In American Soldiers – Ground Combat in the World Wars, Korea, & Vietnam (University Press of Kansas, 2003), Peter S. Kindsvatter examines war diaries and memoirs to help understand the wartime experiences of U.S. soldiers over the course of half a century. Of specific interest are the individual soldiers and small unit dynamics. To further his analysis, Kindsvatter also incorporates the analyses of other social scientists and psychologists. Interestingly, he also uses literary analysis as he discusses the depiction of the soldier’s experience by wartime novelists such as Ernest Hemmingway. This mix of sources, contends Kindsvatter, allows us to search for a “collective truth.” Although an excellent book, I found the author’s relatively seamless inclusion of fictional accounts in the midst of primary sources – as when discussing white soldier attitudes toward working with their black counterparts – somewhat distracting and unconvincing.
Kindsvatter delves into the formative collective experiences of American soldiers, such as the reasons which prompted the decision to enlist (if voluntary) or to not desert (if drafted), experiences through basic training, and ultimately through combat. The author finds that, contrary to broad-brush understandings of the motivations of soldiers during each war (e.g. soldiers enlisting in the First World War were naïve and gung-ho, the soldiers in the Second World War were more grim but determined, while those in Vietnam were largely disillusioned and unwilling), soldiers entering each conflict were driven by a mix of motives. His discussion on the “soldierization process” – the “tear down” and “build up” that transformed the civilian into a soldier, establishes how citizens from a multitude of backgrounds were brought to a common capability prior to being deployed for war. Following this the bulk of American Soldiers details the experiences of the Army and Marines as they experienced the reality of combat – from dull drudgery to “life-or-death struggle…”
A vital dynamic that gets attention throughout the book is the soldier’s identification with his unit and the Army (or Marines). Basic training laid the foundation for identification as a warrior, but one that existed as part of a larger group. This group psychology was essential to developing loyalty, and “[s]uch loyalty to the group is the essence of fighting morale.” The relationship between soldiers, both horizontally with peers and vertically with leaders and subordinates, had a significant effect on performance and morale. Nowhere was this more evident than with the experiences of black soldiers. The American military was segregated until 1949, when the U.S. Marine Corps integrated, leading the way towards eventual full integration by the end of the Korean War (Kindsvatter points out that Executive Order 9981, signed by Harry Truman in 1948 and often credited with abolishing military segregation, only directed equal treatment of soldiers).Although the experiences of blacks and other minorities are brought up throughout the monograph, an entire chapter is devoted to analyzing race relations throughout these wars.
“The modern practice of Europe, with respect to the employment of standing armies, has created such a mass of opinion in their favor, that even philosophers, and the advocates for liberty, have frequently confessed their use and necessity, in certain cases. But whoever seriously and Candidly estimates the power of discipline and the tendency of military habits, will be Constrained to Confess, that whatever may be the efficacy of a standing army in war, it cannot in peace be considered as friendly to the rights of human nature.” 
On 18 Jan 1790, Secretary of War Henry Knox submitted to President George Washington a plan for the establishment of American militia to safeguard the nation. Echoing Alexander Hamilton’s warnings of standing armies made almost three years prior, Knox reasoned that “an energetic national militia” was more in harmony with American ideals. Standing armies (as evidenced by his words that began this article) represented a looming threat to national liberty. Three days after receiving Knox’s recommendation, Washington forwarded it to Congress for consideration, and thus codified a distinctive American suspicion of the military that would largely endure until the 20th Century.
This mistrust of large, standing armies was only one factor that has helped shape what can arguably be called an American way of war. Another distinction is the manner in which warfare was executed (more on that in a moment). But if there is a distinctive way of American war, what are its roots, and when did it emerge?
Certainly from the initial establishment of European colonies, the Anglo, French, Spanish, and other Europeans would have brought with them their styles of waging war. In the struggle over Nova Scotia in the autumn of 1710, for instance, John Grenier describes the clash between the British and French at Port Royal as falling within the “context of Europe’s emerging “age of limited warfare,” and so fought for glory and honor to a point, but both sides made certain to restrain themselves so as to not “radically [upset] the status quo…” Jon Latimer, in 1812 War with America, notes that leading up to the conflict that “the Americans’ drill was largely modelled on continental patterns,” although in practice they used a “variety of extemporized manuals.” And yet both the Americans and the British recognized the existence of certain styles of combat that was common to the frontier, before and after 1776, that was particular to the New World. The “skulking” way war, the guerrilla-style combat associated with native Indians and tough frontiersmen, was something both scoffed at and admired by Europeans, who strove to emulate it as much as possible when engaged in combat in America. It was a way of warfare that gave the European populations of North America extreme resiliency, but also possessed notable weaknesses.
This American way of war was shaped by the specific threats faced by European settlers, as well as by the limited resources
and manpower available to meet those threats. This warfare, from a traditional European perspective, was brutal. In 1745, the French settlers living under British dominion in Nova Scotia, the Acadians, became alarmed when the British Governor for the region brought in American Rangers to build blockhouses throughout the region. The Acadians evidently drew a distinction between the European military forces and the Yankees, as Grenier cites correspondence sent to the Earl of Newcastle indicating that they thought the Americans “far more terrible than European soldiers.” Surrounded by often hostile native Indians as well as by competing Old World rivals, the Americans took up a manner of warfare that was, in Grenier’s words, “of unrestrained violence, shocking brutality, and devastating effectiveness.” The particular character of American-style combat was recognized by the British even at this point in time. James Wolfe, who overall looked upon North American provincials with little regard, nonetheless argued for the need to train British soldiers in similar fashion to American rangers.
By the time of the War of Independence, both the Americans and the British were quite cognizant of fighting in an “American” style of war. In the earliest days of the conflict, the performance of the British soldiers trained as light infantry, organized into “flank battalions,” was somewhat lackluster. Relatively quickly, however, they seemed to grow in confidence. Letters from royal soldiers record “fighting in the thick wood, in the very style that the Americans think themselves superior to regular troops.” However, the rebel militia fighters of the deep frontier continued to hold a reputation of ferocity and ability that even the British commanders respected. After one engagement where the British were particularly battered, one solider observed that “European discipline” was of little use in the heavily wooded areas, and that the rebels were “by much our superiors at wood fighting, being habituated to the woods from their infancy.” The important point here is that both those British soldiers who boasted of their own skirmishing skills, and those who thought the Americans superior in that way of combat, seemed to consider “bushfighting” as something particularly American. Matthew Spring, in With Zeal and Bayonets Only, cites a number of such letters which contrast how the Americans fought, and compared British capability to adapt to it (both favorably and unfavorably).
The American way of war held a preference of militia over regular soldiers, and guerrilla-style combat over large-scale, head-on confrontations. It was a style of warfare born from the military requirements of the frontier. From the founding of the colonies, European settlers struggled against native Indians and each other, and the potential for warfare was ever-present. As such, all able-bodied males between the ages of sixteen to sixty were expected to participate in the militia in some fashion, which included at a minimum an annual muster for training or militia-related tasks. This is not to say that European-style warfare was totally abandoned. Population centers had to be defended, and fortifications had to be built and manned. General Washington, at the outset of the Revolutionary War, did attempt to lead American forces into decisive engagements against the British army. But after a number of defeats suffered throughout the period 1776 – 1780, the Americans increasingly relied on guerrilla-style tactics, to which they were much better suited. Spring notes that the militia were most effective when they fought in “broken terrain” and employed this “’skulking’ method of fighting…” With self-governance being regionally fragmented in the New World, both before and after the American Revolution, the North Americans developed a way of warfare that usually leveraged the unique environment in which they lived to deal with local as well as foreign threats. The result was typically small standing armies. At the turn of the century in 1802, for example, the United States boasted an army of just 2,500 soldiers.
