Let’s look at the careers and character of four generals from the Civil War. We will study two from each side. The two Confederate Generals are Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and the two Union Generals are Ulysses S Grants and William Sherman.
Robert E. Lee was born January 19, 1807, in Virginia. In the summer of 1825 Lee entered West Point. He graduated in June 1829 as a beret second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. In the Mexican-American War he became quite distinguished. In fact he even met Ulysses S. Grants in that war. Lee married Mary Curtis, the step great- granddaughter of George Washington, on June 30, 1831. In October of 1859 he led men to capture John Brown. When the Civil War started, Lee saw the damage that it would cause. He loved his country, but he felt he had a duty to fulfill to his native state, Virginia. He resigned from the U.S Army, and he and his horse Traveler joined the Confederate Army. After the war he taught at a war academy. He died on October 12, 1870. Lee was a devout Christian and a brave man. He hated slavery and wished it would cease. He was respected by people on both sides. Lee’s strategy of making risky and last minute decisions slowed the Union advances.
Ulysses S. Grant was born on April 27, 1822, in Ohio. He joined West Point in 1839. He severed in the Mexican-American War. Grant married Julia Dent in 1848. He resigned from the Army in 1854, because of his drinking problem. For a while he faded form public eye, but as the Civil War started, he joined the Union Army. He led his men to victory in the battles of Fort Donelson and Fort Henry. He was very instrumental in the battles of Shiloh, Vicksburg and Chattanooga. After Chattanooga he was promoted to Commander and Chief of the Union Army. He met with Lee at Appomattox to end the war. He ran for President in 1868, and won. He ran again and won again when his first term was up. He died on July 23, 1885. His character was questionable. He was a great general and amazing strategist, but he never did get over his drinking problem. Lincoln admired Grant for his moves on the field of battle.
Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was born January 21, 1824, in Virginia. He entered West Point in 1842. Jackson then fought in the Mexican-American War. After the war he taught at Virginia Military Academy. In 1853 Jackson married Elinor Junkin, but she died a year later. He remarried in 1857, to Mary Morrison. When the Civil War started, he led a brigade to help fight with the Confederates. During the First Battle of Manassas, Barnard Elliott Bee Jr. rallied his men with the cry, “Look at Jackson standing like a stone wall, rally behind the Virginians!” The name stuck, and Jackson has been since known as ‘Stonewall’ Jackson. He was promoted to major general after the Battle of Manassas and led his ‘Stonewall’ brigade halfway around the world. At the Battle of Chancellorsville Jackson was wounded in the arm by friendly fire. He was moved to a nearby building where his arm was amputated. When Lee heard of Jackson’s amputation, he said, “Jackson may have lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.” Jackson caught pneumonia, and on Sunday May 10, 1863, he died. His last words were, “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” Of the four generals we have studied Jackson stands out as a man of unflinching character. A devout Presbyterian, he started a black children’s Sunday school at the church he attended. Theology was the only subject he liked to discuss. On the battlefield he was very tactical. Waiting until the last minute to move, he kept the Union on their toes. Jackson was a man who stood stonewalled in everything he did.
William Sherman was born on February 8, 1820, in Ohio. He joined West Point in 1836. He fought in the Second Seminole War. Sherman married Ellen Ewing in 1850. He joined the Union Army in 1861. He was instrumental in the battles of Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. In 1864, he began his infamous march to the sea which ended in the capture of Savannah in December of 1864. After the war he became General of the Army in 1866. He died on February 14, 1891. Sherman promoted the idea of scorched earth, the process of burning everything in your path, on his march to the sea. He also used few or no supply lines but instead plundered the countryside. His strategy was very incredible and even today we still remember him for ‘Sherman’s March to the Sea.’
These Generals were all born in the same country. Some of them even met. But they still fought against one another. This is why the Civil War has also been know as ‘The War of Brother against Brother.’
Samuel Duarte JM