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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > 3. GRANT ~ CHAPTERS 5 AND 6 (133 - 205) (10/18/10 - 10/24/10) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

This begins the third week's reading in our new Presidential Series group discussion.

The complete table of contents is as follows:

Table of Contents

Preface p.13

ONE: The Early Years p.21
TWO: Mexico p.34
THREE: Resignation p.70
FOUR: War p.98
FIVE: "Unconditional Surrender" p.133
SIX: Shiloh p.167
SEVEN: Vicksburg p.206
EIGHT: Chattanooga p. 258
NINE: General in Chief p. 284
TEN: The Wilderness p. 313
ELEVEN: Grant and Lee p. 340
TWELVE: Appomattox p. 369
THIRTEEN: Reconstruction p. 408
FOURTEEN: Let Us Have Peace p. 431
FIFTEEN: Grant in the White House p. 458
SIXTEEN: Diplomacy p. 491
SEVENTEEN: Great White Father p. 516
EIGHTEEN: Reconstruction Revisited p. 542
NINETEEN: The Gilded Age p. 573
TWENTY: Taps p. 606

Notes p. 629
Bibliography p. 707
Acknowledgments p. 747
Index p. 427

Syllabus

Week One - October 4th - October 10th -> Preface, Chapter ONE, and Chapter TWO p. 13 - 69
PREFACE, ONE - The Early Years, and TWO - Mexico

Week Two - October 11th - October 17th -> Chapter THREE and FOUR. p. 70 -132
THREE - Resignation and FOUR - War

Week Three - October 18th - October 24th -> Chapter FIVE and SIX p. 133 - 205
FIVE - "Unconditional Surrender" and SIX - Shiloh

Week Four - October 25th - October 31st -> Chapter SEVEN p. 206 - 257
Chapter SEVEN - Vicksburg

Week Five - November 1st - November 7th -> Chapters EIGHT and NINE p. 258 - 312
EIGHT - Chattanooga and NINE - General in Chief

Week Six - November 8th - November 14th -> Chapters TEN and ELEVEN p. 313 - 368
TEN - The Wilderness and ELEVEN - Grant and Lee

Week Seven - November 15th - November 21st -> Chapter TWELVE p. 369 - 407
TWELVE - Appomattox

Week Eight - November 22nd - November 28th ->
Chapter THIRTEEN and FOURTEEN p. 408 - 457
THIRTEEN - Reconstruction and FOURTEEN - Les Us Have Peace

Week Nine - November 29th - December 5th ->
FIFTEEN - Grant in the White House and SIXTEEN - Diplomacy p. 458 - 515

Week Ten - December 6th - December 12th - > Chapter SEVENTEEN and EIGHTEEN p. 516 - 572
SEVENTEEN - Great White Father and EIGHTEEN - Reconstruction Revisited

Week Eleven - December 13th - December 19th - > Chapter NINETEEN and TWENTY p. 573 - 628
NINETEEN -The Gilded Age and TWENTY - Taps

The assignment for this week includes the following segments/pages:

Week Three - October 18th - October 24th -> Chapter FIVE and SIX p. 133 - 205
FIVE - "Unconditional Surrender" and SIX - Shiloh


We look forward to your participation; but remember this is a non spoiler thread.

We will open up threads for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers.

This book was kicked off on October 4th. This will be the third week's assignment for this book.

We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle.

A special welcome to those who will be newcomers to this discussion and thank you to those who have actively contributed on the previous Presidential Series selection. We are glad to have you all.

~Bentley

TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

Grant by Jean Edward Smith Jean Edward Smith Jean Edward Smith


message 2: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig We see Grant begin to come into his own in chapter 5. This chapter covers his battles at Ft. Henry and Donelson that propels him to fame. Henry Halleck takes over the Western theater from Fremont with McClellan in the East, Buell commanding the Ohio, and George Thomas in Tennessee and Kentucky. For the South, General Albert Johnston has to fight in the territory covering west of the Appalachian Mountains. The South builds both Ft. Henry and Donelson to control the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, Grant's next targets.

Halleck is more conservative fighter than Grant, but with Lincoln's order to be on the offensive, Grant gets approval for his attacks. Ft. Henry is on lower ground, undermanned and under gunned, and Lloyd Tilghman, the fort's commander, won't get reinforced. Grant gets naval support from Commander Andrew Foote as he sends his gunships down river to attack the fort. Overland, Grant and McClernand move out on February 6, 1862. Foote takes the fort before Grant arrives.

