The Civil War was a major turning point in American History. Fought between two sides who had previously been only one, the war resulted in more deaths than that of all of America’s other combat activity combined. The two most famous Generals involved in the war were Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.
During the Mexican-American War, Grant and Lee served side-by-side for the same cause and fought hard. Little did they know they would soon be fighting their hardest against each other, and many of their fellow soldiers.
Grant was born in 1822, and by the time he was 23, he had graduated from West Point and went to serve in the afore-mentioned Mexican-American War. It seemed that just as this war came to a close, a new one began. There were states beginning to secede and rebel, and soon there was the “Confederacy”, waging war and ready to fight. Grant knew his duty, and joined the Union to fight the uprising. In 1863 he was deemed commander of all Union armies. He kept his former brother-in-arms, Lee, busy at the siege of Petersburg and coordinated both the Shenandoah Valley and Atlanta campaigns. Grant was a great general and strategist, and eventually forced Lee’s surrender that would end the war.
Lee was born in 1807 to a Major-General war officer. After his part in the Mexican American War, when he began to see the secession of the states, his true desire was that they would remain united. However, they did not, so Lee did as he believed he must, and followed Virginia, turning down an offer for a senior position in the U.S. army. Lee was very calm and calculated during combat, and was not afraid of taking well-planned risks. Lee and Grant met many a time in the war, and while each battle made them more determined, it also increased their mutual respect for one another.
Finally they faced the last battle. Lee believed he stood a chance.
So many deaths, so much fighting, what was it all worth if he gave up?
Then again, what was it all worth if he kept at it?
Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant’s army on April 9, 1865, at the battle of Appomattox courthouse. Lee went on to become very popular after the war, and was known for his moral standards and Christian faith. Grant became President of the United States in 1869, and worked to finish off what was left of the Confederacy. Grant had such a deep-rooted respect for Lee and his army that, on the terms of Lee’s surrender, none of his soldiers were tried for treason. They were left in peace, and even given food rations, as they were near the point of starving. To me, this is a truly inspiring story of two men, brothers-in-arms, separated by belief, who never lost respect for one another.