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Author Topic: Grant or Lee  (Read 6479 times)

Offline Murph

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Re: Grant or Lee
« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2012, 10:09:00 PM »
In tactics and strategy, Grant. Lee had an uncanny ability to boost the morale of his troops;and had several exceptional generals, for example Thomas Jackson and JEB Stuart, where the Union had political appointments like Sykes in corps command, of course nearing the end of the war the best Union leadership emerged, like Phil Sheridan.
However, had Grant had a smaller army at his command the outcome of the war would be likely be very different if he used the same tactics he did at battles such as Cold Harbor and the Overland Campaign.

Offline For Liberty

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Re: Grant or Lee
« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2012, 02:29:31 AM »
Lee was a better Tactician while Grant understood strategy better

Offline doublejm1

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Re: Grant or Lee
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2013, 08:23:31 PM »
I think Grant edges out Lee, but not by much.

Offline Mountainshield

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Re: Grant or Lee
« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2013, 05:30:08 AM »
Because I'm european I have always been more of Thirty Years war history fanboy and have several books on it. When studying who was the better general of i.e Wallenstein, Pappenheim or Adolphus I always find going over tactic displayed over battlemap very usefull and reading about progression of battle and the generals ability to adaptg to changes and use events useful. For example the most hailed soviet general of all time is Zhukov and he was a terrible general, the only strategy he ever seem to use was the pincer movement in conjunction with massive artillery barrages, and the battle for berlin really showcases how incompetent the general really was. So in judging who was the better general I think focus on tactics and overall strategy should be the primary variables.

Anyone got any good links to battlemaps where Lee or Grant fought?

Offline mdgiles

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Re: Grant or Lee
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2013, 04:38:05 PM »
The Eastern Union commanders were so bad that when Grant wanted anything important done in the east he relied on Sheridan - a western general he had brought east with him. Indeed the Union won at Gettysburg because the Confederates forced the union Army back into the perfect defensive position and then attacked that perfect defensive position for three days. Even then the Union got lucky (Chamberlain on Little Round Top, Custer charging Stuart's calvary). 
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Offline Partisan62

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Re: Grant or Lee
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2013, 10:12:11 AM »
Lee, hands down.  When confronted with situations where he did not have numerical superiority or faced a strong defensive position, Grant failed miserably (Shiloh first day, Cold Harbor, Petersburg). Grant's only talent was that he was relentless, regardless of the human cost.  Grant was a blunt object, a sledgehammer, and little more.  If Grant had faced a larger ANV in the spring of 1864, Lee would have caught Grant in one of his leftward movements and crushed him.  Even a temporary retreat by Grant in 1864 (and if Johnston had been allowed to continue to delay Sherman in Georgia) might have put McClellan in the White House in November 1864 instead of the tyrant Lincoln.

Offline mdgiles

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Re: Grant or Lee
« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2013, 06:09:27 AM »
Lee, hands down.  When confronted with situations where he did not have numerical superiority or faced a strong defensive position, Grant failed miserably (Shiloh first day, Cold Harbor, Petersburg). Grant's only talent was that he was relentless, regardless of the human cost.  Grant was a blunt object, a sledgehammer, and little more.  If Grant had faced a larger ANV in the spring of 1864, Lee would have caught Grant in one of his leftward movements and crushed him.  Even a temporary retreat by Grant in 1864 (and if Johnston had been allowed to continue to delay Sherman in Georgia) might have put McClellan in the White House in November 1864 instead of the tyrant Lincoln.
Grant indeed was surprised at Shiloh, by a larger confederate force - but he still won. At Cold Harbor he miscalculated the Confederate strength. In any case, he soon redeemed himself by forcing Lee into the one thing he had feared since the Seven Days, a siege of Richmond. The problem was, the public was expecting great victories on the battlefield. They didn't recognize that war had changed. Prior to the Civil War, victory had meant the destruction of whole armies; but armies had become too large, too well armed, and too well run, to be destroyed in that same manner.

I read an interesting article on the Civil War the other day. It made the point that Lee never defeated the Army of the Potomac, but he often defeated the General in charge of that army. Too many times the general facing Lee lost his nerve and retreated - even when that general still had superior forces. Grant was the first union general in the east to force Lee to conform to his movements.
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Offline Partisan62

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Re: Grant or Lee
« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2013, 08:43:25 AM »
Grant indeed was surprised at Shiloh, by a larger confederate force - but he still won. At Cold Harbor he miscalculated the Confederate strength. In any case, he soon redeemed himself by forcing Lee into the one thing he had feared since the Seven Days, a siege of Richmond. The problem was, the public was expecting great victories on the battlefield. They didn't recognize that war had changed. Prior to the Civil War, victory had meant the destruction of whole armies; but armies had become too large, too well armed, and too well run, to be destroyed in that same manner.

