Ulysses S. Grant was a great man and a great general, but he did make mistakes. At Cold Harbor, Virginia he made two very big mistakes. He made foolish assaults on Lee’s heavily entrenched lines on June 3, 1864 which cost the lives of 1844 Union soldiers compared to the lives of 83 Confederate troops who fell in this battle. This was the lesser of his mistakes.
Grant, out of stubborness and a reluctance to admit a humiliating defeat, refused to follow the customary practice of the defeated army sending out a flag of truce to the victorious army and requesting permission to retrieve dead and wounded. Such permission was always given. Instead, Grant engaged in correspondence with Lee detailed in the video above, seeking to finesse approaching Lee with a flag of truce. Lee understood the rules of war as well as Grant, and he was unwilling to allow Grant to collect his dead and wounded until the flag of truce was sent, by which time almost all, I believe two living were recovered, of the Union soldiers left on the field of battle were dead. Grant in his memoirs meretriciously attempted to blame Lee for what was clearly his fault. I view this as Grant’s low point as a general and as a man.