Southern Storm: Sherman's March to the Sea

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Belatedly, I want to mention that I’ve received a pre-publication copy of Noah Andre Trudeau’s Southern Storm: Sherman’s March to the Sea, which I’ll hope to provide a full review of before too long. At first blush, it appears to be an excellent read.

Since this book falls into the category of Civil War Campaigns, I’ve added a shelf in my virtual bookstore to accommodate it which you can find here.

As a student of military history, one of the many things that I find so fascinating about Sherman’s march is that its destructive power encourages its consideration as “total war” a la Clausewitz. Can’t wait to dig in to this one.

For those of you in the Chicago area, Mr. Trudeau’s publisher Harper Collins, indicates that he will be publicizing his book at the following on Thursdays.

Thursday, September 11, 2008
05:00 PM – 07:30 PM
PRITZKER MILITARY LIBRARY
2nd FL 610 N Fairbanks Court Chicago, IL 60611

Sherman's March to the Sea

  • Published on: 2008-08-01
  • Released on: 2008-08-05
  • Original language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060598670
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060598679
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.8 inches
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 688 pages
  • May Civil War and Military History Book Acquisitions – I

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    Catching up on acquisitions of new books in May. I’ve really got to get on a book budget.

    Note that I’ve added two new category pages to my vitural bookshelves here. These include:

    Military History

    I’ve added serveral recommended military history reference books.

     Encyclopedia of American Military History (3 beautiful volumes!)

  • Facts on File, Inc.
  • Published on: 2003-03
  • Number of items: 3
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 1500 pages
  • Encyclopedia of American Military History (Facts on File Library of American History)

     

    The War Companions Set: Consisting of The Oxford Companion to American Military History and The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern War 2-Volume Set
    From Oxford University Press, USA

  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (June 14, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195217039
  • Published on: 2000-06-14
  • Number of items: 1
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    Consisting of The Oxford Companion to American Military History and The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern War 2-Volume Set

     

    The Reader’s Companion to Military History
    By Society for Military History

  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company (November 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395669693
  • Published on: 1996-11
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 573 pages
  • The Reader's Companion to Military History

     

    An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present
    By David Eggenberger

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Rev Sub edition (September 1, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486249131
  • Published on: 1985-09-01
  • Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present

     

    War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today
    By Max Boot

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham (October 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592402224
  • 1500 to Today

     

    The Savage Wars Of Peace: Small Wars And The Rise Of American Power

     By Max Boot

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (May 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046500721X
  • Small Wars And The Rise Of American Power

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    Stewards of Civil War Railroads – Part III

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    This post completes the series, Stewards of Civil War Railroads. Read Part I here and Part II here.

    Group of the Construction Corps U.S. Military Railroads with working tools, etc., Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Above: Group of the Construction Corps U.S. Mil. R. Rds., with working tools, etc., Chattanooga, Tennessee
    Courtesy of Library of Congress: LC-USZ62-62364

    Millett and Maslowski posit that President Abraham Lincoln did not have Jefferson Davis’ sensitivity about government interference with railroads. The evidence supports the point and also suggests that Davis’ hands-off approach expanded to other areas under his purview including signals and communications. Whether he was afflicted with chronic indecisiveness or was bowing to the perceived whims of a public unreceptive to “big government” is open for discussion but as in many things, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. Regardless, it is clear that rational military considerations were not the sole concern in shaping the South’s military policies and programs. Had they been so, military needs would have received higher priority and the events of the war may have flowed differently.

    Above: Lincoln and McClellan

    The impact of the decision making processes in the Lincoln and Davis administrations and the respective Congresses as regards those issues impacting the military is indeed a fascinating one and worthy of continued analysis and review. Clearly the social, economic, and political nuances of the North versus the South had much to do with the directions taken within each section. But one is left to wonder whether the leadership qualities of Lincoln and Davis, including the ability to be decisive, allowed the North to more frequently follow a path guided by rational military reason.

    The engine

    Above: The engine “Firefly” on a trestle of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.
     

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    Stewards of Civil War Railroads – Part II Davis

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    This post continues from Part I, here.

    Jefferson Davis

    Jefferson Davis (above) and the Confederate Congress, by contrast, were reluctant to wrestle control of the railroads away from civilian owners. This was consistent with a laissez faire pattern exhibited by Davis on a number of issues involving civilian commercial interests and may have been a response to the populace’s opposition to overbearing centralized government. The consequences were dire for Lee. In the winter of 1862, he found his Army of Northern Virginia completely reliant on its communications. [i]

    Pocotaligo

    Above: Pocotaligo, South Carolina - Railroad depot center of image surrounded by rough sketch of soldiers and covered wagons. Circa: 1865
    Medium: 1 drawing on tan paper : pencil, black ink wash, and Chinese white ; 14.7 x 21.4 cm. (sheet).
    Source: Library of Congress Ref: LC-USZ62-14306 (b&w film copy neg.)

