Quiet the Fear, Do the Work

Strategy, organization, and training are essential when a soldier is called to fight in a war. But by far the hardest thing to do is actually quiet the fear and do the hard work of fighting. During the American Civil War, Union major generals George McClellan and Ulysses S. Grant are studies in contrast.

McClellan was the first General-in-Chief, appointed to oversee all military operations. He was young, handsome, and carried himself with a commanding bearing. His countenance was fierce and confident. He was credentialed, having finishing second in his class at West Point. He was popular with his soldiers and with the masses. As a general, he could out-prepare, out-organize, out-train, and out-strategize every other Union commander.

But after one year, Abraham Lincoln removed McClellan from command. Why? Because on the field, McClellan was very slow to actually fight battles.

Ulysses S. Grant was nearly McClellan's opposite. He was scruffy and a bit disheveled, soft-spoken, constantly smoked, or chewed a cigar, and his demeanor was unassuming. He was undistinguished at West Point, finishing in the lower half of his class. Early in his career, he had been forced to resign from the army due to alcohol use. As a general, he was intuitive, could be impulsive, and even reckless.

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