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General Ulysses S. Grant was the union general for the last years of the civil war and is celebrated and respected throughout America for his service to the country. Revered military historian, Shelby Foote, considers Grant one of the greatest generals of history. Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant, in Point Pleasant, Ohio on April 27, 1822. He had what he described as an “uneventful” childhood in Georgetown, Ohio where his family moved a year after him being born. At the age of 17, Grant’s father organised for him to be sent to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Due to a secretarial error he was listed as Ulysses S. Grant, and so, not wanting to be rejected from the school, Grant changed his name on the spot. He did not excel as a student at West Point, achieving average grades and receiving demerits for slovenly dress and tardiness, and ultimately decided that the academy “had no charms” for him. He planned to resign from the military after he served his mandatory four years of duty. Despite all of this, when the Civil war broke out, Grant jumped at the chance to serve his country again. Grants possession of skills such as bravery, determination, perseverance, and the ability to be flexible under immense stress, helped him win the war. His successes can be attributed to his aptitude for understanding the politics of this war and how it influences battle; his capacity to stay cool and fearless under intense pressure and stress; his assertion and determination in his fights; his thoughts regarding his motivation; and his ability to make all around educated, quick choices in the heart of battle. Grant’s hard-won victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in May of 1863 was a strategic masterpiece and although his earlier victories placed him in the public eye, his triumph at Vicksburg really cemented his reputation as a capable and effective leader.
Grant’s ability to grasp the political nature of modern war and see how state truly affects warfare is an example of his importance and genius as a General. He is known as one of the first great modern generals because of the fact that he recognised that war was changing and that he too would have to change the way he fought. In Source A, a mister Williams is quoted as saying that “Grants common sense allowed him to see past mere theory,” and that it was his “ability to grasp the political nature of modern war” that truly identifies him as “the first of the great modern generals.” This source displays the contemporary thinking of the union general and how this lead to him being able to make decisions that, although must have seemed crazy at the time, paid off in the long run.
Grant demonstrates his worth as a general through his ability to remain calm and courageous under extreme pressure and stress. These abilities helped Grant to become noticeably recognised as a man who fought well and gained numerous victories. Unmistakably, the worries of other generals through the Civil War did not affect Grant and did not prevent his capacity to make detailed, strategic plans and implement them in the midst of battle. This is seen in Source B where Grant is described as having “four o’clock in the morning courage ” and could be as “cool as a cucumber” while being told the enemy was near. This source is significant because it highlights Grants ability to make quick, informed decisions on things while staying composed, paying little regard to the situation he was confronting at the time. He was known for both remaining effective under outrageous conditions and staying focused in intense battles. Shelby Foote also mentions another of Grant’s admirable qualities; that he never cried in front of his troops and remained strong and stoic in their presence. This strength of character was admired and looked for among generals. These qualities are important in military leadership because without them, generals might be more inclined to make decision based on what is happening in that very second rather than considering the outcomes of such a choice. By having the blend of these qualities, Grant could clearly plan and implement strategies in the midst of warfare, which led to him being respected by the President of the time for his successes and broadly perceived as an extremely compelling and critical leader and general in the Civil War.
Grant’s determination and doggedness in his battles were some of his most renowned qualities. His persistence and perseverance were some of the qualities most looked for in a general as it meant that they would be willing to go all the way to achieve their goal. President Theodore Roosevelt assesses the quality of Grants tactics in source C saying that it was his “hard hitting” and “continuous hammering” that finally broke through the lines. This source is important because it emphases Grant’s annoyance with the old idea that the enemy should be reasoned with. In his first major successes as a General in the Civil War, the seizure of Fort Donelson and Fort Henry in 1862, he won the nickname ‘“Unconditional Surrender” Grant’. His “contempt for the weak souls who wished to hold parley with the enemy while the enemy was still capable of resistance” was the spark behind his famed unconditional surrender requirement. This attribute was one that has been talked about by many in the years after the civil war and identifies Grant as the most important and admired general of the Civil war.
Ulysses S. Grant has been viewed as one of the best generals for his attention to his motivation. His passion and assertion to accomplish his objective is the thing that made him most effective. Alongside his own ethos, he had the general population around him as a primary concern when he settled on his choices, needing just the best for his men and his nation. And so his cause became the want to do what was “right, constitutional, within the law, and for the very best interests of the whole people” as seen in source D. Source D particularly focuses on his desire to make the wisest decision by those individuals around him. He immovably put faith in what he was doing and needed to do it to the best of his abilities. He plainly states that his defeats have not been the intent, but rather his own “errors of judgment”. He had the best objectives and the interests of his troops at the top of the priority list while he coordinated the army. This focus of Grant enabled him to be highly effective as it allowed for him to accommodate the requirements of his troops and not have his own particular plan for victory at the top of the list. While he aimed for victory for his own beliefs, as his men’s superior, he made choices that would benefit his troops. This single-mindedness for his cause, and promise to make the wisest decision by every other person, is the thing that made him such an adored general. By having his cause at the focal point of his choices, he became the best general of the Civil War.
The battle and siege of Vicksburg again highlighted Grant’s capability of making well-informed, swift decisions in the heart of combat. His tactical ability during the battle of Vicksburg highlighted his ability to change and adapt his plans as he overcame problems during the battle. Grant’s quick thinking and strong determination to win proved to be just what the union needed for this victory. This can be seen in source A because although the Confederates originally held the high ground, Grant knew his men outnumbered them 3-to-1 and so decided to stage a full frontal assault of the confederate lines. After the first two failed attempts to break the lines, Grant’s flexibility and tactical prowess allowed him to see that a siege would now be the course of action to achieve a complete surrender. Source E is important because it highlights the resilience and determination of how he could use his numerical advantage and circumstance to his advantage. This source really emphasises Grant’s skill at creating and altering plans as new problems arise. This source additionally emphasises how Grant reacted to the disappointment of his initial two strikes on Confederate lines by re-evaluating how he could use his numerically superior armed force’s quality against the enemies shortcoming keeping in mind the end goal to accomplish triumph. It is additionally huge in light of the fact that it demonstrates how each of his fight methodologies influenced the general consequence of the war, which was a triumph for the Union. In this manner, Grant is viewed as one of the greatest generals and a pioneer of the Civil War.
In conclusion, Grant’s passion and belief for his cause, his affirmation and wilfulness in his battles, his thought with respect to his motivation and his capacity of making all around instructed, speedy decisions in the heart of fight helped him win the war. Nonetheless it was his unbending determination in the face of the enemy, his level-headedness and adaptability in the field, his modern way of thinking and his excellent battle strategies that ultimately make Ulysses S. Grant the best general of the Civil War.
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