Ft. Donelson is not that easy. Johnston leaves 3 brigades at Ft. Donelson commanded by John Floyd, Gideon Pillow, and Simon Buckner, about 17,000 men. Grant ignores Halleck's advice not to attack until reinforced. They approach from the west, their only alternative, but the Confederates do not stop or attack him as his army approaches. Foote bombards the fort, but Donelson is on higher ground and the bombardment is largely ineffective and Southern guns rain down on his ships. However, the three Confederate commanders are inexperienced and try to break out to Nashville. The break out at first causes disarray for McClernand's unit. Grant is 7 miles away talking to Foote, and rushes to the battlefield. He tells McClernand to resupply and don't let the enemy escape. Luckily for Grant, Pillow stopped his attack to regroup. Grant turns to C.F. Smith to take the fort. Smith simply responds, "I will do it." (p. 159) Smith breaks the Confederate line and General Buckner considers surrendering the fort as Pillow and Floyd (as well as Nathan Bedford Forrest) sneak out. Grant responds to Buckner that the surrender must be unconditional. Buckner agrees.

Chapter 6 covers Shiloh. Grant's next move is on Nashville, but the city is already abandoned. Relations with his commanders, Halleck and Buell, decline. Once they finally meet, Buell and Grant disagree on what the Confederates are doing. Meanwhile, Halleck is not getting Grant's reports and feels Grant is getting a little arrogant. They exchange some telegrams, one of which Grant says he says you can replace me. Once Halleck gets the reports, Halleck backs down and tells Grant to move forward. The North hears that the Confederates are building a force in Corinth, and Grant wants to take the fight to them. He lands a force in Pittsburgh landing. However, Johnston attacks Grant on April 6, 1862. It is a total surprise. Johnson pushes Grant's line, but instead of going Northeast as planned, the men push Northwest as they attack General Sherman. They also slow down to plunder Union campsites. Sherman holds as long as he can as Grant checks in with each commander, calmly directing ammunition and men around to shore things up as best as possible. By nightfall, Grant builds a defensive line near the Tennessee River. He is confident that they will win the day tomorrow.

On the 7th, Grant (reinforced by Buell's men) moves on the Confederate lines early. By mid-afternoon, he regains all the lost territory but does not pursue. This battle, Smith argues, seals the fate of the South in the West. At first, the North rejoices, but both sides are stunned by the heavy losses. This is a new kind of war.


message 3: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Again we see how different Grant is as a fighter against the more conservative leaders. He ignores orders and takes opportunities to keep the momentum going.

Do you think this comes from his experience from the Mexican War? Why do you think he figures this out while others do not?


message 4: by Eliza (new)

Eliza (elizac) Bryan wrote: "Again we see how different Grant is as a fighter against the more conservative leaders. He ignores orders and takes opportunities to keep the momentum going.

Do you think this comes from his ex..."


First, I want to say how much I'm enjoying reading about Grant.

I think yes a lot of Grant's tactics came from his service in the Mexican War, but he seems also to be able to set aside his ego, honestly assess a battle or situation, and change direction if need be. I find his flexibility impressive. I think he was exactly want the Union needed to turn the tide of the war.


message 5: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Good comment, Eliza. I agree, Grant seems to be a master at looking at the whole battlefield and assessing the situation.

Smith says he attacks, not reacts when it comes to execution, and I agree. He goes after the enemy, but in a way, Grant is good at reacting in a battle.

It has been awhile since I read anything on Shiloh and I was very impressed by his performance--and Sherman. Oh, and C.F. Smith and Foote were great compliments to Grant. What a team!


message 6: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Since we are on the topic of Grant's assessment, does anyone have a thought on why Grant did not anticipate the Confederate break-out at Donelson?


message 7: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 435 comments Bryan wrote: "Since we are on the topic of Grant's assessment, does anyone have a thought on why Grant did not anticipate the Confederate break-out at Donelson?"

My guess is that Grant was looking at what he would have done if in command and thinking that the Confederates would do the same thing. After all the commanders mostly went to the same school and had the war with Mexico in common. He would have probably continued to fight from the position until the attackers gave up. The Confederate defenders probably felt defeated which Grant never did so tried to escape. All this is my personal opinion.


message 8: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Thanks Patricrk, I think you are right. He probably saw the Confederates holding their line and not attacking. It seems that Grant never believed the Confederates were aggressive up to the point of Shiloh. I think Shiloh changed his thinking.


message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Bryan, I think it was his mindset; oddly enough he never had a council to discuss his decisions after that point in time. I am not sure why. Did at some level he not trust that folks would talk and it would get leaked back to the enemy? Or did he not want to be questioned. He certainly miscalculated and the confederates were just trying to really escape not engage.

Grant also "always" underestimated his opponents; he was "always" sure of what the Union forces were capable of and his strategies; but never his opponent. He always lost sight of their abilities.

So he thought that he would be the only one initiating land actions certainly not this enemy and at this time.

