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Re: Grant's character

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  • sdwakefield@prodigy.net
    Clyde, for what it is worth I would like to join your camp of Grant and Thomas fans . I like you am sometimes am at a loss to understand why it seems so
    Message 1 of 286 , Feb 11, 2001
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      Clyde, for what it is worth I would like to join your camp of "Grant
      and Thomas fans". I like you am sometimes am at a loss to understand
      why it seems so essential for the , for lack of a better term Pro-
      Thomas folks, to so desparately and continually need to denigrate
      Grant as both a human being and an officer.
      Unfortunately I fear that sometimes the nature of their attacks on
      Grant unduely denigrates the creditability and effectiveness of their
      worthy campaign to elevate or at least increase an awareness of
      Thomas' war record and accomplishments. Just an example of this sort
      of back fire — to me personally is the denigration of Grant's three
      captures of Confederate armies. In past postings here these have been
      passed off as victories against idiots who could not help but have
      been defeated. ( I note that I can not recall anyone ever directly
      making any reference to Appomattox- I assume that the down with Grant
      crowd's explanation for this is pretty much the same as the Lost
      Cause Myth's explanation - simply overwhelming forces achieving the
      ultimate victory.) Grant's other captures are explained by reference
      to the lack of quality of the opposing general— Floyd and Pemberton.
      But this sort of game does have a double edge to it I think. I mean
      in all seriousness two of Thomas' greatest victories when in sole
      command where against some pretty big wooden heads— Crittenden Mill
      Springs and Hood Nashville. Does this fact of poor opposing
      generalship denigrate Thomas' achievements in the pro-Thomas groups
      eyes — NO and I do not think it necessarily should. I also do not see
      why it should matter much in evaluating Grant.
      In passing I note that now Grant's falling off a horse has now been
      elevated to proof of Grant's long whispered about "Drinking problem."
      I believe the assertion was made that who ever heard of a General
      falling off a horse who was not shot! Well I have made no study of
      this but I know Cleburne fell from his horse at Shiloh. Certainly
      Cheatham is reporteed to have fallen from his horse at Murfreesboro (
      interestingly with the same result of presumed evidence of
      drunkedness). I seem to recall that Robert E. Lee had a serious
      accident involving his horse right before the invasion of Maryland-
      it had to do not with falling off the horse but on getting on the
      horse. Similarly Garnett had been kicked by a horse in mounting
      during the Gettysburg campaign. Rodes also had a horse accident
      during the Gettysburg campaign that may have resulted in his
      commanding his Division the First day at Gettysburg from a carriage.
      Horse accidents for those who have spent much time around the
      beasties are going to happen and are not very good evidence that the
      rider was necessarily drunk at the time IMHO.
      Having said this I do think that exsisting creditable evidence can
      lead one to conclude that Grant was a "Classic binge drinker". As
      this condition has been discribed to me by present-day medical
      professionals it is a person who has no addiction to alcohol and can
      go literally months at a time without touching the stuff - but at
      times of depression, inactivity, or need for recreation they partake
      in quanties to excess. They do not drink to get a mild buzz ( social
      drinker) rather they drink to excess because they simply can not tell
      when to stop. These folks almost never permit their drinking to
      effect their work or their relationships with people. Importantly
      these people do not have any physical addiction to alcohol but rather
      seem to on occasion want to take a momentary vacation from their
      surroundings and responsibilities - at least this is how it has been
      discribed to me. It has also been discribed to me that these type
      drinkers almost NEVER allow their drinking binges to affect their
      work or their responsibilities and in fact are often very responsible
      and highly motivated people. My sense from my reading is that Grant
      may very well have been this type drinker. It appears that he
      partakes of no drink at all for months at a time and then reported
      and seemingly confirmed incidents of alcohol intake are at times when
      things are quiet and he is not in the middle of some activity. Thus
      the alleged incident in New Orleans, an alleged incident on a river
      boat going up the Yazoo River as I recall, the alleged drinking in
      California in pre-war days, and some alleged incidents on his Post-
      Presidency world wide tour.
      In short I think that to allege that Grant was a "drunken sot" of a
      seems to me to be pretty far off the mark and at best is a slander
      with little foundation and over a 140 years later a common political
      type charge of very poor scholarship foundation. A charge which I
      really do not understand has any impact in elevating or not elevating
      Thomas to the rank of Greatness, which his supporters here for some
      reason still seem to think is wrongfully being denied to him.
      Thomas to the extent he is not celebrated in present day history
      books , to a very large extent has only himself to blame. In
      September 1862, when offered command of an important field army at a
      critical stage of the conflict he for whatever reason passed. It was
      this decision, more than anything else which prevented Thomas from
      having a more prominent and high visability military role in the
      later campaigns of the war.
      Was Thomas a good military officer? Anyone who has read more than a
      single volumn history of the war knows that he was a very good
      military officer. Whether he would have done better if given greater
      responsibility earlier is subject to educated debate.Did Grant
      utilize Thomas effectively in 1864? I do not know but I suspect not.
      Did Grant lack confidence in Thomas in November and December 1864? I
      think that he did and I also think that there were some other folks
      that did as well. Was Grant's apparent lack of confidence
      justifiable? I think that it may have been in view of what Grant had
      been told at the time. Did the battle of Nashville prove Grant and
      others were wrong in lacking confidence in Thomas— certainly. Did the
      Battle of Nashville establish Thomas as the greatest field commander
      of the Civil War? I do not think so but it certainly was not `chopped
      liver' either.

      Halleck was called a genius because of his acomplishments before the war. There is a new biography of him which not only details these but also shows the
      Message 286 of 286 , Apr 28, 2005
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        Halleck was called a "genius" because of his acomplishments before the war.
        There is a new biography of him which not only details these but also shows the
        character flaws which caused so much trouble later. i suggest you check it

        Best regards,
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