The Magazine

Tactical Exercise

The Civil War was a contest between two sets of West Pointers.

Apr 19, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 29 • By BARTON SWAIM
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

It’s easy to forget that, while Northern and Southern electorate-s reached the point of irreconcilability in 1861, their armies remained identical in almost everything but uniform. Just as Northerners and Southerners prayed to the same God (as Abraham Lincoln would say in his Second Inaugural), so their generals had read the same books, their officers had used the same tactical manuals, their recruits had suffered through the same drills.

“This rough equilibrium in competence continued throughout the war,” Hsieh concludes, and “made the annihilation of a Civil War field army in a set-piece battle—the great Napoleonic dream of Civil War commanders—a supremely difficult task.”

Barton Swaim is the author, most recently, of Scottish Men of Letters and the New Public Sphere: 1802-1834.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers