Wig-Wags

Journal of a graduate student in military history and the American Civil War

Posts Tagged ‘American Civil War

Manet and the American Civil War – 1

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A recently received a gift of a book that I am thrilled to add to my library. It is, Manet and the American Civil War published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York [which I had the opportunity to visit for the first time this year], and Yale University Press. It is co-authored by Juliet Wilson-Bareau, “an independent art historian based in London” and David C. Degener, an independent researcher based in San Francisco.

The Battle of U.S.S Kearsarge and C.S.S. Alabama

Click on image to be directed to my bookshelf listing.

 Manet and the American Civil War

  • Published on: 2003-06-10
  • Publisher: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Yale University Press, New Haven and London
  • ISBN: 0-300-09962-2 
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 86 pages
  • The book’s primary focus is the battle of the U.S.S. Kearsarge and C.S.S. Alabama. This from the front flap which provides an eloquent introduction to the book which I could not better….

    “On June 19, 1864, the United States warship Kearsarge sank the Confederate raider Alabama off the coast of Cherbourg, France, in one of the most celebrated naval engagements of the American Civil War. The battle was widely reported in the illustrated press and riveted public attention on both sides of the Channel. When Kearsarge later anchored off the French resort town of Boulonge-sur-Mer it was thronged by curious visitors, one of whom was the artist Edouard Manet.  Although he did not witness the historic battle, Manet made a painting of it partly as an attempt to regain the respect of his colleagues after being ridiculed for his works in the 1864 Salon. Manet’s picture of the naval engagement and his portrait of the victorious Kearsarge belong to a group of his seascapes of Boulonge whose unorthodox perspective and composition would profoundly influence the course of French paintings.”

    In part 2, more on Edouard Manet followed in subsequent posts about the two ships and their encounter across the Atlantic.

    Note that I have added a shelf to my online library titled “Civil War Art and Artists.” You can access that shelf here. I will shortly cross-reference this book on the Naval History shelf as well.

    Coggins’ Arms and Equipment of the Civil War

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    I’m a fan of Jack Coggins. An author and illustrator, Coggins has captured some golden nuggets of information in his book,  Arms and Equipment of the Civil War. He has also written and illustrated a number of other mlitary history books no doubt influenced by his tour of duty as illustrator for YANK magazine during World War II. Members of Coggins extended family have put up a website (quite well done) by way of tribute to Jack. You can reach it here.

    Arms and Equipment of the Civil War

  • Published on: 2004-04-02
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 160 pages
  • New American Civil War Forum Blog

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    I was visiting TOCWOC today and noticed mention of a new Civil War blog. It hasn’t been that long ago that I was the new kid so knowing how much I appreciated the mentions on fellow blog sites am passing along the goodwill. Please take a moment to visit The American Civil War Forum Blog here. I will be adding to my blogroll momentarily.

    Written by Rene Tyree

    July 5, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Professional Military Reading List Links Added

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    Please note that I’m in process of adding more links to the right nav bar under the heading of “Reading Lists.” Collected here are professional military reading lists and those associated with universities in military history. These lists are really quite interesting and range from the classical works of military theorists to the latest in business leadership. If you find a list I don’t have noted, please let me know.

    U.S. Army Chief of Staff\'s Professional Reading List

    Civil War Railroad Page Updated

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    By way of housekeeping, I’ve updated the Popular Series Posts page on the right nav bar titled Civil War Railroads here with the latest series of posts titled “Stewards of Civil War Railroads.”

    United States Military Railroad 4-4-0 locomotive W.H. Whiton (built by William Mason in 1862) in January 1865 with Abraham Lincoln's presidential car, which later was used as his funeral car.

    Above: United States Military Railroad 4-4-0 locomotive W.H. Whiton (built by William Mason in 1862) in January 1865 with Abraham Lincoln’s presidential car, which later was used as his funeral car.
    Source: Wikicommons

    May Civil War and Military History Book Acquisitions – II

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    Continuing with my May book acquisitions which illustrate, as said by Civil War Interactive’s comments on my blog this week, why bank robbery may be needed to support my book-buying habits…

    How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War
  • ISBN-10: 0061129801
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Collins; Reprint edition (January 22, 2008)   
  • This looks like a great read. Author Tom Wheeler, an accomplished man by any measure, has a terrific website here with more about his book and research. This has moved to the top of my list of reading for between terms.

    The Eastern Campaigns, 1861-1864 (Civil War America)
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (April 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807829315
  •  

    Field Fortifications in the Overland Campaign (Civil War America)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (September 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807831549
  • I have DISCOVERED Dr. Hess and the growing list of terrific titles he has published on the Civil War. No doubt his other books will show up in my library before long. Dr. Hess, who has impressive academic credentials, has a website here. His book, Pickett’s Charge: The Last Attack at Gettysburg, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

    Union Military Policy toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; New edition (February 28, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521599415
  • I’ve been intending to pick this up. Authored by military history professor and fellow blogger Mark Grimsley, it too is at the top of my reading list. Dr. Grimsley’s OSU webpage is here. His blog is here.

    Confederate Strategy Reconsidered (American Crisis Series)
    Retreat to Victory?: Confederate Strategy Reconsidered (American Crisis Series)
    By Robert G. Tanner
  • Paperback: 162 pages
  • Publisher: SR Books (January 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 084202882X
  • My post, “Fabian Strategy and the American Civil War” here, lead me to this book. One of my readers recommended it and suggests that it proves that the Confederacy could not have used the Fabian strategy effectively. I’m looking forward to this one.

    The European Inheritance
  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; New Ed edition
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700603794
  • Jav Luvaas is another prolific writer of military history and my collection of his books is growing. I first discovered his work while taking the course, Great Military Philosopers (see “The Courses” page here for details. I picked up his titles: Napoleon on the Art of War and Frederick the Great on the Art of War.

    I’ll be adding these authors to my “The Historians” page shortly.

    Stewards of Civil War Railroads – Part I Lincoln

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    The decisions made by leaders of the North and South regarding the dispensations of their respective railroads, could arguably be some of the most impactful of the war. Armies on both sides considered railroads critical. But Lincoln and Davis approached the control and stewardship of these vital resources differently. The resulting policies did not equally reflect rational military consideration.

    United States Military Railroad 4-4-0 locomotive W.H. Whiton (built by William Mason in 1862) in January 1865 with Abraham Lincoln's presidential car, which later was used as his funeral car.

    Above: United States Military Railroad 4-4-0 locomotive W.H. Whiton (built by William Mason in 1862) in January 1865 with Abraham Lincoln’s presidential car, which later was used as his funeral car.
    Source: WikicommonsAbraham Lincoln

    The need for oversight of the rails came early in the war. Edward Hagerman highlights Federal Quartermaster General Meigs’ complaints in the opening months of the war over the problems of coordination that arose “from civilian control of the railroads.” [i]  In January of 1862, Congress gave Lincoln the authority he needed “to take control whenever public safety warranted it.” [ii]  Lincoln moved decisively, appointing within thirty days Daniel C. McCallum (below) as director of the United States Military Railroads (USMRR).

