Civil War Generalship: The Art of Command

Civil War Generalship: The Art of Command

Civil War Generalship: The Art of Command

Civil War Generalship: The Art of Command

Synopsis

This study challenges both the accepted convention that the American Civil War was the first "modern war" and the myth that Civil War leaders were guided by foreign and American military thought in fighting their war. Wood's work takes an innovative approach by selecting three typical higher level commanders on each side, Union and Confederate, and then "pairing them off" in the campaigns and battles in which they actually confronted each other. While readers gain insight into the nature and character of a commander, they can, at the same time, observe how each put his art of command into practice. Civil War commanders at the operational level had to confront not only their opponents on campaign and in battle, they also had to develop--even create--their own method of command through their personal on-the-job training, while actually engaged in combat operations.

Excerpt

At a time when American military leaders are confronting the problem of developing global strategies that were inconceivable less than a decade ago, it may seem less than useful to look back to our Civil War for direction in guiding military thought for the future. Yet it may prove instructive to recall that two American nations were engaged in the greatest war, in terms of both manpower and human sacrifice, that Americans have ever had to. fight--including the two World Wars. With that recollection it is also useful to recognize that, for the first time in our history, massed armies, made up of hundreds of thousands of civilian soldiers, had to be organized and trained to fight a war in which both sides were determined to settle for nothing less than total military victory. and when those armies were led to battle, the leaders on both sides were confronted with problems of strategy and tactics that were as inconceivable as had been their war less than a decade before. How those leaders dealt with those problems became the subject and the substance of this writing. To describe the legacy that their military thought leaves for future leaders then became the goal of this book; whether that goal has been attained is left to the judgement of the reader.

The journey toward the goal takes the form of an exploration through five progressive parts. Part One defines the underlying problem that the commanders of both Union and Confederate forces had to come to grips with and maps the ground for the exploration of an art of command which the commanders in question had to create for themselves. Parts Two, Three, and Four present the campaigns and battles wherein the reader can observe the commanders as each confronted his opponent and used his art to conduct his . . .

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