“On to Petersburg: Grant and Lee, June 4 – 15, 1864 presented by Gordon Rhea
Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee are customarily considered the leading generals in the American Civil War. Each, however, is often viewed in a distorted, stereotypical fashion. Grant, the story goes, habitually resorted to headlong attacks and seldom maneuvered. And Lee, according to the prevailing mythology, had the uncanny ability of fathoming his opponent’s intentions and anticipating his every move.
The Overland Campaign of 1864 – the initial engagements between Grant and Lee in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania Court House, at the North Anna River, at Cold Harbor, and the movement to Petersburg – suggests a very different interpretation of these preeminent American warriors. In my presentation, we will step back and take a fresh look at Grant’s and Lee’s generalship, focusing on how each reacted to the other in this brutal and costly forty-odd-day campaign of wits and will. It is an exciting tale and one that provokes controversy to this day
Gordon C. Rhea - A native of East Tennessee, Gordon Rhea earned a B.A. in history with honors from Indiana University, an M.A. in American History from Harvard University, and a J.D. from Stanford University Law School. He served as Special Assistant to the Chief Counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, as Assistant United States Attorney in Washington, D.C., and the United States Virgin Islands, and has been in the private practice of law for the past three decades. While growing up, he frequently visited Civil War battlefields with his father. His five-volume series on the Overland Campaign between Grant and Lee in Virginia in 1864 stands as the authoritative treatment of those battles. He has written numerous articles, is a frequent speaker at historical societies, and strongly supports the Civil War Trust and other organizations dedicated to preserving America's battlefields. His most recent book, On to Petersburg: Grant and Lee, June 4 – 15, 1864, was a finalist for this year’s Lincoln Prize and the winner of this year’s Emerging Civil War Book Award and the Daniel M. Laney Prize.