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RE: [civilwarwest] Brooks Simpson's Ulysses S. Grant: An opposing view II

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  • Bob Huddleston
    And Parameters is the official magazine of the US Army War College at Carlisle Barracks. The reviewer is professor of history at the AWC and the readership
    Message 1 of 9 , Apr 30, 2001
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      And "Parameters" is the official magazine of the US Army War College at
      Carlisle Barracks. The reviewer is professor of history at the AWC and the
      readership are the junior filed grade officers who have every intention of
      becoming chiefs of staff is ten or fifteen years.

      Parameters is available on line at
      http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/parahome.htm .

      Unfortunately for both Prof. Remini and Prof. Bartholomees, neither seems to
      mention George Thomas, thereby disqualifying them as experts on the Civil
      War. :>)

      Take care,

      Bob

      Judy and Bob Huddleston
      10643 Sperry Street
      Northglenn, CO 80234-3612
      303.451.6276 Adco@...

      Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865. Brooks D. Simpson. New
      York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. 576 pages. $35. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone
      Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.

      Surprisingly, there are few good modern biographies of Ulysses Grant. Brooks
      Simpson’s military biography of the top Union general—exhaustively
      researched, carefully organized, and meticulously written—does a good job
      of filling part of that void. Simpson, who has as good a reputation in the
      field of Reconstruction politics and presidents as in the Civil War, is
      working on a second volume covering Grant’s postwar life. With the addition
      of that largely political perspective, we will have an excellent and
      comprehensive biography of one of the most intriguing figures in American
      history.

      Grant biographers naturally have to deal with ticklish issues like his
      repeated business failures, his drinking, and high Union casualties. Simpson
      is no exception, and he addresses such issues directly. He likes Grant, but
      he also recognizes failings in the general. The result is a balanced
      biography that neither whitewashes or explains away shortcomings nor
      portrays an uncaring, drunken butcher. That the explanations are not always
      satisfying reflects the murkiness of the issues rather than a failing on
      Simpson's part to address them comprehensively. To take the example of Grant
      ’s drinking, Simpson recognizes that Grant had a drinking problem—primarily
      a low tolerance for alcohol. Drinking may have contributed to Grant’s
      pre-war resignation from the Army, but personality conflicts with his
      immediate superior played at least an equal role. Grant drank during the
      war, although compared to many contemporaries his use of alcohol was
      moderate. Several of the famous instances of drunkenness are improbable or
      patently false.

      Grant was conscious of the ramifications and never allowed drink to affect
      his duty performance. The various individuals that later claimed to have
      been protectors of the general’s sobriety overstated both their role and
      effectiveness in that arena—the exception being chief of staff John A.
      Rawlins, who did have a self-appointed mission as Grant's sobriety monitor,
      but who was not as effective as he liked to think. If one wants more clarity
      than that, he will be disappointed; however, the fault lies in the subject,
      not in Simpson’s treatment.

      On the issue of casualties, Professor Simpson points out that Grant was
      always very sensitive to the human cost of war. He launched high-casualty
      attacks for specific reasons and never as a conscious part of an attrition
      strategy. At Vicksburg the early assaults were an attempt to overrun a
      presumably demoralized enemy without having to besiege him. When the
      assaults failed, Grant settled into conventional siege warfare. During the
      1864 Overland Campaign, Grant launched attacks to fix Lee—Grant always
      feared Confederate use of central position to shift forces to other
      theaters—or because he was convinced he had an opportunity to break the Army
      of Northern Virginia. That the attacks failed to crush the Rebels and
      produced high casualties was unintended. Operationally, Grant repeatedly
      sought to turn Lee’s right flank. That the Southern general was always able
      to interpose his army to foil the maneuvers was unfortunate but unavoidable.
      (Simpson at least partly accepts the popular contemporary explanation that
      Bobby Lee and his army were just better than anything Grant had faced in the
      West.) Some of the disasters, like Spotsylvania, were because of poor
      reconnaissance, coordination, or execution on the part of staffs or
      subordinates; however, Grant shoulders some of the blame for his instinctive
      desire to engage immediately and the consequent poor or incomplete planning
      and coordination. The general had a tendency to launch an attack at any
      perceived opening and did not necessarily think through what his opponent
      might be doing. Conversely, when Grant saw that he faced obviously
      disadvantageous odds, like at the North Anna River, he canceled attacks.

      Simpson gives Grant due credit for his strengths. The general was obviously
      persistent and aggressive. He tended to think in terms of what he could do
      rather than in terms of what the enemy might be doing. He maintained good
      relations with Abraham Lincoln and kept his political master well informed
      about his plans and operations. Grant worked to rid himself of ineffective
      subordinates but understood the necessity of retaining some of the most
      important political generals. (Thus Nathaniel Banks and Benjamin Butler
      remained in command until after the 1864 elections.) Grant devised and
      executed a strategy that was both politically acceptable and effective. What
      emerges from this collage of positive and negative attributes is the
      portrait of a leader with human frailties but compensating strengths and
      character. I look forward to seeing this portrait expanded to explain Grant’
      s presidency.

      Parameters Spring 2001
    • Robert Taubman
      Thanx Bob. I have added Parameters to my Favourites list. I wonder what they were worried about not mentioning Ole Pap ? ;-) Bob Taubman ... From: Bob
      Message 2 of 9 , Apr 30, 2001
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        Thanx Bob. I have added "Parameters" to my Favourites list. I wonder what they
        were worried about not mentioning "Ole Pap"? ;-)

        Bob Taubman
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Bob Huddleston" <adco@...>
        To: "Civil War West" <civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Monday, April 30, 2001 7:46 PM
        Subject: RE: [civilwarwest] Brooks Simpson's Ulysses S. Grant: An opposing view
        II


        | And "Parameters" is the official magazine of the US Army War College at
        | Carlisle Barracks. The reviewer is professor of history at the AWC and the
        | readership are the junior filed grade officers who have every intention of
        | becoming chiefs of staff is ten or fifteen years.
        |
        | Parameters is available on line at
        | http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/parahome.htm .
        |
        | Unfortunately for both Prof. Remini and Prof. Bartholomees, neither seems to
        | mention George Thomas, thereby disqualifying them as experts on the Civil
        | War. :>)
        |
        | Take care,
        |
        | Bob
        |
        | Judy and Bob Huddleston
        | 10643 Sperry Street
        | Northglenn, CO 80234-3612
        | 303.451.6276 Adco@...
        |
        | Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865. Brooks D. Simpson. New
        | York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. 576 pages. $35. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone
        | Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.
        |
        | Surprisingly, there are few good modern biographies of Ulysses Grant. Brooks
        | Simpson's military biography of the top Union general-exhaustively
        | researched, carefully organized, and meticulously written-does a good job
        | of filling part of that void. Simpson, who has as good a reputation in the
        | field of Reconstruction politics and presidents as in the Civil War, is
        | working on a second volume covering Grant's postwar life. With the addition
        | of that largely political perspective, we will have an excellent and
        | comprehensive biography of one of the most intriguing figures in American
        | history.
        |
        | Grant biographers naturally have to deal with ticklish issues like his
        | repeated business failures, his drinking, and high Union casualties. Simpson
        | is no exception, and he addresses such issues directly. He likes Grant, but
        | he also recognizes failings in the general. The result is a balanced
        | biography that neither whitewashes or explains away shortcomings nor
        | portrays an uncaring, drunken butcher. That the explanations are not always
        | satisfying reflects the murkiness of the issues rather than a failing on
        | Simpson's part to address them comprehensively. To take the example of Grant
        | 's drinking, Simpson recognizes that Grant had a drinking problem-primarily
        | a low tolerance for alcohol. Drinking may have contributed to Grant's
        | pre-war resignation from the Army, but personality conflicts with his
        | immediate superior played at least an equal role. Grant drank during the
        | war, although compared to many contemporaries his use of alcohol was
        | moderate. Several of the famous instances of drunkenness are improbable or
        | patently false.
        |
        | Grant was conscious of the ramifications and never allowed drink to affect
        | his duty performance. The various individuals that later claimed to have
        | been protectors of the general's sobriety overstated both their role and
        | effectiveness in that arena-the exception being chief of staff John A.
        | Rawlins, who did have a self-appointed mission as Grant's sobriety monitor,
        | but who was not as effective as he liked to think. If one wants more clarity
        | than that, he will be disappointed; however, the fault lies in the subject,
        | not in Simpson's treatment.
        |
        | On the issue of casualties, Professor Simpson points out that Grant was
        | always very sensitive to the human cost of war. He launched high-casualty
        | attacks for specific reasons and never as a conscious part of an attrition
        | strategy. At Vicksburg the early assaults were an attempt to overrun a
        | presumably demoralized enemy without having to besiege him. When the
        | assaults failed, Grant settled into conventional siege warfare. During the
        | 1864 Overland Campaign, Grant launched attacks to fix Lee-Grant always
        | feared Confederate use of central position to shift forces to other
        | theaters-or because he was convinced he had an opportunity to break the Army
        | of Northern Virginia. That the attacks failed to crush the Rebels and
        | produced high casualties was unintended. Operationally, Grant repeatedly
        | sought to turn Lee's right flank. That the Southern general was always able
        | to interpose his army to foil the maneuvers was unfortunate but unavoidable.
        | (Simpson at least partly accepts the popular contemporary explanation that
        | Bobby Lee and his army were just better than anything Grant had faced in the
        | West.) Some of the disasters, like Spotsylvania, were because of poor
        | reconnaissance, coordination, or execution on the part of staffs or
        | subordinates; however, Grant shoulders some of the blame for his instinctive
        | desire to engage immediately and the consequent poor or incomplete planning
        | and coordination. The general had a tendency to launch an attack at any
        | perceived opening and did not necessarily think through what his opponent
        | might be doing. Conversely, when Grant saw that he faced obviously
        | disadvantageous odds, like at the North Anna River, he canceled attacks.
        |
        | Simpson gives Grant due credit for his strengths. The general was obviously
        | persistent and aggressive. He tended to think in terms of what he could do
        | rather than in terms of what the enemy might be doing. He maintained good
        | relations with Abraham Lincoln and kept his political master well informed
        | about his plans and operations. Grant worked to rid himself of ineffective
        | subordinates but understood the necessity of retaining some of the most
        | important political generals. (Thus Nathaniel Banks and Benjamin Butler
        | remained in command until after the 1864 elections.) Grant devised and
        | executed a strategy that was both politically acceptable and effective. What
        | emerges from this collage of positive and negative attributes is the
        | portrait of a leader with human frailties but compensating strengths and
        | character. I look forward to seeing this portrait expanded to explain Grant'
        | s presidency.
        |
        | Parameters Spring 2001
        |
        |
        |
        |
        |
        | Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        |
        |
      • basecat1@aol.com
        In a message dated 4/30/2001 8:12:50 PM Eastern Daylight Time, ... Bob....Good question....as I have yet to find anyone who is doing any research on Pap with
        Message 3 of 9 , Apr 30, 2001
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          In a message dated 4/30/2001 8:12:50 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
          rtaubman@... writes:


