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i JOMINI IN THE TRENCHES: THE ORIGION OF MODERN WAR IN CONFEDERATE DOCTRINE BY ERIC BOLME A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the reqirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Andrew De La Garza Sarasota, Florida May, 2011
ii Acknowledgements Thanks to God for without him I am nothing Thanks to Dr. Andrew De La Garza for readi ng draft after draft and making it possible to do a very focused military history thesis at New College Thanks to Dr. Robert Johnson Dr. David Harvey and Dr. Eirini Poimenidou for their assistance. Thanks to Dr. Patrick McDonald, Dr. Carrie Be nes and Dr. Glenn Cuomo for their understanding and help during my time here. Thanks to my Mother for making it appear as if I can spell better than a grade-schooler Thanks to Manga and Bop for raising me right Thanks to Uncles Paul and Ed and their wives A unts Jo and Sarah for doing more for me than Aunts and Uncles should have to. And Finally Thanks to All my Family and Friends for their Support
iii Table of Contents Title Page i Acknowledgements ii Table of Contents iii Abstract iv Chapter 1 1 Chapter 2 21 Chapter 3 56 Chapter 4 85 Bibliography 98
iv JOMINI IN THE TRENCHES: THE ORIGION OF MODERN WAR IN CONFEDERATE DOCTRINE Eric Bolme New College of Florida, 2011 ABSTRACT This thesis analyzes the strategies and tactics of the armies involved in the American Civil War, with a particular focus on Confederate infantry tactics. The first two chapters focus on the first three years of the war, analyzing the goals of the Confederates, the origins of the offensive tactics they used on the battlefield to accomplish these goals and the results of those tactics. The second half of the th esis examines events in the last y ears of the war. It investigates the causes of the Confederate shift from the tactical offensive to the tactical defensive and the impact of that change on the conduct of the wa r. Using casualty figures and battle plans from significant battles to demonstrate my point, I argue that Confederate tactics came not from a myriad of sources and teachings but only from one, Antoine-Henri Baron de Jominis The Art of War. I then argue that the change in the late r years came almost solely from a singular cause, namely a West Point curriculum introduced in 1832. Furthermore I argue that this shift in tactics marks the first emergence of a new, more modern style of warfare. Written under the direction of Dr. Andrew De La Garza Division of Social Sciences
1 Chapter 1 Introduction, Literature Review and the reasons for the Southern Offensive Mindset. In 1861, South Carolinian militia attacked the United States federal military base of Fort Sumter. This attack would mark the beginning of the conflict known as the American Civil War (often known in the United States as simply, The Civil War). The conflict would go on to be the bloodiest war in American history and the last to feature large land armies battling on American soil. The place and effect of the United States Civil War on the evolution of military tactics and grand strategy is much debated. So me people see it as th e harbinger of a new age of warfare. They argue that the Civil Wa r marks a drastic shift in the way wars were fought, being both the cause of several changes in the way wars were fought and a largescale showcase for changes that had alrea dy occurred since the last large-scale war between Western powers. They argue that warf are in the ages of exploration and empires (roughly 1300AD 1850AD) was profoundly diffe rent from warfare in the age of industry (1850AD 1950AD), and they argue that the Civil War was the period in which this shift occurred. Wars in the ages of exploration and em pires were fought between relatively small professional armies of long-serving soldie rs and were typically won by one opponent
2 dramatically outmaneuvering anot her; bringing a large portion of his army to bear upon a small portion of his opponents, th en as a result decisively de feating his army in battle. After said decisive defeat, the loser had insufficient forces to resist the victor and would be forced to sue for peace. Indeed, any student of history probably has the names of a dozen such decisive battles memorized, as that is generally how wars were won and lost. In contrast, wars in the age of industry we re fought by very large armies of citizen soldiers equipped with mass-produced weapons churned out by the fires of industry. The era of the decisive battle was over, for if one army was ever entirely defeated, the military industrial complex could simply produce mo re weapons and equip another army of citizen soldiers to replace it. During this era, wars were only won by eliminating the enemys capacity to produce more soldiers and weapons. This was done by capturing or destroying his industrial base, or by a long grinding war of attrition in which the number of enemy soldiers and weapons destroyed on average exceeded the capacity to replace them. Another key element in the way the Civil War was fought that is widely regarded as a paradigm shift is the first large-scale us e of railroads in warf are. It is generally agreed that the United States was the first coun try to make large-scale use of the railroads to quickly transport and supply troops in battle. Jay Luvaas, author of The Military Legacy of the Civil War: The European Inheritance, argued that in addition to simply using the railroads in a revolutionary manner, the Americans were the first to create specialized engineering branches in their armi es to quickly construct and repair railroads in order to be able to fully supply a force no matter what its position in the field. These
3 engineers were able to constr uct railroads and bridges in remarkably short time, allowing large armies to operate in areas that were formerly inaccessible. The activities of the Corps of Engineers during th e Civil War greatly raised the Corps prestige and transformed the role of engin eers in Western armies from being one of merely engaging in siege and counter siege act ivity to one of everyday in tegration with strategy and tactics.1 Historians such as Thomas Harry Williams and David Donald who argue that the Civil War was the bifurcation point between these two styles of warfare note that Lee was able to drive the Union forces from the field again and again, but was never able to gain any sort of lasting benefit from these victories, like Napoleon was able to do when he drove his enemies from the field. They c onclude that the Civil War was not won by a decisive battle, but by a combination of Grants constant battles of attrition against Lee in Virginia, and by Shermans conquests of the Deep South, destroying its economic base. In essence, this was a combination of the two ways of winning industrial warfare described earlier.23 4 Tying in with this debate, many historians, such as J. F. C. Fuller, and others argue that the Civil War marks a natural sh ift back from the power of the tactical 1 Jay Luvass. The Military Legacy of the Civil War: The European Inheritance. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas) 1988. 2 Harry T. Williams The Return of Jomini: Some Thoughts on Recent Civil War Writing." ( Military Affairs 39, no. 4 1975) 204-6. 3 Harry T. Williams Lincoln and His Generals (New York: Knopf, 1952) 4 Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
4 offensive to the power of the tactical defensive.5 They say that battles in the Civil War simply could not be won by out-maneuvering the enemy forces, because defensive forces had such intrinsic advantages that could not be overcome, namely the long-range killing power and accuracy of the rifle and the ab ility to fire said rifle from a place of concealment or protection. Because of this it was virtually impossible to inflict a decisive defeat upon ones enemies. While most historians recognize that the era was over of mass column bayonet charges or char ges by cavalry wielding cold steel against defended positions winning the battle or indeed even being very effective at all for an army, there are a large number of historians who argue that this sh ift had not occurred with regards to all infantry a ssault tactics. They argue that although infantry assaults of all kinds were generally unsuccessful in Am erica, the reason for the failure of the American armies who attempted to utilize th e Napoleonic style of warfare came not from some drastic paradigm shift from one era of warfare to another, but from key differences between conditions in America and conditions in Europe.67 There is no question that the South chos e a policy of tactical offense during the early stages of the Civil War. They indeed remained on the tactical offensive throughout most of the war, often to thei r disadvantage, until their numer ical inferiority and the fact that 1/3 of their landmass was already o ccupied by the Union made such a choice 5 J. F. C. Fuller A Military History of the Western World. Vol. 3, From the Seven Days Battle, 1862, to the Battle of Leyte Gulf, 1944. (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1956) 6 Earl J. Hess. The Rifle Musket in Civil War Combat: Reality and Myth (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008) 7 Walter Earl Pittman. Tullahoma: Terrain and Tactics in the American Civil War. In Fields of Battle: Terrain in Military History, edited by Peter Doyle and Matthew R. Bennett, 99-115. (London: Kluwer Academic, 2002.)
5 impossible. The reasons for them making this choice, however, are more debatable, with various historians putting forward a myriad of different cultural, historical, demographic, and geographic reasons. It is generally agreed by most Civil War historians that generals in the conflict attempted to emulate Napoleonic tactics in an effort to achieve the decisive style of victory that he did. Na poleon was an incredibly successful general, not only in that he was able to inflict decisive defeats on nume rous enemy armies, but also that he often managed to do it against armies that were larg er than his own. The ex act principles of his tactics are still debated to this day. Since Napoleon and his generals were constantly at war, they were never able write down their tactics themselves. Lacking a definitive account, one had to try to deduce his tact ics by looking at each battle and his correspondence to try to figure out what he was thinking. Here is a brief outline of the general principles of Napoleonic Warfare: Step 1: The army is split into however many detachments are necessary to move quickly and remain supplied. These detachments remain very close to one anot her and in constant communication so that they may mass together as quickly as necessary. Step 2: Cavalry detachments w ould screen the entire army in order to try to reconnoiter the enemys army while screening and di sguising the position of ones own army. Step 3: Once the enemys forces are located, the army is massed and moved to engage a single detachment of the enemy force on pr eferable ground and/or by surprise. It was often possible to force the enemy army to gi ve battle on favorable ground by strategically
6 outflanking them and cutting them off from reinforcements or supplies, and this was indeed the sought-after outcome. Step 4: Once battle is joined, one part of th e army engages one part of the enemy in order to fix it in place. Step 5: Using either natural screening, such as a well-placed hill or forest, or man-made screening, such as a cavalry de tachment or a unit of skirmishers, a unit of the army moves in secret in order to be able to be able to flank or atta ck the part of the enemy army currently fixed in place from favorable gr ound. Hopefully the enemy infantry adopts a square formation to protect against the caval ry. During this time artillery is focused upon the part of the enemy army in question. Step 6: After sufficient firepower is dealt from the massed muskets or cannons to cause the enemy army to become disordered, a ba yonet charge is ordere d to rout the enemy. S tep 7: Cavalry assist infantry forces in chasing down the retreating enemy and exploiting the breakthrough. Step 8: The above is repeat ed against any other detachme nts of the enemys army in order to defeat them all in detail.8 After these steps if executed properly of course the enemy is left with no army to resist and is forced to sue for peace. 8 W.J. Wood paraphrasing J.F.C. Fuller in Civil War Generalship: The Art of Command (Westport, CN: Praeger, 1997.)
7 The problem, however, is that the Ameri cans did not have a definitive account by Napoleon or any of his generals, nor any detail of the battles as we do today. Therefore, they, like any general attempting to emulate Na poleonic tactics at the time, were forced to utilize secondary sources. By far the most widely read of these secondary sources in America were the writings of Antoine Henri de Jomini, a French general that wrote about his experiences under Napoleon and ended up switching alle giance to the Russi ans in 1813. His book, A Summary of the Art of War, was a required text at the Unit ed States Military Academy in classes designed for future officers in the decades before the Civil War. However, attempting to emulate Napoleonic tactics by put ting Jominis rules into practice created several problems resulting from the differences between Jominis maxims and Napoleonic strategy. We are able to recogni ze many of these differences today through the benefit of 150 years of additional scholar ship. However, back then, especially in America, scholarship on Napoleonic strategies was fairly limited. Archer Jones, in Jomini and the Strategy of the American Civil War, A Reinterpretation and other works argues that one of the main difficulties the American armies had in the beginning in attempting to emulate Jomini was that they fell victim to some of the flaws in his writing.9 10 First, rather than being an analysis of the Napoleonic 9Jones, Archer. Jomini and the Strategy of the American Civil War, A Reinterpretation," ( Military Affairs 34, no. 4 1970) 127-31. 10 Thomas Lawrence Conne lly, and Archer Jones. The Politics of Command: Factions and Ideas in Confederate Strategy. ( Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998.)
8 wars, Jones argues that Jomini's writings were in fact mostly based on Frederick the Great and involved issuing advice to avoid defe at against multiple separated armies (such as those Frederick had to face during the Seven Years War), thus making them over 100 years out of date. Archer Jones goes on to highlight several problems in Jominis writings, which he argues drastically lowered the effectivene ss of the American forces (Union and Confederate) during the Civil War. Jones argues that Jomini's writings were not a complete set of strategies designed to allow an army to take the offensive and defeat their foes, but more a list of various instances in which one should not take the offensive, with only a few obvious cases illustrated as instances to attack. Jones argues that this made both sides a great deal more re luctant to launch spontaneous offensives to take advantage of a weakness in the enemys formation. Even the Confederates, who readily sought to inflict a decisive defeat u pon the enemy, sought only to do so in preplanned manners rather than in attacks of opportunity. This caused them to be more passive than they should have been, and he agrees with another author W.J. Wood that because of Jominis writings, both sides missed good opportunities to launch effective counter offensives, which in turn made the offensive appear to be a great deal less effective than it could have been. Another problem Jones and others identify with Jomini is his tendency to jump between inflicting defeat on an enemy by def eating his army, and in flicting defeat upon him by occupying key areas of land. They stat e that Jomini essentially puts forth two separate strategies to win a war. One is a classic strategy of mee ting and defeating the
9 enemys army; the other is a more total war type strategy of occupying the enemys land and defeating his populace and power base. Th ey go on to state that Jomini does this without describing the conditions to pursue ea ch type of victory or describing how to seek both at once. Jones argues that this flaw came from Jominis observation of the problems Napoleon had in Russia and his even tual defeat as a result, and Jominis inability to reconcile this defeat, which was not a result of any decisive battle, with all of Napoleons earlier victories ag ainst other countries, which were the result of decisive battles. Jones argues that part of the pr oblem, because Jomini never attempted to reconcile these two strategies, was that Ci vil War generals attempting to follow his teachings ended up being rather schizophrenic Some were rejoicing over outflanking and being able to occupy key territories without fighting the enemy, with others only seeking to meet the enemy and defeat his armies. Jones argues that until Generals Grant and Sherman, leaders remained confused as to how to integrate the two strategies. Jones specifically highlight s that Jomini's works were horribly out of date concerning the increased ability to coordi nate and communicate and the increased mobility that came about because of the tele graph and the railroad. Jones identifies the main problem this creates on the Civil War battlefield is dealing with multiple detachments of the same army. At the time of Jominis writings, there was no way to coordinate multiple detachments effectively. Jo nes argues that as Jomini wrote primarily about Frederick the Great, his focus was on how to defeat multiple armies in detail. As such, when attempting to apply his theories into practice against Union armies, which did often split up, the South expect ed to be able to confront the various detachments one by one and defeat them in detail. However, due to increased mobility provided by the
10 railroad and increased communication provided by the telegraph, it was very difficult to actually catch a detachment completely by itself and unaware. Although the South, influenced by Jomini's writings, believed th ey could catch a detachment and defeat it decisively and kept striving to do so, the fact was (as Jones argues), the time for that style of warfare had passed. As for the Union, Jones argues that their initial passiveness was mostly due to an attempt to follow Jomini's strategic maxims as well. Jones states that the early Union commanders were terrified of the possibility of their spread-out armies (something which Jomini strongly cautioned against) being de feated one by one. Therefore, they would retreat at the first sign of troubl e, even after initial successes, in fear of being defeated, and thus they were never able to utilize the advantages multiple detachments gave to them.11 Several authors, such as Grady McWhiney and Perry Jamieson in Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage argue that the South adopted the policy of the offensive not only due to the successes of Napoleon, but due to the very recent success of such tactics in the Mexican American War, in which small American armies decisively defeated larger Mexican armies.1213 Most of the commanding officers of the Civil War participated in the Mexi can American War as junior officers, in 11Archer Jones. Civil War Command and Strategy: The Process of Victory and Defeat New York: Free Press, 1992) 12 Grady McWhiney, and Perry D. Jamieson. Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage. (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1984) 13 Perry D. Jamieson The Development of Civil Wa r Tactics. PhD diss., Wayn e State University, 1979.
11 particular Robert E. Lee, George Meade, Ulysses S. Grant, and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. They accompanied General Scott during his campaign in southern Mexico, in which 8,500 defeated 12,000 Mexican soldiers under Santa Anna by consistently attacking using Napoleonic methods. For example, at the Battle of Cerro Gordo in which 8,000 Americans engaged 7,200 Mexicans, Captain R obert E. Lee (the famous general to be) located a mountain trail allowing the Americans to come around on the flank of the Mexicans and attack them by surprise.14 This gained the Americans a decisive victory in which half the Mexican army surrendered with only 430 American casualties. Eventually these tactics were able to force a complete Mexican surrender, allo wing the Americans to occupy Mexico City and end the war. The question explored by most historians is not why the South tried to emulate Napoleon through Jomini, but why did the South choose to remain on the offensive, even when such a tactic proved to be extremely costly in terms of casualties, and after such tactics had failed to produce a de cisive victory for either side? W.J. Wood in Civil War Generalship: The Art of Command argues that the South continued to remain on the offensive because driving the enemy from the field was necessary to keep morale up in the Confeder acy, whose citizens f ound their lives getting increasingly difficult due to the Northern bl ockade and other economic factors. He also argues that part of the reason they remained on the offensive was because they correctly recognized that the offensive was highly eff ective when executed properly. However, he 14 Public Broadcasting Service. The U.S.-Mexican War. War (1846-1848). The Battle of Cerro Gordo | PBS Accessed April 14, 2011. http://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/war/cerro_gordo.html.
