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Ulysses S. Grant played a crucial role in the victory of the union in the American civil war. Ulysses S. Grant, later to become the 18th president of the United States, commanded union forces during the civil war as a general and general in chief.
The greatest assets that Ulysses S. Grant brought to the union forces were his incredible strategic mind, his determination, his willingness to fight and his ability to win. Throughout the war grant steered the union to victory many major battles both before and after her was assigned general in chief of the union army.
Grant produced the first two major union victories of the war in February of 1862 by capturing fort hennery on the Tennessee river and fort Donnellson on the Cumberland river, these victories gave a brief display of Grants calm determination to succeed and on only his terms, thus Grant became somewhat of a hero when Simon Buckner called for terms of surrender and yielded to Grants "no terms but unconditional and immediate surrender". This surrender of 14000 confederate men resulted in grants immediate promotion to major general of volunteers.
In the April of 1962 Grant was violently surprised in an attack by confederate generals A. Johnston and P. Beauguard at the battle of Shiloh. In a battle that was to become the bloodiest up to that date in American history, with 23,000 casualties, Grant refused to retreat, he eventually managed to stabilize his line and with the help of reinforcements produced a counterattack and turned a severe loss into a victory.
Grant received heavy criticism for his decisions at Shiloh but Lincoln defended him stating "I can't spare this man, he fights"
One of Grants greatest military success of the war was the siege of Vicksburg, July-August 1863. Grant spent the winter of 62-63 attempting and failing multiple operations to gain access to the town, Grant crossed the Mississippi and headed for Jackson, he took a great risk and cut away from his supplies to sever the railroad to Vicksburg effectively cutting the confederate garrison off from reinforcements. Grant now defeated the confederate army at Champion Hill and then pursued the retreating army to the garrison at Vicksburg. The six week siege began. On the 4th of July 1863, being cut off and with no possibility of relief confederate general John Pemberton surrendered.
This union victory in conjunction with the battle of Gettysburg the previous day is considered the turning point in the war.
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Another example of grants impressive strategic mind was at the battle of Chattanooga. After a confederate victory at Chickamauga, union forces retreated to the city of Chattanooga, and were surrounded by the pursuing confederates.
On the 7th of October 1863 Grant was placed in command of the operation and he immediately began a strategy known as the cracker line. Grant opened the Tennessee River with a victory in Battle of Wauhatchie to allow supplies and reinforcements to enter into the city. The union now went on the offensive and broke the confederate forces. A path to Atlanta and the rest of the confederacy now opened
It took three years of trial and error in Lincolns search for a war winning lieutenant general before grant was summoned to Washington to receive his commission as commander in chief with the rank of lieutenant general on the 9th of March 1864.
Throughout the war grant had shown that he understood the basic truth of war, men would die and he realized that the north could afford to lose more men than the south, and it was from this fact that grant derived his strategy, destroy the confederate forces, he did not care for occupying territory or strategic cities, rather stand and fight and the south will not last.
Grants plan for 1864 involved two simultaneous campaigns; he would lead the army of Potomac against Lee in Virginia whilst Sherman was to strike Johnson's army guarding Atlanta in Georgia. Grant planned
to outflank and destroy Lee's army. Lee continued to fight back with equal defensive tactics. The ensuing battles of the wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor Grant lost 60,000 men whilst Lee lost the proportionally higher number of 20,000. Due to a lack of success Grant modified his strategy. In June he moved his forces south across the James River to Petersburg a major confederate communications 20 miles from Richmond. Grant launched multiple assaults on the city but was unable to gain access before Lee arrived and a nine month siege began.
Mean while the other half of Grants plan was also failing to produce results, Sherman had made little progress and efforts to capture or bring Johnston into battle were being overcome by delaying tactics.
By the beginning of the final campaigns Grants tactics began to work. Sherman had finally taken Atlanta, and continued to force his way through Georgia destroying anything that may have been of use to the confederates. On the 13th December Sherman reached the sea and had Johnson under relentless pressure who was unable to oppose.
By the April of 1865 the war of attrition had brought Lee's decimated army to breaking point. Lee was forced to evacuate Richmond and after a nine day retreat Lee surrendered to Grant on the 9th of April at Appomattox court house in south Virginia.
Johnston's Surrender followed on the 26th and by the end of May the last of the confederate forces had laid down their arms.
Grant was the key in the union Victory in the American civil war. Grant was not only a master of outmaneuvering his opponents he was also well capable of launching direct assaults or drawn out sieges. Grant wanted to fight and he had an ability to win, he put the pressure on and forced opponents to surrender no matter the cost. Although his tactics cost many lives he won the war for the union and achieved what no other general did throughout the war, he won all of his campaigns during the war. It was Lincoln who summed Grant up best "I cannot spare this man he fights."