Most important, as the first Union commander to come up with a comprehensive strategy to defeat the Confederate forces, he was the first to give battle to Lee and not retreat back to Washington immediately afterward.
Rather, he wrote to President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 that he intended “to fight it out all summer on this line if that’s what it takes.” Of course, it took all summer, all fall, all winter and part of the spring until the surrender of Lee’s army at Appomattox in April 1865.
For me, Grant was always captured best in the pithy response he offered to Gen.
William Tecumseh Sherman, his most trusted commander, after the nearly disastrous first day of the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, when Grant’s army was almost pushed back into the Tennessee River.
Toward the end of his life, when facing financial ruin — a result of misplaced faith in his investment advisers — he turned down charity from admirers and sought to secure his family’s future by writing his memoirs.
They are still regarded as the most literate, forthright memoirs of any major American military figure.
If you could have dinner with one person who is no longer with us, and whose obituary was published in The New York Times, who would it be, and why that person?