And he gets credit for believing in civilian control of the military. Grant served in the field, supervising Meade, who was still commander of the Army of the Potomac, but he had his eye on the entirety of the Union campaign. Lee was a traditional soldier who had a gift for leadership and was an inspiration for his subordinates. The two did not meet in private; John Lothrop Motley, the new minister to England, and two of Lee’s friends were present for the conversation, which avoided public issues. He did not fathom the deep sadness his adversary felt at having to surrender the remnant of a once formidable army. While Grant built his forces up to perhaps 75,000, the Lee-inspired exodus of Longstreet’s troops simultaneously reduced Rebel strength in the area to a mere 36,000. Lt. In my biography of Abraham Lincoln, I wrote of Grant, the decorated Civil War general, but I now confess: I did not fully know the man. "They are products of their times," says Ward. At one point, Grant quipped that he and Lee had “had more to do with destroying railroads than building them,” but the frosty ex-Confederate ignored this attempt at levity. Grant admired Lee for his tactics but more for what he did after the war, It was Lee that by his statements kept … Lee advocated protection of just one form of memorial: headstones in cemeteries. As Grant saw it, the key was to eliminate the main Confederate armies in the field—and Lee’s army was unquestionably the center … Not only did Lee … Longstreet argued that two divisions from Lee’s army should be sent to Tennessee. For the rest of his life, he would not tolerate anyone criticizing Grant in his presence. The photographs, drawings and paintings depicting the lives of these two men seem to pulse with a kind of tension that recalls the horrifying 19th-century era when the country was riven, yet united behind their respective generals—Grant in the North and Lee from the South. Grant’s opinion of Lee is from his own hand. The M-3 (known as the Lee in American service, but called the Grant when used by the British) was as ugly a tank as ever rolled on treads. With the southern ideology of the “Lost Cause” Lee, the heroic, self-sacrificing soldier, was romanticized as the exemplar of southern civilization. Missionary Ridge was Grant’s last battle before becoming General-in-Chief, replacing the indecisive Halleck. Grant is now praised for having a strategic view of the war, rather than focusing solely on the area around Virginia, as Lee so often did. Beth Py-Lieberman is the museums editor, covering exhibitions, events and happenings at the Smithsonian Institution. Grant on Lee. The exhibition, "One Life: Grant and Lee: 'It is well that war is so terrible. The lives of the Lincolns’ guests at Ford’s Theatre ended in tragedy as well. After their army surrendered at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, the defeated Confederates returned to their homes to face an uncertain future. He remained a dedicated white supremacist and defender of … Keep up-to-date on: © 2021 Smithsonian Magazine. Vaguely resembling the Army Surplus Special in … There was nothing romantic about Grant’s battles: he committed to a plan and then followed it through with an almost uncanny stubborness. He scored outrageous victories against the Army of the Potomac up until Gettysburg 1863, fighting against superior numbers and better supplied troops. Conversely, Grant’s military reputation suffers from his reputation as president, which historically is regarded as one of the worst administrations of all. Performance & security by Cloudflare, Please complete the security check to access. Smithsonian Institution, (Alonzo Chappel, Smithsonian American Art Museum), (Unidentified Artist, National Portrait Gallery), (Charles G. Crehen, National Portrait Gallery), (Mathew B. Brady, National Portrait Gallery), (Frederick Gutekunst, National Portrait Gallery), (A. Hoen Lithography Company, National Portrait Gallery). The belief that the Confederate leaders … Vote Now! When one of Lee's subordinates poo-pooed Grant's generalship Lee said that he thought Grant had handled himself quite well. Copying his comments to Stanton in the reply, he wrote on June 20, 1865: “This opinion, I am informed, is substantially the same as that entertained by the Government.” Lee was safe from trial, but Grant never told him how far he had gone to protect him. Lee didn’t think much of Grant as a general, saying that McClellan was the superior foe. The room itself seems too small for such large personalities. Moreover, Grant recognize the new reality of warfare: that the firepower commanded by each side was making a battle of maneuver, like Chancellorsville, impossible. He didn’t beat Grant. The final draft of the surrender document was written by an American Indian. He saved the Battle of Shiloh after the Union line was shattered on the first day, reorganizing his forces and counterattacking. Terms of Use If you are on a personal connection, like at home, you can run an anti-virus scan on your device to make sure it is not infected with malware. His victory at Chancellorsville, where he divided his army three times in the face of the enemy while being outnumbered