Re: Best Civil War General
You make some very good points, Sackett. Grant's tactics at Vicksburg, and earlier along the Mississippi at Ft. Donalson, were nothing short of brilliant. I would argue, however, that as a field general commanding an army in a tactical sense, Grant definitely had his weaknesses. The most glaring of these became abundantly apparent at Cold Harbor when he sent his troops repeatedly against entrenched Confederate positions and they were literally slaughtered by the thousands, earning him the epithet " The Butcher." Grant's real strength, I believe, lay in his understanding of the war itself and how it must be won ultimately--by prolifigate use of the overwhelming superiority of the Union in terms of men and resources, when necessary, without regard to losses. Grant did not retreat, even when he lost; he just kept on coming. As a Union general, he could afford to; Lee could not; he simply did not have the manpower.
As for deciding on the "best general" based on which side finally won the war, I think that sidesteps the point of the discussion. The South ultimately lost the war, as history clearly shows, to the overwhelming abundance of manpower and resources possessed by the Union over the Confederacy, not to better Union commanders.