Summary: The military reputation of Ulysses S. Grant, who ended the Civil War as general in chief of the victorious Union armies, has often suffered in comparison to that of Robert E. Lee, the leading Confederate general. Grant has been dismissed as a butcher whose victories were the result of a massive Union advantage in men and equipment that enabled him to bludgeon the South into submission, despite the superior military skill of his overmatched adversaries. This view arises from the mythology of the Lost Cause, which, with rare exceptions, has dominated Civil War historiography until the present time. Grant’s detractors focus on the Northern Virginia campaign of spring-summer 1864, ignoring Grant’s Vicksburg campaign, a masterpiece of generalship and operational art. This symposium places these two campaigns in the proper strategic context and perhaps thereby contributes to the rehabilitation of Grant’s military reputation.
Mackubin T. Owens is Professor of Strategy and Force Planning at the US Naval War College in Newport, RI. From 1990-1997, Dr. Owens was Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly defense journal Strategic Review and Adjunct Professor of International Relations at Boston University. Before joining the faculty at the War College, Dr. Owens served as National Security Adviser to Senator Bob Kasten (R-WI) and Director of Legislative Affairs for the Nuclear Weapons Programs of the Department of Energy. He retired from the Marine Corps Reserve as a Colonel in 1994. He was wounded twice during the Vietnam War and awarded the Silver Star medal. Dr. Owens earned his Ph.D. from the University of Dallas, his M.A. in economics from Oklahoma University and his B.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara.