Forgotten Truths About Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant is not a president who gets discussed that often today. He gets overshadowed by Lincoln because pretty much every gets overshadowed by Lincoln, so it isn’t entirely his fault. Of course, Ulysses S. Grant wasn’t a man who was able to really stand out as a result of his own merits when he was actually alive, so the current situation isn’t that much of a surprise.
I find Ulysses S. Grant interesting partly because some of his personal insecurities helped shape the Republican party in a way that we are still dealing with today, even though no one remembers who we got here or why. I also find him interesting because insecure people with a lot of ambition catch my eye. Super talented people are fascinating, but the people who really wish they were super talented are easier for most of us to relate to generally speaking.
A lot of people will give Ulysses S. Grant credit for winning the Civil War, for instance. They’ll think that he’s this general who had fantastic battle strategies which helped the North succeed against all odds. It’s a nice idea, and it’s certainly an idea that Ulysses S. Grant would have wanted to support, because that’s more or less what he wanted to believe about his own life.
The thing is, the South had all of the best military people at the time. That was basically their one real advantage in the war. The North had more resources, more volunteers, and better infrastructure. They had an easier time derailing supplies from the South as well, which only added to their strengths. Lincoln’s main strategy in many cases was to basically send as many men as possible to the front-lines in an effort to eventually wipe out most of the elite Southern soldiers. People on both sides would die, but the South would be the side that got a lot weaker.
Ulysses S. Grant was basically okay with this strategy, and he was the man to send out wave after wave of soldiers whose sole purpose was to die in order to weaken the Southern power. Most generals would have done something similar, since this was the strategy that Lincoln mainly had at his disposal. Ulysses S. Grant was basically known as something of a butcher in his lifetime as a result of this strategy, but this perception has definitely faded with time. Still, Grant made it to the presidency because he ended up a decorated soldier, even though he didn’t bring much to the role.
Grant wouldn’t have been there in the first place if there weren’t strapped for soldiers, given his mediocre performance at the military academy. The war broke out at the right time for him, and that’s the only reason people today remember Grant at all. He would at least be happy that this is not typically something that we acknowledge.