General Ulysses S. Grant
I can’t spare this man, he fights!
Lincoln’s response to calls for Grant’s removal from command after Shiloh.
Few men in American history have had a more meteoric rise than Ulysses S. Grant. In March 1861 at age 38 he was a clerk in a tanning store owned by his father. A former Army officer, he was a complete failure in trying to support his family, going from one unsuccessful business venture to the next. He had a happy marriage, and that was fortunate, because that appeared to be the only success he was going to enjoy in this world.
A scant three years later he was general-in-chief of the vast Union armies, and on this day 150 years ago the Senate confirmed the nomination of Lincoln to make Grant Lieutenant General, a rank only held before Grant by two men: George Washington and Winfield Scott.
Whatever 1864 would bring for the Union in regard to the Civil War was largely up to Grant and the plans and decisions he would make. Skeptical men and officers of the Army of the Potomac, who assumed Grant would lead them in the upcoming campaign, remarked that only time would tell whether the first name of this latest commander would be Ulysses or Useless. North and South, most Americans realized that 1864 would likely be the decisive year of the War. At this pivot point in their history all Americans looked at the failure from Galena, Illinois, who now had the destiny of two nations in his hands, and wondered what he would do with this completely unexpected role on the stage of History that Fate, and Grant’s innate ability as a soldier, had bestowed upon him. Continue reading
After his successes at Jackson, Champion Hill and Big Black River, Grant assumed that Confederate morale might be low enough that Vicksburg could be taken by assault and avoid a time consuming siege. In that he was mistaken. The Confederates lacked the strength to defeat him in open battle. but they had both the strength, and the morale, to hold Vicksburg. The first assault by Grant occurred on May 19, 1863 and was aimed at the Stockade Redan. Continue reading
It is rare for any soldier to attain the rank of general, but Albert Sidney Johnston managed that feat in three armies: rising from private to brigadier general in the army of the Republic of Texas, brevet brigadier general in the United States Army, and full general in the Confederate States Army. On April 3, 1862 he led his newly created Army of Mississippi out of the town of Corinth, Mississippi and began the march which would end in the surprise Confederate attack in the early morning of April 6, 1862, the beginning of the two day mammoth battle known to history as Shiloh.
The battle would result in the death of Johnston, his dying caused probably by his act of mercy in dispatching his personal surgeon to attend a wounded Union officer and none of his remaining staff having the presence of mind to fashion a tourniquet to stanch Johnston’s bleeding after he was wounded, and the fighting would inflict over 23,000 total Union and Confederate casualties, exceeding in two days all of the battlefield casualties in all of America’s wars prior to the Civil War. Shiloh told the nation, North and South, that this was going to be a very grim war, and that their adversary would fight it with all the strength and will that they could muster. After Shiloh the myth of a quick victorious war died on both sides. Continue reading