I read an interesting article on the Civil War the other day. It made the point that Lee never defeated the Army of the Potomac, but he often defeated the General in charge of that army. Too many times the general facing Lee lost his nerve and retreated - even when that general still had superior forces. Grant was the first union general in the east to force Lee to conform to his movements.

It's important to note that Grant won at Shiloh only when Buell's arrival suddenly made Grant's army much larger.  Had Buell not arrived that evening and Grant had been left without reinforcement, Beauregard would have pushed Grant's inferior forces into the Tennessee River early on the next day. 

I agree that the war changed the nature of warfare, transitioning from Napoleonic tactics in 1861 to almost WW1 trench warfare in 1864-1865.

You reinforce my point of Lee's superiority by noting that he won victories in spite of the Union's superior numbers;  yes, he defeated the Union generals despite having fewer men and supplies.  Grant on the other hand, wanted for nothing, but still couldn't finish the job until Sherman's terrorism broke the South's weak infrastructure.  Yes, Grant pushed Lee to move to meet him in the 1864 campaign mainly because the weakened ANV could only act defensively.  A pre-Gettysburg Confederate Army would have been a different matter, however; I believe a stronger ANV would have caught Grant in one of his piecemeal movements and crushed a significant part of the Army of the Potomac (and how I wish that that had occurred).

Like him or not, Bobby Lee accomplished much with very little...which cannot be said of Grant.

Offline mdgiles

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Re: Grant or Lee
« Reply #23 on: August 03, 2013, 08:45:19 AM »
It's important to note that Grant won at Shiloh only when Buell's arrival suddenly made Grant's army much larger.  Had Buell not arrived that evening and Grant had been left without reinforcement, Beauregard would have pushed Grant's inferior forces into the Tennessee River early on the next day.
Actually no. The Confederates lost their chance when they didn't defeat Grant on the first day. Wallace's and Prentiss's division in the Hornets nest accomplished that. And the Confederate plan was to push Grant back into the surrounding swamps, but they ended up pushing him back toward the river. There, with the Union gunboats providing covering fire, he stabilized the line and joined up with the other parts of his army which had been detached. Shiloh bears a great deal of resemblance to Antietam where Lee was caught with his army in pieces. At Shiloh the Confederates, couldn't bring their entire army to bear because there was a large ravine in front of the Union lines which they hadn't known about. At Antietam the union commanders were simply incompetent.
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I agree that the war changed the nature of warfare, transitioning from Napoleonic tactics in 1861 to almost WW1 trench warfare in 1864-1865.
It would have done the commanders in WW1 a great deal of good to study some of the battles of the Civil War, as it would have taught them the futility of attempting to cross open ground against rifled fire.
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You reinforce my point of Lee's superiority by noting that he won victories in spite of the Union's superior numbers;  yes, he defeated the Union generals despite having fewer men and supplies.  Grant on the other hand, wanted for nothing, but still couldn't finish the job until Sherman's terrorism broke the South's weak infrastructure.  Yes, Grant pushed Lee to move to meet him in the 1864 campaign mainly because the weakened ANV could only act defensively.  A pre-Gettysburg Confederate Army would have been a different matter, however; I believe a stronger ANV would have caught Grant in one of his piecemeal movements and crushed a significant part of the Army of the Potomac (and how I wish that that had occurred).
He only won because the commanders were so incompetent. What many people forget is that the Confederacy was constantly losing in the West. The "Lee fixation" of the Army of the Potomac, was often it's undoing. Why in the hell did Burnside attack at Fredericksburg, when he could have crossed further down the river and forced Lee out of his position. Once Lee ran into a general who was willing to maneuver and who understood logistics, he was dead meat. Speaking of Lee's earlier army. Do you think Grant, Sherman or Sheridan would have turned back at the Seven Days. Forcing Johnson and then Lee into a siege of Richmond, would have ended the war earlier. How about attacking Lee piecemeal at Antietam. Think any of those three would have turned and retreated at Chancellorsville. This was after all where Grant fought in the Wilderness, when the battle was a bloody draw he continued South. And why the hell did Lee attack at Gettysburg - across open fields, up hill, against a perfect defensive position. 
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Like him or not, Bobby Lee accomplished much with very little...which cannot be said of Grant.
It isn't a question of like or dislike. Lee was simply facing incompetents. When he started facing reasonably competent generalship - Meade at Gettysburg - he lost, and lost badly.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

 

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