From opinions both men had a significant impact

1861 to 1865 the United States was locked in a war to see if, as President
Abraham Lincoln said, a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are
created equal can long endure. The war pitted north against south and divided
families. Many were killed and everyone was affected but even after the
surrender had been signed the divided still existed. Reconstruction was a
period of time just as important as the Civil War, as it was a time in which
all the pieces had to be picked up and the country brought back together.
Throughout the midst of both of these times, strong leaders were needed to keep
order and discipline. Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee were two of these men.
Even though they had different backgrounds and differing opinions both men had
a significant impact on the Civil War and the years to follow.

Grant, whose birth name was Hiram Ulysses Grant, was born on April 27, 1822 in Point
Pleasant Ohio.  He was the son of Jesse
Grant, a tanner and merchant, and Hannah Grant. He was the oldest of 6 children
in his family. While he did not grow up in a rich family, he was not poor
either. He began his formal schooling at the age of 5 where he did not excel.
He showed a fascination and skill for horses but other than that he was an
average student.

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comparison to Grant, Lee was born into a more prominent family. Robert E. Lee
was born on January 19, 1807 at Stratford Hall Plantation in Virginia. Lee was
born to Major General Henry Lee III and Anne Hill Carter. Henry Lee was the
Governor of Virginia as well as an officer during the Revolutionary War. Lee’s
family also drew its prominence from being one of the first immigrants to
Virginia. Little is known about Lee’s childhood other than the fact that he
excelled in school.

at the early lives of these two men it is difficult to see any similarities. Lee
was born into a prominent family in Virginia. Grant was born into a middle
class family in Ohio. Lee excelled at school whereas Grant showed little
interest in it. Had it not been for the push of family members for both Lee and
Grant to attend the United States Military Academy their paths may have never

Grant attended West Point from 1839 to 1843 where he continued to show his
interest in horses. Aside from this interest he showed little in the way of
desire to stay in the military. He was a very independent student but made
friends with a few cadets most notably James Longstreet, who would go on to be
one of Robert E Lee’s most trusted advisors. He graduated number 21 out of 39
students and went on to be assigned to the 4th Infantry Regiment out
of St. Louis Missouri. Just as with their early childhoods Lee was a very
different cadet than Grant. Robert E. Lee attended West Point from 1825 to
1829. At the school Lee exceled, not receiving a single demerit during his
4-year stay. He graduated second in his class and was commissioned as a 2nd
lieutenant in the engineer corps.

and Grant first encountered each other during the Mexican American War where
both men distinguished themselves in different ways. Grant distinguished
himself in combat while leading a cavalry charge during the Battle of Resaca de
la Palma. During the battle he showed courage and his ability with horses while
leading the charge. Lee on the other hand distinguished himself during the war
through his tactical ability and strategy. He was able to find routes to attack
the Mexican forces that had not been defended because the Mexicans believed the
routes to be too difficult to pass with a full army. During the war both men
showed the traits that would help them excel during the Civil War, but it also
showed their differences in leadership styles. Lee showed the preparation and
strategy that would make him one of the great Generals in American military
history, while Grant would show the courage and ability to think on his feet
that would help him win the Civil War.

the outbreak of the Civil War both Robert E Lee and Ulysses Grant were still in
the military. Because of this both men needed to make a decision about what
side they would support. Grant, in a letter to his father wrote, “we have a government and laws and a
flag, and they must all be sustained. There are but two parties now, Traitors
and Patriots.” Grant was also quoted later on in his personal memoirs as
saying “The right of revolution is an
inherent one. When people are
oppressed by their government, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves
of the oppression, if they are strong enough, either by withdrawal from it, or
by overthrowing it and substituting a government more acceptable. But any people or part of a
people who resort to this remedy, stake their lives, their property, and every
claim for protection given by citizenship — on the issue. Victory, or the
conditions imposed by the conqueror — must be the result.” In comparison, Robert E. Lee wrote
in a letter before the war “But I can anticipate no greater
calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an
accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice
everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional
means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing
but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor,
wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards
and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the
Confederacy at will. It was intended for “perpetual union,” so
expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a
compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the
people in convention assembled.” Both men agreed that the Civil
War was not the best option but if it came to it both men would risk their
lives in support of the country. This however was different for both men as
Grant supported the Union whereas the honor Lee had for his home of Virginia
led him to support the Confederacy.

As the war started Ulysses Grant was
given the rank of Colonel and put in charge of the 21st Illinois
Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Despite his reputation for being a drunk Grant
proved himself to be a very formidable leader and won his first major battle at
Fort Donelson. Despite his victory, he acted without the approval of his
superiors. Even though he had acted alone, President Lincoln liked the end
result and promoted him to Brigadier General. Grant continued to use his
unorthodox methods to succeed in the war gaining favor along the way. During
the Chattanooga campaign Grant was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General
and given command of the entire Union army. At this position Grant led the
Union army for the rest of the war, and was the Union officer who met with
General Lee at the Appomattox courthouse to accept the surrender of the

In comparison to Grant, Lee was
given the rank of General and was appointed command of all of the Virginia
forces. It was at this position, in charge of his famous army of Northern Virginia,
where Lee would spend most of his time during the war. He was involved in many
of the biggest battles of the war including Gettysburg, Antietam, Second Manassas,
and the Appomattox Campaign. During the war Lee fared well, relying on his
tactics and preparation to fight the often times bigger and better equipped
armies of the north. As Roy Blount Jr describes Lee in his biography of him, he
was the “paragon of
manliness” and “one of the greatest military commanders in history.” Lee was

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