I do not think it was the decisive battle although certainly a bitter defeat for the greatest of armies. I always felt the decisive battle was the Wildnerness in ‘64 when although soundly beaten, Grant didn’t go back towards DC but instead went around the left flank and even deeper into Virginia where the battle of attrition and losses, the southener’s couldn’t make good on, began to pile up.
Vicksburg was much more decisive.
I tend to agree with you, except that Grant was not “soundly beaten” at the Wilderness. It was a tactical draw, but a strategic Union victroy, since the South could not afford to fight draws. Grant however claimed Vicksburg was more important strategically even than Gettysburg.
I loved reading both Grant and Longsteet’s memoirs. They were, IMHO, the first “modern” generals who understood the implcations of the new technology on warfare. Longstreet was sadly underappreciated and vilified by many in the South.
Interesting: the siege of Vicksburg was happening about this same time.
“I always felt the decisive battle was the Wildnerness in 64 when although soundly beaten, Grant didnt go back towards DC but instead went around the left flank and even deeper into Virginia where the battle of attrition and losses, the southeners couldnt make good on, began to pile up.”
Both battles were pivotal, but The Wilderness battle, I think, was the most decisive, because when Grant did not turn tail the South was forced to admit it could not win the War. At least after Gettysburg the South reasoned, “Well, we got thumped in enemy territory, but we still have our own, and we can beat the enemy there.” However, after The Wilderness, the South had to see the writing on the wall: “We have stopped them on our own soil, but they do not leave. And there are more of them than there are of us.”
It was a defeat for the second greatest army.
The greatest was the one who defeated them.