In December, 1863, General Ulysses. S. Grant had many big decision to make as he made his plans for the spring offensive against the Confederacy.

Grant, a West Point graduate and veteran of the Mexican American War, had been a clerk in a leather goods shop in Galena, Illinois, at the start of the Civil War just a little over two years before. By the summer of 1863 he was leading more than a million Union soldiers to crucial victories at Chattanooga and Vicksburg.

According to Ron Chernow's best-selling biography, Grant's main concern in the winter of 1863 was securing a reliable supply line for his armies. To do this meant making decisions concerning substantial investments that would impact the operations and lives of many. He did so quickly, regardless of the pressure he was under. When questioned whether or not he was sure he was correct about these fast choices, Grant said, "No I am not, but in war anything is better than indecision. We must decide. If I am wrong we shall soon find it out, and can do the other thing. But not to decide wastes both time and money and may ruin everything."

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