    Daniel C. McCallum (1815 – 1878)’
    Photo Source: Wikicommons, Public Domain

    Daniel Craig McCallum

    In May of 1862, Abraham Lincoln “took formal possession of all railroads.” General McCallum recruited Herman Haupt (below), a “brilliant railroad engineer,” to assume duties as Military Director and Superintendent of the United States Military Railroad. Haupt was given the rank of Colonel and Lincoln gave him broad, albeit frequently challenged, powers.

    Henry Haupt (1817 – 1905)
    Military Director and Superintendent of the united States Military Railroad

    Henry Haupt

    In the next post, the action of the South.

    You may also be interested in two of my previous posts on Civil War Railroads:

  • Were the North and South Evenly Matched on the Rails?
  • Railroad Generalship (Profiles Herman Haupt)
  • [i] Edward Hagerman, The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), 63.
    [ii] Allan R. Millett and Peter Maslowski, For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America, (New York: The Free Press, 1994), 165.

    Civil War History Phrase of the Day – The Flying Column

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    Supply and logistics were a huge challenge for the Army of the Potomac and this was certainly true as General Joseph Hooker (above, 1814 – 1879) contemplated moving his massive 163,000 man army offensively against Lee near the Rappahannock in the Spring of 1863. Breaking the logistical chain was the challenge.

    According to author Edward Hagerman, Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs (below) had circulated a sketch created by Alexis Godillot of the logistical organization of a “flying column” in the French army on January 2, 1862.[i]

    digital file from original neg.

    It was based on a concept developed in 1840 when “the French, particularly Thomas Robert Bugeaud (below, 1784-1849, Marquis de la Piconnerie, Duc d’Isly), recognized that because the Arab insurgents in North Africa had a tremendous mobility advantage over the French colonial forces, the classic style of logistics would not be effective there. To increase the mobility of his forces, Bugeaud created highly mobile independent detachments called “flying columns” by lightening greatly the logistical structure of his force. Around 1860 a study of Bugeaud’s (painting below) logistical methods was written by Alexis Godillot.”[ii]

    Thomas Robert Bugeaud, Marshal of France.

    The idea was this. Soldiers in a flying column carried eight days of compressed rations, including desiccated vegetables along with a blanket (no overcoat allowed). “Men were divided into squads of eight, one of whom was to carry a covered cooking kettle, another a large mess tin, another an axe, another a pick, and one a shovel. One man in each company carried the hospital knapsack. Each man carried his share of a shelter tent.” [iii]

    “On march 7, 1863, general headquarters of the Army of the Potomac passed down Special Order no. 85, establishing a board to make recommendations on ‘the practicality and means of carrying an increased amount of rations…over the three days usually carried,’ having in view ‘the marching of troops without encumbrance of extra clothing or shelter tents, the use of desiccated vegetables or flour, and the carrying of fresh beef on the hoof, and the omission, in consequence, of beef or pork from the rations.'” [iv]

    After some experimentation, the board recommended a workable configuration and these were “immediately implemented in preparation for an eight-day march designed to turn Lee out of his positions on the Rappahannock. Each corps, including the cavalry, was made into a flying column on the French model, with some modifications. In addition to the knapsack and haversack with blanket, the soldier carried his should arms, sixty rounds of ammunition, accouterments, and a piece of shelter tent. An extra pair of socks was allowed.” Unlike the French, entrenchment tools were brought up as required by the reserve train. “The soldier carried an average load of forty-five points.” [v]

    According to James J. Schneider, “by 1864 Bugeaud’s method of flying columns formed the core of Federal Army logistical doctrine. This triumph over the old classical system was demonstrated decisively in Grant’s invasions of the South.” [vi]
    ———————
    [i, iii, iv, v] Edward Hagerman, The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), 71-72.
    [ii, vi] James J. Schneider, “VULCAN’S ANVIL: The American Civil War and the Foundations of Operational Art,” June 16, 1992, online, http://cgsc.cdmhost.com/cgi-bin/showfile.exe?CISOROOT=/p4013coll11&CISOPTR=9&filename=10.pdf 
    , accessed May 13, 2008, 44.
    Photo source: Montgomery C. Meigs, Library of Congress, Rep #: LC-DIG-cwpbh-03111.
    Painting of Thomas Robert Bugeaud, Wiki Commons.

    On the Civil War’s Last Veterans, Wives, and Stats

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    While in search of documentation for Civil War statistics, I discover the Fact Sheet: American Wars published in November 0f 2007 by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. It provides the following:Albert H. Woolson

    It lists the last Union veteran as Albert Woolson (right) who died August 2 1956 at age 109.  He was a member of Company C of the First Minnesota Heavy Artillery Regiment but never saw action. A brief biography is available here.

    The last Confederate Veteran, John Salling, died March 16, 1958, at age 112. Some references, including one available here, suggests that he may have been an imposter.

    And the last Union widow, Gertrude Janeway, died January 17, 2003, age 93. Mrs. Janeway death was covered in the January 21, 2003 issue of New York Times here. In brief, she was married to Union veteran John Janeway at age 16. He was 81. They made their home in a three room log cabin in Blaine, Tennessee. He died there at age 91 in 1937. She died in the same home. Mr. Janeway fought for the 11th Illinois Calvary under the name January. A photo of Mr. and Mrs. Janeway shortly after their wedding and of Mrs. Janeway in 1998 available here.

    The last Confederate widow was Mrs. Alberta S. (Stewart) Martin who died in May 31, 2004. A site dedicated to Mrs. Martin including photos is available here. She was married to veteran Willaim Jasper Martin when she was 21 and he was 81.

    A transcript of a 1998 interview with Mrs. Martin is available on radiodiaries.org here. Host Robert Siegel also interviews Daisy (Graham) Anderson who was, at the time, also one of the last know Union widows. Mrs. Anderson was married in 1922 at age 21 to Robert Anderson, then age 79, who was an escaped slave who joined the Union Army and served in the 125th Colored Infantry near the war’s end and in the Indian campaigns. He was a successful homesteader in Nebraska. Their story is available in the New York Times article about her death here. A article about Mr. Anderson’s fascinating life, titled “The Odyssey of an Ex-Slave: Robert Ball Anderson’s Pursuit of the American Dream,” by Darold D. Waxm is available through JSTOR here.

    Civil War (1861-1865)
    Total U.S. Servicemembers (Union)…………..2,213,363
    Battle Deaths (Union)………………………………140,414
    Other Deaths (In Theater) (Union)………………..224,097
    Non-mortal Woundings (Union)…………………..281,881
    Total Servicemembers (Conf.) (note 2) ………..1,050,000
    Battle Deaths (Confederate) (note 3) ………………74,524
    Other Deaths (In Theater) (Confed.) (note 3, 4)……59,297

    Non-mortal Woundings (Confed.) ……………..Unknown

    2. Exact number is unknown. Posted figure is median of estimated

        range from 600,000 – 1,500,000.

