U.S. Grant is arguably Americaís greatest general. This book by John Mosier compares him to other famous generals like Napoleon, Wellington, Frederick the Great, Eisenhower, and others. Mosier gives a short biography of Grantís life and presents the battles that Grant was involved in during the Civil War.
This book is different from Edward Longacreís upcoming book on Grant, General Ulysses S. Grant: The Soldier and the Man due out in July 2006, in that Longacreís book is a more in-depth biography of Grant that ends with Leeís surrender. Mosierís book does not include much about Grantís early life, but he does discuss Grant as president. He says that Grant is more remembered as a general than he is as a president. He suggests that more research into Grant as president is warranted. Mosier avers that Grant was a good president, but that his reputation was tarnished by corrupt subordinates and other scandals that Grant was not directly involved in.
Mosier discusses how Grantís reputation was smeared by journalists and others in the military. He had a drinking problem, but according to Mosier this was mostly under control with the help of others. He did go off of the wagon at times, but never during a battle. He was also called a butcher because of the high number of casualties involved in the battles where he was the Union commander. This usually happened, according to Mosier, because of Grantís subordinates who either would not obey his orders or would misinterpret them.
Grant did not underestimate his Confederate opponents. Many were great generals too and had more problems with subordinates and in-fighting than he did. Mosier suggests that Abraham Lincoln did not understand warfare and that he meddled in things he should not have; he was too occupied with political motives for capturing particular parts of the South like east Tennessee, where the Unionist were in the majority. Eventually Lincoln realized he was meddling and losing the war when he realized that Grantís way of conducting the war was the best way to save the Union.
Another problem for the Union was a number of its generals. They wanted to conduct this war according to outdated theories. They wanted to fight it like Europeans did in the days of Napoleon. They also wanted to have a large army put together and then to slowly move and occupy land; they would then stop and regroup. They did not consider defeating the enemyís army as the goal. Grant and others like Sherman (and eventually Lincoln) realized that they needed to attack with a large army, but once they drove the enemy away from their positions they were to not stop and give the Confederates time to re-group. They were to continue and destroy or demoralize the enemy to the point where they would fall apart. This was one of the ways in which Grant was a successful general.
Mosier shows that many who denigrated Grant as being a brute, a butcher and a drunkard either did not know him or were jealous of him. He was in reality a well-read person, perhaps even a genius. He understood topography and geography, which helped him to be a great general as he could understand the lay of the land. One of his downfalls was that he trusted men too much; he should have removed many generals sooner than he did, but he was so kind-hearted that he would put up with them even when they disobeyed him or stabbed him in the back. This tendency showed up as well during his presidency.
The foreword to this book is provided by General Wesley K. Clark, followed by a whoís-who list and a chronology of important battles and dates in Grantís career. An introduction leads into the story of U.S. Grant and comparisons with other generals. There are several maps which are unfortunately not easy to read, and there is no clear indication as to what they are referring to. The reader has to guess that it is connected with the chapter that follows it. Several black and white photos and illustrations of Grant or subjects related to him are clustered in the center of the book, and endnotes and an index are included. This book is part of Palgrave Macmillanís series on great generals meant for the general reader and is of interest to Civil War enthusiasts and those interested in military history or biography.
John Mosier is the author of Cross of Iron: the rise and fall of the German War Machine, 1918-1945 (2006), The Blitzkrieg Myth (2004), and The Myth of the Great War (2002).