The following essay will be discussing two generals from each side of the American Civil War, comparing their careers and characters, and discussing their lives.
General Thomas Jackson was born in Virginia in 1824, and was the third-born of Jonathan Jackson and Julia Beckwith Neale He was one of the most well-known Confederate generals during the American civil war.
Better known as Stonewall, Jackson attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1842. Jackson, albeit older than his classmates, struggled at the school, and was also teased and made fun of by the others because of his modest education and poor family. This simply pushed him to succeed, and in 1846, Jackson graduated, just in time for the beginning of the Mexican-American War.
Jackson joined the 1st U.S. Artillery as a 2nd lieutenant in Mexico under General Winfield Scott. He quickly proved to be a brave and tenacious soldier, and had been promoted to brevet major by the end of the war. During the war, Jackson met Robert E. Lee, with whom he would serve on the Confederate side of the American Civil War in his latter years.
After the Mexican-American War, Thomas Jackson continued to serve in Florida and New York. Three years later, he retired from his military career and was offered a professorship at the Virginia Military Institute. He accepted this invitation and taught artillery tactics, in addition to natural and experimental philosophy. It was not until November of 1859 that Jackson returned to his military career, when he served as a VMI officer at the execution of John Brown, an abolitionist.
During the following two years, as several states began to secede from the Union, Jackson hoped that his home state, Virginia, would side with the Union. But when Virginia seceded, Jackson showed his loyalty to his state, now in support of the Confederacy. In April 1861, Jackson was ordered back to the VMI to lead the VMI Corps of Cadets. Soon after this Jackson was commissioned a colonel by the state government and was relocated Harper’s Ferry. Soon, Jackson was again promoted, this time to the positions of brigadier commander and brigadier general under General Joseph E. Johnston.
It was during the first Battle of Mannassas that Jackson received his nickname, Stonewall, which would stick throughout history. It came after General Barnard E. Bee, impressed with Jackson’s leading his troops to bridge a gap in a Confederate Defensive line, exclaimed, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall.” Forever Jackson would be referred to as Stonewall.
The impressive military career of Stonewall Jackson came to a close in 1863 when he was accidentally wounded fatally by friendly fire, dying of complications at the second field hospital in Guinea Station, Virginia, at the age of just 39. His last words were this: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of trees.”
Throughout his years, Stonewall Jackson’s Christian faith showed through everything he did, and was a major part of his life.
The other Confederate general which I shall mention, Robert E. Lee, was born in 1807 to Henry and Anna Lee in Stratford, Virginia. His father was a colonel, and has served as a cavalry leader during the American Revolutionary War. His performance during the war made him a war hero, and it won him General George Washington praise. Robert attended West Point Military Academy when he was 18, and graduated with perfect scores in infantry, artillery, and cavalry.
Soon after, Lee married Mary Custis, the great-granddaughter of George Washington. They had seven children. While Mary and their children lived on Mary’s father’s plantation, Lee was committed to his military work, and was thus not present much of the time, as he was forced to move all around the country with the Army.
In 1846, the beginning of the Mexican-American War gave Lee the chance he had been waiting for for his entire military career. He served under General Winfield Scott, like Jackson, and soon distinguished himself as a brave soldier and a skilled strategist. General Scott was quite impressed with Lee’s performance during the War, telling Lee that if the U.S. were to enter another war, the government should consider taking out a life insurance policy for Lee.
Life off the battlefield proved to be difficult for Lee. The mundanities of every day life back at home was not preferable to him. Upon the death of his step-mother, Lee returned home for a time to manage the estate.
In 1859, Lee returned to the military, accepting an unenviable position at an isolated cavalry outpost in Texas. Later that year, Lee got a break from the outpost when he was summoned to help fight against John Brown’s revolt at Harper’s Ferry. The attack Lee organized ceased the revolt within just an hour. This continued success led Lee to be put on the short list of men to lead the Union army in the scenario that a war break out. However, Lee, like Jackson, was loyal to Virginia, and thus refused Lincoln’s offer to serve the United States. Lee retired once again from the military.
Although he had his doubts about the war, Lee agreed to help the Confederates after Virginia seceded in 1861.
Throughout the Civil War, General Lee distinguished himself once again on the battlefield. In 1862 he led the Confederates to several important victories, including the Seven Days Battle victory in May, as well as the pivotal Confederate victory at the Second Mannassas in August. However, not all of the battles Lee led the Confederates through went well; trying to cross the Potomac was a failure. The battle of Antietam cost the Confederates over 14,000 men, captured, wounded, or killed.