    3. Death figures are based on incomplete returns.

    4. Does not include 26,000 to 31,000 who died in Union prisons.

    Mahan’s Elementary Treatise

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    Dennis MahanWOW! I am absolutely engrossed in Edward Hagerman’s The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command. So much to say about Dennis Mahan (right) who I wrote about briefly here in my series on Jomini on the Nature of War (Part VII – Jomini’s Impact on Civil War Leadership). The National Park Service has a good bio on Mahan here.

    I was very pleased to find online Mahan’s Elementary Treatise on Advance-Guard, Out-Post, and Detachment Service of Troops (1847) which Hagerman references in detail. This text was developed by Mahan for West Point and is considered the first tactics and strategy text created for the United States. I’ll add this to my primary sources links on Wig-Wags.

    I can tell already that I’ll have many terms to add to the terms  page. More to come of the French connection.
     

    Dennis Mahan Treastise

    Additional Page – “the milestones”

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    I’m adding another new page called “the milestones” available here or on the navbar. Like the new page mentioned in the previous post, I need a place to store key dates / developments in military history. The primary focus will initially be on American military history.

    I’m currently reading about American military history in the period from 1815-1860 and it’s amazing to see the chronology of developments leading up to the American Civil War. These fall into a number of categories: political, technological, military, etc.

    I have made just a start this evening but will continue to update.

    Written by Rene Tyree

    May 3, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Jomini on the Nature of War – Part VII – Jomini’s Impact on Civil War Leadership

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    jomini-cropped.jpgThis post continues the series of “Jomini on the Nature of War.” Part I: Introduction is available here, Part II: The Burgeoning Military Theorist here, Part III: The Founder of Modern Strategy here, Part IV: The Basics here, Part V: Lines of Operation here, and Part VI – The Conduct of War here.

    Returning to Baron Antoine de Jomini (right), I wanted to explore the extent to which his strategies influenced those who held leadership positions during the American Civil War. A modest survey of the literature revealed some disagreement. 

    Historian James L. Morrison, Jr. in his article “Educating the Civil War Generals: West Point, 1833 – 1861,″ pointed out that exposure to Jomini came during “Professor Dennis H. Mahan’s [pictured below] course, Civil and Military Engineering and the Science of War which all First Classmen studied daily.”[i]

    Dennis Mahan

    Dennis H. Mahan
    Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

    But only nine hours were given to the study of the science of war and Morrison contends that this was entirely too brief an exposure to have had any lasting impact. That said, he acknowledges that some alumni of the military academy studied Jomini thoroughly including Beauregard, Lee, Halleck, and McClellan.

    “…The same cannot be said for the great majority of their colleagues who had neither the opportunity nor the inclination to continue their strategic studies after graduation. Probably Sherman was more representative of the typical graduate when he denied that Jomini had affected his thoughts or actions in the war.” [ii]

     I’ll discuss some additional viewpoints in the next post.

    A word on Dennis H. Mahan. A military theorist in his own right, Mahan was instrumental in developing the engineering-focused curriculum at West Point. Some may recall that he was the father of naval strategist Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan. The elder’s obituary, which appeared on September 17, 1871 in New York Times here, reveals that Professor Mahan committed suicide by jumping in the Hudson River from the deck of the steamboat Mary Powell in such a way that he was hit by the wheel. He was apparently despondant about being forced to retire. A sad end to a remarkable career. Professor Mahan’s memoir is available online here.

    Powell Photo
    Mary Powell, Queen of the Hudson

    [i, ii] James L. Morrison, Jr., “Educating the Civil War Generals: West Point, 1833 – 1861,” Military Affairs, Vol. 38, No. 3. (Oct., 1974), pp. 109.

    Top Notch Book Review – Faust

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    Death and the American Civil War

    Andrew Waggenhoffer over at Civil War Books and Authors has a very well-written book review here of Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War which I first mentioned here. A good read.

    Military History Word of the Day – “Castrametation”

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    Prospect Hill, Virginia. Camp of the 13th Regiment New York Cavalry. (”Seymour Light”)

    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: 

    • “army organization
    • order of battle
    • castrametation [misspelled in the text as castramentation]
    • reconnaissance
    • outpost duties
    • attack and defense, and
    • the principles of strategy.”[i]

    Castrametation caught my eye. Webster provides some insight into the origins of the word.

    “\Cas`tra*me*ta”tion\, n. [F. castram[‘e]tation, fr. L. castra camp + metari to measure off, fr. meta limit.] (Mil.) The art or act of encamping; the making or laying out of a camp.Read this book” [ii]

    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).

    Jomini on the Nature of War – Part VI – The Conduct of War

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    jomini-cropped.jpgThis post continues the series of “Jomini on the Nature of War.” Part I: Introduction is available here, Part II: The Burgeoning Military Theorist here, Part III: The Founder of Modern Strategy here, Part IV: The Basics here, and Part V: Lines of Operation here.

    Jomini cautions that there are a number of other circumstances that can affect the “nature and conduct of war” including that…

    • “a state may simply make war against another state
    • a state may make war against several states in alliance with each other
    • a state in alliance with another may make war upon a single enemy
    • a state may be either the principal party or an auxiliary
    • in the latter case a state may join in the struggle at its beginning or after it has commenced.
    • the theater of war may be upon the soil of the enemy, upon that of an ally, or upon its own.
    • if the war be one of invasions, it may be upon adjacent or distant territory: it may be prudent and cautious, or it may be bold and adventurous
    • it may be a national war, either against ourselves or against the enemy
    • the war may be a civil or a religious war.”[i]

    He insists that war should always “be conducted according to the great principles of the art; but [that] great discretion must be exercised in the nature of the operations to be undertaken, which should depend upon the circumstances of the case.”[ii]  “A regiment should always fight in nearly the same way; but commanding generals must be guided by circumstances and events.”[iii]

    lincolnmcclellan.gif
    Antietam, Md. President Lincoln and Gen. George B. McClellan in the general’s tent (Oct. 1862). LOC

    So the “principles of strategy are always the same,” but differences occur with the “political part of war, which is modified by the tone of communities, by localities, and by the characters of men at the head of states and armies.”[iv]

    Jomini outlines these specific circumstances in a description of each type of war and the principles and rules to follow (or not follow) in every one. For example, in “Offensive Wars to Reclaim Rights,” he indicates that no rules can be laid down but to watch and to profit by every circumstance.[v] This leads to his conclusion that “war knows no rules.”[vi]

    “Military science rests upon principle which can never be safely violated in the presence of an active and skillful enemy, while the moral and political part of war presents these variations. Plans of operations are made as circumstances may demand: to execute these plans, the great principles of war must be observed.”[vii]


    [i] Jomini, Antoine Henri de. The Art of War, trans. by G. H. Mendell and W. P. Craighill., Special Edition, (El Paso: EL Paso Norte Press. 2005), 10-11.

    [ii] Ibid..

    [iii] Ibid.

    [iv] Ibid., 13.

    [v] Ibid., 12.

    [vi] Ibid.,13.

    [vii] Ibid.

    Jomini on the Nature of War – Part V – Lines of Operation

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    This post continues the series of “Jomini on the Nature of War.” Part I: Introduction is available here, Part II: The Burgeoning Military Theorist here, Part III: The Founder of Modern Strategy here, and Part IV: The Basics here.

    “Principles were guides to action, not infallible mathematical calculations. Jomini The specific application of principles would vary with the thousand changing physical and psychological factors that made war ‘a great drama.’ Genius would defeat the military pendant, just as talent and experience would outdo the bumbling novice. But the principles themselves, whose truth is demonstrated by all military experience, could not be ignored without peril and, when followed, had ‘almost invariably’ (Presque en tout temps) brought victory.”[i]

     

     Jomini’s arguments for “immutable ‘principle’ of war” rested on the concept of “lines of operation” by which he meant…

    • “where an armed force fights,
    • for what objective, and
    • in what force relative to the total available military power of the state.”[ii]

    He identified two types of lines of operation, those that are:

    Union entrenchments near Kenesaw Mountain, Ga., 1864. 111-B-531.
    • Natural:
      • rivers,
      • mountains,
      • seacoasts,
      • oceans,
      • deserts, and
      • sheer distance through, over, and around which military operations must be conducted.”[iii]
      • Also included in this category are man-made, permanent structures that constrict the conduct of warfare including: fortifications, military bases, political boundaries and road networks.[iv]
    • Concerned exclusively with strategic choice about:
      • where to fight,First Manasas
      • to what purpose,
      • in what force, etc.[v]

    [i – v] John Shy, “Jomini,” in Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 154, 166.

    Photo: Union entrenchments near Kenesaw Mountain, Ga., 1864. 111-B-531. The National Archives.

    Map: First Manasas

    Program of Study – M.A. Military History – American Civil War

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    For those interested, I have posted the full program of study for my Masters program on “the courses” page here. It’s pretty solid at this point with the exception of an elective.

    I’ve now purchased all required books for my upcoming course, “Studies in U.S. Military History” which starts April 7th. It’s a BIG stack. As is my custom, the full reading list is posted on “the courses” page. I had previously posted more detail on that course here. Recall that it covers most of America’s major wars and should provide an excellent survey.  Can’t wait!

    I’m finishing up an essay on ethics as related to historians due today so will get back to my two series posts on (1) Jomini and (2) The Temperment of Military Leaders when completed.

    Jomini on the Nature of War – Part I – Introduction

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    Baron Antoine-Henri de Jomini


    Baron Antoine-Henri de JominiMakers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age
    I’d like to begin a series of posts on Baron Antoine-Henri de Jomini. I had the opportunity to study Jomini along with other military strategists in a previous course, Great Military Philosophers which you can read more about on the courses page here, and wanted to come back to that material to dive in a bit deeper in. Why Jomini you might ask and what has he to do with the American Civil War? John Shy, in an excellent essay on Jomini that appears in one of my favorite books, Makers of Modern Strategy from Machieavelli to the Nuclear Age, wrote that “three names that stand out in the formative period of modern military thought: Napoleon, Clausewitz, and Jomini.”[i]

    Napoleon

    Napoleon

    Clausewitz

    Clausewitz

    Jomini

    Jomini

    Everyone has heard of Napoleon. Many familiar with history have heard of the Prussian Carl von Clausevitz. But Jomini remains largely unknown outside of the military. And yet, Shy contends, Jomini’s “influence on both military theory and popular conceptions of warfare has been enormous.” [ii] His theories were known by militarists in many countries and certainly in the United States both before, during and after the American Civil War. More to come…

    ————–

    [i], [ii] John Shy, “Jomini,” in Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 144.

    Photos are in the public domain. Source: Wiki commons.

    History as Science

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    Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man

    Should the study of history be scientific? The debate between historians, philosophers, and sociologist around whether history should be based on science has been a topic in my historiography class (see courses here). The biggest brouhaha took place in the late 1800’s when the world was still feeling the effects of the Industrial Revolution and scientific method was becoming all the rage.

    Breisach

    Ernst Breisach

    Ernst Breisach (left), who author’s our primary text for the class [Historiography: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern], provides a survey of this quest to find a reason for history and its place alongside other areas of study. He provides a look at the players in those countries most engaged in the debate: France, England, Germany, and America.

    Comte

    Auguste Comte

    Auguste Comte, who I mentioned in my post here, was a player. He believed that man was of one collective mind and thus progressed intellectually as one. He proposed a model called “The Three Stages of History” which posited that all thought, emotive forces, and sciences progress through three eras: (1) theological, (2) metaphysical, and (3) positive. Events in the theological era were explained by “God’s will.” In the metaphysical era, they were explained by natural laws. Eventually, he predicted, man would enter an endless “positive” era where events could be explained by positive philosophy and laws. Society, politics, and culture would radically change in this state and man’s collective mind would  reach a pinnacle needing no further development. The sciences would organize human life according to laws governing phenomena. These laws would be based on sensory experience; things which could be observed. Comte felt that mankind was on the cusp of moving into that final stage which he predicted began with the French Revolution and would go on forever.

    Comte’s Stages

    Comte’s ideas fell flat among many. Contrarians argued that once this utopia in human development was reached, there would be little left to do. Not only that but the very foundations of idealist philosophy would be destabilized. God, ideas, uniqueness, and intuition would be considered irrelevant.

    Buckle C

    Henry Thomas Buckle

    But the idea that science could lead to a higher stage of intellectual development governed by overarching laws stuck and a new school of thought was born that became known as “positivist.” Positivism grew in popularity and historians who embraced it began looking for overarching laws that governed, for example, the nature and destiny of nations. If the principles applied to the natural sciences could be applied to history, surely these laws would exist!

    British historian Henry Thomas Buckle (right) jumped on the positivist band wagon and called on other British historians to fall in step with more scientific approaches or be ignored. His direction was to abandon the historiography of description in favor of an approach in line with natural sciences. The British didn’t buy it. With few exceptions, they remained attached to the notion that history required careful interpretation and narration by historians. Moral lessons could be found in history that were necessary for the education of the young. Viewing history as science was nothing less than dangerous.

    Americans, on the other hand, took to historical science with enthusiasm. History associations and history journals were formed. University history departments in the model of other scientifically-based disciplines were created. The notion of professional and academic historians emerged and it wasn’t long before amateur historians were pushed aside. Breisach called it “The Great Divorce.” (p. 287) More on that in a later post. Americans never demanded nor sought great laws governing human affairs but embraced the benefits and ambiguities of “scientific history,” incorporated what were arguably the best of the interpretations  from around the world, and put an American stamp on it.

    S2

    Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

    What else changed? Plenty. Documentation of sources became more important. Historical writing became more formal and less accessible or interesting to the reading public. If the style of writing didn’t change, it was criticized. So “literary” and “romantic” history became passe. Thus the work of such notable historians as George Bancroft became discredited. Historians began to specialize. The use of quantitative methods Depiction of the data items found in the perspectives of the Zachman Frameworkas a basis for drawing historical conclusions grew. [Needless to say, a paradigm-shift in quantitative methods occurred as a result of computer technology in the 20th century.] Economic history surged as a field of study in the early 20th century and continues strong today.