Perhaps one of the most fundamental differences in how Americans waged war compared with their European cousins was rooted in how the individual soldier viewed his relationship to his government. While historians debate the extent to which such a distinction truly applied, in general the peoples of British North America developed the view that service to a government was formed by a contract, wherein each side was obliged to uphold the agreement. Abrogation of the contract meant the other side (in particular, the individual) was no longer under obligation to adhere to the arraignment. This contrasts with the royal army, whose soldiers were bound by the traditional European ruler-subject relationship. The resulting impact of relying on contract-savvy militia was that the government, whether colonial, Federal, or state, had to induce citizens to not only enlist, but to stay committed should a prolonged conflict ensue. To illustrate how this impacted the execution of warfare, John Grenier details an incident in 1755 when Anglo-American militia sought to join British regular troops as they prepared for operations against French forces in Nova Scotia. Rumor reached the American troops that the British army intended to extend their service contracts beyond the 12-months they had originally volunteered for. Apparently deciding that this was a breach of the contract to which they had signed, the American forces took it upon themselves to depart from the area regardless of the plans the British had for them. Grenier speculated that the British regulars watched this with “some sense of envy if not disgust…”
George Washington used short contracts that, while continuously saddling the Revolutionary leaders with new, green troops, did help to ensure the militia did not become fatigued by long-term military commitments. As many as half of the eligible adult male population in the American colonies may have served as either militia or army regulars during the war. Most of the service periods for these men were measured mostly in months, and sometimes only weeks. While this method certainly had some obvious weaknesses, it did offer Washington the ability to rapidly call up and field troops. This created a formidable manpower pool for the Americans, and was something the British – restricted by an inability to quickly replace combat losses – simply could not compete with.
This militia, while often denigrated by the British regulars, offered a resiliency not only with manning but also in the area of logistical support. While logistic concerns for rebel armies were of course greatly simplified by the nature of fighting on their home turf, the American militia had an ability to “live off the land” in a way that the more conventional forces of the British Army had trouble replicating. Despite decades of experience in the New World, including multiple small conflicts – such as King George’s War (1744 – 1748) and the French-Indian War (1754 – 1763) – the British regular army struggled to meet their wartime logistical needs as late as the Revolutionary War. This failure has been identified as one of the primary factors which lead to the defeat of the British in this conflict.
As suggested by Washington’s struggle with raw recruits, this reliance on the militia made it difficult to adjust to threats or operations which were better handled by a more conventional force. For instance, at the outset of the War of 1812, the United States had over 700,000 on the states’ militia rolls, but a standing army of less than 7,000 officers and soldiers. Congress acted to authorize an expansion to a 35,000-man army, plus the acceptance of 30,000 militia into Federal service on 1-year contracts and then an additional 50,000 enlisted men with 18-month contracts for the regular army. But it would take time to recruit and train these regulars, and as stated by Latimer, “the militia was everywhere in disarray – inefficient, unreliable, and expensive…” This state of affairs apparently did not dissuade the more exuberant supporters of the invasion of Canada, however. Whether willfully ignorant or unable to see the limitations in the use of militia for projecting power, Governor Daniel Thompkins of New York exclaimed that the United States would become “masters of Canada by militia only.” Despite the confidence, the attempt to wrest Canada from the British was a complete failure.
A related weakness was that the general reliance on militia made it difficult to develop and execute a strategic plan. Jon Latimer, in his assessment of America’s inability to conquer Canada, argues that the government had a “lack of will to dominate the decisive moments.” This resulted in part from the rapid expansion of military officers, from 191 during Thomas Jefferson’s administration to over 3000 by 1814, only a few years later. Many of these officers had little or no prior military training, which hampered the ability of America’s military leadership to execute a coordinated plan.
In conclusion, the unique environment of North America, coupled with the persistent threat posed by European armies – whether rivals of the mother nations or, as with the War of Independence and the War of 1812, against the home state itself – served to cultivate a distinct way of war. This method of fighting emphasized decentralized militia units that could be called upon in times of war – alone or in conjunction with the purposefully small standing army – to defend the nation, the state, or the region. They could also be called upon to project power, although as the War of 1812 revealed, the militia were not particularly strong in this regard. The true value of the American way of war was its versatility. It augmented the standing army as it prosecuted war against the Indians on the frontier, and it provided resilience against conventionally more powerful foes such as Britain.
Grenier, John, The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia, 1710 – 1760. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008.
Latimer, Jon. 1812 War with America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007.
Spring, Matthew H. With Zeal and Bayonets Only: The British Army on Campaign in North America, 1775 – 1783. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008.
 “To George Washington from Henry Knox, 18 January 1790,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-05-02-0009 [last update: 2014-12-01]). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 5, 16 January 1790 – 30 June 1790, ed. Dorothy Twohig, Mark A. Mastromarino, and Jack D. Warren. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996, pp. 10–15.
 Alexander Hamilton, “Federalist #8,” in te Federalist Papers, ed. Clinton Rossiter (New York, Mentor, 1961), 66-71.
 From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 21 January 1790,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-05-02-0020 [last update: 2014-12-01]). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 5, 16 January 1790 – 30 June 1790, ed. Dorothy Twohig, Mark A. Mastromarino, and Jack D. Warren. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996, p. 32.
 John Grenier, The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia, 1710 – 1760 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008), 15.
 Jon Latimer, 1812 War with America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007), 10.
In the South, the evidence is perhaps greater that a more cohesive strategy was followed based on an established understanding of Jominian precepts. Jefferson Davis has long been considered the author of the South’s so-called “Offensive-Defensive strategy.” This strategy, variously defined by numerous scholars, essentially states that the South assumed a defensive posture and awaited Union advances while seeking opportunities to initiate offensive action. The very name of this strategy was seemingly borrowed directly from Jomini when describing a nation forced into a defensive position. In Article XXXI “Offensive Battles, and Different Orders of Battle,” Jomini writes “An army reduced to the strategic defensive often takes the offensive by making an attack, and an army receiving an attack may, during the progress of the battle, take the offensive and obtain the advantages incident to it.”
A number of scholars, however, dispute the existence of a coordinated strategy in general, and a strategic model based on Jominian influence in particular. Donald Stoker, one of the most outspoken of such critics, asserts that historians have been inclined to confuse strategic concepts with operational and tactical ones, much as Jomini himself had been known to do. Stoker argues that this long-held belief is founded on the misinterpretation of the meaning behind President Davis’s comments on how he intended to defend Richmond, which is more appropriately placed in the operational, or even tactical, levels of war. Stephen Badsey and Joseph Dawson III, both of whom rebut Stoker’s claims, firmly believe that in the context described by Jomini, Davis’ plans were arguably strategic. While Donald Stoker disputes the Jominian-inspired strategy, there is evidence to support the notion that Confederate leaders executed a loose strategy based on precepts of maneuver and attacking fractions of an enemy while they protected their own “lines of operation,” all of which are Jominian ideas that were plausibly learned at West Point.
It is instructive to note that one of the more flamboyant of the South’s military leaders demonstrated an academic inspiration from Jomini. In 1863, P.G.T. Beauregard published his Principles and Maxims of the Art of War. A much more abbreviated work than D.H. Mahan’s Outpost, it nonetheless contains significant similarities with Jomini’s The Art of War. Of Beauregard’s three principles upon which “[e]very true maxim of war can be deduced,” two of them appear be borrowed directly from Jomini. Principle number one instructs the leader “To place masses of your army in contact with fractions of your enemy.” This is nearly identical to Jomini’s second maxim of his Fundamental Principle of War – “to maneuver to engage fractions of the hostile army with the bulk of one’s forces.” Beauregard’s principle number two reads “To operate as much as possible on the communications of your enemy without exposing your own,” which also sound similar to Jomini’s more wordy first maxim, “To throw by strategic movements the mass of an army, successfully, upon the decisive points of a theater of war, and also upon the communications of the enemy as much as possible without compromising one’s own.” With these principles established, Beauregard then launched into a series of 34 maxims, many of which echo Jomini.
Beauregard is an excellent example to demonstrate a Southern adherence to both a Jominian Offensive-Defensive strategy and operational concepts. For the South, the success in taking Fort Sumter in 1861 came with the recognition that a Union counterattack was not only likely, but further action toward the strategic Manassas Junction would follow. After Davis and General Lee consulted with Beauregard, he was dispatched to prepare for the defense at the previously discussed town of Manassas. Thus, the Confederate national leadership and military leadership concurred on the nature of the war, the first thing that must occur in executing strategy, according the Jomini. The theater of war was selected, and Manassas Junction was determined as a decisive point in the theater, as it was a veritable highway from northern Virginia into the heart of the Confederacy. This was not only due to the geography – Manassas Junction was the connecting point for the major rail lines on which Virginia relied to defend itself. Not only did the Confederacy need this for its own defense, but to allow it to fall to the Federal Army opened up two major routes for Federal invasion.
Beauregard was dispatched to Bull Run in July, where he was joined by General Joseph Johnston to prepare the defenses and establish the fixed base (Bull Run) and zone of operations. In this case, this was the territory surrounding Bull Run where Beauregard divided his eight brigades. Of note, General Johnston recounts that Beauregard proposed “instead of remaining in the defensive positions then occupied, to assume the offensive, and attack the enemy” before the advancing Union forces could be joined. This operational planning reflects the non-strategic aspect of Jomini’s “Offensive-Defensive” discussion as highlighted by Stoker. However, this doesn’t take away from the strategic context that Beauregard and Johnston established their plan. The preparations undertaken by the Southern generals arguably reflect Jominian influence.
Evidence of an Offensive-Defense strategy can also be seen in General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign in 1862. Following the victory at Bull Run, the Union failed to make any significant inroads into the South for the rest of the year. In March of 1862, General Johnston withdrew his forces south toward Richmond as McClellan prepared his Peninsula Campaign. Over the ensuing months, Jackson commanded a unit of 5,000 troops to strike the larger forces of Union General Banks (with approximately 20,000 men), and successfully prevented the Union from concentrating as McClellan moved toward Richmond. His small force engaged the Union armies attempting to converge on the Confederate capital. General Lee needed the Federals to remain separated, and so Jackson continued to move throughout the Valley, striking offensively to keep Union forces off balance.
Jackson’s Valley campaign allowed his elite soldiers to concentrate on fractions of the Union army. He never possessed the ability to annihilate the numerically superior Federal armies moving through the area. But by rapid movement and a clear appreciation for lines of operation within the Shenandoah Valley, his actions helped to prevent the Union armies from effectively leveraging their advantages of men and materiel. This was crucial to the survival of the Confederacy, and served in the defense of Richmond and the Confederate heartland by way of offensive operations. Therefore, although the actions of Jackson were operational in nature, they served the strategic plan outlined by Davis and Lee.
Perhaps the most significant examples of the offensive nature of the “Offensive-Defensive” strategy are Lee’s invasions of the north, which culminated in the battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. Here, Stoker admits that the foray into Pennsylvania comes closest to conforming to a strategic action in support of a hypothetical Offensive-Defensive strategy. However, Lee’s objectives were unclear. Ultimately, Stoker argues that the action was a defensive strategic act through a singular offensive action, and does not prove the existence of a larger offensive-defensive strategy.
Yet, the raid into Pennsylvania seems to be the very definition of the strategy, which dictated that the South would hold a defensive posture while seeking for opportunities to take the offense. Arguably, there was no better time than the summer of 1863 for such a move. For the majority of the war, General Lee and his men had accumulated success after success. The disaster that was the First Bull Run was a stunning defeat for the Union, and a vindication that both strategy and God were on the side of the Confederates. “We recognize the hand of the Most High God, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, in the glorious victory with which He crowned our armies at Manassas,” wrote Stephen Elliot in the prelude to his sermon commemorating the Confederate win. Over the ensuing years, Lee came to expect victory. The Confederate army was so confident of its superiority over their Northern brethren that there was little effort to conceal their plans to take the fight to Pennsylvania or New York. In addition, the action would serve to move the conflict out of Virginia, where it had largely been centered, to the North. This would also likely stoke President Lincoln’s fears of an attack on Washington, and throw the Northern war effort into disarray.
Part of Lee’s objectives were fulfilled before the catastrophic defeat at Gettysburg. His forces did harass Northern towns which had previously been sheltered from the war. In addition, his army acquired critically needed supplies. But the hoped for payoff of the attack, which conceivably might have forced the Union to negotiate a peace, clearly never came to fruition. This does not make the attack any less indicative of being an offensive expression of an offensive-defensive strategy; it simply means the attempt failed. With the perceived potential to force a quick end to the war, the attack clearly served a strategic purpose.
Of course, not all historians accept that the South followed such a conscious strategy. Donald Stoker, after his critique of the Offensive-Defensive strategy, concludes that the South started the war with a “modified cordon,” and simply engaged in offensive and defensive operations as situations developed. T. Harry Williams reaches a similar conclusion, writing that the Confederacy’s entire strategy was almost entirely defensive (as opposed to “offensive-defensive”).
In conclusion, the Union North did not adhere to any coherent strategy theory throughout the course of the Civil War. Political restrictions and military timidity combined to make any attempt at such practically impossible during the early years of the conflict. While at the operational level Jominian precepts may have been applied, this was not apparent at the national/strategic level. It is important to note, however, that the lack of any cohesive Jomianian strategy by the North is not an indictment on the political leadership of the Union. In spite of the Union army’s struggles for more than half of the war, T. Harry Williams concludes that the North’s overall strategy and eventual unification of command was still superior to Confederate strategic leadership. In fact, by surrounding the Southern States, and eventually attacking from the east and the west, Lincoln and his generals overwhelmed their enemy in spite of violating Jominian notions of concentration. It is perhaps somewhat ironic that Ulysses Grant once said “If men make war in slavish observation of rules, they will fail.” Such sentiment more closely echoes Jomini’s rival Carl von Clausewitz, whose ideas D.H. Mahan, the shared mentor of the students of West Point, avoided most purposefully.
For the South, the evidence supports a more cohesive strategy based on Jominian theory. In 1864, Union General T. Seymore wrote an article entitled “Military Education: A Vindication of West Point and the Regular Army.” In it, he argues that the North squandered the talents of West Point graduates by subsuming many of them to political appointees, while Jefferson Davis took care to place his Academy graduates carefully for maximum effect. “[T]he best possible vindication of the Military Academy is to be found in the history of the Confederacy…” The successful first years of the rebellion supports this assertion. D.H. Mahan’s students, one of which was the Confederate President, were able to operate within a more cohesive theoretical framework than their Northern counterparts. But again, somewhat conversely with the North, the South’s more authentic adherence to Jominian military theory clearly did not translate into ultimate victory. In fact, David Donald believes this adherence to tired theory was responsible for the South’s ultimate defeat. Bull Run, Chancellorville, and other victories, says Donald, were executed with only minor deviation from Jominain principles. But while the North was willing to experiment, the South remained locked into inflexible maxims. This inflexibility lead to final defeat.
 Donald Stoker, “There was no Offensive-Defensive Confederate Strategy.” Journal Of Military History 73, no. 2 (April 2009), 574.
 Donald Stoker, “There was no Offensive-Defensive Confederate Strategy,” 581-582.
 Stephen Badsey, Donald Stoker, and Joseph G. Dawson III, “FORUM II: Confederate Military Strategy in the U.S. Civil War Revisited.” Journal Of Military History 73, no. 4 (October 2009): 1273 – 1287.
 P.T.G. Beauregard, Principles and Maxims of the Art of War: Outpost Service, General Instructions for Battles, Review (Charleston: Steam Power Press of Evans and Cogswell, 1863), 3.
 Such as Maxims 1 – 4, which stress lines of operation and communication. Ibid, 4-5.
Matthew H. Spring’s With Zeal and With Bayonets Only (University of Oklahoma Press, 2008) examines the American Revolution from the perspective of the British Army. In doing so, Spring determines that the popular representations of the British forces as a monolithic, unthinking war-machine confounded at every turn by American skirmishers is unfair and untrue. The King’s armies, he concludes, “tailored their conventional tactical methods intelligently to local conditions,” which is why they proved victorious in the majority of engagements.
Spring examines the British Army’s performance at both the operational and tactical levels. The American theater was an exceedingly challenging one that made it nearly impossible for the British to impose a war of general actions, where two armies could bring to bear their full strength in linear combat. Tasked to subdue a wide, wild frontier nation that did not necessarily need her urban centers to continue to fight, the British Army nevertheless was able to achieve constant success that nearly extinguished the Continental Army in the early years of the American War. By delving into such fundamental factors such as “grand tactics,” logistics (ground, riverine, and maritime), the manner of maneuver, and the type and quality of firepower, Spring portrays a disciplined military force that actively sought to adapt to the unique challenges of America.
However, With Zeal only partially proves the author’s thesis that the British Army’s success was largely due to tailored operational and tactical methods. It often seems that much of his evidence drifts in the opposite direction. For instance, the logistical shortfalls common to European armies were even more complicated by the fact the British had to rely primarily on transatlantic resupply. The British Army, despite ample opportunity to adapt and plan, was largely unable to break away from the European-minded reliance on magazines and strategic food reserves. On a more tactical level, Smith does give ample attention to the “flank battalions,” comprised of light infantry that were more prepared to engage with rebel forces on their terms. After a relatively unimpressive start at the beginning of the war, this light infantry became increasingly confident about besting rebels in “bushfighting.” Smith presents a number of British sources which exude satisfaction at besting the rebels in fighting “in the very style that the Americans think themselves superior…” Yet these troops were apparently used effectively primarily in the northern campaigns, and this not even in the far northernmost wooded areas. In the end, Spring does present a more nuanced understanding of British Army capabilities and limitations, and the book is quite valuable in this respect. However, I don’t believe that the overall image of an army primarily designed to fight a European Continental-style war is completely rehabilitated.
 Matthew H. Spring, With Zeal and Bayonets Only: The British Army on Campaign in North America, 1775 – 1783 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008), xii.
In the first days of May, 1861, with the echoes of Fort Sumter scarcely faded, Confederate forces stationed at Alexandria, Virgina, directly across the river from the Union capital, waited nervously for the next move. Flush with zealous patriotism, the new nation’s leadership in Richmond was adamant that not an inch of sacred Southern soil be yielded without a heavy price in blood. It was easier said than done.
Leading the Confederate soldiers in Alexandria was Lieutenant Colonel A.S. Taylor. With orders to stand ground “unless pressed by overwhelming and irresistible numbers”, he conducted a sober accounting of his fighting strength as compared to the swelling army across the Potomac. Two companies of “raw Irish recruits” armed with “altered flint-lock muskets of 1818, and without cartridges or caps…”; a company with 86 musket-armed troops; an additional 52 men in various states of armament (including 15 with no weapons at all); two companies of about 160 men armed with minie rifles, but only from five to nine cartridges each; and two companies of cavalry, one with 40 troops armed with carbines but “limited” ammunition, and one with no weapons except Colt revolvers. So with less than 400 soldiers, Taylor was tasked with holding or delaying the inevitable Federal invasion.
Probably about the same time as he received his orders, which had been delivered on 5 May, Taylor received intelligence from one Mister J.D. Hutton, who until recently worked as a cartographer for the War Department. From Mr. Hutton, Taylor was dismayed (but certainly not surprised) to learn that the Yankees intended to occupy Alexandria within days, either the 7th or the 8th of May (in fact, it would be a few more weeks before Union troops organized enough to even venture across the river). With forces arriving almost daily around Washington, and two steamers only a few miles downriver seemingly ready to move troops, the colonel decided the threshold for “overwhelming and irresistible numbers” had been met. He quickly gathered up his small command, and retreated to Springfield, 10 miles west of Alexandria.
The commanding general of the Potomac Department, General Philip St. George Cocke, was furious that Taylor had not
only retreated, but was in such a hurry that he didn’t bother to communicate his intentions. It’s this break down in command and control, as well as in the convoluted handling of intelligence, that is highlighted here. Taylor received credible intelligence from a trustworthy source, but his first instinct was not to disseminate this up the chain of command in order to coordinate a response or seek reinforcements. Cocke’s order to remain in place was clear that this should be done: “keep up your communications with the various parts in your rear, so as to call every resource to your aid and support in making a gallant and fighting retreat, should you be forced to it, and can stand at all without danger of uselessly sacrificing your command.” It wasn’t until 7 May that Cocke located Taylor, and up to this point he was still completely ignorant of why Alexandria had been abandoned. Late on the 6th, in a dispatch to Richmond, Cocke wrote that he had not “been able, from any other source, except that furnished me by the arrival of Mr. Skinner, direct from Alexandria…to learn the cause of that movement; and, so far as I am informed up to this moment, there was no proper or justifiable cause whatsoever for any such movement. After waiting for further intelligence and receiving none, and duly considering and weighing all the circumstances and bearing of that movement with the information before me, I have ordered the return of the troops, as communicated by telegram, a duplicate of which has just been transmitted to the general-in-chief.” Cocke even requested permission to arrest Taylor, but was talked out of it by Robert E. Lee, who instead asked for a reason the forces evacuated.
By the 9th, Taylor had explained his reasons, and this seemed to placate Cocke. On 13 May he forwarded Taylor’s written statement to Richmond. The request to arrest him was absent from this communication. But the lesson here is that, although strategic intelligence around the overall disposition and intent of the US military was becoming clear, operational intelligence operations were off to a rough start, at least in the northeast corner of Virginia. Unfortunately for the Union, more competent leadership would soon arrive, and intelligence preparations were to be put in place over the next three months that proved critical to the Confederate victory at Bull Run.
First, let’s look at the evidence as it relates to the Union to determine whether there was any adherence to a guiding military theory, Jominian or otherwise. In With a Sword in One Hand and Jomini in the Other, Carol Reardon casts doubts on whether Jomini’s ideas had any significant influence over the decisions of Lincoln’s military leaders. When rebellion appeared inevitable, she traces a hypothetical search of Jomini’s types of wars by Lincoln’s first general-in-chief. The conflict before General Winfield Scott did not neatly fall into any of Jomini’s definitions. As Reardon observes, Jomini does briefly address “civil wars,” in which he states that a government “may find it necessary to use force against its own subjects in order to crush out factions which would weaken the authority of the throne and the national strength.” But even had Scott, or McClellan, or even Lincoln looked to Jomini, they would have found his advice in such matters to be nearly nonexistent. In addition, the United States military did not possess the kind of general staff that Jomini – and much of Europe – prescribed. Once the Union army was finally set in motion, the public and even her soldiers were often unable to discern any strategy over the subsequent years. Perhaps telling of the general opaqueness of Northern strategy, the 22 June 1864 edition of The Soldier’s Journal printed an explanation of a commonly heard tactic often confusingly used in strategic discussions: “The rank and file have a pretty good appreciation of the strategy of the campaign. They understand that it has been a series of splendid flank movements, and flanking ‘became the current Joke with which to account for everything from a night march to the capture of a sheep or pig. A poor fellow, terribly wounded, yesterday, said he saw the shell coming, ‘but hadn’t time to flank it.'”
