When Ulysses Grant was promoted to general in chief of all Union armies in March 1864, it was an act of desperation on the part of President Abraham Lincoln. A series of acclaimed and decorated generals had been plagued by indecision and ineptitude.
Grant hardly seemed destined for glory. He was a reluctant military student at West Point and resigned from the Army at age thirty-two, only to fail as a businessman and farmer. He was ambivalent on the subject of slavery, the divisive wound screaming for a salve when civil war broke out in 1861. But whatever Grant may have lacked on the surface, he compensated for with common sense, determination, and an even tempered poise on the bloodiest fields of battle.
Identifying rivers and railroads as the lifeblood of his enemy, Grant campaigned vigorously in the effort to drain the Confederacy, culminating with conquest at Vicksburg. Then came the Eastern Theater in which his Army of the Potomac would decide the war by confronting Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Author Mitchell Yockelson portrays Grant as a staunch defender of the Union and, ultimately, the victor in America's great conflict.
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July 09, 2012
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