2 comments on “Reading Ulysses S. Grant’s Personal Memoirs

  1. The reason I purchased and read the Personal Memories of Ulysses S. Grant was the fact it was edited by Mark Twain. While historians tend to dismiss his book, I found his focus upon logistics over tactics most enlightening. Armchair generals focus on tactics. Generals confronted with flesh & blood combat focus upon getting resources to the fight~

    • I did not know that it was edited by Mark Twain, even though I did know that Mark Twain published the work and told Grant he could have 100% of the profits. That’s a good friend!

      But, concerning war, I think that it is just like chess. One can lose by having insufficient material to force victory. On the other hand, one can also lose by the enemy winning a decisive victory–taking the king so to speak. Lee almost won the war before the battle of Gettysburg by the latter course, but Grant has both an appreciation of tactics and material–like a modern grandmaster. But, it was very instructive to read Grant lecture on his supply trains and communication network.

      One of my favorite parts in the work was when Grant was assigned a position in the west away from the front. He got so vexed by inactivity that he sent or almost sent (my memory is a bit hazy) a request to be relieved of command. Like Lee, his preference was for aggressive action, but he knew when to refrain, like in his sieges of Vicksburg and Petersburg.

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