«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. ...»
A newspaper correspondent at that time noted that “a single mistake or disaster might have overwhelmed his army.”41 Grant could have been repulsed by the Confederates as he attempted to cross the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg, or he could have met disaster if stopped or delayed while maneuvering around Jackson and Vicksburg without his supply line. Grant, on the other hand, realized that his maneuver scheme had some risk associated with it, which is why he took steps to “confuse [General Pemberton] from beginning to end;
[and] with inferior numbers, Grant had driven him into Vicksburg….”42 The bottom line is that General Grant’s decisive decisions and inventive plan enabled him to mitigate the associated risks. In fact, General Grant used his forces so well that General J.E. Johnston noted that, “Grant’s Western troops were twice as good as the Easterners he fought in Virginia.”43 Abraham Lincoln also heaped praise upon General Grant’s imaginative scheme, decisive decisions and teamwork. The President described the campaign as, “one of the most brilliant in the world…Grant is my man.” Thanks to Grant’s actions, the President added, “the Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea…the Confederacy was cut in twain.”44
General Grant’s use of the tenets of the Leadership Triad was the major reason why the Union won at Vicksburg. The value of the Leadership Triad is not limited to Civil Warera fighting either; it is timeless in nature and must be used by operational commanders today. For example, General Grant’s unorthodox decision to cut his own supply line after his landing at Bruinsburg was made so that he could be more maneuverable and maximize his available fighting capability. The generic lesson learned is that operational commanders need to evaluate their operating area to leverage opportunities unique to their situation. In the case of Vicksburg, General Grant learned that he could live off the resource-rich land.
Today’s commanders could benefit from applying innovative thinking while they are deployed.
Although innovative thinking should not be restricted to logistics, for ease of demonstration, the logistics example can be easily extended to today’s efforts. Original ideas on logistics may help accomplish the objective of your operation. If an operational commander is tasked with a peacekeeping, or perhaps even a theater security cooperation operation, it would be beneficial to establish a commerce relationship with the local populace. Such a relationship would allow the United States to infuse cash into the local economy, which could potentially help improve the conditions and increase stability within the theater of operation. It could also improve the security of the operational commander’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines because a community economically linked with American forces would find it in their best interest to ensure troop safety. For instance, if the operational commander is buying supplies from a local business and the business is happy with the relationship, the business owner will want to ensure the commerce continues. It is not too far of a stretch to think the business owner may then decide to inform the commander if he sees the enemy plant an improvised explosive device, or other hazard, near the store, because he wants the Americans to stay alive to continue patronizing his business. As a secondary benefit, the operational commander saves the United States government the shipping costs and transportation requirements of supplies that were purchased locally. The simple act of turning a potential critical vulnerability, such as logistics, into a critical strength by utilizing innovation could pay huge dividends for the operational commander.
During the Vicksburg Campaign, General Grant’s use of freed slaves was both brilliant and innovative. Despite some initial difficulties with cohesion, Grant eventually motivated all his soldiers (black and white) to come together in the name of freedom against the rebel forces. This action also provides a generic lesson learned to today’s operational commander. As discussed above, innovative thinking and the importance of teamwork was crucial to General Grant’s success at Vicksburg. Operational commanders should consider innovative ways of adding local capabilities to their forces.
This concept is not limited to Mississippi in 1863, it is a lesson learned that operational commanders should incorporate in all operations. By incorporating local forces, commanders can accomplish many objectives. The first objective is that the operational commander can unify the local populace against the enemy. This could have side benefits of making the residents feel safer, which is normally one of the major objectives of American forces. There are additional benefits as well; by incorporating local forces, operational commanders can add to the legitimacy of their operation. The United States would not be seen as an invader, but rather as a conduit for the local forces to improve the security and stability of the region. Including local forces also adds to the knowledge base of the operational commander. In today’s world, the local commanders must be able to have a quick understanding of the local customs, traditions, and workings of the local area. Too often, American approach the situation as if we know everything, when instead, we should ask the local experts for help and information. Finally, an additional benefit, similar to the logistical example above, is that teaming up with the local forces may permit the operational commander to discover that his intelligence information flow increases. This could dramatically improve the security to forces as well as increase the likelihood of operational success. Clearly, there are many sound reasons to think about inventive ways to building teamwork during an operation.
The final lesson learned from General Grant’s operations in Vicksburg is the importance of teamwork and joint operations. Without the support of the Union Navy, General Grant would never have been able to take Vicksburg. For today’s operational commander, understanding and employing joint operations are critical to success. As our joint doctrine states, “the armed forces of the United States are most effective when employed as a joint force.”45 In the Vicksburg historical example, river operations were the primary capability that was employed by the Union Navy. In today’s environment, riverine operations may become a primary naval supporting action. In May 2005, the U.S. Navy established Riverine Group One and a Riverine Squadron under Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.46 The purpose of which was “to begin a transformation from blue water to brown water Sailors.”47 This is obviously a major change in focus for the U.S. Navy but this has implications for the other services as well. The U.S. Army, as General Grant found in Vicksburg, will have to be able to interact intimately with this new naval force because of their joint operating area. This same holds true for the U.S. Marines and Air Force. U.S. Navy riverine forces may come into direct contact with the enemy and could require Air Force close air support. It is imperative that this recently reactivated and critical naval capability become fully embedded in the joint environment. The United States is the most powerful nation in the world when it comes to the fight as a robust team. Naval riverine operations are an example of a capability that needs to be part of the joint team.
General Ulysses S. Grant’s use of the Leadership Triad was the main reason for his victory at Vicksburg. General Grant repeatedly used innovative ideas regarding supply, local forces, and his scheme of attack to propel him to victory at Vicksburg. Similarly, Grant’s ability to work as a team with the Union Navy was instrumental in his victory. Decisive decisions that Grant made such as employing a deception plan, and his decision to attack General Johnston first, were also shown to be major factors in the Union’s success at Vicksburg.
The Leadership Triad has great applicability to today’s leaders. Furthermore, the Vicksburg Campaign offers generic lessons learned, which are applicable to today’s operational commanders. For instance, the importance of innovative logistics solutions was highlighted, as was the use of local forces to increase teamwork and the ability to reach objectives. Another key lesson learned was the importance of Joint Operations and, in particular, how riverine operations may became a major factor in today’s operating environment. After examining the Vicksburg historical case, and its corresponding lessons learned, it is abundantly clear that 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 this Leadership Triad.
End Notes Albert D. Richardson, A Personal History of U.S. Grant (Hartford, CT: American Publishing Co., 1868), 194.
http://mw4.m-w.com/dictionary/ingenuity (accessed 6 April 2008).
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Chicago: Ballantine Books, 1989), 627.
Bruce Catton, Grant Moves South (Edison: Castle Books, 1960), 455 [my emphasis added].
Earl Schenck Miers, Web of Victory: Grant at Vicksburg (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1955), 140.
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 627.
Bruce Catton, Grant Moves South, 436.
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant (Two Volumes), Volume 1. (New York:
The Century Company, 1917), 362.
John D. Waghelstein, The Mexican War and the Civil War: The American Army’s Experience in irregular warfare as a sub-set of a major conventional conflict (Frank Cass and Company, 1996), 153.
Bruce Catton, Grant Moves South, 356.
http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=teamwork (accessed 7 April 2008).
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 421.
Joseph Glatthaar, Partners in Command (New York City: Free Press, 1994), 167.
Bruce Catton, Grant Moves South, 383.
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 587.
Bruce Catton, Grant Moves South, 412.
Russell F. Weigley, A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History, 1861-1865.
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), 265.
John O. Howard, Air Force Capabilities Briefing (given 3 April 2008).
Bruce Catton, Grant Moves South, 411.
Joseph Glatthaar, Partners in Command, 144.
Bruce Catton, Grant Moves South, 389.
Joseph Glatthaar, Partners in Command, 167.
Earl Schenck Miers, Web of Victory,148.
Joseph Glatthaar, Partners in Command, 150.
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 628 Ibid., 629.
Thomas E. Griess, Atlas for the American Civil War (West Point Military History Series).
(New York: Avery, 1986), 20 Ibid., 20.
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 630.
Bruce Catton, Grant Moves South, 479.
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 638.
Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Operations, Joint Publication 3-0, (Washington DC: CJCS, 17 September 2006), I-1.
http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=29926 (accessed 10 April 2008) Ibid
Catton, Bruce. Grant Moves South, Boston MA: Little, Brown & Company, 1960.
Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Operations, Joint Publication 3-0, Washington DC: CJCS, 17 September 2006
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University Press of Kansas, 1996.
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Griess, Thomas E. West Point Military History Series: Atlas for the American Civil War.
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McPherson, James. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 1988.
McPherson, James. What they Fought For: 1861-1865, New York, NY: Anchor Books, 1995 Miers, Earl Schenck. Web of Victory: Grant at Vicksburg. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1955.
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Nagle, Dave. “Riverine Force Marks One-Year Anniversary.” Navy.mil, 7 June 2007.
http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=29926 (accessed 10 April 2008).
Richardson, Albert D.. A Personal History of U.S. Grant, Hartford, CT: American Publishing Co., 1868. Also on line via Kelsey, Maria, “How Others Perceived Him”, CSS.edu, 21 Jan 2006. http://faculty.css.edu/mkelsey/usgrant/quotes.html#Ewell (accessed 14 April 2008).
Stamp, Kenneth M. The Causes of the Civil War, New York, NY: Touchstone Book, 1991.
Vego, Milan N. Joint Operational Warfare: Theory and Practice. 20 September 2007.
Waghelstein, John D. “The Mexican War and the American Civil War: The American Army’s Experience in Irregular Warfare as a sub-set of a Major Conventional Conflict.” In Small Wars & Insurgencies, Vol 7, No 2 pp 139-164. Routlede. Frank Cass and Company, London, 1996.
Weigley, Russell F. A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History, 1861-1865,