A Strategic Alternative?…..14
Was there an alternative strategy open to Civil War armies—one that would have brought a speedier end to the conflict and cost far fewer casualties?
Panel Discussion: Allen Guelzo, James McPherson, Keith Poulter, Steven Newton, Steven Woodworth
Allen Guelzo argues that places, not armies, should have been the focus of the Union armies in the East from the start of the war. He criticizes Lincoln’s instructions to his Eastern commanders to make the Confederacy’s armies their main targets. James McPherson disagrees, citing what little effect the loss of numerous large cities such as New Orleans, Nashville, and Memphis had on the Confederacy. Steven Woodworth takes a “middle of the road” approach in much of this debate, citing the need to both diminish enemy armies AND take enemy cities to win. Guelzo is rightly criticized for his claim that armies were larger in the Civil War than the Napoleonic Wars and his using that claim as a base for further argument. Steven Newton began the debate fully opposed to Guelzo’s line of reasoning, but then realized that taking enmey cities was essentially the strategy employed by the Union in the West. He also pointed out that early in the war, Richmond as a logistical center WAS more important than the main Confederate army in the East. Keith Poulter also believes more in the theory of making armies the main object rather than cities, though in the end he was also partially persuaded by Guelzo’s arguments.
Tactics in the Wilderness…..22
by Reid Ross
Meade, Hancock, and Hays—Lifting the “fog of war.”
Due to extenuating circumstances, the number of official reports for the Wilderness were few, far removed in time from the battle, and inaccurate in many respects. For this article Reid Ross examines 25 accounts by members of the regiments of Hays’ Union II Corps brigade, Confederate sources in the three brigades which fought opposite Hays in the Wilderness on May 5, 1864, and numerous other first-person accounts by men who were on the ground on the day of battle. Using these 80 odd accounts, Ross says the debated role of Hays’ brigade in the Wilderness on May 5 can be explained. He believes, among other things, that elements of Hays’ Brigade were on the front line with Getty’s VI Corps division as early as 3 pm. Traditional accounts don’t have Hancock’s Corps arriving on the Orange Plank Road until 4:30 pm on May 5.
Missourians and the War on the Western Rivers…..44
By William Piston and Thomas Sweeney
Missourians played a critical role in events that made the Union’s riverine victory possible.
James B. Eads, the builder of the famous Union “City Series” ironclads, and the men of Missouri’s shipyards were instrumental in helping the North win the war on the western rivers.
Snake Creek Gap and the Campaign That Never Happened…..56
by Steven Newton
The campaign as envisaged by General George H. Thomas would have been very different.
At the outset of the 1864 Atlanta Campaign, General George H. Thomas wanted to take his large Army of the Cumberland through Snake Creek Gap to Resaca while the smaller Armies of the Tennessee and Ohio held Joseph Johnston’s army in place around Dalton, Georgia. William T. Sherman, as commander of the combined armies, overruled Thomas and sent McPherson’s much smaller Army of the Tennessee instead. According to author Steven Newton, McPherson’s timid advance was a huge mistake, and believes an advance by Thomas might have greatly changed the outcome of the Atlanta Campaign. Sherman, in addition to using McPherson’s army instead of Thomas’, also initially favored advancing on Rome, Georgia with a wider swing to the right than Thomas envisioned. Newton obviously thinks very highly of Thomas while not sharing so favorable an opinion of James B. McPherson. Newton ends his article by saying Sherman claimed credit for the Snake Creek Gap idea at the expense of Thomas, and he believes “[i]t is time, and past time, to give George Thomas his due.”
The Savage War…..68
by Daniel Sutherland
The irregular war that gripped much of the Southern and border states was far more significant than historians have hitherto believed.
Dr. Daniel Sutherland discusses guerrilla warfare during the Civil War in an excerpt from his book A Savage War: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War. As one might suspect from the subtitle, Sutherland believes guerrillas played not only a major, but a decisive role in the war. Topics include the definition of a guerrilla, an attempt to estimate the number of guerrillas in the Civil War, and the effect of guerrillas on the Confederate home front as the war wore on.
Keith Poulter bemoans the “dumbing down” of the English language, providing the butchering of sci-fi author Isaac Asimov as only one example.
by Albert A. Nofi
A Civil War Digest.
Civil War Round Tables…..43
A listing of Civil War Round Tables.
Do You Know?…..43
Civil War Trivia.
Purchasing Back Issues of North & South.
This issue’s cover features troopers of Company E, 6th Michigan Cavalry, deploying as skirmishers under the watchful eye of their new brigade commander, General George Armstrong Custer, the youngest general officer in the Union army. The painting is by Dale Gallon.
- The Union vs. Dr. Mudd by Hal Higdon
- The Assassin’s Accomplice by Kate Clifford Larson
- The Catholics and Mrs. Surratt by Kenneth J. Zanca
- Tried by War, Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James M. McPherson
- William Francis Bartlett: Biography of a Union General in the Civil War by Richard A. Sauers and Martin H. Sable
- The Timberclads in the Civil War: The Lexington, Conestoga, and Tyler on the Western Waters by Myron J. Smith, Jr.
- Never for Want of Powder: The Confederate Powder Works in Augusta, Georgia by Gordon A. Blaker, Stephanie A.J. Jacobe, and Theodore P. Savas
- The Horrid Pit: The Battle of the Crater, the Civil War’s Cruelest Mission by Alan Axelrod
- The 115th New York in the Civil War: A Regimental History by Mark Silo