The Leadership Styles of General Robert E. Lee and General Grant During the Civil War.

Topics: American Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant, Confederate States of America Pages: 6 (2136 words) Published: September 23, 2012
The leadership styles of General Robert E. Lee and General Grant during the Civil War. Ulysses S. Grant was not as well known at the start of the Civil War as Robert E. Lee but proved to be just as valuable during the war. As a soldier, Grant believed, “When in doubt, fight.” And he did fight. He won fame for demanding unconditional (complete) surrender from the Southern commanders he was fighting. In fact, people in the North began saying Grant’s initials, “U.S.,” stood for “Unconditional Surrender.” In battle, Grant was tough and hard. He was not “a retreating man.” Soon Grant was made a general. He became a leading figure of the war in the West. In 1863 he captured the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. He starved the city into surrender. Grant’s victory at Vicksburg came the same day as Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg. With Vicksburg in Union hands, the North had control of shipping on the Mississippi River. Lincoln promoted Grant to the highest rank in the army. Grant was afraid of no one, not even Robert E. Lee. When Grant became commander of the Union armies, he attacked without letup. He lost 50,000 men, all told. Some people called him a “butcher.” This hurt him, but he knew only one way to win – attack. Such was the man who finally pounded the South into surrender. General Robert E. Lee was the strong, kind, religious man who led the Confederate armies. He came from an old Virginia family. His father, “Light Horse Harry” Lee, had been one of George Washington’s favorite officers. In March 1861, Robert E. Lee was a colonel in the U.S. Army. He was against slavery and had set his own slaves free. He did not like the idea of the South seceding from the Union. He knew that a war which pitted brother against brother would be a terrible tragedy. But he also knew that he could not fight against his own state, Virginia. Like most Southerners, Lee believed that his state and its rights were more important than the Union. Lee said: “If I owned four million slaves, I would cheerfully give them up to save the Union. But to lift my hand against Virginia is impossible.” Lee did indeed prove to be a valuable general. He led Confederate soldiers through four bloody years of combat. He had a great ability to measure an enemy’s strength and location. He knew how to move an army quickly over many miles. He had a superb sense of when to attack and when to withdraw. All in all, he has been judged one of the greatest military leaders in U.S. history. [ (Grant & Lee) ] Grant saw that the nation could not survive with slavery. Lee acknowledged that a higher power—the law of the land—had ended an institution that he had always disliked. However, neither general believed that the abolition of slavery would lead to racial equality in American society. Long before the war, Lee had stated that slavery was more trouble than it was worth. He called the institution "a moral & political evil," but at the same time he saw what he believed to be its positive side, stating that blacks, even in subjugation, were better off in America than in Africa. In late 1862, he freed the 170 slaves owned by his late father-in-law. Toward the end of the war, he argued for the freeing of slaves who could then be mustered into the Confederate armies. Grant said little about slavery before the war. In 1859 he freed the only slave he ever owned; the domestic servants that his wife had inherited were beyond his control. Grant reenlisted in the U.S. Army not to free slaves, but to oppose secession. "I never was an Abolitionist," Grant wrote, "not even what could be called Anti slavery." But as he moved his army into Confederate territory and encountered thousands of black refugees, he concluded that "the North & South could never live at peace with each other except as one nation and that without Slavery. [ (Society) ] Neither Grant nor Lee was able to wage war on the basis of military strategy alone. Both generals were constrained by regional loyalties,...

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