Donald R. McClarey

Grant: The Successful Failure

Dear Sir:  I hope you will allow one who, when a boy, laid down his arms at Appomattox and pledged allegiance to the Union, to express his warmest sympathy for you in your suffering. I have watched your movements from

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Donald R. McClarey

A Palm Sunday One Hundred and Fifty-Three Years Ago

    It is poor business measuring the mouldered ramparts and counting the silent guns, marking the deserted battlefields and decorating the grassy graves, unless we can learn from it some nobler lesson than to destroy.  Men write of this,

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Donald R. McClarey

March 2, 1864: Grant Confirmed as Lieutenant General

I can’t spare this man, he fights! Lincoln’s response to calls for Grant’s removal from command after Shiloh. Few men in American history have had a more meteoric rise than Ulysses S. Grant.  In March 1861 at age 38 he was

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Grant and the Wounded of Cold Harbor

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

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Grant: Man of Contradictions

Fate has a way of picking unlikely material, Greasy-haired second lieutenants of French artillery, And bald-headed, dubious, Roman rake-politicians. Her stiff hands were busy now with an odd piece of wood, Sometime Westpointer, by accident more than choice, Sometime brevet-captain

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April 21, 1865: Stanton to Grant: Hostilities to Be Resumed

            For all his world weary cynicism, General Sherman was a complete innocent when it came to political matters, in which he had little interest.  He demonstrated this by the terms of the memorandum of agreement which he entered

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April 9, 1865: Lee Surrenders

    And so the Civil War ended.  Oh, not immediately.  The surrender process throughout the Confederacy would take until June, and skirmishes would be fought.  But with the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, no one, except perhaps

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April 8, 1865: Lee Rejects Guerrilla Warfare

On April 8, 1865 the last hope of escape for Lee’s army flickered out.  Union cavalry under Custer seized the critical supplies waiting for the Confederates at Appomattox Station.    Lee’s line of march to the west was now blocked as

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April 7, 1865: Surrender Correspondence Begins

  April 7, 1865 was a day of intense frustration for Robert E. Lee.  Hoping to feed his army with rations waiting at Farmville,  Union troops prevented that, crossing the Appomattox at bridges that Lee had ordered to be burned. 

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April 6, 1865: Battle of Sailor’s Creek

One last battle between the old adversaries the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia.  While moving towards the Appomattox River to cross it on his march to the west, Lee was intercepted by a large Union

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April 2, 1865: Third Battle of Petersburg

      With Union victory at Five Forks, General Lee desperately shifted troops to the west to protect the Southside Railroad.  Grant, realizing that Lee was thinning his lines around Petersburg and Richmond to protect the railroad, ordered a

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Palm Sunday One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago

The chiefs and the captains meet, Lee erect in his best dress uniform, His dress-sword hung at his side and his eyes unaltered. Chunky Grant in his mudsplashed private’s gear With the battered stars on his shoulders.                                          They talk

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March 29, 1865: Battle of Lewis Farm

 The Appomattox Campaign began on March 29, 1865, with Grant moving the V and II corps to the west to outflank Lee’s lines, while Sheridan and his troopers were sent south to rip up the rail lines linking Petersburg and

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The Peacemakers

  A historic meeting occurred between Lincoln, Grant and Sherman on March 27-28, 1865 at City Point, Virginia.  Sherman had no idea that President Lincoln was going to be there, he having traveled by sea from North Carolina to coordinate

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Grant Plans His Attack

 Grant, a failure all of his life except for war, marriage and his last valiant race with the Grim Reaper to finish his memoirs and provide for the financial security of his family;  seemingly a dull plodder, but possessed of

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March 12, 1865: Letter From Sherman to Grant

    With his invasion of North Carolina underway, Sherman took time after the capture of Fayetteville, North Carolina to bring Grant up to speed with his immediate plans: HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, IN THE FIELD, FAYETTVILLE, NORTH

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February 3, 1865: Hampton Roads Conference

The Hampton Roads Conference between President Lincoln and three representatives of the Confederacy, led by Lincoln’s old friend, and fellow former Whig, Vice President Alexander Stephens, was an exercise in pointlessness, as Lincoln and Stephens both knew it would be. 

