How Grant lost his way to victory

Discussion in 'Warfare / Military' started by Robert, May 13, 2018.

  1. Robert

    Robert Well-Known Member Donor

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    Grant took a merciless pounding from Robert E. Lee in the campaign known as the Overland campaign. It took Grant a long time to finally collect Lee's surrender. This professor delivers a very good presentation on the Overland campaign. It would be instructive for the forum to watch it. It is on CSpan.
    https://www.c-span.org/video/?435910-1/1864-civil-war-overland-campaign
     
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  2. US Conservative

    US Conservative Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Will check this out.
     
  3. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    You fail to grasp the difference between a Tactical Victory, and a Strategic Victory.

    Yes, most of the battles in the Overland Campaign were indeed Tactical Victories for the Confederacy. But ultimately, the campaign was a Strategic Victory for the Union. That is because of the ultimate outcome.

    In simpler terms, it is also known as a Pyrrhic Victory.

    In this, even though one side wins the battle, their losses are of a magnitude that that victory is overshadowed by what they have gained. And history is full of such victories.

    In the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands during WWII, Japan sank 1 carrier and a destroyer, and heavily damaged 3 other ships. With the loss of none of their own ships. But the number of skilled pilots lost was the start of the end for their advantage in the Pacific.

    In the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, Chinese forces surrounded and forced UN forces to withdraw from North Korea. This was a tactical victory for China and North Korea. But strategically it was a loss, as they took casualties significantly higher than those of the UN forces, and were largely combat ineffective for the next 6 months.

    To give an idea, 150,000 Chinese forces attacked 100,000 UN forces. At the end, there were 60,000 Chinese casualties as opposed to 17,000 UN casualties. And they were unable to prevent the remaining UN forces from withdrawing from North Korea (and destroying the port of Hungnam as they withdrew).

    But back to the Overland Campaign. Yes, the Confederates won most of the battles, but at a cost they could not afford. Of the approximately 65,000 soldiers involved, 35,000 were casualties. That is over 50% killed or wounded.

    Of the 125,000 Union forces involved, 54,000 were casualties. That is only 44% killed or wounded.

    After removing those numbers, that leaves 30,000 battle ready Confederate forces, against 71,000 battle ready Union forces.

    Or as King Pyrrus of Epirus said after defeating the Romans at the Battle of Heraclea, "If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined."
     
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  4. Robert

    Robert Well-Known Member Donor

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    And you are a Democrat, aren't you? You talk like some of the Democrats on this very forum. Trying to make this about me. Then rambling about other events.

    I do not regret how i told the Grant story of losing battles and when he would get restocked with troops, lunging out over and over. Imagine had Lee had such a steady stock of troops what he would have done.
     
  5. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    *laughs*

    And that is how you react? Throw around what you seem to believe is some kind of insult, simply because you do not like when somebody does not agree with you?

    But it does not matter what you think, because General Lee did not have a "steady stock of troops". General Grant knew this, and he took advantage of that to win the war. And that is what ultimately matters. Not the battles, but the war itself.

    If all you can do is attempt to make personal attacks and not deal with facts, maybe you should go to the Political tops, and leave the military ones alone.
     
  6. Robert

    Robert Well-Known Member Donor

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    And you did not attack?

    Certainly you did. Which is why i reacted as I did.

    I am well aware that Lee did not have the abundant number of bodies to hurl into battle that Grant had. Actually when your way of looking at it is taken into account, the idea that Grant won due to greatness is diminished, not enhanced. Lee managed to inflict enormous casualties on Grant who as you admit, had this enormous pool of bodies to hurl at Lee.
     
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  7. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    No, I did not. I corrected, as you did not seem to comprehend the difference between Strategic and Tactical.

    If you do not like being corrected or critiqued, then as I said, stick to the political threads. Down in this area, we tend to be much more serious, and most of the regular posters do not take offense because somebody does not agree with them.

    I simply stated that you failed to grasp the difference between different types of victories. Somehow, you took that as an insult, and then lashed out, seeming to take what you perceive my political affiliation to be as an insult, and lashing out as if it is one. Then maligning anybody of that affiliation as if you were throwing out a pejorative.

    And I was not "rambling", I was giving an example of other such Strategic Victories, composed of a series of Tactical Losses. If you do not like somebody throwing out more than a few glib words with nothing to back it up, then the military threads are not for you.

    No, that is not an attack pointing out a weakness in your argument. I did not call you any kind of name. I did not imply that you were of limited intelligence, of any kind of preconceived political affiliation, or anything of the sort. I simply stated that you failed to grasp the difference between the two.

    But thank you for the pointless pontification. It has let me know how seriously to take you in any later postings you make in here.
     
  8. Tergara

    Tergara Active Member

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    One of Grant's major objectives was the destruction of Lee's army. Without the Army of Northern Virginia, the Confederacy did not have the ability to keep the Union out of Richmond. Thus, even if he failed to beat Lee on the battlefield he managed to achieve his objective.
     
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  9. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    The Civil War is always an amazing conflict to examine. And in many ways, it mirrors our own Revolutionary War.

    One side had the best commanders, the larger military, and the best equipment. On the other side, you had some unique tactics, as well as commanders who did not operate in the conventional manner.

    The Confederates unquestionably had the best commanders in the war. Many of their commanders had distinguished careers prior to the war, even leading military academies and controlling huge numbers of the US Army. In the South, the military had long been seen as an honorable career, that many well born gentlemen strived to do.

    And it taught young "gentlemen farmers" a great deal about logistics, engineering, and other skills useful in an agrarian society.

    In the North however, it was considered the "gentleman thing to do" to go into industry or commerce. Generally it was those who could not go to other careers that ended up in the military.

    Remember, General Lee graduated 2nd in a class of 49 cadets from West Point. General Grant graduated 21st in a class of 39.

    And General Custer? 34th in a class of 34.
     
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  10. US Conservative

    US Conservative Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Regional differences matter!
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
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  11. US Conservative

    US Conservative Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Brother, what are your podcasts?

    Pitter Patter.
     
  12. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member

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    Attrition was the only way the Union could win. They were strategically and experiencially outmatched. But they had far greater industry and manpower, and they were just smart enough to strategize based on that.
     
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  13. US Conservative

    US Conservative Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Military math...
     
  14. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    I really do not have the time to do such a thing, although I have considered it many times in the past. Being a lifelong lover of history, I am constantly reading on the subject, studying, and even looking into sources that most do not even think about.

    However, my main interest is undoubtedly in the Pacific War in WWII, as well as the rest of WWII (which I consider to have started in 1935).

    But my research over the decades has taken me all the way back to the early Bronze Age up through the modern era. And it does not take me long to do a bit of spot research into something that interests me in here but I do not know much about.

    Primarily, whenever I comment on something, I try to do it in a rather dry, concise manner. Stripping away any modern preconceived concepts in my text. And it is amazingly easy to fall into traps of "stereotyping" of past cultures or leaders, depending on the source an individual uses.

    Xerxes I for example. Anybody that "learned" of him through the move "300" (2007) immediately thinks of him as an evil megalomaniac, who tried to destroy the Greeks and was defeated after the sacrifice of a small group of warriors.

    However, it must also be remembered that the same Xerxes I was depicted in the 2006 movie "One Night With the King", which was a retelling of the Book of Esther. And that movie-story tells a completely different story about the same person.

    Far to many people today love to try to use modern morals and beliefs when talking about past rulers. And that is something I strive hard to never do. I try to approach any topic that interests me as an analyst, viewing people and events as neutrally as possible, without my own personal or cultural beliefs.

    Which often results people attacking me because I may say something that praises Hitler, like how he restored the economy and pride of his nation. My own beliefs in who I call "der Paper Hanger" do not really matter when talking about what he did or did not do.

    A podcast might be interesting, but I can see it getting dull for me really fast. And I do not think I would be interested in the grief I would surely get from a lot of people who love to revise history to fit their own beliefs.
     
  15. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Not really, a great deal of that was also due to politics.

    In the North, the politics were much more murky. You had a split Congress, with the remaining Democrats having to work with the now dominant Republicans. You also had 2 former Democrats (Hannibal Hamlin and Andrew Johnson) who were Vice Presidents. And many of the leading Generals at the start got their position not through merit, but through politics.

    One former Commander of the Army even tried to replace the President after he was sacked.

    The Confederacy on the other hand had little of that. Politically, they were largely unified under a single party. Their main commanders remained in place for the most part unless they were killed in battle.

    And the earliest commanders tried to fight the war as a "conventional Napoleonic campaign", not unlike how the British tried to fight the Colonials the century before. Troops on line in the open, firing volleys at each other until one side broke.

    Because of the lack of manpower and modern equipment, the Confederates avoided fighting in that manner whenever they could. It was not until about half way through the war that the Union finally got commanders who were willing to throw away the "conventional rulebook" of the time, and adapt themselves to the new and developing ways of fighting.

    The first years were mostly for the Union a lesson in why they could not fight the Civil War as all other wars had been fought. And it took a few years for the "conventional thinkers" to finally get beat enough that they got in some new blood with fresh ideals.
     
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  16. US Conservative

    US Conservative Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Continue to consider it.

    And just to put it out there-the barriers for entry into podcasting, videos, etc are dropping like flies.
     
  17. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Well, until there is a technology that allows me to do 28 hours worth of things in 24 hours, that will not change really.

    I have been doing computer sound and video editing for 20 years now, and really have everything I would need to do it already on hand (although I would need to replace my mixing board, the pots are trashed). But the time I would need for research, scripting, narrating, and video-graphic creation and integration are simply more then I am able to do at this time.
     
  18. US Conservative

    US Conservative Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Understand the time restraint. Im sure its not your first choice.

    Just a pity to see someone with the knowledge/background knowledge being stifled.
     
  19. tkolter

    tkolter Well-Known Member

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    Its not complicated Grant played to his advantages industrial might and numbers backed by the civilian side keeping the Confederacy from getting any foreign nations to assist them and in fact cut off their trade the slavery issue didn't help, if they freed the slaves before they declared independence, they would have gotten the support of the British and likely France. However they didn't.

    On the side of the Grant campaign in question it was simple the North could afford material and manpower losses and the Confederacy couldn't in the long run and Grant and Lincoln knew that all they needed was to keep hammering into the Confederacy and keep them from getting foreign support. I agree the Confederacy had for better commanders and NCO's at the onset of war and it allowed them to do a lot when the North had inferior commanders but it was simple they only needed to do good enough with what they had in the North to win while the Southern commanders needed to do proportionally better with finite resources and manpower that eventually ran out.

    And should we not talk about technology the North invented and could arm all soldiers later in the war with the repeater rifle, before that better clothing and food, medicine and medical care, could pay them regularly and maintain fighting numbers better so had those advantages.
     
  20. Battle3

    Battle3 Banned

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    Grant lost battles but won the war. Grants strategy was simple - he had the resources and could afford to trade losses with Lee. Grant could replace his losses, Lee could not replace his. Not a great strategy particularly if you were a grunt in Grants army.
     

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