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Grant’s Grand Strategy and Sherman

Grant’s Grand Strategy and Sherman. Lsn 11. 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

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Grant’s Grand Strategy and Sherman

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  1. Grant’s Grand Strategy and Sherman Lsn 11

  2. 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 Grant to lead the country to victory

  3. Grant as General in Chief • Promoted to lieutenant general March 9, 1864 • Replaced Halleck as General in Chief • Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton turned over much authority to Grant • Grant decided to accompany Meade’s Army in the field • Halleck operated a war room for Grant, serving as Chief of Staff Henry Halleck, “Old Brains,” was undistinguished as a field commander but provided a valuable contribution as an administrator

  4. Sherman and Grant • Fought together at Shiloh and Vicksburg • Became a powerful team • The Federal equivalent of Lee and Jackson but on a larger geographic scale • With Sherman in the West and Grant in the East, the Federals can press the Confederates everywhere • “He was to go for Lee, and I was to go for Joe Johnston.” (Sherman)

  5. Grant’s Strategy • Grant saw 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

  6. 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

  7. 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)

  8. 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 described the concept as being “Those not skinning can hold a leg”

  9. Virginia • 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

  10. Georgia • “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)

  11. Mobile • By 1864 only Mobile, Alabama and Wilmington, NC remained open to Confederate blockade runners • Closing Mobile would further isolate the Confederacy

  12. 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

  13. 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.”

  14. 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

  15. 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 enemies armies by striking their war resources with Sherman

  16. Execution • 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

  17. Execution • 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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)

  21. 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

  22. The Confederates • Opposing Sherman was Joe Johnston who had replaced Bragg after Chattanooga • Johnston had just 50,000 men (although he would shortly receive reinforcements to bring him to about 60,000) but the rugged mountainous terrain favored the defense • Johnston elected to follow a defensive strategy

  23. Johnston • 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

  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. Political Impact • The fall of Atlanta sealed the fate of the Confederacy because it ensured Lincoln would be reelected and could prosecute the war to victory

  28. 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”

  29. March to the Sea • Key to Sherman’s success was keeping the Confederates on “the horns of a dilemma” • Will 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

  30. 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.’”

  31. 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

  32. 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

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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”

  36. 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

  37. 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

  38. 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.”

  39. 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

  40. Spotsylvania • Lee used excellent intelligence and analysis to determine that Spotsylvania was where Grant was 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

  41. Spotsylvania • There was one sign of encouragement for Grant on May 10 when Emory Upton tried a new tactic of advancing in column formation without pausing to fire en route • Upton achieved a temporary break in the Confederate line but when he received no reinforcements, he was forced to withdraw After the Civil War, Upton wrote several tactical manuals for the Army

  42. Spotsylvania • On May 12, Grant launched a corps-size version of Upton’s tactic against a salient known as the “Mule Shoe” • Upton’s charge was successful and captured 4,000 Confederates • Lee launched a desperate counterattack and was able to build a new line of trenches across the base of the Mule Shoe

  43. Spotsylvania • 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 Butler was “bottled up” in the Bermuda Hundred

  44. Hanover Junction (North Anna) • Grant said, “My chief anxiety is to draw Lee out of his works.” • Lee refused to take Grant’s bait and be drawn out into the open • Instead he withdrew to Hanover Junction, the crossroads of the Virginia Central and the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac railroads to protect the rail links to the Shenandoah Valley Hanover Junction 1863

  45. Hanover Junction (North Anna) • Grant tried to draw Lee into an open battle but instead Lee took up a strong defensive position on the banks of the North Anna and Little Rivers • Grant attacked, but the terrain prevented him from directly supporting one side of his army with the other • The two armies disengaged and continued south to Cold Harbor

  46. Cold Harbor • By this time both sides, especially the Confederates, had become expert at entrenching • “it is a rule that when the Rebels halt, the first day gives them a good rifle-pit; the second, a regular infantry parapet with artillery in position; and the third a parapet with abatis in front and entrenched batteries behind. Sometimes they put this three days’ work into the first twenty-four hours.” • A Federal officer • Such entrenchments would give an enormous advantage to the defenders as Cold Harbor would demonstrate

  47. Cold Harbor • On June 3 Grant launched a frontal assault on Lee’s works • The attacks were little more than a succession of charges made at different points along the Confederate line • Most failed within minutes

  48. Cold Harbor • Grant lost some 13,000 compared to just 2,500 for Lee • “I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made. I might say the same thing of the assault of the 22d of May, 1863, at Vicksburg. At Cold Harbor no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained.” • Grant, Memoirs

  49. Petersburg • 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

  50. Petersburg • Grant got a jump on Lee and crossed the James between June 12 and 16 • He 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

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