    Not everyone has approved over the years. Breisach provides a wonderful quote by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.  who said that the really important questions of historical inquiry are important because they can’t be quantified. Teddy Roosevelt, Jr.  protested accusing professional historians of becoming so enamored with detailed research that they “did much real harm in preventing the development of students who might have a large grasp of what history should be.” (p. 288)

    Roosevelt

    Teddy Roosevelt, Jr.

    Certainly both the quantitative and the qualitative have a place in the study of history. There is no doubt that methods used in other fields like economics, data analysis and statistics can provide great insight into the study of history (See Cliometrics). This is the stuff that counter-factual analysis was built on. But finding the right balance remains a challenge.

    Of interest, positivism had a rebirth in the 1920s but, interestingly, proponents of the narrative form of history surged back in the 1960s as humanists challenged pure scientific historiography. For me, there will always be a place for outstanding narrative in the telling of history. Like the British at the turn of the century, I believe in well told history that occasionally has a brilliant moral in the telling.Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, Third Edition

    Ernst Breisach, Historiography: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, (The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 2007). Chapter referenced: “History and the Quest for a Uniform Science.”

    Copyright Rene Tyree 2008

    Image of depiction of the data items found in the perspectives of the Zachman Framework by Stan Locke, January 2008, Wikipedia.
    Other photos from Wikipedia Commons, public domain.
    Diagram of Comte’s Three Stages of History, self-made, Rene Tyree, Feb. 13, 2008.

    Rotov on Suffering

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    Catching up on my reading, I found Dimitri Rotov’s post [here] on Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering to be Death and the American Civil Warinsightful. Follow his links to his previous posts as well. He suggests that Faust may step in for James McPherson as leading Civil War historian. While I gather he isn’t a fan of the latter, he seems to be of the former. I look forward to his upcoming review.

    You may recall that I mentioned receiving Faust’s book in my posting here. It’s near the top of my review list.

    For more information on Faust and McPherson, see my the historians page here.

    Next Course: “Studies in U.S. Military History”

    with 2 comments

    I just took a break from working on my academic book review due today to register for my next class which starts April 7. “Studies in Military History” is the second in the “core” requirements courses and so deals with more general topics. The first was “Great Military Philosophers.” The course examines the military heritage of the United States from the colonial period to the present. “Through a study of the literature of American military history, this course is a study of the individuals, military policies, postures, organizations, strategies, campaigns, tactics, and battles that have defined the American military experience.”

    The reading list looks outstanding. Since I’ve placed my book order, I’ve posted these books on my virtual bookshelves that you can find here. The breadth of conflicts dealt with required that I expand my shelf categories which I’m completely fine with. I’ll post more about each of these as I get into the sememster.

    • American Civil War and The Origins of Modern Warfare
    • A People’s Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the 7-Year War
    • The Army and Vietnam
    • Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War
    • For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America, Revised and Expanded
    • A Revolutionary People at War: The Continental Army and American Character, 1775-1783
    • War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War
    • The Philippine War, 1899-1902
    • Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America
    • The GI Offensive in Europe: The Triumph of American Infantry Divisions, 1941-1945
    • The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity
    • Strategies of Containment: A Critical Reappraisal of American National Security Policy During the Cold War
    • Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
    • Their War for Korea: American, Asian, and European Combatants and Civilians, 1945-1953

    The instructor, Kelly C. Jordan, also looks excellent (ok they’ve all been excellent).

    BA,  History,  Virginia Military Institute,  1986
    PhD,  Philosophy,  The Ohio State University,  1999
    MA,  History,  The Ohio State University,  1996

    From the AMU staff biography site:
    Kelly C. Jordan is a Colorado native who received his bachelor’s degree from the Virginia Military Institute but never quite got the hang of the South. Moving to the Midwest, he earned his master’s degree and Ph. D. from The Ohio State University. A retired Army lieutenant colonel, Jordan served for 21 years in the Infantry in mechanized and light units, including service in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. He retired from active duty in August of 2007. He is the author of numerous publications, including works addressing Military History, Military Education, and Strategy. He is currently preparing his Ph.D. dissertation regarding the combat effectiveness of the US Eighth Army in Korea for publication. Dr. Jordan has served on the faculties of the United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Army Command and General Staff College, the United States Naval War College, and the University of Notre Dame, and he specializes in 20th century post-WWII land warfare, the Korean War, limited war, military leadership, and the development of US Army doctrine. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and writing, he is a huge Notre Dame football fan (even this year!), and he is always looking for ways to incorporate movie clips and other cool things into his classes, discussions, and presentations.

    Really looking forward to this class! Now back to my paper!!!

    HOW THE SOUTH Could Have Won the Civil War

    with 2 comments

    Today I received for review a copy of HOW THE SOUTH Could Have Won the Civil War: The Fatal Errors That Led to Confereate Defeat. Author Bevin Alexander claims to destroy the myth of the inevitability of a Union victory. I plan to read it with open mind.

    I haven’t yet determined where to place this book on my virtual bookshelves so for now, it’s filed on shelf three of “Civil War Era and Commentary.”

    More to come. 

     The Fatal Errors That Led to Confederate Defeat

    ISBN 978-0-307-34599-8

  • Published on: 2007-12-31
  • Released on: 2007-12-31
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 352 pages
  • The Crown Publishering Group (a division of Random House)

    Death and Injury on the Battlefield – Part I

    with 2 comments

    One of Ewell’s Corps as he lay on the field, after the battle of the 19th May, 1864.

    On November 24th, I posted a piece on the impact of disease on soldiers in the Civil War [see “On Lice, Disease and Quinine” here]. The following discusses the other side of death during the war, the experience on the battlefield. Please be aware the the following is very graphic. [Photo to left: One of Ewell’s Corps as he lay on the field, after the battle of the 19th May, 1864. ]Battle injuries in the civil war were horrific and many led to death. The journals of soldiers and photographs of the dead tell of injury and death caused by cannon balls, grapeshot, canister, musket balls, bayonets, clubbing and more. Men were decapitated, cut in two, blown apart, shot in head, body, and/or extremities, bashed in the face or skull, disemboweled, burned, dragged, drowned, and/or suffered broken bones. John Beatty provided a glimpse of the carnage typical on most Civil War battlefields in a journal entry describing his pass through the battlefield of Stone River in Tennessee, early in 1863.

