GRANT AND LEE: A COMPARISON AND CONTRAST
Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee are two of the most effective military leaders in American history. These men have become symbolic of the two nations at conflict during the Civil War. Both had very different backgrounds and personalities that caused them to differ in their military leadership and accomplishments. Even though General Lee would surrender his army to General Grant, Lee throughout the course of the war proved himself to be a better military leader. The childhood of Robert Edward Lee played a pivotal role in the way he would see the world as a man. Lee was born into an aristocratic family of Virginia with a deeply rooted American history.
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Throughout the Civil War, Robert E Lee would prove himself to be unmatched in leadership. When Lee took control of the Army of Northern Virginia in June of 1862, the Union army “…was thundering at the city gates…(Lee p150)”20 of the Confederate capital of Richmond. In three months, Lee would achieve what his predecessor General Joseph E. Johnston could not. Lee defeated the invading Union army and turned the war in favor of the South. It would take President Lincoln almost one year to find any competition for General Lee. That competition would be General Grant and the vast resources the North offered him. The vast resources and the advanced railroad system of the North would give Grant the advantage he needed over Lee. In a letter to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Lee expressed his concern that “…Every train brings recruits, and it is stated that every available regiment at the North is added to it…(Lee p108)”21 The Army of Northern Virginia’s lack of provisions were “…so great…I cannot see how we can operate with our present supplies (Lee, p 108).22 Before Lee ever met Grant on the battlefield he was trying to prepare for multiple retreats that would allow him to resupply his army. Lee pleaded with Jefferson Davis that “Every exertion should be made to supply the depots at Richmond and at other points (Lee, p 108).” 23 Grant carelessly used his resources