Skip to main content

tv   The Civil War Ulysses S. Grant Union Military Leadership  CSPAN  September 14, 2019 1:06pm-1:56pm EDT

1:06 pm
the lives of people before the sus, which was 1790. thank you all. [applause] >> american history tv is on social media. cspanhistory.@ >> next on "the civil war," stephen woodward on u.s. grant and union military leaders.
1:07 pm
we will carry on with our leadership seminar. the coach has been so generous to let us use his name. i know he wants to find ways to contribute to the learning and education as part of kennesaw state university. and we are very grateful to have not only one of the mentors of kennesaw's tom scotto over here, salo again to him, but david parker is a good representative from my department. thank you, david, for coming. and thank you to all of you for being here, and thank you to our speaker for making it here. we had planned for him to come to a different event some time ago and the weather got in the way. so this time, the weather did not prevent him from arriving and we are so excited to have steve woodworth. steve and i do go a long way back. he taught for eight years at toccoa, so he has some good georgia roots in that area, and then went on to texas christian university, where he is the powerhouse.
1:08 pm
different people that say, i want to go study, who should i study with? he is one of the first names to come up for them and for me. one of my books, one of my first books of steve's was jefferson davis and his generals. that did notn area seem to have steve's stamp on it or his name associated with it. i picked of volume that had a thomas connection, the chickamauga campaign. it says he has written 27 books. he has probably written or that,ted many more than because this is dated by a couple of years, anyway. i asked him, i said steve, have you continued to produce looks at the same level that you produce children? because he's got a huge family. he said no, the books finally overlap the kids that i have. one of the nicest people in the world, just a genuine figure for the civil war community in both his knowledge and personality.
1:09 pm
people just love steve woodworth and there is a reason. he has added so much to our understanding of leadership, our understanding of the war. there are times he and i can clash a little bit. he still thinks lee was up in pennsylvania for slave duty when was what lee that was up there to do, but academics can agree to disagree. i know that isn't very fashionable in our world anymore but it's good to know we can do that. and steve is one of the people that is a font of knowledge. today, he will tell us a little bit about ulysses grant and share his thoughts about him. so without further ado, from texas christian university, let's welcome steve woodworth. [applause] prof. woodworth: thank you brian and thank you, everyone. it is an honor to be here and it is always good to be back in andgia, to come back here
1:10 pm
be reminded of the many things that i liked about living in georgia. atlanta traffic was not one of them. [laughter] prof. woodworth: i think it has gotten worse, but that is ok. it is good to be here. my topic this morning is ulysses grant and his leadership at the highest level of command of union forces during the civil war. i am currently working on a book dealing with grant and the virginia campaign. and during the last 13 months of the civil war, ulysses grant commanded all of the union armies. he was the highest-ranking general of the union forces. he oversaw all of the union forces during that last 13 months of the war. and he had a more direct command, really, almost real direct command, of union forces in virginia during that time. he oversaw the final series of
1:11 pm
union offenses during that time that led to appomattox and lee's surrender and grant's victory. -- victory that ended the major combat of the civil war. so i wanted to look at grant from a point of view of leadership. now, i know that there are a lot of things that can go into this, a lot of things that contributed to grant's victory. and the union victory, not just grant, obviously there were other people involved. -- involved in it, too. there were material and numbers involved, and a number of good commanders and obviously the rank-and-file, without the courage and endurance of common soldiers, none of this could have happened. without the patient endurance of the folks back on the home front, none of this could have happened. and then there was the matter of numbers. here i come to what i believe is mythh -- amid popular -- a
1:12 pm
popular in some quarters, which is that grant won simply by dint of superior numbers. he had so many men that he could win serving as a sort of a butcher. grant felt he could continue to shove troops into the virtual meatgrinder of battle until at some point his enemy's army would be ground to hamburger. -- hamburger and he would still have an army left. and that is simply a myth. it was not true. it is true that grant had an advantage of numbers, the union side had an advantage of numbers and material, but a couple of things can be said about that. the union had that advantage of numbers before grant came to overall union command. the union had the advantage of numbers before grant took over the direct supervision of operations in virginia. and got nowhere. and as for grant being a butcher, the union forces in virginia lost almost half again
1:13 pm
as many troops in virginia, or the virginia theater, including maryland and pennsylvania, fighting against lee before grant came to direct command there, during which time, when grant came to command in virginia, the union got precisely nowhere. grant came and yes, lost a lot of people, because it was going to take a lot of people to defeat robert e. lee and the confederate forces in virginia. you were not going to do that for free and you are not going to do that for cheap, and grant got it done. the union had had superior forces in virginia before but it took grant to make the horses, superiority -- the forc es, superiority of forces pay off. also, the superiority of forces was not at such a level as to allow an idiot to win the war. again, referring to what, or
1:14 pm
another method -- myth about grant, he was someone who was drunk all the time, that is -- drop all the time. i have known some friends who have perhaps leaned the other way from me in the civil war, and you can tell where i come from by my complete absence of an accent -- i am joking. some people think i do have an accent. at any rate, i have had some friends who leaned the other way and they said well, grant was drunk all the time in the civil war. i thought well, that is a small compliment to robert e. lee. i think he said so after the war -- that it wasn't much of a compliment to him that grant was drunk the entire time he was beating lee. the union superiority of numbers was not such as to allow someone who was an idiot or a poor general or drunk all the time to win. if the union had had that kind of superiority in numbers,
1:15 pm
the war would have won in 1862, instead of suffering the union's most lopsided defeat . so there is that. also, grant's superiority in numbers in virginia, or nationwide, was really only not ato two, and that is decisive advantage when you --lize that at the civil war three to two at the defining front. three to two at the front is not whengh to be decisive in the civil war, one soldier behind entrenchment is the equivalent of three attacking an open fields. you could argue that yes, but the attacker has the advantage of choosing the time and place of combat. well, that is true -- only if you succeed in out-generaling the other guy. and since the other guy happens to be robert e. lee, it won't be all that easy.
1:16 pm
so i think the odds are about even. the attacker always have to have more force, wherever you look, that is true. it is true in world war ii. the attacker has more force, and the attacker does not always win. so the point i make with this discussion is to say that although there are complications and although there are many other factors at work, grant still had to accomplish something to win the war. something was required of grant. and grant brought forward a number of things to meet that. obviously there is his skill in the area of strategy and in the operational art and in tactics. and there was grant's appreciation of the factor of time, which i think he had to a greater degree than almost any other general in the civil war. certainly i think any other general on the union side, an appreciation of how much time counts in warfare. there is that. but i think another major factor is grant's leadership ability.
1:17 pm
and looking at grant and looking at how he exercised his top command, of leadership, and that means getting your generals to do you want the way you want them to do it when you want them to do it. -- ifound there were 4 looked at four characteristics of grant. you could call them personality traits, but in calling them personality traits, i would not refer to them all as things he was born with, but ways in which he exercised command. four traits in the way grant exercised command that made him effective as a leader. ways ist one in some one of the most interesting to me, because i don't believe this was one of grant's natural traits. this is not something he was born with or in his dna. that was his confidence. i say, well, wasn't grant just naturally confident? no he wasn't, actually.
1:18 pm
grant was naturally a fairly diffident fellow. he was not by nature someone who was going to put his will over others. there is the famous situation where grant -- you know, grant did not wants to be an officer. grant did not want to go to west point. his father was a forceful fellow, jesse grant. he told ulysses that, you are going to west point. ulysses did not want to do that, want to go tonot west point and his father said, i guess you will. grant later said, i guess if he thought so, i guess i would too. so he went to west point. he served in the mexican war with conspicuous courage in a number of battles. the problem for grant in battle was not a fear so much of
1:19 pm
getting shot at. he was not like old smith, old apocalypse smith back in the war of 1812. he did not mind so much getting shot at. he had been shot at a lot in the mexican war and had done a lot of very bold and brave things there. but it was being responsible, and this is something that got to a lot of people. brian mentioned joseph johnston, and certainly, that was a problem for him. it bothered ulysses grant too, early in the war. very early in the war, grant was commanding only a single regiment, the 21st illinois. and he had an assignment to go to the town of florida, missouri and attack some confederate named harris, who was in camp a florida,tom there near missouri. so grant leads his regiment there, and as he went, he said he became increasingly nervous, and he described it as feeling more and more trepidation, i
1:20 pm
think we would translate as fear. and he said "my heart seemed to be higher and higher until finally my heart was in my throat." he said if he had been able to get up the courage to tell the regiment to turn around and go back he would have, he was sure that harris must have more men and knew they were coming and would beat them. he came over the last hill and looked into the creek bottom, and they could see that obviously there had been a camp there, but they were gone. the rebels have left when they heard the grant was coming. he said this was a great revelation for him that he had never forgot for the rest of the war. harris was more scared of him than he was of harris. and he said he never forgot that. that, coming up on a battle, before a battle, he might feel more or less anxiety, but he did not feel trepidation.
1:21 pm
i think that is a nice way of saying he was able to control his fear after that, control that nervous feeling of responsibility. but it was still with him. this was something he had had to overcome and he did overcome it. for example, during the vicksburg campaign, brian mentioned how forrest combined with pandora and to ruin grant's first drive on vicksburg. van doren toith ruin grant's first drive on vicksburg. now think about the last drive on vicksburg in 1863, when grant lands on the mississippi shore south of the vicksburg, and he pulled off an amazing campaign of maneuvers through the interior of mississippi that i think is a textbook case that ranks alongside stonewall jackson's shenandoah valley campaign. and this was something that was not -- this was bold, this was daring, and it could have gone the wrong way. it had abundant opportunity to come out wrong for grant.
1:22 pm
this is as daring as going for it on fourth and three on your own eight yard line. this is -- this could really turn out badly for you. but he decided this was what he would have to do to get the result he needed. and his most trusted subordinate, we have already told him not to do it. grant did it anyway. so grant had confidence in his decisions and could see his decisions through, even against the advice of people he really trusted. when he came to a decision, this is the thing i need to do, i have thought it through, and this is the thing to do. and if you have ever been responsible for big things and have had people you trust tell you, that is not going to work, i've got something i'm planning
1:23 pm
-- an event planning in september. the guy told us, you are not doing it the right way, it is not going to work. i said i think it will, we will go ahead. but we will see. sometimes being confident will get you into trouble. sometimes you have your idea, it is going to work, you think you have it figured out. for example, before the battle of shiloh, i anticipate nothing like a general attack being made. and it was a made near-run thing for grant. i trust our thing in september likenot wind up being another shiloh, but we will get through it. you could have a bad result. sometimes that confidence could steer you wrong, but most of the time it worked out for grant. to have the confidence your plan is right, in order to have that confidence planff for you, your better be right most of the time. coaches who don't make it, the
1:24 pm
great majority of the time, they wind up being television commentators or something like that. [laughter] prof. woodworth: nothing against coaches -- there are some really good ones who have been television commentators. i hope gary patterson doesn't become a commentator for a long time. he needs to stay at tcu. we enjoy him being there. so grant had the confidence going for him. but again, i don't think that ever became something that did not cost grant some effort. he put effort into that, of making up his mind, figuring out what he needed to do, deciding that that was the thing to do, and we are going to do that, i'm going to stick with that course. that cost him. and one place where you see that, that effort that it required of grant -- this was not an effortless thing, it was not just ho-hum, everything will will go my way -- is on the first day of the battle of the wilderness -- actually both days of the battle of the
1:25 pm
wilderness. for grant, this was a new thing. he had been very successful in the civil war. the battle of the wilderness, by the way, happens in may of 1864 and it is grant's first encounter against lee. this is the first time that the best general of each side in the war are going up against each other, grant versus lee. time on thefirst big stage there in virginia. it didn't decide the war, but it sure saw the biggest armies face each other and certainly got the most attention and most news were around there. the most photographers were around there. that is why most of the pictures you see in the civil war are the virginia theater. it gets attention. and he's going against tough opposition. he is going to be teaching the army of the potomac, the union army of virginia, to make war in a new way. and he has to exercise a lot of confidence.