    Dead Horses

    I ride over the battle-field. In one place a caisson and five horses are lying, the latter killed in harness, and all fallen together. Nationals and Confederates, young, middle-aged, and old, are scattered over the woods and fields for miles. Poor Wright, of my old company, lay at the barricade in the woods which we stormed on the night of the last day. Many others lay about him. Further on we find men with their legs shot off; one with brains scooped out with a cannon ball; another with half a face gone; another with entrails protruding; young Winnegard, of the Third, has one foot off and both legs pierced by grape at the thigDead Horsehs; another boy lies with his hands clasped above his head, indicating that his last words were a prayer. Many Confederate sharpshooters lay behind stumps, rails, and logs, shot in the head. A young boy, dressed in the Confederate uniform, lies with his face turned to the sky, and looks as if he might be sleeping. Poor boy! what thoughts of home, mother, death, and eternity, commingled in his brain as the life-blood ebbed away! Many wounded horses are limping over the field. One mule, I heard of, had a leg blown off on the first day’s battle; next morning it was on the spot where first wounded; at night it was still standing there, not having moved an inch all day, patiently suffering, it knew not why nor for what. How many poor men moaned through the cold nights in the thick woods, where the first day’s battle occurred, calling in vain to man for help, and finally making their last solemn petition to God![1]

    Dead on Field

    Linderman posits that, even though the men fighting in the Civil War should have been more used to gore and death than those fighting in the next century, “when young soldiers first saw bullets, cannonballs, grapeshot, and canister strike others, their shock was profound. The first surprise was death’s suddenness,” a man alive and animated next to them one moment, and the next, lifeless and shattered. [2]Men splattered with the insides of the man next to them were even more impacted. Also shocking was the magnitude of death. It was not uncommon to see thousands of bodies after a single battle.[3]

    Battlefield Dead

    Many men died agonizing deaths after lying injured on the field for hours or days. Contributing to this were standing orders that prevented a man from stopping his forward motion to help a fallen comrade. Some men were also fearful that doing so would imply cowardice on their part. Also, rarely could a truce be made to remove the injured and dead from the battlefield. The resulting experience for the injured was atrocious. Methods and procedures that would allow for application of first aid and then rapid transport to field hospitals were simply non-existent.

    Buried and Not Buried

    Disposal of bodies was often done carelessly and with little decorum if at all. Given the magnitude and ghastliness of the task, it is little wonder. Depending on the season, bodies awaiting burial, or even after careless burial, bloated and decayed in the heat and could be eaten by animals and insects. [Photo at right depicts the burial of soldier on one side and while an enemy soldier is left unburied.]Next installment… “Injuries on the Battlefield.”

    © 2007 L. Rene Tyree

    Photos from the Library of Congress

    [1] John Beatty, The Citizen-Soldier: The Memoirs of a Civil War Volunteer [book on-line] (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1998, accessed 28 September 2007), 211; available from Questia, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=26979264; Internet.

    [2] Gerald Linderman, Embattled Courage: The Experiences of Combat in the American Civil War, 124.

    [3] Ibid.

    Good Discussion on the Inevitability of the Civil War

    with one comment

    The final post of my series Exploring Causes of the Civil War (which you can read here) titled “The Debate Over the War’s Inevitability,” has spawned some interesting debate over both the inevitability of the Civil War and the idea of “inevitability” itself. Blogger Elektratig not only provides some insightful comments to my post, but expounds upon those in a post titled “Historical Inevitability” on his own blog here. He provides a good argument that rather than “inevitability,” we should speak of “probability.” 

    John Maass (a fellow wordpress.com blogger at A Student of History) enters the discussion with the assertion that looking at historical events as “inevitable” is amateurish history (see comments on both my original post and on Elektratig’s) and is particularly dangerous in the field of military history because of the contingencies that can come into play during war.

    It promotes a teleological view of history that is simply far too unsophisticated and “cookie cutter” for an accurate look at the past. Anyone can go back into the chronicle of the past and see lots of events and add them all up to “prove” that a subsequent event was inevitable or foreordained. Historians don’t do this, or at least they shouldn’t.

    “Teleologic” comes from the noun “teleology” which has to do in the philosophical sense (as I believe John intended it) with the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes. In the theological sense, it refers to the doctrine of design and purpose in the material world.i

    George BancroftBoth meanings I find interesting in that, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m preparing a research proposal to study the impact of historian George Bancroft on 19th century historiography. Bancroft has been criticized for his views about America’s destiny being pre-ordained. Frank Freidel captured it well in his work, The Golden Age of American History.

    The Face of God by MichelangeloBancroft saw a divine shaping of American destinies, from the founding of the individual colonies through the successful culmination of the struggle for independence, and beyond to his own day. He wrote in his preface in 1834, “It is the object of the present work to explain how the change in the condition of our land has been brought about; and, as the fortunes of a nation are not under the control of blind destiny, to follow the steps by which a favoring Providence, calling our institutions into being, has conducted the country to its present happiness and glory.”ii

    As the new “scientific history” began to emerge, this position received considerable challenge.

    My thanks to both commenter’s for their excellent discussion.

    Photo above of Creation of the Sun and Moonby Michelangelo, face detail of God. (Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain).

    i Oxford Pocket American Dictionary of Current English, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 835.

    iiFrank Freidel, The Golden Age of American History [book on-line] (New York: G. Braziller, 1959, accessed 30 December 2007), 70; available from Questia, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=4419028; Internet.

    Exploring Causes of the Civil War – Part IX: The Debate Over the War’s Inevitability

    with 4 comments

    A review of the literature reveals – not surprisingly – a lack of agreement over whether the American Civil War was inevitable. Given the fact that it did occur, the question under consideration might be better stated as “at what point in time” did the American Civil War became unavoidable.

    Slave AuctionSome would argue that war became predestined at the point when the slave trade was first introduced to the colonies. Others have suggested that civil war became preordained when the founding fathers created a Constitution that professed freedom for all but failed to deal with the country’s practice of chattel slavery (image left of slave auction at Richmond). But portions of the country had demonstrated a willingness to move away slavery. And there was some indication that even slave owners in the south did not expect the practice to go on indefinitely. Certainly the rise of King Cotton, made feasible by the invention of the cotton gin and cotton varieties more suited to the southern climate, slowed the inclination to move away from slavery. Even so, the country had opportunity and demonstrated an ability to find compromise on the issues surrounding slavery time and again and could have England’s Cottonconceivably continued to do so had other factors not pushed the country to war.

    Sectional differences, well evident even in colonial days, had the potential to make civil war predestined but historian Avery Craven suggests otherwise. “Physical and social differences between North and South did not in themselves necessarily imply an irrepressible conflict. They did not mean that civil war had been decreed from the beginning by Fate.”[i] He points out that the federal system created by the founding fathers had room for differences and that England herself adopted the model of American federalism and used it to manage widely disparate regions.[ii]

    Kenneth StamppKenneth Stampp in his work, America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink, suggests that “…1857 was probably the year when the North and South reached the political point of no return — when it became well nigh impossible to head off a violent resolution of the differences between them.”[iii] Stampp identified three primary factors that catapulted the country toward disunion within that twelve month period.

    1. The first was the increase in sectional conflict centered on Kansas.
    2. The second was President Buchanan’s fall from grace among most of the Northerners who had voted for him after he supported the Lecompton Constitution and thus broke his pre-election promises. This sparked one of the most vicious debates in Congress and led to…
    3. the third happening which was the crisis that occurred in the national Democratic Party from which “it did not recover until after the Civil War.”[iv] That schism in the party opened the way for Abraham Lincoln’s candidacy for the presidency which in turn raised sectional tensions between North and South to new heights.

