Civil War History
Grant and Lee: Servant Leadership
Servant during war
Both Grant and Lee served their fellow and God the best they knew how. Poplar opposite men, they worked for what they felt was right. Servant leadership is not always clear, both men showed a servant heart.
The two men, Robert E Lee and Ulysses S Grant both showed great leadership during the Civil War. Servant leadership can come with many different definitions. Most recognized, and used in this analysis of the two different men and their leadership styles, is one found based on the Christian doctrine. Simply put a servant leader is a servant first.1 Several traits come up when looking at what it means to be a servant. We must start with a truth, a moral truth “Every world view hinges on its concept of moral truth.”2 Leadership is critical3 to serving. One must lead men to be servants themselves. Jesus calls his people to love their neighbors as themselves. In doing so one is serving. It goes beyond that however, “Jesus calls us to himself not just to serve him, but to sit at his feet first.” 4 A servant leader therefore leads by serving and guiding those he serves to be in service as well.
Both Lee and Grant had shown qualities of servant leadership in their service in the Civil war. One might take a stand that because Grant was on the “right side” of the war his morals were in a more servant state than that of Lee. One might look at the moral holdings of the two and feel Lee was a greater man of service than Grant. The differences of the two were great but both felt their service was of value. Grant was more loyal to his nation where Lee was more loyal to his state. Grant was more humble in his dress, where Lee was more of a model for the men to inspire to be like. 5 Both different styles showed a type of service in their leadership.
Lee would perhaps be the easiest man for illustrating strong leadership. Lee graduated in the top of his class at west point. He made it to graduation without getting one demerit.6 He was a born leader, his quick rise in the ranks, and the fact that both the union and the confederate armies wanted his service speak of his leadership skills. His moral reasoning is what marked him as a servant leader. Lee joined with the Confederate Army because of his personal values. Although Lee was against slavery he did find it important that the national government not invade the states, to him the state government had more power than the national government over its rules and laws. 7
In Lee’s private life he was a Christian man, praying that God guard his family. He would write to his daughter in a loving way “My Precious Annie8”, family was important to Lee. Lee was also a private man, not wanting his family pushed into the spot light of after war questions. He requested a reporter keep his thoughts and feelings unpublished marking that he only shared that information to clear up issues that were presented to the public.9
In his service Lee hated the idea of giving up. As much as Lee hated war, and had said on several occasions that the loss of life was devastating10, he did not want to lose the war. It was rare that Lee had to retreat. When he did have to pull his men back he did so in such a way that they were in a better position to keep fighting the war. Lee’s Retreat from Gettysburg (Map in appendix) in 1863 helped to save his army and his men. Although it was not something he wanted to do Lee kept his men in mind when planning his attacks and rare retreats. At the same time Lee was in Gettysburg Grant was in Vicksburg. The two men were near polar opposites when it came to battles, as Lee retreated, Grant moved on. (Map in appendix)
The two different styles of the men are shown clearly at the surrender. (See appendix for map) Lee, knew that he had to surrender to save what was left of his men. He did not want to give up, and was noted to have said as much. Still Lee dressed and was ready to go. Even in a time of great sorrow Lee remained calm and professional.11 Grant was not to be located easily and the surrender took a great deal of work for both sides. When Grand did write to set up the surrender is parting words were “Very Respectfully, your obedient servant”12 showing his true respect for Lee. The words “obedient servant” stands out. Ulysses Grant typically wrote with an air of humility about him. His dress was to be no different. When Grant made it to the court house for the surrender he was dressed in a private’s uniform13. He was a shoveled mess. Lee looked the part of the leader; Grant looked more like a servant than a leader.
Grant grew up different than Lee. Grants life was marked by being average. Grant also graduated from West Point, however he was found in the lower middle part of his class.14 Grant had a fair number of demerits, and was just average. Even his appointment to West point did not mark him as a strong leader or military man. Grant himself noted that one of the key reasons he got an appointment to West Point was because of his father.15 It took Grant much longer in the war to rise to a position where he could have an impact on the war. Even before that he did not care much for the military, but he did well enough on natural talent to be considered a great military leader by the end of the war. 16 His strategy was to keep attacking the confederate army17.
A lot about the different styles of the men can be seen in the surrender of Lee’s army. During the time before the surrender Lee would write to Grant seeking a fair end for his men. Grant however, was vague and did not give Lee a direct answer. 18 Both men were still respectful to each other. Where Lee fought for fairness of his men, Grant made himself on the same level as his men.
The styles of the two show just how different servant leadership can look. One held perhaps more leadership skills where the other held more of a servant style. Grant perhaps looked disheveled during the surrender because he was more of a drunkard who was average in much of his life, but it gave him the ability to serve more, to humble himself to the same level as his men. Lee was a very strong leader who looked the part. Both men were loved by their subordinates. Both men would seek God first, and follow the battle where it took them because if their moral standing on the issues of State and Nation.
Barna, George. Think Like Jesus. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003. ~
This book covers the idea of serving God, family, and others. Expresses the ideas behind servant leadership. This book is used in servant leadership classes. Key points are love god and love others as you would like to be loved. Putting others first is a key point to serving others.
Civil War Trust. Civil War. http://www.civilwar.org/ (accessed October 18, 2012).
Website used for maps. Search for map of the battle. Has a great deal of information on the events during the civil war. Marked in the appendix.
Dugard, Bill O'Reilly and Marin. Killing Lincoln. New York: Henery Holt and Company, 2011.
~Mostly an overview of Lincolns life right before death. This book does cover small parts of the war effort and with it Grant and Lee's actions in battle.Goes into more detail about the persoanlities of the two men than other books have, but does not cover a total history focussing on the two men. Covers the Civil war as it applies to the Life and death of Lincoln.
Feed, History. Lee and Grant You Tube. April 18, 2012.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW0pVLlH_Fo&feature=youtu.be (accessed November 17, 2012).
~A YouTube clip about an hour long discussing the differences of the two men.Great information about their history, how they did in school and their personalities.
Grant, Ulysses S. The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant. Greensboro: Empire Books. , 2012
~ Writings of Grant. His personal thoughts and feelings during the time of the war.Writen by Grant himself this collection of writings gives a glimpse into the thoughts and feelings of Grant.
Green Leaf. Grean Leaf what is servant Leadership. http://www.greenleaf.org/whatissl/ (accessed November 18, 2012).
~ Explanation website about Servant Leadership. Great place for information on serving God and others. Covers the topic of Leadership
Lee, Captain Robert Edward. Recollections and Letters of Robert E. Lee. Mineola: Dover Publications, 2007.
Lee's thoughts and letters of the war, and the personal view he held. Writen by Lee himself it gives a great glips into the thoughts and feelings of the man that would go in history as a great leader. He covers his personal felings and events during the Civil war.
McKnight, Scot. The Jesus Creed for Students. Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2011~
Covers servant leadership.applicaple to many different areas. Application to what it means to be a servant leadership is evident.
Mitchell, Lt. Col. Joseph B. Decisive Battles of the Civil War. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.
~ This book covers many of the battles of the Civl war. Goes into details about Grant and Lee during the book. Explains each battle and the tactics the men took.
Morris, James M. Americca's Armed Forces: A History. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1996.
~ General history book about America's military history covers the civil war and the two men. Book covers much more than the Civil war.
Civil War. Directed by Ken Burns. Performed by PBS. 2004.
~ Large DVD documentary of the Civil war. Informaiton about nearly every topic in the civil war is covered. The two men are discussed and their war efforts. Many more topics are covered.
Maps: All maps found at http://www.civilwar.org/ with permission to reprint.