The army under Grant had not learned how to organize their supply lines either...pretty strange considering that was Grant's once former job which he had done very well.

Sometimes I think that Grant just walked around in his own head. Great ideas, great fortitude, but totally oblivious to other men and their weaknesses. He trusted everybody too much and took everything for granted I am afraid...and that was not a pun of any kind. (smile)

After being awaken from his temporary brain sojourn, he managed to rout the Confeds back.


message 10: by Bryan (last edited Oct 20, 2010 10:06AM) (new)

Bryan Craig Thanks, Bentley, very interesting, especially about the walking around in his own head. He does seem to prefer to be alone when making up plans. He was a trusting person, but maybe he didn't trust everyone around him, and it was easier not to if you were surrounded by commanders who did not see "eye to eye" regarding how to fight. At this point, Halleck is a bit envious and still hears about Grant's reputation for drinking.

We see another episode of him being alone when Sherman sees Grant underneath an oak tree at Shiloh.

I think he does take advice, discussing things with C.F. Smith and Foote, but yet, at Donelson at that moment, it is strange.


message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Oct 20, 2010 10:19AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Yes, there was something about Donelson (the location) he did not trust. But he always underestimated the enemy.


message 12: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig I loved Grant's quote about Sherman at Shiloh when he was working hard to hold the Union right:

"I never deemed it important to stay long with Sherman." (p. 192) Say no more; the trust and friendship now grows!


message 13: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Another big element in these chapters is unconditional surrender, another break from the old ways of fighting. Grant writes General Buckner at Ft. Donelson:

"No terms except complete and unconditional surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works." (p. 162)

Buckner must have been quite surprised, thinking of a more chivalrous answer. Where do you think Grant "learned" this concept? What was his inspiration to think this was the right approach?


message 14: by Liz (new)

Liz | 119 comments Bryan wrote: "What was his inspiration to think this was the right approach? "

I can't help but think that the heavy losses were taking their toll. Perhaps Grant wanted the war to end quickly and unconditional surrender would not unnecessarily prolong the war.

[I'm lagging behind on this book but certainly not because of the quality! A thoroughly enjoyable read. There just aren't enough hours in the day.]


message 15: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig No problem about where you are in the book, Liz. I'm glad you are enjoying it and I hear you about not having enough hours in the day!

One thing does ring true about unconditional surrender: it changes the equation at the end. If you destroy the enemy, the chances for him to wage another war is much smaller, as you say Liz. I do agree that is what Grant wants (and Sherman too).


message 16: by Hubert (new)

Hubert | 20 comments I'm certainly impressed by Grant's ability to think on the fly and adapt to a situation as necessary. Compounded with the relative ineptitude of the Confederate commanders at this juncture, the Union was able to take Ft. Donelson.

Maps --- not an indictment of Smith's lucidity as a writer of military history --- would be helpful at this point.


message 17: by Hubert (new)

Hubert | 20 comments Bryan wrote: "We see Grant begin to come into his own in chapter 5. This chapter covers his battles at Ft. Henry and Donelson that propels him to fame. Henry Halleck takes over the Western theater from Fremont w..."

These chapter summaries are excellent; thank you Bryan!


message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
You are welcome Hubert. We are glad that you found the discussion of this fine book from 2010. Please continue to post and we will respond.

It is unfortunate that the maps on most of these books are not satisfactory or absent in many of these situations.


message 19: by Hubert (new)

Hubert | 20 comments Couple things strike me about the opening of Ch. 6 (Shiloh) - the amount of time it takes the higher-ups and the generals to communicate (given the technology at the time); and the politicking that goes on behind the surface of battle. Decision-making, and timing (unsurprisingly), seems to have been crucial in determining the result of any given battle.


message 20: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
It must have been maddening for them - especially if timing and strategic advantage is important. No wonder Grant seemed to be walking around in his head as I mentioned above.


message 21: by Hubert (new)

Hubert | 20 comments I'd always wondered how the different sides of a battle communicate internally in the theater of war, and Smith does a good job of explaining this while discussing the intricacies of both Ft. Donelson and Shiloh.


message 22: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 04, 2020 10:33AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
The author did a great job with this book. You raise an important issue - horseback and spies in those days.

Here is an article about The Signal Corps (how they used signals during battle) - (scroll down)

Link: https://www.nps.gov/anti/learn/histor...

During the Civil War - there was also the Telegraph:

Link: https://www.nsa.gov/Portals/70/docume...

Here is another article from the Encyclopedia Britannica on Military Signaling:

Link: https://www.britannica.com/technology...

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, NSA.gov, NPS


message 23: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Some additional information and maps on Fort Donelson:

Link: https://www.nps.gov/fodo/planyourvisi...

Source: NPS


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