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'Lee & Grant' provides leadership lessons from battle front
fortworth telegram | November 14, 2004 | Cecil Johnson

Posted on 11/14/2004 5:41:14 PM PST by stainlessbanner

Lee & Grant: Profiles in Leadership From the Battlefields of Virginia, by Maj. Charles R. Bowery Jr., U.S. Army (Amacom, 272 pages, $24).

On May 5, 1864, at the height of the mayhem and maneuvering of the battle of the Wilderness, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant sat on a stump on the bank of the Rapidan River and whittled on a stick.

In his book, Bowery joins scores of historians and commentators on Grant who have focused on the Union armies' general in chief's extraordinary behavior at that critical moment of the Civil War. Bowery uses that episode to illustrate the importance of leading by example in both war and business.

He quotes Grant's aide, Horace Porter: "While the most critical movements were taking place, General Grant manifested no perceptible anxiety, but gave his orders, and sent and received communications, with a coolness which made a marked impression on everyone around him."

The whittling appeared to calm Grant's subordinates, Bowery suggests, by conveying the impression that Grant was not worried about the situation.

During that same battle, Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, gave an exhibition of leadership by example that has become the stuff of legend.

Lee intervened personally to try to prevent a total rout when his 3rd Corps was overwhelmed by Union forces. On his horse, Traveller, Lee rode among the retreating 3rd Corps soldiers and tried vainly to persuade them to stand and fight.

He finally fell in with the Texas Brigade. Bowery writes: "Lee asked the forming men to identify themselves. 'Texas boys,' they replied. 'Hurrah for Texas!' Lee responded, along with an entreaty to drive the Unionists back, and offered to lead them in person."

Inspired by Lee, the Texans charged and drove back the Union assault. Of the 850 members of that Texas Brigade, 550 were killed or wounded.

"Lee galvanized a retreating army in the Tapp Field and turned what looked like a significant defeat into a stunning reversal of fortune," Bowery writes.

This is ostensibly a book about leadership. Bowery does a splendid job of extrapolating advice from the actions and demeanor of the two most famous generals of the Civil War.

Among the book's leadership themes:

- Integrity's importance.

- Self-control.

- Avoiding overconfidence.

- Mastery of technical skills.

- Thinking conceptually.

- Building a capable staff.

- Adjusting leadership to personnel and situations.

- Flexibility.

- Distinguishing between a reverse and a defeat.

Lee's greatest leadership asset, as Bowery sees it, was his adaptability.

Grant's greatest leadership asset, according to Bowery, was his tenacity.

Lee & Grant is likely to be enjoyed most by Civil War buffs, who may or may not occupy leadership roles or aspire to leadership.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: book; general; grant; leadership; lee; militaryhistory; north; south; wbts

1 posted on 11/14/2004 5:41:15 PM PST by stainlessbanner
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To: Red Phillips; bushpilot; nolu chan; tjwmason; carenot; carton253; sionnsar; Free Trapper; ...

Another WBTS leadership book

2 posted on 11/14/2004 5:41:45 PM PST by stainlessbanner
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To: stainlessbanner

Don't mess with Texas.

3 posted on 11/14/2004 6:00:03 PM PST by Paladin2 (SeeBS News - We Decide, We Create, We Report - In that order! - ABC - Already Been Caught)
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To: stainlessbanner

I have the game Lee vs Grant from Victory Games. Does that count?

4 posted on 11/14/2004 6:05:30 PM PST by Conan the Librarian (The Best in Life is to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and the Dewey Decimal System)
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To: stainlessbanner

Thanks, looks interesting.

5 posted on 11/14/2004 6:21:11 PM PST by Tax-chick (First we had all the money, then we got all the votes, now we have all the fun!)
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To: stainlessbanner
During this same battle, Confederate artillery began shelling the Union HQ.

When worried staff officers suggested moving the headquarters, Grant told them that it would be an even better idea to bring up some friendly guns to hold the position.

Grant then went back to whittling as the Union guns were deployed and put into action.

6 posted on 11/14/2004 7:44:34 PM PST by Lysandru
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To: stainlessbanner
Evening Stainless,

Thanks for the ping and I'll have to add this book to my current "to read" list. Of course, if this list gets any longer I'll need 36hrs. in a day to ever catch up. ;^)

Lee's greatest leadership asset, as Bowery sees it, was his adaptability.

Unequivocally accurate. Meade was often criticized for not aggressively pursuing the Confederates after the defeat at Gettysburg. Tactically, they had their backs to the almost uncrossable Potomac and were highly vulnerable. But Meade had seen first hand what Lee was capable of in retreat when McClellan pursued Lee after presuming to have taken his measure at South Mountain. Also, Lee's retreat at Gettysburg was under heavy rainstorms. Lee was brilliant at feigning retreat only to turn and waylay his pursuers.

Grant's greatest leadership asset, according to Bowery, was his tenacity.

Indeed. Grant, always held fast to his old guideline of unconditional surrender. He had it very much in mind to destroy not only the means of resistance by his adversaries, but also the will. Sherman had once told Grant during the march to the sea, "War is cruelty . . . there is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over." No wonder Sherman was his right arm. According to Shelby Foote, novelist on the Civil War, Grant was guided by two principles of action: 1) to use the greatest number of troops practicable and 2) hammer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his resources, until by mere attrition, if no other way, there should be nothing left to him . . ."

7 posted on 11/14/2004 7:56:41 PM PST by w_over_w
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To: Paladin2

free dixie,sw

8 posted on 11/15/2004 8:54:03 AM PST by stand watie ( being a damnyankee is no better than being a racist. it is a LEARNED prejudice against dixie.)
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

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