- War is politics by other means. Hey, we all knew that, but interesting to see how the battles affected the politics, and vice versa. I guess I never appreciated how fragile Lincoln's standing in the North was, and how important Sherman's run through to Atlanta and beyond was for the politics.
- The other side of this coin--that the politics shaped the selection of generals, especially in the North. And not in a good way.
- That the Europeans were idiots. This war showed that the increased rate of fire and accuracy of the firearms made it very, very difficult for either side to attacked a semi-prepared defense. The folks preparing for World War I should have known better, given the American experience with the new weapons, even before the machine gun.
- The larger armies, with such a great thirst for food, ammunition and all the rest, became tied to railroads or waterways. Warfare may have been about logistics before, but this war demonstrated the centrality of the stuff and getting it to the front; or cutting off the other guy's supply of the stuff.
- I developed a new appreciate for Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman--and I discovered a new key actor up north--General Halleck who mentored the latter two and managed the former. While we are tempting to think that the relative balance of power determined the outcome of the war, we have seen since then that war is not just about the number of guys and guns on either side. Individuals do make a difference. The South had some very sharp generals but a very difficult situation. If the North had not had some equals, the Southerners could have made a re-election campaign by Lincoln far more difficult.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Some Really Old Civil-Military Relations
I have been reading a massive tome on the military history of the American Civil War: How the North Won by Hattaway and Jones. I really have not read anything of consequence about the Civil War since high school, and, with my recently revised interest in the area of civil-military relations, I thought it would interesting. And I was right. So, what did I learn?