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Grant on the Fort Fisher Fiasco

    Examples of gross military incompetence were not rare in the Civil War.  Perhaps the most outstanding example is the bungling of Major General Benjamin Butler in his handling of the first assault on Fort Fisher, the fort that guarded the

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October 27, 1864: Battle of Boydton Plank Road

  The last significant military operation at Petersburg in 1864, the battle of Boydton Plank Road, was  part of the efforts of the Army of the Potomac to cut the Confederate South Side Railroad that supplied Petersburg and Richmond from

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August 18, 1864: Capture of the Weldon Railroad

    On August 17, 1864 Grant was heartened when he received a telegram of support from President Lincoln.  Go here to read about it.  Grant remarked to his staff after reading the telegram:   “The President has more nerve than any

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August 17, 1864: Lincoln to Grant

The gaunt man, Abraham Lincoln, lives his days. For a while the sky above him is very dark. There are fifty thousand dead in these last, bleak months And Richmond is still untaken.                               The papers rail, Grant is a

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August 14, 1864: Second Battle of Deep Bottom

 In late July Northern newspapers were filled with the raids into the North being staged by Jubal Early and his corps in the Shenandoah Valley.  In order to distract Lee from sending reinforcements to Early, Grant decided to make another

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August 3, 1864: Lincoln to Grant

The gaunt man, Abraham Lincoln, lives his days. For a while the sky above him is very dark. There are fifty thousand dead in these last, bleak months And Richmond is still untaken.                               The papers rail, Grant is a

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July 30, 1864: Debacle at the Crater

When looking at the battle of the Crater, it is a study in contrasts.  The digging of the tunnel and the explosion of the mine at dawn on July 30, 1864, go here to read about the tunnel construction, was a

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Digging of The Tunnel at Petersburg

By far the most unusual event during the siege of Petersburg was the attempt by Grant to take Petersburg by a huge mining operation. The idea of the tunnel was devised by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pleasants, the 33 year old commanding

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July 27, 1864: First Battle of Deep Bottom Begins

Unbeknownst to the Confederates, on July 27, 1864 the Union forces around Petersburg were putting the finishing touches on a huge mine under a fort in the Confederate defenses known as Elliot’s Salient.  To divert Confederate attention from this sector of the

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July 10, 1864: Lincoln Telegraphs Grant for Help

  On July 10, 1864 Jubal Early’s men were approaching the outer suburbs of Washington and panic was seizing the city.  Lincoln’s telegram to Grant does not indicate any panic on the part of Lincoln, but worry about whether Early

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June 15, 1864: Assault on Petersburg Begins

Generals Lee and Grant were two of the finest generals in American history.  However, they both had off days, and few episodes in the Civil War cast both of these men in a poorer light than the failure of the

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June 12, 1864: Grant’s Crossing of the James Begins

After the attack on Lee’s Cold Harbor line was bloodily defeated on June 3, Grant realized that trying to bull his way through Lee’s fortified line was useless.  As he had throughout the Overland Campaign Grant decided to move again

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June 3, 1864: Cold Harbor-Not War But Murder

And, after that, the chunky man from the West, Stranger to you, not one of the men you loved As you loved McClellan, a rider with a hard bit, Takes you and uses you as you could be used, Wasting

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June 1, 1864: Initial Assaults at Cold Harbor

As May 1864 faded into June, Grant’s Overland Campaign was clearly headed for some sort of climax.  Grant had forced Lee back to the outskirts of Richmond. With Lee’s lines along,  and south east of, Totopotomoy  Creek being too strong

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May 30, 1864: Battle of Totopotomoy Creek

Lee realized that he was reaching a limit to how he could respond to Grant’s continual movement to the southeast.  Protecting Richmond was nailing his army in place, depriving it of the ability to maneuver as Grant used his superior

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May 26-28, 1864: Movement From the North Anna

Grant, after the fruitless skirmishing on the North Anna, decided to resume his drive by once again heading east and south, around Lee’s left, the same type of movement he had been making since the outset of this campaign.  However, he had

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