192 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, bibl., index
Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era
The Problem of Military Thought in the Civil War North
When the Civil War began, Northern soldiers and civilians alike sought a framework to help make sense of the chaos that confronted them. Many turned first to the classic European military texts from the Napoleonic era, especially Antoine Henri Jomini's Summary of the Art of War. As Carol Reardon shows, Jomini's work was only one voice in what ultimately became a lively and contentious national discourse about how the North should conduct war at a time when warfare itself was rapidly changing. She argues that the absence of a strong intellectual foundation for the conduct of war at its start--or, indeed, any consensus on the need for such a foundation--ultimately contributed to the length and cost of the conflict.
Reardon examines the great profusion of new or newly translated military texts of the Civil War years, intended to fill that intellectual void, and draws as well on the views of the soldiers and civilians who turned to them in the search for a winning strategy. In examining how debates over principles of military thought entered into the question of qualifications of officers entrusted to command the armies of Northern citizen soldiers, she explores the limitations of nineteenth-century military thought in dealing with the human elements of combat.
“Reardon examines the public debate in the North over what military strategy would best defeat the Confederacy.”
--America’s Civil War
“Nothing less than amazing. For anyone interested in military history that goes beyond--without losing sight of--battles and leaders and engages big issues in Civil War military history in a way that is provocative, insightful, and compelling, Reardon’s book is an essential addition to their library.”
--Civil War Monitor
"Reardon's revisionist contribution is . . . significant, timely, and thoroughly welcome."
--Journal of American History
"This excellent book will change the perceptions of military historians in general and Civil War historians in particular."
--John F. Marszalek, executive director, The Ulysses S. Grant Association, Mississippi State University
"A superb book. Ingeniously researched, powerfully argued, and clearly written, it is a strikingly original contribution not only to Civil War literature but to the field of military theory as well."
--George C. Rable, author of God's Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War
"Carol Reardon offers an incisive analysis of the impact--or lack thereof--of Jomini and other writers on military strategy, but she does a great deal more. This book provides one of the best accounts we have of leadership, morale, and combat stress in the Union army."
--James M. McPherson
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