The greatest indication of whether the Union followed Jominian, or any other, theory should come from an analysis of the actual strategy followed throughout the war. If Davis Donald’s assertion is valid, then something of Jomini’s ideas should be reflected in the Union’s operations. What guided Lincoln and his line of Generals to act as they did between 1861 and 1865? Did their operations conform to an overall strategy that reflected a coherent military theory?
From the outset, President Lincoln was sensitive to the fragile neutrality declared by the Border States – Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri. This political situation complicated war planning from the beginning. In Maryland, riots broke out on April 18, 1861, as pro-secessionists protested the movement of troops into Washington D.C. In response, President Lincoln and General Winfield Scott, despite their concerns of a potential uprising in the capital or an invasion from the South, ordered that troops should march around Baltimore instead of traveling through the city. In Kentucky, Lincoln initially hesitated to deploy Federal forces because of the fear such action would stoke sympathies with the South. In July 1861, he drafted a letter to the Inspector General of the Kentucky State Guard, assuring him that he had no intention of sending troops to his home state at that time. It wasn’t until after state elections in August, which demonstrated that Kentucky retained significant Union support, that Lincoln authorized a force be sent to the state, despite the objections from the governor.
This sensitive environment had a direct effect on the North’s ability to coordinate any kind of cohesive strategy that emphasized the quick massing of forces to concentrate on the enemy’s “fractions.” Lincoln understood this, and pressed his generals to find a way to be aggressive while minding the political realities the Union faced. With a clear superiority of men and materiel, the Union soon determined to use its navy to gain control of the Mississippi River, which would split the Confederacy, the Atlantic coastline of the Eastern states, and New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico. Firmly encircled, Lincoln thought to push all around the South’s periphery until the Southern army was exhausted. Eventually dubbed “Scott’s Anaconda Plan” (in spite of the fact that General Scott actually opposed the idea), this strategy required patience, and flew in the face of the popular understanding of Jominian and European warfare.
Even as this plan took shape, pressure grew in the North to take action, particularly with an enemy force literally in sight of Washington. Yet due to the sensitive situation in Maryland, it took three months after the fall of Fort Sumter in April 1861 to put together a 35,000-strong army to march south to try and seize the strategic Manassas Junction near Bull Run. Ideally, the Union force would have been much larger, but pressure from a public hungry for action eventually forced Scott’s hand. In addition, President Lincoln’s concern over the Border States and a potential attack on the capital sapped manpower from the army to be led by General Irvin McDowell (West Point Class of 1938).
General McDowell proposed an approach to Bull Run that circled around the entrenched Confederate forces, which targeted the rail system that connected Manassas with Richmond. His intent was to threaten the Confederates, led by P.G.T. Beauregard, with isolation from Richmond. The plan was complicated, but McDowell’s peers and superiors approved it. In Jominian terms, the decisive points had been determined within the theater of war. McDowell’s base of operations could be said to have stretched from Washington DC, or possibly immediately across the river at Alexandria, which the Union secured upon departing for Manassas.
Despite competent planning and a respectable initial execution, McDowell’s operations eventually broke down under the weight of the fog and friction of war. The Union general faced the unexpected combination of Beauregard’s and Joe Johnston’s forces, and so his ability to ascertain decisive points suffered greatly. Instead of flanking the main Confederate force and striking a fraction of the enemy with the mass of his own, his forces wound up engaging a concentrated foe. As the bloody conflict shifted to Henry Hill, the Union forces started to break down. The commander of a Union light artillery battery described how after almost a full day of combat, a mass of several thousand men without distinguishing colors rapidly closed in. At first, the troops were thought to be Union soldiers. Suddenly, the battery found itself under fire. “We had been surprised, and the enemy was close upon us in large numbers.” By the early evening, Union forces were forced to fall back.
McDowell’s forces retreated back to Washington in a disorganized mess. Certainly, the Union general had to deal with challenges that Jomini and other famed European theorists famously ignored, such as the quality of troops. In the rush “on to Richmond” McDowell had been outfitted with raw recruits and had little time to train them. What might he had done with a more seasoned force is a matter of conjecture. The Federal action at Bull Run does arguably demonstrate the exercise of Jominian theory at the operational level. In addition, since Winfield Scott anticipated a victory that would open the way for a march on the Confederate capital at Richmond, the operation was planned to serve a strategic purpose that is arguably a reflection of Jominian theory. However, the route at Bull Run stumped the leadership in Washington, and whether by design or accident, the following years saw little in the way of a cohesive strategy.
Lincoln now had to contend with an emboldened rebellion, and not just in the South. Concerns arose that secessionists in the Border States might rally to the victorious Confederate cause. “We have just heard of the reverses our arms have sustained in Virginia and we anticipate a large increase of courage if not numbers in the rebels,” wrote an officer of the Missouri volunteer forces just days after Bull Run. ”North Missouri is throroughly [sic] indoctrinated with sublimated political themes at war with all government and now while the popular pride is aroused, may be easily set in flames.” Lincoln had to move, but in a way that brought victory as quickly as possible without eroding the loyalty of the Border States.
General George McClellan stepped into the role of general-in-chief after General Scott retired on November 1, 1861. His
first plan of action was to attempt to concentrate forces for an attack on Virginia. In order to successfully execute Lincoln’s objectives, he needed the entire military apparatus to be unified into a single whole, and not operated piecemeal as even Lincoln recognized the case to be at the time. This concept can certainly be traced to Jomini. But McClellan’s plans ran into the political snares Lincoln had been struggling with since the start of the war. The forces McClellan intended to draw to Washington were stationed in and around the Border States. Pro-Union politicians complained that moving these forces exposed their states to threats, and eventually McClellan had to alter his plans. Interestingly, this consisted of pressuring the South from all directions, which sounds quite a bit like “Scott’s Anaconda Plan.” Against his better judgment, it seemed, McClellan was forces to operate outside of a Jominian paradigm.
General McClellan’s most notorious action was his conduct of the Peninsula Campaign, wherein he attempted a feint of sorts against Richmond. He planned to attack the Confederate capital by an amphibious operation rather than approach overland. When McClellan finally began his movement in April 2012, his actions displayed little evidence that he incorporated any military theory at all, much less any Jominian influence. McClellan’s penchant for delay and exaggeration were both on display. After arriving at Yorktown on 3 April, Union forces seized positions outside the town. By 5 April they traded artillery fire with the Confederates. But rather than continue his advance, the general opted to fortify his position by building earthworks. This move surprised Confederate Major General J. Bankhead Magruder, who had expected the Northerners to press forward with their superior numbers. The delay allowed for Confederate reinforcements to arrive, which fueled McClellan’s belief that he was outnumbered, although even by 12 April he continued to maintain a 3 to 1 advantage over the rebels. Blaming poor weather and a lack of wagons, his further delay continued to cost him, as by 17 April General Joseph Johnston arrived, bringing the defender’s numbers to 53,000 (compared to the roughly 100,000 strong Union Army). 
On 3 May, exactly one month after arriving at Yorktown, Confederate forces fell back toward Richmond rather than face bombardment from McClellan’s siege. McClellan ordered a pursuit, but it was slow. Although his approach and the arrival of Union gunboats outside of Richmond caused a partial evacuation of the city, the Federal naval forces were forced to turn away by the prepared Confederate defenses. From 25 June – 1 July, 1862, Union and Confederate forces slugged it out in what became known as the Seven Days. Within days of what was to be the final great battle of the Civil War, McClellan turned his forces back toward the James River and retreated.