12 states that due to their failure in understand ing Napoleonic tactics, the only such attacks that were successful were by chance. Woods main argument centers on Step 4 a nd Step 5 of Napoleonic tactics. He argues that these two steps were missing from the repertoire of Jo mini and hence from American commanders as well. He argues that American generals were often forced, as Lee was at Gettysburg, to guess the weak spot in the enemy line, and as such were oftentimes repulsed with heavy losses when said weakness was not made evident. Furthermore, Wood argues that the Americans also failed to actively find a way to move their troops seeking to attack said weak point secretly. Rath er than using natural (woods or hills) or manmade (cavalry or skirmisher screen) obstacles to obscure movement, they often just did it right in the open, again like Lee at Gettysburg ordering Picketts Charge across an open field. Woods maintains that tactical offensives were generally only successful if they managed to accomplish each of these two steps accidentally, i.e., if the troops by chance moved behind a hill for their flanking mane uver and by chance managed to attack a weak point in the enemys line. While Woods states that Lee was actually better than many generals in that most of the time he sought to conceal the movement of his flanking troops, he points out that Lee rarely made certain that said enemy force was fixed before launching his assaults. In addition to these military reasons for offensive bias, many authors suggest several other cultural, demogr aphic, and diplomatic reasons for the Southern offensive bias. In Attack and Die, McWhiney and Jamieson argue that the South had a prevailing
13 cultural belief in the superior ity and glory of the assault. According to their book, this is due to the Celtic cultural heritage of the South amongst the lower classes, and that in order to keep up morale, the generals had to remain on the offensive. Morale was a critical factor in the South as the Northe rn blockade caused a great deal of economic suffering (runaway inflation) in the South, ma king it difficult for Southerners to obtain even essential foodstuffs. In The Military Legacy of the Civil War: The European Inheritance Jay Luvaas argues that rather than being a cultural heritage primarily coming from the lower classes, the cultural pressure to be on the offens ive came rather from remnants of the old European nobility present in th e Southern gentry and generals He believes this factor, in combination with the belief in Napoleonic ideal s, made the Southern generals feel as if they had to remain on the offensive in order to obtain glory and victory.15 Joseph Glatthaar notes in General Lees Army that in the Confederacy, both soldiers and civilians clamored for active and aggre ssive campaigns against the Union forces and that Lees assault against Antietam was celebrate d for this reason, despite not accomplishing much strategically and resulting in a great deal of casualties for the Confederate forces.16 The changing dynamic of foreign affairs ha s also been highlighted as one of the reasons the South continued to take the tactic al offensive. Original ly, the South believed in the Cotton Diplomacy approach, the idea that cotton was so essential to Europe that they would intervene in any war on the side of the Confederacy. As Senator James Henry 15 Jay Luvass. The Military Legacy of the Civil War: The European Inheritance. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas 1988) 16 Joseph Glatthar. General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse. (New York : Free Press, 2008.)
14 Hammond of South Carolina said, What would happen if no cotton was furnished for three years?... England would topple headlong and carry the whole civilized world with her save the South. No, you dare not to make war on cotton. No power on the earth dares to make war upon it. Cotton is King.17 Later, however, it was widely recognized that King Cotton failed, as Egypt and India began to produce large amounts of cotton to offset the loss of Southern production (the South had produced 75% of the worlds cotton prior to the war).18 Southern leaders believed that only a Saratoga-type vict ory would bring the Europeans into war on the side of the Conf ederacy. As such, Southern generals felt forced to remain on the offensive in the hope that achieving some sort of a decisive victory over the North would help convince a European power to enter the war on the behalf of the South. The entrance of a st rong European power on the side of the Confederacy was recognized by Confederate le adership as being something that could help deliver a Confederate vi ctory in the Civil War. Such an ally became especially valuable after it became obvious that the Uni on was not going to quit after they got their nose bloodied a few times in several losses.19 17 James H Hammond Reprinted in Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina (New York: John F. Trow & Co., 1866), pages 311-322. 18 Frank Lawrence Oswey and Harriet Fason Chappell Owsley. King Cotton Diplomacy: Foreign Relations of the Confederate States of America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959.) 19 Owsley, Frank Lawrence. and Harriet Fason Chappell Owsley. King Cotton Diplomacy: Foreign Relations of the Confederate States of America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959.) p369
15 In Retreat to Victory ? Confederate Strategy Reconsidered Robert Tanner20 argues that the main reason the South had to remain on the strategic offensive was that it could not afford to give up ground, becau se to do so would put thousands of unrecoverable slaves into the hands of the Union, causing massive economic damage the South. Slaves were by far the most valuab le part of any plantation. As the slave was virtually finished by this point, the only way of getting new sl aves was by enslaving the children of existing slaves. This forced the Confederacy to fight in the northern wooded areas of Virginia to prevent the Un ion from getting to the plantations in the lowlands. The South was forced to remain on the offensive in the beginning, in hope of drawing the five Border States that did not join the Union but in which slavery was l (Maryland, Kentucky, West Virg inia, Delaware, and Missouri) into the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy. The South believed th at if they could drive the war into these areas, large segments of th e populace would rise up in s upport of their armies (and indeed, this did happen to an extent in West Virginia and Missouri, but not in the o to trade egal ther tates).21, s22 What I seek to focus on is not why the Sout h originally chose to take the strategic offensive, but why in pursuit of that they chose to consistently take the tactical offensive and furthermore, why they chose to utilize the tactical offensive again and again for the first two to three years of the war, even in th e face of very high casualties and a failure to 20 Robert G. Tanner Retreat to Victory?: Confederate Strategy Reconsidered (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2001.) 21 Jones Archer, and Thomas Lawrence Connelly. The Politics of Command: Factions and Ideas in Confederate Strategy (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998) 22 Archer Jones. Confederate Strategy from Shiloh to Vicksburg. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991)
16 force any sort of large scale Northern surrende r. It is worth noting that even many bat thought of as victories for Lee resulted in extremely high numbers of casualties. For example, in the Seven Days Battles, C onfederate forces numbering 92,000 defeated Union forces numbering approximately 104,000. However, the Union forces suffered only 15,855 casualties (1,734 killed, 8,066 w ounded, 6,055 missing/captured), whil Confederate forces suffered 20,204 casu alties (3,494 kill ed, 15,758 wounded, 952 missing/captured). tles e the si de taking the tactical offensive lost more forces than the side on the defensive.24s led due to the constant casualties? What trai ning doctrine or belief led them to do this? o nd two 23 In fact, in 89% of battles So the first question is simply, why did they continue doing this? One must ask why did they continue to engage in battles in which they took extremely heavy casualties when they had a limited pool of manpower? W hy did Lee and other Confederate general continue attacking from 1861 to 1863 as the si ze of their armies continuously dwind The second question is, after al l of this stubbornness, what finally caused them t change? From late 1863 to the end, the Civ il War very much resembled World War 1 Lee had stopped attacking in almost all cases and his forces would readily entrench themselves and use shovel and axe to create man-made makeshift field fortifications wherever they went. The Siege of Atlanta, for example, and the final maneuvering arou Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, were al most previews for World War 1 with 23 Stephen W. Sears. To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1992.) p343-345 24 Earl J. Hess The Rifle Musket in Civil War Combat: Reality and Myth Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008.
17 heavily entrenched forces fighting one anot her. This was in stark contrast to the beginning of the war in which troops engaged in no sort of entrenchment and the only cover a soldier had on the battlefield was the occasional fence or tree or other type of natural (preexisting) entrenchment. s r, eason for their erge eon and What was the cause of this dramatic shift in tactics, especially considering the strong initial resistance to the style of entr enched warfare? What caused the tactical defensive, something previously regarded as being useless, to become something so important that many Union and Confederate ge nerals, such as General Sherman, describe the spade to be almost as important a tool of warfare as the rifle?25 Many historians have highlighted that the initial entrenchments cam e about in the Confeder ate army after Lee defeat at Gettysburg made it very difficult for him to take the tactical offensive due to lack of manpower and the situ ation of the overall state of war with the Union. Howeve the exact thought that led to their widesp read implementation and the r emnce only in late 1863 and not earlier is not widely understood. During the Civil War, we see the Confed erates not only util ized one type of maneuver over and over again, but they utilized it as their primary tactic without fail in every major battle; this maneuver the fl anking/turning maneuver in which a massed infantry offensive is launched against the fl ank of an opponents battle line in an attempt to turn the flank and roll up the entire line in one motion was inspired by Napol learned by the Confederates through the works of Henri-Antonie Jomini, one of 25 William T. Sherman, Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman (New York: Library of America, 1990) p 887
18 Napoleons commanders who wrote A Summary of the Art of War a book on military tactics and strategy. Throughout th e early battles of the War, we see that not only do Confederate commanders extensively utili ze the turning maneuver but they do it by dogmatically adhering to Jominis maxi ms and instructions described in A Summary of the Art of Wa the r and furthermore, the only times they break from said maneuver they do it m rifle ines to rendering the tactical offensive and the ol the most to wars of attrition wars determined by a countrys manpower and industrial base. by the book. Midway through the war a shift away from this tactic occurs; this shift was inspired by a curriculum introduced at West Point in 1832 and implemented almost solely by Commanders who were gradua tes of West Point after that point. This new curriculu suggested that one should not retreat before a massed infant ry attack even if the force attacking far outnumbers the defenders but meet it head on with the firepower of the and through the use of defens ive terrain. Eventually we will see this same group of Commanders innovating further by adding entrenchments to rein force their battle l meet enemy assaults. These entrenchment s signal a change in warfare and end up d turning maneuver completely infective. The change in warfare is endemic of a greater change to come no longer does it matter with can mass the most men at a battle s decisive point but who can mass firepower, and furthermore with the emerge nce of the tactical defensive and its ascendancy over the tactical offensive we s ee a transition in warfare from wars of decision determined by decisive battles
19 During the early years in th e Eastern Theater, we see this maneuver being sem successful in several cases at taking the field from the Union, but in no case is it ab deal a decisive defeat or even cause an excessive amount of casualties to the Union forces; furthermore, its use against foo lish Union commanders who make i le to critical istakes in battles and a tback is ortunities to take adva ntage of it, while their Union f the ield, assumed a weakness in the sive from m re far to ready to abandon the field after the slightest se made the maneuver look a great deal mo re effective than it actually was. Meanwhile, in the Western Theater, the maneuver was a great deal less successful, short of facing foolish Union co mmanders who make exploitable mistakes, Confederate generals Johnson and Bragg faced Union generals Grant and Rosecrans, two inventive commanders, who benefited from bei ng at West Point after the new curriculum The Confederate generals also suffered from Jominis lack of focu s on terrain in th theater as they wasted two crit ical opp opponents who on the other hand made great use of the terrain to assist in dealing decisive defeats to the Confederates. Lees defeat at Gettysburg is not baffling in this light but simply the result o first application of the countermeasures le arned in the Western Theater against the Confederates in the Eastern Theater. Lee, in application of Jominis principles and frustrated by his opponents refusal to abandon the f Union line that ded not exist and launched the infamous Pickets Charge which costed the confederates heavily in bo th casualties and moral. After this defeat a transition in warfare o ccurs to a style of tactical defen the tactical offensive, and after this ch ange the Confederates made great use of
20 entrenchments to defend their battle lin es and beat back Union assaults. These entrenchments first advocated by Confederate Generals Jackson and Longstreet, graduates of West Point after 1832, continue to evolve during the war as the Confederate begin to utilize defenses in d s epth multiple entrenchment lines created by separate d h anned preciable damage to the Union ba ttle lines. In these unsuccessful charges the soldiers in World War I is portrayed in miniature. engineering battalions, as fallback positions, in order to defeat even the most fierce an determined Union assaults. While in the East the effectiveness of the new entrenchments were mitigated somewhat by the refusal of each side to dir ectly engage them directly for an extended period of time, in Georgia due to the appointme nt of an aggressive and somewhat foolis new Confederate commander General Hood, th e new entrenchments (this time m by Union forces) are tested directly against a massed infantry turning maneuver of old, and they end up being extremly successful as the confederates end up suffering extremely heavy casualties in th e battles and as a result of the defenses in depth while doing no ap against forces in trenches, the experience of
21 Chapter 2: The Doctrine of the Early Years, 1861-1863 Jomini and the Genesis of Southern Doctrine When exploring why the South chose constan tly to take the tactical offensive, one has to first look into the doctr ine they were trying to follow. As mentioned previously, most generals of the time were trying to emulate Napoleon, as he was essentially the acknowledged prophet of warfare at this time. However, lacking any sort of established doctrine from Napoleon himself or in some cases lacking very many sources in the correct language, American generals were fo rced to rely on other secondary sources to learn the tactics, and Jomini was the main source. There has been some recent argument as to whether or not the more successful Uni on generals such as Grant and Sherman were students of Clausewitz instead of Jomini Sherman and Grants policies of viewing warfare as an act between two societies as opposed to between two armies is believed by some to be inspired by Clausewitz at least indirectly, but, for our purposes, we will be mostly focusing on the Southern generals who followed Jomini. The Americans believed, as did many of their contemporaries, that taking the battlefield at the end of the day was the wa y to win a battle, and driving ones enemy before oneself was a sign of victory. They took this from the theory they were taught at
22 the time Jominis writings. Jomini states th at An offensive order of battle should have for its object to force the enemy from his pos ition by any reasonable means, and As it is essential in an offensive battle to driv e the enemy from his pos ition and to cut him up as much as possible, the best means of accomplishing this is to use as much material force as can be accumulated against him.26 Thus, Jomini was advocating defeating an enemy army by directly attacking the main body of it and hoping to scatter it. In contrast to this strategy, more modern military strategi es often seek to defeat an enemy army by attacking the weakest parts of the army and bypassing th e stronger parts and then encircling them. This forces the stronger parts of an enemy army to attempt either a risky breakout maneuver (thus abandoning their strong defensive positions) or attempt to stay and risk being starved of supplies. The German Blitzkrieg from World War 2 is an example of this type of strategy.27 Considering these quotes of Jomini, however, it is easy to see how those trained in his doctrine at West Point believed that in order to be victorious one had to drive the enemy from his position and from the field of battle. In addition, further problems with Jomini s writings arise due to Jomini in many cases not drawing inspiration from Napole on but from another source. For example, Jomini states the four principles of warfare as: 26 Antonie-Henri Jomini The Art of War. Translated by G.H. Mendel and W. P. Craighill. (El Paso, TX: El Paso Norte, 2005) p161-162 27 For more info see: Robert Michael Citino Quest for Decisive Victory: From Stalemate to Blitzkrieg in Europe, 1899940 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002)
23 1) To throw by strategic maneuver the ma ss of ones army successfully upon the decisive points of a theater of war, and as much as possible upon the communications of the enemy w ithout compromising ones own 2) To maneuver to engage fractions of th e hostile army with the bulk of ones own forces 3) On the battlefield to throw the mass of ones own forces upon the decisive point, or upon that portion of the hostile line which is of the first importance to overthrow 4) To so arrange that these masses shal l not only be thrown upon the decisive point, but that they shall engage at the proper times and with energy.28 There are two interesting points to note fr om these principles. First, as Jomini later states himself, these principles were in fluenced a great deal by Frederick the Great, seen in the fact that the second principle is to maneuver to engage fractions of the hostile army with the bulk of ones own forces. While this is not necessarily bad in any situation, the fact is that so metimes when outnumbering ones enemy, it is best to try to simply engage him in battle as soon as possi ble. One thing to not e about Frederick the Greats campaigns is that while he was a ve ry skilled general a nd leader of men, he fought enemies that were not as intelligent, as they were mostly appointed as leaders due to their royal blood as opposed to any talent. Th erefore, to defeat them he simply had to find an error they made, or outmaneuver them (usually easy since they often remained 28 Antonie-Henri Jomini The Art of War. Translated by G.H. Mendel and W. P. Craighill. (El Paso, TX: El Paso Norte, 2005) p55
24 immobile in thei r battle lines).29 In addition, Fredericks enemies never attempted to unify their armies despite the fact th at doing so would have granted them a preponderance of force and as such allowed Fr ederick to defeat them in detail. Taking this further, one of the problems with Jominis writings, which will arise from this, is that enemies who are not foolish are not guaranteed to make large exploitable mistakes in every battle. Therefore, simply assuming th ere will be such mistakes can lead to disastrous casualties and even a defeat of ones army. This assumption of an enemys pre-existing weakness plays a huge negative role in the outcome of Civil War battles later on, especially the decisive battle at Gettysburg. Another point that can be noted from these four principles of war is that they are all offensively oriented note that the goal of war is to outmaneuver ones enemy in order to bring a decisive concentration of forces against his weak point. Frederick the Greats influence is obvious here and in a very negative way. During Fredericks wars, he was extremely outnumbered and facing numer ous large enemy forces as his Prussia fought the land armies of Russia, Austria, and France at the same time. As a result, even though he was on the strategic defensive, he had to take the tactical offensive in order to win, because if he was heavily outnumbered and had he allowed his enemies forces to combine, he would have almost certainly been defeated. While th e South was generally outnumbered by the North as well, they were not as outnumbered as Frederick had been. As such, Jomini advising them to do something that Frederick himself had done maybe 29 For more info on Frederick the Greats Wars: Robert Micheal Citino The German Way of War: From the Thirty Years War to the Third Reich (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2005)
