Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War

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Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War

Author: Charles Bracelen Flood
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Copyright: 2005
Pages: 496

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The lives of Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman are classic underdog stories. Both of these "obscure failures" experienced more disappointment than success prior to the start of the Civil War. By 1861, they had each resigned from the U.S. Army and failed in several civilian pursuits between them, including farming, real estate, retail, and banking. Further, Grant was known as a drunk and Sherman was labeled insane.

But once they threw themselves into the war effort, their best traits and talents began to reveal themselves. Even their motives were similar--both men joined the war not to eradicate slavery but to hold the Union together, believing that secession was equal to treason. This dual biography gracefully reveals how the two men grew to be "as brothers," why their partnership proved essential to victory for the Union, and how well they complemented and helped each other in their lives and careers, despite some major differences. For instance, though he possessed tremendous talent, Sherman was insecure and initially asked Abraham Lincoln never to give him a superior command.

Grant, on the other hand, never doubted his ability to lead, and he quickly, if quietly, moved up the chain of command. Once he recognized Sherman's abilities, Grant made sure to keep him close, and they grew to depend upon each other completely. Through their near-daily interaction, even when separated by distance, both men honed their skills and eventually came up with a winning strategy for the war, which they executed in a brilliant two-pronged assault.

The book also discusses Grant's and Sherman's marriages, their relationships with their soldiers, and their dealings with politicians to provide well-rounded and complete portraits of these fascinating leaders. Grant and Sherman is a thoughtful portrait of the two men who "other than Lincoln... would have more to do with winning the war that preserved the Union than anyone else." --Shawn Carkonen

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Background Information

Ulysses S. Grant rose from obscurity to head the victorious Union army in the Civil War and later became President. William Tecumseh Sherman fought a war of destruction in Georgia, aimed at destroying the South's will and ability to fight. The Continental Army was disbanded after the American Revolution and, after a short interval, the United States Army was created to be the country's principal defense on land. Secessionis the reverse of union, and involves the separation of a part of a unified country into political independence. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President and led the Union during the Civil War.