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«6. AUTHOR(S) 5d. PROJECT NUMBER 5e. TASK NUMBER Major John O. Howard, USAF 5f. WORK UNIT NUMBER Paper Advisor (if Any): CDR David M. Houff, USN 7. ...»

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4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE 5a. CONTRACT NUMBER General U.S. Grant’s Effective Use of the Leadership Triad in the 5b. GRANT NUMBER Vicksburg Campaign 5c. PROGRAM ELEMENT NUMBER

6. AUTHOR(S) 5d. PROJECT NUMBER 5e. TASK NUMBER Major John O. Howard, USAF 5f. WORK UNIT NUMBER Paper Advisor (if Any): CDR David M. Houff, USN

7. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION NAME(S) AND ADDRESS(ES)

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12. DISTRIBUTION / AVAILABILITY STATEMENT

Distribution Statement A: Approved for public release; Distribution is unlimited.

A paper submitted to the Naval War College faculty in partial satisfaction of

13. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES the requirements of the Joint Military Operations Department. The contents of this paper reflect my own personal views and are not necessarily endorsed by the NWC or the Department of the Navy.

14. ABSTRACT General Ulysses S. Grant’s victory at Vicksburg was a major turning-point in the Union’s war against the Confederacy. It is clear that Grant’s successful operational leadership was the main reason the Union forces were victorious at Vicksburg. Therefore, an examination of General Grant’s operations and leadership during the Vicksburg campaign, focusing on three key tenets — the “Leadership Triad,” which I developed — will identify key lessons learned for today’s operational leaders.

The Leadership Triad is composed of the following three core leadership tenets: Ingenuity, Teamwork, and Decisive Decision Making. These components will be defined in detail, showing how they apply to today’s operational leaders. General Grant’s use of these timeless concepts will also be clearly demonstrated during an illustrative historical case study of the Vicksburg Campaign. After analyzing the impact of these elements of operational leadership on Grant’s operations, the conclusion will be that General Grant’s effective use of the Leadership Triad’s tenets was the decisive factor in his success at Vicksburg. Finally, this paper clearly demonstrates that after examining the Vicksburg historical case, and its corresponding lessons learned, today’s operational leaders must have the ability to think creatively, work as a team, and make decisive decisions. Today’s leaders can ensure success if they follow the Leadership Triad.

–  –  –

A paper submitted to the Faculty of the Naval War College in partial satisfaction of the requirements of the Department of Joint Military Operations The contents of this paper reflect my own personal views and are not necessarily endorsed by the Naval War College or the Department of the Navy.

–  –  –

There is one West Pointer, I think in Missouri, little known, and whom I hope the northern people will not find out. I mean Sam Grant. I knew him well at the Academy and in Mexico. I should fear him more than any of their officers I have yet heard of. He is not a man of genius, but he is clear-headed, quick and daring.

Richard S. Ewell, general in Lee's army, spoke these prophetic words to General Lee in May of 1861. 1

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General U.S. Grant’s Effective Use of the Leadership Triad in the Vicksburg Campaign General Ulysses S. Grant’s victory at Vicksburg was a major turning-point in the Union’s war against the Confederacy. It is clear that Grant’s successful operational leadership was the main reason the Union forces were victorious at Vicksburg. Therefore, an examination of General Grant’s operations and leadership during the Vicksburg campaign, focusing on three key tenets — the “Leadership Triad,” which I developed — will identify key lessons learned for today’s operational leaders.

The Leadership Triad is composed of the following three core leadership tenets:

Ingenuity, Teamwork, and Decisive Decision Making. These components will be defined in detail, showing how they apply to today’s operational leaders. General Grant’s use of these timeless concepts will also be clearly demonstrated during an illustrative historical case study of the Vicksburg Campaign. After analyzing the impact of these elements of operational leadership on Grant’s operations, the conclusion will be that General Grant’s effective use of the Leadership Triad’s tenets was the decisive factor in his success at Vicksburg. Finally, this paper clearly demonstrates that after examining the Vicksburg historical case, and its corresponding lessons learned, today’s operational leaders must have the ability to think creatively, work as a team, and make decisive decisions. Today’s leaders can ensure success if they follow the Leadership Triad.





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General Ulysses S. Grant’s victory at Vicksburg was a major turning-point in the Union’s war against the Confederacy. By winning at Vicksburg, General Grant was able to give control of the Mississippi River back to the Union. It is clear that Grant’s successful operational leadership was the main reason the Union forces were victorious at Vicksburg.

Therefore, an examination of General Grant’s operations and leadership during the Vicksburg campaign, focusing on three key tenets — the “Leadership Triad,” which I developed — will identify key lessons learned for today’s operational leaders.

The Leadership Triad is composed of the following three core leadership tenets:

Ingenuity, Teamwork, and Decisive Decision Making. These components will be defined in detail, showing how they apply to today’s operational leaders. General Grant’s use of these timeless concepts will also be clearly demonstrated during an illustrative historical case study of the Vicksburg Campaign. After analyzing the impact of these elements of operational leadership on Grant’s operations, the conclusion will be that General Grant’s effective use of the Leadership Triad’s tenets was the decisive factor in his success at Vicksburg.

–  –  –

ingenuity as, “skill or cleverness in devising or combining.”2 This factor is absolutely critical to the success of an operational leader. Today’s leader must have the ability to think beyond what is the “standard” approach and develop new techniques or innovative ways to solve problems. General Grant demonstrated extensive use of “ingenuity” during the Vicksburg Campaign.

