I love to read the biographies of history-making people, so I have thoroughly enjoyed “The Generals” series that Thomas Nelson has produced. Almost every child in a US school has learned about the Civil War, and the two generals which stand at the forefront: Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. But in Grant: Savior Of The Union, Mitchell Yockelson presents a picture of U.S. Grant that most have not seen.
If you recall what you learned about the Civil War in school, what sort of image comes to mind about General Grant? My textbooks presented a man who was a hard-charging, iron-willed general, who didn’t care how many soldiers he lost to win his battles. With this image in my mind, I could just imagine how distant he must have been as a husband, and how strict he probably was with his children.
Yockelson’s amazing biography of Grant shows nothing of the kind. Instead we see Grant as a master tactician who thoroughly researched troop strengths and geography prior to the battle, to maximize his chances of success. He was a man who lived among his troops in the same housing they had, and who led from the front lines instead of from a safe distance away. He was a man who wanted his wife and children to be with him whenever it was possible, and was described by others as one of the most loving fathers they had ever seen.
And he was a man who loved the men under his care. After one notable victory, the northern newspapers praised Grant and his success. But Grant wrote home to his wife Julia: “These terrible battles are very good things to read about for a person who lost no friends, but I am decidedly in favor of having as little of them as possible.”
Our country owes a deep debt of gratitude to Ulysses Grant for his unshakable courage, deep compassion for his country and its citizens, and for his skills as a military leader. As Frederick Douglass said, “May we not justly say, will it not be the unquestioned sentiment of history that the liberty Mr. Lincoln declared with his pen General Grant made effectual with his sword—by his skill in leading the Union armies to final victory.”
A wonderful read for military history buffs and students of leadership. (By the way, I also reviewed the Thomas Nelson biography of Robert E. Lee here.)
I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.