The failure of the Peninsula Campaign demonstrated that the Union’s one time general-in-chief (he had been removed from that post only four months after stepping into it), who was hailed early on in the conflict as a master of the art of war, was unable to put anything resembling theory into practice. From the beginning, McClellan was at odds with Lincoln on how to prosecute the campaign. Although Richmond may have been the desired target of both the president and McClellan, there was little beyond that on which they agreed. The theater of war had been selected (Jomini’s first point of strategy), but McClellan seemed incapable of identifying the decisive points favorable to his operations (point 2). The general’s selected zone of operations could scarcely have been worse: when his forces approached Norfolk, he learned that the city had emptied and the river forsaken, which offered the ability to close on Richmond via the river instead of crossing over the swamplands of the Chickahominy. Bafflingly, McClellan refused, and this may have contributed to the inability of Union forces to take Richmond since the Navy was not able to coordinate their attack with McCleallan’s ground forces. McClellan’s failures as wartime commander, brilliant in academics and planning but ineffective on the battlefield, did little to advance a competent Northern strategy, Jominian or otherwise.
 Antoine Jomini, The Art of War, trans. H. Mendell and W. P. Craighill (Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, 1879), 23.
 Carol Reardon, With a Sword in One Hand and Jomini in the Other : The Problem of Military Thought in the Civil War North, (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2012), 19.
 “Flanking,” The Soldiers’ Journal (Richmond, VA), 22 June 1864.
 George W. Brown and Thomas H. Hicks to Abraham Lincoln, Thursday, April 18, 1861, The Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress.
 Lincoln To Thomas H. Hicks and George W. Brown, April 20. 1861, Collection IV.
 Abraham Lincoln to Simon B. Buckner, Wednesday, July 10, 1861 (Kentucky Neutrality), The Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress.
 Abraham Lincoln to Beriah Magoffin, Saturday, August 24, 1861 (Reply to Magoffin’s letter of August 19), The Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress.
I stumbled across this while doing research for a paper. Soldiers often develop a dark humor as they cope with the exasperating extremes of a military campaign…from the intensity of combat, to the boredom in-between battles, and often in the face of perplexing leadership decisions.
This article was printed in the June 22, 1864 edition of The Soldier’s Journal, a Union-sympathetic newspaper, toward the end of the war. It demonstrates very well this dark humor, and the amazing resilience of the soldiers fighting the war. Below is a close up of the relevant portion. In case you can’t read it, here’s a transcript:
“The rank and file have a pretty good appreciation of the strategy of the campaign. They understand that it has been a series of splendid flank movements, and flanking became the current Joke with which to account for everything from a night march to the capture of a sheep or pig. A poor fellow, terribly wounded, yesterday, said he saw the shell coming,’but hadn’t time to flank it.’”
Bear in mind, this shell took the soldier’s arm off just the day before.
Last week I played spectator to a couple interesting debates on a Civil War round table page on Facebook. An article was posted with the perpetually provocative subject of who the best generals were during the Civil War. In the same forum, the question was asked “who was the most responsible for the length of the Civil War?” You can imagine the passions stoked here. I’ve got my own opinions about both of these debates, but they point to a larger discussion that periodically surfaces among Civil War historians, and that is whether the military leaders of the North and South adhered to, or were guided by, contemporary military doctrines? This series of articles explores this question, and I think sets up an interesting context when one considers things like “who was most responsible” for how long the Civil War lasted.*
When war broke out in April 1861, both the Union and the new Confederate government were faced with daunting tasks in building up their small, standing armies. Despite the looming threat of conflict prior to Fort Sumter, precious little had been done to prepare the people of the North or South for the war to come. It is often stated that neither side was truly ready for war when hostilities broke out. The same could be said for the preparedness of American military officers. Many of the most renowned Union and Confederate leaders were the products of the nation’s only national military education institution, the U.S. Military Academy. War theory was taught and studied by military officers in the pre-Civil War period, but the translation of theory into practice was uneven between the North and the South. Institutional and political obstacles complicated any semblance of a unified strategy for the Union, where military leaders clung to long-understood principles of mass and movement. In the South, the nature of the conflict and the existence of natural interior lines of operation allowed for a more plausible employment of a unified military theory.
The war was going to be won quickly, most seemed to agree, as both sides brimmed with confidence. The reality, of course, was far more traumatizing than most dared imagine: four years of war at a cost of over 620,000 soldiers killed by combat, disease, or malnutrition. The Confederacy mounted fierce resistance that frustrated and horrified the North. Legions of historians have debated how and why the South ultimately lost, or perhaps more accurately, why it took the North so long to win. This is particularly interesting since many of the most celebrated names from the conflict started their careers at the same place, West Point, and studied the same professional curriculum. Yet, most would agree that the first two years of the war went poorly, if not outright humiliatingly, for Union forces. The Confederate army, led by larger-than-life generals such as Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and P.G.T. Beauregard, repelled the Yankees at nearly every significant battle. Popular sentiment in the North turned indignant as defeat after humiliating defeat flew in the face of the real and perceived advantages supposedly at the Union army’s disposal. What could explain these outcomes? In particular, how could the Union army appear to be so lacking in the execution of war while their Southern counterparts, with whom they had studied the “art and science of war,” were so successful? Did either the Union North, or the Confederate South, formulate and execute strategy and/or operations using a shared military theory framework?
From the 1950s – 1970s, Civil War historians largely accepted that the writings of Antoine Jomini had the most significant influence on the military leading up to and during the conflict. J. D. Hittle, David Donald, Joseph Dawson III, and others have
little doubt as the importance of Jomini to the 19th century American officer. Recent works however, such as Carol Reardon’s With a Sword in One Hand and Jomini in the Other, questions just how significant Jomini’s influence actually was during this period in the United States. Her work, which focuses on the North, places Jomini in a backdrop of many other theorists and writers of the 19th century, directly questioning the near exclusive influence earlier writers accepted. Scholars such as Reardon, Hermann Harraway, and Archer Jones, challenge Jomini’s influence, and in some aspects question whether there was any real theoretical underpinnings at all used by Civil War military generals. In the South, the assumption of Jominian influence is even more prevalent. Scholars point to Jefferson Davis’ “Offensive-Defensive” strategy as firmly rooted in the writings of Antoine Jomini. This, too, has come under criticism of late.
As stated, in the decades prior to the South’s break with the Union, the United States had only a single national institution for military education, the Military Academy at West Point. The focus of the academy’s mission, however, was not to be solely, or even primarily, military thought and leadership. President Thomas Jefferson, in an attempt to overcome the objections of politicians suspicious of a professional military establishment, allowed that the new academy would primarily be a scientific institution. More specifically, engineering was the most important course of instruction from the time of its first class in 1802 to the Civil War. A review of the curriculum – which varied over the years – demonstrates that of the decades leading up to the war, only in the student’s final year of instruction was there taught specific military education. For instance, in 1840, first year students studied primarily mathematics and French, which was essential to later engineering studies. Second year students continued these subjects, and added drawing and English grammar to the course load. In the third year, natural philosophy, chemistry, and more drawing was the focus. Only in the final year did students take on courses in infantry tactics and artillery, along with the study of ethics, mineralogy, and the course for which West Point was most famous, engineering. This curriculum would remain largely unchanged for fifteen years, when cavalry was added by 1855. By 1859, “ordinance and gunnery” was also included.
This training orientation of West Point emphasized scientific learning over education in the art of war. For some time during the antebellum period, West Point was considered the premier school of mathematics in the nation. Its reputation was such that, by 1819, some complained that the school was useless in producing soldiers since it was primarily concerned with mathematics. The focus on science and engineering endured for decades. However, starting in the 1830s, recent Academy graduate-turned professor Dennis Hart Mahan started infusing concepts of the art of war into the courses.