25 only out of necessity rather than choice, was not the best idea, as the Souths reliance on the tactical offensive will come back to hurt it later in the war. While the American armies did often manage to drive the enemy from the field of battle, they were not able to inflict the d ecisive defeat by doing so that they had hoped. They were unable to do this for several reasons. First, Jominis writings, which do not completely discourage taking an unplanned o ffensive, give no guidelines for doing so. While they state that a proper offensive made in the spur of the moment is usually superior to one planned far in advance, the only guidelines he does give are the same as those for a preplanned offensive. The problem arising from this is that one does not have time to go down Jominis checklist in the spur of the moment, and as a result, in order to follow his rules, all a general could rea lly do was to make preplanned offensives.30 We see this reluctance to launching spur of the moment offensives play a huge role in the behavior of the generals on the Union side. Indeed, almost every Union general before Grant failed to pursue the enemy after inflicting a defeat upon him. Burnside at Antietam and McClellan at Gettysburg are two quick examples of Union commanders failing to pursue a defeated foe and this robbing themselves of the opportunity to at least capture a significant number of prisoners, though pursuit of a defeated foe was made difficult due to the issue of supplies, which will be discussed later. Also, on the few occasions in which the Confederates were able to break the enemy and pursue them, they found the comple te destruction of the enemy to be very difficult. Focusing more on how the two sides were organized, Robert Epstein argues in 30 Antonie-Henri Jomini The Art of War. Translated by G.H. Mendel and W. P. Craighill. (El Paso, TX: El Paso Norte, 2005) p158
26 Napoleons Last Victory and th e Emergence of Modern War that the main reason that post-Napoleonic armies in general were unabl e to replicate Napoleons early success is because once opposing armies replicated the highly maneuverable corps system Napoleon instituted when he first came into power, they were able to shrug off defeats and readily reorganize due to the mobility a nd flexibility of the corps system. In his book, Epstein argues that the reason for Napoleons lack of success during the later stages of the Napoleonic era was the result of Na poleons enemies adopting his style of organization (often under the command of his fo rmer officers). The author points out that once armies started to try to emulate Napol eon in organization, it became impossible for them to emulate him strategically and inflict a decisive defeat upon the enemy in just one or two key battles. He argues that this is the reason why Napoleon was able to defeat the Prussians and Austrians early but not the British or the Russians.31 This argument about the flexibility of th e corps system extends to the Civil War forces as well, as most of them had adopted French drill manuals and the French system of organization. The advantage of mobility and organization of the corps system meant that in the event of a catastr ophic defeat, each individual corp s could retreat by itself, and then meet back up with the main body of the army later. As such, scattering ones army was not the deathblow it had been in previous eras, especially in eras where it was more 31 Robert M. Epstein Napoleon's Last Victory and the Emergence of Modern War. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994)
27 the generals charisma and strength keeping th e army together, rather than ideas such as nationalism or moral idealism. Going back to the doctrine, the key difference between Jomini and Napoleon which resulted in this overly cautious nature and which would be the major failing factor for most American offensives was that Jo mini merely provided a set of maxims under which to attack essentially he encouraged generals to seek out weaknesses and exploit them. The problem in this arises in that pr eexisting weaknesses ar e not always evident, and that in most military engagements one mu st attempt to induce some sort of weakness in the enemys formation rather than just finding and attacking it. This is something Napoleon sought to do using skirmishers and cavalry to hold the enemy in position, camouflage his intentions, and ensure the enemy would remain in position for a turning maneuver.32 The main weakness in Jominis writings was that he lacked emphasis on the importance of doing something to keep the enemy in place while attempting to flank them. He does once mention briefly that engagi ng an enemy in his center while attacking his flank is better than simply attacking th e flank. However, he only advises this for armies that are far numerically superior to the enemy, and as such any Southern general who studied Jominis works would not be encouraged to launch a maneuver to hold the enemy in place.33 He did, however, heavily emphasize the idealness of large-scale 32 For More information on Napoleonic Infantry T actics: Paddy Griffith, Peter Dennis, and Martin Windrow. French Napoleonic Infantry Tactics 1792-1815. (Oxford: Osprey, 2007) 33 Antonie-Henri Jomini The Art of War. Translated by G.H. Mendel and W. P. Craighill. (El Paso, TX: El Paso Norte, 2005) p166
28 turning maneuvers. This is one area that Jomini (and Clausewitz also for that mann forward as an appropriate area to launch an offensive. Indeed, as Beringer, Hattaway, Jones, and Still point out, the American genera ls, due to their traini ng at West Point and the military culture of the time, were convin ced of the primacy of the turning movement at the start of the Civil War. er) put 34 The attempt to turn the flank of an enem y is not a bad strategy by any means, but when Napoleon attempted to execute such ma neuvers, he would take several steps that the American forces did not. Napoleon sought to CREATE weaknesses in the enemy and then exploit them, whereas the American armies often simply took stabs in the dark as to where the weakness existed (like Lee at Gettysburg), or remained passive while waiting for such a weakness to manifest. In additi on, in the absence of any existing weakness rather than trying to create one the American forces usually tried to resort to the turning movement unless some large obstacle such as a river prevented it. The turning maneuver was their go-to operation during the Civil Wa r, similar to how an armored tank column backed up by artillery and tactical air power would be the go-to maneuver for the Germans during World War 2. There are several other reasons that the Am ericans were unable to turn driving the enemy from the battlefield into a decisive victory. In Battle Tactics of the Civil War, Paddy Griffith states that the reason for the fa ilure of the offensive originated not high up with the generals, but with the soldiers on the ground. He argues that, compared to the professional soldiers during the Napoleonic wars the Americans were poorly trained, and 34 Glatthar Joseph. General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse (New York: Free Press, 2008)
29 that the failure of the attack s came primarily from said assa ults breaking formation after a short time under enemy fire and disintegrati ng long before reaching the enemy. He argues further that the generalship had abandoned such tactics by the time the troops were trained enough to execute such tactics properly. He believes that if they had attempted them with troops that were more experienced, then the corrosive idea that the Civil War was the end of Napoleonic style warfare and the beginning of modern warfare would never have become widespread.35 One very important reason, and a key di fference between the American armies and those of Napoleon, was the issue of supplie s. Griffith also identifies the amount of supplies the soldiers had to car ry as a problem. When launching an assault, they either had to carry their supplies with them, which combined sometimes weighed around 100 pounds, thus drastically slowing themselv es down and virtually eliminating the possibility of exploiting a succe ssful assault, or they had to leave the supplies behind and chance losing them. This meant becoming destitute as a soldier (the soldiers had to carry this much because the armies began the war with a completely in adequate number of supply wagons and draft animals). Griffith rela tes this especially to potential counter offensives, as he argues that if warned in advance, soldiers could figure out something to do with their supplies leaving them in a de signated spot, for example. Griffith argues that the supply problem made it virtually impo ssible for soldiers to take advantage of the spur of the moment, as they were simply too weighed down to be able to do so. 35 Griffith, Paddy. Battle Tactics of the Civil War. (New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 1989)
30 Edward Hagerman in The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare also focuses on this, and argues that only when the Union finally addressed this problem in late 1863, when they adopted th e strategy of the French Flying Column (whose soldiers carried only 45 pounds of e quipment), were they able to actually effectively take the offensive. Hagerman argues that this marks a shift within American military culture, from attempting to emulate pa st greats, to experimentation with modern tactics (the French Flyi ng Column being a mid-18th century post-Napoleonic strategic development).36 Other authors have also highl ighted the problem of su pplies as well, with the citizen soldiers of the United States requiring twice as many supplies than the professional soldiers of Europe in order to remain effective. Paddy Griffith and Jay Luvaas identify two main causes as responsible for this. First, as Civil War era America had a mu ch lower population density than Europe, it was much more difficult for American soldiers to live off the land (or more accurately the local populace). As such, they were for ced to bring food and sh elter along with them in a much greater quantity than Europeans did. Interestingly, Jomini himself cautions that in unproductive and unsettled areas, keeping an army supplied would be a problem, but as Edward Hagerman points out in The Reorganization of Field Transportation and Field Supply in the Army of the Potomac, 1863: The Flying Column and Strategic Mobility, 36 Edward Hagerman The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.)
31 Union Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs essentially ignored this warning. Hagerman identifies this as one of the main reasons why Union troops retreated so readily in the early stages of the war. The second main cause only served to compound the problem of the lack of supplies available to forage. It was thought th at the citizen soldiers of America needed more supplies to keep up morale, whereas th e professional soldiers of Europe did not need such luxuries as they had been in the military their entire lives and were used to living on less. 37 The flawed doctrine of the difference in mobility between Napoleonic and American forces would have a profound imp act on how the battles played out and would almost entirely shape the first few years of the war. The interesting factor is that Confederate attacks were successful in some cas es because of two reasons. First, as W.J. Wood mentioned, their enemy was sometimes fixed in place by accident such as by terrain or by orders from an overly cauti ous commander. Second, the Confederates often ended up attempting envelopment against a non-fixed enemy position after the Union had already tried and failed using the same strate gy and thus leaving thei r forces drastically out of position. In addition to offering advice for the o ffensive between two armies, Jomini also offers advice for the offensive in two other cases a meeting engagement (an engagement where the two forces simply stumble upon one another when they are both 37 Edward Hagerman, "The Reorganization of Field Transportation and Field Supply in the Army of the Potomac, 1863," ( Military Affairs 44, no. 4 1980), 182-86.
32 marching) and a siege. His advice for each of th ese situations is very short in comparison to his advice for conflict between two stati onary armies, but he does offer some advice. For a meeting engagement, the first piece of advice cautions against trying to form up ones entire army, stating that attempting to do so will leave ones army open to a rush by enemy forces, shattering ones lines before th ey have a chance to form. The second piece of advice states that the mass of the troops should be concentrated and then thrown in that direction that is best suited for carrying out the objective of the march. This last piece of advice generally translates as attack in whichever direction you are currently marching. It is also key to note that in this extremely brief secti on, Jomini gives absolutely no alternative to attacking and th is would play big role in sh aping the battles of the Civil War.38 To demonstrate the pervasiveness of Jominis strategic maxims among the Confederates, especially Lee, a ll one has to do is look at the tactics they chose to use in the various battles they engage d. Jominis strategies are desi gned for the armies of nation states to defeat one another. As such, it is not necessarily useful to examine smaller battles, but in looking at every major large battle (by forces engaged or casualties) occurring in the Eastern Theater, one can see how in each Jominis maxims were followed. Going chronologically, we will examine the first two major battles of the Seven Days Battles, the Battle of the Second Bull Run (Second Manassa s), the Battle of Antietam, and the Battle of Chancellorsville. Most of these are engagements between 38 Antonie-Henri Jomini The Art of War. Translated by G.H. Mendel and W. P. Craighill. (El Paso, TX: El Paso Norte, 2005) p167-168
33 formed up armies; however, in the Battle of th e Second Bull Run and later in the Battle of Gettysburg, we see examples of meeting engagements. Southern Doctrine and its First Tests in the Eastern Theater under Lee One example of Jominis Doctrine being put into practice is the Battle of the Seven Days, which occurred between June 25 and July 1, 1862, between 104,000 Union troops under General McClellan and 92,000 Confederate troops under the newly promoted General Lee, near Richmond, Virginia as the Union troops tried to capture the Confederate capital. In this case General Le e ordered assault against the northernmost position of the Union army. Generals J ackson and Hill were supposed to lead approximately 25,000 troops against Union Ge neral Porter. General Jackson, however, was not able to launch his assault on time due to rough terrain, and General Hill decided to launch his part of the offensive without support from Jackson. Many have argued and correctly so that General Hill was forced to launch the assault without waiting for Jackson as in it s attempt to outflank the Union army it left itself way out of position. 39 Once Hills assault began, it was unsuccessful, as General Porter was easily able to r earrange the unengaged portions of his army in order to bring them to bear against the Confederates. He was then able to conduc t a short retreat to 39 Joseph T Glatthaar. General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse (New York: Free Press, 2008) p134
34 favorable grounds where he was easily able to hold off the Confederate force while suffering only slightly over 300 casualtie s compared to over 1,400 Confederate casualties. While the battle would undoubtedly have been a lot more successful for the Confederates had General Jacksons troops engaged the enemy in a timely matter, the fact that there was no force fixing the Union tr oops in place, no troops to prevent Porter from rearranging his army in order to enga ge the Confederates in a favorable manner, would have still been a huge negative for th e Confederates. One key factor also to note from this battle is the rigid inflexibil ity of a mass flanking turning maneuver. By committing to launching one, a commander takes a huge risk as he puts his army way out of position and makes it vulnerable to an en emy attack in the process. This huge vulnerability brought about by rearranging ones troops for a large sc ale flanking attack played a large part in the outcome of several battles later on in the Civil War. The Confederates did end up taking the batt lefield in the end of the day however, as the victorious Union forces withdrew to try to shorten their lin es and prevent another potential assault on the flank. There are many ex amples of Union forces being very quick to retreat like this after the slightest atta ck. The Union forces seemed to be heavily influenced by Jomini in this area who wrot e, Every Army which maintains a strictly defensive attitude must, if attacked be at last driven from its positionA general who stands motionless to receive his enemy, keepi ng strictly on the defensive, may fight ever so bravely, but he must give way if properly attacked.40 In stating this, Jomini was 40 Antonie-Henri Jomini The Art of War. Translated by G.H. Mendel and W. P. Craighill. (El Paso, TX: El Paso Norte, 2005) p145
35 arguing that any army that remained in place for too long risked having its flank turned or being scattered. As mentioned earlier, Jomini believed along with his contemporaries that if an army was driven from the battlefield a nd scattered, that meant the end for that army. As based on evidence from Frederick the Great s and Napoleons wars, he did not believe that a defeated army could reform without at least suffering heavy troop loss in the process. Moving on to the next phase of the Seven Days Battle, also known as the Battle of Gaines Mill, which occurred on June 27, 1862, once again the Confed erates attempt a turning maneuver against the Union forces This time, however, there is one key difference, in that both Generals Longstreet and Magruder, in charge of the Confederate divisions engaging the Union line right below the divisions that were going to attempt to pull off the turning maneuver against the northern part of the Union line, were able to occupy the attention of over 60,000 Union troops. This ends up playing a huge role in the outcome of the battle, as this time, instead of being able to rea rrange his entire line and move to fight the Confederates on favorable ground, General Porter was only able to move one reserve regiment up to engage the Confederate forces. As a result, despite a lack of coordination (General Jackson once ag ain did not launch his flanking assault in a timely manner), the Confederate assault was su ccessful and was able to drive the Union forces back. It is worth nothing that they di d suffer more casualties than the Union forces during this battle, approximately 15,000 to 20,000, though a lot of these were probably due to poor coordination between the various assaults.41 41 Stephen W Sears. To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1992.) p67
36 In the Battle of Second Bull Run, whic h occurred between August 28 and August 30, 1862, between 62,000 Union troops under John Pope and 50,000 Confederate troops under General Lee, the Confederates tried to push the Union troops out of Northern Virginia. This was an example of a meeti ng engagement where the two sides stumbled upon one another. General Jackson of the C onfederate forces and General King of the Union forces arrived on scene first. Jackson, concerned that more Union forces might be arriving, launched an immediate straight-on assault on the Union ar my. This assault was successful in dealing heavy casualties, but the C onfederate forces were unable to take the field despite outnumbering the Union forces al most three to one, because they attacked late at night. After this unsuccessful attempt, 18,000 a dditional Union forces arrived on the scene allowing them to outnumber the Confeder ate forces three to one themselves. They then attempted to assault the Confederate forc es quickly, but were driven back as General Jacksons forces were well dug in along a ridgeli ne, it is this successful defense against a numerically superior enemy that earned Jackson his nickname Stonewall. Stonewall Jackson unlike most of his compatriots at the time did not believe that retreating before a numerically superior enemy was the only a dvisable he believed instead that massed assaults could be held off with determined defense at an advisable location. After the Union was driven back additional forces from both sides began to arrive and array themselves to the south of forces that had already arrived. As this was occurring, the Confederates under General Longstreet quickly launched an assault against the newly arriving Union forces, hoping to catch them befo re they could form up in a line of battle.
37 They were successful in this attempt as they caught the Union forces completely out of order between two small rivers and were able to drive them back. Near the end of the battle was an exam ple of a small turning maneuver as the forces of R.H. Andersen, who was under Ge neral Longstreet, attempted to turn the southern flank of the Union commander Ge neral Reynolds. This attempt was successful and drove the Union forces from the field. Ho wever, it is worth noting that Longstreet also attacked the middle portion of the Uni on army during this attack, and because of this, they were not able to send any reinfo rcements to their fla nk. Longstreet once again made an effort to hold his enemys forces in place when doing a flanking attack, and was successful. Indeed, in future battles Longstreet continues to do this, and he is one of the few Confederate commanders actually able to successfully pull off the flanking maneuver. In the Battle of the Second Bull Run (Second Manassas), there is a key example of Jominis maxims regarding a meeting en gagement, and how it plays out in the Civil War. His maxims prove to be rather detrimental in the beginning to the Confederates, as the command to attack as soon as possi ble when stumbling upon an enemy causes General Jackson to attack late at night leading to disorder and confusion among his troops. The maxims are also especially detrimen tal to the Union forces as they cause the Union to launch an assault against a force dug in along a ridge (and in some cases behind a short wall), rather than simply ignoring th em. Jominis maxims are hugely beneficial to the Confederates later on in the battle t hough, as by aggressively taking the initiative, Longstreet is able to deliver a critical blow to unorganized Union forces. Notable however is despite the confederate successes losses for both sides in the battle were
38 around 10,000 though the capture of around 5,000 prisoners did help bring the overall casualty figures to around 15,000 for the Un ion vs. only 10,000 for the Confederates.42 We see the problem and the benefit of Jominis maxims regarding meeting engagements here he advocates a straight out attack and nothing else. In reality, this strategy only works against enemy forces that are less organized than the forces attacking them. While this might work against forces cl umsily trying to organize in some sort of battle line, it is a lot less successful against another force also tryi ng to follow Jominis instructions. If both sides follow Jominis or ders, the battle basically comes down to who masses to attack faster, who has the more experienced troops, a nd who has the most troops, rather than which general is better or which side is able to occupy the better terrain. It also minimizes the infl uence artillery plays in a battle. In the Battle of Antietam, which o ccurred in Maryland on September 17, 1862, between 38,000 Confederate troops under General Lee and 72,000 Union troops under General McClellan, the Confederates tried to take the war into Union territory after inflicting significant defeats on the Union in their attempted invasion of Virginia. The battle occurred as Union troops tried to cro ss Antietam Creek near the city of Antietam. The Union launched an attempted envelopment of the Confederates as General Ambrose Burnside crossed the creek to the south of the Confederate positions and attempted to flank the Confederate defenders under Jacks on and Longstreet. The assault, although gaining ground at first, was unsuccessful due to Burnsides refusal to work with the other 42 For More Info: Wilson A. Greene. The Second Battle of Manassas Fort Washington, PA: Eastern National Park and Monument Association, 2002.
39 Union commanders in the region and due to the inexperience of his troops. At the end of the assault, the Union southern flank was left exposed and defended only by troops who were a part of the 16th Connecticut that had been in th e army for less than three months. As a result, a Confederate flank turning assault under General Hill, who was under Stonewall Jackson, was successful, as the 16th Connecticut disintegra ted under the fire of the experienced C onfederate troops. In this case, the Confederates were successful in launching their turning maneuver. However, it is worth noting that th e river the Union had just crossed assisted in pinning the Union troops in place to prevent any quick re inforcement of the flank the Confederates were assaulting. In addition, co mmanders under Longstreet were also busy holding in place the Union forces directly adjacent to the flank that was under assault, using a few diversionary attacks. Once again, by following Napoleonic tactics and making sure the enemy was pinned in place before launching a turning maneuver, and not by following Jominis more incomplete tac tics, the Confederates under Generals Longstreet and Jackson were able to successf ully pull off a flanking maneuver. However, losses were similar for both sides with th e Confederates losing 10,000 while the Union lost 12,000.43 The Battle of Chancellorsville occurred between April 30 and May 6, 1863, near Chancellorsville, Virginia between 130,000 Union troops under General Hooker and 60,000 Confederate troops under General Lee. The Union attempted to resume their 43For More Info: Perry D. Jamieson Death in September: The Antietam Campaign (Fort Worth, TX: Ryan Place, 1995)
40 invasion of Virginia, which s ought to either capture the Confederate capital of Richmond or decisively defeat General Lee in battle. General Hooker, who had remarkably detailed intelligence about his enemys location, a ttempted to launch a double envelopment maneuver against his enemy. General Hooker did not attempt to hold the Confederate forces in place during his grand maneuvering. The only thing he did do was to instruct 25,000 of his troops to remain in their camps across from the Confederate forces. In the meantime, 95,000 of his troops split into two wings in an attempt to envelop the enemy. The troops remaining in their camps would have very little influence on Lee who, observing the lack of initiative on their part realized the Union plan and decided to launch a bold maneuver.44 Virtually ignoring Union troops in the camp and sending only delaying forces after the Union left wing, Lee ordered his own forces to attempt a similar double envelopment against the Union forces on the right flank. The latter, in their attempt to envelop Lee, were horribly out of position and far away from any potential Union reinforcements. Had Hooker ordered the forces assigned to wait in their camps to actually engage Lee in an attempt to hold him in place, then perhaps Lee would not have been as easily able to transfer his far out numbered forces around, but that was not to be and Lee was able to redistribu te his forces as he wished. The Union right wing failed to make contact with the enemy. Furthermore, after their attack, a miscommunicat ion between General Hooker and his forces on the right wing caused the general to believe his forces had retreated when in fact they were forward and exposed and attempting to defend extremely poor terrain. This exposed flank remaining horribly out of place was then exploited perfectly by General Lees planned 44 Joseph Glatthar (General Lee' s Army: From Victory to Collapse New York: Free Press, 2008) p 249
41 and General Jacksons well executed double e nvelopment, notable here is that General Jacksons forces launching the flanking mane uver were screened from the enemy forces by General Jeb Stuarts Calvary division thus coinciding with Na poleonic strategy but adding something Jomini missed. As a result of the successful attack the Union forces were driven from the field with heavy casua lties. The enemy, however, was only so out of position because of several e rrors on their part. The first er ror was that they had tried to employ the same tactic on their part fi rst and had failed; the second error was the afore-mentioned miscommunication. Lee during this battle had not attempted to hold the enemy in place this time or to induce a weakness. However, this battle ended up being a huge success for the Confederates because once again, the enemy happened to be completely out of position due to a failed tactic and had difficulty moving to react to the attack due to the thickness of the terrain, and due to the fact that the calvary under stuart did successfully screen the flanking forces. This battle is celebrated as one of the great Confederate victories of the war, but it was not due to any particular br illiant Confederate stra tegy, but rather two key Union mistakes that ended up putting a large portion of their army in an isolated position far away from the rest of their troops. Both sides here attempted a turning ma neuver. Hooker attempted to attack both flanks of the Confederate army, and as such followed Jominis maxims as well as they recommend an attack on both fl anks when ones forces out number ones enemies. Lee follows Jominis maxims as well as he focuse d all of his efforts on one flank of the Union army, although in this situation the strange orientation of the Union army made Lees
42 assault look a bit atypical from the rest of hi s operations in the war. In this battle, the Union suffered 17,000 casualties and the C onfederates suffered 13,000, so despite Lee completely outmaneuvering the Uni on, casualties are still similar.45 Going through each of the major battles in the Eastern Theater, the actions of the generals in each one follow Jominis instru ctions to the letter. The Battle of the Second Bull Run is an example of a meeting engagement In each of the battles, the Confederates (and often the Union as well) try to mass up as quickly as possible and charge their enemy, hoping to catch the enemy before he is able to form up his troops into an organized line of battle, and thus drive him from the field. In this case, Confederates eventually forced the Union troops from their position, suffering roughly equal casualties in each case. The Union forces in this case retreated rather read ily, resulting in the Confederates taking the field. This success helps to explain why the Confederates continued to resort to the t actic. Considering the Confederate qualitative superiority of troops in the early years of th e war and the Confederate familiarity with the local terrain, it makes sense that the Confederates saw success with this tactic in the early years of the war. As for Jominis maxims regarding the ba ttles between two formed up armies (two formed battle-lines), the Confederates continued reliance on the flanking/turning maneuver is a bit more complex. In the Seven Days Battle, the first time General Lee took command of the army of Northern Virginia, the maneuver achieved only limited 45 Gary W. Gallagher Chancellorsville: The Battle and Its Aftermath. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996)
43 success. Despite this, they were eventually able to take the field from the enemy, and this was an encouraging sign for the Confederates. It is also useful to note that part of the reason for the dubious success of the exercise s was the late attacks executed by General Stonewall Jackson against the Union positions on two separate occasions. In addition to all of this, their success in driving the enemy from the field is somewhat dubious due to McClellans extreme readiness to retreat born from the fear of being decisively defeated, and a mistaken belief that the Confederate fo rces were much larger than they actually were. In the Battle of the Second Bull Run, th e flanking turning maneuver was very successful as General Longstreets forces managed to catch a Union detachment off guard, and he was able to roll up the Union flank. Later in the same year, Confederate forces engaged the Union at the Battle of Antietam. Once again, Longstreet launched a turning maneuver and was successful due to a combination of luck (poorly trained enemy and a river to prevent rapid reinforcement) and the fact that he made a diversionary attack (to keep the other Union forces on the same side of the river pinned down). Given the success of the flanking maneuver in these first three battles, it is easy to see why the Confederates continue to us e it in later battles. However, despite Longstreets successes, later Confederate ge nerals end up following Jominis maxims more than attempting to emulate their successf ul compatriot, and they do not try to hold the enemy in place before launching a flanking/turning maneuver. For example, in the Battle of Chancellorsville, there was no atte mpt by the Confederates to hold the Union forces in place before launching a largescale turning maneuver against the Union western flank. However, due to difficult terrain and the fact th at the western flank of the
44 Union army was extremely exposed due to poor communication and the fact that they had just tried to launch a largescale turning maneuver (actuall y a double envelopment) of its own, the Confederate assault managed to be successful. It is worth noting here that the Confed erates were extremely lucky as to the circumstances of this battle. Once ag ain, though, the flanking maneuver had been successful, and in these first f our battles the largest fought by the two sides to that date the Confederate (Jominis) turning maneuver had been successfully executed. However, such luck would not be with them in battles to come. The Western Theater and the De velopment of Union Counters to the Turning Maneuver The Western Theater was not as hotly cont ested as the Eastern Theater, as it was not as highly populated and it did not have the advantage of bei ng the location of the capitals of both sides. However, it was still a key theater of the war as the Confederates sought to invade Kentucky and provoke a pro-Confederate uprising, while the Union sought to hold on to Kentucky and evade th e Confederacy through Tennessee. In this theater, the Union forces under Rosecrans/Grant developed several interesting counters to the large-scale Confeder ate turning maneuver. The tactics used by Rosecrans/Grant have their origins in the mid 1820s at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, where Americans theorized that the new defensive firepower brought about by the ri fle could counter massed infant ry assaults even if the
45 attacker had numerical superior ity. This theory suggested that the best course of action when facing a turning maneuver was not to flee before it, but to reform ones lines and meet it head on. Unlike their comrades in the Eastern Theater, Hooker and Meade, Generals Grant and Rosecrans (as well as th e only successful enactors of the turning maneuver on the Confederate side, Generals Longstreet and Jackson), graduated from West Point after the new theory had been introduced in the mid 1820s. The Battles of Shiloh and Stones River highlight these new tact ical counters and how they performed in battle. The Battle of Shiloh was fought on April 6 and 7, 1862, between 45,000 Confederate soldiers under Gene rals Albert Sidney Johnson a nd P. G. T. Beauregard, and 65,000 Union soldiers under General Ulysses S Gran t. As Grants forces tried to cross the Tennessee River in order to advance deeper in to Tennessee, the Confederates on the other hand wanted to prevent the crossing and deal a decisive defeat to the Union army in the process. General Grant was able to successfully cross the river and encamp on the Confederate side of it. However, once gaining position on the southern side of the river, Grant chose to have his forces running vari ous drills practicing soldiery, rather than attempting to construct any sort of defenses to protect the camp. The Confederates under Johnson and later Beauregard (Johnson passed aw ay during the battle) launched an early morning offensive. One of the few successful surprise attacks mounted by either side during the entire Civil War thus occurred b ecause of the Confederate strategy and the Union lack of preparation.
