Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jomini's Influence in Early Civil War Strategy

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.  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.  These Jominian tactics in fact led to the indecisiveness of CW commanders. There are 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, 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.