Mahan, a brilliant engineer and mathematician in his own right, found much to learn from Europe in regards to both engineering and warfare. It is here that we see the most significant link between the teachings of Jomini and the curriculum of West Point. Interestingly, Mahan, who spent four years studying in Europe — from 1826 – 1830 – seemed to purposefully exclude Carl von Clausewitz from his personal study. Mahan rather brought back with him Antoine Jomini’s theories, and in 1836 not only published an adaptation of Jomini’s principles, but also published in 1847 his own guide to warfare titled Advanced Guard, Outpost, and Detachment Service of Troops, with the Essential Principles of Strategy, and Grand Tactics for the Use of Officers of the Militia and Volunteers. This lengthy title was shortened by his students to simply “the Outpost.” There are, arguably, Jominian influences throughout the book. Chapter one deals with tactics, which is broken down between minor and grand tactics, in a similar vein as Jomini. “Minor, or elementary tactics; under which head may be placed all that refers to the drill, or other preparatory instruction of the troops, to give them expertness in the use of their weapons, and facility of movement.” Grand tactics is the “Art of combining, disposing, and handling of troops on the field of battle.” Compare these to Jomini’s definitions: tactics “begins with the details, and ascends to combinations and generalization necessary for the formation and handling of a great army.” Grand tactics, says Jomini, is the “art of making good combinations preliminary to battles, as well as during their progress.” In like manner, we see parallels between Mahan’s concept of strategy with Jomini’s. Both are concerned with bases of operation, objective points, and lines of operations. While Mahan was certainly scholar enough to extract lessons drawn from history on his own (both Mahan and Jomini were greatly influenced by the study of the Napoleonic Wars and wars of antiquity), there is much that suggests European influence in his works. Perhaps not exact copies, but the definitions certainly share fundamental notions. Eventually, The Art of War itself was introduced into the West Point curriculum in 1860.
Scholars have debated the quality of the military education provided to officers graduating the academy by the time the Mexican-American War broke out in 1856. Samuel Watson, in his review of the historiography of the US Army prior to the Civil War, notes that most scholars acknowledge the engineering focus of the school, as well as “moribund” military expertise. Others dispute this characterization, and argued that the engineering mentality imbued West Point students with a cautious mindset that served them well. General Winfield Scott, who would be the first general-in-chief when the Civil War broke out, apparently agreed with the latter interpretation. He heaped praise on West Point graduates, saying that without them the war would have likely dragged on with significantly greater cost. Even so, Mahan revised his thoughts on military theory after the war concluded in 1848, ever ready to refine the instruction on the art of war.
For better or for worse, Mahan’s instruction and mentorship, which lasted from 1830 until his death in 1871, arguably shaped many of the primary leaders of the armies of the Civil War. This notable group includes Jefferson Davis (class of 1828), Robert E. Lee (class of 1829), P.G.T. Beauregard (class of 1838), George B. McClellan (class of 1846), Ulysses S. Grant (class of 1843), William T. Sherman (class of 1840), and many more. It therefore seems reasonable, if Mahan was an admirer or disciple of Jomini, to see the Swiss theorist’s ideas in play throughout the conflict. As previously mentioned, much Civil War scholarship of the 20th century is based on this premise. David Donald declares unabashedly that the first years of the conflict “reads like little more than exegesis of Jomini’s theories.” But as recent scholarship challenges this assumption, we need to look at Jomini’s definition of strategy. From there, we can better judge whether the decisions and actions of the national and military leadership for the Union and the Confederacy conformed to anything close to his theory.
* It was McClellan.
 Stephen Ambrose, Duty, Honor, Country: A History of West Point (Baltimore: John’s Hopkins Press, 1966), 18.
 The West Point Official Registers detail student rosters, military and academic staff, and the “order of merit” of the students in each of the courses. West Point Official Registers for 1840, 1855, 1859,
 Dennis Hart Mahan, Advanced Guard, Outpost, and Detachment Service of Troops, with the Essential Principles of Strategy, and Grand Tactics for the Use of Officers of the Militia and Volunteers (New York, E. Craighead, 1847), 32.
 Antoine Jomini, The Art of War, trans. H. Mendell and W. P. Craighill (Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, 1879), 132, 378.
 David Donald, Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era, 2d edition (New York: Vintage Books, 1966),
 Samuel Watson, “Continuity in Civil-Military Relations and Expertise: The U.S, Army during the Decade before the Civil War,” The Journal of Military History, Vol 75, Issue 1 (Jan 2011): 223-224.
 R. Earnest Dupuy, Men of West Point: The First 150 Years of the United States Military Academy (New York: William Sloane Associates, 1951), 19.
 Jomini states that strategy embraces 13 points, the first eight of which are arguably more strategic than the final five, which are more operational: 1. the selection of the theater of war and the different “combinations” within it; 2. the determination of the decisive points in these combinations; the selection of a “fixed base” and zone of operations; the selection of the objective point (offensive or defensive); the strategic fronts and lines of defense; selection of the lines of operations leading to the objective point; the identification of the “best strategic line;” the eventual bases of operations and the strategic reserves. The final five points include “marches of armies” or maneuver; the relation of the maneuver to the selected depots; identification of strategic fortresses as a refuge; points for entrenched camps; and “diversions to be made, and the large detachments necessary.” Antoine Jomini, ibid, 137.
The first such organization of its kind in a modern military, the Bureau of Military Information sought to provide the commander of the Army of the Potomac with contemporary all-source intelligence. Despite its rapid maturation and success, it was abandoned after the war. For a comprehensive history of the evolution of the Union’s intelligence capabilities, read Edwin C. Fishell’s excellent The Secret War for the Union, The Untold Story of Military Intelligence in the Civil War.
General Joseph Hooker:
Quickly after taking command of the Army of the Potomac in January 1863, General Hooker ordered the establishment of an organization to “organize and perfect a system for collecting information as speedily as possible.” The order was directed to General Marsena R. Patrick, the Provost Marshall.
As part of his duties as Provost Marshall, General Patrick was responsible for the disposition and interrogation of prisoners and defectors. Originally concerned specifically with the security of Washington, Hooker’s mandate to create a “secret service” was the first step toward creating an institutionalized intelligence service for the military.
General Hooker’s Chief of Staff. Butterfield’s vision and administrative skills were critical to establishing an efficient intelligence reporting system.
The first chief of the new military information bureau, Sharpe would oversee the coordinated intelligence operations of espionage, prisoner interrogations, cavalry reconnaissance, the Union Signal Corps, newspaper intelligence gathering, and balloon and signal tower surveillance. (See Fishell, The Secret War for the Union, p297)
John G. Babcock (pictured at top, in group photo)
While a private in the Union army, Babcock’s gift for cartography caught the attention of General McClellan. After a stint working for the infamous Alan Pinkerton, General Burnside offered Babcock Pinkerton’s job once the McClellan spy chief left with his former boss. Babcock accepted, and was hired as a civilian. He stayed on once the Bureau of Military Information was established. (See Fishell, The Secret War for the Union, pp 154, 257-258).
The talents of these leaders were instrumental in the creation of an efficient intelligence organ for the Union.The quality of the Bureau’s reporting was quickly evident. In this dispatch, dated June 7, 1863, sent to General Butterfield, then-Col Sharpe outlines Confederate force disposition, assessed intent, and enemy troop strength.