Due to the challenging geography surrounding the city of Vicksburg, General Grant knew that he would have to deviate from traditional schemes of attack in order to defeat General Pemberton’s Confederate forces (see figure 4). Finding a successful approach to employing his forces to take Vicksburg was not easy. In addition to the Confederate force garrisoned in, and around, Vicksburg, General Grant had to contend with Vicksburg’s massive guns trained on the Mississippi River. General Grant initially attempted to attack from the north and east, but his supply lines were cut by raiding Confederates (see figure 5).

He then tried numerous other methods either to circumvent Vicksburg or to attack from a different direction. Some of his efforts, such as attempting to cut a channel through the Cypress Swamp to change the course of the Mississippi River, bypassing Vicksburg completely, were quite imaginative. He also attempted to make routes through Lake Providence to the west of the Mississippi, as well as through the Yazoo River Delta to the north of Vicksburg (see figure 6). In the end, all of these efforts to take Vicksburg were unsuccessful.

In response to this demanding problem, General Grant demonstrated a truly outstanding example of creative thinking. He realized that if he could land his forces south of Vicksburg, he would have the ability to march them toward the city and attack from favorable ground to the east of it (see figure 7). This maneuver was not without risk.

General Grant was informed that “the gunboat fleet might be destroyed or crippled and even if it survived…[Grant] would be virtually cut off from [his] base.”3 By thinking outside the standard operating procedures, however, General Grant was able to develop a unique plan that eventually ensured his victory at Vicksburg. At the completion of the maneuver General

Grant had:

…wrought in a seventeen day campaign during which his army marched 180 miles, fought and won five engagements against separate enemy forces which if combined would have been almost as large as his own, inflicted 7,200 causalities at the cost of 4,300, and cooped up an apparently demoralized enemy in the Vicksburg defenses.4 General Sherman, upon arriving at Vicksburg from the east, also noted that, “until this moment, I never thought your expedition a success…this is a campaign. This is success if we never take this town.”5 A reporter from the New York Times added that, “a more audacious plan than that devised by [Grant] has scarcely ever been conceived.”6 This inventive scheme of maneuver was instrumental to the success of the Union at Vicksburg. General Grant realized that a frontal assault against elevated, fortified positions could be futile as it was for the Union at Fredericksburg. General Sherman, who suggested that “the road back to Memphis should be secured and reopened,” proposed a course of action involving a retreat back to Memphis, Tennessee, to enable the Union to attack from the north and then to swing west into Vicksburg.7 General Grant, commenting on Sherman’s

proposal, said:

…the country is already disheartened over the lack of success on the part of our armies….If we went back so far as Memphis it would discourage the people so much that the bases of supplies would be of no use: neither men to hold them nor supplies to put in them would be furnished. The problem for us was to move forward to a decisive victory, or our cause was lost.8 General Grant’s unique scheme to move south, into Confederate territory, and then attack had important strategic implications for the war effort. It showed that the Union was attacking and winning. In the early part of 1863, that was incredibly important. At the operational level, the scheme of maneuver allowed the Union forces a chance to attack Vicksburg and the Confederate forces from favorable ground. There was no way the Union was going to win via a direct assault from the Mississippi River, and the strategic environment did not allow for a pull-back. This inventive maneuver was the only way the Union was going to be able to attack Vicksburg successfully.

The scheme of maneuver to capture Vicksburg was not the only example of General Grant’s inventive thinking. After successfully landing at Bruinsburg, General Grant took a completely unorthodox step, cutting his own supply line, for his move north towards the Confederates at Vicksburg and Jackson. General Grant’s trusted friend, General Sherman, following textbook procedures, had cautioned General Grant to “stop all troops till your army is partially supplied with wagons.”9 General Grant had learned some very valuable lessons, however, when his supply lines had been cut by the Confederates during his first attempt to capture Vicksburg. In his memoirs, General Grant stated, “I was amazed at the quantity of supplies the country afforded. It showed that we could have subsisted off the country for two months….” 10 With that experience in hand, General Grant was able to quickly move his forces toward the Confederates and was unhindered with protecting his supply line.

The unconventional decision to cut his own supply line was a key component of the Union’s victory at Vicksburg. Additionally, his decision enabled him to maximize his combat power. During previous campaigns, General Grant found that, “for every combat soldier [he] had available, there were two committed to guarding the railroads upon which his army depended for resupply.”11 This decision also ensured that Union troops did not have a vulnerable supply trail. In fact, the Confederates, in an attempt to halt General Grant’s attack on Jackson, Mississippi, attempted to find his supply line and stop him as they did on his first attempt to take Vicksburg (see figure 7). There was no supply line to attack, however, and General Grant was free to attack at the time and place of his choosing. The decision to sever his own line of communication was instrumental to General Grant’s success at Vicksburg.

A third example of General Grant’s ability to think in an inventive manner was the use of slaves in his army. When Union troops would move into an area, slaves would come into their camps. This caused “clogging [of] the roads and the lanes and overflowing [of] the Army camps.” 12 While most people in the Confederacy viewed slaves as property, General Grant thought of them as possible force multipliers. This, however, was not an easily accepted venture. No one wanted to help set-up training or assistance camps because “almost to a man, the soldiers of this army hated to do anything which seemed to resemble serving [slaves].” 13 In the end, General Grant ignored the culture of racism and, using untraditional thinking, employed these former slaves as an advantage for the Union. He realized what value they could bring and employed them, for example, to “work for the engineers on the building of roads and bridges and fortifications.”14 The use of former slaves was also an important facet of Union’s crucial victory.



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