What happens if Grant dies.

pablo668

Ad Honorem
Apr 2010
2,201
Perth, Western Australia. or....hickville.
I've been reading up on Ulysses Grant recently (his memoirs atm) and I'm currently at what are the closing stages of the civil war (besieging Petersburg atm).

My impression of this part of the war, Wilderness-Overland Campaign-Appomattox is that Grant really applied the pressure on Lee/the CSA, taking and inflicting huge casualties but holding ground and not retreating....also constantly turning Lees left. Quite a departure from earlier in the war.

My question is basically what would happen if Grant somehow died before or early in this phase of the war?
Now I think that in the long term at least the US still wins the war. My problem is, who replaces Grant?
The way I'm seeing things is that not too many would have the nerve to do what Grant did and fight the way he fought, not only the casualties but the political interference/pressure from outside factors.

Initially I'm thinking Sherman could do it, but his mental state might be a tad fragile.
Possibly Sheridan? He at least seemed to be able to break from his supply lines when needed and is possibly a bit of an understudy to Grant and Sherman.
Meade maybe? Though I'm unsure whether he'd keep the pressure up when needed (I understand there were reasons for not chasing Lee that vigorously after Gettysburgh).

So, any takers on this one?

I still think that the CSA was pretty much done by this point of the war, it just would have dragged on a bit longer, needlessly.

I think they broke the mold with Grant
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,226
Sydney
Mc Pherson got shot but there was Thomas , solid if not brilliant , Schofield , Black Jack Logan was scheduled to take command of the Western armies should Thomas dally any further
He certainly was aggressive and competent
 
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Jun 2011
312
The Old Dominion
Mackinlay Kantor, in his 1961 novel "If the South had Won the Civil War," bumped off Grant near Vicksburg in 1863. Irony is that he chose the macguffin of a riding accident to do the deed, Grant being well known in the Old Army for his outstanding riding ability. My suspicion is that the method of demise was chosen for just that reason, just to make it all the more counter-factual.

Sometimes being an old guy with a long memory comes in handy.
 
Jun 2017
2,974
Connecticut
By this point the Union had achieved decisive victory on the Western front and after Sherman reached the sea, he was headed north and if the war had went on another month his army would have arrived in Virginia(though so would Johnstons who were following them but they weren't large enough to do much more than march at this point). It was over.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,226
Sydney
" Irony is that he chose the macguffin of a riding accident to do the deed, Grant being well known in the Old Army for his outstanding riding ability "

Grant certainly was a very good rider ,
he however suffered a serious riding accident in early 1863 in New Orleans when his horse shied when a near-by locomotive suddenly expelled steam
it left him hobbling on crutches for some months , the writer probably knew about the incident

as for Sherman stability , his episode of depression was caused by him fully grasping the enormity of what the war would be ,
he was in fact rather underestimating the cost of the victory
for the rest of the war he was stable if a bit of a live wire
I would think he would have stayed with the Western army ,it was a perfect fit , probably Lincoln would have thought the same

the army of the Potomac was commander by Meade , no change needed

Grant was lieutenant General of all the US armies answerable only to the president , there wasn't even a need to fill the post anew
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,568
Las Vegas, NV USA
Mackinlay Kantor, in his 1961 novel "If the South had Won the Civil War," bumped off Grant near Vicksburg in 1863. Irony is that he chose the macguffin of a riding accident to do the deed, Grant being well known in the Old Army for his outstanding riding ability. My suspicion is that the method of demise was chosen for just that reason, just to make it all the more counter-factual.

Sometimes being an old guy with a long memory comes in handy.
In this book the CSA wins but later Texas secedes making 3 nations in what was the US. Slavery is abolished in the CSA. The book has all three countries reuniting after WW2 in which they fought together. Bunk!

My version has the victorious CSA becoming centralized under a dictator, the son of Nathan Bedford Forrest, who makes his father look like a cream puff. To the south Latin America is a prize just waiting to be taken. The CSA becomes highly militarized state with the best technology. The Old US is just happy to see them going south rather than north. Within two years Latin America is conquered. It takes the whole world to bring down this slave empire which happens instead of WWI. The US is reunited and there is no WWI or WWII.
 
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Jun 2011
312
The Old Dominion
Well, when you get your book published we can all review it and decide whether or not IT is "bunk".

I'm certainly not saying that Kantor's future was plausible, all I'm saying is his vision was no better or worse than anyone else's, for, example, Harry Turtledove.
 
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stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,568
Las Vegas, NV USA
I
Well, when you get your book published we can all review it and decide whether or not IT is "bunk".

I'm certainly not saying that Kantor's future was plausible, all I'm saying is his vision was no better or worse than anyone else's, for, example, Harry Turtledove.
Most of these stories have a similar plot. The South wins but eventually abolishes slavery if for no other reason than economics. Free labor was often cheaper. The country is eventually reunited. It's not about plausibility. A character like Nathan Bedford Forrest should not be wasted.
 
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Feb 2019
870
Pennsylvania, US
While most don't really look to some of Grant's earlier victories as the "tide-turning" events in the ACW, when Grant finally broke free of the languorous, ineffective approach of Halleck and took Fort Henry and moved to take Fort Donelson within the same week... it really cut a hole in the South. Grant controlled the water and rail access... forced the Confederates to abandon their batteries at Columbus because they were outflanked...

Karl Marx wrote quite a few interesting analysis pieces on the American Civil War - one of which concluded that the loss of territory in Kentucky and Tennessee was bound to threaten the integrity of the Confederacy. If Grant had been removed (died) in late February 1862, the outcome of his breaking Johnston's defensive line from Bowling Green to the Mississippi River may have been enough to keep the Confederacy on the back foot for the duration... regardless of who was in command.

In some ways, Grant was made inert right after those victories... If Grant's philosophy were to be followed, right after Forts Henry and Donelson, the goal would have been to quickly move to the next target, then the next.

But again, Halleck seemed to drag his feet - too busy trying to claim Grant's success as the product of his own ingenuity (as did Little Mac)... and soon Halleck would try to pin insubordination on Grant for not relaying daily reports. The reality was that Halleck and McClellan would do anything to keep Grant down... though Grant's case wasn't helped by the fact that a Rebel spy working the telegraph office was receiving and not transferring Grant's daily reports. After taking the Forts, Grant was told that Charles Ferguson Smith would now be in command and that he should remain at Ft Henry... basically Grant went from being a hero to being arrested and removed from command. If there had not been a push from Lincoln for Halleck to substantiate his accusations against Grant at the same time McClellan got the boot as General in Chief, it seems that Grant could have disappeared again into relative obscurity... almost as if he had died.
 
Oct 2019
15
America
I


Most of these stories have a similar plot. The South wins but eventually abolishes slavery if for no other reason than economics. Free labor was often cheaper. The country is eventually reunited. It's not about plausibility. A character like Nathan Bedford Forrest should not be wasted.
Personally to me the Idea of the confederacy in the long term being a true rival for the United States seems unlikely. For the aristocratic elite in the south slavery wasn't merely about economics, it was the center of their way of life. I personally find it more likely that the South holds onto slavery for a long time and eventually lose their main potential allies (Britain and France) and become an impoverished mess with attempts to further industrialize being slow with very little innovation. They might take parts of south america before they fall too far behind though but a slave uprising or a war with the union would smash them to pieces with many of those pieces rejoining the union, some willing, some less so. Your story sounds still sounds fun, smashing an even more evil confederacy sounds like a good read.
 
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