Posted by: ushistoryfiles | July 5, 2009

Lee vs. Grant

In my Civil War class we were supposed to discuss if we thought that Lee or Grant was the better general.  I put forth the idea that you really couldn’t compare the two because the two different armies were so different that the comparison was unfair.  In my subsequent reading this week I did find a couple of applicable quotes.

“Lee, however,  followed his customary practice of permitting his corps commanders, or general officers in charge of strategic detachments, complete liberty of action within the requirements prescribed or indicated by the army commander.  While this system of command obtained astonishing results during his offensive-defensive campaigns in Virginia against McClellan, Pope, Burnside, and Hooker, it did not meet the demands of offensive warfare during the campaigns of Antietam and Gettysburg.  The practice became perilous when employed against the sound strategy and remorseless tactics of Ulysses S. Grant.” p 316

“If Grant evinced an implacable determination to bend circumstances to his will and fight the battle out to its inevitable issue, Lee exhibited a superb fortitude that neither disaster nor the shadow of defeat could shake.” p 317

I believe that those quote sums it up nicely.


Steere, Edward.  The Wilderness Campaign. New York: Bonanza Books, 1960.

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