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  1. #1
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    Grant on the History Channel beginning on Memorial Day

    The History Channel will air a dramatization of Ron Chernow's biography of Ulysses S. Grant on 25, 26, 27 May. It will be six hours long in three two-hour episodes next week.

  2. #2
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    The praise for Grant is an interesting story. He gets relatively high praise from many/most historians while some others are very critical of him. The History channel's and Chernow's biography apparently gives him more credit than he is due in regards to civil war battles. The Shiloh battle is an example of getting praise when he actually had messed it up.
    Although his biographers and most historians indicate otherwise, Grant basically bungled the whole battle from before the beginning to past the end. This is according to Joseph A Rose.

    From <https://www.grantunderfire.com/619/grant-won-the-battle-of-shiloh/>

    Joseph A Rose put out a book "Grant Under Fire" 2015; he sees Grant as a terrible commander. He claims that Grant knew of the corruption/dishonesty in his administrations while other historians say that Grant was very honest… "Grant permitted vast dishonesty to permeate his two administrations. He defended the perpetrators and even facilitated their misdeeds, at times."
    I was considering getting Joseph's book until I saw the $32.95 price.

    From <https://www.grantunderfire.com/928/a-critical-review-of-ron-chernows-grant/>

    I think it would be interesting to watch the History Channel's biography but I only have antenna. I have read some of the biography and it is only $1.99 for Kindle… I can afford that.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the heads up Sam.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianmcfarlane View Post
    The praise for Grant is an interesting story. He gets relatively high praise from many/most historians while some others are very critical of him. The History channel's and Chernow's biography apparently gives him more credit than he is due in regards to civil war battles. The Shiloh battle is an example of getting praise when he actually had messed it up.
    Although his biographers and most historians indicate otherwise, Grant basically bungled the whole battle from before the beginning to past the end. This is according to Joseph A Rose.

    From <https://www.grantunderfire.com/619/grant-won-the-battle-of-shiloh/>

    Joseph A Rose put out a book "Grant Under Fire" 2015; he sees Grant as a terrible commander. He claims that Grant knew of the corruption/dishonesty in his administrations while other historians say that Grant was very honest… "Grant permitted vast dishonesty to permeate his two administrations. He defended the perpetrators and even facilitated their misdeeds, at times."
    I was considering getting Joseph's book until I saw the $32.95 price.

    From <https://www.grantunderfire.com/928/a-critical-review-of-ron-chernows-grant/>

    I think it would be interesting to watch the History Channel's biography but I only have antenna. I have read some of the biography and it is only $1.99 for Kindle… I can afford that.
    As far as the Battle of Shiloh is concerned, it was a two-day conflict that was part of the operations Grant was conducting to execute his part of the Anaconda Plan, Winfield Scott's strategy for defeating the Confederacy. It was conducted by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. Grant's objective was securing control of the Mississippi River which would isolate Texas, Arkansas and Western Louisiana, and give the Union the full use of the river and its tributaries.

    Grant's operations prior to Shiloh included: seizure of Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Raid on Belmont, Missouri; capture of Paducah, Kentucky; and the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers in Northern Tennessee. He advanced to the south side of Tennessee on his way to Corinth, Mississippi. He was supported by the U.S. Navy's river force commanded by Admiral David Porter.

    Shiloh was fought 6-7 April 1862. By the end of the month, New Orleans was captured by forces under the command of Admiral David Farragut and Major General Benjamin Butler. After that, the only remaining line of communication between Arkansas and Texas and the rest of the Confederacy ran through the stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi. The campaign to capture that city is considered brilliant by military historians.

    At Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing, Grant's forces were not concentrated. The better part of his army was on the west side of the Tennessee River. Some were on the east side at Savannah, Tennessee. General Don Carlos Buell's troops were tardy and were not available until the second day of the battle. General Lew Wallace's division was lost in the woods on roads somewhere between Crump's Landing and Pittsburg Landing.

