Episode 15: Generals Lee and Grant: Great Strategists of the American Civil War

Generals Ulysses S Grant and Robert E Lee commanded the opposing armies in the American Civil War, each the greatest military leader of their own side.

Products of the Academy at West Point, they were both expert tacticians and, most importantly, understood their sides’ strategic goals, limitations and opportunities, and led them accordingly. But Grant only really took charge in 1863, two years into the war. Had one of his predecessors still been in command, might the South have won? Join us to find out whether it might have, and why it did not.

Joining Beatrice and Paul for this episode is Dr Christian Keller, Professor of History and Director of the Military History Programme of the Department of National Security and Strategy at the United States Army War College. Dr Keller is the award-winning author of The Great Partnership: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Fate of the Confederacy, and is also the host of The Civil War Strategy Podcast. In 2017 he was named the General Dwight D Eisenhower Chair of National Security.

Dr Christian Keller has asserted that his opinions are exclusively his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Government, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, or the United States Army War College. 

The views or statements expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the podcast does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by RUSI employees are those of the employees and do not necessarily reflect the view of RUSI.

Further Reading:

Ulysses S. Grant, The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, Volumes 1 & 2, (Charles L. Webster, 1885). Available at www.gutenberg.org/files/4367/4367-h/4367-h.htm

Christian B. Keller, The Great Partnership: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Fate of the Confederacy (Pegasus, 2019).

Christian B. Keller, Chancellorsville and the Germans: Nativism, Ethnicity, and Civil War Memory (Fordham, 2007).

Christian B. Keller, Damn Dutch: Pennsylvania Germans at Gettysburg (Stackpole/Rowman-Littlefield, 2004).

Christian B. Keller et al, The Civil War: A Visual History (Dorling-Kindersley/Smithsonian Institution, 2011).

Christian B. Keller et al, Pennsylvania: A Military History (Westholme, 2016).

Christian B. Keller, Southern Strategies: Why the Confederacy Failed (University Press of Kansas, 2021).

 Christian B. Keller, “The Civil War Strategy Podcast,” episodes of which may be found at www.christianbkeller.com and any major podcast distribution site.


Paul O’Neill

Senior Research Fellow

Military Sciences

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Beatrice Heuser

Senior Associate Fellow

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