Pages

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pickett's Charge, Day Three Battle of Gettysburg

One hundred and fifty years ago today, the final major offensive action at Gettysburg culminated with Pickett's Charge. Here is my analysis of why Pickett's Charge failed.

Pickett’s Charge on the third day at Gettysburg failed partly because of the ineffective Confederate artillery offensive bombardment that preceded it, and partly because of the effective Federal defensive bombardment that greeted the Confederate infantry as they marched across the field. This paper will discuss the reasons for the ineffectiveness of the Confederate fire, and the effectiveness of the Federal fire, during these crucial last hours of the battle. The paper will accomplish this by describing the artillery commanders and their commands, the orders and applications, the effects and outcomes of the artillery battle, and the strengths and weaknesses of the artillery.
By the morning of the third day of the battle, Lee knew that Union forces held a strong position on Cemetery Ridge. He judged the weakest part of the line to be near the middle at the curve where it approached closest to the Emmitsburg Road, less than a mile south of the point where that Emmitsburg and the Taneytown Roads intersected. Lee planned to pummel this position with heavy concentrated artillery fire, and then to send his fresh infantry into the supposedly weakened position. Lee knew that the Union position that he planned to attack could not be supported by effective cross fire from its flanks, except by the artillery on Little Round Top. Lee thought his own guns could take these out.
In preparation, all available Confederate artillery went into position along Seminary Ridge. The plan for the infantry attack was that following the intensive bombardment, Longstreet would launch an all out assault with the purpose of penetrating the Union position. Pettigrew's Division would comprise the northern portion of the attack (along with Trimble's two brigades in the rear and right as supports) while Pickett's Division would be the southern wing supported with one brigade under Wilcox on the right-rear flank. The infamous “clump of trees” on Cemetery Ridge marked the Confederate objective.
E. Porter Alexander was Commander, Alexander’s Battalion, First Corps Artillery Reserve, Army of Northern Virginia. Alexander was one of Longstreet's most trusted subordinates. At Gettysburg, as in previous battles, Longstreet gave Alexander almost complete tactical control over the placement of the First Corps artillery because he lacked confidence in J. B. Walton, his chief of artillery reserve.   In preparation for the planned attack against the Union center Alexander would receive direct control of much of the artillery, but overall coordination of all artillery from the Army of Northern Virginia remained the responsibility of Lee’s Chief of Artillery.
Later, Alexander explained that his orders were, “First, to give the enemy the most effective cannonade possible. It was not meant simply to make a noise, but to try & cripple him--to tear him limbless, as it were, if possible.” Alexander said Longstreet's exact words were to, "drive off the enemy or greatly demoralize him." This Longstreet told Alexander would be preparatory to an advance of infantry, and that Alexander should" advance such artillery as you can use in aiding the attack."
General Longstreet called Alexander “a brave and gifted officer” noting that this is why he was given overall control of the First Corps Artillery for the planed cannonade. According to Longstreet about one o'clock, in addition to preparing the positions for the main bombardment Alexander ordered a battery of seven 11-pound howitzers, with fresh horses and full caissons, to accompany Pickett’s force, but General W. N. Pendleton,  recalled them after sending them to Alexander. This action potentially damaged the firepower that would actually make the assault.
Pendleton, was Chief of Artillery, Army of Northern Virginia. Although ultimately in command of all Confederate artillery on the field that day, Pendleton was a figurehead. One Confederate officer wrote, "Pendleton is Lee's weakness. [He] is like the elephant, we have him & we don't know what on earth to do with him, and it costs a devil of a sight to feed him." Lee never replaced Pendleton but most of his responsibilities were disseminated amongst his subordinates like Alexander.
On the other side of the battlefield, from the Union perspective, while the opportunity to counterattack the Confederates on the third day at Gettysburg may have been considered, ultimately Meade had no intent on taking the offensive.  His army set about improving the natural defenses of his position with strong earthworks.   He anticipated correctly that since the enemy had attacked both of his flanks in previous fighting, his next attack would be against the Union center.
Brig. Gen. Henry J. Hunt, was the Chief of Artillery for the Army of the Potomac. Hunt was in charge of all Union artillery at Gettysburg, and he was a gifted officer of the artillery trade. Hunt alone was responsible for directing the well placed defensive barrier that would meet the Confederate charge, and duel with the preparatory cannonade. It was said that if Henry Hunt was available to coordinate the guns, then all would go well, but if he was not there, great opportunities would probably be wasted.
In describing the positions of both sides just before the bombardment, Confederate batteries covered a line that began at the Peach Orchard and ran north along a line just west of the Emmitsburg Road.  To the north, the Confederates had more guns on Seminary Ridge, and a few long-range pieces were placed northwest on Oak Hill in order to cover Ziegler's Grove and the cemetery. Seventy-five guns under Alexander were placed in a curved line 1,300 yards long. These guns included his own battalion, and Cabell's, Dearing's, Eshleman's, and Henry's battalion. Several hundred yards to the left rear of Alexander's line were Walker's additional 60 pieces. These were placed along the ridge stretching to the Hagerstown Road. Two of Whitworth’s rifles were placed to the north of Hurt's two. Filling in the gaps were ten guns of Walker's Battalion and ten more of Latimer's command. Jones' and Nelson's artillery battalions backed them up.  Interestingly, the Confederates had not discovered that the Union position could be reached by artillery fire from the town and its flank, and had placed no guns at these positions to enfilade the shank of the “fish-hook,” while providing crossfire with the guns from the west.
Unfortunately, for the Confederates, 25 rifled cannon and 16 Napoleons of the Second Corps and 15 12-pound howitzers of the Third Corps would not participate. As overall commander of Confederate artillery General Pendleton, was ultimately responsible for this.  Overall, cooperation and liaison between the artillery of the three Confederate corps was deficient. Alexander believed that if the Third and Second Corps artillery had been massed to silence the Union batteries on Cemetery Hill, the infantry attack would have been spared the deadly flanking fire it met from that area of the battlefield.  Alexander explains that “The great criticism which I have to make on the artillery operations of the day is upon the inaction of the artillery of Ewell's corps” Alexander explained that the one advantage of an exterior line was that “It enabled us to enfilade any of the enemy's positions.” But he says further “I never had an idea of the possibility of this being done at the time, for I had but the vaguest notion of where Ewell's corps was.” He then goes on to place the blame squarely on Pendleton’s shoulders. “Gen. Lee's chief [Pendleton] should have known, & given every possible energy to improve the rare & great chance to the very uttermost.”
On the other hand, one Confederate battery whose position was noteworthy was Captain John Milledge's Georgia Regular Battery. This battery found a position under good cover flanking Cemetery Hill. From that position, the battery was able to place effective fire on the batteries of the Union XI Corps once the cannonade started.   Colonel Osborn, the Union XI corps artillery chief later wrote:
The gunners got our range at almost the first shot. Passing low over Wainwright's guns, they caught us square in flank and with the elevation perfect. It was admirable shooting. They raked the whole line of batteries, killed and wounded the men and horses, and blew up the caissons rapidly. I saw one shell go through 6 horses standing broadside.  To meet this new fire I drew from the batteries facing west the 20-pounder Parrott battery of Capt. Taft, and wheeling it half around to the right brought it to bear on them. I also drew from the reserve one battery and placed it in position on Taft's right. Fortunately for us these batteries, placed in the new line, at once secured the exact range of their immediate adversaries. In a few minutes the enemy's fire almost ceased, and when it opened again, and while the fire was progressing, it was irregular and wild. They did not again get our range as they had it before we replied.

