Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee room two that the most reliable military leaders in American history. These men have end up being symbolic the the two countries at dispute during the polite War. Both had an extremely different backgrounds and personalities that led to them to differ in their army leadership and accomplishments. Also though general Lee would certainly surrender his military to basic Grant, Lee throughout the food of the war confirmed himself to be a much better military leader. The childhood of Robert Edward Lee played a pivotal duty in the means he would see the civilization as a man.

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Lee was born right into an aristocratic household of Virginia with a deeply rooted American history. Richard Henry and Francis Lightfoot Lee, Robert E. Lee’s uncles, aided draft resolutions the would result in the statements of Independence, both would authorize it1. Lee’s father, Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee III was a revolutionary battle hero and also one the George Washington’s most dependable fellow countrymen.

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In 1771, Washington, also from Virginia, wrote: “ I understand of no nation that can develop a family all distinguished and clever men, together our Lees.”2 Lee’s mother and father were solid influences in his life for really different reasons. Lee’s dad would specify everything Lee walk not want to be. Lighthorse Harry lacked self-control and failed to take treatment of the family. Destroyed by failed financial ventures, Lee’s father would certainly be sent to debtor’s prison. His mother, ann Hill Carter Lee would raise young Robert come love God, to offer God and to offer his country.

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Lee’s rearing aided him to build the greatest standards that honor, self-denial, self-control and also duty that would earn respect indigenous both friends and enemies.3 Ulysses S. Grant came from a much more humble upbringing. Prefer Lee, approve traces his family tree deep right into American history in his memoirs. Grant’s ancestors worked out in Massachusetts in 1630.4 Grant’s father, Jesse R. Grant came indigenous a damaged family and also was fostered by the parents of john Brown.

5 The same John Brown that would certainly attempt to start a slave rebellion by attack the United says armory in ~ Harper’s Ferry in 1859. Males under the leadership of climate Colonel Robert E. Lee ended that raid.6 Grant, was not born right into the soil owning aristocracy prefer Lee, his family was frontier men. Approve “…had come up the tough way…No male was born come anything, except perhaps come a opportunity to display how much he could rise. Life to be competition (Catton, para 5).”7 Grant’s vain upbringing would offer him the an inspiration to press forward and also the demand results essential to defeat Lee. Robert E Lee would carry the lessons that learned as a child with him come the armed forces Academy at West Point. When attending West Point, Lee was an extremely studious and also did not sign up with 8other cadets for evenings in ~ the neighborhood taverns. General Lee graduated second in his course at West allude and received no demerits for misconduct. This record has never to be matched and will no likely ever before be accomplished again. By graduating with honors, Lee to be assigned come the unified States army Corps the Engineers.

The time Lee invested with the military Corps of engineers gave him an useful knowledge that different varieties of terrain and also fortification build that would serve him fine in the polite War.9 The childhood the Ulysses S. Grant would also affect him in ~ West Point. Approve was not interested in a armed forces career; the was more interested in agriculture.10 It was Grant’s dad who requested his meeting to West Point.11 Grant stated in his memoirs, “A army life had actually no charms because that me, and also I had actually not the faintest idea of continuing to be in the military even if I have to be graduated, which i did not mean (Grant p19).”12 give spent most of his time in ~ West point reading novels and also avoiding “…books related to the course of researches (Grant pg 20).”13 unlike Lee, approve would no excel in ~ West Point. Give graduated 21 out of 39 in his class, just listed below average.14 The mexico American war would be both Lee and Grant’s very first battle. Lee and also Grant would certainly both serve under basic Winfield Scott, a guy whom castle both admired, during his project to Mexico City. Basic Scott saw greatness in Lee and stated his “…success in Mexico was largely due to the skill, valor, and also undaunted power of Robert E. Lee.”15 Scott was additionally heard commenting a few years later that; “Lee is the biggest military genius in America.”