1:26 pm
now, one thing grant had started doing during the civil war was smoking cigars. before the civil war, he smoked a pipe. he had a pipe. use the early pictures of grant in the civil war, he has a beard down to his chest and a pipe and he doesn't look anything like ulysses s. grant during the war. he learns how to smoke cigars and look like ulysses s. grant. someone had sent him a cigar after some of his early victories. actually given him a cigar, and he had that cigar in his mouth during the battle of fort donaldson, and people heard about grant riding around the battlefield with a cigar clamped in his mouth, and he got all of these cigars given to him. he felt like he needed to smoke them and set away his pipe. i don't know if it made a difference to the throat cancer that killed him later. that is not a good thing. anyway, he smoked. there at the battle of wilderness, he started the day
1:27 pm
of that battle by putting two dozen cigars in his pockets. later in the day he asked one of his generals, one of his generals stopped by headquarters, and grant said let's talk. general winfield scott hancock. he reached in his pocket to pull out a cigar to give to hancock and he discovered it was his last cigar of the two dozen cigars. that was the last that are of the day. -- last cigar of the day. he may have given away a couple of other cigars, but one of his top aides estimated that grant had personally reduced 20 of those cigars to ashes during the day. and he had smoked his pipe between times. smoke his cigar, smoke his pipe -- so he was smoking at a pretty good rate for something that was not on fire throughout the day. and i think that indicates to me that he was struggling with quite the case of nerves. another way that you can see grant's nervous tension through the two days of the battle of
1:28 pm
the wilderness, he had started out -- he intended to address -- intended to dress very informally during his service out in the west. he came to virginia and he heard they dressed more formally. so he was wearing a full dress uniform with the whole insignia, frockcoat, everything else -- oh, and thread gloves. so he kind of seemed to forget he was wearing his thread gloves during the battle of the wilderness. and during the battle of the wilderness, one thing you have to realize, there was a limited amount that grant could do while the battle was going on. he could bring them to battle -- lee said later, regarding any battle, lee said that you bring your army to battle and once it starts you kind of watch it go -- that is certainly true of the wilderness. once or twice grant had to ride
1:29 pm
out to see what was going on and where his troops were, and you could not see your troops. there was a thicket. it was the battle of the wilderness. so you could not see your troops. you could send them into action and that was it. most of the time you had to wait. i think that is one of the things that contributed to grant's anxiety. he told an aide that what bothered him the most in battle is that when he gave an order for troops to do something and he was waiting for them to do it and time just seemed to stretch on endlessly. waiting for the results of his decision to be played out. and i mentioned gary patterson, our ball coach there at tcu. and he is famous, and we are in a situation, maybe wisconsin is trailing by two, and they are going to go for the two-point conversion to tie the game, and you know what patterson -- he is signals to the defense and he is yelling and everything, and you
1:30 pm
know what else he is going to do , he is going to tuck in his shirt and tie his shoes. that is important. he needs to do that. and we stopped them on the two-point conversion. that was great. -- anyway, nervous things we do. for grant, he whittled. he spent that day at the wilderness whittling and forgot to take off his gloves. at the end of the two days, his gloves were shredded and ruined. none of his staff officers wanted to mention it. you don't overachieve, "sir, did you want to whittle those gloves to pieces?" you don't say that. so grant was confident but it was not inherent to his personality. it did not come naturally, he learned to do it and did it. that impresses me. he recognized, i need to think through what i need to do and then i need to do it.
1:31 pm
i taught a student years ago who wrote his dissertation on ways in which grant actually unwittingly conformed to the ideas of the art of war. i say unwittingly, because the work had not been translated from german into english at this time. he could not have read about it, yet many things granted aligned with it. one of the things that was said is what you need in a general is not a brilliant mind but a strong mind. not necessarily just stubborn, but strength of character. grant was able to figure out what he needed to do and stick to that course with great confidence. even sometimes a great internal cost in nerves. that said, he also conveyed, the second thing that stands out to
1:32 pm
me, calmness. you would think a guy who is chain-smoking and whittling his gloves to pieces would convey an attitude or sense of nervousness. i think nervousness is almost as contagious as panic, but so is calmness. the sense that grant conveyed to those around him was a great calmness. that must have been an effort, too, to convey that to those around him. one staff officer watched grant throughout the day and said he seemed as calm as a summer evening. another said, he is the coolest man i ever saw. the provost army general of the potomac army said he does nothing but sit and whittle and smoke. it didn't look like he was doing much but when he needed to do things, he did them, and conveyed a sense of calmness that conveyed good things to his troops.