    SumpterCivil War historiographer Gobar Boritt suggests that the American Civil War only became inevitable after the attack on Fort Sumter (pictured right after surrender) and with this I agree. “The popular uprising, North and South, that followed the fight over Sumter, combined with willing leadership on both sides, made the Civil War inevitable. It was not that before.”[v] Boritt acknowledges that “the probability of war” continued to grow in the 1850s, but that “the country’s fate was not sealed until the ides of April, 1861.”[vi]

    My conclusion is that the American Civil War was not inevitable but was, rather, the result of a confluence of factors which – taken in aggregate and flared by extremists – resulted in a war unwanted by the majority of Americans. Contributory to the war was the influence of specific individuals – not the least of which was Abraham Lincoln himself. Other politicians, by their action or inaction at critical moments, also had part to play in the circumstances that led to war. Debate over the war’s inevitability has been and will continue to be rigorous.

    This post concludes a series on Exploring Causes of the Civil War. Other posts can be read by clicking on any of the following links: Part I: Introduction, Part II: Antebellum America, Part III: The Antebellum South, Part IV: The Antebellum North, Part V: The Rise of Sectional Disputes, Part VI: The Contribution of Constitutional Ambiguity, Part VII: Political Discord, Slavery, and the Fight for Political Control, and Part VIII: The Influence of the Individual.

    As always, I invite your comments.

    © 2007 L. Rene Tyree
    ___________________
    Photo Credits:The Coming of the Civil War (Phoenix Books)
    Slave Auction, Richmond, Virginia, 1830. [Source: University of Virginia. Imaged reference: Bourne01. George Bourne, Picture of slavery in the United State of America. . . (Boston, 1838).
    Cotton – England’s God [Pictorial envelope] [LOC CALL NUMBER PR-022-3-14-19]
    Fort Sumter after evacuation, flagpole shot away twice. [Stereograph], 1861. [LOC CALL NUMBER PR-065-798-22A Nation on the Brink
    Endnotes:

    [i] Avery Craven. The Coming of the Civil War. 2nd Ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957), 1.Why the Civil War Came

    [ii] Ibid.

    [iii] Stampp, Kenneth M. America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink. Vers. [book on-line] Internet. Questia.com.New York: Oxford University Press. 1990. available from questia.com, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?action=openPageViewer&docId=24268497 (accessed September 1, 2007), viii.

    [iv] Ibid.

    [v] ” ‘And the War Came’? Abraham Lincoln and the Question of Individual Responsibility” in Why the Civil War Came., ed. Gabor S. Boritt (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 6.

    [vi] Ibid.

    Exploring Causes of the Civil War – Part VI: The Contribution of Constitutional Ambiguity

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    This post continues a series on Exploring Causes of the Civil War. Other posts can be read by clicking on any of the following links: Part I: Introduction, Part II: Antebellum America, Part III: The Antebellum South, Part IV: The Antebellum North, and Part V: The Rise of Sectional Disputes.
    ___________________

    BorittAmerica’s Constitution CroppedHistorian Gabor S. Boritt asserts that the American Constitution’s “fundamental ambiguity” on a number of matters involving slavery contributed to the sectional controversy that stimulated the growing conflict between the North and the South.[i] The document was vague on the status of slavery in the territories, the power of Congress over the institution in the District of Columbia, whether the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce extended to the slave trade, whether it was a state or federal responsibility to return runaway slaves, and whether Congress could impose conditions on a new state or refuse to admit a new slave state to the Union.[ii] But the most important of these was whether a state had the right to secede from the Union.

    Articles of Confederation - Cropped

    Whereas the Articles of Confederation had proclaimed the Union to be perpetual, the Constitution contained no such statement. Indeed, nowhere did it discuss whether a state could secede or not. In the absence of any explicit provision, neither the nationalists nor the secessionists could present a conclusive argument on the subject. In upholding the perpetuity of the Union, Abraham Lincoln conceded that the language of the Constitution was not decisive.[iii]

    This didn’t stop either side from finding in these documents justification of their positions.

    Topic of the next post: Political Discord, Slavery, and the Fight for Political Control.

    © 2007 L. Rene Tyree

    [i] Gabor S. Boritt, “‘And the War Came’? Abraham Lincoln and the Question of Individual Responsibility,” in Why the Civil War Came, ed. Gabor S. Boritt [book on-Why the Civil War Cameline] (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, accessed 1 September 2007), 85; available from questia.com http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=78779127; Internet.

    [ii] Ibid.

    [iii] Ibid.

    Exploring Causes of the Civil War – Part II – Antebellum America

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    In the last post, I kicked off a series looking at the causes of the American Civil War. Study of 19th century Antebellum America reveals a young country experiencing incredible change. Its rate of growth in almost all measures was unrivaled in the world. Its population was exploding through both immigration and birth rate. The push for land drove expansion of its boundaries to the south and west. Technological development enabled modernization and industrialization. The “American System of Manufactures” created the factory system.[i] People became “consumers” rather than “producers” of goods and this changed many social aspects of society.Geneva Bible

    The majority of Americans held a Calvinist belief structure. Puritan influence was strongest in New England. Immigration of large numbers of Catholic Irish created new cultural and ethnic tension. Irish Catholics tended to oppose reform and clustered in the lower classes of the North while native Yankee Protestants predominated in the upper and middle-classes.[ii] The century was marked by enthusiastic evangelical reformation movements. [Note: Jonathan D. Sassi has a concise description of the antebellum evangelical reformation movement in America here.]

    A two-party political system had emerged by 1830. “Issues associated with modernizing developments in the first half of the century helped to define the ideological position of the two parties and the constituencies to which they appealed.”[iii] Thomas JeffersonDemocrats inherited the Jeffersonian commitment to states’ rights, limited government, traditional economic arrangements, and religious pluralism; Whigs inherited the Federalist belief in nationalism, a strong government, economic innovation, and cultural homogeneity under the auspices of established Protestant denominations.[iv]

    The fight for democracy and the fight for morality became one and the same.[v] “The kingdom of heaven on earth was a part of the American political purpose. The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Scriptures were all in accord.”[vi]

    Distinct Northern and Southern cultures began to emerge early in the country’s history. These differences became more marked as the pressures that accompanied the nation’s incredible growth, territorial expansion and social change manifested themselves. Sectional identities and allegiances became increasingly important.

    Next post – the Antebellum South.

    Photo Above: Th. Jefferson, photomechanical print, created/published [between 1890 and 1940(?)]. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Presidential File. Reproduction Number: LC-USZC4-2474. This print is a reproduction of the 1805 Rembrandt Peale painting of Thomas Jefferson held by the New-York Historical Society.

    For further reading:

    © 2007 L. Rene Tyree

    [i] Historian James. M. McPherson, Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction. 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2001), 10, [ii] Ibid., 23, [iii] Ibid., 25, [iv] Ibid., [v] Ibid., 13, [vi] Ibid.

    Exploring Causes of the Civil War – Part I: Introduction

    with 5 comments

    I’d like to begin a new series of posts on the much debated topic of the causes of the American Civil war. Let today’s post serve as its introduction. I’ll attempt in the series to address two questions. The first is whether economic interests, political agitation, and the cultural differences between North and South did more to bring about the Civil War than the issue ofDredd Scott Prints and Photographs Division. slavery. The second is whether the American Civil War could have been avoided. Was it inevitable? Underlying both questions is the matter of causation of the war. If there was a singular, definitive reason for it the task would be easier. But deliberation over its cause has continued for almost a century and a half and will no doubt carry on into the future with little hope of achieving clear answers. Scholar Kenneth M. Stampp summarized the challenges of the quest well. [Image of Dred Scott right.]