On the Union side, the batteries were positioned along the front wherever positions could be found for the guns, with all pieces placed in a position to join against the Confederate bombardment. On both flanks the cavalry would hold the Union position secure with Kilpatrick covering the left of the line along with Farnsworth's cavalry brigade. Later Merritt's brigade of Buford's division approached Longstreet’s right up the Emmitsburg Road from the south.  According to later reports the number of Union guns in position on their lines at the beginning of the cannonade were 166, with ten batteries brought up from the reserves during the bombardment, making the total number engaged 220 on the Union line.
As part of the overall plan, the Confederates intended to send at least some artillery along to support the infantry charge, but the artillery was not able to give the infantry much support. Alexander said that he intended to advance nine howitzers in front of Pickett's Division but the guns were not available at the time of the advance because of the previously mentioned action by Pendleton.   Alexander describes the situation with the guns designated to support the infantry by reporting” After the battle I found that Gen. Pendleton, himself, had sent & taken four or five of the guns, & disposed of them elsewhere without any notice to me.” Then he adds “The remainder [were]… moved "a short distance" because…of shell from the enemy…”  Alexander wrote that he deployed "fifteen or eighteen" guns behind Pickett's Division, but the Federal artillery concentrated fire on the infantry. Overall, Longstreet reported that the Confederate artillery fire during the infantry assault "did not force the Federals to change the direction of their fire and relieve our infantry."
In examining the cause for the lack of advancing artillery support during the infantry attack, in addition to the pulling of guns by Pendleton, B. F. Eshleman, Confederate artillery battalion commander, said that the artillery tasked to advance with the infantry, was low on ammunition and losses from the great bombardment had prevented most of the guns from advancing. Lee, Longstreet, and other Confederate leaders reported that the southern artillery was too low on ammunition after the cannonade to offer much support during the doomed Confederate assault.
Not withstanding the reported ammunition situation, many have criticized Longstreet for not ordering a sizeable force of artillery to support the infantry advance. While he may have considered advancing a few pieces, Alexander explains that this was not an effective option overall because, “our Confederate artillery could only sparingly, & in great emergency, be allowed to fire over the heads of our infantry.” There were many instances in the war when artillery fire had injured soldiers from the same side. “We were always liable to premature explosions of shell & shrapnel, & our infantry knew it…threatening to fire back at our guns if we opened over their heads”.
Could the artillery have been advanced in front of the infantry?  Alexander answers that, “the infantry would not fire over the heads of the artillery. Hence it results that each arm must have its own fighting front free, & they do not mix well in a fighting charge.” Also according to Alexander, “artillery on the march presents such an immense target to infantry, and to other artillery in position, that within their respective ranges it requires very few minutes to disable it.”  Therefore, as Alexander explains, advancing extensive artillery along with the infantry was not an option.
Alexander sums up the defense of the choice not to advance the artillery by saying, “the peculiarities of the topography, which are of most extreme importance upon every battle field, here left no reasonable method of making our attack at the point selected but the one adopted. Of my original force of guns I could spare none from the firing line.”  Confederate artillery Lieutenant, C. W. Motes describes the artillery’s ability to fire in the support of advancing troops in the official records. “At the signal to commence firing, he opened fire upon the enemy's position, and continued until the infantry of Pickett's division advanced, when the firing partially ceased, firing only when the safety of the infantry in front would permit.”  According to all reports, this was seldom.
Before the commencement of any action, Longstreet felt that the day’s plan would end in a bad way for the Confederates. In anticipation of giving the order for Pickett’s assault Longstreet wrote “never was I so depressed as that day.” Initially, Longstreet placed a large amount of responsibility on his young subordinate asking Alexander to “observe carefully the effect of the fire upon the enemy and, when it began to tell, to notify Pickett to begin the assault.” He then told Alexander in a written note “If the artillery fire does not have the effect to drive off the enemy or greatly demoralize him, I would prefer that you should not advise General Pickett to make the charge.” Not accepting the ultimate responsibility for the attack Alexander told Longstreet that he would only be able to judge the effect of our fire by the return fire, because he couldn’t actually see the Union infantry on Cemetery Ridge, because he knew that smoke would obscure the position once the cannonade was under way.  Alexander then urged that “if there is an alternative to this attack, it should be carefully considered before opening our fire, for it will take all the artillery ammunition we have left.”   According to Alexander, Longstreet’s response was, “The intention is to advance the infantry, if the artillery has the desired effect of driving the enemy's off, or having other effect such as to warrant us in making the attack. When the moment arrives advise Gen. Pickett, and of course advance such artillery as you can use in aiding the attack.” This made it clear that the attack would occur as ordered by Lee. The die was cast, when Alexander responded, "General. When our artillery fire is at its best I shall order Gen. Pickett to charge."
In his official report, Longstreet finds that after the barrage, the ammunition is too low to support the infantry. “I found then that our supply of ammunition was so short that the batteries could not reopen.” Then Longstreet confirms that calling off the attack was not an option that was given to him by Lee when he concludes that the “…order for this attack, which I could not favor under better auspices, would have been revoked had I …had that privilege.”
To signal the start of the barrage Longstreet sent a courier from headquarters with an order to fire two guns with a measured interval between – this signaled the start of the massive explosion as the whole line of Confederate guns opened fire. Union gunners on Cemetery Ridge ran to their pieces to return fire, The Union infantry meanwhile stayed low protected by the strong breastworks.  The fifteen thousand Confederates of Longstreet’s Corps who had been appointed to charge across the field also laid low and waited. Called by many the largest bombardment of the war, the roar was continuous, and so intense that artillerists could hardly hear the sound of their own guns firing.  Alexander describes the opening of the cannonade:

It was just one o'clock, by my watch, when the double boom of the signal guns from the Washington Artillery broke the silence; & it was, indeed, a grand & exciting moment to hear our long line of guns break loose as if impatient of their long restraint, & roaring in very joy of battle. Every gunner had his target selected, & we must have made it pretty hot for the opposite line from the word go, for Gen. Hunt's orders not to reply for 15 or 20 minutes, I am very sorry to say, were immediately forgotten.

