16 Jan 2023


The Battle of Gettysburg: Grant and Lee

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The America Civil war was all about the battle between two opposing sides the Union North and the Confederacy South. The cause of the war was about the conflict of interest concerning the issues of Slavery and the independence of the decision made by the States. Generals and Lieutenants lead the wars two stood out . General Ulysses S. Grant of the Army of the Potomac (Union) and General Robert E. Lee of the Army of Northern Virginia (Confederacy) were the leadership who signed an agreement to end the war in 1865. The comparison of the two leaders based on their written memoir and scholarly opinion of their leadership were in place to allow the fact that their leadership and experience had affected the war tactics that led to the ultimate surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in April 1865. Comparing their leadership will give an insight of the battle and the history of the war. 

General Ulysses S. Grant was the leader of the Army of the Potomac (Union) after appointed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Grant was never meant to be in the army, his father convinced him to join the army at West Point. In his Memoir, he was sceptical about his academic performance at West point but he achieved becoming at the 21 st position out of thirty nine. He was better performer as an expert horseman. He later joined the army as a cadet. Grant had a different view about his position in the Army, he always looked forward to resign and head for a teaching career. He later resigned. Later in 1846, with support from the wife, he re-joins the army during the Mexican War. The war was in part the reason behind is rising into the ranks. As a soldier, it was the first time for his experience in War. As a serving regimental quartermaster, he always yarned for the combat role. He showed his ability in horse riding tactics by helping the army. He displayed generosity and sympathy to fellow horsemen during the battle in Mexico by searching for help for the troops. A new army was formed under the command of Wilfred Scott and attacked Mexico City at Molino Del Rey. Grant displayed bravery by bombarding the Mexican troops by using the howitzer. He was made an army captain. During the war, he learnt more about the military leadership, especially the retrospect displayed by Taylor. He also believed that the war in Mexico was completely unnecessary and unjust and was deigned to expand the evils of slavery. He had his moral courage in having a career in the army. He joined the Union Army during the American Civil War, and commanded his way to be promoted in 1861 becoming a commander of the District of South West Missouri. More victories at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson had won him his reputation as “Unconditional Surrender” Grant. More victories were won by the Union despite the casualties. He won his plight to be named the Union Army General- Commandant which was tasked to end the war and capture the confederate capital of Richmond. General Lee was also enthusiastic about holding the defensive army ( Grant, 2014 ). 

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General Lee, was an Army leader of the Confederates of the Northern Virginia. Lee was a top graduate of the Military Academy and was exceptional in the Military engineering. He served well during the Mexican- American war as a superintendent of the United States Military Academy. He was also part of the U.S Army under the leadership of Winfried Scott through which there were considerable victories in the battle field. General Lee and General Grant actually met during the war in Mexico City. Prior to the civil war, at west point it was difficult for him because he was away from home, his wife was increasingly disable due to mercury poisoning, and troubles maintaining the vast slave plantation the Family held. However he stayed in the army reluctantly, and was promoted as a superintendent in the Military Attendant at West Point. His experience with the slave plantation and opposed to Slavery. Lee was the leader of the Lost Cause of interpreting the civil war in America. The position helps him maintain own stature as the symbol of the reconciliation of the Civil War. In the letter to his Wife, there is accounts of his own statement had evidence of his opposition against Slavery. He always supported his wife’s action to liberate the slaves and setting up an illegal school in their plantation. His sympathy made an amount of Black Volunteers into the American War as a reward. General Lee has opposed to the War against America during the civil war, mentioning it as a revolution and betrayal of the patriotism to the country. The secession was heavily opposed by General Lee, his honor was basically outweighed by the sense to honor and defend his Home State of Virginia. He withdraws to support the war but later after the declaration of the war, He resorted to support the confederation and later resign from the Union Army. Though through the memoir he believed that the war was never to happen and there would be peace. He took the commandeering of the Confederation just as a requirement and never had any support for the opinions of the confederations. General Lee led the State army, and never wore the Insignia till his promotion to the General of the Confederation Army. General Lee timid style of commending was known to be passive while strengthening the Defense of the Capital of Richmond. The seven Days Battle was the bigger victory for The Confederation Army as the Union retreated despite the superior number of soldiers and Weapons. Lee’s fanaticism about the war could have resulted to the heavy casualties in the battle of Gettysburg. The reason was the General Lee was unable to control the terrain and maneuvers of the state of Pennsylvania. The confederates also had an amount of new and inexperienced in leadership during the battle. (Zwonitzer, 2011). 

Before the surrender at Appomattox Court House, Both General Lee and General Grant had their own means to end the war. General Lee never wanted an easy surrender and defended Richmond with few Confederation Army members. General Grant was enthusiast to be offensive against the Southerners. Grant had the number and resource to defeat Lee’s Army after the battles of Gettysburg. Lee knew that the Battlefields at the Wilderness would help the few numbers of the army to have a defense against the Union Army. It was nearly difficult for the forces of the Union led by General Grant to penetrate. The tactics by General Lee has a great effect with more significant losses of the Union, despite having a few numbers of soldiers. Though General Grant had consistently placed an offensive to the Confederates into the Southeast and made numerous attacks to railroads that were thought to be supply source of the confederation Army capital in Richmond. 1 All supply sources were destroyed and the soldiers were starving and they were few. Lee’s enthusiasm deteriorated, he could not relay and offensive against the Northerners at Petersburg and after retreating from Richmond. Lee had no choice but to surrender in a letter to General Grant, he clearly stated the time of the Surrender and the Place at Wilmer McLean house in April 9 th with an emotional stand. Both Generals met again after the War in Mexico and had personal encounters during the surrender. General Grant was very generous in the terms of the Surrender (Grant, 2014 ). All confederate army were allowed to go back to their homes and not to serve the army, they were to retain their side arms and take back home the Horses as termed by the Parole and were supplied with the food. The surrender was known as a unity between the southerners and the northerners as men from both side felt the generosity and the enthusiastic for reconciling America. The victorious Union army never made celebration of the victory, even though it was a hard fought battle. Lee’s Complex character displayed a change, he refuted calls to disown the surrender and cause guerilla war to the people. He occasionally campaigned for the reconciliation and happened that the Slavery he once thought to be evil was now abolished.

Genera Lee and General Grant had their different leadership skill and participation in at the American War had different effects. Lee was complex character, wanted to be part of the war because he was defending his home, and sacrificed his life to end the war peacefully. He was well knowledgeable; he still had a high number of casualties (Timberg, 2010). , General Grant on the other hand was enthusiastic to serve at the Army; he was determined and nicknamed as unconditional surrender meaning he hard fought the battles without surrender despite the tactical disadvantage. These men will be remembered as being in the forefront to end a political war that was unnecessary, though both had different character and leaders to respective Army. They were estranged to end the war that never should have been started.


Grant, S. (2014). Memoirs of General U. S. Grant, Complete David Widger (Ed). Project Gutenberg . Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/4367/4367-h/4367-h.htm#ch67 

Timberg, S. (2010, December 30 th ). PBS' 'Robert E. Lee' documentary draws a portrait of a complex man. Los Angeles Times . Retrieved from: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/30/entertainment/la-et-robert-lee-20101230 

Zwonitzer, M. (Director) (2011, January 3 rd ). American Experience: Robert E. Lee. Public Broadcasting Channel. 

1 Grant, S. (2014). Memoirs of General U. S. Grant, Complete David Widger- Notes from during his Memior at the Battle of the Wilderness. 

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