    As one reflects upon the problem of causation one is driven to the conclusion that historians will never know, objectively and with mathematical precision, what caused the Civil War. Working with fragmentary evidence, possessing less than a perfect understanding of human behavior, viewing the past from the perspective of their own times, finding it impossible to isolate one historical event to test its significance apart from all others, historians must necessarily be somewhat tentative and conjectural in offering their interpretations.[i]

    He concluded, and with this, I whole heartedly agree, that even though the ongoing debate over the causes of the war remains inconclusive, the effort of examination brings increased clarity.[ii]

    More in the next post.

    Copyright © 2007 Rene Tyree

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    [i] Kenneth M. Stampp, ed. The Causes of the Civil War, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991), 17-18.[ii] Ibid., 18.
    Photo of Dred Scott. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-5092

    The Civil War as Revolution – Part III

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    [Note: This post is part of a series on The Civil War as Revolution which is available at the following links: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, The Revolutionaries of the American Civil War, and Cogitating on Abraham Lincoln as Revolutionary.]

    Gettysburg, Pa. Dead Confederate soldiers in "the devil's den." LOC Digital Ref#: (LC-B811-0277A) Gardner, Alexander, 1821-1882, photographer.

    Barrington Moore “sees the revolutionary dimension of the American Civil War not simply as a triumph of freedom over slavery, or industrialism over agriculture, or the bourgeoisie over the plantation gentry – but as a combination of all these things.” He saw it as“a violent breakthrough against an older social structure.”[i] In this Moore is in agreement with James McPherson that the American Civil War qualifies as an upheaval of the period’s status quo by intense domestic violence. As historians have pointed out on numerous occasions, the Civil War is unsurpassed in its degree of violence in the American experience. As to the overthrow of the “existing social and political order,” a survey of the changes driven by the war makes the point for the Civil War as revolutionary. External Changes Driven by the Civil War McPherson categorizes the transformations resulting from the Civil War as revolution in an external and internal sense.[ii] He considers external revolution to be “the sweeping transformation in the balance of economic and political power between North and South.”[iii] Sweeping political change occurred at the point of “withdrawal of southern representatives and senators from Congress when their states seceded.”[iv] It made possible the passage of Republican-sponsored legislation that promoted economic development in line with the Republican agenda, legislation that had been continually blocked by the southern-dominated Democratic Party. During the war, Congress “enacted:

    • land grants and government loans to build the first transcontinental railroad
    • higher tariffs to foster industrial development
    • national banking acts to restore part of the centralized banking system destroyed in the 1830s by Jacksonian Democrats
    • a homestead act to grant 160 acres of government land to settlers, and
    • the land-grant college act of 1862, which turned over federal land to the states to provide income for the establishment of state agricultural and vocational colleges, which became the basis of the modern land-grant universities.”[v]

    East and West Shaking Hands at Laying Last Rail. Source: Public Domain: Wikipedia Commons

    These changes were made possible because the war had changed the long-term sectional balance of power.[vi] It broke the domination of the country’s leadership by members of the slave-holding elite of the South.

    In 1861 the United States had lived under the Constitution for seventy-two years. During forty-nine of those years the president had been a southerner-and a slave-holder. After the Civil War a century passed before another resident of the South was elected president. In congress, twenty-three of the thirty-six speakers of the House down to 1861, and twenty-four of the thirty-six presidents pro tem of the Senate, were from the South. For half a century after the war, none of the speakers or presidents pro tem was from the South. From 1789 to 1861, twenty of the thirty-five Supreme Court justices had been southerners. At all times during those years the South had a majority on the Court. But only five of the twenty-six justices appointed during the next half-century were southerners.[vii]

    In the next post, I’ll take a look at internal changes driven by the American Civil War.

    Copyright © 2007 Rene Tyree

    [i] James McPherson, Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 9

    [ii] Ibid., 13, [iii] Ibid., [iv] Ibid., 12., [v] Ibid., [vi] Ibid., [vii] Ibid., 12-13.

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    Currently Reading

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    Current assigned reading Drawn with the Sword by James McPherson. No doubt more on this later….

    Reflections on the American Civil War

    Written by Rene Tyree

    November 12, 2007 at 2:50 am

    In Search of Primary Civil War Sources

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    A short post for today. I’ve been busy locating and cataloging  “primary sources” related to the Civil War for my reading and research. It’s also the focus of an assignment due at the end of next week. I’ve started a new filter for sorting inks to those sites that I’m finding.

     Abraham Lincoln Papers - The Library of Congress

    Please feel free to share if you have any suggestions. I’m amazed at the breadth of information. Well organized sites are preferred. So far – and not unexpectedly – national archives and universities have proved the best sources. I am very hopeful that projects to digitize important historical documents will continue.

    Written by Rene Tyree

    November 12, 2007 at 1:58 am

    Cogitating on Abraham Lincoln as “Revolutionary”

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    [Note: This post is part of a series on The Civil War as Revolution which is available at the following links: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, The Revolutionaries of the American Civil War, and Cogitating on Abraham Lincoln as Revolutionary.]

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    Indulge me while I – mull over and expound upon – one of Dr. McPherson’s essays in Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution.

    If the mantel of “revolutionary” is worn by individuals who – because of their unique presence – drive transformational change, Abraham Lincoln must certainly be considered among them. Such a label might at first seem unfitting in that Lincoln was known for his conservatism. Indeed his early actions reflected caution and a desire for a limited, minimally disruptive war. His journey toward “revolutionary” took a big leap forward when the Border States ignored his repeated offers of graduated and compensated emancipation. His failure to sway them left him angry enough to, as McPherson phrased it, “embrace the revolution.” Lincoln’s “revolutionary” response? He issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the final version of which was delivered on New Year’s Day 1863. With it came a new “revolutionary” charter for the war: forceful overthrow of slavery and the South with it.

    Emancipation Proclamation
    McPherson considers the enabling of black soldiers to fight and kill their former masters “by far the most revolutionary dimension” of Lincoln’s “emancipation policy.” And embrace it Mr. Lincoln did. Over 180,000 black soldiers would serve in Northern armies before the conflict ended. I must agree with Mr. McPherson’s conclusion that Lincoln evolved to fit the pattern of a revolutionary leader and became – once over his initial reluctance – arguably more radical than some of the founding fathers

    Troops
    District of Columbia. Company E, 4th U.S. Colored Infantry, at Fort Lincoln
    Civil War photographs, 1861-1865 (Library of Congress)
    Copyright © 2007 Rene Tyree

    On Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution

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    Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution A thought provoking collection of essays on the complicated second American revolution that was the American Civil War and the startling reversals that took place during the counterrevolution not ten years later. McPherson’s essays are masterful.

    For more…see the post Cogitating on Abraham Lincoln as “Revolutionary.”

    Written by Rene Tyree

    October 26, 2007 at 4:24 pm