Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 313
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James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
 
Page 313
 
 
that, as this commander reached the same ground near Richmond with comparatively little sacrifice of life, his campaign had the greater merit, miss the main point of the situation,—to wit, that the incessant hammering of Lee’s army was a necessary concomitant of success. They regard the capture of the Confederate capital as tantamount to the subjugation of the South; this error blinds them to the fact that Grant was supremely right in making Lee’s army his first objective and Richmond only his second. His strategy was superior to McClellan’s in that he grasped the aim of the war, and resolutely and grimly stuck to his purpose in spite of defeat and losses which would have dismayed any but the stoutest soul; and criticism of him is not sound unless it proves, as perhaps it does, that there might have been the same persistent fighting of the Army of Northern Virginia without so great a slaughter of Northern soldiers. The case is certainly stronger for Grant if we compare his work even thus far with the operations of Pope, Burnside and Hooker. As for Meade, his name is so gratefully associated with the magnificent victory of Gettysburg that our judgment leans in his favor and would fain rate his achievements at the highest; but it is difficult to discover anything that he did afterwards in independent command towards bringing the war to a close. If the final outcome be anticipated in order to compare Grant’s total losses to the day on which he received the surrender of Lee’s army, with the combined losses of the rest of the commanders of the Army of the Potomac, the result arrived at is that his aggregate was less than theirs whilst his was the great achievement. The military literature of the South directly and by implication breathes a constant tribute to the effectiveness of his plan. It must not, however, be forgotten that McClellan and Meade had weakened in some
 

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