    General Albert Sidney Johnston surprised Grant's army at Shiloh Church early on Sunday morning 6 April. His objective was to defeat Grant's army before Buell's arrival, and deal with Buell's army separately. He wanted to drive Grant's forces away from the river. Overall, he wanted to stop the Union advance into Confederate territory there. Had it not been for Grant's leadership, his army would have been overrun and scattered into the river and surrounding swamps and woods. He was in the thick of the battle rallying regiments to stand their ground. He was greatly aided by Sherman's handling of two divisions. It was an epic response to a total surprise attack.

    The Confederates lost Albert Sidney Johnston when he was hit in the leg by a rifle bullet which severed an artery. He refused to leave the front and bled out. I think he was the highest ranking general to be killed in combat during the Civil War. Command passed to General P.G.T. Beauregard. That night, in a rainstorm, Sherman said, "Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?" Grant replied, "Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow though" And so they did. On 7 April 1862, Grant's reinforced army counterattacked and steadily drove Beauregard's forces back, until he ordered a retreat back to Corinth, Mississippi. The Confederates did not achieve their objective, while the Union forces continued with theirs.

    Ultimately, in the West, Vicksburg would fall to Grant on the same day Lee ordered his retreat from Gettysburg. Subsequently, Grant would conduct operations up the Tennessee River to Chattanooga at which he would defeat General Braxton Bragg's forces before he was called to the East to take command of all the armies of the Union.

    Besides:

    Chernow, Ron. Grant New York: Penguin Press, 2017

    you might find the following of interest:

    White, Ronald C. American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant New York: Random House, 2016

    Brands, H.W. The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace New York: Doubleday, 2012

    Perret, Geoffrey Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier & President New York: Random House, 1997

    Smith, Gene Lee and Grant New York: McGraw-Hill, 1984

    You might also find Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant of interest. They were published by Mark Twain and are considered to be not only a model of an autobiography, but one of the most significant works of American non-fiction as well.

  5. #5
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    P.S. One other book of interest:

    Carter III, Samuel The Final Fortress: The Campaign for Vicksburg 1862-1863 New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980

  6. #6
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    I'm part of the way through Chernow's book.

    I enjoy learning anything about the Civil War. Looking back I see now how tragically undersold Grant was as a commander. The prevailing sentiment I got growing up was "Well, Grant had more men and was willing to sacrifice them, so it wasn't through any sort of tactical brilliance that he beat Lee." However, it's no accident that most of the early successes of the Union were in the West and that Lee didn't lose his effectiveness in repeatedly routing the Army of the Potomac in Virginia until 1864 when Grant assumed overall command and traveled with the Army of the Potomac. McClellan, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, and Meade all had the same advantages Grant eventually had and they all were either trounced or couldn't find a way to decisively beat Lee. Of course Meade had the most success when he stopped Lee at Gettysburg but even he allowed Lee to slip away and back to Virginia to continue the fight. Grant understood the War had gone on for 3 devastating years and if he couldn't decisively beat the Army of Northern Virginia it would last for many more years and lead to even more devastating losses for both sides. Not to say there weren't tactical mistakes along the way, even the best of generals have to have those, but he saw the big picture of in the long run of not allowing himself to retreat after a setback or heavy losses would be the best way to bring the war to an end and likely save lives in the end by shortening the war.

    Also interesting that the nature of warfare went through an evolution during the war. At the beginning fighting was still very much done in the Napoleonic style of open fields and long lines of infantry. By the end of the war fighting from fortifications and trench lines became standard and signaled a prelude to the fighting style of the next great war. Grant oversaw the siege of Petersburg.


    So glad that Chernow's book is out and people get the full view of Grant. Grant's story is so American, the ultimate tale of dealing with setbacks and failure throughout life and eventually achieving success. And this continued after the war as well. He lost his wealth through a bad investment and his family faced poverty and to prevent this he wrote his memoirs. While being diagnosed with throat cancer that would eventually kill him 3 days after he completed the manuscript.

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