46 The initial Confederate battle plan was for the Confederate tr oops under Generals Beckenridge and Bragg to attempt a quasi-tur ning maneuver in which the majority of their attack focused on trying to cut the Union forces off from the river to isolate them from their supply lines and potential rein forcements. However, despite these plans designed to keep the Union forces away fr om the river, the Confederate command during the battle actually divided and split all of its forces in an attempt to attack the entire Union army. As a result, though they were able to force the Union forces into full retreat, they were unable to separate them from the river. It was in this moment that General Gr ant set himself apart from fellow Union commanders. Grant, rather than completely abandoning the field to the Confederate forces as his fellow Union generals in Virgin ia repeatedly did to Lee in the manner of Jominis writings, instead chose to take a dvantage of the terrain and fall back to a defensible location where he constructed a defensive line between Oak Creek and the Tennessee River. Here two Union brigades under Generals Wallace and Prentiss constructed a position called the Hornets Nest, where they were able to hold off multiple Confederate attacks for several hours until the Confederates brought up 50 pieces of artillery and focused it on th e position to dislodge them The Confederates took 2,400 prisoners when this position finally surrendered. However, this holding action at the Ho rnets Nest had given Grant time to construct yet another defensive line further back, once again between Oak Creek and the Tennessee River, this time supported by Un ion gunboats in the Tennessee River and multiple cannons. Once the Confederate assault reached this final position, they were driven back with heavy losses. Several author s have noted that had the Confederates not
47 spent so much time assaulting the Hornets Nest position and tried to go around the river instead, they might have managed to force th e Union army east into the swamps rather than west to a defensible position along the river. This is debatable, however, as they still would have had to deal with the cannon and naval guns. In this battle, similar to several instances in the Seven Days Battles and the Battle of the Second Bull Run, a Jomini-inspired turning maneuver broke down due to poor Confederate execution. What is interesting, thou gh, is the original plan to use Jomini-type tactics took the terrain into a great deal of consideration when the plan was being made. Jominis writings were mostly terrain-independen t, so it is interesting to see how terrain begins to play a part in the strategic thinking of the Confederates at this time. It is foreshadowing of the great role terrain woul d play in the later stages of the war. The day after the unsuccessful Confederat e assault, the Union forces received reinforcements from across the river of approximately 18,000 additional troops. As a result, they decided to launch an offens ive against the Confederate position. The Confederates, on the other hand, had been pr eparing for an assault against the Union forces. General Beauregard, unaware of th e Union reinforcements, still hoped to complete his previous battle plan and be able to isolate the Union forces from the river. Unfortunately, as a result of expecting to launch an offensiv e rather than expecting to receive one, the Confederate forc es were completely disorganized and not in any form of defensive line whatsoever. In addition, there were large gaps between the various brigades, hampering communication and making holes the Union could exploit. As such, when the Union forces attacked at dawn (i n very disorganized fashion as well), the Confederates were completely unprepared for it and the Union forces were able to drive
48 the Confederates back across the entire line. The Union forces continued their attack until they were able to drive the Confederates b ack to approximately the initial start of the battle the previous day, retaki ng the old locations of their cam ps in the process. At this point, General Grant ordered his forces to stop pursuing the Confed erates, due to the exhaustion of his men, and the fact that the commander of the troops that had reinforced him was refusing to take orders from him, making an organized pursuit impossible.46 General Grant as he will later do to great extent when appointed overall commander of the Union forces highlights tw o of the weaknesses in the Jomini-inspired Confederate strategy. First, he demonstrates th at in the new age of warfare, decisively routing an enemy after one engagement is impossible as retreating forces can simply retreat to and regroup at a new defensive line. Second, Grant is able similar to how the Confederates at Chancellorsville were able to take advantage of the fact that the Confederate forces, in the process of launc hing their offensive, had left themselves completely disorganized and out of position. Gr ant, who had reorganized his artillery into small battalions separate from the main army, wa s able to take advant age of this fact, and quickly redeployed several guns to aid the gunboats in the river in helping the Union forces prevent the Confederates from sepa rating them from their supply line. These strategies would soon spread to the rest of the Union army to the detriment of the Confederates. In this battle despite their el ement of surprise the Confederates suffered 46 Larry J. Daniel. Shiloh: The Battle That Changed the Civil War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997)
49 around the same casualties as the Union forces as each side lost around 10,000 men though the Confederates did take an additional 3,000 men prisoner.47 The Battle of Stones River occurred December 31,1862, through January 2, 1863, near Murfreesboro, Tennessee (the battle is also sometimes called the Battle of Murfreesboro), between 41,400 Union soldiers under General William Rosecrans and 35,000 Confederate soldiers under General Braxto n Bragg. Both sides sought to deal a decisive defeat to the other army. After th e two sides had met for battle and formed up against one another, the Confederate commande r attempted a typical large-scale flanking turning maneuver when faced with an organi zed enemy battle line. Also interesting was that the Union intended to also attempt a tu rning maneuver, but the Confederates beat them to the punch. In this case, Bragg deci ded to launch his offensive on the Union right flank. He also decided to launch an early morn ing attack in an attempt to catch the Union by surprise. He was successful in this attemp t, as the Union had been preparing for an attack themselves, so they were not in defe nsive formation. In addition, the attack caught some of the Union forces still eating break fast. The Confederates captured numerous Union prisoners, inflicted heavy casualties (several battalions lost over 50% of their men), and they captured severa l pieces of Union artillery. Despite all of these fortunate occurre nces, however, the attack was still unsuccessful, as one of the Union brigade commanders, Phillip Sheridan, had actually anticipated an assault and had his soldiers operating defensive positions and manning some crude entrenchments. Sheridan was able to hold off the Confederates from 4 AM to 47 Edward Cunningham, Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 Edited by Gary Joiner and Timothy Smith. (New York: Savas Beatie, 2007)
50 around 11 AM, when lack of ammunition forced hi s division to retreat. In the process, his command suffered over 33% casualties and he lo st all three of his brigade commanders. During this time, the rest of the Union forces retreated to more defensible positions along the Nashville turnpike, creating a semicircle with the turnpike at their back.48 In the meantime, the Confederates had b een keeping the rest of the Union line busy with diversionary attacks, which kept the Union from reinforcing the right flank of their line. After this retreat, the vast majority of Rosecrans sub-commanders recommended abandoning the battlefield to th e Confederates, believing that they had been bested. Rosecrans listened to their advi ce, but decided not to follow it, stating that they would find no better defensive terrain th an they were currently occupying, and as such, they should stay. On the second day, Bragg chose to launch a large-scale attack on the left flank of the Union army. This attack, unlike the fi rst one, floundered quickly. A Union artillery commander took advantage of the detached organization of the Uni on artillery, brought up 52 guns, and placed them in excellent position to guard the left flank of the line. As a result, the Confederate assault was repulsed with heavy losses. After this defeat, the Confederate forces disengaged and abandone d the battlefield. The Union forces had suffered 13,000 casualties during this battle while the Confederates suffered 14,500.49 48 Philip Henry Sheridan. Personal Memoirs of P. H. Sheridan, General, United States Army (New York: C.L. Webster, & Co. 1888) 49 Peter Cozzens. No Better Place to Die: The Battle of Stones River (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990)
51 Therefore, despite the nearly perfect occurrences and execution for the Confederates during the first day of the batt le, the Confederate assault was completely unsuccessful overall, gaining nothing stra tegically and in addition causing the Confederates forces more losses than the Un ion forces. The Confeder ates caught four out of five Union divisions complete ly unprepared for the assault and they were able to take numerous prisoners and Union artillery pieces. However, in choosing to retreat to and construct a defensive line at defendable terra in (in defiance of Jominis maxims which argued to steer clear of constructing defens ive lines with rough terrain at ones back) instead of simply abandoning the field, Ros ecrans showed how easily a turning maneuver could be countered.50 In addition, when the Confederat es tried it the second day, the Union demonstrated how its new smaller units of artillery could quickly shift position and help to foil an assault. Despite these tactics being utilized by commanders in the We st as early as 1862, it took a while for the new tactics to spread to the East in large scale. In fact, it took until the critical Battle of Gettysburg for the Union commanders in the West to attempt to utilize the new tactics to count er the Confederate battle tactics. To the detriment of the Confederates, this Union response would end up dealing them a critical defeat. Gettysburg: The Great Turning Point 50 Antonie-Henri Jomini The Art of War. Translated by G.H. Mendel and W. P. Craighill. (El Paso, TX: El Paso Norte, 2005) p90
52 The Battle of Gettysburg occurred July 1-3, 1863, as 94,000 Union troops attempted to defend northern Maryland agai nst 72,000 Confederate troops who hoped to force the Union out of the war. A heavily outnumbered Union cavalry regiment stumbled into a marching Confederate infantry division, and was forced to retr eat after an initial skirmish. Confederate units headed by Ewell and Hill arrived, as did Generals Doubleday and Howard for the Union, and the Confederates rushed directly at the Union forces in a frontal assault. This tactic is taken straight from Jomini, as the Confederates chose not to try some sort of flanking or encircling ma neuver against the outnumbered Union forces. Rather, they followed tactics fitting w ith Jominis maxims regarding meeting engagements, stating that one has no time to do anything other than an immediate concentrated assault. However, in this s ituation, the Union did not simply abandon the field, but rather retreated in good order to Cemetery Ridge, a high ground overlooking a large field, and as such, a re markable defendable location. After this, as they were now facing a formed battle line, the South once again tried to launch a large scale flanking/tur ning maneuver against the Union lines. The attempt occurred on the second day of battle, an d the Confederates attempted to attack both of the flanks at once. General Longstr eet launched a large offensive against the Union forces defending the southern part of the line, while General Ewell attacked Union forces defending the northern part of the line on Cusps Hill in a smaller skirmish. While they did attempt to hold the Union forces in place, their attempt to attack both flanks simultaneously was very risky. Moreover, they were not able to do so, as not all Union forces had arrived at the battle yet and the ones that arrived late were able to reinforce to two flanks unmolested.
53 Ewells attack against the northernmost Union positions was completely unsuccessful, while Longstreets attack agains t the southern flank was able to force the Confederates out of a peach orchard they were defending. The Union, following the new tactics, simply fell back to a new defensive line centered on the eas ily defensible Little Round Top. Once there, the Union forces refu sed to give up the ground, even holding it up to the point where they were forced to la unch a bayonet charge due to their shortage in ammunition. The Confederate flanking/turning maneuver failed in this situation due to two key factors. First, as the Union forces simp ly tried to defend in this case, their forces were not horribly out of position. Second, rath er than abandoning the field before a massed Confederate assault, the Union chose to hold their ground and defend. In addition to the turning maneuver on th e second day, Picketts Charge on the third day is also rather intere sting. After finding both flanks to be solid, Lee assumed that the center must be weak. He was facing nume rous Union troops heavily fortified on a ridge, but he assumed that they must have a weakness, because the military mindset at the time was to find the enemys weakness and explo it it, not to try to create such a weakness in the enemy by going around the Union for ce and making them fight later on more favorable ground, as Stonewall Jack son and Longstreet recommended.51 There is a large influence for this in Jo minis writings, as Jomini states, The general theater of operations seldom contains more than three zones, the right, the left, and the center; and each zone, front of operati ons, strategic position and line of defense, as well as each line of battle, has the same subdivisions, tw o extremities and the center. A 51 James Longstreet From Manassas to Appomattox; Memoirs of the Civil War in America. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1960.) p388
54 direction upon one of these three will always be suitable for the attainment of a desired end.52 Jomini also states that if the enemy divides his forces upon an extended front, the best course of action is to assault the enemy center.53 At Gettysburg, it was not necessarily the case that an outnumbering enem y who is entrenched on a ridge (excellent defensive terrain) was weak in any portions of the line, yet Lee thought they must be. He thought that way because he was trained to think that way, as anyone who learned from Jomini thought that there must be a weak portion of the enemys lines and it was simply ones job to find it. The Battle of Gettysburg illustrates the first large scale failure of all of Jominis maxims. The Confederates attempted an early immediate offensive of the Union forces, but the Union simply fell back to better ground. The Confederates then attempted a turning maneuver but the Union shifted reinforcements into place and fell back to a defendable ridge. The South then attempted a second turning maneuver, but once again, the Union was simply able to shift reinfor cements into place. Then, having failed to attack both flanks, the Confederates followe d Jominis writings and assumed that the center must be weak because both flanks are strong, and they ended up launching an illadvised attack that many have highlighted as the turning point of the Civil War. Overall 52 Antonie-Henri Jomini The Art of War. Translated by G.H. Mendel and W. P. Craighill. (El Paso, TX: El Paso Norte, 2005) p55 53 Antonie-Henri Jomini The Art of War. Translated by G.H. Mendel and W. P. Craighill. (El Paso, TX: El Paso Norte, 2005) p90
55 Casualties for both sides were around 23,000 but the confederates suffered around 6,000 casualties during pickets charge while the Union suffered only 1,500.54 The Union had also learned the way to combat this tactic at this point. Rather than retreating and giving up the ground, they simply fixed the flank upon a strong position and shifted reinforcements and artillery around so they did not have to entirely abandon the field of battle when they lost a flank, as they had done in the early years of the war according to Jominis tactics. These Union countermeasures, used to great effect by Generals Grant and Rosecrans in the Wester n Theater (Kentucky and Tennessee) against Confederate turning maneuvers in the Battles of Stones River and Shiloh, were successful the first time they were used in the Eastern Theater as well. Because of this, in addition to not causing heavy casualties to the Union fo rces, the Confederates were completely unsuccessful at taking the field of battle as we ll. In this situation, the Confederates were forced to retreat, and as a resu lt, Gettysburg is widely regarded as the turning point of the war. A turning point it was indeed, and not just politically, or beca use the Confederates would never launch another invasion of the Nort h again as a result. It was a turning point because it represented the ascendancy of a ne w style of warfare the ascendancy of the defensive and the decline of the offensive, and a new recognition of the might of massed firepower over massed manpower in the advent of the industrial age. 54 John W.,Busey and David G. Martin. Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg 4th ed. Hightstown, NJ: Longstreet House, 2005) p261
56 Chapter 3 The Later Years and the Emergence of Modern War in Southern Doctrine, 1863-1865 The Origins of Field Entrenchments Military thought in both strategy and tactics up until the early modern era generally consisted of studying extremely successful generals of th e past and attempting to isolate the axioms and principles that made them successful. Most generals of antiquity studied Hannibal or Pyrrhus of Epirus, while later generals studied Frederick the Great, and generals after Napoleon attempted to emul ate him. Strategy and tactics in warfare, like much of learning at the time, consisted mostly of studying and attempting to replicate past greats. It is not surpri sing given this that Confederate officers attempted to emulate Napoleon through Jomini. However, near the end of the Civil Wa r, their reliance on Jominis maxims began to decrease and Conf ederate units began to construct elaborate field defenses to assist thei r troops in defending certain areas and battlefields began to resemble World War 1 much more than the Napoleonic Wars. These entrenchments do not come from Jominis work, as Jomini did not advocate any sort of entrenchment. Indeed, he advised against trying to hold a specific area for too long, stating that a defending ar my must eventually give ground to an
57 attacking army lest it be decisively defeated.55 As such, the emergence of entrenchments on the Civil War battlefield marks an end to th e dogmatic adherence to Jominic traditions that marks the first two years of the Civil War. Some authors attribute this increased focus on field entrenchments to Clausewitz. While it is true that, unlike Jomini, he actually mentions field entrenchments, he does not mention using them to defend ones battle-lines, arguing that th ey are only appropriate to defending an isolated point. Essentially Clausewitz is arguing for the creat ion of a miniature fortress rather than any sort of field entrenchments simply designed to protect lines of troops.56 Clausewitz however does explain how to utilize terrain in great detail during a battle and he may be the inspiration for the terrain focused defens es of Generals Grant and Rosecrans at the Battles of Shiloh and Stones River, interestingl y Clausewitz argues for the utilization of rough terrain to bolster a defensive line, th is is in complete opposition to Jomini who argues uniformly against it stating that while it seems like a good idea any army forced to retreat through the terra in will be broken up, scattered and defeated5758 These new field fortifications had never been seen before outside of sieges in Western warfare in the age of gunpowder, and as such were the brainchild of American engineers. The relation of science and engi neering to warfare has fluctuated through 55 Antonie-Henri Jomini The Art of War. Translated by G.H. Mendel and W. P. Craighill. (El Paso, TX: El Paso Norte, 2005) p145 56 Carl Von Clausewitz On War. Translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976) p395-399 57 Carl Von Clausewitz Principles of War Translated by Hans W. Gatzke. (Harrisburg, PA: Military Service Publishing, 1942) p34-44 58 Antonie-Henri Jomini The Art of War. Translated by G.H. Mendel and W. P. Craighill. (El Paso, TX: El Paso Norte, 2005) p143
58 history. Henry Guerlac states in Vauba n: The Impact of Science on War in Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age edited by Peter Paret that the Romans and Greeks heavily integrated science and engineering into warfare.59 He points to their methods of training, armament and formations, as well as the Roman method of field fortifications and thei r innovation and integration of siege weapons (particularly ballista) into their legions. He argues th at this heavy integr ation of science and engineering into warfare was lost during the Dark/Middle Ages. This led to the backwardness of the European militaries versus the militaries of Asia/The Middle East, and the loss of the idea of field fortifications and the removal of military engineering from all parts of warfare other than the occasional city siege. Guerlac asserts that military engineering found its way back into the larger scale of warfare during the Renai ssance in Italy in the 17th century. He argues that the rediscovery of the Roman/Greek methods of warfare and engineering by Italian engineers, combined with the necessity brought about by constant French invasions, caused many Renaissance scientists to beco me involved in the creation of improved fortifications to protect their city states, whose medieval-sty le, thin, tall stone walls were rendered useless by French cannon. The new style of fortifications (low, thick, sloped walls arranged to create overl apping fields of fire) was br ought about by theorization and experimental measurements on the ballistics surrounding siege cannons and its large59 Guerlac, Henry Vauban: The Impact of Scie nce on War. In Earle, Craig, and Gilbert, Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler 26-49.
59 scale implementation was brought about by the tr ial and error of Ital ian engineers seeking to protect their towns. It was during this period th at much of the science of artillery also developed, and the new forts required a great deal of archit ectural and mathematical experience to be able to construct them. This new scientific focus and its obvious importance broadened the influence of science and military engine ering in warfare, as cannon and artillery began to play a larger and larger, and it be gan to influence the outcome of battles far away from cities. This expanded the influen ce of military engineers and integrated them more into the normal army structure. Guerlac states that once the English observers and French recognized the effectiveness of these Italian fortifications later known as Star Fo rts, they essentially copied them. Military institutions, such as the Royal Society of London, and the French Academia Royale Des Sciences, were create d as a result in order to teach military officers the sciences necessary to construc t the new-style fortresses. He argues that science stayed a key part of engineering sieg e weapons during this period. Indeed, within a few centuries, military academies would pop up in most modern Western nations that would teach the sciences required to operate cannons and other siege engines and create fortifications to defend against them. This expansion of scient ific thought into the military, however, would stall at the level of fortifications for some time and would not expand further into Western military thought until later. During the Napoleonic era, wars were f ought as wars of maneuver. The general goal was to outmaneuver ones enemy to bri ng a critical mass of ones men against a
60 weak portion in the enemys line. While Europeans generally accepted Napoleons conclusions about warfare as forgone, American military thinkers at West Point began to challenge their assumptions as early as the 1830s as they considered the problems with applying Napoleons methods of warfare to American circumstances and terrain.60 Given that West Point had always had a strong military engineering department, it is no surprise that the first thing the Americans began to cons ider is the usefulness of fortifications in the age of firearms. A specific curriculum was introduced for this purpose to West Point in 1832.61 This department, taught by Dennis Hart Mahan, would be extremely popular, and about 20% of the graduates of West Point during this time period would go on to join military engineering units (at this time grouped in small bodies with each regiment), with many more students having at leas t some experience with the fortifications curriculum. It was during this period that American military thinkers began considering the issue of field fortifications, i.e., qu ick entrenchments that soldiers could throw up anywhere on the field of battle. In the years immediately prior to th e Civil War, ammunition was developed which could be loaded into the barrel of a rifl e as fast as a ball c ould be loaded into a musket. This ammunition, invented in Fran ce and known as the Mini ball, drastically increased the firepower of the average soldie r as it immediately evoked a change in all 60 Edward Hagerman The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.) p3 61 Edward Hagerman The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.)Press 1992 p8
61 modern militaries from front loading muskets to front loading rifles, occurring around 1854.62 One did not see a change in military tac tics at all, as one still had to remain standing in order to load the ri fle. However, while the rest of Europe remained with the front loading rifles, the Prussians and the Americans began experimenting with breechloaders. The Americans also began to use repeating rifles known as carbines, which could be loaded while the so ldier was sitting or lying down. American military thinkers at West Point realized that this new method of quickly loading weapons opened up the possibility for the soldier to fortify himself on the field of battle while still being able to fire his weapon. While the Americans were the first to pioneer this idea of field fortifications intelle ctually, they were not the first to try them out in battle. This honor goes to the forces engaged in the siege of Sevastopol, where forces in trenches battled each other fo r over a year between 1854 and 1855. During this siege, the superiority of trench fighti ng versus open field maneuvering was amply demonstrated, but most observers ignored it, believing that in open field battle conflict (Sevastopol is on a narrow peninsula), a wa r of maneuver would still prove superior.6364 Despite these early thoughts given to the issue, it would take American military commanders a bit of time to accept the new conclusions. Indeed, as demonstrated in the 62 Edward Hagerman The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.)p23 63 Edward Hagerman The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.)p23 64 Jay. Luvass The Military Legacy of the Civil War: The European Inheritance (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988.) p4
62 previous chapter, Union and Confederate l eaders were still tryi ng to win a Napoleonicstyle war of maneuver during the early year s of the American Civil War by following Jominis maxims repeatedly without much variance. Because of this and the typical at the time military resistance to change, it took a while to see quick field entrenchments actually being utilized in the armies at large. The use of entrenchments increased when those who advocated their use began to rise to greater prominence in the military stru cture. The issue of supplies, as mentioned before, was a critical one duri ng the Civil War. In addition to the fact that American soldiers were carrying many more supplies than their Napoleonic counterparts were, American armies required between two and three times the amount of supply wagons to support an army in battle. A great deal of th is was due to the lower population density in Europe versus America. In addition to ha ving more supply wagons to move about, the American countryside was signi ficantly less developed than the European countryside. As a result, the construction of additional ro utes of transportation to move the supplies was a necessity. Simply relying on pre-existing roads to transport supplies especially in the Western theater and the more undevelope d areas of Virginia was completely unfeasible. It was in the Western theater that engin eers came to prominence, as General Grant and his underling General Sherman utilized th eir talents to construct new supply lines deep into Tennessee and eventually Geor gia. Although engineers would rise to prominence on both sides due to their ability to quickly construct new supply lines and railroads, and especially in the quick constr uction of new bridges in both theaters, it was
63 a result of this prominence that the theory the engineers had picked up at West Point began to be integrated into everyday military life. Things would change forever when Conf ederate General Longstreet ordered his men to construct trenches and fell trees in orde r to fortify their lines on the first day of the Battle of Fredericksburg in late 1862. While he was criticized for this by most of his contemporaries, who argued that such a move would only tire out Longstreets soldiers who were supposed to be the ones launching an offensive, the Supreme Commander of the Confederate Forces, Robert E. Lee, quick ly recognized it as a great tactic. On the second day of the Battle of Fredericksburg, L ee ordered all Confederate troops to fortify their lines in such a manner.65 Entrenchments would not immediately make the transfer into wider Confederate tactic s, as Fredericksburg was a siege and the Confederates had plenty of time to make the en trenchment (they would be used a bit at Stones River), but they did not believe they had the time on other occasions.66 Longstreet, who Lee would describe as the hardest ma n to move in his army, along with famous Confederate General Stone wall Jackson, would continue to innovate concerning the ideas of trench warfare.67 During the invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania, Longstreet and Jackson famously advocated that the Confederates should 65 Edward Hagerman The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.)p88 66 Philip Henry Sheridan. Personal Memoirs of P. H. Sheridan, General, United States Army New York: C.L. Webster, & Co. 1888. 67 Longstreet, James. From Manassas to Appomattox; Memoirs of the Civil War in America General Books LLC 2010 p340
64 try to avoid the Union forces by mo ving around them towards Washington.68 After failing to follow their advice at the disaster at Gettysburg, Lee remarked, If I had taken General Longstreets advice on the eve of the second day of the battle of Gettysburg, and filed off the left corps of my army right behind the right corps in the direction of Washington and Baltimore, along the Emmetsbur g road, the Confederates would be a free pe today ople.69 At the time, arguing for this style of battle was revolutionary. The typical argument of the time was that one should force his enemy out into the open and engage him in a decisive battle. By arguing that a de cisive victory would co me not as the result of attacking but by avoiding the enemy and forcing him to attack ones prepared entrenchments, Jackson and Longstreet were tu rning the military thought of the day on its head. After Jacksons death, Longstreet would c ontinue to advocate the supremacy of defensive warfare. After the army had returned to northern Virginia from its unsuccessful invasion of the Union, he stat ed that he was of the opini on that the army of northern Virginia should entirely adopt defens ive operations and that all Confederate reinforcements should be sent to Tenne ssee where Grant was busy destroying the Confederate forces. He stated, in a letter to Lee regarding argument s that the Army of Northern Virginia should try again to meet th e Army of the Potomac in a decisive battle, 68 Robert G Tanner. Retreat to Victory?: Confederate Strategy Reconsidered (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2001) 69 James Longstreet From Manassas to Appomattox; Memoirs of the Civil War in America. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1960.) p338
65 I do not see what we can reasonably hope to accomplish much by offensive operations, unless you are strong enough to cross the Potom ac. If we advance to meet the enemy on this side, he will in all proba bility go into one of his many fortified positions. These we cannot afford to attack.70 By the end of the war, Lee had recognized how powerful entrenchments were and his orders would soon make constructing qui ck entrenchments on the field of battle a standard affair for the Confederate armies, whet her they were preparing to attack or not. The fact that Lee is responsible for their spr ead is the reason most credit Lee for the idea of introducing entrenchment of the entire army, no matter where it was, whenever it was not moving as a manner of course.71 Due to his inability to attack, the war in Virginia became the first example of trench warfare, as Lee moved from trench to trench refusing to do anything but defend despite Union Gene ral Grants attempts to draw him out.72 After this point, the Confederate army also began fortifying their camps in the manner of the Romans as well. Entrench ments would become a thing of massive importance spare battalions of combat engi neers were created whose only goal during battle was to construct entrenchments for th e rest of the troops and every soldier would soon be armed with either an axe or spade. The Confederacy even attempted to utilize freed slaves for the purposes of entrenchment. Georgian leaders Senator B. H. Hill and 70 James Longstreet From Manassas to Appomattox; Memoirs of the Civil War in America. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1960.) p374 71 Edward Hagerman The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.)p84 72 William T. Sherman, Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman (New York: Library of America, 1990) p446
66 James a Seddon Secretary of War, for example, stated that every ne gro with his axe and spade could do the works of a soldier.73 The Union, particularly General Sherma n, would later recogn ize the value in avoiding the enemy and forcing him to attack ones prepared positions as well. Sherman, in his March to the Sea, would avoid conflict while drawing up fortified positions every step of the way. He commented on the usef ulness of these entrenchments by stating a soldiers ability to entrench himself was as us eful as his ability to wield a weapon: Much has been said about the spade being as important to the soldier as the musket to this I add the axe as well.74 The actual field entrenchments in the Ci vil War would take many forms and in many ways would be similar to World War 1 style entrenchments. Trenches were common, constructed in the same sort of mu ltilayered interconnected patterns as in World War 1, and foxholes were common as we ll, though they were known at the time as rifle pits. A far more common feature on the American battlefield, however, due to the heavily wooded nature of the typical Am erican battlefield, was a wall or barricade constructed out of felled trees. This type of barricade was ex tremely easy to construct and allowed the soldiers to remain standing as they loaded their rifles. This fortification gave a great deal of protection to the soldiers behind it. Also a dded to American entrenched fortifications in the later stages of the war were defenses in depth fortifications behind the main lines constructed by special engineer ing battalions who saw their origins in the 73 William T. Sherman, Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman (New York: Library of America, 1990) p666 74 William T. Sherman, Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman (New York: Library of America, 1990) p887
67 Civil War. Indeed, a separate engineer corps would soon spread to all Western militaries. These battalions, which originated to do things outside of bat tle such as construct forts, railroads, and bridges to f acilitate supply lines, would s oon have roles to play during battle as well, as each side recognized the value of having fallback positions, particularly the Confederates who were too shorthanded to have any reserves. General Sherman stated that one of the more useful reasons for having these battalions as being separate from the regular army was that they could work and construct entrenchments at night while the rest of the men slept and they coul d in turn sleep during the day as they were not expected to fight, the north often utilized freed slaves for this purpose in addition to army units.75 In addition to the integration of entr enchments into everyday tactics, the Confederates shifted from the tactical offe nsive, which was characterized by seeking out and attempting to decisively defeat the enemy s army in every battle through the use of large scale flanking/turning mane uvers, to the tactical defens ive, a style characterized by the seeking out and use of en trenchments on favorable terrai n which the enemy would be forced to attack. With the latter, the Conf ederates hoped to deal heavy casualties to the enemy, potentially leaving their army ripe for a counter attack. One key to understanding this change in the Confederate ment ality in the later years of the war is to unders tand the overall standing of the war at this time. During the early years of the war, the Confederates be lieved that a victory against the Union was directly possible from a decisive defeat of the Union army defending Washington D.C. 75 William T. Sherman, Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman (New York: Library of America, 1990) Chapter XVII
68 However, in the later years of the war, this began to look much less likely. This is not all the result of Gettysburg. Alt hough it was a big defeat for the Confederates, and Lee would be heavily outnumbered at all point s after Gettysburg, Lee had always been outnumbered, and the major change was how successful the Union forces were in all the other areas of war by the end of 1863. The en tire Mississippi river basin had fallen by then and the Union navy was landing troops everywhere. In addition, while Lee had been successful against the Army of the Potom ac, no other Confederate army had been successful against the Union army it had face d. Therefore, Lee winning a decisive battle against the Union in Virginia/Maryland woul d no longer win the war, because it would not remove the Union soldiers from the rest of the Confederate terr itory that they had conquered. As the war went on, the South shifted almost entirely to a policy of tactical defense and a complete abandonment of Jominis maxims. Furthermore, the commanders who successfully adapted and integrated the new entrenchments and innovated new tactics to accompany them are uniformly of ficers graduated from West Point after the introduction of the new curriculum in 1832, while the officers who continued to dogmatically stick to Jomini are those gr aduated before the introduction of the new curriculum. The Eastern Theater and the Emerg ence of Entrenched Warfare In the Battle of Wilderne ss near Spotsylvania, which occurred between May 5 and 7, 1864, between 101,000 Union troops and 61,000 C onfederate troops as the Union was invading Virginia in an attempt to force it ou t of the war, many of Jominis strategic
69 maxims are in effect. When the two armies ran into each other, the Confederates under Ewell and Hill, and the Union forces under Steadwick, Warren, and Hancock, both attempted to launch immediate and rather di sorganized assaults against each other as soon as contact was made. No attempt was made by either side to form up for battle. The Confederates launched their offensive in the di rection of their march (towards the forts), while the Union forces who under their new, aggressive general Grant were seeking more than anything else to de stroy the Confederate army at tacked directly towards the Confederate army in an attempt to destroy it. Th is tactic of attacking as soon as contact is made and not attempting to form up for battle comes directly from Jominis writings. Jomini cautions that taking the time to attempt to form up will result in the armys defeat, and he gives no alternative to attacking (such as attempting to draw the attacking enemy forces into a trap). As such, both armies chos e to attack, and neither army really suffered because of this, as neither gave up any defenda ble terrain in order to attack. As both of them executed the same maneuver, casualties were roughly similar on both sides (although it can be argued this benefited the Union). After these initial engagements, both sides reinforcements continued to trickle in and rudimentarily battle lines were established. Once this ha ppened, Lee resorted to the standard go-to maneuver in this place the flanking/turning maneuver. On May 6, General Longstreet, whose forces had just arrived on the scene, executed the maneuver against Union forces arrayed against him by sending some of his troops down a railroad bed in order to hit the enem y from the flank. In this case, the maneuver was actually extremely successful and Longstreet easily ro lled up his enemys forces. However, one key point to note here is that Longstreet, once again, managed to include two of the steps
70 for a Napoleonic victory that his Confederate fellows sometimes left out. First, he was engaging the main block of his enemys forces to distract them and prevent them from reallocating forces. Second, his forces (due to the railroad bed) were able to maneuver in position to attack the enemy in relative secrecy. Because of th ese two factors, the turning maneuver was very successful and the Union forces were forced to retreat. Notable in this instance however was that General Lee was able to take the tactical offensive because do the the surprise meeting of armies he wa s not heavily outnumbered as reinforcements trickled in for both sides at roughly the same rate. After L ongstreets attack General Grant despite having an advantage in number abandoned the battlefield due to the fact that the Confederates had time to heavily entrench their lines. The Union lost around 14,000 men in this engagement while th e Confederates lost only 9,500-11,0007677 In the middle of 1864, shortly after the Battle of Wilderness, General Grants forces were racing around Virgin ia in an attempt to cut General Lee off and force him to give battle on favorable ground -ground which Lee did not have time to entrench upon. However, in early May, General Lees advance forces were able to beat Grants advance forces to the key crossroads by Spotsylvania Courthouse. At the time, Grants forces were split up in order to travel more quick ly and were all converging on these crossroads as a designated meeting point. This virtually forced him to engage the Confederate army 76 William F. Fox Regimental Losses in the American Civil War (Dayton, OH: Morningside Press, 1993)Chapter XVI 77 Gordon C. Rhea The Battle of the Wilderness May 5, 1864 (Baton Rouge: Louisi ana State University Press, 1994)
71 in this location, as to not do so would have dangerously divided his army and potentially allowed Lee to deal a heavy blow to one of the separated units. In initial typically conduct ed inconclusive meeting engagement, the two sides began to line up for battle. Grants for ces again heavily outn umbered Lees 100,000 to 52,000 when they met for battle on May 10. However, during the preceding day, May 9, the Confederate forces had been busy creati ng a fortified series of entrenchments to defend the crossroads. The line was very irre gularly shaped to take advantage of the terrain around the crossroads, comprising rough ly the shape of a horseshoe. In launching an assault to force the Confederates from th eir position, the North attempted to turn both flanks. However, given the irregular shape of the Conf ederate line, it cannot be necessarily determined whether the Uni on forces were following some sort of preconceived strategy. They could have been si mply trying to encircle the Confederates as opposed to launching a Jomini-inspired assau lt to turn both flanks (as he recommends you do with superior numbers). The Confed erates, however, were following their new tactical maxim in choosing a good defensive position, fortifying with it entrenchments, then waiting for the Union to attack, and at tack they did. The attack occurring on May 10 was successful in forcing the Confederate ri ght flank to give ground before the Union attack, however the Confederate left flank held, and unfortunately for the Union, Grant failed to recognize the significan ce of the achievement on the right flank and he ordered his forces to retreat. While the Union forces on the Confederate right flank retreated, the rest of the attack had been unsuccessful a nd the Union forces were driven back with heavy losses.
