Who was the better general , Grant or Lee

I just watch the history channel on Grant in the civil war. He Had overwhelming numbers in troops and manuf capability of the north. So the question is politics aside who was the better general Grant or Lee? Lee had a smaller army and had to move around and try to out flank larger armies but once Grant entered the western front it seemed Grant won but was it bc of superior numbers or was Grant a better general than lee? Later on the movement was the lost cause so many statues went up after glorifying the south vs the north to maybe help the south reintegrate and help them feel better.

I think superior troop numbers and manufacturing capabilities of the north over shadowed lee’s ability to carry on. Interesting thing is that until around 1964 it was a stalemate and many northerners almost wanted a ceasefire to end it and make 2 nations and we were only less than 100 yrs from the revolutionary war so many thought the experiment of 1 nation was or could be over bc we weren’t that far removed from the country’s inception as a democracy. Lincoln did well in telling Grant to follow Lee and destroy his army. Once done it was over for the south.

We then had reconstruction but it failed bc the south was able to do Jim Crow etc which didn’t end till the civil rights admin of Johnson in the 60s so the south basically kept things the same till the 1960s , 100 yrs later after the war. Grant was asked to send troops to Mississippi but he decided not to bc the thought was the county was tired of gov intervention so this lead to 100 yrs till Johnson in the 60s in finally correcting it.

I live in Lee County, NC… They might be watching… I’m going Grant… :grin:

Grant had the numbers so he went all out plus the north had the navy iron ships and way more artillery than the south. I think both are really good and if Lee had larger numbers etc maybe he would do what grant did. Overall grant was great and not given as much credit bc of the later push of the lost cause trying to make the south look better so we could heal the country. Grant on several occasions paroled the armies he defeated including Lee’s which was good for trying to bring us back together as a country. The other issue of lifestyle in the south, only a few owned plantations and they could have just paid workers and made less money bc owning people and having to feed and take care of them and watch for escapes costs more than hiring in many ways. Think of owning a horse and feeding it etc vs renting it. I rode horses in spring and they mentioned the big costs of actually owning and taking care of the horses. So the southern plantation lifestyle could have carried on with paid workers vs slaves in my opinion but after the war the south was destroyed then modern machinery and capitalism started taking root after the war.

Stonewall Jackson’s death exposed Lee.


Lee was a traitor to the United States and Grant was an antisemite.

Both men had their issues.

But Grant was indeed the better General.

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The south lost the civil war before they fired the first shots at Fort Sumter. They had no industrial might to counter that of the north. It boggles the mind that southern leaders were so stupid to think they could beat the north in a war. I wonder if they would have been able to get away with secession if they hadn’t instigated military hostilities. Fortunately, the union was held together, it’s just too bad there had to be such tremendous loss of men and treasure in order to keep it so.

Aside from the romantic notions of the old south, if that is what it took to end the horrible injustice of slavery, it was the best outcome. Sooner or later, even if the south was allowed to secede, slavery would have to have ended, but the suffering of the slaves would have continued for far too much longer. I will never understand how a civilized people could have ever allowed that in the first place.


Grant freed his only slave after marrying into a slave owning family before the war. I doubt he was racist towards Jews or anyone. He was a humble guy bc he failed a lot before being a great general. He paroled armies he defeated. It’s still difficult to tell who was better bc the north had overwhelming numbers along with a navy and more artillery weapons. One battle with Lee he lost 17k to lee’s 11k or it was a draw in the battle of the wilderness then grant went to Richmond. Grant had 120k to lee’s 62k in the final battle so again your dealing with superior numbers , manuf of the north, navy superiority and way better artillery. The north had 20 or 18.5 mil vs the 5.5 mil of the south in free pop so it was more than a 3 to 1 advantage. So it was a matter of time that the south would lose. They called grant the butcher bc he’d keep going no matter the loses on the northern side bc he even said , we have superior numbers, etc.Lee also fought to preserve his army to prolong the war where grant wanted it over fast so he was willing to sacrifice more men. Lee losing his best general hurt him but what if grant lost Sherman? Sherman was key to winning Atlanta.

General Order 11

He did commit this act of anti-Semitism, however.


That said, purely based upon battlefield success, Grant was a better General than Lee.

I stand corrected on his dealing with Jews. I didn’t know he did that. But it’s still difficult to know who was better bc lee was out manned and was trying to prolong the war in hopes the north would get politically tired which by 1864 they did have northerners saying let’s create 2 countries bc this war is a stalemate. The southern strategy was to out flank and keep moving to preserve their armies where as the north wanted big engagements to end it fast by superior numbers. Grant was great but he took chances knowing he had resources far greater than the south. Grant’s Vicksburg win was his best but Lee prolonging the war for yrs was his win. Lee basically did what George Washington did which was to prolong a war with a much smaller army by constantly being on the go.

Winfield Scott’s “Anaconda Plan” ultimately worked.

Grant won in the west then he came east and won in the east.

Lee was certainly a great general but Grant did to Lee what McClellan, Burnside, Hooker and Meade couldn’t do.

True. Ok I’ll take it on consensus grant was better which I believe also though he did have the navy to blockade , more troops and more artillery than the south so it helped in the decisions and he options he had. Lee had to try and prolong the war and preserve his troop numbers to carry on but I agree overall grant was better. The lost cause movement made Lee out to be better but it was to make the south feel better and bring them back into the fold. As far as Lee deciding to stay with the south vs taking command as a northern general, we have to remember loyalty to states was all important and if he went against his state , he would be an outcast along with his family. Basically he didn’t have much of a choice. It would be like if we were asked to fight against Texas if this happened again.

Lastly I’m always impressed how logistically we got food ,water etc to troops for hundreds of miles away. Napoleon had issues with it going into russia. I think historically we’re the best at it.

One way of proving which general would be better……place roles in reverse.

If Grant was the commanding general of Confederate forces and Lee of the Union forces, what would be the outcome?

I believe the Union would still prevail. The Union had a superior Navy, superior supply chain, railroads, food, munitions and the moral standing of keeping the Union together.

Grant later became President, so would reverse roles catapult Lee into the White House?


I’m not sure either general is better than the other. They were both brilliant. Grant’s Mississippi campaign was the highlight of his career while Lee won battle after battle, typically against superior forces. He did screw up at Gettysburg, but that was really his only blunder. I would say they were about even.