In his official report, Major James Dearing, commander of a Confederate artillery battalion explained that, “When the signal guns were fired, I at once brought my battalion in battery to the front, and commenced firing slowly and deliberately. To insure more accuracy and to guard against the waste of ammunition, I fired by battery.” Dearing comments, “The firing on the part of my battalion was very good, and most of the shell and shrapnel burst well.” Dearing observed, “Three caissons were seen…to blow up and…I saw several batteries of the enemy leave the field.”
According to some reports, initially the Union batteries replied vigorously, but towards the end their fire slackened. This led the Confederates to believe that their fire had driven the Union force back off the line.  As to the effectiveness of the Union fire, because of the convex line of the Union position they were not able to respond with the same intensity of the Confederates although with action going on all over the battlefield it was advantageous not to bring all artillery to the center.
The fire of the Union artillery during the early part of the duel however was not without effect. In his official report, Major Charles S. Peyton, Nineteenth Virginia Infantry, commanding Garnett's brigade, Pickett's division, wrote; “At about 12 m. we were ordered to take position behind the crest of the hill on which the artillery, under Colonel [E. Porter] Alexander, was planted, where we lay during a most terrific cannonading…we lost about 20 killed and wounded.”  Confederate Brigadier General Cadmus M. Wilcox reported that “During all this fire, my men were exposed to the solid shot and shell of the enemy, but suffered comparatively little, …The brigade lying on my right (Kemper's) suffered severely.”
Many Confederate artillerymen found the massive bombardment an opportunity to consider the technical aspects of their profession. With detached professionalism, they reported on ranges, rounds fired, and effectiveness of the bombardment. Most on the giving end certainly agreed that they never had seen artillery employed on such a scale. Captain Graham with the Charlotte Artillery described it as "the heaviest Artillery duel of the war."
The artillery duel so loud that it was heard miles away. Unfortunately for the Confederate effort most of their projectiles flew high and passed behind the Union position. In fact the worst of the damage was caused when the Confederate fire blew up close to a dozen caissons of the Federal reserve artillery parked behind the Union lines.   The guns that swept Cemetery Ridge killed men and animals, and destroyed gun carriages, and caissons. The Federal power to resist however, was not materially weakened -- except that some of Meade's batteries ran out of long-range ammunition and would have to wait for their attackers to get closer so they could rip them with canister.
Evaluating the fire later Major General Winfield S. Hancock said "It was a most terrific and appalling cannonade.” But history tells us that it did little damage, since the Union soldiers lay under the strong protection of stone walls, swells in the ground, and strong earthworks, and the projectiles of the enemy passed over their heads, although causing much devastation in the rear.
As to the effect of the Confederate fire on the soldiers on the awaiting Union battle line, one Union soldier even wrote that shortly after noon, when the Confederate artillery opened he was “lulled by the incessant roar of the cannon…[and] dropped quietly asleep. It was not heroic; but it was, I hold, essentially war, though by no means war as imagined in the work-room of the theoretic historian."
The high fire passing over the battle line, reached Meade’s Union Headquarters, located just behind the aiming point, sporadically at first. Most of the rounds seemed to some to come from the left although a stray shot came across the direct front periodically. "That," said Samuel Wilkeson a reporter covering the battle for the New York Tribune referring to an unfamiliar sound from some unknown kind of small projectile, "is a muffled howl; that's the exact word to describe it." The bombardment intensified as the Confederate fire passed the main battle line making the rear a dangerous place to be. "By Jove," said one of the staff officers, "those fellows on the left have the range of headquarters." From the door of the headquarters, Meade advised those outside to get out of the area.  Reporter Wilkeson remained at the Leister House throughout the cannonade. In his report, Wilkeson wrote:  “Every size and form of shell known to…gunnery shrieked, whirled, moaned, whistled and wrathfully fluttered over our ground. . . . Not an orderly--not an ambulance-not a straggler was to be seen upon the plain swept by this tempest of orchestral death thirty minutes after it commenced.”    Another reporter on hand from the New York World wrote:

The storm broke upon us so suddenly that soldiers and officers-who leaped, as it began, from their tents, or from lazy siestas on the grass--were stricken in their rising with mortal wounds and died, some with cigars between their teeth, some with pieces of food in their fingers, and one at least--a pale young German, from Pennsylvania--with a miniature of his sister in . . . hands, that seemed more meet to grasp an artist's pencil than a musket. Horses fell, shrieking such awful cries as Cooper told of, and writhing themselves about in hopeless agony. . . . The earth, torn up in clouds, blinded the eyes of hurrying men; and through the branches of the trees and among the grave-stones of the cemetery a shower of destruction crashed ceaselessly.  