The Battle of Gettysburg was a major turning point in the war for the Union, obliterating most of the Confederate army in a three-day standoff in July 1863. The war would not turn around, and by early 1865 it was evident that the Union would win. In April 1865 Lee surrendered to General Grant at the Appomattox Court House in Appomattox, Virginia.
In late 1870, General Robert E. Lee. suffered a massive stroke and passed away at his home surrounded by family on October 12.
Ulysses S Grant was born to Jesse Root Grant and Hannah Simpson Grant on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio. His childhood was somewhat uneventful. Grant was a rather shy and reserved individual during his childhood, taking after his mother rather than his outgoing father. Grant steadfastly refused to work at his father’s tannery business, a fact which his father was forced to accept. At the age of 17, Grant was enrolled in the United States Military Academy. It was in this occurrence that the “S.” in Ulysses S. Grant came about, following a clerical error. Not wanting to be rejected from the school, Ulysses Grant promptly changed his name to Ulysses S. Grant.
Grant’s studies at the USMA went averagely. He was not too interested in the goings on of the military, and often received several demerits for tardiness and shabby clothing. Grant had planned to retire after his four years of mandatory service; little did he know what would really happen after his graduation from the Academy in 1843, finishing 21st in his class of 39 students.
Upon his graduation, Ulysses Grant was stationed in St. Louis, Missouri, where he would meet his future wife, Julia Dent. However, after his proposal, Grant was immediately shipped off to service as the Mexican-American War was beginning. Serving under General Zachary Taylor, and later General Winfield Scott, Grant observed the skills of these great soldiers. When he himself was given the opportunity to lead a company in battle, he proved his bravery under fire.
After the war, Grant and Julia were finally married. They had four children in the following six years, during which time Grant was assigned to several different posts. Missing his family, the youngest of which he had not even met yet, Grant tried and failed at several business ventures in an attempt to move his family closer to his location in present-day Washington. In 1853, Grant was moved to Fort Humboldt, near present-day Eureka, CA. While there, Grant had a run-in with the commanding colonel of the fort, and he resigned from the military not long after in July 1854.
Grant and his family moved back to Missouri that year. The return to civilian life was not very pleasant for Grant, however, similarly to Robert E. Lee. Grant tried farming land that had been given him by his father-in-law, but to little avail. He also attempted a real estate venture, but his efforts were again in vain. He was denied employment multiple times in St. Louis. After all this, Grant resorted to selling firewood on the streets to support his family. It was after seven years of these business failures that he finally went to work at his father’s tannery business as a clerk, his two younger brothers his supervisors.
The following year, the American Civil War began. The Confederates’ rebellion prompted Grant to join the Union forces. Initially rejected for military appointments, Grant was finally put in command of a disorderly volunteer regiment in Illinois. In applying the skills that he had leraned from the generals whom he was under during the Mexican-American War, Grant had the made these inexperienced volunteers into a battle-ready regiment.
After the state of Kentucky decided to secede from the Union in late 1861, Grant and his men captured the city of Paducha, KY. The following year Grant and his men applied pressure with their ground forces, and, with the help of the navy, led the Union to victory at the battles of Fort Donnelson and Fort Henry. Now called “U.S.” Grant, Grant was soon promoted to major general of volunteers.
In April of 1862, Grant and his men took on Confederate forces at the Battle of Shiloh, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Initially, after a surprise attack threw the Northerners off guard; soon, however, reinforcement arrived eventually, and Grant was able to defeat the rebels on the second day of the battle. He actually faced criticisms for the large number of casualties he caused the Confederates, and was for a time demoted.
The year 1863 brought the Union the pivotal victory at Gettysburg, as well as the important capture of the Mississippi River, which would be crucial in splitting the Confederate states and eventually winning the war. Grant’s forces raided Vicksburg, which finally surrendered on July 4 of that year. This was a great victory for Grant; but looming rumors of heavy drinking followed him. However, many of his close associates claimed that these were untrue.
For nine months, beginning in 1864, Grant’s forces pursued Lee’s in the forests of Virginia. This event, called the Siege of Petersburg, tired Lee’s army and eventually caused the surrender of Petersburg, as well as the Confederate capital of Richmond, to the Union. It was just days after the end of the Seige that the small battle of Appomattox Court House led to the end of the war; Lee formally surrendered to Grant at the Appomattox Court House.
