“Despite their similarities, the two men could not have come from more different backgrounds.”
Both generals emerged from the war as living icons of their respective causes. To this day, each is remembered as much for his battlefield prowess and dogged determination as for his decency and humanity. Yet despite their similarities, the two men could not have come from more different backgrounds.
Lee was a product of the Old Virginia aristocracy and enjoyed an upbringing of wealth and privilege; Grant, who was raised in a tiny cottage in rural Ohio, was the son of an ordinary tanner and famously characterized his existence as “hardscrabble”.
Lee was a West Point graduate and career soldier; Grant, who also studied at the prestigious military academy, left the army at 32 to pursue a life in business only to fail miserably.
Lee was the embodiment of temperance and self-discipline; Grant battled alcoholism all his life.