Grant is now praised for having a strategic view of the war, rather than focusing solely on the area around Virginia, as Lee so often did. Lee advocated protection of just one form of memorial: headstones in cemeteries. California Do Not Sell My Info On the other hand, Lee beat McClellan. Ulysses S. Grant was not a blue blood. At one point, Grant quipped that he and Lee had “had more to do with destroying railroads than building them,” but the frosty ex-Confederate ignored this attempt at levity. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. Still, Lee worked strenuously to avoid political affairs of any kind as he focussed on his remaining years and the tremendous challenge of … Now, Researchers Found Another, Renewing Hope for the Species, The True Story of the Reichstag Fire and the Nazi Rise to Power, Scientists Report First Instances of Dwarf Giraffes, Medieval Effigy Found Hidden Beneath English Church's Pipe Organ, Medieval Chinese Coin Found in England Suggests a Vast Medieval Trade Route, Meet Joseph Rainey, the First Black Congressman, The State of American Craft Has Never Been Stronger. or Grant is an unexceptional-looking tanner from Ohio—while Lee is "more patriarchical than the partriarch." Lee didn’t think much of Grant as a general, saying that McClellan was the superior foe. Vaguely resembling the Army Surplus Special in … The room itself seems too small for such large personalities. He scored outrageous victories against the Army of the Potomac up until Gettysburg 1863, fighting against superior numbers and better supplied troops. Lee respected Grant because he brought the defeat of his Army, However he thought him to be too willing to pay with unnecessary loss of life. Privacy Statement When he left Appomattox, he began a journey that would take him away from a soldier's life in the field and eventually to Lexington, where his talent for lea… The Gentleman's Agreement That Ended the Civil War, What 'Bridgerton' Gets Wrong About Corsets, A Tombstone Inscribed in Ancient Greek Is Found in Southern Israel, Why Robert McCurdy's Photo-Realist Portraits Stop Viewers in Their Tracks, The Way Americans Remember the Blackwell Sisters Shortchanges Their Legacy, Freed of 1,000 Years of Grime, Anglo-Saxon Cross Emerges in Stunning Detail, Archaeologists in Turkey Unearth 2,500-Year-Old Temple of Aphrodite, Ancient Humans May Have Tossed Meaty Scraps to Wild Wolves, Boosting Domestication, The 'Last' Female Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle Died in 2019. Advertising Notice And he gets credit for believing in civilian control of the military. If you are at an office or shared network, you can ask the network administrator to run a scan across the network looking for misconfigured or infected devices. There was nothing romantic about Grant’s battles: he committed to a plan and then followed it through with an almost uncanny stubborness. Completing the CAPTCHA proves you are a human and gives you temporary access to the web property. Beth Py-Lieberman is the museums editor, covering exhibitions, events and happenings at the Smithsonian Institution. Lee was a traditional soldier who had a gift for leadership and was an inspiration for his subordinates. When one of Lee's subordinates poo-pooed Grant's generalship Lee said that he thought Grant had handled himself quite well. The belief that the Confederate leaders … Lee is usually accounted the superior commander. Grant began his military career as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1839. For the rest of his life, he would not tolerate anyone criticizing Grant in his presence. If the Southerners advanced into the Blue Grass State, the administration in Washington would pressure Grant to detach troops to the endangered region. She has been a member of the Smithsonian team for more than two decades. The time has come for a reassessment of these two men, on whom fell the greatest responsibility for the survival or disintegration of the United Grant’s opinion of Lee is from his own hand. After shooting Lincoln, … Conversely, Grant’s military reputation suffers from his reputation as president, which historically is regarded as one of the worst administrations of all. The story of these men, their fallacies, their reputations, their legacies are well depicted in a number of art works, including the significant loan of a Winslow Homer painting titled, Skirmish in the Wilderness, from Connecticut's New Britain Museum of American Art. The postwar prospects of Robert E. Lee, beloved commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, were no clearer than those of his men. He didn’t beat Grant. The M-3 (known as the Lee in American service, but called the Grant when used by the British) was as ugly a tank as ever rolled on treads. After their army surrendered at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, the defeated Confederates returned to their homes to face an uncertain future. He did not fathom the deep sadness his adversary felt at having to surrender the remnant of a once formidable army. The photographs, drawings and paintings depicting the lives of these two men seem to pulse with a kind of tension that recalls the horrifying 19th-century era when the country was riven, yet united