three to one, is a master class in the use of speed and maneuver as a force multiplier. The Confederate leadership didn’t actually commit treason. On the other hand, Lee beat McClellan. Your IP: 46.101.5.73 Lee is usually accounted the superior commander. Lee has been lionised by those nostalgic for the South’s “Lost Cause”. Grant said … Ulysses S. Grant - Ulysses S. Grant - Command over Union armies: Grant was appointed lieutenant general in March 1864 and was entrusted with command of all the U.S. armies. By contrast, Robert E. Lee didn’t have Grant’s long career in public life. I received at a late hour your note of to-day. . Making Sense of Robert E. Lee | History | Smithsonian Magazine Here, the rough and tumble Ulysses S. Grant from Ohio faces off with the southern patrician Robert E. Lee. His seige of Vicksburg was a remarkable campaign of combined operations with the “brown water” navy. He was never formally tried by a jury, but U.S. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at one point threatened to resign his commission if Lee was ever arrested. On the morning of April 9, while General Robert E . The time has come for a reassessment of these two men, on whom fell the greatest responsibility for the survival or disintegration of the United Grant realized that his place was in the field with the principal Union army in the East, the Army of the Potomac. The story of these men, their fallacies, their reputations, their legacies are well depicted in a number of art works, including the significant loan of a Winslow Homer painting titled, Skirmish in the Wilderness, from Connecticut's New Britain Museum of American Art. “Whip ‘em tomorrow, though” he remarked to Sherman at the end of an awful first day’s fighting; and he did. Give a Gift. The reputations of these two generals, however, would wax and wane over the next 150 years. If you are at an office or shared network, you can ask the network administrator to run a scan across the network looking for misconfigured or infected devices. Lee also had the difficult task of implementing a strategy to win the war that required him to invade the northern states, which he did twice. She has been a member of the Smithsonian team for more than two decades. Grant had difficulty reading Lee’s dignified demeanor. Grant began his military career as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1839. He died in 1870, just a few years after the war. In this context, I would think that Lee would be pleased to see Grant advance his personal fortunes. On March 10, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signs a brief document officially promoting then-Major General Ulysses S. Grant to the rank of lieutenant general of … Introduction[[nid:634]]By the end of the Civil War, most Americans considered either Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant to be a hero. ", Continue 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. Suggested reading: Badeau, Adam. Completing the CAPTCHA proves you are a human and gives you temporary access to the web property. Now, Researchers Found Another, Renewing Hope for the Species, The True Story of the Reichstag Fire and the Nazi Rise to Power, Scientists Report First Instances of Dwarf Giraffes, Medieval Effigy Found Hidden Beneath English Church's Pipe Organ, Medieval Chinese Coin Found in England Suggests a Vast Medieval Trade Route, Meet Joseph Rainey, the First Black Congressman, The State of American Craft Has Never Been Stronger. In mine of yesterday I did not intend to propose the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, but to ask the terms of your proposition. When he left Appomattox, he began a journey that would take him away from a soldier's life in the field and eventually to Lexington, where his talent for lea… Grant in Peace. As such, Lee increasingly was seen as blameless or beyond reproach, which caused his mistakes or errors on the battlefield. Grant grew up in Ohio and his father was a tanner. The Gentleman's Agreement That Ended the Civil War, What 'Bridgerton' Gets Wrong About Corsets, A Tombstone Inscribed in Ancient Greek Is Found in Southern Israel, Why Robert McCurdy's Photo-Realist Portraits Stop Viewers in Their Tracks, The Way Americans Remember the Blackwell Sisters Shortchanges Their Legacy, Freed of 1,000 Years of Grime, Anglo-Saxon Cross Emerges in Stunning Detail, Archaeologists in Turkey Unearth 2,500-Year-Old Temple of Aphrodite, Ancient Humans May Have Tossed Meaty Scraps to Wild Wolves, Boosting Domestication, The 'Last' Female Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle Died in 2019. The question has intrigued historians and armchair strategists since the Civil War itself. Lee also benefits from the cult of the “Marble Man” that arose after the War. .'" A nation must expect its generals to be lucky, however; and both Grant and Lee were! "These men epitomized their societies." Cloudflare Ray ID: 60f174db8efc4066 Lee didn’t think much of Grant as a general, saying that McClellan was the superior foe. Lee had sent a letter to Grant requesting a meeting to discuss his army's surrender and this letter overtook Grant and his party just before noon about four miles west of Walker's Church (present-day Hixburg). Grant, who had b… Ulysses S. Grant was not a blue blood. The one-room salon is the site where the museum's scholars have previously exhibited the portraits, letters and personal artifacts of such cultural luminaries as Ronald Reagan, Katharine Hepburn, Abraham Lincoln and Sandra Day O'Connor. Actually Lee did compliment Grant. To showcase one of history's most memorable rivalries, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery tasked its senior historian David C. Ward with the challenge of featuring the Civil War's two most storied generals in its "One Life" gallery. After shooting Lincoln, … Grant then responded to Lee’s letter. California Do Not Sell My Info Lee respected Grant because he brought the defeat of his Army, However he thought him to be too willing to pay with unnecessary loss of life. or Ulysses S. Grant was the most acclaimed Union general during the American Civil War and was twice elected President. He knew the South couldn’t just sit back and hold what it had: the North was too strong and some sort of early end to the war had to be found, probably a negotiated peace after a shock Union defeat in Pennsylvania or Maryland. David C. Ward is senior historian emeritus at the National Portrait Gallery, and curator of the upcoming exhibition “The Sweat of their Face: Portraying American Workers. To this force, Grant assigned the unenviable task of crossing the Rapidan River to take on Gen. Robert E. Lee’s seemingly indomitable Army of Northern Virginia. You may need to download version 2.0 now from the Chrome Web Store. Mr Chernow argues that “however brilliant Lee was as a tactician, Grant surpassed him in grand strategy.” His basic plan for the 1864 campaign was to immobilize the army of Gen. Robert E. Lee near the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia, while Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman led the western Union army southward … In his memoir, Ulysses S. Grant, a general greater than Lee, described his feelings upon meeting Lee in April 1865 at Appomattox, as Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia. But taken on its own terms, Grant was an exceptional general of both theater commands, as in his seige of Vicksburg, and in command of all the Union armies when he came east. Lee publicly opposed Grant's presidency and the Republican Party, which he referred to as the Radical Party. Cookie Policy Grant’s personal charisma was never as high as Lee’s anyway; and he has been dogged by questions about his drinking. • Still, Lee worked strenuously to avoid political affairs of any kind as he focussed on his remaining years and the tremendous challenge of … Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. Privacy Statement The postwar prospects of Robert E. Lee, beloved commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, were no clearer than those of his men. In The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: November 1, 1876-September 30, 1878, he wrote: I never ranked Lee as high as some others of the army, that is to say, I never had as much anxiety when he was in my front as when Joe Johnston was in front. • Advertising Notice Grant’s haplessness as president has redounded to color his performance during the War. Lee was born into a prominent family and was already a famous military figure at the start of the war, while Grant was an unknown who rose up through the ranks and became known as a great general through his ongoing victories. Please enable Cookies and reload the page. Grant is an unexceptional-looking tanner from Ohio—while Lee is "more patriarchical than the partriarch." is on view at the National Portrait Gallery through May 31, 2015. This seems worth citing given what Grant wrote. He didn’t beat Grant. And he was implacable in the final year of the war when he engaged Lee continuously from the Battle of the Wilderness to Appomatox. Lee realized that the retreat of his beleaguered army had finally been halted, U. S. Grant was riding toward Appomattox Court House where Union Cavalry, followed by infantry from the V, XXIV, and XXV Corps had blocked the Confederate path. Colonel Ely Parker, … I think that Grant slightly shades Lee as a commander because in the last year of the War he managed all of the Union armies, including Sherman in the South and Sheridan in the Shenendoah Valley. On the other hand, Lee beat McClellan. Lee was always mindful of Grant's compassion and lenient terms of surrender. But we asked curator Ward if he'd tell us who was the better general, and here is what he sent us. Another way to prevent getting this page in the future is to use Privacy Pass. If the Southerners advanced into the Blue Grass State, the administration in Washington would pressure Grant to detach troops to the endangered region. To see Grant advance his personal fortunes Smithsonian Institution control of the Wilderness to Appomatox may 31 2015. National Portrait Gallery through may 31, 2015 Lee 's subordinates poo-pooed Grant 's compassion and lenient terms of.. • your IP: 46.101.5.73 • Performance & security by cloudflare, Please the! 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