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 Command & Control Grant v Lee    

Write a paper that compares and contrasts the leadership styles of the two main adversaries of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee and U.S. Grant, and how they dealt with command, control and leadership. Additionally, your paper should reflect how the Command and Control aspects of these two generals compares with current Command and Control structure.

Leadership in historical context—The US Civil War (1860-1865) is the most important aspect of the American Story. Many leaders emerged during the Civil War but the most important are Robert E Lee and Ulysses S Grant.


Both men studied at West Point and fought in the Mexican War prior to the Civil War. Historians, students and interested people have studied these two leaders for the last 150 years. How do you evaluate these leaders?

Your task is to: 1) write your rubric to evaluate each of these leaders. 2) read and research about each leader. 3) Determine how each leader satisfies or fails in your rubric. 4) Compare and contrast the command and control of each leader 5) Compare these two leaders on two modern leaders. This work should be your personal analysis and your rubric should be unique. You will discuss in your paper how you arrived at your evaluation points. Lessons applicable today. As you all know the war ended at Appomattox Courthouse, but how did the leaders react to the end of the war, and what impact did that have on their leadership.





Subject Administration Pages 8 Style APA


Robert Lee versus Ulysses Grant: the Civil War

The U.S Civil  War that lasted from 1860-1865 is said to be one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of the country.  It is a time when the nation was said to be warring against itself in various fronts. It is also a period that saw the rise of great leaders in the history of America. It is indeed at the points of adversity that leaders are faced with the reality of having to summon all that is within them to ensure that the adversity passes with as minimal destruction and casualties as possible. This is what the Civil War did with respect to the personhood and leadership styles of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. The purpose of this paper is to explore the variances and similarities between these two adversaries and the extent to which the Civil War not only shaped but also brought out their leadership styles.

Robert Edward Lee was born on February 19, 1807. He arguably hailed from a great family since one of his extended family members was a president (Thomas, 1997). Other great people in his family included the Chief Justice of the U.S and some signers of the declaration of independence (Thomas, 1997). His father, Colonel Henry Lee, fought in the Revolutionary War and he gained accolade as one of the war heroes of his time (Thomas, 1997). To a large extent, Lee was inspired to continue with the legacy of greatness that had been going on in his family. Just like his father who fought in the Revolutionary War, he grew up to become an army man (Nolan, 2000). A significant turning point in his career was when he was among the soldiers who were chosen to go to war with Mexico in 1846 (Thomas, 1997). He distinguished himself as a great tactician and a valiant soldier and upon victory during this war, he was held up as a hero (). In other subsequent occasions, Lee’s brilliance in various positions in the military and particularly in leadership came to be seen (Nolan, 2000). During the American Civil War, he came to even greater military prominence when he commanded Virginia’s armed forces and came to be the general-in-chief of the confederate forces (Nolan, 2000). Lee’s commitment to the state of Virginia arguably superseded his commitment to the army and this came to be seen when he turned down the offer that was presented by President Abraham Lincoln regarding taking command of the union forces (Nolan, 2000). He also in a sense had a great belief in the preservation of the orthodox English culture and tradition and this had a significant effect on the stands he took.

Ulysses S. Grant was born on April 27, 1822 (Simpson, 2014). He was born into a middle class family and his father ran a tannery (Simpson, 2014). In 1839, his father, Jesse Grant, made arrangements for the admission of his son to the US military academy at West Point (Carpenter, 1970). He graduated therefrom as a distinguished horseman and not necessarily as a distinguished student (Carpenter, 1970). Grant got commissioned in the American 4th infantry as a lieutenant (Simpson, 2014). Later on, after he got a family, he was commissioned to various remote army posts which kept him away from his Family and in 1854; he decided to resign from the army (Simpson, 2014). Later on, as the Civil War began, Grant was a civilian and he signed up to become a colonel of 21st Illinois Volunteers (Carpenter, 1970). Later on, President Abraham Lincoln presented him with the offer of being a brigadier general and he accepted it (Simpson, 2014). At this, he became valiant and victorious in the various military endeavors that he undertook with regard to the Civil War. For instance, in 1863, the forces that he led captured a confederate stronghold in Mississippi. As his record continued to speak for itself during this crucial point in history, the president later appointed him as a lieutenant general and he was given command over all of the U.S armies. He tenaciously led a series campaigns that effectively wore out the Confederate armies and in due time, the deadliest war in the history of America came to an end. On April 9, 1865; Robert Lee, the Confederate General surrendered to Grant at the Appomattox Court House and this marked the end of the Civil War (Simpson, 2014). After this war, grant came to be known as a national hero and because of this, his political career commenced and in due time he became the President of the U.S. 

Leadership Rubric

Historically, it has become apparent that certain leadership traits distinguish a leader from other leaders and makes the difference between the success and failure of a particular leader. In this respect, a rubric is formulated in a bid to make a determination with regard to the performance of each of the leaders mentioned above. The first element on the rubric relates to a leader’s cognitive abilities (Zaccaro, et al., 2000). Cognitive abilities such as advanced problem solving skills and creative reasoning make a leaders productivity and effectiveness distinctive (Zaccaro, Kemp, and Bader, 2004). In this regard, if a leader exhibits advanced cognitive abilities particularly during tumultuous moments, he is a great leader. This is exhibited with his ability to make great decisions on the go, and on his ability to implement those decisions. He should to an extent require the same from his followers (logos). By contrast, if a leader lacks advanced cognitive abilities, he will cower when he is required to make critical decisions.

The second element is the ability to lead and empower a group. A great leader does not usurp power. He builds his team up and allows them to share in his vision. Essentially, a great leader rises up other great leaders (Zaccaro, Kemp, and Bader, 2004). This then means that in the event that he is not available there, the banner is carried on; his vision continues. The dream is not limited by his presence or absence. His followers are empowered to make independent decisions. By contrast, if a leader is not able to empower his followers his vision is first of all likely to fail since the followers have not owned it.

The third element relates to charisma and emotional intelligence. The latter relates to a leader’s ability to recognize and take control of his own emotions while leveraging those emotions appropriately when need arises (Zaccaro, Kemp, and Bader, 2004). Essentially, a leader should be able to appeal to the emotions of his followers (pathos) and inspire them into action. The same is used even against an adversary as and when the situation calls for it. 

The fourth element relates to the ethics of the leader (Zaccaro, Kemp, and Bader, 2004). A great leader has integrity and an ethical standing that he is not only ready to live by but also die for. His stands should be known. He should not be swayed by the changing circumstances. In this regard, a leader who is a people-pleaser and keeps on shifting his goal posts whenever it is convenient is not a great leader. A great leader should stick to his ethical standing even when it is difficult.

The fifth and arguably the most important rubric relates to command and control abilities of the leader. A great leader is able to have command and control over the affairs of his team. His followers recognize him as being in control and they trust his leadership. By contrast, a leader who is not able to have command and control (essentially one whose orders are not obeyed) is not a great leader.

The table below provides a summary of the above mentioned leadership rubric

Leadership quality

Basic/ Ordinary level

Effective level

Distinguished level

Cognitive abilities

Shies away from making tough decisions when the situation requires.

Exhibits problem solving skills and creative reasoning particularly during tough times, but he is not willing to make potentially polarizing decisions.

Exhibits advanced problem solving skills and creative reasoning especially during tumultuous moments by making bold, courageous and productive decisions in a snap.

Ability to lead and empower a group

His followers do not particularly believe in him on some issues but they follow through with his orders.

His followers trust his judgment and they follow through with his orders. They are involved in the decision making process and can express reservations if need be.

His followers not only trust his judgment and follow through with his orders but they also have a personalized belief in the ideals of the leader to the point of carrying them on even when he is not present.

Charisma and emotional intelligence

Does not have charisma and emotional intelligence.

Exhibits charisma and emotional intelligence but does not utilize it to the fullest extent.

He is a lovable leader who inspires his followers into action on a personal level. Effectively uses this ability against an adversary when need arises.

Ethics and Integrity

Does not particularly have any ethical standards since he is willing to gratify the personal wants even when his integrity is on the line.

He has ethical standards but can deviate from it from time to time in accordance with the conveniences of the changing times.

He has his own ethical standards and is not easily swayed by outside forces. His stand on matters is known and he is willing to live by and die for what he believes in.

Command and control

Does not have command and control since his followers do not believe in his stands.

Has an average degree of command and control.

Has command and control of his team. His orders are followed.


The performance of the leaders based on the rubric

Both leaders had great cognitive abilities since they had advanced problem solving skills and creative reasoning. Lee, for instance, was known as a great military tactician who scored many victories on the battlefield (Nolan, 2000). Grant, on the other hand, made several bold decisions in the course of his life in service. For instance, in 1862, when he realized that his lethal methods were not helpful in winning the fight for the union, he started an offensive campaign and this was one of the first steps towards victory for the union. They both made courageous and productive decisions in the course of their careers. 

Both leaders also exhibited the ability to lead and empower a group. They, therefore, had command and control of their teams. Lee was accredited as a great battle commander and a great tactician (Nolan, 2000). He was successful because of his ability to lead the soldiers that were under him. Grant, on the other hand, Grant had vast command and using his command and control abilities, he successfully fought six confederate armies and was even able to capture three of the armies (Simpson, 2014). This could not have been done singlehandedly. He had great command and control of his team and was able to successfully empower them to be victorious in the battlefield.

Both leaders exhibited Charisma and emotional intelligence. Lee’s troops were admirably loyal towards him and this enabled him to gain great success in the battlefield (Thomson, 1997). Grant’s charisma not only enabled him to register a success for the Union, but it also arguably led to surrender on the part of the Confederates. This could particularly be seen when he started the offensive campaign which was taken up by many of his followers and admirers. The leaders also had their own distinctive ethical stands and they could not be swayed by the outside forces.

Comparison of the Civil War adversaries to two Modern Day Leaders

A comparison will firstly be made with respect to the two Civil War adversaries and James Comey; the former FBI director. Just like Lee and Grant, James Comey was a great leader and he exhibited advanced problem solving skills and creative reasoning especially during tumultuous times. He had the boldness of taking on huge controversial cases that involved the commission of offences by powerful and influential people (Comey, 2018). For instance, in 2003, he spearheaded an investigation into securities fraud and wire fraud and the result was that a conviction was secured for the perpetrators (Comey, 2018). He is also widely known for his ethical standing as a leader and he can indeed be said to be willing to live and die for his ethical standing (Comey, 2016). It is arguable that his standing led to his discharge from his job as the director of FBI. Unlike the two Civil War adversaries however, the battles and achievements earned by James Comey seemed to be behind the scenes because of the multifaceted nature of the federal security structure.

A comparison will also be drawn between the two Civil War adversaries and Barrack Obama. This is in recognition of the fact that the three leaders are not only leaders in their own right (having led the nation during crucial times in history), but that Ulysses S. Grant later became the President of the US sometime after the Civil War. Just like the two Civil War adversaries, Barrack Obama had great charisma and emotional intelligence and this not only helped him to be elected into office for two consecutive terms; but it also helped him to be effective even as he handled national security matters (Bligh and Kohles, 2009). He was able to communicate effectively with the CIA, FBI, and NSA (Savagefeb, 2016). He also had the ability to lead and empower others and still receives acclamation for his ethics and integrity. He has also been known to have advanced problem-solving skills and this has led to great success in the course of his leadership.

Unlike the period of the Civil War, the command and control structures today are very different. The national defense system is currently very multi-faceted. The main federal security agencies are the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and Homeland Security. These agencies are also supported by other state agencies in the devolved system, and this goes on all the way to the county levels. This means that for any success to be arrived at there is need for communication and cooperation from multiple agencies with respect to the sharing of intelligence and resources (Savagefeb, 2016). It then follows that when success comes, no single individual can be celebrated as the author of the success. For instance, in this technological era, most terrorist activities are planned using advanced technology and strategies and attacks in this respect can only be predetermined and stopped when there is cooperation among the different agencies. This means that the command and control structure is not as centralized as it was for Lee and Grant during the Civil War.

When the Civil War was reaching its decline, the two leaders reacted differently to this transition. The fight for the Confederate armies was very close to Lee’s heart and whereas it seemed apparent that the cause was already lost, Lee fought to the bitter end up until April 9, 1865 at the Appomattox Court House where he surrendered to General Grant (Nolan, 2000). In response to the end of the Civil War, Lee surrendered and even requested for the restoration of his citizenship (Thomas, 1997). At the time, he was not ideally seen as a nationwide hero but was revered in his own home state. He became the president of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) (Nolan, 2000). In response to the end of the Civil War, Grant intimated to his adversaries that there were no terms except an absolute, unconditional and immediate surrender (Simpson, 2014). Essentially, he made it clear that he had won the fight. Whereas Robert Lee took a low key, Ulysses Grant capitalized on the acclamation he had received for delivering victory for the Union and rose from one level to the next until he finally became the President.

The U.S Civil  War that lasted from 1860-1865 is said to be one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of the country. The two main adversaries of the war were Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. Robert Lee was an army man through and through but Grant took a break from the army and later returned. Both leaders had advanced problem solving skills and creative reasoning abilities. They exhibited the ability to lead and empower a group and used their charisma and emotional intelligence to be effective in their leadership. They also significantly exhibited command and control of their following. The command and control structures of the 19th Century are very different from modern day’s structures. The variance in reaction of the two leaders with respect to the end of the Civil War had a significant impact on their leadership




Bligh, M. C., & Kohles, J. C. (2009). The enduring allure of charisma: How Barack Obama won the historic 2008 presidential election. The Leadership Quarterly20(3), 483-492.

Carpenter, J. A. (1970). Ulysses S. Grant (p. 150). New York: Twayne Publishers.

Comey, J. B. (2016). A Conversation with Director James B. Comey, Jr.

Comey, J. (2018). A higher loyalty: Truth, lies, and leadership. Flatiron Books.

Nolan, A. T. (2000). Lee Considered: General Robert E. Lee and Civil War History. UNC Press Books.

SAVAGEFEB, C. (2016). Obama Administration Set to Expand Sharing of Data That NSA Intercepts.

Simpson, B. (2014). Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865. Zenith Press.

Thomas, E. M. (1997). Robert E. Lee: A Biography. WW Norton & Company.

Zaccaro, S. J., Mumford, M. D., Connelly, M. S., Marks, M. A., & Gilbert, J. A. (2000). Assessment of leader problem-solving capabilities. The Leadership Quarterly11(1), 37-64.

Zaccaro, S. J., Kemp, C., & Bader, P. (2004). Leader traits and attributes. The nature of leadership101, 124.

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