behind their respective generals—Grant in the North and Lee from the South. The two did not meet in private; John Lothrop Motley, the new minister to England, and two of Lee’s friends were present for the conversation, which avoided public issues. While Grant built his forces up to perhaps 75,000, the Lee-inspired exodus of Longstreet’s troops simultaneously reduced Rebel strength in the area to a mere 36,000. • Cookie Policy Grant had difficulty reading Lee’s dignified demeanor. Lee also benefits from the cult of the “Marble Man” that arose after the War. • Lee has been lionised by those nostalgic for the South’s “Lost Cause”. You may need to download version 2.0 now from the Chrome Web Store. Missionary Ridge was Grant’s last battle before becoming General-in-Chief, replacing the indecisive Halleck. Not only did Lee … To this force, Grant assigned the unenviable task of crossing the Rapidan River to take on Gen. Robert E. Lee’s seemingly indomitable Army of Northern Virginia. On the morning of April 9, while General Robert E . He didn’t beat Grant. And he was implacable in the final year of the war when he engaged Lee continuously from the Battle of the Wilderness to Appomatox. Another way to prevent getting this page in the future is to use Privacy Pass. Lee was born into a prominent family and was already a famous military figure at the start of the war, while Grant was an unknown who rose up through the ranks and became known as a great general through his ongoing victories. Terms of Use A nation must expect its generals to be lucky, however; and both Grant and Lee were! Ulysses S. Grant - Ulysses S. Grant - Command over Union armies: Grant was appointed lieutenant general in March 1864 and was entrusted with command of all the U.S. armies. Copying his comments to Stanton in the reply, he wrote on June 20, 1865: “This opinion, I am informed, is substantially the same as that entertained by the Government.” Lee was safe from trial, but Grant never told him how far he had gone to protect him. I think that Grant slightly shades Lee as a commander because in the last year of the War he managed all of the Union armies, including Sherman in the South and Sheridan in the Shenendoah Valley. Longstreet argued that two divisions from Lee’s army should be sent to Tennessee. By contrast, Robert E. Lee didn’t have Grant’s long career in public life. ", Continue He died in 1870, just a few years after the war. His victory at Chancellorsville, where he divided his army three times in the face of the enemy while being outnumbered three to one, is a master class in the use of speed and maneuver as a force multiplier. I received at a late hour your note of to-day. Lee had sent a letter to Grant requesting a meeting to discuss his army's surrender and this letter overtook Grant and his party just before noon about four miles west of Walker's Church (present-day Hixburg). Give a Gift. Lee publicly opposed Grant's presidency and the Republican Party, which he referred to as the Radical Party. Grant in Peace. As Grant saw it, the key was to eliminate the main Confederate armies in the field—and Lee’s army was unquestionably the center … "These men epitomized their societies." The Confederate leadership didn’t actually commit treason. But taken on its own terms, Grant was an exceptional general of both theater commands, as in his seige of Vicksburg, and in command of all the Union armies when he came east. In my biography of Abraham Lincoln, I wrote of Grant, the decorated Civil War general, but I now confess: I did not fully know the man. Making Sense of Robert E. Lee | History | Smithsonian Magazine His basic plan for the 1864 campaign was to immobilize the army of Gen. Robert E. Lee near the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia, while Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman led the western Union army southward … The exhibition, "One Life: Grant and Lee: 'It is well that war is so terrible. Lee also had the difficult task of implementing a strategy to win the war that required him to invade the northern states, which he did twice. Introduction[[nid:634]]By the end of the Civil War, most Americans considered either Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant to be a hero. The lives of the Lincolns’ guests at Ford’s Theatre ended in tragedy as well. Lee realized that the retreat of his beleaguered army had finally been halted, U. S. Grant was riding toward Appomattox Court House where Union Cavalry, followed by infantry from the V, XXIV, and XXV Corps had blocked the Confederate path. Moreover, Grant recognize the new reality of warfare: that the firepower commanded by each side was making a battle of maneuver, like Chancellorsville, impossible. Smithsonian Institution, (Alonzo Chappel, Smithsonian American Art Museum), (Unidentified Artist, National Portrait Gallery), (Charles G. Crehen, National Portrait Gallery), (Mathew B. Brady, National Portrait Gallery), (Frederick Gutekunst, National Portrait Gallery), (A. Hoen Lithography Company, National Portrait Gallery). Grant said … 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. The question has intrigued historians and armchair strategists since the Civil War itself. Keep up-to-date on: © 2021 Smithsonian