A Northern Opinion of Grant's Generalship. 21
yesterday. Most people who read General Humphreys's book will be satisfied, from its frankness of tone, clearness, and accuracy of detail, that he has reached somewhere near the truth of his subject. His statements are indeed tacitly admitted by other writers on the last year of the war in Virginia, but have been either clouded over or not brought forward to the importance they properly deserve. Neither do I understand that he reflects on the mistakes and failures of the Union General with the severity he well might employ, but leaves the reader to draw an evident conclusion for himself
Colonel Hambley, of the British army, in his great work on the Art of War, a work which I have never seen seriously questioned, speaks of General Grant as one who was successful on a moderate terrain like Vicksburg, but whose Virginia campaign was a failure," and elsewhere of " Grant's useless sacrifice of ten thousand men at Cold Harbor." This judgment is tacitly supported in General Humphreys's book by what would seem to be a column of indisputable facts. I understand from him that General Grant was at least seven times con- spicuously and with enormous loss defeated by General Lee before the exhaustion of his war materials and the universal collapse of the Confederacy compelled the latter to surrender. These were not re- ported as defeats in the bulletins of the day, and some of them were even supposed to be victories, as in the case of Hancock's magnifi- cent attempt to break through Lee's centre at Spotsylvania Court- house ; but they were defeats nevertheless. When a commander assumes the offensive and is repulsed by the enemy with severe loss, it is a defeat for him and a victory for his antagonist, although it may not be a decisive one. Many things conspired to prevent General Lee's victories from being decisive : The overwhelming superiority of the Union army in numbers and munitions of war, his own lack of abso- lutely necessary war material — for which we can thank the blockade — the determined bravery of the Union forces, and the lack of an able coadjutor like Stonewall Jackson. One can well believe that had Jackson lived a year longer Grant would not only have been defeated, but, as a consequence of his stubborn adhesion to a single military idea, pretty nearly destroyed. Grant possessed an advantage over all his predecessors in Virginia, that he never was forced to contend with Jackson. With Jackson taken from one side and Sheridan added to the other, it ought not to have been so difficult to get the better of Lee. As it happened, Sheridan's brilliant victory at Cedar Run, a battle gained with equal forces and the most decisive ever fought in Virginia, was all that saved us at that period. The dry truth of it is that Grant lost more battles in Virginia than he ever won elsewhere.