previous next
[563] operations would be greatly promoted by placing them under the direction of a single mind, which should not be that of Henry Wager Halleck.

Gen. Grant's qualifications for this most momentous trust were not universally conceded. Though over 40 years of age,1 lie had been a quiet civilian most of his adult life. There were many military men who esteemed Gen. Meade, Gen. Buell, Gen. McClellan, or some other of our commanders, his superior as a strategist; and several of his battles — especially those of Belmont and Shiloh — had not escaped the unfavorable judgment of military critics. There was one point, however, wherein his fitness for chief command was decided if not preeminent: and that was an utter disbelief in the efficacy of any rosewater treatment of the Rebellion. He regarded the South as practically bound and helpless in the hands of a haughty, strong-willed oligarchy, who had not spent thirty years in preparation for this supreme effort in order to be bribed, or beguiled, or palavered, or bullied, into its abandonment after the gage had been thrown down and accepted. No love-taps, in his view, would ever persuade the Rebel chiefs to return to loyalty, so long as their military power should remain essentially unbroken; and the had no conception of any mode of breaking that power save by strong armies in bloody battles. His comprehensive, final report tersely says:

From an early period in the Rebellion, I had been impressed with the idea that active and continuous operations of all tlhe troops that could be brought into the field, regardless of season and weather, were necessary to a speedy termination of the War. The resources of the enemy, and his numerical strength, were far inferior to ours: butt, as an offset to this, we had a vast territory, with a population hostile to the Government, to garrison, and long lilies of river and railroad communications to protect, to enable us to supply the operating armies.

The armies in the East land West acted independently and without concert, like a balky team : no two ever pulling together: enabling the enemy to use to great advantage his interior lines of communications for transporting troops from east to west, reenforcing the army most vigorously pressed, and to furlough large numbers, during seasons of inactivity on our part, to go to their homes and do the work of producing, for the support of their armies. It was a question whether our numerical strength and resources were not more than balanced by these disadvantages and the enemy's superior position.

From the first, I was firm in the conviction that no peace could be had that would be stable and conducive to the happiness of the people, both North and South, until the military power of the Rebellion was entirely broken.

I, therefore, determined, first, to use the greatest number of troops practicable against the armed force of the enemy; preventing him from using the same force at different seasons against first one and then another of our armies, and the possibility of repose for refitting and producing necessary supplies for carrying on resistance. Second, to hammer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his resources, until, by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be nothing left to him but an equal submission with the loyal section of our common country to the Constitution and laws of the land.

These views have been kept constantly in mind; and orders given and campaigns made to carry them out. Whether they might have been better in conception and execution is for the people, who mourn the loss of friends fallen, and who have to pay the pecuniary cost, to say. All I can say is, that what I have done has been done conscientiously, to the best of my ability, and in what I conceived to be for the best interests of the whole country.

Such were the views wherewith Gen. Grant, summoned from the West by telegraph, repaired to Washington2 to receive his commission and instructions as Lieutenant-General commanding all the forces of the Union. He was formally introduced,

1 Born April 27, 1822.

2 March 8, 1864.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Washington (United States) (1)
Shiloh, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Belmont, Ky. (Kentucky, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Ulysses S. Grant (2)
George G. Meade (1)
George B. McClellan (1)
Henry Wager Halleck (1)
Don Carlos Buell (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 8th, 1864 AD (1)
April 27th, 1822 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: