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A General Who Will Fight

The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant

Harry S. Laver

Publication Year: 2013

Prior to his service in the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant exhibited few characteristics indicating that he would be an ex-traordinary leader. His performance as a cadet was mediocre, and he finished in the bottom half of his class at West Point. However, during his early service in the Civil War, most notably at the battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg, Grant proved that he possessed an uncommon drive. When it was most crucial, Grant demonstrated his integrity, determina-tion, and tactical skill by taking control of the Union troops and leading his forces to victory.

A General Who Will Fight is a detailed study of leadership that explores Grant's rise from undisciplined cadet to commanding general of the United States Army. Some experts have attributed Grant's success to superior manpower and technology, to the help he received from other Union armies, or even to a ruthless willingness to sacrifice his own men. Harry S. Laver, however, refutes these arguments and reveals that the only viable explanation for Grant's success lies in his leadership skill, professional competence, and unshakable resolve. Much more than a book on military strat-egy, this innovative volume examines the decision-making process that enabled Grant both to excel as an unquestioned commander and to win.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Front Cover

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pp. 1-4


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pp. 5-7


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pp. 8-8

List of Maps

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pp. viii-9

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Introduction: A Great Force of Will

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pp. 1-9

Sunday, April 6, 1862, dawned quietly as Ulysses S. Grant sat down at the breakfast table of the Cherry mansion in Savannah, Tennessee. Shuffling through a stack of mail on the table, he leaned forward to take the first sip of coffee when up the Tennessee River valley came the rumbling...

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1. First Lessons

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pp. 11-19

There was little about the young Hiram Ulysses Grant that hinted he would one day command great armies, win improbable battlefield victories, and become president of the United States. Born to Jesse and Hannah Grant in 1822, he joined a family that was comfortable, if not well-to-do. His...

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2. First Battles

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pp. 21-39

On April 15, 1861, President Lincoln declared the seven seceded states from South Carolina to Texas in rebellion and called for 75,000 volunteers, soon supplemented by another 300,000, to maintain the Union and fulfill his oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.” Across the...

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3. Shiloh

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pp. 41-54

Just days before his ill-advised relief of General Grant on March 4, 1862, Henry Halleck had outlined strategic objectives for the coming campaign, including the destruction of a railroad bridge near Eastport, Mississippi, followed by strikes against the rail centers of Corinth and Jackson...

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4. The Vicksburg Campaign

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pp. 55-82

By late October 1862, Grant was anticipating another Confederate drive to retake Corinth. Never happy surrendering the initiative to the enemy, he pushed Halleck to think more offensively. “You have never suggested to me any plan of opperations [sic] in this Department,” he wrote from...

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5. Chattanooga

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pp. 83-103

The capture of Vicksburg and its garrison was an unmistakable demonstration of Grant’s analytical determination and professionalism. From relief to exhaustion, satisfaction to affirmation, the victory undoubtedly evoked a flood of emotions in both the commander and his army. Then...

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6. The Overland Campaign

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pp. 105-128

By January 1864, the nation had endured two and a half years of a tragic civil war, including some of the most traumatic political, economic, and social convulsions the country had ever witnessed. These disruptions paled in comparison to the loss of life and the physical and emotional wounds...

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7. Richmond, Petersburg, and Peace

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pp. 129-153

The dead of Cold Harbor were still being committed to the earth and God’s care when General Grant sent word to Washington that although the nation rightly mourned the fallen he remained fully committed to the unfinished task, to “beat and drive the enemy” into submission. His...

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8. A Faith in Success

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pp. 155-164

The spring of 1865 reached full bloom in late April and early May. During this traditional time of renewal and rebirth, northerners rightly expected to be in full-throated celebration of war’s end, but instead they wore the black of mourning for their fallen president. With Father Abraham...

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pp. 165-175

The writing of this book would not have been possible without the help of a number of people. Jeffrey Matthews of the University of Puget Sound read, reread, and then read again every paragraph of the manuscript, providing invaluable advice and encouragement when it was most needed...


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pp. 167-185


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pp. 187-189


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pp. 191-195

E-ISBN-13: 9780813136783
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813136776

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 843091984
MUSE Marc Record: Download for A General Who Will Fight

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Subject Headings

  • Grant, Ulysses S. -- (Ulysses Simpson), -- 1822-1885 -- Military leadership.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns.
  • Command of troops -- Case studies.
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