Lincoln picks a new general

In March 1864, Grant was ordered to Washington to take command of the entire Union Army. Promoted to the rank of lieutenant general—a position last held by George Washington—Grant was given complete freedom to use the military as he saw fit. "After years of searching, Lincoln had found what he wanted," wrote Catton. "A completely reliable General to whom he could turn over the entire conduct of the military part of the war, without needing to look over the General's shoulder, be told what he was doing, and help him plan strategy. Lincoln called Grant in, gave him a free hand, and undertook to support him as vigorously as he could."

Grant immediately made plans to launch a coordinated offensive (attack) against Confederate military targets using the full might of the Union Army. He gave General William T. Sherman (1820-1891; see entry) command of the armies in the West and ordered him to march into the South and destroy the main Confederate army there. Meanwhile, Grant took control of the Army of the Potomac—the Union's primary army in the East—and marched southward in search of Robert E. Lee (1807-1870; see entry) and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

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