72 On May 12, the Union forces again attempted to assault the Confederate position, this time attacking the left flank of the Confederate line and the center simultaneously. The attack against the center was successful in forcing the Confederates from the position, although the Union forces did suffer heavy losses and were unable to exploit their breakthrough because the Confederat e engineers had quickly created new fortifications for their soldiers to fall b ack to. Meanwhile, on the Confederate left flank, after heavy hand-to-hand fighting in the trenches, the Union forces were able to force the Confederates to retreat. Once again, howev er, they were unable to exploit said breakthrough, this time due to indecisiveness and indecision and a Confederate counterattack was able to repulse them with heavy losses for the Confederates. Notable here is that while the center portion of the Confeder ate line was simply able to retreat to defensive entrenchments behind the line, the left flank had to attempt a costly assault in an attempt to retake their lines, as they had no such fallback position. The Union forces tried once again on May 17 to break the new Confederate lines, but were driven back without achieving any fo rm of success. Unfortunately, this time the casualty figures are marred by the fact that the Confederates launched two small costly offensives during the engagement. Even still, the Union suffered a preponderance of the casualties, losing over 15,000 men compared to Confederate losses of 8,000. The Confederates, however, lost additional men due to the surrender of 3,000 troops to the Union forces during the successful Union offe nsive against the center of the Confederate line on the second day.7879 78 William F. Fox Regimental Losses in the American Civil War (Dayton, OH: Morningside Press, 1993) Chapter XVI
73 This battle saw the emergence, in sma ll scale, of the soonto-be larger-scale practice of engineering battali ons separate from the main army creating rudimentary fortifications behind the main lines for sold iers to fall back to in case a breakthrough occurred. This emergent practice would have th e effect of blunting as saults that in the past would have been considered successful and it was becoming clear to both sides that a change in warfare was occurring. In the ea rlier years of the war, both sides followed Jominis maxim that a defensive force must in evitably retreat in the face of a force on the offensive, and as a result, both sides were quick to abandon the field after a successful enemy breakthrough somewhere in the line. Now, neither side would do this anymore any assault that did manage to be successful would simply be met with a quick retreat to defensive lines further behind the front, rath er than a complete abandonment of the field. Furthermore, the creation of rudimentary defensive lines behind the main one had the advantage in that the Confederates were no longer forced to launch expensive counterattacks to try to regain their main defensive lines should a breakthrough occur. After the Battle at Spotsylvania Courthous e, Grant and Lee again began to race to attempt to cut off the other before reaching a critical crossroads or defensive location. Once again, General Grant lost th e race to the next location, this time the critical bridge crossings across the North Anna River and the crossroads between them north of the town of Hanover Junction. Grant hoped to be at Lee to the location and then cut him off from Richmond, then forcing Lee to give battle to him on open ground. This battle, sometimes also referred to as the Battl e of Hanover Junction, opened as the Union 79 Gordon C. Rhea The Battles for Spotsylvania Court House and the Road to Yellow Tavern, May 72, 1864 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana St ate University Press, 1997)
74 attempted to force the Confederates from positions guarding crossings around Chesterfield Bridge. Meanwhile, the Confederat es launched offensives to the west to try to force the Union from crossings they had al ready made around the ar ea of Jericho Mills, in an attempt to prevent the Union from successfu lly crossing the river in this area at all. Unfortunately for the Confederates, Lee misjudged Grants plans and figured that the actions in this area were merely a divers ion and that the bulk of the Union army was going to attempt to force a crossing farther to the east. Because of this belief, General Hill, the officer directly in charge of the Confederate troops near Chesterfield Bridge, only dispatched one of his brigades to try to take the crossing back from the Union. As a result, the Confederates only deployed around 6,000 troops against 15,000 Union forces. Predictably, the assault was unsuccessful, and the Confeder ates lost around 730 men to only 377 for the Union. Meanwhile, near th e Chesterfield Bridge crossing, the Confederates were able to create extremely crude entrenchments to guard the bridge, but unfortunately the one brigade left to defe nd the bridge was assaulted and overwhelmed by three Union brigades and was forced to abandon the bridge to the Union after unsuccessfully trying to blow it up. Union engineers also played a substan tial role in the battle, constructing a pontoon bridge near Chesterfield Bridge (whi ch was covered by Conf ederate artillery and as such unusable), and Grant was able to send all his forces across the river. The Confederates meanwhile had been constructing another ingenious system of fortifications taking advantage of the terrain. They created a defensive line in the shape of a V with part of the fortifications along an un-crossa ble section of the North Anna River. These fortifications, along with the river, had the effect of splitting any attacking Union army
75 into two sections. If Grant wanted to reinfor ce one section of his army with soldiers from another section, they would have to retreat nort h, cross the river, then go east or west to the other crossing, then cross th e river again and head south in order to reinforce their comrades. This created a very dangerous situation for the Union forces should they attempt any sort of large-scale assault. Despite this, the Union did attempt a minor assault on the right hand side of the Confederate fortifications. An even sma ller assault was attempted by a drunk brigade commander (who was strangely promoted after th e battle for gallantry), against orders on the left hand side of th e Confederate fortification.80 Both assaults were predictably unsuccessful and the Union forces were driven back with heavy losse s. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Confederate cas ualties from these particular confrontations were not officially recorded, but various authors have estimated them to be around 1,100 1,300 for the Confederates while the Union lo st around 2,300 men. Once again, the side that attempted to launch the attacks against entrenchments suffered a preponderance of casualties, nearly 2-1 in both cases. Once ag ain, after a brief stalemate in which both sides faced each other from their trenches, Gran t again left and moved all his forces to the east in an attempt to outmaneuver Lee. In this battle, the Confederates again followed their new strategy of racing to a key location, then creating en trenchments there in the hope the Union would attack. As with the last battle, the Confederate entren chments were highly customized, based on the terrain of the battlefield. Th is signaled another break from Jomini strategy, which almost 80 Gordon C. Rhea To the North Anna River: Grant and Lee, May 1325, 1864 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000) p339-44
76 completely ignored the terrain. This battle, al though relatively indecisi ve in itself, would have one important consequence for future ba ttles. General Grant became convinced that Lees refusal to launch a counterattack agains t the Union from his superior position was evidence that Lees army was beaten and that its morale was broken. This belief would be one of the reasons why he would launch a fu ll-scale assault against the Confederates the next time he met them.81 The Battle of Cold Harbor occurred between May 31 and June 12, 1864, between 59,000 Confederate troops under General Lee and 108,000 Union troops under General Grant, as Grant tried to invade Virginia to force the Confederates out of the war. The initial skirmishes roughly followed the patt ern of a Jominic meeting engagement, with both sides attempting to attack their newly arriving foes. The Confederate assault on the Union troops on the northern half of the Uni on line failed, as the newly arriving soldiers occupied moderate entrenchments previous ly built by Union cavalry forces who were attempting to corral the Confederate forces. The Union forces, on the other hand, failed because the Confederates had been there long er than the Union had anticipated. Overall, each side lost around 2,000 casualties in these initial skirmishes. The two sides spent the next two days g earing up. The Confederates constructed intricate fortifications, while the Union for ces organized and prepar ed to launch a largescale offensive mainly focused against the so uthern portion of the Confederate line, with a small diversionary attack ag ainst the northern part of th e line. The offensive, which Grants sub-commander and former overall co mmander of the Army of the Potomac, 81 Kennedy, Frances H., ed. Civil War Battlefield Guide (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990)
77 General Meade, led involved three Uni on corps totaling over 30,000 men against wellfortified Confederate defenders. The assaul t was predictably unsuccessful. The Union forces came nowhere near removing the Confed erates from their entrenched lines, and because of their attack suffered massive casualties (7,500 8,000 versus only around 1,500 for the Confederates, the wo rst casualty ratio of the war outside of a siege battle). The attack in fact was so unsuccessful that when McClellan attempted to resume it, the three generals in charge of the individual corps refused. Overall Casualties at Cold Harbor were around 12,000 for the Uni on and 4,500 for the Confederates.82 This would be one of the last times in the war that Grant would actually try to engage fortified Confederate positions. By this time, the science of constructing fortifications had become so successful th at assaults against them were extremely prohibitive, and as a result, the Union command ers adopted a strategy of simply trying to go around the Confederate armies with the hope of eventually catching them off guard in a meeting engagement, rather than attempting to assault fortified positions. As for the Confederates, they would attempt to maneuver in to such a position as to force the Union forces to attack their positions. The Civil War by this time had shifted to a war of maneuver with battles of fortifications, as opposed to the early years when each side attempted to make it a war of a decisive ba ttles characterized by large scale attempted turning maneuvers. By this point, Jominis maxims had been almost completely abandoned. 82 William F. Fox. Regimental Losses in the American Civil War Dayton, OH: Morningside Press, 1993.Chapter XVI
78 In addition, during this period a new role for cavalry emerged. While acting only as infantry now in combat situations, as the war shifted to being one where each side raced towards a specific spot of favorable gr ound, cavalry was used a great deal for their mobility to beat the enemy army to a key lo cation. Cavalry under Grant and particularly his brilliant sub-commander General Phillip Sh eridan, after it had defeated the remaining Confederate cavalry under Jeb Stuart, was used to hem Lee in by beating him to several critical crossroads, finally trapping him near Appomattox, which would eventually result in Lee being forced to surrender. The Western Theater and the Complete Failure of the Jominic Tactical Offensive against th e New Entrenched Tactical Defensive. In the Tennessee-Georgia area, the Un ion was successfully driving through Tennessee into the Deep South in an attempt to destroy the Southern ability and will to wage war. This area is particularly interes ting to analyze in that the Confederates were trying to use their old flanki ng turning style maneuver agains t the Union forces here, and one can see how said tactics turn out against an entrenched foe. General Sherman, commander of the Union forces, followed mostly the same style of tactics as General Grant, as he had once been directly unde r Grant when Grant was in command of the Union effort in the area. Looking at these ba ttles along with the batt les in Virginia, one can see how two different Confederate stra tegic approaches work against an enemy
79 executing the same strategies. In the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, the Confederates used defensive strategies, while in the Battle of Peachtree Creek and the Battle of Atlanta, the Confederates used the earlier style offensiv e strategies of trying to turn the enemys flank. This was a result of their new commander, General John Bell Hood, who had replaced General Joseph E. Johnson (who had in turn repla ced General Bragg due to his poor rapport with the men), due to Johnson s perceived lack of aggressiveness. The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, which took place on June 27, 1864, between the Union army of around 100,000 under General Sherman and the Confederate army of 50,000 under General Joseph E. Johnson, occurred as the Union was advancing into Georgia trying to deal a deci sive defeat to the Confeder acys ability to make war. Johnson, criticized at the time for being a cautious general, recognize d that the time of large assaults against defended enemy positions was at an end, and he mostly sought to take the tactical defensive. His opponent, Gene ral Sherman (like his counterpart Grant in Virginia), normally sought not to directly e ngage the Confederate ar my, but rather to go around its flanks and force it to give battle in unfavorable locations, or simply ignore it totally and attack the Confeder ate infrastructure. It was one of the few instances where Sherman a general who generally favored avoiding the enemys strong points rather than directly engaging them decided to la unch a frontal assault against the Confederate forces. He did this hoping that Johnson so used to Shermans constant attempts to send his army around the flank of his enemy woul d be surprised by the tactic: I perceived that the enemy and our officers had settled down into a convicti on that I would not assault fortified lines. All looked for me to outflank. An army to be efficient, must not settle down to a single mode of offence, but must be prepared to execute any plan which
80 promises success. I wanted, therefore for the moral effect, to make a successful assault against the enemy behind his breastworks.83 In addition, Sherman had hoped to trap the northern flank of the enemy army by encircli ng them after breaking through the center of the army and destroy it. However, despite its numerical s uperiority, the assa ult floundered. The Confederate forces were highly entrenched, not only in trenches but also behind walls of felled trees they had constructed, and th ey commanded the high ground as well. The Union forces launched two assaults, but we re unable to get anywhere near the Confederate entrenchments. Then General Sherman, in his usual response to a failed assault, pulled his troops back and ceased the assault, noting that if he continued to try attacking that it would use up this army. This statement is probably true, as in the battle, Shermans forces, despite numerical superiority, lost over 3,000 men, while the Confederates lost only around 1,000. After the battle, General Sherman would move his forces around the right flank of the Confed erate forces, forcing them to abandon their positions.84 There are two key points to note about this battle. The first is the obvious lack of success of the assault maneuver against an entrenched opponent, in both the failure to achieve the desired breakthrough against the en emy and in the number of casualties taken by both sides. Notice that in th is case the Union takes three times the casualties of the 83 William T. Sherman, Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman (New York: Library of America, 1990) p455 84 National Park Service. Battle Summary: Kennesaw Mountain, GA. Last modified June 5, 2008. http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/ abpp/battles/ga015.htm.
81 Confederates, whereas in the battles mentione d in chapter two, casualties were generally in a ratio of around 1:1 or 2:3, regard less of which side was victorious. The second point, tied into the casualty ratio, is how quickly General Sherman broke off the offensive. This would become a common feature of Union commanders in this new age of war, and this tendency had the effect of making each battle generally a lot shorter and less costly. Of the top ten battles by casualties in the Civ il War, eight of them occurred before 1864, and the two that did not were both meeting engagements. This tendency to end the battle qui ckly and withdraw would al so rob both sides of the opportunity to deliver a decisi ve defeat against the other by attempting any large-scale maneuver against the others battle lines (not th at they necessarily could have in this era of entrenchments). This tendency made the st rategic scale the new area on which the war was fought, rather than the tactical scale, as both armies raced to outmaneuver each other rather than outfight one another. Unfortunately, political leadership, as it often is, was slow to catch up with military reality. The Confederate leadershi p, which did not recognize the new shape warfare was taking, replaced Johnson, who they did not think was aggressive enough, with General Hood. One of the first things Hood, a widely known a ggressive general who graduated West Point long before the intr oduction of the new curriculum, did was to launch an offensive against Union forces atte mpting to cross Peachtree Creek in a battle that would come to be known as the Battle of Peachtree Creek. The Battle of Peachtree Creek was fought on July 20, 1864, while the Confederates were outnumbered 2 to 1 in the greater Atlanta area. However, despite these
82 numbers, General Hood sought to take aggr essive action, and once he realized he outnumbered the Union forces in the Peachtree Creek locality by almost 3 to 1, he made the decision to attempt to attack the Union forces that were assembling in the area. This strategy loosely fits with Jominis theories regarding a meeting engagement, as General Hood had made the decision to quickly attack an assembling Union force. Unfortunately, by this time, Jominis writings were a bit out of date; as General Sherman, a graduate of West Point after the intro duction of the new curriculum would meet Hoods flanking maneuvers with field entrenchment reinforced defenses. The attack was supposed to occur at 1 PM, but due to miscommunication and mismanagement, it did not actually occur until 3 PM. As a result, the Union forces had two additional hours to entrench themselves in preparation for the as sault. Despite a 3 to 1 numerical superiority, the Confederate force was driven back at minimal cost for the Union. Early on in the war, this slight dela y would likely not have made that big of a difference. In the Seven Days Battle, for example, assaults were delayed on two separate occasions by four hours or more, and the assaults were still effective. At Peachtree Creek, the delay ended up not only costing th e Confederates a victory in battle, but a great deal many casualties as well, as they lost around 4,800 troops while the Union forces only lost 1,800 troops. It is also key to note that these losses were not due to Confederate prisoners being taken by the Uni on either; it was almost all in killed and wounded.85 85 National Park Service Battle Summary: Peachtr ee Creek, GA. Last modified June 5, 2008. http://www.nps.gov/history/hp s/abpp/battles/ga016.htm.
83 In the Battle of Atlanta, General Hood once again attempted an attack against Union forces. This time, however, he did not even possess any local superiority of numbers either. In addition to being outnumbered overall 100,000 to 51,000, General Hood decided to attempt a classic flanking turn ing maneuver against th e southern edge of the Union forces besieging Atlanta from th e east. The attack was actually very well coordinated. His flanking force went in secret and he had forces attacking a more central portion of the Union lines to fix them in plac e so they could not reinforce their flank. The assault even included a force of cavalry se nt behind Union lines as a distraction. However, despite all these precautions, the attack was unsu ccessful. While the Confederate forces were able to drive the Union forces from their initial position, the Union forces simply fell back to a more defendable location around a rise named Bald Hill. This location had been previously occupied by Union troops and had ready-made entrenchments available there. Once the Un ion occupied this area, the Confederate assault could go no further and was driven back with heavy losses. In this battle, Union forces retreated from a successful attack to a pre-made defensive location rather than simply abandoning the field (similar to how the Confederates had retreated from the Union at the Battle of Spotsylvania). Over all, the battle was a huge failure for the Confederates as they were not successful in turning the Union line and they lost around 8,500 men, while the Union only lost around 3, 500. Once again, there were over twice as many casualties for the side that tried to attack the fortifications.86 86 William F. Fox Regimental Losses in the American Civil War Dayton, OH: Morningside Press, 1993.Chapter XVI
84 This illustrates the drastic shift in military strategy from the beginning of the war to the end, perhaps one of the largest war sh ifts in military hist ory. The Confederates went from a very aggressive strategy to a ve ry defensive strategy, not only as a result of changes in the overall wartime situation, but as a recognition of the complete failure of the previous tactics in the face of the new ones. Like the Confederacy, the also Union adopted new tactics of not retr eating from massed infantry assa ults, and furthermore, they too augmented their defensive lines with ne w entrenchments that proved to be very effective in deterring attacks. Also during this time, there is an increas ed focus on the use of terrain. Jomini had mostly ignored terrain and it cost commanders trying to follow his maxims greatly, as they often did not take advant age of the terrain when launching their assaults. As a result, their turning maneuvers were often not well concealed. In this new age of warfare, though, it was typical to make great use of the unique terrain when constructing field entrenchments, not only in the overall shape of the battle line s, but in the exact makeup of the entrenchments themselves. Furthermore, in addition to the idea of individual frontline soldiers carrying axe and spade into battle, there is an evolution of battle engineers, who not only construct railroads and bridges for the army, but who also construct fortifications for the soldiers behind the lines for them to fall back. This new element of the army would also be responsible for the organizati on and overall planning of the trench lines. The overall effectiveness of these trenches is undeniable, although the side defending them sometimes loses the trenches. In each case, they inflict extremely heavy losses upon their enemy in doing so, and furthermore, in the battles examined, in no case is the attacking side able to break the second line of defenses should such a second line exist.
