Ulysses S. Grant, the Northern Press, and the Opening of the Wilderness Campaign
This chapter discusses what northerners expected from Grant and the Army of the Potomac and how they reacted to the carnage of early May. Weary of Lee's ability to thrash the republic's largest army and to escape crippling defeat when seemingly vulnerable (as after Antietam and Gettysburg), the northern public saw in Grant a new champion who could meet the wily rebel on even terms. They hungered not only for success in Virginia, but also for a climactic Napoleonic victory that would sweep away two years of frustration and open the way to Richmond and reunion. When Grant could not supply that type of triumph in the Wilderness or at Spotsylvania the following week, newspapers failed to convey the full story of what had happened in the bitter woods of the Rapidan and Rappahannock valleys.
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