1:33 pm
i think these things together standout great deal to me. he could figure out what needed to be done, and despite the internal anxiety, could hold fast on that. not only do what needed to be done and stick to the course of action, he had figured out this is what i need to do to accomplish what i need to accomplish, he could do that and at the same time convey comments -- convey calmness to his men. unlike gary patterson, he is not screaming at his men. you ever watch a football game and it's not just after the game when they interview him they ask , questions at halftime and he has already lost his voice. he is croaking. grant was not that way. that was important. what has this got to do with leadership? getting your generals to do the things you need them to do when you need them to do them in the
1:34 pm
way you need them to do them, it is helpful if you convey the sense that you are sure you have figured out the right course of action. you have the right game plan, you are giving the right orders and are confident about them and have a calmness about them. if a general conveys a sense of nervousness. grant was able to chain-smoking and whittle throughout the day and still convey calmness. that is very effective contrary , to rosecrans during the battle of chickamauga, who conveyed a sense of nervousness. those are two things. to go to a third thing, with that confidence he had and the calmness he conveyed, you might get the feeling that grant possibly might have been cocky.
1:35 pm
that there might have been a sense of cockiness and almost a supercilious sense of superiority. but grant was not that way. in fact, and this is my third point, humility, and amazing as of humility. again, i don't mean he lacked confidence. obviously he didn't. and i don't mean that he was not in command or insist on being in command, giving orders, and having his orders carried out. he did. but he had a great indifference to receiving adulation and recognition. grant just did not need to be celebrated, to have fanfares played for him or have his men cheer for him. he was indifferent to receiving
1:36 pm
recognition. i will say in a minute how i think that contributed to his leadership ability and getting his generals to do what he needed them to do, how he needed them to do it, when he needed them to do it. several stories illustrate this. grant was frequently mistaken for a common man. when he was ordered to come from the west to the east and take command of the union armies, he came to washington, d.c. in march of 1864. he gets to the train station, his aides go to make arrangements, and grant goes from the baltimore and ohio depot to willard's hotel. it was one of the nicest hotels in washington, it was the place to stay. he goes to willard's. he is wearing a very unadorned uniform, typical of grant, and a linen duster, which was typical for traveling. it looks rather nondescript.
1:37 pm
grant looked rather nondescript. we said about another general in the civil war, hancock, that he was the sort of man that if he showed up on the battlefield wearing civilian clothes and started giving orders, people would obey him. he had that air, something that conveyed that he was the general. grant did not have that. grant almost did not convey that when he did wear a uniform. he shows up at willard's hotel in the linen duster and he walks to the desk and asks, do you have a room? the clerk sizes up grant, here is another army officer, what if he is a general? who cares? generals are a dime a dozen in washington in 1864. so he rather -- you know, you go to the wrong kind of hotel.
1:38 pm
it's really expensive, you know you can't afford it, they will let you know, and convey the idea that you don't belong there. the desk clerk sizes him up and says, i suppose we might be able to find something for you, a small room below the attic. not priced real estate. grant says that will be fine. the desk clerk pushes the hotel register over to him, and grant signs the register and hands it back to the clerk and the clerk glances down at it and the clerk jumps and gets big eyes and says, we did not know. we have been saving the best suite in the house for you. he did not recognize him and he thought he was somebody who deserved the little room under the attic. grant did not wind up having to stay in that little room under the attic. this happened even when he was dressed up.
1:39 pm
at the battle of the wilderness, he was in full dress uniform. while the fighting was going on, there was not much for him to do. you just had to wait while your orders were carried out. grant was at his headquarters during the fighting, and he and a couple of his staff officers took a little walk, maybe 200 yards from his headquarters to the road. as they are down there near the road, and the wilderness run near it, along the road comes a herd of cattle. the army commissary department would drive the cattle along as sort of rations on the hoof for troops. here comes the cattle and several enlisted men serving as drovers. grant is standing there and the officers are standing there, and one of the steers goes down to the creek.
