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Grant’s Grand Strategy and Sherman. Lsn 11. ID & SIG:. Appomattox, Atlanta, Banks, Butler, Grant, Kennesaw Mountain, Meade, Petersburg, Sherman’s March to the Sea, Spotsylvania, total war, unity of effort, Wilderness. Unity of Command.

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Grant’s Grand Strategy and Sherman

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id sig
  • Appomattox, Atlanta, Banks, Butler, Grant, Kennesaw Mountain, Meade, Petersburg, Sherman’s March to the Sea, Spotsylvania, total war, unity of effort, Wilderness
unity of command
Unity of Command
  • From Manassas to Chattanooga, the Federals had fought without a grand strategy or a supreme field commander
    • Twin, uncoordinated victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg demonstrated the problem
  • With the election of 1864 approaching, Lincoln had to show the war was making progress
    • Looked to Ulysses Grant to lead the country to victory
grant as general in chief
Grant as General in Chief
  • Grant was promoted to lieutenant general March 9, 1864
    • Replaced Henry Halleck as General in Chief
  • Grant saw the war as a whole where previous Federal generals had viewed it in terms of separate theaters with little cooperative effort
    • This disjointed view had allowed Confederates to shift forces from one threat to the next

A council of war with Grant leaning over the shoulder of Meade looking at a map

elements of grant s strategy
Elements of Grant’s Strategy
  • Simultaneously advance on all fronts to prevent the Confederates from shifting forces
  • Focus on enemy forces rather than “strategic points”
  • Maximize forces by eliminating passive occupation duties and reallocating forces in dispersed locations like Florida and Arkansas
  • Combine destruction of Southern armies with destruction of Southern war resources
grant s grand strategy
Grant’s Grand Strategy
  • Maneuver Lee away from the Rapidan River and defeat him in open terrain by decisive battle (Meade)
  • Cut the James-Appomattox River line to sever Lee’s rail and road links to other parts of the Confederacy (Butler)
  • Execute a wide wheeling movement through the South to complete the envelopment of the Confederacy east of the Mississippi (Sherman)
  • Attack through Mobile to close that port (Banks)
grant s plan for 1864
Grant’s Plan for 1864
  • Grant determined to “press” the Confederates on all sides in May 1864:
    • Meade overland in the East
    • Sigel up the Shenandoah Valley
    • Butler up the James River
    • Sherman overland to Atlanta
    • Banks toward Mobile
  • Lincoln describes the concept as being “Those not skinning can hold a leg”
  • Meade’s Army of the Potomac
    • Main effort
    • “Lee’s army is your objective point. Wherever Lee goes, there you will go also.” (Grant)
  • “Hold a leg”
    • Sigel advance up the Shenandoah Valley
    • Butler conduct an amphibious operation against the Richmond-Petersburg area

Both Butler and Sigel were primarily political generals

  • “You I propose to move against Johnston’s army, to break it up, and to get into the interior of the enemy’s country as far as you can, inflicting all the damage you can against their war resources.” (Grant to Sherman)
  • By 1864 only Mobile, Alabama and Wilmington, NC remained open to Confederate blockade runners
  • Closing Mobile would further isolate the Confederacy
traditional military strategies
Traditional Military Strategies
  • Attrition
    • The reduction of the effectiveness of a force caused by loss of personnel and materiel
  • Exhaustion
    • The gradual erosion of a nation’s will or means to resist
  • Annihilation
    • Seeks the immediate destruction of the combat power of the enemy’s armed forces
grant and the american way of war
Grant and the “American Way of War’
  • Grant knew that the hopes for the Confederacy lay in a strategy of exhaustion
    • “… I think that [Johnston’s] policy [in the Atlanta Campaign] was the best one that could have been pursued by the whole South– protract the war, which was all that was necessary to enable them to gain recognition in the end.”
grant and the american way of war13
Grant and the “American Way of War”
  • Grant knew that the Napoleonic ideal of a single decisive victory was a thing of the past
  • Instead he would keep relentless pressure on the enemy and be willing to accept tremendous casualties himself with the knowledge that his casualties could be replaced but the South’s could not
  • Grant “developed a highly uncommon ability to rise above the fortunes of a single battle and to master the flow of a long series of events, almost to the point of making any outcome of a single battle, victory, draw, or even defeat, serve his eventual purposes equally well.”
    • Russell Weigley
grant and the american way of war14
Grant and the “American Way of War”
  • Grant sought the destruction of the Confederate armies through attrition and annihilation
    • While mercilessly directly pounding Lee’s army with Meade, Grant added an indirect approach to destroy the enemy’s armies by striking the Confederate war resources with Sherman
  • Meade, Sherman, Butler, and Sigel all began operations in May 1864
    • Sigel was defeated at the Battle of New Market on May 15
    • Butler landed on the James-Appomattox peninsula and was quickly cut off by the Confederates
      • Both supporting efforts failed
  • Banks got distracted with the Red River Campaign and did not attack Mobile

