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A General Who Will Fight

A General Who Will Fight: The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant

Harry S. Laver
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    A General Who Will Fight
    Book Description:

    Prior to his service in the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant exhibited few characteristics indicating that he would be an extraordinary leader. His performance as a cadet was mediocre, and he finished in the bottom half of his class at West Point. However, during his early service in the Civil War, most notably at the battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg, Grant proved that he possessed an uncommon drive. When it was most crucial, Grant demonstrated his integrity, determination, and tactical skill by taking control of the Union troops and leading his forces to victory.

    A General Who Will Fightis a detailed study of leadership that explores Grant's rise from undisciplined cadet to commanding general of the United States Army. Some experts have attributed Grant's success to superior manpower and technology, to the help he received from other Union armies, or even to a ruthless willingness to sacrifice his own men. Harry S. Laver, however, refutes these arguments and reveals that the only viable explanation for Grant's success lies in his leadership skill, professional competence, and unshakable resolve. Much more than a book on military strat-egy, this innovative volume examines the decision-making process that enabled Grant both to excel as an unquestioned commander and to win.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-3678-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Introduction: A Great Force of Will
    (pp. 1-10)

    Sunday, April 6, 1862, dawned quietly as Ulysses S. Grant sat down at the breakfast table of the Cherry mansion in Savannah, Tennessee. Shuffling through a stack of mail on the table, he leaned forward to take the first sip of coffee when up the Tennessee River valley came the rumbling of artillery fire. With the cup poised at his lips, he paused, listened for a moment, then returned the coffee to the table and announced to his staff, “Gentlemen, the ball is in motion. Let’s be off.” Making their way out the front door and down stone steps crafted...

  5. 1 First Lessons
    (pp. 11-20)

    There was little about the young Hiram Ulysses Grant that hinted he would one day command great armies, win improbable battlefield victories, and become president of the United States. Born to Jesse and Hannah Grant in 1822, he joined a family that was comfortable, if not well-to-do. His father was a tanner who dabbled in local politics, a staunch Democrat, and his mother was a reserved, sober Methodist. There was no sign of an innate military genius in young Grant; in fact, there was no indication ofanykind of genius. In his memoirs, Grant tells the story of his...

  6. 2 First Battles
    (pp. 21-40)

    On April 15, 1861, President Lincoln declared the seven seceded states from South Carolina to Texas in rebellion and called for 75,000 volunteers, soon supplemented by another 300,000, to maintain the Union and fulfill his oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.” Across the North, scores of would-be soldiers answered Lincoln’s call to arms in anticipation of patriotic adventure, if not glory, among them former U.S. Army captain Ulysses S. Grant. On June 15, because of his prior service, Grant secured from Illinois governor Richard Yates an appointment as colonel of the Twenty-first Regiment of Volunteers. With a touch...

  7. 3 Shiloh
    (pp. 41-54)

    Just days before his ill-advised relief of General Grant on March 4, 1862, Henry Halleck had outlined strategic objectives for the coming campaign, including the destruction of a railroad bridge near Eastport, Mississippi, followed by strikes against the rail centers of Corinth and Jackson. Now back in command and happy to have rejoined his army, Grant was intent on going “with the expedition to Corinth in person,” but chastened after his run-in with Halleck he vowed to “take no risk … under the instructions I now have.” While he planned to exercise greater caution with his superiors, his commitment to...

  8. 4 The Vicksburg Campaign
    (pp. 55-82)

    By late October 1862, Grant was anticipating another Confederate drive to retake Corinth. Never happy surrendering the initiative to the enemy, he pushed Halleck to think more offensively. “You have never suggested to me any plan of opperations [sic] in this Department,” he wrote from Jackson, Tennessee. “With small reinforcements at Memphis I think I would be able to move down the Mississippi Central [rail]road and cause the evacuation of Vicksburg.” Abraham Lincoln believed that the city was the key to the western war effort, an opinion shared by his Confederate counterpart, Jefferson Davis, who described Vicksburg as “the nail...

  9. 5 Chattanooga
    (pp. 83-104)

    The capture of Vicksburg and its garrison was an unmistakable demonstration of Grant’s analytical determination and professionalism. From relief to exhaustion, satisfaction to affirmation, the victory undoubtedly evoked a flood of emotions in both the commander and his army. Then for a few glorious days the good news kept coming. On July 4, 1863, the same day of Pemberton’s surrender, a telegram arrived from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton notifying Grant of a great victory in the East, where Gen. George Meade had fought a three-day battle against Robert E. Lee at the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Both sides...

  10. 6 The Overland Campaign
    (pp. 105-128)

    By January 1864, the nation had endured two and a half years of a tragic civil war, including some of the most traumatic political, economic, and social convulsions the country had ever witnessed. These disruptions paled in comparison to the loss of life and the physical and emotional wounds inflicted on both soldier and civilian, and no honest person could look ahead and see the nightmare’s end. For those charged with prosecuting the war, there was no respite, and, as far as Ulysses S. Grant was concerned, the quickest, if not the only, way to end the war was to...

  11. 7 Richmond, Petersburg, and Peace
    (pp. 129-154)

    The dead of Cold Harbor were still being committed to the earth and God’s care when General Grant sent word to Washington that although the nation rightly mourned the fallen he remained fully committed to the unfinished task, to “beat and drive the enemy” into submission. His confidence in his men was unshaken. If only the Rebels would come out of their entrenchments for a stand-up fight, the war would soon be over. Unfortunately for the bluecoats, Robert E. Lee was not about to be caught in the open, a fact that he had demonstrated repeatedly over the last four...

  12. 8 A Faith in Success
    (pp. 155-164)

    The spring of 1865 reached full bloom in late April and early May. During this traditional time of renewal and rebirth, northerners rightly expected to be in full-throated celebration of war’s end, but instead they wore the black of mourning for their fallen president. With Father Abraham gone—“Now he belongs to the ages,” Secretary of War Stanton eulogized at Lincoln’s deathbed—the country instinctively looked to Grant, the man who had earned the nation’s trust and confidence by first earning that of the now dead president. Indeed, Grant had succeeded where a roll call of generals had failed, men...

  13. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 165-166)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 167-186)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-190)
  16. Index
    (pp. 191-196)