Waging War of Grant and McClellan

Waging War of Grant and McClellan
George B. McClellan and Ulysses S. Grant were outstanding commanders-in-chief, who used different strategy in the Civil War, which had both advantages and disadvantages. As the matter of fact, Grant and McClellan used different strategy and tactics but they attempted to reach the same goal – the victory in the war. Their war strategies could be very effective and they were grounded on their preferences in the methods and strategies of war. Grant and McClellan had their own reasons to use the strategies they had applied in the course of the Civil War but it is impossible to view either strategy as more or less effective because they were just different and, under certain circumstances, they could be effective.

George B. McClellan was inclined to theorizing the war and he used a very meticulous approach to the war and maneuvers of his army. As the matter of fact, he was probably too inclined to theorizing in the war. In actuality, such an approach to the war had quite controversial effects. On the one hand, all his actions and commands were carefully planned and prepared, grounded on the accurate analysis of the current situation and with minimal risks of losing a battle or the war at large. In fact, McClellan proved to be quite rational and meticulous in his decisions (Rafuse, 2005). On the other hand, his strategy proved to have substantial drawbacks because the movement of his army was too slow and he did not use the full potential of his army. As a result, he preferred to keep his units in reserve instead of using them to complete the defeat of the opponent. The use of such a strategy led to the slowdown of the military actions and made his army vulnerable to sudden and unexpected moves of the opponents.

In contrast to McClellan, Ulysses S. Grant preferred to use the full potential of his army and he was rather guided by his intuition rather than by his reason and some theoretical knowledge. Such strategy was quite effective, especially when he had to organize some unexpected attacks of the opponents. For instance, during the siege at Petersburg, Grant coordinated a series of devastating campaigns launched by William Tecumseh Sherman, Phillip Sheridan, and George Thomas (Williams, 2006). In such a way, unlike McClellan, Grant preferred the use of a large number of soldiers and units available to him, whereas McClellan, preferred to keep substantial reserves.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that strategies used by McClellan and by Grant were totally different. On the one hand, a cautious, theorized strategy of McClellan made his actions logical, reasonable, and carefully planned and prevented significant risks of the defeat, whereas the strategy of Grant allowed him to use the full potential of his army, but he put under a threat the success of his actions because of high risks provoked by the high speed of maneuvers and actions and not very meticulous planning of military operations.


Rafuse, E. S. (2005). McClellan's War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Williams, T. H. (2006). McClellan, Sherman and Grant. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.

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