Four years after the end of the war, Ulysses S. Grant became the 18th president of the United States, the youngest ever to be elected at the time, serving two terms from 1869-1877. Grant passed away in 1885 of throat cancer. His last words? There was only one–“Water!” Grant’s good friend Mark Twain published Grant’s memoirs four days after his death.
William Tecumseh Sherman was born in Lancaster, Ohio, on February 8, 1820, to Mary and Charles Sherman, one of the Shermans’ eleven children. When William was nine, his father unexpectedly passed away, leaving his family with little to live off of. William was raised by Whig Senator Thomas Ewing of Ohio, a family friend. When Sherman was 16, Ewing secured him a place at the USMA. While there he did well academically, but had little respect for the demerit system, having numerous minor offenses on record. Sherman graduated from the Academy in 1840, sixth in his class.
Rather than serving in the Mexican-American War following his graduation from the Academy, Sherman was instead forced to serve as an executive officer in California. Thus, having little combat experience, Sherman resigned from the military in 1853. Staying in California he became a banker during the glory days of the Gold Rush until 1857, when he moved to Kansas and began practicing law, but with little success,
In 1859 Sherman was headmaster of a military academy in Louisiana. When Louisiana seceded from the Union, Sherman did not want anything to do with the Confederacy, and thus moved to St. Louis. When war broke out at Fort Sumter, William Sherman asked his brother, Sen. John Sherman, to commission him for the army.
In 1861 Sherman was appointed to colonel, commanding a brigade under General William McDowell. Sherman fought in the first Battle of Bull Run, a terrible loss for the Union. It was around this time that Sherman began looking at the negative side of things, and not the positive, exaggerating the strength of the Confederates and complaining to his authorities. This would spell trouble for him, as he was soon considered unfit to serve and was put on leave. The press called him “insane.”
In late-1861, Sherman returned to service, providing logistical support for Brigadier General U.S. Grant at the capture of Fort Donnelson in early 1862, one of the first major Union victories. On April 6, 1862, the Battle of Shiloh broke out. Sherman and Grant fought the Confederates well, winning the battle on the second day of fighting. This experience bonded the two Union generals. Sherman also served with Grant during the capturing of Vicksburg and the Mississippi. These two brave generals, however, underwent much criticisms from newspapers. For example one such newspaper said:
[The] Army was being ruined in mud-turtle expeditions, under the leadership of a drunkard [Grant] whose confidential adviser [Sherman] was a lunatic.
Still, Sherman continued to serve, and in 1864, he burned the Confederate city of Atlanta to the ground.
Five years later, when U.S. Grant became president, William T. Sherman replaced Grant as general commander of the U.S. Army. In 1884, he retired. Sherman passed away in 1891 at the age of 71.
Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee had a lot in common. Both were born and raised in the state of Virginia, to which both would be loyal during the Civil War. They were both graduates of the USMA, Jackson, just in time to join Lee, twenty years into his military career, under General Winfield Scott during the Mexican-American War. Neither held much of a career outside of the military; Jackson was for a time a professor at the VMI, and would later serve the Cadet Corps there. Finally, both professed a Christian faith. So, what is different about these two men?
One major difference between the two, it would be the large gap in their ages. Lee was Jackson’s senior by fourteen years, a substantial difference. As for their character, they are quite similar. Even their careers were strikingly similar, as both were dedicated to the military for their whole lives. Thus, it could be reasonable to conclude that these two Confederate heroes had more in common than they had not in common.
Union Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman met while serving in the Civil War, and would thereafter be lifelong friends. Both, like most of the other successful generals of that era, went to the USMA at West Point. Both underwent tons of criticisms from newspapers during the war, while both played prominent roles in the Union victory. So, how were they different?
For one, Sherman did not serve in the Mexican-American War like Grant and many other soldiers of that time did, but rather served as an executive officer during that time. Also, while Grant’s childhood was rather uneventful, Sherman’s was full of adventure, with eleven siblings. When Sherman’s father died, he went to live with Senator Ewing. Another item of note in the way of differences between the two was their career paths. Grant planned to not serve in the military for longer than the required four years. However, he ended up serving so much that he had to make failed business venture after failed business venture to raise the fund to move his family closer. In contrast, Sherman led a more civilized career path between his two military stints, first staying in California as a banker during the Gold Rush, then practicing law in Kansas, and finally becoming the headmaster of a military academy in Louisiana.
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