The principles of war were not established in a training regulation
until 1921. However, many of the concepts of present-day army warfare were developed during the Civil War. Most senior
Union and Confederate commanders were graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New
York. They were well versed in the art of war, as then practiced.
Technological innovations, such as the rifled-musket, required changes in
tactics to meet the new situations. Dogmatic commanders tended to be replaced by those able to adapt to field conditions during
the latter years of the war. Those present during the final stages of the Civil War had learned their lessons well, but tired,
saddle-weary, rain-soaked, combat-hardened veterans did make mistakes during battle. These mistakes were paid for by their
soldiers. The lessons of the final engagements of the conflict, relative to the principles of war, require a careful assessment
of the movements of the commands, deployment of troops, offensive action, defensive action, unit cohesion, and unit disintegration.
By studying the Civil War, the U.S. Army has learned invaluable lessons.
|Civil War Strategy Map
|American Civil War
TENETS OF ARMY OPERATIONS
Whenever Army forces are called to fight, they fight to win. Army forces in
combat seek to impose their will on the enemy. Victory is the objective, no matter what the mission. Nothing short of victory
is acceptable. The fundamental tenets of Army operations doctrine describe the characteristics of successful operations. In
and of themselves they do not guarantee victory, but their absence makes winning difficult and costly to achieve.
The tenets are:
The ability to set or to change the terms of battle.
In the attack, initiative implies never allowing the enemy to recover from the initial shock of the attack. In the defense,
initiative implies quickly turning the tables on the attacker. In battle, initiative requires the decentralization of decision
authority to the lowest practical level.
The ability of friendly forces to react faster than
the enemy. A mental and physical quality, it is a prerequisite for seizing and holding the initiative. The accumulation of
chance errors, unexpected difficulties, and confusion of battle creates friction that impedes both sides.
The extension of operations in time, space, resources,
and purpose. Operations are conducted throughout the depth of the battlefield with the aim of defeating the enemy more rapidly
by denying freedom of action and disrupting or destroying the coherence and tempo of its operations.
The ability to focus resources and activities
in time and space to provide maximum relative combat power at the decisive point.
The ability of units to meet diverse challenges,
shift focus, tailor forces, and move from one role or mission to another rapidly and efficiently.
DYNAMICS OF COMBAT POWER
Four primary elements combine to create combat power - the ability to fight.
The elements are:
The movement of combat forces to gain positional
advantage, usually in order to deliver either direct or indirect fire upon the enemy. Maneuver is the means of positioning
forces at decisive points to achieve surprise, psychological shock, physical momentum, massed effects, and moral dominance.
The destructive force essential to defeating the
enemy's ability and will to fight. It is the amount of fire that may be delivered by a position, unit, or weapon system.
Conserving the fighting potential of a force so
that commanders can apply it at the decisive time and place. Protection has four components: operational security, conservation
of soldiers' health, morale, and equipment readiness, safety, and avoidance of fratricide.
The most essential dynamic of combat power is
competent and confident leadership of officers and noncommissioned officers.
PRINCIPLES OF WAR
Direct every military operation toward a clearly
defined, decisive, attainable objective. The ultimate military purpose of war is the destruction of the enemy armed forces
and the enemy's will to fight.
Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. Offensive
action is the most effective and decisive way to attain a clearly defined common objective. Offensive operations are the means
by which a military force seizes and holds the initiative while maintaining freedom of action and achieving decisive results.
Mass the effects of overwhelming combat power at the
decisive place and time. To mass is to hit the enemy with a closed fist, not poke at him with the fingers of an open hand.
Mass seeks to smash the enemy, not sting him.
Economy of Force:
Economy of force is the judicious employment
and distribution of forces. No part of the force should ever be left without purpose.
Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through
flexible application of combat power.
Unity of Command:
For every objective, seek unity of command
and unity of effort. Unity of command means that all forces are under one responsible commander.
Never permit the enemy to acquire unexpected advantage.
Security enhances freedom of action by reducing vulnerability to hostile acts, influence, or surprise. Security results from
the measures taken by a commander to protect his forces.
Strike the enemy at a time or place or in a manner
for which he is unprepared. Surprise can decisively shift the balance of combat power.
Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and concise
orders to ensure thorough understanding. Everything in war is very simple, but the simple thing is difficult.
(See also related
References: Center of Military History, United States
Army, Washington, D.C.; Field
Manual (FM) 100–5. 1993 Operations, U.S.
Army, June 1993.