Magazine. In this context, I would think that Lee would be pleased to see Grant advance his personal fortunes. He remained a dedicated white supremacist and defender of … Performance & security by Cloudflare, Please complete the security check to access. He knew the South couldn’t just sit back and hold what it had: the North was too strong and some sort of early end to the war had to be found, probably a negotiated peace after a shock Union defeat in Pennsylvania or Maryland. Vote Now! Grant’s personal charisma was never as high as Lee’s anyway; and he has been dogged by questions about his drinking. Colonel Ely Parker, … Grant grew up in Ohio and his father was a tanner. The reputations of these two generals, however, would wax and wane over the next 150 years. The one-room salon is the site where the museum's scholars have previously exhibited the portraits, letters and personal artifacts of such cultural luminaries as Ronald Reagan, Katharine Hepburn, Abraham Lincoln and Sandra Day O'Connor. Actually Lee did compliment Grant. Grant then responded to Lee’s letter. This seems worth citing given what Grant wrote. "They are products of their times," says Ward. In mine of yesterday I did not intend to propose the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, but to ask the terms of your proposition. Your IP: 46.101.5.73 .'" His seige of Vicksburg was a remarkable campaign of combined operations with the “brown water” navy. But we asked curator Ward if he'd tell us who was the better general, and here is what he sent us. On the other hand, Lee beat McClellan. Mr Chernow argues that “however brilliant Lee was as a tactician, Grant surpassed him in grand strategy.” He saved the Battle of Shiloh after the Union line was shattered on the first day, reorganizing his forces and counterattacking. In his memoir, Ulysses S. Grant, a general greater than Lee, described his feelings upon meeting Lee in April 1865 at Appomattox, as Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia. . To showcase one of history's most memorable rivalries, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery tasked its senior historian David C. Ward with the challenge of featuring the Civil War's two most storied generals in its "One Life" gallery. Ulysses S. Grant was the most acclaimed Union general during the American Civil War and was twice elected President. Lee didn’t think much of Grant as a general, saying that McClellan was the superior foe. Please enable Cookies and reload the page. If you are on a personal connection, like at home, you can run an anti-virus scan on your device to make sure it is not infected with malware. Grant’s haplessness as president has redounded to color his performance during the War. “Whip ‘em tomorrow, though” he remarked to Sherman at the end of an awful first day’s fighting; and he did. Grant served in the field, supervising Meade, who was still commander of the Army of the Potomac, but he had his eye on the entirety of the Union campaign. Suggested reading: Badeau, Adam. On March 10, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signs a brief document officially promoting then-Major General Ulysses S. Grant to the rank of lieutenant general of … In The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: November 1, 1876-September 30, 1878, he wrote: I never ranked Lee as high as some others of the army, that is to say, I never had as much anxiety when he was in my front as when Joe Johnston was in front. The final draft of the surrender document was written by an American Indian. Grant on Lee. Lt. is on view at the National Portrait Gallery through May 31, 2015. Grant, who had b… Grant admired Lee for his tactics but more for what he did after the war, It was Lee that by his statements kept … Cloudflare Ray ID: 60f174db8efc4066 Grant realized that his place was in the field with the principal Union army in the East, the Army of the Potomac. As such, Lee increasingly was seen as blameless or beyond reproach, which caused his mistakes or errors on the battlefield. With the southern ideology of the “Lost Cause” Lee, the heroic, self-sacrificing soldier, was romanticized as the exemplar of southern civilization. Here, the rough and tumble Ulysses S. Grant from Ohio faces off with the southern patrician Robert E. Lee. David C. Ward is senior historian emeritus at the National Portrait Gallery, and curator of the upcoming exhibition “The Sweat of their Face: Portraying American Workers. Lee was always mindful of Grant's compassion and lenient terms of surrender. He was never formally tried by a jury, but U.S. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at one point threatened to resign his commission if Lee was ever arrested. We asked curator Ward if he 'd tell us who was the better general, that..., covering exhibitions, events and happenings at the National Portrait Gallery through may,! Use Privacy Pass tragedy as well realized that his place was in the field with the southern patrician Robert Lee. Pleased to see Grant advance his personal fortunes from his own hand are products of their times, '' Ward! Lincolns ’ guests at Ford ’ s army should be sent to Tennessee & security by cloudflare, Please the. 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