1:40 pm
he is straying from the herd, and one of the drovers looks at the officers, not at the staff officers, he looks at grant, and says, stranger, head off that beef critter for me. we are saying that grant looks more like a farmer in his dress uniform? i don't care if his gloves are snagged, in his dress uniform, he looks more like a farmer than his two staff officers. i don't know what it was that he could look like a farmer doing anything. he had been a farmer before the war in missouri and grown up the son of a tanner in ohio. so grant knew cattle, so he jumped out in front of the steer and raises his arms and yells, and the steer turned back into the herd.
1:41 pm
grant and his officers go their way, and grant doesn't say anything. when soldiers spoke disrespectfully to grant and obviously knew it was grant -- this happened when he was commander of the 21st in illinois, grant would reprimand the soldier. but the soldier on beasley did not know he was speaking to the commanding general of the army of the united states. he just thought he was a private soldier. there was no disrespect or insubordination in the action. grant thought nothing of it, he just went on his way as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. he had been mistaken for a soldier and for grant that was fine. he did not like to receive recognition and he liked to go unnoticed, and he liked it so much he had become very good at it even before the war started. what does that have to do with
1:42 pm
leadership ability? well, generals as a rule -- i have not known many, i have not known any personally, i shook hands with one once and interacted with him for a few minutes and he seemed like a good guy -- maybe a couple of generals i have met. but i am told they can be a fairly arrogant lot, especially those that make it to top command. after all, they have a compost a -- they have accomplished a lot to make it to the rank of general and they are very impressive people, especially to themselves. think of people like douglas macarthur, was he known for his humility? not so much. what about george patton? maybe not much for his humility, either. there is things, not humility. these are guys known for their
1:43 pm
skill and billions as generals, and they get very controversial and some people say they are stupid, but they were successful generals. they were not known for humility. that was the case with a lot of generals, and the case for a lot of generals in the civil war, and not always successful generals. they could be very arrogant and proud people. they could be very demanding about their rights and recognitions. they could have big egos. they could have big clashes with other people because of those egos. we mentioned braxton bragg and forrest, and how many commanders did forrest say i will not obey orders from you anymore. how many did he threaten to kill? i think it was two. the confederate army of tennessee was rendered almost combat ineffective at one point,
1:44 pm
maybe more than one point, because of personality clashes between the top generals. personality clashes largely fed by clashing egos. it did not happen on grant's watch. he had difficult people serving under him, one of the generals serving immediately under grant named the old snapping turtle, might have had a temper. baldy smith who served under grant was notoriously difficult to get along with. benjamin butler was a politician turned general who never stopped being a politician. he was very solicitous about his status and recognition. grant never had to stop personality conflicts with these people and i think one of the reasons was grant's humility.
1:45 pm
he did not demand recognition and did not therefore necessarily lord it over generals in a way that rubbed their fur the wrong way more than was necessary. he insisted they carry out his orders and that was all. the fourth point i thought of looking at grant, and this is a little different, the others might be considered traits, but the fourth one is something he did in these 13 months. he insisted on teaching his subordinates to think in new ways. in the army of the potomac and the virginia theater in particular, they had a way of thinking that wasn't working.
1:46 pm
grant insisted, we're not going to do it that way anymore, we're going to think in new ways. it was not an easy process. it started at the battle of the wilderness in may of 1864, but it continued right up to the closing days of the war. that ongoing struggle. yet increasingly, grant got the army of the potomac, the union forces in virginia, to act more and more on his system and way of doing things, and think in his way, and do it effectively so that by the end of the war, they were operating largely that way. we think of the appomattox campaign, and again, without going through the blow-by-blow, it is so tempting for historians, we love to tell stories. you can tell i am having fun. you look at the appomattox campaign, and lasted exactly a week from the time the confederate forces had to flee from richmond to the time of the
1:47 pm
surrender at appomattox. as is often the case in history, there is a temptation to look at it as a foregone conclusion. we know how it came out him is so it is tempting to think it had to come out that way. it could have come out another way. george mcclellan would have found a way for lee to get away. lee would've gotten away from him. but that pursuit that leads, for example, at union creek, that was grant's thinking. the process was never fully complete. he never had everybody in the army of the potomac thinking his way but he did switch them over to a large degree in thinking his kind of way. it was not easy. the incident that stands out most with grant demanding his subordinates think in different ways and where he stated his
1:48 pm
case most plainly, although he was always putting it across in his orders -- we are going to do it this way, not that way, we are going to be opportunistic, we are going to take our opportunities quickly and capitalizing on them quickly. where he states that the most plainly was the evening of the second day of the battle of the wilderness, the confederates made a surprise attack on the union flank, just as it was getting dark on the second day of the battle. it hit the union forces pretty hard, it routed two brigades and captured some brigadiers. a lot of the men, you are in the thickets and you can't see well and it is getting dark, you know how it gets dark first in the woods and everything looks worse and seems worse. it is getting dark and all of these reports are coming in and the mood around the army of the potomac headquarters was verging on panic.
