The objective of this book is to provide for all Americans a military history presented from the American point of view. The project grew from the discovery by one of the authors that there existed no up-to-date, reliable survey or analysis of American military history suitable for use in a college course which he was presenting to ROTC students. As we set ourselves to the task, however, we came quickly to the conclusion that the very elements of our martial heritage which would be of value to the college student would also be significant to any citizen of the United States. The interest and educated support of the American citizen is essential if the armed forces are to be capable of performing their functions in the safeguarding of our nation.
It is important, therefore, that each citizen understand why the study of military history is so important a part of the education of the prospective officer, who must be adequately prepared to lead his fellow citizens in battle. In our view, such a study should accomplish the following: First, it should provide an important element of the broad military background so vital to successful leadership at all echelons of command. Second, it should be the basis for stimulating and interesting study of the principles of war and of the fundamentals of the tactical doctrine of the United States Army. Third, from a military-cultural aspect, it should introduce the prospective officer to the great names and important events which have shaped or influenced his profession in America. Fourth, it should demonstrate the importance of military history-- as an integral element of the broader course of history--in the study of the development of the domestic and foreign affairs of the United States.
In endeavoring to accomplish these aims, we have stressed two parallel themes which will, we hope, impress themselves indelibly upon the reader: first, the immutability of those military axioms known as principles of war; and, second, the constantly changing nature of the actual waging of war.
In determining the scope and emphasis of the book as a whole, and the individual chapters in particular, we had several choices. We considered the possibility of a military history of the world, in which we would go into some detail regarding all important military operations since the Battle of Marathon, with primary emphasis on American operations. It became quickly apparent, however, that such a book would grow to mammoth proportions, if it were to be as valuable as we should want it to be.