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The Spotsylvania Campaign$
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Gary W. Gallagher

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780807824023

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807898376_gallagher

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Grant's Second Civil War

Grant's Second Civil War

The Battle for Historical Memory

(p.223) Grant's Second Civil War
The Spotsylvania Campaign

William A. Blair

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter demonstrates that Ulysses S. Grant labored diligently to influence the historical memory of his role in the war. Concentrating on the general's published memoirs, it challenges the notion that they avoided the bias so evident in most Civil War military reminiscences. By the time Grant wrote in the mid-1880s, former Confederates had mounted an extensive campaign to cast him as a commander of limited skill whose generalship amounted to nothing more than pouring in northern manpower to overwhelm southern resistance. These Lost Cause partisans labeled the Union hero a “butcher” whose talents paled in comparison to Lee's. Grant responded through the writings of his former military secretary Adam Badeau, in a newspaper interview he knew would gain wide circulation, and finally in his own Personal Memoirs. In each case, he denied Lee's brilliance and overestimated Confederate strength during the Overland campaign to make the point that northern numbers alone had not guaranteed Union victory.

Keywords:   Civil War, military campaigns, Ulysses S. Grant, historical memory, military history, memoirs

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