Capt. Charles A. Phillips of the 5th Massachusetts Battery, provides one of the most used quotes on the high fire issue: "Viewed as a display of fireworks, the rebel practice was entirely successful, but as a military demonstration it was the biggest humbug of the season."  A point worth considering however is that artillery fire does not have to hit its target directly to wreak havoc.  According to accounts many Union soldiers on Cemetery Ridge that day found the extended fire especially unsettling. A soldier from the 19th Maine wrote "It seemed as though, had a knitting-needle stood on end it would have been shot off a dozen times in so many minutes.”  Soldiers from the 1st Minnesota gave thanks that "the Lord of Battles put up His shield in front of many a man on the Union line and turned the deadly missiles aside." Another soldier from Massachusetts who was down the line rather far from the target area was so awed by the spectacle that he wrote, "the range of the rebel cannon was deadly exact; and different shells struck six men who occupied in succession the same place in the ranks." "Malvern Hill did not compare with it." wrote Captain Phillips.
More Union infantrymen receiving fire on the rear slopes of Cemetery Ridge reflected on the Confederate cannonade. The intensity and violence of the bombardment impressed Northern infantrymen like Lt. Henry P. Clare of the 83rd New York, posted well in reserve, who reported that "heaven had opened its gates and poured forth . . . their murderous messengers of death with the determination of annihilating our entire army." Sgt. John Plummer of the 1st Minnesota admitted that although used to receiving cannon fire, this day they hugged the ground to try and avoid "the hissing, screaming, bursting missiles, and all of them really seemed to be directed at us." A soldier in the 108th New York commented "five different cannonballs struck a large oak tree three feet in diameter, which stood not five feet from where I lay." Therefore, even if technically the Confederate aim was high each round that found a target left lasting impressions. The bombardment's most intense moment for Private Bechtel came when one shell passed "through our brestwork [sic] killing 1 and wounding six of our company …”
Behind the Union line where the bulk of the Confederate fire landed, the main casualties were among the clerks, cooks, musicians, and medical personnel, often called noncombatants by front-line troops. Hundreds broke and fled in panic. Ambulances could not run the gantlet of that fire to bring back wounded from the front, nor could stretcher-bearers reach the wounded. Only caisson drivers risked the fire to deliver ammunition to the constantly firing guns. Some were smashed to bits, as shells hit their loaded chests. Some shells reached the spot where the reserve artillery parked, under cover of a hill, awaiting a call into action. This forced the batteries to limber and retreat beyond the range of the fire.  The fire of the Confederate guns, lethal on the Union rear, was for the most part wasted on the primary objective. These rear bursts were unobserved and therefore went uncorrected because of the smoke and the screening of the Union rear by the Union front. Unfortunately for the Confederates, ranges were not adjusted so while effective against the cooks and the caissons they failed to achieve the primary objective of knocking out the bulk of the Union batteries along the ridges and softening up the defending infantry.  
Having delivered the bombardment, there was much argument among Confederate officers later about whether the Gettysburg cannonade was a success.  Major Eshleman of the Washington (Louisiana) Artillery reported that his fire "caused immense slaughter to the enemy." Other Confederate leaders were less boastful. Colonel J. Thompson Brown, the acting chief of artillery for the Confederate Second Corps, reported that the fire" was well directed, and its fine effect was very noticeable." But, Brown said the guns would have done better if the "proximity" of Confederate infantry and the poor quality of the shells had not forced them to fire only solid shot. Many officers were openly critical of the effectiveness of the Confederate fire. Longstreet admitted after the war that the fire "seemed less effective than we had anticipated." Cadmus M. Wilcox, a brigade commander in Anderson's Division, said: "I do not believe a single battery of the enemy had been disabled so as to stop its fire." Tellingly, on the Union side Captain Phillips, whose guns were south of the “clump of trees”, totally dismissed the Confederate fire, saying that "beyond the noise which was made no great harm was done." General Hunt called the Confederate artillery fire too high and "scattered over the whole field."   As to the affect behind the line however “caissons were blown up by the fire, riderless horses dashed hither and thither, the dead lay in heaps, and throngs of wounded streamed to the rear. Every man lay down and sought what cover he could.”
Confederate Artillery Chief Pendleton, summed up the entire cannonade and his inaccurate perception of the effect of the fire in the official records:
The average distance between contestants was about 1,400 yards, and the effect, was necessarily serious on both sides. With the enemy, there was advantage of elevation and protection from earthworks; but his fire was unavoidably more or less divergent, while ours was convergent. His troops were massed, ours diffused. We, therefore, suffered apparently much less. Great commotion was produced in his ranks, and his batteries were to such extent driven off or silenced as to have insured his defeat but for the extraordinary strength of his position.

Historian James M. McPherson in his Pulitzer Prize winning book “Battle Cry of Freedom” sums these points up neatly by describing that:

For almost two hours an artillery duel among nearly 300 guns filled the Pennsylvania countryside with an ear-splitting roar heard as far away as Pittsburgh. Despite this sound and fury, the Union infantry lying behind stone walls and breastworks suffered little, for the rebel aim was high.

After an artillery dual of roughly an hour General Hunt, decided to conserve his artillery ammunition for the infantry that he knew would follow the barrage and ordered his batteries to cease fire.   While the Union guns were still firing, Alexander, worried about the depleted Confederate ammunition, sent a note to Pickett: "General: If you are to advance at all, you must come at once or we will not be able to support you as we ought. But the enemy's fire has not slackened materially, and there are still 18 guns firing from the cemetery."
Soon afterwards, Alexander noticed that the Union fire had slowed. In fact, it appeared through the smoke that some of the guns had withdrawn. He sent another note to Pickett, saying: "For God's sake, come quick. The 18 guns have gone. Come quick or my ammunition will not let me support you properly."  Shortly thereafter Pickett's 15,000 infantry emerged from the woods passing through the line of Alexander's batteries, and began their movement towards the Union position.  Hunt’s cease-fire had caused the Confederates to mistakenly believe that they had silenced the Union guns at the point of attack. Lulled into security by Hunt’s tact Confederate Major James Dearing writes, “…the batteries of the enemy in our front had nearly all ceased firing; only a few scattering batteries here and there could be seen to fire.”
Once the cannonade was over Union “Men began to breathe more freely…The battery men were among their guns, some leaning to rest and wipe the sweat from their sooty faces, some were handling ammunition boxes and replenishing those that were empty.” During this lull batteries from the artillery reserve were moved up to strengthen the line. Frank A. Haskell, a staff officer of the 2nd Division, Second Army Corps reported “We were near our horses when we noticed Brigadier General Hunt, Chief of Artillery of the Army, near Woodruff's Battery, swiftly moving about on horseback, and apparently in a rapid manner giving some orders about the guns. …In a moment afterwards we met Captain Wessels and the orderlies who had our horses; they were on foot leading the horses. Captain Wessels was pale, and he said, excited: "General, they say the enemy's infantry is advancing."
In describing the advance of the Confederate infantry Major Charles S. Peyton, Nineteenth Virginia Infantry describes the effect of the Union fire in the early stages as the Confederates begin their movement;

Up to this time we had suffered but little from the enemy's batteries, which apparently had been much crippled previous to our advance, with the exception of one posted on the mountain, about 1 mile to our right, which enfiladed nearly our entire line with fearful effect, sometimes as many as 10 men being killed and wounded by the bursting of a single shell.

