Reviews of Grant Under Fire: An Exposé of Generalship & Character in the American Civil War:
“Impressively researched, Grant Under Fire is an iconoclastic but exceptionally well documented contribution to our clearer and more in-depth understanding of the role Grant played in the American Civil War. Informed and informative, Grant Under Fire is a seminal work of exhaustive scholarship and a critically important contribution to personal, community, and academic library American Civil War reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.”—Midwest Book Review (August 2015)
“Wow!+” (the highest rating) as a very well thought-out critique of U.S. Grant’s generalship.—Lone Star Book Review (September 2015)
“Historians have long acknowledged Grant’s early war mistakes, such as those at Belmont, Fort Donelson, and Shiloh that might have led to disaster, and noted the massive casualties of the Overland Campaign, but typically they have not lingered on these matters as they moved their narratives to the war’s final outcome.
Joseph Rose is not, therefore, the first historian to find fault with Ulysses S. Grant, but he is the first to treat systematically the whole of Grant’s military career with an eye to Grant’s shortcomings. Rose supports his interpretations in reasoned analysis grounded in the primary sources. His documentation consumes 105 pages of end notes. The bibliography of primary and secondary sources encompasses another 38 pages.
Mr. Rose is, of course, challenging a cherished Civil War icon, the general who would fight, elevated to command by Lincoln, and who led the North to victory. But is Mr. Rose correct?
Was Grant a careless, mediocre officer who was too often drunk and allowed corruption to flourish? If so, then how was Grant able to rise to command of the Union army?
Mr. Rose’s answer to this question entails an intriguing foray into the daily activities of Grant’s command and the conduct of battles, giving readers a new window into the conduct of the war.
Whether or not one agrees with Mr. Rose’s thesis, Grant under Fire may be the most interesting book yet written about Ulysses S. Grant. It not only contains much new information and a thought-provoking thesis, it may also engage the historical community in rigorous, healthy debate. For that valuable service alone, it warrants 5 stars on the review.”—, professor of military history
“After a half century of increasingly favorable portrayals by civil war historians and biographers, Joseph Rose challenges the presently dominant viewpoint of Ulysses Grant in three ways. His book could be a turning point.
First, he reveals incidents when Grant falsified battlefield reports and other documents to further his own interests. Sometimes the general deliberately impugned the reputations of men he thought to be rivals. Regrettably, even when writing his memoirs in the final months of his life he often would praise victims indirectly without conceding that he had wronged them.
Second, he analyzes Grant’s accomplishments from perspectives seldom considered by the general’s admirers. For example, most historians minimize the role of the Union Navy in the victories at Fort Donelson and Vicksburg. Even the commonly belittled Major General John Pope—routed at Second Bull Run—forced the Confederates to surrender at Island Number 10 under similar circumstances. Similarly, Grant gave no credit to his often-disparaged rival, Major General John McClernand, for the latter’s victory at Arkansas Post where he captured 5,000 rebels with the aid of the Union Navy.
Third, Rose shows that the pattern of disreputable conduct continued after the war. The author documents numerous corruption scandals during Grant’s presidency that are increasingly minimized, excused, or ignored by Grant biographers.
After a decade of research, Rose’s work underscores the maxim: ‘People will remember the quality of your work long after they have forgotten how quickly you finished it.’ However, the book is not for the uninitiated. It is an expose on Grant that will be most appreciated by readers with prior Civil War knowledge.
Frank Varney’s, General Grant and the Rewriting of History, is a comparable book with a narrower focus.”—, author of Trading with the Enemy: The Covert Economy During the American Civil War and Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies
Praise for Grant Under Fire from noted authors of Civil War histories:
Grant Under Fire is a thought-provoking study of the generalship and strategy of U.S. Grant during the Civil War. Joseph A. Rose convincingly argues that a close study of the historical record refutes Grant’s reputation as a military genius and common sense strategist. Rose writes with a vigorous style, and supports his thesis with impressive research and incisive analysis.—Robert I. Girardi, author of The Soldiers’ General: Major General Gouverneur K. Warren and the Civil War
Joseph Rose’s provocative account of U.S. Grant’s military career offers a valuable and much needed corrective to the currently prevailing view of Grant’s actions and accomplishments. Rose’s prodigious and impeccable scholarship greatly strengthens his penetrating analysis of both Grant the man and Grant the commander. Future writers on Grant would do well to take Rose’s work into account.—William Glenn Robertson, author of Back Door to Richmond: The Bermuda Hundred Campaign, April–June 1864 and The Petersburg Campaign: The Battle of Old Men and Young Boys, June 9, 1864
Popular history is notable for many inaccuracies and distortions by prominent figures who had an agenda to promote. U. S. Grant was no exception. As Joseph Rose portrays herein, the many controversies involving Grant’s military failures and mistakes are worthy of re-examination. Just to set the record straight, there should be more future insightful research and commentary, as you will find here.—Wiley Sword, author of Shiloh: Bloody April and Embrace an Angry Wind: The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah: Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville and Sharpshooter: Hiram Berdan, His Famous Sharpshooters and their Sharps Rifles and Firepower from Abroad; The Confederate Enfield and the Lemat Revolver and Mountains Touched with Fire: Chattanooga Besieged, 1863
A well-written, exhaustively researched essay on how many errors and sins a commander can commit and still stand among the Great Captains of history.—John Horn, author of The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864
The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, though hailed as one of the greatest military memoirs ever written and generally accepted by professional historians as a fundamental primary source on America’s Civil War, is now being challenged. … Rose examines the truthfulness of Grant’s account for the entire conflict. Grant Under Fire reveals a general with a dramatically different character than the one he portrayed for himself.—Lawrence Lee Hewitt, author of Port Hudson, Confederate Bastion on the Mississippi and co-editor of the three-volume Confederate Generals in the Western Theater
Bound to create animated discussion among avid Civil War buffs, Grant Under Fire is an insightful alternative view of Grant’s leadership, based on author Joseph Rose’s extensive research.—David Cleutz, author of Fields of Fame and Glory: Col. David Ireland & 137th New York Volunteers and Rebels in the Front Yard: Liberty at Gettysburg
Recent scholarship has indicated that much of what we thought we knew about the Civil War is not, in fact, the truth. This carefully-researched and engagingly-written book contributes a great deal to our knowledge of what really happened on some of the most famous battlefields of that conflict. It is a must for any serious student of the Civil War.—Frank Varney, author of General Grant and the Rewriting of History: How the Destruction of General William S. Rosecrans Influenced Our Understanding of the Civil War
Joseph Rose presents an engaging critical assessment of Grant’s generalship that is destined to provoke lively debate among students of America’s bloodiest conflict. One might disagree with Rose’s conclusions, but his careful scholarship demands that they receive serious consideration.—Gordon Rhea, author of The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5–6, 1864 and The Battles for Spotsylvania Court House and the Road to Yellow Tavern, May 7–12, 1864 and To the North Anna River: Grant And Lee, May 13-25, 1864 and Cold Harbor: Grant and Lee, May 26–June 3, 1864