The Mark Of A Different Leader

Currently, one of the books I’m reading is by Edward Porter Alexander. He was an officer in the Confederate artillery during the Civil War. He was in almost every major battle fought by the Army of Northern Virginia commanded by Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

I’m struck by one of Alexander’s comments from 1864. He notes that a difference could be felt by the Confederate army when Ulysses S. Grant took command of the enemy United States military force, the Army of the Potomac. Alexander said that unlike his three or four predecessors, Grant never stopped, never delayed, never turned back when Lee and the Confederate military inflicted numerous casualties on the U.S. army. Grant kept coming, kept the pressure on. Regardless of loss of life, and the scale of loss was horrific for Grant’s units, the U.S. commander held firm. As the reader, I could feel the sense of tiredness building in Alexander as Grant ground on.

Grant’s presence as a leader made a clear difference. In the days before Grant the situation felt one way. After Grant’s arrival, the situation felt very, very different.