The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare by Edward Hagerman is unlike almost any book written about the Civil War. This is a book about supply and tactics above all else and lays out the path to which the warfare of the Napoleonic era evolved during this conflict into a shadow of the wars to come. Three area are focused on: entrenchment, supply and signals.
The groundwork for the discussion of entrenchment is laid in the halls of West Point as the lessons of Jomini and Mahan and set in the minds of the future leaders of the coming conflict. Entrenchment is preached over frontal assaults as a method of defeating the enemy. The lessons are learned and held to differently by each of the leaders, some better than others. The devolution of maneuver to the eventual trench warfare is fascinating and well documented.
Supply is another major focus in this book. The depth that the author goes into to try to give a full picture of the supply issues faced in both armies is eye-opening and is provided in a detail that is rarely seen. This part of book explains many of the questions of why the armies didn’t move faster or farther. They couldn’t. At the same time the evolution of the supply system is shown from the development of the “Flying Column” to the focus of using mules for supply purposes instead of horses. These kind of details can easily overwhelm, but the author handles the facts and figures deftly, answering more questions than are asked.
In the title of the book the phrase “The Origins of Modern Warfare” is used. The one aspect of this title that is addressed in the book is the development of the Signal Corps on both sides. The telegraph is just coming into use as well as balloons, each have an effect of battlefield communication and give the commanders more options for controlling the battle. In other books these developments are normally simply footnotes, given short shrift. In this book they are treated as the integral components they are and seeing these new advancements come into their own in this book is refreshing.
The author takes each of these three aspects and walks the reader through the war, taking turns on both sides of the conflict. From start to finish he shows how each of the three aspects plays out and evolves. How each of these start at the beginning is a far cry from how the turn out at the end of the war. Never has this level of detail been seen in anything that I have read about the war and the perspective from which it is written can change the way the war is viewed.
At the time the book was published, Edward Hagerman was an Associate Professor of History at York University in Toronto Canada and the recipient of the Moncado Prize of the American Military Institute.
Welcome to Historia Militaris!
So with the first post, I give you a view of my personal Museum. Here I collect artifacts, items of interest and knowledge. You are seeing three sections here. On the left is the American Revolution, the center is the American Civil War, the right is Napoleon and the French Revolution. There are more sections, by why give up the good stuff on the first date?
As the weeks progress we will look at some pieces of this collection as well as pieces from other museums and historic sites I have visited.
Besides artifacts we will also meet some lesser-known people in history. Sort of the B level that you may heave heard about, but could always stand to know a little bit more of.
And Maps, I love maps, especially of battles. You will see a fair share of those.
Don’t worry, my posts will be kept reasonable, no more than 250-500 words. Soon I hope to open this up for other contributors, but for today and the near future, welcome to the museum section of Historia Militaris.
CSS Jackson Remains of the Ram
When you think about the naval aspect of the Civil War you probably don’t often think about Columbus, Georgia. However in Columbus, not far down the way from Ft. Benning is the National Civil War Naval Museum. Filled with many fantastic exhibits of the naval war there is one that stands out. Taking up well over half the display area is the remains of the CSS Jackson. An ironclad ram that was scuttled at the end of the war and raised from the river a hundred years later.
The building of the Jackson was started in Columbus in 1862. Originally it was to be named the Muskcogee. Lack of materials and delays in the building kept it from being commissioned until December 1864. She was then officially named the Jackson. Further lack of men and material kept her out of the fight. April 1865 she was burned and scuttled by a Union raiding party. She never got to see any action in her brief career.
Built to Ram
The Jackson was designed to be a ram, which is basically as it sounds. Its main weapon was a reinforced prow that would be aimed at an enemy ship. The goal was to hit it hard enough and do enough damage to cause it to sink. It was a lot like how ships in Ancient Greece fought their battles, without all the boarding parties. Besides being an ironclad, which was basically sheets of iron placed on a wooden frame for protection, she was also a screw steamer, which meant instead of wind, she used a propeller for locomotion.
The remaining hull is on display in the museum with a white steel frame hanging over to give you an idea of what the ship looked like back in the day.
For a little more on the CSS Jackson click here.
Click here for a short YouTube Video on the project to raise the ship from the riverbed back in the 1960’s.