The Decisive Role of Leaders at War

게스티버그 전투

A battle is a hostile fight between the commanding officers of both sides while a war is a fight between the highest leaders of the parties involved. The war between the Union and the Confederacy in the mid-19th century was indeed a fight between the Abraham Lincoln, the then leader of the Union, and Jefferson Davis, the leader of the Confederacy. Since Lincoln was a lawyer, he did not know the tactics of war. Davis, on the other hand graduated from military academy, a general, and most importantly, the former US Secretary of War.

On the other hand, the military-trained leader of the Confederation, Davis, did not only call for mandatory enlistment with 1 year of required service but organized them to units with officers leading them. This expanded the military strength of the Confederation to 10,000 strong. In stark comparison, the Union left its officers to reorganize the ranks with its expanded strength on their own. While the Union was able to successfully reorganize its military with the help of the commander of the reserve force, the lack of proper military knowledge and training among politicians who were appointed as commanding officers left the military of the Union in a frail state.

After the war broke out, news about Confederacy winning in different parts of the country can be heard from everywhere. Acclamation can be heard even from the Union’s capital of Washington. However, the ‘final victory’ does not come in the collective sum of individual engagement but from winning at a decisive place and at a decisive time.

As the war grow from one year to the other, the loss of life and of resources has grew up to a point that it has been economically hard for both sides to continue. In finding the general that will conclude the war, Lincoln chose Ulysses S. Grant to be the Commander-in-Chief. Lincoln’s intention was then understood by Grant at a time that the Confederates have been advancing to total victory. Grant brought the Robert E. Lee, Commander-in-Chief of the Confederates to the war front and challenged him to a final battle that will determine the victor of the war that dragged too long. Grant dragged Lee to what will be known today as the ‘Battle of Gettysburg’, staking everything that he has left. In turn, Grant was able to bring victory to the Union and made the leaders of the rebellion surrender. Lincoln did the right decision of choosing Grant which prevented the country from falling apart. As a result, slavery was abolished, and the United States of America came to become the world’s best example for equality, liberty and freedom. By Min Byung-don Former Superintendent of the Korea Military Academy | Summary by Rigoberto Banta Jr.

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