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Strategic Synchronization of Political Objectives and Military Strategy: Grant, Lincoln, and Operations to End the Civil War

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[Technical Report, Monograph]

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Historians have analyzed LTG Ulysses S. Grants decisions, generalship, and styles of warfare for the past 150 years. Images and perceptions of Grant, and issues within the political, social, and economic domains, have evolved and coincided with revised social constructs throughout the years. While historians have examined Grants Overland and Petersburg Campaigns through the lenses of three traditional, prevailing strategic arguments, their analysis is inconsistent and does not fully support Grants operations as standalone strategies. These views fail to portray Grants approach, inadequately exploring his efforts to continuously reframe the problem based on the operational and strategic environments. Instead, Grants ability to understand, interact, and shape the operational environment was due to his capacity to grasp President Abraham Lincolns political objectives. This appreciation ultimately enabled Grant to force Lee out of his defenses at Petersburg by altering his military strategy as circumstances dictated. He transitioned from an approach of persistent conflict to one of raiding and collective effects. Through these actions, Grant presented Lee with too many problems to address, ultimately compelling him to evacuate Petersburg after nearly ten months to finally break the rebellion and force the Army of Northern Virginias surrender on 9 April 1865. Although unfamiliar to the American military during the Civil War, Grants application of operational art provides numerous applicable lessons for todays military leaders, including the relationship between the executive and the military, the dynamic interaction between political and military objectives, and how to set conditions to end wars and achieve the objectives beyond it.


Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]