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View Poll Results: Debate and then vote: who was the superior Civil War general?
Ulysses S. Grant (Union) 17 40.48%
Robert E. Lee (Confederates) 25 59.52%
Voters: 42. You may not vote on this poll

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Old April 9th, 2010, 02:57 AM   #1

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Robert E. Lee vs Ulysses S. Grant


Yes, I'm still in the mood for this

The question is simple: out of these two almost universally recognized as the best two generals of the American Civil War, who was the superior? Who achieved the better results, who displayed the superior ability in the art of war, who showed himseld to be the deeper military thinker and contributed more to military science, who was the better and more effective political general, who posessed a greater understanding of the war, who showed himself to have the more statesmanlike qualities, who ran his army and its logistics more efficiently, who had the best eye for subordinates, who was the superior at maintaining control over his army, and not least of all who was the better leader for both his men and his immediate subordinates? All these and more questions should all go into consideration for exactly who out of Grant and Lee deserves to be regarded as the preeminent general of the Civil War?

Go for your lives, but lets keep it polite, shall we? Lee and Grant themselves would expect nothing less one can be sure.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 03:00 AM   #2

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Re: Robert E. Lee vs Ulysses S. Grant


For myself the answer is Grant to every single one of the above questions.

I have a fair idea what Deadkenney's response might be if he makes one, but I'm quite eager to hear some others.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 03:56 AM   #3

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Re: Robert E. Lee vs Ulysses S. Grant


I've voted as you 'requested' just to even it up to start. The comparison is actually quite asymmetrical, since Lee was only ever commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, and not in charge of overall Confederate strategy as was Grant for the Union. In fact, Lee often had limited influence over key events outside the area of his army. For example, when Davis appointed Hood to replace Johnston against the advice of Lee. Of course Lee was also forced to operate within the limited resources available to the Confederacy.

The most relevant basis for comparison is of course their 'head-to-head' confrontation in Grant's 'overland campaign' and 'Siege of Petersburg'. I believe that has already been thoroughly hashed out in other threads.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 04:15 AM   #4

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Re: Robert E. Lee vs Ulysses S. Grant


Today April 9, 1865 is the day that Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. I still voted Lee as the best general though.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 04:30 AM   #5

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Re: Robert E. Lee vs Ulysses S. Grant


Quote:
Originally Posted by deadkenny View Post
I've voted as you 'requested' just to even it up to start. The comparison is actually quite asymmetrical, since Lee was only ever commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, and not in charge of overall Confederate strategy as was Grant for the Union. In fact, Lee often had limited influence over key events outside the area of his army. For example, when Davis appointed Hood to replace Johnston against the advice of Lee. Of course Lee was also forced to operate within the limited resources available to the Confederacy.

The most relevant basis for comparison is of course their 'head-to-head' confrontation in Grant's 'overland campaign' and 'Siege of Petersburg'. I believe that has already been thoroughly hashed out in other threads.
I wouldn't quite agree with that.

Grant didn't become effective general-in-chief for the Union until 1864, before that he was just another theatre commander like Lee, and actually before that quite a bit less. Lee was named effectively the commander in chief of all Confederate forces towards the end.

Even when Grant was not even a theatre commander he still displayed an extraordinary ability to keep an eye on the bigger picture and tailor his actions to it, whereas Lee had no real interests at all outside of his own corner of the war, and even when he was given responsibility for those other areas he showed himself to be remarkably narrow-minded about it.

Thus we can say that Grant easily demonstrated a fantastically superior grasp of Grand Strategy.

A lot of my argument would be about Grant's fantastic displays of skill in the Western and Middle Theatres (where the war was really won, and by Grant) compared to the also (but slightly less) fantastic displays of Lee in the East, but even simply comparing them when they faced each other directly - in the Overland and Appotomax campaigns, I find Grant easily the superior. His maneuvering, tactics, organization, and leadership were consistently sophisticated and imaginative (even more so than Lee's), he as always kept an eye on the bigger picture, and he achieved his objectives with what by the standards of that war were most certainly tolerable casualties.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 04:31 AM   #6

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Re: Robert E. Lee vs Ulysses S. Grant


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
Today April 9, 1865 is the day that Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. I still voted Lee as the best general though.
Any particular reasons?
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Old April 9th, 2010, 04:31 AM   #7

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Re: Robert E. Lee vs Ulysses S. Grant


Grant gets my vote.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 04:33 AM   #8

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Re: Robert E. Lee vs Ulysses S. Grant


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Originally Posted by DIVUS IVLIVS View Post
I wouldn't quite agree with that.

Grant didn't become effective general-in-chief for the Union until 1864, before that he was just another theatre commander like Lee, and actually before that quite a bit less. Lee was named effectively the commander in chief of all Confederate forces towards the end......

You should change your user name to Disin Genuous.

Grant WAS in overall command. Lee was NOT. QED

As for the rest, it has already been claimed, repeatedly, elsewhere. Grant had an opportunity to demonstrate his 'grand strategic' abilities, Lee did not.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 04:35 AM   #9

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Re: Robert E. Lee vs Ulysses S. Grant


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Originally Posted by Salah ad-Din View Post
Grant gets my vote.
Any particular reasons?
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Old April 9th, 2010, 04:43 AM   #10

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Re: Robert E. Lee vs Ulysses S. Grant


For overall military experience, success, and on equal footing, I'll go with Lee.
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