1:49 pm
grant was, of course, remaining calm. it seemed to almost per joke some of the potomac generals. he doesn't understand what we have been up against against lee. a general rides to headquarters, and a staff sergeant describes the change thoughtfully but did not record the general's name. the general strides up to grant and says, this is a crisis that cannot be taken too seriously. i know lee's methods from experience, he will throw his full force between us and the river and cut off our communications. grant is sitting on his camp chair at this time instead of a stump or the ground, and you can picture him there after pausing a couple of beats.
1:50 pm
he slowly stands up and takes his cigar out of his mouth, and he says with a little more emphasis than he had been speaking that day, oh i am heartily tired of hearing about what lee is going to do. some of you seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault and land on both our flanks and our rear at the same time. go back to your command and think about what we are going to do instead of what lee is going to do. and it was true some of those , generals had far too many experiences with lee's methods. they had come to expect and almost except -- accept that they would be beaten by lee. why wait for lee to do some maneuver that would feature you
1:51 pm
-- would defeat you when you could retreat now and save you the trouble? grant was insisting, very explicitly in that case, but it was implicit in the orders he continued to give to the army of the potomac -- we are not going to wait and see what lee is going to do to us. we are going to keep him busy. and that is what they did. lee will not be thinking about what he will do to us because we will be doing things to him first. so he made his subordinates think in new ways. many factors one into the union victory, and talking about what went on in virginia, obviously the union victory west of the appalachians was decisive. even within virginia, many others contributed from political leaders to voters at home to soldiers in the ranks to officers up and down the chain of command. many factors were necessary from grant.
1:52 pm
but his leadership ability, i think, enhanced his ability to get his generals -- and he worked on it the whole 13 months -- to get his generals to do what he wanted them to do the way he wanted them to do it when he wanted them to do it. that ever increasing success in that was enhanced by the confidence and calmness that he practiced as an act of will, by the humility that may have been his personality or he learned to do that too, and his insistence on teaching his subordinates to think in new ways. thank you for your attention. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] is onrican history tv social media, follow us at c-span history. today on the civil war,
1:53 pm
author chris kolakowski talks about the tell home a campaign in tennessee. he argues that her power struggles between confederate leaders in the army resulted in their unpreparedness for battle. here's a preview. there's another confederate army that has defended, twice in this war, will defend behind a major military obstacle, expecting the federal try to cross that military obstacle and will already have two to three contingency plans ready to engage when the yankees get active. oft of course the army northern virginia. winter of 1862 and 1863. whatever the federals do, lee is ready, he has fought it out, talked about it with his team, he knows what he needs to do, just a matter of activating the -- contingency
1:54 pm
plan. that is what successful organization needs to be able to achieve its objective and gets done what it needs to get done. do you think any of that is present in the army of tennessee? absolutely not. you see it in the preface reaction by general bragg, almost 72 hours into an active campaign and he's only now thinking about what he needs to do, tries to cobble together a counteroffensive under a general that he just tried to court-martial a couple of weeks ago. saddestone of the stories and confederate military history. in american military history i would submit as well. much time in the spring and summer fighting paper battles over what has gone before, that they forgot the enemy in front of them wearing blue uniforms. the 1863more about
1:55 pm
on the civilmpaign war, explore our nations passed here on american history tv. next, from the national world war ii museum in new orleans, military historian carl nolan chronicles the paris and warsaw uprising that occurred simultaneously in august of 1944. he is later joined by the senior historian for a conversation about those events. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] evening ladies and gentlemen. ofm the senior director research and history here at the national world war ii museum. with the institute for the study of war and democracy. it's great to see you here, and once again to have our friends at the span


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on