Then the Union guns reopened in earnest on the approaching Confederate forces. The Confederate artillery was unable to respond and offer equal support since most guns had exhausted their ammunition in the cannonade that preceded Pickett’s advance.   Interestingly, the state of the artillery ammunition that could potentially support the attack was known to General Longstreet, but not reported to General Lee before the attack. Perhaps Longstreet, trusting Alexander’s assessment of the effectiveness of the preparatory fire did not think it necessary, although Longstreet’s feeling about the attack in general would cause one to think that he may have looked for any excuse to call it off. It is more realistic to assume that Longstreet felt he had received the final decision from Lee, and that there would be no further discussion, regardless of the shape of the supporting artillery.
The Union artillery played a crucial role in the decimation of Pickett’s assault. While some have reported that there was a great duel between both forces, others commented on the reservation of Union fire in anticipation of the Confederate assault. Artillerymen hoarded their ammunition during the one sided duel that preceded the charge, apparently, saving it to use against the Confederate infantry. In fact, Alexander commented after the war that he had never seen the Union reserve their artillery fire for the Confederate infantry as they did during the Gettysburg artillery duel. By saving their fire, and throwing it full force into the Confederate infantry, the Union artillery on Cemetery Ridge contributed greatly to the destruction of the charge. "The rebel lines advanced slowly but surely," wrote one Federal artilleryman "half the valley had been passed over by them before the guns dared expend a round of the precious ammunition remaining on hand. The enemy steadily approached, and, when within deadly range, canister was thrown with terrible effect into their ranks." In support Captain Andrew Cowan, a Union battery commander wrote that he fired on Pickett's Division with canister at 200 yards. "My last charge (a double-header) literally swept the enemy from my front," reporting that this blast was "fired at less than 20 yards."    A soldier from the 107th New York later wrote, “There is one thing that our government does that suits me to a dot. That is, we fight mostly with artillery. The rebels fight mostly with infantry.”  General Wilcox reported “I do not believe a single battery of the enemy had been disabled so as to stop its fire…As soon as these troops rose to advance, the hostile artillery opened upon them.”
McPherson describes the charge of the Confederate force across the open field between Seminary Ridge and Cemetery Ridge, and the effect of the Union army on the approaching Confederate force:

It was a magnificent mile-wide spectacle, a picture-book view of war that participants on both sides remembered with awe until their dying moment--which for many came within the next hour. Pickett's charge represented the Confederate war effort in microcosm: matchless valor, apparent initial success, and ultimate disaster. As the gray infantry poured across the gently undulating farmland with seemingly irresistible force, northern artillery suddenly erupted in a savage cascade, sending shot and shell among the southern regiments and changing to canister as they kept coming.

British historian Paddy Griffith wrote of the artillery effectiveness of the two armies that day:
Alexander’s massed artillery played upon the Union lines in preparation for Pickett’s great infantry attack. Because the defenders’ batteries retired under cover, however, they were scarcely damaged. Then when the charging infantry came close, they sprang to life and materially contributed to its defeat.

In summarizing the overall reasons that the artillery fire from both sides was significant in the failure of Pickett’s Charge, there are three main points of consideration. First, the overall effectiveness of the fire, second, the lack support of Pickett’s charging infantry by the Confederate artillery, and finally the leadership and overall coordination of the “long arm” on both sides.
Civil War artillery was much more efficient in the defense than in the offense and this was proven on the third day of Gettysburg.  Long-range fire was seldom effective against the batteries and regiments in the defense, unless the defensive position happened to be in the open, and on a forward slope. This was seldom the case, and certainly not the case on Cemetery Ridge.  When a defender made good use of high ground, and strengthened his position with fortifications, it rendered the artillery technology of the 1860’s ineffective. This is because, long-range fire was too lightweight, and indirect fire was too inaccurate to have a great affect on the defense.  Artillery was most effective in its shock power, and in the case of the bombardment that proceeded Pickett’s Charge this shock was not enough to damage the main line of defense that would meet the Confederate assault.
The artillery actions of both sides had a great impact on why Pickett’s Charge ended in defeat for the Confederates. On the Confederate side, the artillery failed to soften up the Union line as intended—the fire was high. This was primarily because of several things. First, the quality of the Confederate ammunition and the nineteenth century artillery better suited for the defense than the offense as previously mentioned. Second, the smoke that covered the Federal position-not allowing the Confederates to see their fire was high and to adjust. Finally, the strong Union position affected the effectiveness of the Confederate fire. At long range, direct fire of Confederate cannons either would fly over the defender’s heads, or would simply dig into the bank. Any hope for indirect fire was minimal because this type of fire was simply too inaccurate.
When standing on the Seminary Ridge position and looking across the field to Cemetery Ridge the difficulty in ranging the Union position is apparent.  The land slopes gently down through a valley between the ridges and then up to the highpoint on the far Cemetery ridge—and Cemetery Ridge is higher than the firing position of the Confederate artillery. The simple topography of the position could lead to “aiming high”. When this is considered with the other factors it explains the ineffectiveness of the Confederate barrage.
On the issue of the Confederate artillery advancing with the infantry, this, according to Alexander was not an option. First, the ammunition was spent from the preparatory barrage. Second, it was not practical to fire over the heads of advancing infantry in support, because the fire had the potential for friendly-fire damage. The Confederate artillery was able to offer support in preparation, but not in execution. The Union artillery on the other hand, had the advantage of using their artillery on the defensive. The Union line was able to decimate the Confederate assault line with a progressive transition of projectiles that ended with the extremely effective canister fire.
Finally, the overall command of the artillery was much more effective on the Union side. While Alexander, did a capable job with his portion of the available artillery, overall coordination of fire rested on Pendleton’s incapable shoulders. Pendleton failed to use the artillery of the entire Confederate army effectively. For the Union Pendleton’s equivalent, Henry J. Hunt was one of the most capable in using “the long arm” in American history. Knowing that his artillery would have to meet a great infantry threat against which it would be most effective, Hunt conserved his fire for the infantry assault. In doing so, he gave the illusion that the Confederate fire had been effective, triggering the doomed assault by the Confederates.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Quasi War with France



   Most Americans have never heard of the Quasi War with France, but it was an important Naval conflict that tested the mettle of the new United States.  In July 1798 The American Delaware captured the French Croyable just off the American coast.  The Croyable was renamed the Retaliation . Shortly thereafter, a series of expeditions were launched to the West Indies, where most of the French privateers were located. The first expedition included the American United States and Delaware. These captured only a couple of privateers. The second expedition included the Retaliation, which was captured by a pair of French frigates off Guadeloupe.  The Retaliation was the only American warship captured during the war—and she was recaptured the following year.
Four squadrons, which totaled 21 ships, were sent to the West Indies once the American coastal waters were cleared. They had a easy time of it because the French were preoccupied with the British in other parts of the world. The Americans enjoyed the full support of the British Navy in the West Indies learning much from what at the time was the greatest navy in the world.
While on independent patrol, the Constellation, came upon the French Insurgente that was considered the fastest frigate the French had. Because of strong winds the Constellation was able to catch the Insurgente however as the French ship lost a mast. The Constellation was able to take advantage of this, pounding the Insurgente into submission. In this engagement, the Americans were said to have out sailed, outmaneuvered and outfought the French. The main asset in the fight for the Americans was that they never allowed the numerically superior French force to get in position to board.
A year later, the Constellation, came across the French Vengeance off Guadeloupe. The French did not wish to fight since the ship had passengers and certain cargo aboard. Nonetheless, the Constellation gave chase, eventually catching the Vengeance after a day of pursuit. Attacking after dark the Americans pounded the Vengeance with over 200 rounds of shot. The French captain, seeing the situation was hopeless tried to surrender, but the darkness concealed the attempt. The French were able to limp away under cover of darkness, but this was another clear victory for the Constellation.
The ship to see the most action during the Quasi War was the Enterprise. She was a smaller ship that was faster than most and could operate in shallow water. During one trip she actually captured 5 privateers, blew down the mast of another, and freed 11 captured American merchant ships. Another ship, the Essex also recaptured several American merchant ships.
The last battle of the Quasi War was actually fought after peace had been negotiated when the U.S. Ship Boston attacked the French Berceau. Neither the French or the Americans knew of the peace and the Americans were able to force the French to surrender. This period of American history has several lesser known wars, but all were important, especially to those that fought.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

McClellan, Intelligence and the Peninsular Campaign


McClellan's Peninsular Campaign was characterized by faulty intelligence that fatally slowed down his advance from Ft. Monroe to Richmond.  Urged forward by Lincoln, McClellan's plan was to land an army at Fort Monroe, and move up the Virginia peninsula toward Richmond. Shortly after deploying at Fort Monroe, McClellan’s force began their movement up the Peninsula, approaching Yorktown. The Army of the Potomac found its path to Richmond slowed at first by heavy rains and then blocked by Confederate Major General John Magruder who commanded a significantly smaller force. Since his June 1861 victory at Big Bethel, Magruder had constructed three defensive lines across the Peninsula.

The most formidable of these lines was the second, a line that stretched from Yorktown, along the Warwick River, to the James River. As McClellan carefully surveyed the extensive Confederate fortifications, Magruder paraded his troops along the earthworks, and lined the trenches with “Quaker guns” duping the Union commander into believing he was outnumbered. Magruder, a student of drama and master of deception, completely fooled McClellan, who instead of defeating the numerically inferior Confederates immediately, spent a month in a siege of Yorktown. Magruder eventually abandoned Yorktown but the time gained had been invaluable.

Believing he was outnumbered became a common theme with George B. McClellan, partly because of the intelligence he received based on Allan Pinkerton’s “unique arithmetic”. This obsession with being outnumbered and with protecting his magnificent army from damage gave McClellan a case of “the slows”. This allowed the Confederates to solidify their defenses of Richmond as they retreated West. This combined with the wounding of Confederate General Joe Johnston—which caused the passing the torch to Robert E. Lee, would be the downfall of the Union effort during the Peninsula Campaign.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Confederate Grand Strategy that led to Gettysburg