Highly Recommended Reading:
THE ART OF WAR, Sun Tzu (Author). Description: Twenty-Five Hundred years
ago, Sun Tzu wrote this classic book of military strategy based on Chinese warfare and military thought. The Art of War is
the Swiss army knife of military theory--pop out a different tool for any situation. Folded into this package are compact
views on resourcefulness, momentum, cunning, the profit motive, flexibility, integrity, secrecy, speed, positioning, surprise,
deception, manipulation, responsibility, and practicality. Continued below...
This translation keeps the package tight, with crisp language and short
sections. Commentaries from the Chinese tradition trail Sun Tzu's words, elaborating and picking up on puzzling lines. Take
the solitary passage: "Do not eat food for their soldiers." Elsewhere, Sun Tzu has told us to plunder the enemy's stores,
but now we're not supposed to eat the food? The Tang dynasty commentator Du Mu solves the puzzle nicely, "If the enemy suddenly
abandons their food supplies, they should be tested first before eating, lest they be poisoned." Most passages, however, are
the pinnacle of succinct clarity: "Lure them in with the prospect of gain, take them by confusion" or "Invincibility is in
oneself, vulnerability is in the opponent." Sun Tzu's maxims are widely applicable beyond the military because they speak
directly to the exigencies of survival. Your new tools will serve you well, but don't flaunt them. Remember Sun Tzu's advice:
"Though effective, appear to be ineffective." The Art of War is a book which should be used to gain advantage
of opponents in the boardroom and battlefield alike.
Reading: Battle Tactics of the Civil War (Yale Nota Bene) (Yale University
Press). Description: Was the Civil War really the birthplace of modern battlefield tactics? Paddy Griffith argues
that despite the use of new weapons and of trench warfare techniques, the Civil War was in reality the last Napoleonic-style
war. Rich in description and analysis, this is a book of interest both to military historians and to Civil War buffs. "Belongs
on the shelf of every historian, Civil War buff, and military tactician." -- Maj. James T. Currie, Army. "Provides a fresh
and provocative appraisal of the [Civil] War. . . . An essential read for anyone interested in the subject." -- Military History
Illustrated. Continued below...
About the Author:
Paddy Griffith, formerly a senior lecturer in war studies at the Royal
Military Academy at Sandhurst, England, is the author of several
other books on military subjects, including Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army's Art of Attack, published
by Yale University Press.
Recommended Reading: The
Bloody Crucible of Courage: Fighting Methods and Combat Experience of the Civil War. Description: In this groundbreaking achievement in Civil War scholarship, acclaimed military historian
Brent Nosworthy leads an all-out attack on the many myths and misunderstandings about how the North and South fought, and
covers for the first time in any book the variety of Civil War combat methods in their entirety. Now everything from grand
tactics to hand-to-hand combat during our nation’s costliest war is given its proper due in the development of warfare.
Nosworthy weaves together the story of newly emerging weapons, the resulting
changes in military doctrine, and the combatants’ experiences as these innovations were applied to the battlefield.
Detailing methods of warfare from General Irvin McDowell’s first tentative efforts at Bull Run to Lee’s and Grant’s
final exertions at Petersburg and Appomattox, the author examines tactical variations due to regional differences and the
distinctive circumstances of each campaign. Along with maps, diagrams, and illustrations throughout, The Bloody Crucible of
Courage recognizes the primacy of the war’s most compelling voices, and contains hundreds of firsthand accounts from
the front lines. "This massive study of Civil War weaponry, tactics and combat practices covers so much so well
that it's indispensable." Publishers Weekly
Reading: Hardtack & Coffee or The Unwritten Story of Army Life. Description: Most histories of the Civil War focus on battles and top brass.
Hardtack and Coffee is one of the few to give a vivid, detailed picture of what ordinary soldiers endured every day—in
camp, on the march, at the edge of a booming, smoking hell. John D. Billings of Massachusetts
enlisted in the Army of the Potomac and survived the hellish conditions as a “common
foot soldier” of the American Civil War. "Billings describes an insightful account of the conflict – the experiences of every
day life as a common foot-soldier – and a view of the war that is sure to score with every buff."
The authenticity of his book is heightened by the many drawings that a comrade, Charles W. Reed, made while in the field.
This is the story of how the Civil War soldier was recruited, provisioned, and disciplined. Continued below...
are the types of men found in any outfit; their not very uniform uniforms; crowded tents and makeshift shelters; difficulties
in keeping clean, warm, and dry; their pleasure in a cup of coffee; food rations, dominated by salt pork and the versatile
cracker or hardtack; their brave pastimes in the face of death; punishments for various offenses; treatment in sick bay; firearms
and signals and modes of transportation. Comprehensive and anecdotal, Hardtack and Coffee is striking for the pulse of life
that runs through it.