86 Chapter 4 Conclusion and the Legacy of the Civil War In conclusion, perhaps the most interesti ng occurrence in the Civil War is how the American generals on both sides switch from complete dogmatic acceptance of a written strategic maxim, to a style of improvisati on and invention, where new tactics are tested on the field of battle, then kept if useful and discarded if not. In the beginning, they literally do nothing else other than follow Jomini, in both the Eastern and the Western Theaters. Indeed, at every major battle, they attempt some sort of large-scale turning maneuver. Lee in the Eastern Theater dogmatically ad heres to the doctrine of superiority of the turning maneuver. Lee also attempted to pull it off in every major battle against organized battle lines. In a ddition, Lee also adheres to Jomi ni in that in every meeting engagement, his forces quickly attacked the Union hoping to catch th em in disorder. Lee was fortunate in that in a lot of instances, the turning maneuver works, due a lot to the mistakes of his opponents. At the Seven Da ys Battle, McClellan retreated early. At Chancellorsville, Antietam, and the S econd Bull Run, attempted Union turning maneuvers left their forces horribly out of position and easily vulnerable for a counterattack, which Lee, with dogmatic adherence to Jomini, delivered. Lee was also fortunate in that he had Ge nerals Longstreet and Jackson on his side; two generals who, having graduated West Point after the intr oduction of the new
87 curriculum in 1832, thought about war a bit outside Jominis narrow constraints. This was demonstrated by Jackson at Second Bull Run, in his successful holding action against an enemy with three times the number of troops, and at Chancellorsville, in his well-executed flanking maneuver; and by L ongstreet at Seven Days, Second Bull Run, and Antietam, with his successful distraction of enemy forces adjacent to the flank being attacked. In the Western Theater, the maneuver was used dogmatically by the Confederates as well. This maneuver is usually independent of any other factor, pa rticularly terrain or the supply line of an enemy. At the Battles of Shiloh and Stones River, for example, if the Confederates had attempted a turning maneuve r on the left-most flank of their enemys army, they could have perhaps separated th e enemy from his supply line and potential reinforcements. However, this was not a c onsideration at the time. The only objective was to try to turn the enemys flank a nd other considerations were ignored. Critically, however, it is in the Western Theater that the Union first developed countermeasures for this go-to Confederate maneuver. Generals Grant and Rosecrans, both graduates of West Point after the introduction of the new curriculum, put their colleagues in the Eastern Theater (who all graduated from West Point before the new curriculum) to shame. Rather than simply abandoning the field in panic, they came up with inventive countermeasures to the Confederate battle tactics and were able to defeat them. At both Shiloh and Stones River, the C onfederates pulled off extremely successful early morning surprise attacks (a tactic also recommended by Jomini), and caught most of the Union divisions off guard (except in one case where a division manned by Phillip Sheridan, another graduate of West Point post-1832, was prep ared with entrenchments).
88 However, despite these fortunate occu rrences, the Confederates were still unsuccessful in their attacks b ecause they were met with inve ntive Union counter tactics. Rather than retreating, the Un ion commanders simply pulled back and created defensive positions behind the mainline to meet the Confederate assault, taking advantage of the local terrain in the process. In addition, they took advantag e of the flexible detached organization of their artiller y to bring guns up to meet the Confederate offensive. The combination of these two factors was in both instances able to defeat the Confederate offensive, despite the latters early successes an d the fact that they we re able to catch the enemy by surprise. Here in the West, Grant and Rosecrans put forth the idea that one does not have to retreat from a massed infantry attack, but can meet head on. This was an idea that Stonewall Jackson had put into pr actice during the Battle of the Seven Days in small scale, that Generals Grant and Rosecr ans had put into practice on a much larger stage and they found that th e tactical defensive was once again a valid tactic. When the Union first chose to put these ta ctics into effect on the Eastern Front, it was a disaster for the Confederates. General Lee, seeking to destroy the Union army, was unable to force the Union army to flee despite forcing several small scale retreats after a successful meeting engagement on the first da y and a semi-successful turning maneuver against the southern flank of the Union army on the second day. In each case, the Union forces simply fell back to another defensive line, in the end taking advantage of a very nice ridge which allowed them to easily reinfo rce any part of their own line and offered their artillery line of sight over the entir e battlefield. After failing in a meeting engagement, and after failing to drive th e enemy from a field in several turning maneuvers against both flanks (following Jo minis words that an enemy strong on both
89 flanks must be weak in the center), Lee ignoring the advice of J ackson and Longstreet, who advocate bypassing the Union army and trying to entrench between it and Washington, D.C. launched an offensive ag ainst the center of the Union line. This offensive, famously known as Picketts Char ge, turned out to be a huge disaster, as massed Union firepower decimated the charge before it got anywhere near Union lines. The Confederates were forced to retreat, not only from the battlefie ld, but from Maryland back to Virginia as a whole. After this decisive defeat where all of Jominis maxims failed the Confederates, at Longstreets urging, adopted a new policy of tactical defensive. In addition, they also adopted entrenchments on a wide scale. At the urging of Longstreet, these entrenchments, first deployed by the C onfederates at the siege of Fredericksburg, began to be deployed outside of siege battles. As a manner of course, any unit of infantry with a bit of spare time would dig itself entr enchments and fell trees to create barricades. Lee was still able to execute a succes sful turning maneuver when he was not outnumbered or not faced with a heavily entrenched opponent and the maneuver itself was led by General Longstreet. Unfortunate ly, these conditions would never come up again. As a result, in the later battles were ex amples of the Confederates utilizing the tactical defensive to survive battles against strong Union attacks. At Spotsylvania, the entrenchments were very successful against th e Union forces, but in one case, after the Union was able to successfully take the C onfederate trenches, the Confederates were forced to launch a costly counter-attack to reta ke their lines for fear of a total collapse. As a result of this negative e xperience at Spotsylvania, th e Confederates established
90 additional defensive lines behind the main ones after this battle. For this purpose, the Confederates used the newly established co mbat engineers, previously relegated to constructing supply lines and bridges to allo w troops to cross ri vers. These units now played an important part in battles them selves by assisting in the construction of entrenchments and especially in the construction of fall-back positions. As a result of these fallback positions, Union forces were completely unable to break the Confederate lines at North Anna and Cold Harbor, a nd in both cases, the Union suffered a huge preponderance of casualties, es pecially at Cold Harbor. Meanwhile, in the Eastern Theater, after one battle in which General Johnson (who graduated West Point after 1832) successful ly used the tactical defensive to beat back a Union attack under General Sherman, he was removed from command and replaced with the more aggressive Genera l Hood. The latter, having graduated West Point before 1832, attempted to utilize th e turning maneuver against the heavily entrenched Union forces, costing numerous Co nfederate forces their lives but offering the armchair generals of the future an excellent opportunity to see how the turning maneuvers of the past fair in this new ag e. The two battles in question, the Battle of Peachtree Creek and the Battle of Atlanta, were both extremely unsuccessful for the Confederates. While in both cases the maneuve rs were fairly well executed, in both cases they did not work. At the Battle of Atlanta, the Confederates did everything right and were actually able to force a mass Union re treat. However, the Union troops merely retreated to an already entrenched hill and were able to easily hold off Confederate forces attempting to dislodge them. Therefore, while turning maneuvers can end up being successful against entrenched lines under so me circumstances, once again they were
91 completely unable to penetrate defenses in dept h, and it is this very failure that marks the beginning of a shift in the way war was fought. Unfortunately, despite marking in a shift in the execution of warfare, the Civil War would not have as great an effect on the strategies and tactics of the generals of the future as it should have. The next large s cale ground war the United States fought after the Civil War was World War 1, the Great War. This war was about 50 years after the Civil War and saw the introduction of new technologies such as the machine gun, long range artillery pieces, and poison gas, as well as barbed wire and even eventually barrels, better known by their more common la ter name tanks. Nonetheless, the scene in a field somewhere in Flanders during the Great War was not necessarily all that different from a scene outside Atlanta duri ng the American Civil War, with both sides heavily dug into large scale trenches (though th e Americans were typi cally protected with wooden stakes instead of barbed wire). Given this, it seems like the Civil War did represent a large scale evolution in the way war was fought. Unfortunately, for a myriad of reasons, this was not the case. All the sides involved did not learn about trench warfare from th e experience of the American Civil War rather they all learned it through their own trial and error. Starting with the Americans the side most expected to learn from the Civil War in many cases, very startlingly, they did not learn from it. Most of this blame lies, surp risingly, with General Pershing, the leader of the American Expeditionary Force. When he came to France, not only did he completely not believe in trench warfare, but he was in such great opposition to it that he refused to even let American uni ts train with British or French units because he did not want American soldiers to be corrupted by the ideals of trench warfare.
92 David Trask argues in The AEF and Coalition Warmaking, 1917-1918, that Pershing believed that the French and British ha d all the fight and vigor taken out of them due to the years of warfare (and in the French case, some problems on the home front), and believed that the Great War would onl y be won by bold offensive maneuvers by the fresh Americans in the manner of Napoleon. As a result of this belief, Pershings first large scale offensive with the American fo rces was, although successful from a strategic standpoint, particularly disa strous from the standpoint of casualties suffered. The Americans suffered almost twice as many casualties as the Germans they faced. They were victorious, however, mostly due to the num erical superiority of the Allied armies in the region (roughly 550,000 to 190,000), rather than any advance in doctrine. In addition to his failure to recognize th e usefulness in trench warfare, Pershing also was detrimental to the United States m ilitary by not bring over any artillery with his units. The reason for this is actually partiall y a direct legacy of the Civil War. In the beginning, the artillery in the Am erican militaries was deployed by regimental level, with each regiment being offered a certain amount of artillery. Matters soon changed and the army began to organize them into their own se parate corps that would be made available to corps of regular army units as they were needed.87 While European armies recognized the need for flexibility in the deployment of artillery, they did not separate their artillery out from their regiments to the degree that the Americans did. As a result, when Pershing and the AEF came to France, they were used to the artillery being a separate arm, and would bring over no pieces with their newl y deployed regiments in 1917, believing that they could simply borrow some of the detach ed units of their allies. These detached 87 William T. Sherman Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman (New York: Library of America, 1990) p876
93 units were not really in existence, however, as the Europeans did not have the same sort of organization of their artillery. While th e Americans would end up being allowed to borrow some French guns to achieve their objectives, this would end up causing a great deal of strife between the American gene ral Pershing and the French general Foch.88 This organization of artillery outside of the main comma nd structure would last in American armies to this date, often to th eir detriment. In World War 2, for example, artillery corps were entirely separate units a nd they became so bloated and inefficient that most of them did not even see combat by wars end. The Civil War was the shaping force for this legacy. Without the e xperiences of the war, artillery would never have become an independent unit in American military culture/o rganization. This especially is one of the main lasting effects the Civil War had on the American military. As for the European observers, they also learned very little from the American experience. The vast majority of European observers and European thinkers after the Civil War believed that for the most part th e experience of the American Civil War could be completely discounted, due to fact that the Civil War was fought by drafted civilians as opposed to long serving professional soldie rs typical to most European armies. They argued that the failure of bayonet charges a nd large scale turning maneuvers was due, not to the failure of the tactic in the face of a determined defender armed with rifles, but to the poor training and execution by American for ces. They felt that European professional armies would still be able to pul l off such large scale maneuvers. 88 David E. Trask The AEF and Coalition Warmaking 1917-1918 Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993.
94 Parts of these conclusions were based on the observations of the Europeans in several other European wars occurring around the same time as the American Civil War. The Austro-Prussian War was one such example. The quick and rapid defeat of the Austrians by the Prussians was taken to m ean by the Europeans that Napoleonic tactics were still valid. In this anal ysis, they ignored the many ot her advantages the Prussians had over the Austrians, such as breech-loading versus muzzle-loading rifles, which made a soldier able to fire off rounds much more quickly, with the ability to fire and reload while lying on the ground. As a result, he presented a much smaller target to his opponents. The Prussians also had a much better system of army organization, characterized by a large, well-trained officer corps that was generally promoted for merit rather than being allowed to purchase their station or simply gett ing it by heredity. The Prussians also had the advantage over the Au strians of railroads, and their military was trained to use them, allowing them to more rapidly deploy their forces to relevant locations than the Austrians. Furthermore, th e Prussians had a more disciplined army and a populace motivated by a feeling of nationali sm, rather than by mere money like the Imperialist Austrian forces. This lack of motivation is particularly not able in the large percentage of Austrian forces that were captured or simply disappe ared after a battle, versus how many were actual casualties. For example, at the Battle of Konigsgratz, a key Prussian victory, the Austrians lost a total of 44,000 troops. However, only 14,000 of these were actual battlefield casualties; the remaining 30,000 e ither were missing (8,000) or were captured (22,000). The Prussians, on the other hand, suffered only 9,000 cas ualties after the battle with only 300 troops missing. Such a figur e as over 2/3 missing or captured never
95 happened in any American battle, due to the organization of the troops on the corps level and the motivation of the troops, The Prussians were similar to the Americans in their organization of their troops and in the nati onalistic motivations of many of their troops.89 In addition to all these factors, the Pru ssian/Italian alliance also outnumbered the Austrians in terms of the number of troops, 800,000 to 600,000, a situation only exacerbated by the ability of the Prussians to more efficiently deploy their troops due to the railroads. As mentioned before, the Europ ean observers simply saw what they wanted to see out of the Austria-Prussian war and assumed that it validated the doctrine of Napoleon. These assumptions were further validated by the Franco-Prussian war, where the French army was decisively defeated th e Prussians. Once again, in this situation, although the equipment of the two sides was mu ch more comparable this time, a highly motivated army (the Prussians were fighti ng for the unification of all of the German people, among other things) was fighting agains t one only loosely tied to the government it was supposed to represent (Napoleon the Thirds second empire was not very popular at the time, and a revolution broke out in France during the middle of the war, with the emergence of the Second French Republic as a result). Over half the French casualties were classified as captured or missing, as opposed to battlefield casualties. The European observers again only learned what they wanted to learn: the breech-loading Krupp style artillery pieces would take their place in every modern army, and the importance of 89For More info: Robert Michael Citino. The German Way of War: From the Thirty Years War to the Third Reich (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2005)
96 railroads would be recognized. But that was about it; as for infantry tactics, Europeans still believed in Napoleon.90 These beliefs would be quite evident in Wo rld War 1 and in the so-called Race to the Sea. Both sides essentially raced to find the other sides flank and attempt a giant turning maneuver (the German plan of battle the Schlieffien Plan, was essentially a massive scale flanking/turning maneuver), a nd each side suffered horrifying casualties during this period, close to 1 million each. During this war, each side entrenched their forces when they had a free moment. This doctrine had spread among European powers as a result of their own expandi ng engineering corps, and as a result of observations made in the Russo-Japanese War. However, despite this absorption, most military commanders still believed that Napoleonic tactics were still effective, and they believed that trenches could easily be defeated by simply turning the flank. In assuming this, they obviously ignored the lessons of the American Civil War, as the latter had several examples of said maneuvers failing as the soldiers simply fell back to another line of pre-built trenches. The soldiers in Europe would find themse lves with similar problems when facing defenses in depth, and no large scale turn ing maneuver would end up being successful.91 One key factor in understanding why the ba ttles evolved to th e point where the troops were entrenching themselves, but th e generals really had no concept of the 90 Jay Luvass. The Military Legacy of the Civil War: The European Inheritance (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988) p40 91 For more info: John Keegans The First World War New York: A. Knopf, 1999. Or Paddy Griffiths Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Armys Art of Attack, 1916-18. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 1996.
97 strategies behind the tr enches, is to unders tand the one way the American Civil War did have a lasting effect upon all European milita ries. That was the creation of separate engineering corps outside of the main army. As mentioned earlier, all Western militaries had established academies for the purpose of tr aining military engineers prior to the Civil War, but for the most part these people were simply integrated into the normal military structure after they graduated. However, af ter the Civil War, recognizing the importance of having a dedicated unit for th e purposes of building bridges and railroads, almost all Western militaries separated their engineering corps into distinct units with their own command structures. These units learned about the value of entrenchments outside of the rest of the military structure. This separation of command and responsibility is the reason that, while the troops were entrenching themse lves all over the place in World War 1, the generals had not developed their strategies a nd tactics far enough to take into account the entrenchments. Another point the engineeri ng corps learned from the Ci vil War was the value of earthworks in general, both small scale ones designed to protect individual troops (trenches and the like), and larger scale one s designed as fortifications. As mentioned before, one of the main reasons the European s were watching the Civil War in the first place was to take a look at the effectiveness of rifled versus smoothbore artillery. They quickly noticed that guns mounted en barbette (o n the top of the fortifications such as at Fort Sumter) were easily s ilenced by hastily drawn up pos itions four thousand yards distant. On the other hand, guns in casemate d works protected by ir on turrets or shells could endure heavy battering. As the war continued, engineers would discover the superiority of earthworks where gun emplace ments were virtually dug into the ground.
98 These were found to be of especial use in defending harbors. Batteries dug into the ground, such as the Battery at Fort Wagner (made famous by the movie Glory ), could endure hundreds of hours of bombardment by many guns while still remaining operational. Fort Wagner itself, for example, endured almost 60 days of heavy shelling. These fortifications, the construction of which was pioneered during the American Civil War, were used in the two World Wars in order to defend harbors and shorelines, especially along Germanys famous Atlantic wall.92 So overall, while generals in Europe a nd America did not seem to learn much from the Civil War regarding battle tactics (o r if they did, they stopped learning after the Battle of Spotsylvania and as such didnt le arn about the power of defenses in depth), they did learn from the Civil War in some other areas. Had they learned more, a great many soldiers lives would probably have been saved in World War 1, and the experience of that generation might have been a great deal different. 92 Jay Luvass. The Military Legacy of the Civil War: The European Inheritance Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988.
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