May 7, 1864: Grant Wins the War

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Grant wins the War

Grant has come East to take up his last command

And the grand command of the armies.

                                    It is five years

Since he sat, with a glass, by the stove in a country store,

A stumpy, mute man in a faded Army overcoat,

The eldest-born of the Grants but the family-failure,

Now, for a week, he shines in the full array

Of gold cord and black-feathered hat and superb blue coat,

As he talks with the trim, well-tailored Eastern men.

It is his only moment of such parade.

When the fighting starts, he is chewing a dead cigar

With only the battered stars to show the rank

On the shoulderstraps of the private’s uniform.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

 

 

Fighting was not resumed at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 7, 1864.  The Confederates had fortified their positions and further Union assaults would have been fruitless.  Veteran Union troops knew what was going to happen next.  The latest offensive under the latest General had been stopped, with over 17,000 casualties, the same as at the Union defeat at Chancellorsville the year before.  The army would retire north for a period of rest and recuperation before trying again.  Likely Grant would be removed and a new General brought in to try his luck.  The Union troops had been through this many times before over the past three years.

The troops marched from the field under cover of night and came to the crossroads at the Wilderness Tavern.  They could see Grant on a horse.  The road leading north lay before them.  They turned on to the Brock Road and headed south.  It took a moment to register and then cheers began to erupt for Grant.  They weren’t beaten after all!  They were going to steal a march on Bobby Lee!  Grant had broken the cycle of advance and retreat.  No battle, no matter how hard fought, was going to stop his advance.  Much hard fighting remained, but that night Grant won the Civil War.

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3 Comments

  1. The most-overlooked decision of the Civil War. Because the Army of the Potomac advanced after that battle, it won. It was a simple as that, and Grant and the brave men of his snakebitten army knew it.

  2. “Because the Army of the Potomac advanced after that battle, it won.” Salient point from the Civil War relevant to the leadership of the Catholic Church today.

  3. Grant was much more aggressive than the previous Union Army commanders. However, many more Union lives were lost under his command. The biggest reason he succeeded was the fact that he could always get more troops, and the Confederate Army could not. If the Confederate Army had more troops or could replenish their troops like the Union Army did, I think it is safe to say that the war might have been won by the Confederates, or at least fought to a stalemate. At this point many in the North were furious about the loss of Union lives and were pushing toward calling a truce and letting the Southern Secession stand.

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