Viewing: America at War Megaset (History Channel) (Number of discs: 14) (Run Time: 1948 minutes).
Description: From the first musket shots at Lexington and Concord to the precision-guided munitions in modern-day Baghdad.
America's history has been forged in the
heat of battle. AMERICA AT WAR presents twenty-five documentaries from THE
HISTORY CHANNEL charting U.S. military
conflict over two centuries. This "fourteen disc set" explores key moments of the American Revolution, the Alamo, Mexican
American War, the Civil War, Spanish American War, World Wars I and II as well as the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian
Gulf, and Iraq. Continued below...
collection draws upon the expertise of noted historians, military authorities, engineers, and war correspondents to convey
the personal side of conflict not often found in history books. A trove of archival footage and documents brings viewers closer
than ever to the heated heart of combat. This is truly a one-of-a-kind collector's
1863 U.S. Infantry Tactics: Infantry of the Line, Light Infantry, and Riflemen (Hardcover: 608 pages). Description: Written in 1861 at the direction of the War Department and copiously illustrated, this was the
book used to train, lead, and maneuver U.S. Infantry units on Civil War battlefields. It contains the school of the soldier,
the company, and battalion or fielded regiment, along with all-important instructions for skirmishers. More than 15 pages of field music, the articles of war
in use at the time, and a dictionary of Civil War military terminology complete this extensive work. The work was authorized
and adopted by the Secretary of War on May 1, 1861. This is the second edition issued in 1863.
Reading: Arms and Equipment of the
Civil War. Description: Enhanced with marvelous illustrations, the text describes what
materiel was available to the armies and navies of both sides — from iron-clad gunboats, submarine torpedoes, and military
balloons to pontoon bridges, percussion grenades, and siege artillery — with on-the-scene comments by Union
and Confederate soldiers about equipment and camp life. Includes more than 500
black-and-white illustrations. RATED 5 STARS. Continued...
Civil War on DVD, A Film by Ken Burns. The Civil War, by Ken
Burns, is an 11 hour mini-series and the most successful documentary in American
history. Massive in scope and scale--including numerous scholars and Civil War historians--The Civil War has set a new standard for Civil War documentaries...
Reading: Robert E. Lee on Leadership
: Executive Lessons in Character, Courage, and Vision. Description: Robert
E. Lee was a leader for the ages. The man heralded by Winston Churchill as "one of the noblest Americans who ever lived" inspired
an out-manned, out-gunned army to achieve greatness on the battlefield. He was a brilliant strategist and a man of unyielding
courage who, in the face of insurmountable odds, nearly changed forever the course of history. "A masterpiece—the best work of its kind I have ever read. Crocker's Lee is a Lee for all leaders to study; and
to work, quite deliberately, to emulate." — Major General Josiah Bunting III, Superintendent of
the Virginia Military Institute. Continued below...
In this remarkable
book, you'll learn the keys to Lee's greatness as a man and a leader. You'll find a general whose standards for personal excellence
was second to none, whose leadership was founded on the highest moral principles, and whose character was made of steel. You'll
see how he remade a rag-tag bunch of men into one of the most impressive fighting forces history has ever known. You'll also
discover other sides of Lee—the businessman who inherited the debt-ridden Arlington plantation and streamlined its operations, the
teacher who took a backwater college and made it into a prestigious university, and the motivator who inspired those he led
to achieve more than they ever dreamed possible. Each chapter concludes with the extraordinary lessons learned, which can
be applied not only to your professional life, but also to your private life as well.
world requires leaders of uncommon excellence who can overcome the cold brutality of constant change. Robert E. Lee was such
a leader. He triumphed over challenges people in business face every day. Guided by his magnificent example, so can you.
and inspiring book, Robert E. Lee on Leadership offers enormously valuable lessons for all of us today, and should be required
reading in the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon, at least."
Weinberger, former Secretary of Defense, chairman of Forbes magazine
"As Harry Crocker
reminds us, the principles that guided Robert e. Lee were grounded in the finest traditions of American values. Robert E.
Lee on Leadership is a timely and valuable reflection on character, and on the personal and spiritual convictions that make
for great leaders."
Patrick Presley, director of Federal Government Affairs, British Petroleum
"A moving and
illuminating look at Lee the man, so that thoughtful people can learn from him how to succeed in the business of life."
D'Souza, author of Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader
has provided a great service by reminding us through this moving and tightly written biography that winning isn't the only
thing: faithfulness and honor live in our memories after the guns are silent."
Olasky, author of the bestselling Renewing American Compassion and The American Leadership Tradition