Civil War Military
Union and Confederate Army Service
American Civil War and the Principles of War
Union and Confederate Military
The Principles of War
These may be defined as the fundamental truths governing the prosecution
of strategy and tactics. The nine that have been adopted by the US Army in modern times are listed and explained below
for several reasons. First, many of them are encountered in Civil War literature. Second, they provide in capsule form the
fundamentals of strategy and tactics. They are useful, if not essential, in any evaluation of generalship. The definitions
given below are those used in instructing cadets at West Point. They closely follow the US Army's Field Service Regulations,
Considered one of the greatest generals in military history, General Stonewall
Jackson was able to apply the principles of war in the 1862 Valley Campaign. (Following the principles of war, we will examine
Jackson's application of the principles in the campaign.)
The Objective. "Direct all efforts to ward a decisive, obtainable goal."
The proper objective ("purpose") in battle is the destruction of the enemy's combat forces. To do this, however, subordinate
commanders must be given "terrain objectives" toward which they move. Thus, Richmond was not a proper (terrain) objective
for McClellan's army in 1862 because capturing it would not necessarily destroy the Confederate army and the loss of Richmond
in 1862 would not have meant defeat of the Confederacy. It was a proper (terrain) objective for Grant in 1864-65 because it
had become so important by that time that Lee was forced to defend it even if it meant destruction of his army. Although Grant's
objective was Lee's Army of Northern VA. (not Richmond, per se), by directing his efforts toward Richmond he forced Lee to
stand and fight him for its defense.
|Civil War Military Deaths
|Chart of Top Ten Civil War Battles with Most Casualties
Simplicity. "Prepare uncomplicated plans and concise orders to insure thorough
understanding and execution." McDowell at 1st Bull Run violated the principle of simplicity, since his troops were too green
to execute properly the maneuver he prescribed.
Unity of Command. "For every task there should be unity of effort under
one responsible commander." The Union flagrantly violated this principle after Kernstown. Stonewall Jackson's Valley campaign
taught Lincoln and Stanton their lesson, and Unity of Command was obtained by creating Pope's Army of VA. (The Federals were
nevertheless defeated in the next Bull Run campaign.)
The Offensive. "Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative." Lee's generalship
embodies this principle, whereas it was the fatal deficiency in McClellan's. It is the quality most conspicuous in the make-up
of most successful commanders, particularly Stonewall Jackson and Grant, Sheridan and Forrest.
Maneuver. "Position your military resources to favor the accomplishment
of your mission. Maneuver in itself can produce no decisive results (as Hooker at ChancellorsviIIe failed to realize) but
if properly employed it makes decisive results possible through the application of the principles of the offensive, mass,
economy of force, and surprise." It is by maneuver that a superior general defeats a stronger adversary (e.g., Jackson's Valley
Mass. "Achieve military superiority at the decisive place and time." Mass
in this sense does not mean "more men." "Military superiority" can be attained against a more numerical enemy if you have
superiority in such things as weapons, leadership, morale, and training. "Mass" is generally gained by "maneuver."
Economy of Force. "Allocate to secondary
efforts minimum essential combat power." This is a misleading term because it does not mean what it sounds like. It
does not mean "do the job with minimum combat power." Note that the principle pertains to "secondary efforts," and it is the
means by which a superior general achieves "mass" as defined above. Mass and Economy of Force are on opposite sides of the
Surprise. "Accomplish your purpose before the enemy can effectively react."
Tactical or strategic surprise does not mean open-mouthed amazement. Thus, a corps may be "surprised" by an attack it has
seen coming for several hours if this attack is too powerful for it to resist by itself and if no other unit is within supporting
distance. The fate of the XI Corps at Chancellorsville is an example. The principle of war known as "Security" may be defined
as all measures taken to avoid "Surprise."
Security. "Never permit the enemy to acquire an unpredicted advantage,"
Another definition would be "measures taken to prevent surprise." A unit in bivouac, for example, uses outposts and patrols
for security. Lack of security at Shiloh resulted in surprise of the Federals.
Jackson's Valley Campaign was Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's famous spring 1862 campaign through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia
during the American Civil War. Employing audacity and rapid, unpredictable movements on interior lines, Jackson's 17,000 men
marched 646 miles in 48 days and won several minor battles as they successfully engaged three Union armies (52,000 men), preventing
them from reinforcing the Union offensive against Richmond.
Jackson suffered his only defeat (his sole defeat of the war) at the First
Battle of Kernstown (March 23, 1862) against Col. Nathan Kimball (part of Union Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks's army), but
it proved to be a strategic Confederate victory because President Abraham Lincoln reinforced his Valley forces with troops
that had originally been designated for the Peninsula Campaign against Richmond. On May 8, after more than a month of skirmishing
with Banks, Jackson moved deceptively to the west of the Valley and drove back elements of Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont's army
in the Battle of McDowell, preventing a potential combination of the two Union armies against him. Jackson then headed down
the Valley once again to confront Banks. Concealing his movement in the Luray Valley, Jackson joined forces with Maj. Gen.
Richard S. Ewell and captured the Federal garrison at Front Royal on May 23, causing Banks to retreat to the north. On May
25, in the First Battle of Winchester, Jackson defeated Banks and pursued him until the Union Army crossed the Potomac River
Bringing in Union reinforcements from eastern Virginia, Brig. Gen. James
Shields recaptured Front Royal and planned to link up with Frémont in Strasburg. Jackson was now threatened by three small
Union armies. Withdrawing up the Valley from Winchester, Jackson was pursued by Frémont and Shields. On June 8, Ewell defeated
Frémont in the Battle of Cross Keys and on the following day, crossed the North River to join forces with Jackson to defeat
Shields in the Battle of Port Republic, bringing the campaign to a close.
Jackson followed up his successful campaign by forced marches to join Gen.
Robert E. Lee for the Seven Days Battles outside Richmond. His audacious campaign elevated him to the position of the most
famous general in the Confederacy (until this reputation was later supplanted by Lee) and has been studied ever since by military
organizations around the world.
|Civil War military service
|Singular objective of the infantryman, artillerist, and cavalryman was to fight a battle and win
Strategy, Tactics, and Innovations
Civil War caused 620,000 killed, and it forced the United States military to reexamine its stiff, outdated tactics and
strategies that had led to the carnage. The U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, and other military schools would
adapt, improvise, and overcome to meet the present and future challenges of war. After all, numerous inventions and innovations
were a result of the Civil War. The arts of tactics and strategy were revolutionized by the many developments introduced
during the 1860s. Thus the Civil War ushered in a new era in warfare with the: FIRST practical machine gun, FIRST repeating
rifle used in combat, FIRST use of the railroads as a major means of transporting troops and supplies, FIRST mobile siege
artillery mounted on rail cars, FIRST extensive use of trenches and field fortifications, FIRST large-scale use of land mines,
known as "subterranean shells", FIRST naval mines or "torpedoes", FIRST ironclad ships engaged in combat, FIRST multi-manned
submarine, FIRST organized and systematic care of the wounded on the battlefield, FIRST widespread use of rails for hospital
trains, FIRST organized military signal service, FIRST visual signaling by flag and torch during combat, FIRST use of portable
telegraph units on the battlefield; FIRST military reconnaissance from a manned
balloon, FIRST draft in the United States, FIRST organized use of Negro troops in combat, FIRST voting in the field for a
national election by servicemen, FIRST income tax—levied to finance the war, FIRST photograph taken in combat, FIRST
Medal of Honor awarded an American soldier. See also Civil War Comparison of North and South, Union and Confederacy.
Source: Boatner III, Mark M. The Civil War Dictionary; Allen, William. Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign: From November 4, 1861 to June 17, 1862. New York: Smithmark
Publishers, 1995. ISBN 0-8317-1432-8; Emberton, Keith D. Operational Leadership Once Beyond the Culminating Point: Perspectives
on Calculated Tactical Risk to Achieve Operational Success. Alexandria, VA: Joint Military Operations Department, United States
Naval War College, 1996. OCLC 38196522; Hotchkiss, Jedediah. Make Me a Map of the Valley: The Civil War Journal of Stonewall
Jackson's Topographer. Edited by Archie P. MacDonald. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-87074-270-1;
Miller, William J. Mapping for Stonewall: The Civil War Service of Jed Hotchkiss. Washington, DC: Elliott & Clark Publishing,
1993. ISBN 1-880216-11-6; Tanner, Robert G. Stonewall in the Valley: Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign,
Spring 1862. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976. ISBN 978-0-385-12148-4; map courtesy PBS.org; Gettysburg National Military
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