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Respective Roles Of Grant, Lincoln And Lee In Ending The Civil War

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The Civil War: Reconstruction of a Nation

Without the both the influence and contribution of Ulysses S. in the final days of the American Civil war, the present United States would undoubtedly be drastically altered. Although both Robert E. Lee and Abraham Lincoln played a substantial role throughout the Civil War, it was Grant's military brilliance that led to the surrender of General Lee's army at Appomattox, and his untraditionally generous terms that tipped the first domino of the fall of the confederate government; reestablishing a truly 'united' nation, with sparse feelings of hostility or resentment. To Quote Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address (March 4, 1865), the Civil War in itself was a "great contest" of cause-and-effect, with a final outcome resulting from both cooperation on both sides of the field, and a newly established sense of harmony. Begun over sectional differences surrounding the issues of taxation, tariffs and slavery (as an econonical and pollitical asset more then a moral issue), the war quickly escalated into a struggle over pride and patriotism, in which blood would be shed over nothing more than a clashing of beliefs in one's natural rights. Along with the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, 5 free states had recently been admitted into the union, leaving the south with a lost the balance of power in the Senate and facing a future as a minority after decades of nearly perpetual control of the presidency and the Congress. Fearing a potential inability to prevent protectionist tariffs, as well a a rise in northern abolitionists under Lincoln's influence, the southern states began to sucede, justifiing their unilateral right to do so by citing the frequently debated doctrine of states' rights. To the North, the creation of the confederacy was a heavy blow to the union, suggesting that any minority could break free at will, without consequence or even reaction. While the south fought for their own rights, the north battled for the union as a whole, attempting to preserve their own interpretation of the princibles in the Constitution. It was this varience in sentiments that would lead to one of the bloodiest conflicts in America's history, nearly leaving the country in irrepairable ruin. It was through the combined actions of Ulysses S. Grant, Robert. E. Lee, and Abraham Lincoln that this crisis was ended, allowing the union to be successfully

rebuilt to a condition that proved to be stronger than ever before.

Grant's most notable contribution to the conclusion of the of the Civil War was the manner in which he imposed surrender onto General Lee, and the terms within the surrender. After a series of brutal battles, climaxing at Appomattox (April 9, 1865), where Union Corps (essentially II and XXIV) had surround the corps of Lee, Longstreet and Gordon, and were stedily closing in. With both Lee's supplies and North Virginian army exhausted, Grant realized that Lee's surrender was esentially inevitable, and wanted to close the war as quickly as possible. Because of Grant aggressive battle style, both Lee's and his own army had taken heavy losses throughout the war (approx. 360,000 in the Northern armies and 450,000 in the Southern). Although originally fighting for opposing causes, both now desired peace, and the reconstruction or a nation that had been haphazzardly desroyed. On April 10th, 1865, at the Appomattox courthouse, Lee's surrender to Grant commenced. Although, "Earlier in the year, in March, after Lee had felt Grant out over the general issue of peace, Lincoln had bluntly sent Grant a clear, uncompromising order: 'I will deal with political questions and negotiate for peace. Your Job is to fight,' (181) Grant chose to defy him, both establishing the surrender and arranging the terms within. Grant was fully aware that any hesitation may have led to the continuance of battle, or Lee resorting to guerilla warfare, prolonging the war indefinitely. The terms themselves, essentially "The arms, artillery and public property to be parked and stacked and turned over to the officer appointed by me to receive them," kept with Lincolns wishes in his River Queen Doctrine to "treat [the confederates] liberally."(68) Armed with this power, Grant was able to extend to his former enemy a level of courtesy and respect equal to that for which Lee himself was renowned. In spite of his repute for demanding absolute surrender from his rivals, Grant's terms were astonishingly compassionate and signaled the desire, at least on the part of the Army of the Potomac, to put aside the grievances of the war. "For the first time since the meeting [Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox] began, Lee's expression brightened. Now the terms were fixed in writing, and they were as generous as could be expected. His men would not be penned as prisoners of war; they would not be paraded ignominiously through Northern streets; and most importantly, they would not be prosecuted for treason. Looking over to Grant, he said, somewhat warmly, 'this will have a very happy effect upon my army'."(187-88) Along with Lee's army, the terms that grant proposed would help stitch the seam of a formerly divided nation. Along with appealing to the confederacy as a whole, these same terms were used in the surrendering of future Confederate Corps (such as Johnston's surrender to Sherman), which would follow shortly after.

Largely through the cooperation with Grant, General Robert E. Lee served a crucial role in bringing the civil war to a conclusion. In the final hours of the battle of Appomattox, as the Confederate forces continued to fade, and the Union Corps inched closer, Lee was faced with several options. Although his North Virginian forces would be hard-pressed to continue a full-out war, the use of guerilla warfare, as a third option, appealed to many of his subordinates. While guerilla war-tactics, (namely the hit and run destruction of Northern political land marks, transportation lines, and communication lines) might have given the Confederacy on last stand, albeit a minuscule one, its use did not appeal to Lee. Although it is unquestionable that Lee, with his military genius and all around resourcefulness, could have put its tactics to good use, he still chose to object to guerilla warfare, basing his decision solely on a moral basis. "... [Lee] quickly reasoned that a guerilla war would make a wasteland of all that he loved. Brother would be set against brother, not just for four years, but for generations. Such a war would surely destroy Virginia, and just as surely destroy the country". (165) Akin to Grant, Lee had suffered heavy casualties throughout the many battles of the civil war. He had seen a country, that he loved,

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