«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. ...»
General Grant realized that if a former slave could, “show his worth as an independent laborer, he could later be given a musket and could be used as a soldier.”15 This decision also had strategic consequences as well, because if former slaves became successful soldiers, Grant reasoned that, “[slaves] could even become a citizen and have the right to vote.”16 This decision adversely affected the Confederates in three major ways. First, it took away the labor force of the Confederacy that allowed the plantations to still produce despite the owners being at war. Second, it added fighting forces to the Union. Third, and finally, the decision to treat slaves as equals set the conditions for their eventual rights. This directly attacked a critical vulnerability of the Confederacy – slavery.
The second tenet of my Leadership Triad is “teamwork.” The dictionary defines teamwork as, “cooperative work done by a team (especially when it is effective).”17 To be successful, today’s operational leaders must be able to cooperate with, and to develop, an effective team. This goes beyond assisting another portion of one’s service; it means working with other forces/capabilities and integrating them as a cohesive team. This cooperation could be with a different service, but could also apply to other agencies in the elements of our national power. In General Grant’s time period, a prime example of great teamwork was his relationship with the Admiral Porter – the commander of the Union’s naval forces supporting Vicksburg (see figure 2).
General Grant’s inventive scheme of maneuver could not have been accomplished without working with the local naval commander. In 1863, there was no formal, joint doctrine in existence to facilitate the relationship between ground and naval forces. General Grant knew, however, that if he was going to succeed in his campaign against Vicksburg, he could only do so with the help of the Union Navy. The navy also realized they could not do it alone. They had already tried once to tackle Vicksburg by themselves and learned that “while the naval bombardment might level the town…the ship’s guns could not alone overcome [the] determined defense.”18 General Grant and the navy established a close relationship. In fact, Admiral Porter stated, “I am ready to cooperate with anybody and everybody…all I ask is [for] confidence and a pull together.”19 The first example of strong teamwork between General Grant’s forces and Admiral Porter was Grant’s use of boats as key logistics support for his scheme of maneuver. In the difficult and swamp/bayou-filled terrain west of the Mississippi River, General Grant used support boats to transport his troops from Milken’s Bend to Bruinsburg. Although this was no easy task, due to Grant’s leadership, the teamwork between the Union Navy and Army never faltered. The pinnacle of the cooperation between the two services, enabling the operational functions of movement/maneuver and logistics, came when the naval boats successfully ferried General Grant’s forces across the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg.
The teamwork between the army and navy was not limited to those operational functions. The Union Navy’s gunboats also played a major role in the successful campaign against Vicksburg. Despite operational challenges, anytime General Grant needed firepower from the water the navy was there. In the Yazoo River Delta maneuver, for example, the Union gunboats were put in a very challenging environment, described as having “…overhanging trees [that] knocked down smokestacks and stumps [that] punctured hulls”20 (see figure 8). In fact, conditions in the area of operations became so dire that the gunboats got stuck, forcing General Sherman to rescue them from the Confederates. Admiral Porter wrote in a letter to General Sherman, “Hurry up, for heaven’s sake. I never knew how helpless an ironclad could be steaming around through the woods without an army to back her.”21 While this maneuver was not executed exactly as planned, it showed how much of a team the army and navy truly had become.
The teamwork with the Navy was critical to the Union’s success. In his letter to Admiral Porter, General Grant noted that he wanted to use the naval boats for “transportation of troops and artillery. With these appliances I intend to be able to move 20,000 men at one time”22 (see figure 9). This movement allowed Grant to quickly move massive amounts of troops and supplies during the river crossing. Upon successfully crossing the Mississippi, General Grant is recorded as saying, I felt a degree scarcely ever equaled since…I was on dry ground on the same side of the river with the enemy. All the campaigns, labors, hardships and exposures from the month of December previous to this time that have been made and endured, were for the accomplishment of this one object.23 Grant’s situation is analogous to the United States Air Force tanker community’s motto that, “No One Kicks Ass--Without Tanker Gas.”24 General Grant needed those supplies, troops and equipment on the other side of the Mississippi and his teamwork with the dedicated Union Navy ensured his success.
The navy also played a very successful role in running the imposing Confederate gauntlet of fire from Vicksburg and bringing much needed firepower to Grant, who was waiting to cross into Bruinsburg. The crossing was successful for many reasons, and chief among them was the ability of the navy to provide fire-support during that very vulnerable crossing and landing. Grant summed up the gunboat’s importance by saying, “without the aid of the gunboats it will hardly be worthwhile to send the troops….”25 Still later in the Vicksburg Campaign, Admiral Porter was, once again, able to provide critical support to General Grant when he closed the west side of Vicksburg during the Union siege of Vicksburg (see figure 10). In the end, the teamwork between Admiral Porter and General Grant ensured that Union was successful at Vicksburg.
Leadership Triad – Decisive Decision Making The third tenet of my Leadership Triad is “decisive decision making.” Decisive decision making means that a leader has the ability to look at numerous inputs and factors, but still remain calm and make the right decision. It is the proverbial “calm-under-pressure,” coupled with the ability to make clear decisions. Arguably, this factor is the most important of the three since a rattled leader, overwhelmed with information, may be incapable of employing ingenuity or teambuilding in their plan. General Grant’s leadership offers numerous examples of decisive decision making.
Multiple historical accounts of the Vicksburg Campaign comment on Grant’s ability to make clear decisions in the heat of battle. A great example comes from General Sherman, who wrote to General Grant that he was impressed with Grant’s ability to give his, “best preparations and [then] enter battle without hesitation…no doubts, no reserve. Such quiet conviction instilled confidence...”26 A Secretary of War observer also stated that General Grant had “…a temper that nothing could disturb and a judgment that was judicial in its comprehensiveness and wisdom.”27 Even during the execution of his inventive scheme of maneuver to attack Vicksburg, he did not become fixated on his planned landing at Bruinsburg. Obviously, a great number of operational details needed to be worked out to successfully complete his mission.
Similarly, the tempo at Grant’s headquarters was hectic, and one observer described it as “officers waiting, clerks scribbling rapidly, orderlies racing on horseback….”28 Instead of becoming bogged down, however, General Grant realized that if he did not set up some sort of deception plan, the Confederates could just push their forces out to meet him wherever he attempted to cross the Mississippi. He realized that a key component to success was to keep the Confederates off-balance.
To that end, General Grant ordered General Sherman to make a frontal assault on the Chickasaw Bluffs in order to make the Confederates think the Union would accomplish the traditional scheme of maneuver. General Grant also ordered Colonel Benjamin Grierson to make a raid along the entire east-side of the Mississippi to further confuse the Confederates (see figure 6). Despite having an enormous amount of pressure on him, General Grant was able to decisively decide on an important component of his scheme of maneuver.
General Grant’s ability to decisively decide on a deception plan to support his creative scheme of a maneuver was important to the success of the operation. Colonel Grierson’s raid, in particular, had an enormous effect of the Confederates. It was reported that that, “all [of] Mississippi was in a panic. Stations were being destroyed, bridges torn down and railroad tracks ripped up.”29 General Grant hoped that, “through disrupting communications the wedge could be enlarged between Confederate forces in Tennessee and Mississippi.”30 This action also served to confuse the Confederates as to the approach of the Union. General Sherman’s planned deception was also important. Explaining his orders to Sherman, General Grant said, “the effect of a heavy demonstration in that direction would be good so far as the enemy are concerned.”31 The end result of all this deceptive action was perfectly described by a Confederate general when he said, “the enemy are in front of me in force such as never been seen at Vicksburg.”32 As a result, Grant’s crossing at Bruinsburg was unopposed. General Grant kept his cool during the intense operations, and his decision to use deception was a critical reason behind the victory at Vicksburg.
When he was approaching Vicksburg from the south after the successful Bruinsburg crossing, General Grant again demonstrated his ability to be cool under pressure, and make decisive decisions. In this example, General Grant had just cut his own supply line and was under intense pressure to quickly attack Vicksburg. Civil War scholars point out that, “the most logical move would seem to drive straight northward towards Vicksburg, keeping his left flank in contact with the river.”33 Grant was able to think clearly, and “out of the box,” despite the demands, realizing that his best action was to attack the Confederates at Jackson, Mississippi, first. This action added additional days until he would be able to bring forces against Vicksburg, but eventually proved to be the correct decision.
The decision to attack General J.E. Johnston at Jackson was also a decisive factor in the Vicksburg Campaign (see figure 7). General Johnston could have caused major problems for General Grant from Jackson. If he was not careful, General Grant, “might suddenly find another enemy on [his] right flank.”34 Accordingly, General Grant attacked General Johnston at Jackson in an attempt to “eliminate the Johnston threat before it became serious and before Pemberton realized what was happening, and then turn back west to attack Vicksburg.”35 This decision ensured that the approximately 6,000 troops under Johnston’s command would not be able to interfere in General Grant’s operations against Vicksburg.36 This is important because if those forces would have been able to join with General Pemberton, the forces in Vicksburg would have been approximately 38,000 as compared to General Grant’s 41,000.37 As it turned out, General Grant’s decision enabled him to divide the Confederates forces and ensured he would have a marked troop strength advantage during his attack on Vicksburg.
Another example of General Grant’s decisive decision making occurred during the Battle of Champion’s Hill (see figure 11). This battle was the bloodiest of the entire Vicksburg Campaign, with 6,200 killed or wounded from both the Union and the Confederacy.38 The situation leading up to the battle was critical because General Grant had been attempting to capture Vicksburg for seven months, had been without a formal supply line for over 17 days, and then ran into a Confederate force, in a defensive position, that was almost equal to his. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with the challenges, General Grant called for an attack. He realized that the defeat of these forces would be a serious blow to the Confederates’ ability to defend Vicksburg. Once again, General Grant’s ability to be cool under pressure and his decisive decision making, enabled his forces to gain a commanding advantage in the Vicksburg Campaign.
Counter-Arguments – A Leadership Triad wasn’t necessary for Union victory Some arguments can be made that General Grant’s use of the Leadership Triad was not the decisive factor in the Union victory at Vicksburg. Some Civil War scholars argue instead that the Union achieved victory because they enjoyed “manpower superiority of more than three to one.”39 In essence, these scholars maintain that there was no way the Confederacy could have won. The Union Commander did not require any sort of acumen because the war and this battle were a pre-decided conclusion. The fallacy of this argument is that the number of forces in the operational area was generally the same. General Grant’s decisive decision to attack General Johnston first, dividing the Confederate armies, prevented Confederate forces from being numerically the same. General Grant’s decisions, not overall manpower, were the reason why the Union forces enjoyed a numerical advantage.
Another argument that scholars propose concerns the Union’s “economic resources and logistical capacity advantage….”40 They argue that because Grant had this massive logistical capacity, Vicksburg was sure to eventually fall. The error in this argument is that the Confederates did not need a massive logistical capacity in the Vicksburg Campaign.
Their strategy was to defend, and they enjoyed interior lines of communications. General Grant’s imaginative scheme of maneuver was the only way for the Union to defeat the Confederates at Vicksburg, and he realized that he needed logistical capacity to make it happen. It could be argued that Grant’s decisive decision to use his logistical capacity, as well as teamwork with the Union Navy, to his advantage is just another positive example of his ingenuity.
General Grant’s acceptance of risk is another counter-argument against his ingenuity.