” The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can and keep moving on” – Ulysses S Grant from author Mark Weaver accessed on Dec. 4, 2015.
Throughout history great generals have turned the tides of battles and ultimately wars. General George Washington of the Continental Army bravely lead his ragtag army to a mighty victory over the British. In the same way, General Patton beat back the Nazis in Europe during WWII. In the American Civil War, two main generals emerged, Robert E. Lee of the South and Ulysses S. Grant of the North. Their lives were completely different in beliefs, success, values and especially mindset. They represent a turning point in American history, where the country saw itself in a new light.
Both Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant changed the tides of our country because of their lives and mindsets as well as each of their military role in the Civil War.
Robert E Lee was born in January of 1807 in Virginia. Lee was born into an aristocratic family that included a former president, Declaration signer. He had an easy childhood, being rich. Moreover, Robert viewed himself as the expansion of his family and joined West Point Academy. During the five years at the academy, Lee earned the reputation of a good student and excellent tactician, as well as graduating with no demerits in 1830. Lee eventually found and married, the great granddaughter of George Washington, Mary Curtis. 1846, was the start of the Mexican-American war where the young Lee first saw action. According to biography.
com accessed on Dec. 20, 2015 “Serving under General Winfield Scott, Lee distinguished himself as a brave battle commander and brilliant tactician”. After the war, Lee struggled to fit in and fell in poverty. Then when the Civil War broke out, President Lincoln asked Lee to serve as his commander of the Union army.
He declined saying he wouldn’t take up arms against his fellow Virginians. He then resigned from the U S army and when Virginia seceded from the United States in 1861, he joined his fellow Virginians as part of the newly formed C.S.A.
the Confederate States of America. Even though he was opposed to slavery and the war he still chose to become a Confederate commander. In spite of several major victories Lee started to suffer heavy losses including the battle of Gettysburg. This marked the turning point in the War and lead to the eventual surrender of his army to Ulysses S Grant, the commanding general of the Union. After the war, Robert lived with his family in Virginia until he died in 1870. Ulysses S Grant, was born to a humble family in Ohio of 1822.
His father was tanner, but he didn’t take up the trade. Grant at the age of 17 entered West Point Academy. Being shy and somewhat reserved, he didn’t have much success and barely graduated. He was stationed in St. Louis and met his wife. Grant was then shipped to the front of the Mexican-American war where he oversaw supplies under the command of Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott.
The Civil War began in 1861. Unlike Robert E Lee who immediately became the commander of the Confederate army, Grant was a relatively unknown battle commander for the Union. But because of his relentless pursuit of the enemy and the many failures of the top Union generals, President Lincoln decided to promote Grant, in 1864, to the commander of the Union army. The following year Grant hunted, and pursued Lee’s army until he surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, thus ending the Civil War. Soon afterward Grant was elected 18th President despite his lack of political knowledge.
After two, afflicted terms, he fell into a depression in which his friend, famous author, Mark Twain, helped Grant write his life’s memoirs before he died in 1885. The Civil War was a battle front of clashing ideas. New tactics battled against old ones. New technology improved the quality of a soldier’s aim and survival. General Grant introduced new tactics to war.
They are the foundations for trench warfare used in WWI, but eventually evolved into modern tactics used today. As Author Jean Smith said accessed on Dec. 18, 2015 “Grant was not interested in occupying enemy territory or capturing Richmond he was determined to destroy the Confederate Army.” This was the core or center of Grant’s military success. General Lee used and was defeated by the Napoleonic tactics used for centuries in Europe. This worked against the new technology of the time and resulted in heavy casualties.
Lee also thought of himself as a Virginian first. The rest of the South followed this idea as well until the end the Civil War. Grant and the North were opposite because they were a united states not separate states.
Both of these commanding generals, Robert E Lee, and Ulysses S Grant, who were on opposite sides of the Civil War, helped to shape the country into becoming what we think of ourselves today as – AMERICANS. Lee was the more skilled traction,but he betrayed the United States to fight for what he thought was his true country, Virginia. Grant was a unknown commander, but his aggressive fighting style and his belief that all of the United States needed to be preserved, helped to win the war. As General Patton said “Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy.”