Ulysses S. Grant: Operational Art in the 1864 Overland Campaign
NAVAL WAR COLLEGE NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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During the Overland Campaign of 1864, Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant s application of operational art tenets enabled Union forces to obtain its operational objective the destruction of Lee s Army of Northern Virginia. By accurately determining the Confederate center of gravity and properly balancing time, space, and force factors, Grant was able to synchronize combat efforts of five separate Union armies dispersed across the eastern and western theaters towards the common objective of defeating Lee s army. Although Lee inflicted heavy casualties on the Union forces and achieved tactical victories throughout the majority of the campaign, Grant achieved his operational objective. While some scholars argue that Grant s strategy relied solely on numerically overwhelming a smaller enemy force through attrition and brute force, Grant utilized a combination of maneuver and force to execute a continuous advance south, thereby fixing Lee s army and eliminating the Confederacy s capability of initiating a sustained offensive for the remainder of the war. Although an unfamiliar concept to the American military during the Civil War, Grant s application of operational art concepts to plan and execute the Overland Campaign provides important lessons learned that are just as applicable today as they were in 1864.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics