The American Civil War lasted five years, cost 620,000 American lives, thousands of soldiers fighting, and had many generals leading their troops in this war, from generals McClellan, Hooker and more from the North and generals J. E. B. Stuart, and Ambrose, and others from the South. But, perhaps I could focus on the two most popular and important generals in this war: Grant from the North and Lee from the South.
Grant was born in 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio to Jesse Root Grant (a leather tanner) and Hannah Grant née Simpson as “Hiram Ulysses Grant” He went to West Point for military education, where they accidentally put him in as “Ulysses Simpson Grant”. The name stuck like superglue. His first assignment after school was in St. Louis, where he met and married Julia Dent in 1844. They had four children together. Grant later fought in the Mexican-American War. When the Civil War broke out, Grant was asked by Lincoln to command the US Army. Grant accepted this position.
After the Union win of the Civil War, a Grant was nominated and elected President, the only Civil War general to do so. He died from throat cancer in 1885, just twenty years after the Civil War ended.
Robert Edward Lee was born on January 29, 1807 to Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee (who served in the Revolutionary War) and his second wife, Anne Hill Carter. Not much is known about his childhood. In 1831, Robert married Mary Anna Custis, a descendant of George and Martha Washington. They had seven children together. Lee fought in the Mexican-American War after attending West Point. Lee chose his home state over his nation when the Civil War came. Five years later, Lee surrendered to Grant after the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse. In 1870, Lee died from a stroke.
These two generals were very famous. They went to the same school, fought alongside each other in the Mexican-American War, but fought against each other in the Civil War. They didn’t have anything against each other, but supported their causes staunchly.
Comparing Grant and Lee won’t be too hard. They were both very capable generals. Grant was known for his loyalty to the Union, though rumors were spread that he was a heavy drinker. Lee was known for his staunch adherence to his home state, fierce fighting, and well planned out but very risky battle moves. These risky moves were mostly successful, with a huge exception of Pickett’s Charge in the Battle of Gettysburg, which resulted in the South’s defeat.
Grant’s success came partially from his skill as a strategist. This was not because of the wealth of resources being the lead general of the Union, but of his own merit. The other part of his wild success was that he was an outstanding general. Not to say that Lee wasn’t a good general, too, but those two qualities won Grant the war.
When Lee surrendered to Grant, the Union gave them amnesty instead of hanging for treason. Grant overstepped his military authority and gave the Confederates freedom to return home with their horses and sidearms, as well as food rations. His willingness to forgive and offer a second chance is one of the things I liked about the character of Grant. Lee’s strength, determination and sheer loyalty are what I liked about his character.Generals of the Civil War