How the North Won

PDF EBook by Herman Hattaway

EBook Description

Very persuasive. How the North Won PDF EBookStrictly a military history, from the opening of hostilities until the surrender of the remaining confederate armies.Very much a necessary supplement to the fine political history of Battle Cry of Freedom, which is not very detailed on military matters, even though it has nice set- PDFpiece battlefield maps.Readers of McPherson will therefore understand the result of Shiloh, say, especially its political ramifications, but may not necessarily come away with an understanding of the military reasons that an engagement occurred at Shiloh, that the result was caused by a specific list of factors, and that the result led to a number of strategic and logistical problems for the respective belligerents.

Text is sufficiently detailed to begin with a discussion of a treatise that Beauregard wrote, regarding napoleonic and jominian concepts.Text deploys these concepts throughout, as most of the relevant strategists were trained in Napoleonic warfare, as interpreted by Jomini:decisive battle doctrine, analyzed on the basis of interior/exterior lines of operation, with the object to bring about concentrations of forces at the appropriate place, ideally on the enemy’s tactical rear through the use of well-timed turning movements.

Battles are therefore analyzed on the basis of interior/exterior distinction, with certain engagements held out as archetypal applications of doctrine, such as Lee’s victory at Chancellorsville.

What hiccoughs the Napoleonic doctrine is a half century technological evolution,primarily railroads and rifles.The former allows unprecedented scope in concentration doctrine as well as an expansion of the interior/exterior distinction to continental scale.The latter renders cavalry irrelevant except as skirmishers or raiders, and also makes tactical defense virtually impervious to frontal assault, especially when combined with the West Point doctrine regarding entrenchments popular at the time of the Mexican War, when most of the pertinent commanders learned warfare.

We see, then, many horrible battles wherein Napoleonic turning maneuvers are attempted—and quite a few succeed —but nevertheless success rarely results in annihilation, such as Napoleon achieved at Austerlitz-Ulm and Jena-Auerstedt.The primary exceptions are Grant’s destruction of Floyd at Fort Donelson, Grant’s defeat of Pemberton at Vicksburg, and Grant’s capture of Lee at Appomattox.Authors identify these all as special circumstances: the first two involve strategic blunders by the defensive commander (as opposed to tactical blunders), and the third represents complete logistical exhaustion.

Lee’s surrender (which was not the final confederate surrender of the war) represented an important political objective for the federal army, as Lee had frustrated Union attempts to deliver a knockout at Richmond for 4 years.In that context, the tactical defeats at Antietam and Gettysburg represent, in the opinion of Lee and Davis, strategic and logistical successes—Lee was able to supply his army off of Union supplies and keep the Army of the Potomac away from Richmond.

The south’s planners assumed that Richmond was the objective of the northern war effort, and so believed that holding out long enough would force the north politically to concede defeat, or force third states to become involved on behalf of southern independence.This amounts to a macro-strategic blunder insofar as the plan initiated by Halleck and matured by Grant was to choke out the South’s logistics—first through conquest of the western rivers along with blockades and conquest of maritime ports, and the through the institution of chevauchee-style infantry raids, especially under Sherman.The distinction is that a penetration is a movement by an army wherein the army moves along its own logistics line and is never out of communication with its rear. A raid, by contrast, moves out of communication and must subsist on enemy supply.The raid is therefore by necessity temporary, and usually has the purpose of sabotage or distraction or whatever.Raids of this type were important throughout the war, especially early on in the hands of Confederate cavalry, which disrupted Grant’s first attempt at Vicksburg and kept that fort in Southern hands for an additional year (Lee‘s incursions that resulted in Antietam and Gettysburg were deliberate raids, with no intention to conquer anything).Grant’s innovation was to send an entire army under Sherman on an infantry raid through the core of the deep South with no intention to enter and return, but rather to enter and keep moving, destroying rails and industry and agriculture as it moved.As it never was intended to stay in one spot, it need not be in communication with the logistical center.

Though Clausewitz is merely mentioned in notes, the analysis that author presents (as opposed to the recitation of how the commanders in context interpreted the war) is thoroughly clausewitzian, thinking in terms of the center of gravity.A good example occurs in the discussion of the Middle Tennessee theatre mid-war, when the Union commander (Rosecrans?Buell?) has the option of engaging Kirby Smith in the Cumberland Gap, or going to trounce some railroads near Knoxville; download; the declination of battle to do logistical damage is given the thumbs-up by author.Text rehabilitates McClellan to a certain extent, providing a strategic and logistical explanation for his perceived dilatory negligence; McClellan's ideas are vindicated somewhat by Grant's Virginia campaign in 1864, which produced staggering Union losses in the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg.

Nice footnote at the end of the Vicksburg-Gettysburg chapter, which argues that these Northern victories may have been politically important, but have been militarily overestimated.Sure, Vicksburg resulted in Union control of the Mississippi and destroyed a decently sized southern army (armies of the period are considered indestructible under normal circumstances).But the war continued nevertheless for two more years—so the summer of ‘63 should not be regarded as dispositive.

Great tactical and operational-level maps for large and small engagements.Coverage of all major battles.Great appendix on military theory.Contains biographical vignettes on all major commanders.Contains discussion of command structure and general staffs, recruitment of troops, logistical systems, armaments, and so on.One great little irony is that the South, which was created on a states’ rights ideology, instituted national conscription almost immediately, whereas the North left conscription to the states until halfway through the war.This gave the South something of an advantage in effective recruitment, which nullified initially the north’s population advantage.

Recommended.
Like this book? Read online this: Strategic and Tactical Considerations on the Fireground, North.

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