“Virginia Mourns Her Dead” statue at Virginia Military Institute

  • Even Meade’s effort against Lee seemed to have reached a stalemate with the siege of Petersburg
    • In June and July, Jubal Early launched a raid from the Shenandoah Valley into western Maryland and toward Washington
    • The Confederates were stopped but the mere fact that they could still pose such a threat alarmed the public
political situation
Political Situation
  • These developments did not bode well for Lincoln as he faced reelection in November
    • On Aug 23, 1864, Lincoln had his cabinet members endorse a memo that said, “This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probably that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will by my duty to so cooperate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the Election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterwards.”

George McClellan, running on a peace platform, was Lincoln’s Democratic opponent

atlanta campaign political implications
Atlanta Campaign: Political Implications
  • What is going to reverse this trend of gloom is Sherman’s capture of Atlanta
    • A vivid demonstration of the close connection between battlefield developments and politics
the atlanta campaign
The Atlanta Campaign
  • Grant’s instructions to Sherman were: “You I propose to move against Johnston’s army, to break it up, and to get into the interior of the enemy’s country as far as you can, inflicting all the damage you can against their war resources.”
  • Sherman moved out on May 4, 1864 (the same day the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan)
the federals
The Federals
  • Sherman had approximately 100,000 men
    • George Thomas commanded the Army of the Cumberland
    • James McPherson commanded the Army of the Tennessee
    • John Schofield commanded the Army of the Ohio
  • Sherman’s strategy was to fight a war of maneuver and attempt to turn the Confederate defenses
the confederates
The Confederates
  • Opposing Sherman was Joe Johnston who had replaced Bragg after Chattanooga
  • Johnston had just 50,000 men (although he soon received reinforcements to bring him to about 60,000) but the rugged mountainous terrain favored the defense
  • Johnston elected to follow a defensive strategy
  • As Sherman tried to turn Johnston’s line, Johnston continually withdrew to a new position
  • The only exception to the pattern of withdraw, defend, flank, withdrew, defend, flank… was Kennesaw Mountain where Sherman conducted a disastrous frontal attack
  • By mid-July Johnston had withdrawn behind the outer ring of fortifications that ringed Atlanta itself
  • Johnston’s army was still in tact but he no longer had room to maneuver
john bell hood
John Bell Hood
  • Davis became frustrated with Johnston’s defensive strategy and on July 17, he replaced Johnston with John Bell Hood
    • Hood was extremely aggressive
    • His left arm was rendered useless from wounds at Gettysburg and his right leg was amputated after a wound at Chickamauga
    • He had to be strapped into his saddle
hood takes the offensive
Hood Takes the Offensive
  • Between July 19 and 28, Hood attacked Sherman three times, suffering huge casualties and making no headway
  • Hood then withdrew to the Atlanta fortifications
  • On August 26 Sherman began a turning movement designed to cut Atlanta’s rail communications with the rest of the South
the fall of atlanta
The Fall of Atlanta
  • Hood realized what Sherman was trying to do, but he was too late to do anything about it
  • After a desperate attempt at Jonesboro to dislodge Sherman, Hood abandoned Atlanta and the Federals took possession on Sept 2
  • Hood headed north into northern Alabama and Tennessee trying unsuccessfully to get Sherman to follow him or at least disrupt Sherman’s communications
political impact
Political Impact
  • The fall of Atlanta sealed the fate of the Confederacy because it ensured Lincoln would be reelected and would prosecute the war to victory
march to the sea
March to the Sea
  • Rather than getting distracted by Hood’s offensive, on Nov 12 Sherman took his 62,000 men and headed east to the coast
    • Cut his communications and lived off the land
      • “Where a million people live my army won’t starve.” (Sherman)
    • Destroyed everything in his path
      • Planned “to leave a trail that [would] be recognized fifty years hence.”

