Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War

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9780374166007: Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War

"We were as brothers," William Tecumseh Sherman said, describing his relationship to Ulysses S. Grant. They were incontestably two of the most important figures in the Civil War, but until now there has been no book about their victorious partnership and the deep friendship that made it possible.

They were prewar failures--Grant, forced to resign from the Regular Army because of his drinking, and Sherman, who held four different jobs, including a beloved position at a military academy in the South, during the four years before the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter. But heeding the call to save the Union each struggled past political hurdles to join the war effort. And taking each other's measure at the Battle of Shiloh, ten months into the war, they began their unique collaboration. Often together under fire on the war's great battlefields, they smoked cigars as they gave orders and learned from their mistakes as well as from their shrewd decisions. They shared the demands of family life and the heartache of loss, including the tragic death of Shermans's favorite son. They supported each other in the face of mudslinging criticism by the press and politicians. Their growing mutual admiration and trust, which President Lincoln increasingly relied upon, would set the stage for the crucial final year of the war. While Grant battled with Lee in the campaigns that ended at Appomattox Court House, Sherman first marched through Georgia to Atlanta, and then continued with his epic March to the Sea. Not only did Grant and Sherman come to think alike, but, even though their headquarters at that time were hundreds of miles apart, they were in virtually daily communication strategizing the final moves of the war and planning how to win the peace that would follow.

Moving and elegantly written, Grant and Sherman is an historical page turner: a gripping portrait of two men, whose friendship, forged on the battlefield, would win the Civil War.

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Review:

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

About the Author:

Charles Bracelen Flood is the author of Lee: The Last Years, Hitler: The Path to Victory, and Rise and Fight Again, which won an American Revolution Round Table Award. He lives in Richmond, Kentucky.

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