After the Confederate success at Chancellorsville, Jefferson Davis approached Robert E. Lee about the prospects of shifting some of the Army of Northern Virginia’s strength to the west. This, Davis explained, was needed to help rescue the better part of the western army and the stronghold of Vicksburg from sure doom. Lee disagreed. He was concerned about the wounded but still powerful Army of the Potomac. While the Army of the Potomac was on the ropes, Lee favored an alternative to draining his powerful force. Lee proposed an aggressive counteroffensive into northern territory. This, Lee felt would aid the grand strategy of the Confederacy by drawing Ulysses S. Grant and his formidable force away from the lower Mississippi Valley.
Taking some sort of action would soon gain a higher priority as Grant’s forces surrounded and laid siege to Vicksburg.  Now the task was to force Grant to lift the siege, and Jefferson Davis in contrast to Lee, again favored dispatching eastern Confederate troops to the west. The Confederate cabinet though, rallied in Lee’s favor, selling Davis, and the invasion of Pennsylvania became the decided strategy. The invasion they agreed would accomplish several things contributing to the Confederate strategy. Once in the north, they felt that the Federals would need to weaken the western armies to bolster the defending force—Davis’s primary concern, and that any victory achieved in enemy territory would have significant impact on the enemy’s morale and political situation. Coddington sums up the situation well through the quote of a member of Lee’s staff who wrote; “So, if General Lee remained inactive [as he most certainly would have to do if large numbers of his force were sent west], both Vicksburg and Richmond would be imperiled, whereas if he were successful north of the Potomac, both would be saved.” 
In addition a Confederate invasion would thwart the Union plans for continued campaigning in already ravished Virginia, because the Union Army would be forced to pursue the invaders. At the same time, the invading army could clear the Shenandoah Valley of the bothersome Federals who were threatening one of the key lifelines of the Confederate Army. Lee also hoped the taking the war to the north would give Virginia a chance to harvest crops, and strengthen its supply capability. At the same time, Lee knew that there were great-untapped resources available to the Confederacy in the enemy’s territory. Finally, if Lee were to win a major victory against the Army of the Potomac in enemy territory, this would strengthen the campaigning of the northern Peace Democrats and it might force Lincoln into negotiating a peace that would result in southern independence.
In preparation for the invasion, Lee made some significant changes to the structure of his army. The army consisted of two corps commanded by Jackson and Longstreet. Now, with Jackson gone—shot by his own men in a tragic accident at Chancellorsville, Lee decided to break his army into three corps. This would create three smaller corps that could be easier to control and to maneuver. The corps commanders were Longstreet, Ewell and A.P. Hill who commanded the new 3rd Corps. This widening of command brought many new officers into the sphere of responsibility. These officers, although handpicked with the help of Jefferson Davis, would handle these new responsibilities with mixed results.
Lee also shook things up in his artillery. In the past, there was a policy of attaching artillery batteries to only certain brigades. This caused problems because most infantry commanders did not use the batteries effectively. Lee took the artillery from each corps and divided it into battalions of four batteries each.  He then assigned these new gun battalions to each division, under the orders of the division commander. This put the artillery into a larger strategic picture and allowed the division commanders to employ their firepower to the highest advantage. In addition, there would no longer be a large pool of guns under Lee’s own command. The key to the process now was the chief of artillery of each corps who acting under orders of the corps commander directed the efforts of the five gun battalions in the corps—along with the division commanders.
            The cavalry, under General J.E.B. Stuart would also undergo some changes to bolster its strength. This consisted of the addition of General W.E. Jones’s cavalry brigade that was campaigning in the Shenandoah Valley, and two regiments of cavalry that were campaigning in North Carolina. This all resulted in the addition of three brigades and some improvement in equipment. Stuart’s Cavalry was now at about double its former strength. 
            The Confederates that began the invasion were reorganized, strengthened and confident. They had been victorious in recent battles and considered themselves almost invincible under their beloved commander. All indications were that their beloved commander felt the same way about the invincibility of his army. This, feeling of invincibility bred overconfidence in the Army of Northern Virginia. This overconfidence would be severely tested as the forces converged with the formidable Union force at Gettysburg.
After General Hooker replaced Burnside after Fredericksburg, he immediately made changes to strengthen the Army of the Potomac. His ability to administrate changes to improve the army rivaled the popular McClellan—relieved for his reluctance to damage his well-oiled machine in a real fight. Among other things, Hooker improved the diet and the discipline of his force, making sure that the men where well cared for, and scared to death if they should straggle or desert.
Hooker also made changes in the structure of the army. He immediately did away with the “grand divisions” created by Burnside, and reformed his force into the standard corps structure with seven corps commanders reporting directly to Hooker. Hooker also reorganized the cavalry into one corps instead of several separate divisions. He also shuffled his leaders to place those he considered the most capable into the key positions. The Army of the Potomac, before Chancellorsville, was at its peak condition and strength thanks to Hooker’s abilities as an administrator.
Nevertheless, like McClellan before him, Hooker excelled in preparation, but lacked in implementation. Hooker was simply “out-generaled” at Chancellorsville, where Lee’s numerically inferior force beat Hooker’s superior force soundly. Hooker, according to Coddington simply lost his nerve when he met the stiff resistance of Robert E. Lee’s Confederates (Coddington p. 33). Hooker and his army retreated across the Rappahannock, considering their next move, as Lee met with Davis to do the same.
The loss at Chancellorsville severely damaged Hooker's credibility. Corps commanders and junior officers alike lobbied to remove Hooker from command. At the same time, Hooker’s army was shrinking as the enlistment terms of many of his regiments expired. The strength of the army dropped 20 % in the months after Chancellorsville. All this, and the loss of over 17,000 men at Chancellorsville added to the concerns of the North.
In the lull between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, there where many concerns in the Federal army—most centering on its commander. The force itself had shrunk, but the army was still capable and full of experienced veterans. Unsure of what to do, and what Lee would do, the Army of the Potomac considered the offense—while ultimately adopting the defense. In the end, the Union Army that moved towards Gettysburg was still numerically superior to the Confederate Army.
Clinging to command, one of the smart things that Hooker did during this time was to reorganize his artillery, and put it under the command of the capable General Hunt. The artillery batteries were assigned to the various corps, in their own brigades, under the direction of an artilleryman. These brigades were distributed to give each infantry corps one brigade, and the cavalry corps two brigades. There were also five brigades placed in the reserve. This process centralized the command of the artillery, making it comparable in command effectiveness to the reorganized Confederate artillery discussed earlier. This would be very important in the month ahead.
There was much movement of the armies during June. On June 9, the Union cavalry corps under General Pleasonton launched a surprise attack on J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry at Brandy Station Virginia. After an all-day fight in which fortunes changed repeatedly, the Federals retired. Brandy Station, the largest cavalry battle of the war and the opening engagement of the Gettysburg Campaign, was significant. Although Stuart claimed victory, the Union cavalry had surprised his force. This was a humbling blemish on Stuart’s reputation. A Union cavalry force that he should have beaten easily according to Stuart’s legend had fought him almost evenly. This engagement would bolster the confidence of Northern cavalry and was a surprise to people both north and south.
There were some smaller engagements fought as the armies drifted north. These were primarily a result of the Federal search for the Confederate force. These include actions at Winchester Virginia on June 13 and 14, and cavalry action at Aldie Virginia on 17 June.  These and other incidents of contact between the armies resembled a game of cat and mouse. The South in particular traveled blindly, since Lee’s main source of intelligence, Stuart’s Cavalry, was off gallivanting behind enemy lines. There is some discussion about whom to blame for this, since Lee’s orders to Stuart were somewhat vague and left open to interpretive initiative. Nevertheless, as Lee traveled north, he was generally unaware that the federal army was close behind.  
Although the Federals were tracking the Confederates north, there was still much concern about the Federal leader. Hooker was not the general to beat Lee. This point would become moot as Hooker rendered his resignation in symbolic opposition to some troop assignments dictated by his superiors as the Gettysburg campaign began. The relieved Lincoln accepted the resignation from the surprised Hooker, laying the groundwork for the assignment of General George Meade as the army’s new commander. Meade was not the best general in the army. Meade was not even the best general in the east. Nevertheless, Meade was the best general that was willing to take on the challenge, and he would prove to be capable of handling it. Meade took over the Army of the Potomac on 28 June, just three days before the confrontation.
Reports about enemy movements increased on both sides, with the north having a slight advantage due to Stuart’s continued absence. Meade ordered his army towards Gettysburg based on received intelligence. The armies regardless of the amount of intelligence they received seemed to be on a collision course, although no one knew definitively that Gettysburg would be the location for the great battle.  Though not planned, the ultimate meeting of two small forces early on the morning of July 1 would prove to be the spark that quickly grew into a great fire.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review “Civil War Command and Strategy” Archer Jones


In “Civil War Command and Strategy” Archer Jones does an excellent job of painting the “big picture” of strategy in the Civil War. Jones examines the command systems and leadership of both armies and describes the various strategies that leaders used on both sides to attempt success.

There is much interesting discussion about concentration in space, and concentration in time. The author provides solid examples of how each side used these types of strategies while adjusting and evolving as the war progressed. The South for example leaned toward concentrations in space early in the war as Davis assembled large numbers in an attempt to secure his entire front. Lincoln, on the other hand seemed to lean towards concentrations in time attempting to coordinate much more difficult simultaneous advances of his inactive generals. While difficult to achieve, these concentrations in time eventually favored the larger army of the North. The Civil War was evolutionary in these concepts because of the modern technology that the commanders had available to execute these movements such as the steamboat, the telegraph, and especially the railroad.  Civil War commanders, in their use of these types of logistics, eventually revolutionized warfare, but they dragged traditional warfare into this evolutionary process. 

