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Cover image for A victor, not a butcher : Ulysses S. Grant's overlooked military genius
A victor, not a butcher : Ulysses S. Grant's overlooked military genius

Publication Information:
Washington, DC : Regnery Pub. ; Lanham, Md. : Distributed by National Book Network, ©2004.
Physical Description:
xviii, 456 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
The greatest Civil War general -- Living a troubled life -- 1861: seeking a chance to fight -- Winter 1862: capturing Forts Henry and Donelson -- Spring 1862: salvaging a victory at Shiloh -- 1862-3: Surviving frustration upon frustration -- May-July 1863: vanquishing Vicksburg -- Autumn 1863: saving Chattanooga -- Early 1864: planning a national campaign -- Summer 1864: Attacking Lee's Army -- 1864-5: Tightening the noose -- Early 1865: winning the war -- Grant's winning characteristics -- Appendix I: Historians' treatment of Grant -- Appendix II: Casualties in Grant's battles and campaigns -- Appendix III: The critical election of 1864: how close was it?
"Ulysses S. Grant is often dismissed as a simple butcher of his troops. In fact, Grant was an inspired military leader with a genius for issuing lucid orders, maneuvering his troops adroitly, and making excellent use of his staff." "Grant is unfairly maligned because of the bloody 1864 campaigns he conducted against Robert E. Lee to secure final victory for the Union. A Victor, Not a Butcher proves that, far from being a crude butcher (as he has been characterized not only by Southern partisans, but by many historians), Grant's casualty rates actually compared favorably with those of other Civil War generals. His perseverance, decisiveness, moral courage, and political acumen place him among the greatest generals of the Civil War - indeed, of all military history." "Author Edward Bonekemper traces Grant's record of unparalleled success - Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, Iuka, Corinth, Raymond, Jackson, Champion's Hill, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, the Overland Campaign, the James Crossing, Five Forks, Petersburg, and Appomattox - showing how Grant won his victories through expert execution of carefully planned military strategies, not the meat-grinder tactics of myth." "This book also explores the paradoxes of Grant's early life and deals forthrightly with his struggles in civilian life - particularly the allegations of alcoholism and other factors that led his contemporaries (as well as historians of later generations) to underestimate him." "Bonekemper identifies the key elements of Grant's success as a general. He even demonstrates that as a military strategist and leader, Grant outshone his much-lionized rival, Robert E. Lee. He examines casualty records that prove that Grant lost fewer men in his successful effort to take Richmond and end the war than his predecessors lost in making the same attempt and failing. Bonekemper proves that it was no historical accident that Grant accepted the surrender of three entire Confederate armies. (No other general on either side accepted the surrender of even one army until Sherman accepted the capitulation of the remnants of the Army of Tennessee at the war's end.) Grant's tactics are studied carefully by American military personnel to this day." "Ulysses Grant won the Civil War. He was responsible for virtually all major Union victories. Bonekemper ably silences Grant's critics and restores Grant to the heroic reputation he so richly deserves."--Jacket.
Conference Subject:


Call Number
921 Grant, Ulysses S. 2004

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Reassessing Ulysses S. Grant's role as military leader, the author re-evaluates the general's reputation as a butcher and reveals Grant's true legacy as the military leader with the lowest casualty rates in the war--a record he maintained while still winning every battle.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In line with the recent rise in the Union military leader?s stock among historians, this engaging if reverential study pegs Grant as the greatest general of the Civil War. Historian Bonekemper (How Robert E. Lee Lost the Civil War) contends that Grant relied whenever possible on maneuver, distraction and stealth rather than brute force, and that his brilliantly successful campaigns were marked by comparatively modest body counts. Even the bloody war of attrition against Lee in 1864, the main count in the ?butcher? indictment, was a strategically sound approach, he says, with its carnage less the fault of Grant than of inept subordinates who squandered the opportunities created by his flanking maneuvers. The author?s celebration of Grant dovetails with his disparagement of Lee, whom he feels lacked Grant?s mastery of grand strategy, and whose unnecessarily aggressive campaigns, in which he sacrificed many more men than Grant did during the war as a whole, make him the real butcher. Bonekemper?s interpretation of Grant is not groundbreaking (although scholars and buffs will appreciate his exhaustive tabulation of casualties in Grant?s engagements), and the comparison with Lee is perhaps unfair given the vastly greater resources in men and material that Grant enjoyed. But he offers a lucid and vigorous narrative of Grant?s campaigns that vividly conveys the general?s energy, daring and shrewdness, as well as the unassuming personality that has made him a symbol of the age of the common man triumphing over Lee?s backward-looking aristocracy. Photos and maps. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Choice Review

During the last 20 years, a growing number of books and articles have appeared reassessing the generalship of Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War. The charge that Grant ruthlessly used the North's superior manpower to overpower his opponents came to dominate literature on the Civil War by the end of the 19th century and through much of the 20th century. Bonekemper (American Military Univ.) argues persuasively that Grant did not recklessly sacrifice his men on the field of battle. Indeed, wherever possible, Grant aggressively sought to outmaneuver his opponent, utilizing rapid movements. He understood that his goal was not the seizure of the Confederate capital or the occupation of its territory. His ultimate objective was to destroy the armies of the Confederacy, and Grant developed a grand strategy to achieve that goal. General Robert E. Lee failed to develop a grand strategy and ultimately lost the war for that reason. The second appendix, a careful comparison of the sources enumerating battle casualties in all of Grant's campaigns, constitutes a worthy addition to the literature in and of itself. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. D. L. Wilson Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Library Journal Review

For his costly and controversial frontal assault at Cold Harbor in 1864, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was labeled a butcher; since then, he has been burdened with the reputation of being an unimaginative and bludgeoning commander. Bonekemper (How Robert E. Lee Lost the Civil War), however, depicts Grant as the consummate master of the art of maneuver who inflicted proportionally heavier casualties on his opponents over the course of the war than he sustained. Bonekemper examines each of Grant's campaigns, from Paducah to Appomattox, bolstering his analyses with telling and authoritative statistics. As he shows, Grant's success was born not of wielding superior numbers but of seizing the initiative and tenaciously pursuing his strategic goals. The result is a forceful work both thorough in its research and lucid and stirring in its style. Of special interest to students and Civil War enthusiasts are an appended survey of Grant historiography and a comprehensive listing of casualty estimates, including the author's own, for Grant's various campaigns. Enthusiastically recommended for all Civil War collections.-Edward Metz, USACGSC Combined Arms Research Lib., Ft. Leavenworth, KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.