Military History Word of the Day – “Castrametation”
Photo: Prospect Hill, Virginia. Camp of the 13th Regiment New York Cavalry. (“Seymour Light”)
[Library of Congress, CALL NUMBER: LC-B817- 7218]
While researching the influence of Jomini on the conduct of the American Civil War, I ran across an article by James L. Morrison, Jr., (Professor, History, Emeritus, York College of Pennsylvania) titled, “Educating the Civil War Generals: West Point, 1833 – 1861” which appeared in Military Affairs. He outlines the curriculum for students who would have made up a large part of the war’s leadership. It was heavily skewed toward science and engineering. But the courses on the study of the science of war included the following topics:
order of battle
- castrametation [misspelled in the text as castramentation]
attack and defense, and
the principles of strategy.”[i]
Castrametation caught my eye. Webster provides some insight into the origins of the word.
A Military Dictionary and Gazetteer (first published in 1881 under title: A military and naval encyclopedia and available on Google Books here), puts a slightly different spin on it with the following definition:
“Castrametation. Is the art of laying out camps, and of placing the troops so that the different arms of the service shall afford support to each other in the best manner.”[iii]
I have added as a new word to “the terms” page here.
[i] James L. Morrison, Jr., “Educating the Civil War Generals: West Point, 1833 – 1861,” Military Affairs, Vol. 38, No. 3. (Oct., 1974), pp. 109.
[ii] Castrametation. Dictionary.com. Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. MICRA, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Castrametation (accessed: March 23, 2008).
[iii] Thomas Wilhelm, Military Art and Science, (L. R. Hamersly & co.: 1881) http://books.google.com/books?id=GHcrAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA95&lpg=PA95&dq=what+is+the+history+of+the+word+castrametation%3F&source=web&ots=vnQF5eKGfo&sig=evmHB_wX1onpWxy-eQ9bsZHkZFc&hl=en (accessed online March 21, 2008).
Written by Rene Tyree
March 23, 2008 at 10:13 pm
Tagged with 13th Regiment New York Cavalry, American Civil War, Castrametation, James L. Morrison, Jomini, Jr., Military Affairs, Military History, military strategy, Prospect Hill, Science of war, Virginia, West Point, Word of the Day, York College of Pennsylvania
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