U.S. Grant: The Making of a General, 1861-1863

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Overview

What made Ulysses S. Grant tick? Perhaps the greatest general of the Civil War, Grant won impressive victories and established a brilliant military career. His single-minded approach to command was coupled with the ability to adapt to the kind of military campaign the moment required. In this exciting new book, Michael B. Ballard provides a crisp account of Grant's strategic and tactical concepts in the period from the outset of the Civil War to the battle of Chattanooga—a period in which U. S. Grant rose from a semi-disgraceful obscurity to the position of overall commander of all Union armies. The author carefully sifts through diaries and letters of Grant and his inner circle to try to get inside Grant's mind and reveal why those early years of the war were formative in producing the Civil War's greatest general.
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Editorial Reviews

The Civil War News
I recommend this book to those interested in the military career of Grant. It contains some fine analysis on his development as a commander.
— Robert L. Durham
Post and Courier
In prose nearly as coolly precise as his subject's own, Michael Ballard . . . sets out to do what he says hasn't been done in nearly 50 years. He analyzes Ulysses S. Grant as a military leader.
— Rosemary Michaud
Civil War News
I recommend this book to those interested in the military career of Grant. It contains some fine analysis on his development as a commander.
— Robert L. Durham
Post and Courier - Rosemary Michaud
In prose nearly as coolly precise as his subject's own, Michael Ballard . . . sets out to do what he says hasn't been done in nearly 50 years. He analyzes Ulysses S. Grant as a military leader.
Terrence J. Winschel
The evolution of Ulysses S. Grant as an army commander during the Civil War is as significant as the victories he gained from Shiloh to Vicksburg to Chattanooga. Understanding that evolution is vital to an appreciation of Grant and his conduct of the war as general-in-chief. Yet popular historians and idolaters have only presented Grant in his final form and fail to analyze the often painful evolutionary process by which he developed as one of the great battle captains in history. Michael B. Ballard skillfully peels away the mask crafted by standard biographies and reveals Grant the man who struggled daily with his strengths and weaknesses to achieve his destiny. In so doing, Ballard provides readers with a powerful analysis of this American military icon.
John Y. Simon
How did Ulysses S. Grant rise from obscurity when the Civil War began to become President Abraham Lincoln's choice to lead all the Union armies? Historian Michael B. Ballard skillfully answers with a thoughtful narrative and analysis of Grant's western campaigns. Ballard explores Grant's versatility, resilience, equanimity, and originality in campaigns from Belmont to Chattanooga by guiding the reader through bloody battlefields where Grant mastered the art of war.
Civil War News - Robert L. Durham
I recommend this book to those interested in the military career of Grant. It contains some fine analysis on his development as a commander.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Michael B. Ballard is a professor and coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center at Mississippi State University.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1:Training Grounds
Chapter 2: Belmont
Chapter 3: Forts Henry and Donelson
Chapter 4: Shiloh
Chapter 5: Securing Northern Mississippi
Chapter 6: First Attempts to Take Vicksburg
Chapter 7: Months of Frustration
Chapter 8: April 1863
Chapter 9: Fighting to Reach Vicksburg
Chapter 10: Assault, Siege, and Surrender
Chapter 11: Chattanooga and Another Siege
Chapter 12: Wrapping Up Service in the West
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2010

    More Maps Please

    This short book's cover claims that it will explain how Grant evolved as a General prior to being named General-In-Chief. In other words, other accounts focus on how Grant went unrecognized when he first checked into the Willard Hotel, etc., without ever analyzing how Grant went from being a failure at everything he tried to being the man who stayed at the Willard before winning the Civil War. Certainly it was not croissants.

    I do believe the book works toward that goal by discussing his campaigns in the West along with an analysis of his mistakes, his methods, and his interactions with his subordinates and superiors.

    My criticism focuses on the odd fact that just as the story moves to its crescendo with the taking of Vicksburg and the subsequent lifting of the siege of Chattanooga, the pretty good maps that accompanied the descriptions of earlier campaigns more or less disappear. What maps are included for these last two campaigns either do not include relevant geography or do not put place names on the map corresponding to the discussion in the text.

    This is particularly unfortunate since these last battles are the most complicated and took place over the longest period of time. And it is inexplicable since all the maps in the book seem to have been hand-drawn. It would have taken very little extra effort to include additional maps containing the relevant information to aid in understanding the complicated troop movements that were taking place at Grant's direction.

    Thus, in the end, I had to skim the last 30 pages since it rapidly got to the point where the text was opaque and not decipherable, and the sad fact is that I can unequivocally recommend this book only to people already completely familiar with the topics discussed.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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