Operational Command Is Something That Anyone Can Do--
an in-depth study of The Mask of Command
PART 4: Grant
* * * "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made. No advantage whatever was ever gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained." --Grant * * *
Although at this point I was sure I would disagree with the remainder of Keegan's insights, I did my best to overlook my pessimism and continue reading, because although I disagreed with some of his opinions, I still found his insight and his detail of the battlefields and command roles interesting. So, I pushed into the third chapter--his analysis of Ulysses Simpson Grant and his "Unheroic" leadership style. To say the least, I am glad that I continued my reading, as I thoroughly enjoyed his synopsis of Grant and his description of Grant's down-to-Earth leadership style that, although never leading from the front, did show that Grant was definitely one commander who never saw himself as above his soldiers.
I did not, however, begin the Keegan's next installment with much optimism when he concluded the first section by declaring that Grant was the "greatest general of the American Civil War," a statement I wholeheartedly disagree with. The greatest, perhaps, on the Union side of the conflict, but because history is written by the victors, I decided to curtail the usual Hutto-debate mode and digest the remainder of Keegan's analysis. For the most part, however, his sketch of Grant was, in my humble opinion, right on the money.
Keegan outlined Grant's humble beginnings, the son of a tanner in Georgetown, Ohio, and how, although he was of Pilgrim Father origins, was definitely not from the aristocracy as most of his classmates were. During his West Point tenure,