The above image is only the first page (full letter and transcript can be found by clicking the image, stored by the Library of Congress), but within it Sharpe provides an updated threat assessment of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart’s forces since the battle at Chancellorsville (which ended 6 May, 1863). “I estimated them then at 4700 men in the aggregate, for duty. We now estimate the same at 7500 men for duty.” Equally as impressive is how Hooker sought to qualify other intelligence in the same letter, rather than present sketchy information as more credible than could be vouched for (as was often the practice by many a general before). “We have considerable reason to believe that two brigades of cavalry have recently arrived from the direction of North Carolina not heretofore connected with General Stuarts command. We can of course give no estimate of their force; but it would not be safe to put them down at less than 1500 men to a brigade.” The Bureau began to make rapid strides in making American intelligence operations more professional, more analytical, and more reliable.
Colonial soldiers of the 18th century, particularly those of the provincial forces, were arguably mischaracterized for much of recent history. Often described as social dregs and castoffs, historians such as Fred Anderson and John Ferling contend that quite the opposite was often true. For example, using census data and “descriptive lists” of the manpower of six Massachusetts regiments in 1756, Anderson demonstrated that a vast majority of the documented militia were young, skilled laborers or farmers who likely struggled to find employment as the population of the state exploded. The same can be said for the Army regulars, whether English Red Coats or Americans in the professional army. Peter Way finds that, in similar fashion as the New England provincials, British recruits were usually skilled laborers who, due to a lack of opportunity in their trade, opted for employment as soldiers. A small sample of data for recruits from Boston appears to line up with this assessment for American recruits. In addition, in New England, provincial forces grew from a tradition of military service, having provided soldiers for King William’s War (1689 – 1697), Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713), and King George’s War (1740s). Interestingly, this relative military readiness, combined with the fact that the powerful Iroquois Six Nations were seated in New England, effectively shielded the region from much of the war’s combat (with some notable exceptions in the first years of the war). The French and Indian War largely hinged on the Ohio Valley region.
In Virginia, although the demographics were significantly different than in New England (almost half of the Virginia regiments in 1756 and 1757 were foreign born, as opposed to only 3% in Massachusetts), we see a similarity in that volunteers were for the most part not unskilled laborers (only 1 out of 10 were indicated as such). And while the same history of military service did not exist in Virginia, these volunteers were far from the wretched castoffs expected, as “planters and skilled artisans” responded to the call for service in greater numbers than had been expected. However, the war with the French was not popular in Virginia, as many thought the conflict was nothing more than a greedy expedition to benefit the Governor and the Ohio Company seeking land in the west.  So what could induce self-identified skilled laborers and planters to volunteer to fight in an unpopular war? The answer may be due to the specific culture in the South. Unlike in Massachusetts, where the economy was based heavily on family farming and which offered land and work opportunities for the young, in Virginia this work was completed by slaves. This being the case, young laborers and immigrants may have found it difficult to find an alternative to employment in the provincial military.
In Pennsylvania, the cultural landscape significantly impacted the ability of the colonists to fight in the war. In fact, the political role played by pacifist Quakers in the region resulted in an inability to form a regiment until 1756, when a number of Quaker leaders withdrew from political office. This pacifist resistance to supporting war, whether specifically against the French or generally in defense of the colony, emerged as early as 1755, when the Pennsylvania Assembly passed a tax to support the war effort. Although it seems the greater Quaker church resolved to support the civil government, even if that government engaged in war, strong pacifist tendencies contributed to a disorganized and sluggish response to threats against the province’s outer settlements. General Edward Braddock, the first British commander-in-chief sent to the colonies, admired the military spirit of the New Englanders and commended Virginia for her response to the call to arms. But Pennsylvania’s lack of enthusiasm and preparedness left him with “no words to express his wrath.” It was in this climate of martial malaise, as the Delaware and allied Indians raided into Pennsylvania, that Lieutenant Colonel John Armstrong launched his raid against Kittanning in a desperate attempt to allay the mounting fear of the western settlers. Armstrong’s raid resulted in the death of the infamous Indian war leader known as Captain Jacobs, along with (according to Armstrong) no less than “thirty or forty” dead Delawares.
In general, the colonial provincial forces of the colonies reportedly performed quite poorly during the conflict. On 2 July, 1758 while British and American forces labored to construct a road to facilitate the assault on the French fort at Louisburg, General Jeffrey Amherst stated in amazement “The covering Party and 500 Pioneers marched and what is incredible to believe, lost their way where one would think ’twas impossible to do so and tho’ they had the Engineers with them.” A year later, in June, when certain supplies did not arrive, the general noted sourly “The Provincial Troops deserted most shamefully.” In a reference to other provincial soldiers shortly after Canada capitulated, Amherst wrote (apparently in reference to general performance or to a lack of needed equipment), “I sent away about 500 Provincials …They are so poorly they can do no work … It froze hard last night.” If historians such as Anderson and Ferling dispute that such performance resulted from provincials being pulled from the social dregs of the colonies, then what would explain this? For one, a gap in military culture had evolved between the New England provincials and the professional Red Coats. The young colonist force, in what might be seen as embryonic Revolutionary War mentality, believed that relations between men (which would include between officers and soldiers) was a form of contract or agreement. The English Red Coats and their officers, by contrast, made it clear that such relations were regulated by “status and coercion.” This “coercion” usually took the form of corporal punishments (such as lashes from a cat-o-nine tails) that many times resulted in death. John Knox, in his journal, described the penalties for desertion and appearing to support desertion:
One soldier was sentenced to receive a thousand lashes for absenting his duty and using expressions tending to excite mutiny and desertion. A second for being disguised with an intention to desert and being out of his quarters at an undue time of night to receive three hundred. A third for an intention to desert one thousand. And a fourth for desertion and endeavouring to inveigle others to desert to suffer death.
Perhaps giving voice to colonial disgust of harsh army discipline, Benjamin Franklin said of General Braddock that he was “too mean a one of both Americans and Indians.” It appears that in some instances, colonial provincial soldiers simply did not relate to the English way of war anymore.
North America was only one theater in a transatlantic war. However, it was not only where the Seven Years’ War began, it was arguably the greatest prize, establishing (as T.R. Clayton states) “the foundations of the nineteenth-century British empire.” For nine years, the French and English powers in the New World warred over the heart of North America. Both empires and their colonies had ample experience fighting each other, and both had experience interacting with native peoples. The tie breaker could have been the numerical superiority of the British colonists. Why then did it take so long to attain victory? Certainly military and political forces across the globe were important. But two broad, culturally-based factors hampered English effectiveness: first, that uneven colonial martial cultures (as demonstrated between New England, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) meant that the southern colonies were not as prepared to fight as the New England colonies. Secondly cultural misunderstandings of Native American war fighting values turned entire nations once friendly to the English against them. The end result of these two factors was to complicate operations in the Ohio Valley as the southern colonies endured unexpected attacks from former allies, and arguably lengthening the length of the war.
 Fred Anderson, “A People’s Army: Provincial Military Service in Massachusetts during the Seven Years’ War,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3d series, Vol. 40, No. 4 (Oct 1983), 505, 507.
 Peter Way, “Class and the Common Soldier in the Seven Years War.” Labor History 44, No. 4 (November 2003), 461.
 Daniel P. Barr, “Victory at Kittanning? Reevaluating the Impact of Armstrong’s Raid on the Seven Years’ War in Pennsylvania,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 131, No. 1 (Jan., 2007), 15.
 For a detailed description of the Quaker schism in regards to the French and Indian War, see Jack D. Marietta, “Conscience, the Quaker Community, and the French and Indian War,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 95, No. 1 (Jan., 1971), 3-27.
 Francis Parkman, France and England in North America, Vol. 2 (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1983), 981.
 This number is disputed by many historians. Daniel P. Barr, ibid, 22.
 Amherst, Jeffery. The journal of Jeffery Amherst, recording the military career of General Amherst in America from 1758 to 1763 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1931), 61.