16 Grant, just a very first lieutenant, did not acquire an chance to display much leadership. Provide did however serve with valor. At the fight of Monterey, provide would get some respect amongst his peers by efficiently carrying lot needed ammunition come his regiment if under fire.17 throughout the polite War, Lee and also Grant would implement an abilities learned while under the command of general Winfield Scott. In the spring of 1861 together the nation leaned towards Civil War, both Grant and also Lee would be forced to make very difficult decisions. Approve would only need to decide in between being a patriot or a traitor. In a letter come Grant’s dad he wrote: “There are yet two parties now, Traitors & Patriots and I desire hereafter to it is in ranked with the latter. . . (Grant p 957)”18 Lee was torn between a effective career in the United says Army, his devotion come the Union, one appointment together commander of the Union forces and also the love he had for his family and also homeland. In a letter come his sister, Lee wrote: “ v all my devotion come the Union…I have actually not to be able to consist of my mind to raise mine hand against my relatives, my children, my home.

19 The decisions these two guys made would send castle on a collision food in one of the most costly battles the nation has every waged. Throughout the civil War, Robert E Lee would certainly prove himself to be unequaled in leadership. When Lee took manage of the army of northern Virginia in June the 1862, the Union military “…was thundering at the city gates…(Lee p150)”20 the the Confederate capital of Richmond. In 3 months, Lee would accomplish what his predecessor general Joseph E. Johnston could not. Lee defeated the invading Union army and turned the war in donate of the South. It would certainly take president Lincoln almost one year come find any kind of competition for basic Lee. The competition would be general Grant and the huge resources the North readily available him. The huge resources and also the progressed railroad device of the north would provide Grant the benefit he needed over Lee.

In a letter to Confederate president Jefferson Davis, Lee expressed his problem that “…Every train bring recruits, and also it is declared that every easily accessible regiment at the north is included to it…(Lee p108)”21 The military of north Virginia’s absence of provisions were “…so great…I can not see just how we can operate with our present supplies (Lee, p 108).22 prior to Lee ever before met grant on the battlefield he was trying come prepare because that multiple retreats that would permit him come resupply his army. Lee pleaded with Jefferson Davis the “Every exertion must be do to supply the depots in ~ Richmond and at other points (Lee, p 108).” 23 approve carelessly offered his sources to strike Lee and also “…after thirty days of marching…fighting and also a through a lose of more than sixty thousand men, general Grant…”24 arrived on Petersburg, “…which he could have done…without the lose of a single man.”

25 The sixty thousand males that were expendable to give was an ext than Lee had in his entire military of north Virginia. Lee at some point was compelled to surrender his military of “…less than eight thousand men…to Grant’s military of 150,000…”26 before the surrender Union officers had “…always approximated your pressure at around seventy thousands men.”27 The leadership shown by Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee transparent their armed forces careers is directly related to your childhood and education in ~ West Point. Grant’s childhood made the competitive but his lack of attention in the curriculums at West suggest would collection him earlier militarily.

If grant did not have the expendable resources that were obtainable to his Union Army, that would have actually failed against Lee’s capacity to fight v such minimal resources. Lee’s self struggle to command by example combined with his devotion to duty and also the males in his military resulted in many victories over impossible odds. Lee did not surrender to Grant’s management traits; Lee “…was compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and also resources (Lee p 138)”28 1 James A. Henretta, David Brody and Lynn Dumenil, America: A Concise History, 3rd Edition, 3rd ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005), 157-58.


Henretta, James A., David Brody, and Lynn Dumenil. America: A Concise History, third Edition. Third ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005.

Lee, Fitzhugh. General Lee. BiblioLife, 2009.

Grant, Ulysses S. An individual Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. CreateSpace, 2009.

Lee, Robert. Recollections and also Letters. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble, 2004.

Bruce Catton Grant and Lee: A research in Contrasts, available from http://users.ipfw.edu/ruflethe/grantandlee.html ; Internet; accessed 16 respectable 2010.

Allen, Walter. ULYSSES S. GRANT. House Mifflin,1901.

Long, Armistead Lindsay. Memoirs the Robert E. Lee: His military and also personal background . University of Michigan Library, 1886.

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Grant, Ulysses S. Ulysses S. Give : Memoirs and also Selected letter : personal Memoirs the U.S. Grant / Selected Letters, 1839-1865 (Library that America). Very first Edition ed. Brand-new York, N.Y.: Library that America, 1990.