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A Turing Point Essay

2155 words - 9 pages

The North lacked aggressive generals during the first two years of the Civil War. The siege and claiming of Vicksburg Mississippi changed that fact, and proved to Lincoln, Grant was the desirable general to command the Union Forces. At Vicksburg, Grant attacked the enemy over and over until he obtained his goal: “Grant has gone down to history as a bludgeon general, a general who eschew manoeuvre and who with head down, seeing red, charged his enemy again and again like bull.” J.F.C. Fuller writes on Grant’s tactics and as the general-in-chief of the United States Army, in this quote he is talking about Grant aggressive tactics in battle, siege, or campaign. Grant knew that if he did ...view middle of the document...

The generals in the Civil War were fighting with Napoleonic tactics: marching close formation, coming at the ‘enemy’ across an open field, and coming in close contact with the ‘enemy’ forces. These tactics failed in the Civil War, for one reason: the rifled musket and minie ball. The rifled musket, combined with the minie ball was accurate for up to three-hundred yards, where older guns were only accurate up to one-hundred yards. However, few generals understood this problem and never applied it to their fighting tactics, Sherman did this:
…his struggle with his environment his ascendancy and keys to the modern world and to modern war. And, if those keys had not lain so long neglected in the dusty lumber-room of history, the problem of the world war might have been better understood, and a worn world have suffered less from a peace which passeth understanding.
Understanding the new weapons meant two advantages in the war: lower casualties, and advantages over the opponent. Sherman not only understood he needed to change his fighting tactics, but he understood what had to be done to win the war: “I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no symptoms of trying till the South begs for mercy; indeed, I know, and you know, that the end would be quicker by such a course than by any seeming yielding on our part.” Witnessed throughout human history is the brutality of warfare. Sherman knew the history and was brutal in his treating of the South, because if the Southern population were unable to support the army, then the war would be won: an army cannot survive without basic supplies. This understanding of war and new weapons gave Sherman an advantage over the Confederates Armies, but he, like Grant, was an aggressive general.
Generals Sherman and Grant had similar thoughts pertaining to the Civil War, and war in general. Sherman’s methods were crueler towards the Southern population than Grant’s, but Sherman knew the war must end quickly; this added to his aggression: “Throughout the expedition, he [John McClernand] had ceaselessly grumbled and procrastinated in carrying out orders. The slowed of his movement at the start had exasperated [David Dixon] Porter into writing to Grant, “I wish twenty times a day that [William T.] Sherman was here.” General Porter wanted Sherman, because unlike McClernand who was not willing to fight the Confederate Forces, Sherman carried out orders and aggressively fought the Confederate Forces at Vicksburg. Sherman’s understanding of war made him an aggressive general; he believed two facts about the war: a shorter, aggressive war was better, and that war was hell. Sherman thought that if the war was aggressive, intense, and shorter, than the nation would suffer less in the long term. He saw war as hell, that was all it was to him, and that there was no way to glorify it: “There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory. But boys it is all hell. You can bear this warning...

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