The American Civil War (1861-1865) was the first true industrial war. With technological developments, most notably railroads, mass-produced rifles and telegraphs leading to drastic changes in tactics. With any change in how a war can be and is fought the largest test falls on the commanders ability to adapt. A good example of this and the contrasts between styles of leadership can be seen when looking at two of the protagonists of the war; Robert E Lee of the Confederacy and Ulysses Grant of the Union. The similarities and differences between the two Generals have been well covered, both by contemporaries and by historians since the conflict. The reason for this is best summarised by historian B.Catton saying, “They were two strong men, these oddly different Generals, and they represented the strengths of two conflicting currents that through them, had come into final collision” . The Wilderness Campaign, sometimes referred to as the Overland Campaign, was a brutal eight-week campaign that saw Grant attempting to maneuver his Army of Potomac between Lee’s Army of North Virginia and the Confederate Capital Richmond. The campaign consisted of fourteen conflicts that resulted in great casualties on both sides and allowed Grant and his forces to begin the Siege of Petersburg that eventually led to the end of hostilities.
When looking at something as complicated as two Generals leadership qualities and tactics it is important to look at the context in which the battles and the wider war. For example, it is important to realise just how revolutionary the American Civil War was compared to the last conflict that the commanders of the Union and Confederate Armies were leading their men in. The Mexican-American War (1846-48) was the last time the American Armies had been in conflict. Despite being... [continues]
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