          I wonder what they
          were worried about not mentioning "Ole Pap"? ;-)


          Bob....Good question....as I have yet to find anyone who is doing any
          research on Pap with the exception of Susannah Warner.  Am not complaining,
          but how many new bios. on Hiram Ulysses are we supposed to be subjected
          too???  Seems like one comes out hourly on General Grant.  Regards from the
          Garden State, Steve.
        • Bob Huddleston
          They may not have been but I ll bet they will be now! : ) BTW, the site has a number of interesting articles on military history in general and the ACW in
          Message 4 of 9 , Apr 30, 2001
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            They may not have been but I'll bet they will be now! :>)

            BTW, the site has a number of interesting articles on military history in
            general and the ACW in particular.

            Take care,

            Bob

            Judy and Bob Huddleston
            10643 Sperry Street
            Northglenn, CO 80234-3612
            303.451.6276 Adco@...



            Thanx Bob. I have added "Parameters" to my Favourites list. I wonder what
            they
            were worried about not mentioning "Ole Pap"? ;-)

            Bob Taubman
          • josepharose@yahoo.com
            I just found this review of Professor Simpson s book on Amazon.com and I m completely speechless (although I can still type). [5 of 5 stars] Brilliant
            Message 5 of 9 , Apr 30, 2001
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              I just found this review of Professor Simpson's book on Amazon.com and
              I'm completely speechless (although I can still type).

              "[5 of 5 stars] Brilliant Treatment of the Grant-Thomas Relationship!,
              September 7, 2000
              Reviewer: Bob Redman from cyberspace, USA
              I came to this book a bit skeptical about anything on Ulysses S.
              Grant. You see, I adore George H. Thomas, and that means I must
              question Grant's claims to greatness. But this book has set me
              straight. The author's deft touch, his skillful handling of
              controversy, and his evenhanded treatment of Thomas have won me over."

              What's going on here?

              I myself have digested good chunks of this book and, on the topic of
              the Grant-Thomas Relationship, I thought that it wasn't very fair to
              General Thomas. I'm very surprised that Mr. Redman came to a
              different conclusion.

              Joseph
            • FLYNSWEDE@AOL.COM
              In a message dated 4/30/01 9:30:11 PM Eastern Daylight Time, basecat1@aol.com writes:
              Message 6 of 9 , May 1, 2001
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                In a message dated 4/30/01 9:30:11 PM Eastern Daylight Time, basecat1@...
                writes:

                << Bob....Good question....as I have yet to find anyone who is doing any
                research on Pap with the exception of Susannah Warner. Am not complaining,
                but how many new bios. on Hiram Ulysses are we supposed to be subjected
                too??? Seems like one comes out hourly on General Grant. Regards from the
                Garden State, Steve.
                >>
                Steve,
                The best book that I have found was one recommended to me by Ed Bearss and
                Wiley Sword, George Henry Thomas - The Dependable General by Frank A.
                Palumbo. It was published in 1983 by Morningside House, Inc. ISBN No.
                0-89029-311-2 This is one book that would be well worth being part of
                one's George Thomas library.

                Your obedient servant,

                Wayne
              • Robert Taubman
                I have read Palumbo s and enjoyed it very much. My favourite though would be Education in Violence by Frances F. McKinney. Also enjoyed General George H.
                Message 7 of 9 , May 1, 2001
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                  I have read Palumbo's and enjoyed it very much. My favourite though would be
                  Education in Violence by Frances F. McKinney. Also enjoyed General George H.
                  Thomas, The Indomitable Warrior by Wilbur Thomas(no relation).

                  Is Susannah Warner doing research for a new book? Wouldn't that be great!

                  I must say that I am enjoying Brooks' Grant. Heck, I enjoy all books on the
                  Civil War.

                  Bob Taubman
                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: <FLYNSWEDE@...>
                  To: <civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2001 11:43 AM
                  Subject: Re: [civilwarwest] Brooks Simpson's Ulysses S. Grant: An opposing view
                  II


                  | In a message dated 4/30/01 9:30:11 PM Eastern Daylight Time, basecat1@...
                  | writes:
                  |
                  | << Bob....Good question....as I have yet to find anyone who is doing any
                  | research on Pap with the exception of Susannah Warner. Am not complaining,
                  | but how many new bios. on Hiram Ulysses are we supposed to be subjected
                  | too??? Seems like one comes out hourly on General Grant. Regards from the
                  | Garden State, Steve.
                  | >>
                  | Steve,
                  | The best book that I have found was one recommended to me by Ed Bearss and
                  | Wiley Sword, George Henry Thomas - The Dependable General by Frank A.
                  | Palumbo. It was published in 1983 by Morningside House, Inc. ISBN No.
                  | 0-89029-311-2 This is one book that would be well worth being part of
                  | one's George Thomas library.
                  |
                  | Your obedient servant,
                  |
                  | Wayne
                  |
                  |
                  |
                  |
                  | Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                  |
                  |
                  |
                • basecat1@aol.com
                  In a message dated 5/1/2001 4:53:35 PM Eastern Daylight Time, ... Wayne....Funny you should mention the book...I picked up a copy in Gettysburg this past
                  Message 8 of 9 , May 1, 2001
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                    In a message dated 5/1/2001 4:53:35 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
                    FLYNSWEDE@... writes:


                    Steve,
                    The best book that I have found was one recommended to me by Ed Bearss and
                    Wiley Sword,  George Henry Thomas  -  The Dependable General by Frank A.
                    Palumbo.  It was published in 1983 by Morningside House, Inc.  ISBN No.
                    0-89029-311-2    This is one book that would be well worth being part of
                    one's George Thomas library.

                    Your obedient servant,

                    Wayne


                    Wayne....Funny you should mention the book...I picked up a copy in Gettysburg
                    this past weekend....About had a heart attack when I saw Pap's face on the
                    cover.  :)  Thanks again.   Regards from the Garden State,  Steve.
                  • basecat1@aol.com
                    In a message dated 5/3/2001 9:40:14 AM Eastern Daylight Time, ... Bob....I hope her research does end up being a book...and am guessing it will be eventually.
                    Message 9 of 9 , May 3, 2001
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                      In a message dated 5/3/2001 9:40:14 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
                      rtaubman@... writes:


                      Is Susannah Warner doing research for a new book?  Wouldn't that be great!


                      Bob....I hope her research does end up being a book...and am guessing it will
                      be eventually.  :)  Regards from the Garden State, Steve.
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