Chief among Sherman’s targets were railroads where his men twisted ties into “Sherman’s bow-ties”

march to the sea28
March to the Sea
  • Key to Sherman’s success was keeping the Confederates on “the horns of a dilemma”
    • Would his objective be Macon or Augusta and then Augusta or Savannah?
    • Wrote Halleck, “I must have alternatives, else, being confined to one route, the enemy might so oppose that delay and want to trouble me, but having alternatives, I can take so eccentric a course that no general can guess my objective. Therefore, have lookouts at Morris Island, South Carolina, Ossahaw Sound, Georgia, Pensacola and Mobile bays. I will turn up somewhere.”
    • Sherman kept his enemy confused and advanced with virtually no opposition
march to the sea29
March to the Sea
  • Sherman’s target was not Confederate armies but Confederate will
    • “This movement is not purely military or strategic, but will illustrate the vulnerability of the South. They don’t know what war means, but when the rich planters of the Oconee and Savannah see their fences and corn and hogs and sheep vanish before their eyes they will have something more than a mean opinion of the ‘Yanks.’”
march to the sea30
March to the Sea
  • While Sherman was cutting through Georgia, Hood was defeated at Franklin and Nashville
  • Sherman arrived at Savannah in December, offered it as a “Christmas present” to Lincoln, got resupplied by the sea, and headed north to combine with Grant
march north
March North
  • Sherman continued his destruction being particularly hard on South Carolina because of its role in starting the secessionist movement
    • Burned the capital of Columbia
north carolina
North Carolina
  • In the wake of Sherman’s onslaught, Davis recalled Johnston to organize the meager Confederate resistance
  • Sherman and Johnston fought their last major battle at Bentonville between March 19 and 21
  • Johnston surrendered on Apr 26
    • Lee had surrendered Apr 9

The James Bennett house, site of Johnston’s surrender

the virginia campaign
The Virginia Campaign
  • While Sherman was cutting his swath through the Deep South, Grant fought a series of battles against Lee in Virginia
    • Wilderness
    • Spotsylvania
    • Hanover Junction
    • Cold Harbor
    • Petersburg
    • Five Forks
    • Appomattox
the wilderness
The Wilderness
  • On May 4, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River into the Wilderness
    • A tangled second growth of stunted pines, vines, creepers, and scrub brush
    • The few roads often led nowhere and were inaccurately mapped
    • Ground broken by irregular ridges and hills and crisscrossed by numerous streams and ravines
  • Bruce Catton called the Wilderness “the last place on earth for armies to fight”
the wilderness35
The Wilderness
  • However the Wilderness was exactly the type of terrain Lee would need to offset his numerical inferiority
    • Lee had just 64,000 men to Grant’s 119,000
    • One Federal general figured that in more hospitable terrain Grant could have covered a front of 21 miles, two ranks deep with 1/3 of its strength in reserve whereas Lee could only cover 12 miles
    • Grant had 274 artillery pieces manned by 9,945 artillerymen while Lee only had 224 guns and some 4,800 artillerymen
    • Grant had 11,839 cavalrymen compared to Lee’s 8,000
    • The restrictive terrain would not allow Grant to deploy his artillery or cavalry to full effect
the wilderness36
The Wilderness
  • Grant hoped to turn Lee’s right flank and force him to retreat
  • Instead Lee attacked two of Grant’s corps as they struggled through the narrow lanes of the Wilderness
  • In two days of violent fighting Grant suffered nearly 17,000 casualties to Lee’s 10,000
the wilderness37
The Wilderness
  • Grant brought a new attitude to the Army of the Potomac
    • One general told him, “General Grant, this is a crisis that cannot be looked upon too seriously. I know Lee’s methods well by past experience; he will throw his whole army between us and the Rapidan, and cut us off completely from our communications.”
    • Grant replied, “Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault and land in or rear and on both our flanks at the same time. Go back to our command and try to think what we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do.”
the wilderness38
The Wilderness
  • At the Wilderness, Lee defeated Grant, but, instead of retreating as McClellan, Burnside, and Hooker had done, Grant kept moving south to Spotsylvania to try to get around Lee’s flank and get between Lee and Richmond
  • Lee used excellent intelligence and analysis to determine that Spotsylvania was where Grant is heading
  • Lee won what amounted to a race to Spotsylvania and prepared trenches
  • For 12 days the two armies fought inconclusively north and east of Spotsylvania
    • Lee remained behind his strong defenses which Grant could not breach
  • The Confederates withdrew but Grant was determined to continue his offensive
    • He had written Halleck, “I propose to fight it out on this line [Spotsylvania] if it takes all summer.”
    • However the failure of Butler and Sigel’s supporting attacks had given Lee 8,500 reinforcements
    • Grant decided to try to slip by Lee’s right flank and continue moving southward
  • Grant and Lee fought at Hanover Junction and Cold Harbor, but Lee always escaped Grant’s clutches
  • Grant now had no further prospects of breaking through to Richmond
    • He had simply run out of maneuver room and Lee’s defenses were too strong
  • Instead Grant decided to shift his army south of the James River, use the river as his line of supply, and try to get to Petersburg
    • Petersburg was about 20 miles south of Richmond
    • Through it passed most of the supplies bound for Richmond and Lee’s army
  • Grant got a jump on Lee and crossed the James between June 12 and 16
  • Grant almost was able to seize Petersburg without a fight, but Lee barely managed to beat Grant to Petersburg and occupy the fortifications already in place
  • A ten-month siege ensued
  • Grant built up a huge logistical base at City Point
  • City Point gave Grant outstanding rail and water communications which kept his force well-supplied
  • As Lee weakened in Petersburg, Grant grew stronger outside
five forks
Five Forks
  • As the siege continued, Grant kept extending his lines to the west
  • At the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, Sheridan succeeded in breaking Lee’s western flank
  • Grant then ordered a general attack all along the Petersburg front
  • Lee was forced to abandon Petersburg and the city fell on April 3
  • Federal troops entered Richmond the next day
  • On April 8, Sheridan got ahead of Lee and cut off the Confederate retreat
  • On April 9, Lee requested a conference with Grant and the two met at Appomattox Court House where Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia

Surrender at Appomattox by Tom Lovell

post appomattox
  • Lincoln was assassinated on April 14
  • Joe Johnston surrendered to Sherman on April 26
  • Jefferson Davis was captured near Irwinville, Georgia on May 10
  • Richard Taylor surrendered most of the remaining troops east of the Mississippi on May 4
  • Kirby Smith surrendered the trans-Mississippi Department on May 26

John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln in Ford’s Theater

legacy of the us civil war
Legacy of the US Civil War
  • Displayed the ascendancy of the defense over the offense
  • Highlighted the inability of armies to destroy each other in battle
  • Showcased the military application of the technology of the Industrial Revolution
  • Illustrated the importance of sociopolitical factors such as mass armies, conscription, and the mobilization of entire societies for war
  • Set a new pattern for total war through the extensive mobilization of societies and the devastating Federal attacks on the Confederate agricultural base, war resources, and civilian will
  • Exam