Reading the Simpson book on Civil War strategy The Civil War in the East, a tour-de-force, one comes across his assessment of how three major battles and the period from November 1862-December 1863 produced a hundred thousand casualties and no strategic gains on either side (pp. 59-60). And a paean to the insight of Michigan's own General Williams. Few if any foresaw that strategic failure ... but Simpson points to Williams as one:
"And yet there were those who saw as much in the fall of 1862, including Union general Alpheus S. Williams. 'I have no faith in a campaign in Virginia from this or any other overland route'," he quotes him as writing (p. 60). The next thirteen months would prove the Michigander right, as "far too little had changed" since after the battle of Antietam, the Army of the Potomac now a dozen miles from where it had been then, and the Army of Northern Virginia just south of the Rappahannock-Rapidan river network.
According to Simpson, it took U.S. Grant to come east, pull the threads together, and weave a new strategy that would win the war (p. 137). For those observers who extol the superior brilliance of other commanders, the judgment of Dr. Simpson on Williams and Grant is well worth reading.