Traditional Napoleonic turning movements were at the heart of military doctrine during the Civil War. Jones provides excellent diagrams and examples that help one to easily visualize the intent and evolution of these movements. It is especially interesting to see his examples of the use of the movements through much of our history, even to the Gulf War, making the point that although warfare has certainly evolved considerably since the days of Napoleon, some good ideas are never out of date.

The use of raids, normally tied to Mosby and others from both sides, is an interesting and important portion of the author’s work. Defining key major actions of the war, such as Lee’s movement towards Antietam and Gettysburg as “raids”, really puts this key component of strategy in perspective. While on a grand scale--these were simply raids into enemy territory. The Confederacy was the first to use raids, but both sides perfected this strategy as Sherman’s march to the sea capped the war off.

During the Civil War, both sides eventually had effective command structures, although there was much growing pain such as the “kaleidoscopic” changes in command, never overcome in the Confederate Western Department, and eventually overcome in the Federal Eastern Department. Still, according to the author the ultimate overall field commanders, Lee and Grant “worked in great harmony” with their Presidents. Davis had the advantage here however because he found his General early on, while Lincoln’s quest took some time. In the end though, Lincoln’s General with his tenacity and ample resources would balance and ultimately outweigh the others on the playing field.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The American Civil War & Jefferson County, E. & W. Virginia Tales From a Debatable Land 1858-1866


The American Civil War & Jefferson County, E. & W. Virginia Tales From a Debatable Land 1858-1866
From the Website:
A chronological re-telling through videos, podcasts, text and images of the incredible but true stories of one of the most war-torn, politically fought over places in the Civil War – Jefferson County, Virginia, (then “dragged-kicking” into – West Virginia) – where John Brown raids, is tried and hanged – the place of a hundred armed conflicts – starved-out farms – the escaping, fighting, spying and loyal enslaved – a freed, black man owns four farms in 1860 – countless home-hospitals for the wounded from the Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg, (called “the bloodiest day in American history”) – Col. John Singleton Mosby’s Greenback Raid – where Gen. Phil Sheridan’s devastation of the Shenandoah Valley is launched; much of the Washington family living here.
This blog is sponsored by American Public University, a member of the regionally accredited American Public University Sytem. American Public University offers more than 80 online degree programs ranging from homeland security to management and liberal arts.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Jomini, Clauswitz and the Tactics of the Civil War


In discussing the development of an effective strategy for the prosecution of the war, the leadership from both sides drew from the same core philosophy—that of Jomini, and the teachings of the early nineteenth century.  As Archer Jones wrote in his article about Jomini and the Strategy of the Civil War, most Civil War commanders used Jomini’s strategies whether familiar with them or not.

On the Union side, this was especially prevalent with the early leaders of the war like McClellan, and others who attempted to fight this first modern war by the book.  The origins of strategic thinking began at the professional military institutions and evolved further in the war with Mexico where many of the Civil War leaders fought. This same type of strategy, although effective in Mexico, was no longer effective in the CW.  As Archer Jones explains, these Jominian tactics in fact led to the indecisiveness of CW commanders. John Shy gives several reasons why these Jominian tactics were no longer effective: First, all forces are not the same as Jomini espoused. Second, politics and war are not separate, although leaders like McClellan attempted to prosecute the war with as little Lincoln intervention as possible. Finally according to Shy, the experience of each leader did not conform to the modern war that the CW was becoming, and Jominian tactics did not address these new elements of total war.

In Civil War Command and Strategy, Archer Jones describes the Union strategy as leaning towards concentrations in time. This favored the larger Northern army according to the author. The North would make simultaneous advances against many different parts of the Confederate cordon defense, Because of the smaller Confederate force, the Southerners would be weak at one point and this would be the planned point of Northern breakthrough. This strategy eventually worked for the North as Grant prosecuted the war to a successful close.

As T. Harry Williams explained in his article “The Return of Jomini…” Jomini, and Clauswitz were on different ends of the scale. Union fighters started the war purely Jominian, (while losing battles) but evolved more towards Clauswitz’s concepts of total war to prosecute the war to a successful end. As this shift was made on the Northern side Lincoln shifted towards those commanders that embraced these concepts of total war.

When considering the evolution of the Union command system, one must consider the teachings of T. Harry Williams in “Lincoln and his Generals. Lincoln, began the war trusting the abilities of his early military leaders but quickly shifted to a more hands on approach as he learned of their ineptitude. Lincoln, according to Williams was forced to take a more hands on approach. Lincoln learned early on that the focus of the Union effort had to be on the Confederate army, not cities—like Richmond. Lincoln also understood the importance of public opinion and morale and he worked hard to develop a positive big picture to keep the entire North motivated for the fight.  Lincoln was very hands on according to Williams, until he found his general—in Grant. This hands on process led towards a more modern command system with Lincoln as Commander in Chief, Grant as General in Chief, and Halleck as Chief of Staff.

On the Confederate side, Southern leaders may have been more closely tied to Jominian philosophy then Northern generals since it took them longer to make the shift mentioned by Williams in “The Return of Jomini…” When considering the origins of Confederate strategic thinking, it is important to realize that these roots were exactly the same as the North, since the leaders had been taught in the same schools and fought in the same Mexican War. Although as stated by Williams in his article from “Why the North Won…” there were differences at the top. Davis acted more as General in Chief then Commander in Chief while Lincoln, when he finally found his General, was better able to manage the big picture. As Williams describes in the same article, under Grant the shift was made from Jomini to Clauswitz enabling the North to emerge victorious. Where as with the South, the best overall General—Lee was never given overall command and Jefferson Davis, was unable to prosecute the war to a successful end for the South.

The South according to Archer Jones in “CW Command and Strategy” focused on concentrations in Space in an attempt to establish a cordon defense and best use their interior lines. Davis knew the importance of holding as much territory as possible because any loss of territory would result in a loss of potential soldiers. The turning movement was at the heart of CW doctrine according to Jones—lessons learned again in the Mexican War. The Confederates used these turning movements extremely well. The South also used raids very effectively early according to Jones, but the North implemented this raid strategy as they prosecuted the war to a successful close.

Overall, the North did a better job of adjusting to modern warfare and developing a modern command structure according to the teachings of this course. While both sides seemed to start the war fighting the way they knew based on the teachings and experiences they received, the North caught on early. Under the leadership of Lincoln the North made the transition from Jomini to Clauswitz in their successful attempt to reunite the nation.