Civil War Battles and Strategy

Start Free Trial

How are Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant similar?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In an essay called "Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts" from The American Story, a series of essays by historians, Civil War expert Bruce Catton compared and contrasted Grant and Lee. 

While he argues that the two men were largely dissimilar and represented different "elements" in the American experience, Catton states they shared the following traits:

Both were stubborn and faithful. They dug in and didn't give up easily. Both were tenacious fighters.

Each was a resourceful risk taker. Lee illustrated this in the "dazzling campaigns" of Second Manassas and Chancellorville; Grant at Vicksburg.

Each man rose to greatness in his ability to turn to peace at the war's end. Both Lee and Grant, Catton contends, behaved with enormous graciousness when they met briefly in Appomattox to finalize the South's surrender that led to peace. 

Each man came from a different background. Lee's was backward-looking, aristocratic, and agrarian, while Grant represented the forward-looking perspective of the industrial North, but both were men of courage and conviction. 


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant had many similarities and differences. The biggest similarity is that they were both great civil war generals. They had a great deal of passion for what they were fighting for. They both wanted to preserve the Union but it was inevitable that the North and South would soon engage in war.

General Lee and General Grant both fought in the Mexican War. They later questioned if it was right to invade and because of the carnage they witnessed they were both opposed to war in 1861. Both also participated in Scott's march from Vera Cruz to Mexico City. 

In addition, they both went to school at West Point.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Both leaders played vital roles in the Civil War.  They were both associated with their side, as the North became represented by Grant and the South by Lee.  Both were placed in large positions of power and looked at by many with admiration and respect.  Both were skilled tacticians and possessing a high level of military intelligence.  Specific battles marked their level of brilliance on the battlefield, with Lee garnering much praise for his approach in recapturing Richmond and with Vicksburg marking a strategic high moment for Grant.  Both graduated from West Point Military Academy.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial