gave Sherman orders and that Grant's job was to pin Lee so Sherman would be free to maneuver. i.e. the classic "hold them by the nose while you kick them in the pants" as recounted in General George Patton's autobiography War As I Knew It.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon on 01.27.10 at 10:08 AM


While Grant has long been underestimated (he was a damn fine President and possible the greates general in American history), he was certainly not intending to "pin Lee." He would rather have broken Lee's lines in 1864. That he did not was largely because Lee was very cunning, most of Grant's subordinate officers incompetent, and more or less every other active command failed. Grant was able to win because he, Sherman, and Sheridan were extremely good and resolute.

Patrick   ·  January 27, 2010 12:55 PM

And yet 80 years later Patton turned Grant's inadvertence into a military maxim.

Of course Grant would have liked to break Lee. But pinning him was enough. No other General in the Civil War had been able to do even that.

M. Simon   ·  January 27, 2010 3:50 PM

Grant realized that the important thing was to beat the Confederacy -- not for *Grant* to beat the Confederacy. While he hoped to break Lee's line, he did not count on it. Grant also realized that the Confederacy was focusing on him. So he served as the matador's cape, pushing straight into Lee, while Sherman's army was the sword. Or perhaps Grant was a bludgeon rather than the cape.

So, Grant tied down the main Confederate army (Army of Northern Virginia) while Sherman dismembered the rest of the South. Grant could have switched with Sherman, but realized that would be counterproductive - as it would have focused attention on the cape rather than the sword.

Mark L   ·  January 28, 2010 10:57 AM

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