    With the mobility, indeed the survival, of the army dependent on the efficient use of the railroads, the railroad owners responded with an assertion of their individual rights. They failed to cooperate. Government shipments were accorded low priority. The railroads over which the animals’ feed had to be transported refused to use the space for bulk fodder. The breakdown of the railroad system led to a crisis in the supply of horses, mules, fodder, and subsistence. The Army of Northern Virginia was left hanging at the end of its lines of communications.[ii]

     Warrenton Depot

    Above: Warrenton Depot, on the Orange & Alexandria RR, in August 1862. Supply point for Lee.

    Davis’ refusal to give greater control to the military for operation of the railroads added to “the weight of this burden of waging war by improvisation within the confines of the Confederacy’s social and political ideals [and] helped break the back of Confederate offensive power.” [iii]

    Edward Hagerman notes that problems continued into 1863 as “conflicts between the commissary agents of field commanders and those of the [Confederate] Subsistence Department hampered efficient gathering of available resources.” [iv] The largest obstacle was “the failure of the railroads to cooperate in the distribution of food surpluses from other states to the Army of Northern Virginia. Neither the army nor the government exercised any control over the railroads.” [v] It wasn’t until Lee’s army was faced with starvation that the Confederate Congress intervened. In April of 1863, it “hesitantly” granted Jefferson Davis the “authority to regulate the railroads.” [vi]

    The laissez faire-minded Davis was as reluctant to accept the authority as the Confederate Congress was to bestow it. Here was the instrument to prevent a recurrence of the crisis of the past winter. It would enable through scheduling the interchange of rolling stock from one railroad to another. It also would enable the War Department, rather than the railroad owners, to decide on the priority of material to be transported. [vii]

    Davis signed the bill into law but Congress ensured its ineffectiveness by failing to approve an “office of railroad superintendent” as proposed by the secretary of war and by sacking the temporary appointee. [viii] “Not until early 1865, far too late, did the Confederacy finally take control of the railroads.” [ix]

    [i, ii, iii] Edward Hagerman, The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), 121.

    [iv, v] Ibid., 130.

    [vi, vii, viii] Ibid., 131.

    [ix] Allan R. Millett and Peter Maslowski, For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America, 165.

     

     

    Stewards of Civil War Railroads – Part I Lincoln

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    The decisions made by leaders of the North and South regarding the dispensations of their respective railroads, could arguably be some of the most impactful of the war. Armies on both sides considered railroads critical. But Lincoln and Davis approached the control and stewardship of these vital resources differently. The resulting policies did not equally reflect rational military consideration.

    United States Military Railroad 4-4-0 locomotive W.H. Whiton (built by William Mason in 1862) in January 1865 with Abraham Lincoln's presidential car, which later was used as his funeral car.

    Above: United States Military Railroad 4-4-0 locomotive W.H. Whiton (built by William Mason in 1862) in January 1865 with Abraham Lincoln’s presidential car, which later was used as his funeral car.
    Source: WikicommonsAbraham Lincoln

    The need for oversight of the rails came early in the war. Edward Hagerman highlights Federal Quartermaster General Meigs’ complaints in the opening months of the war over the problems of coordination that arose “from civilian control of the railroads.” [i]  In January of 1862, Congress gave Lincoln the authority he needed “to take control whenever public safety warranted it.” [ii]  Lincoln moved decisively, appointing within thirty days Daniel C. McCallum (below) as director of the United States Military Railroads (USMRR).

    Daniel C. McCallum (1815 – 1878)’
    Photo Source: Wikicommons, Public Domain

    Daniel Craig McCallum

    In May of 1862, Abraham Lincoln “took formal possession of all railroads.” General McCallum recruited Herman Haupt (below), a “brilliant railroad engineer,” to assume duties as Military Director and Superintendent of the United States Military Railroad. Haupt was given the rank of Colonel and Lincoln gave him broad, albeit frequently challenged, powers.

    Henry Haupt (1817 – 1905)
    Military Director and Superintendent of the united States Military Railroad

    Henry Haupt

    In the next post, the action of the South.

    You may also be interested in two of my previous posts on Civil War Railroads:

  • Were the North and South Evenly Matched on the Rails?
  • Railroad Generalship (Profiles Herman Haupt)
  • [i] Edward Hagerman, The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), 63.
    [ii] Allan R. Millett and Peter Maslowski, For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America, (New York: The Free Press, 1994), 165.

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    Civil War History Phrase of the Day – The Flying Column

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    Supply and logistics were a huge challenge for the Army of the Potomac and this was certainly true as General Joseph Hooker (above, 1814 – 1879) contemplated moving his massive 163,000 man army offensively against Lee near the Rappahannock in the Spring of 1863. Breaking the logistical chain was the challenge.

    According to author Edward Hagerman, Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs (below) had circulated a sketch created by Alexis Godillot of the logistical organization of a “flying column” in the French army on January 2, 1862.[i]

    digital file from original neg.

    It was based on a concept developed in 1840 when “the French, particularly Thomas Robert Bugeaud (below, 1784-1849, Marquis de la Piconnerie, Duc d’Isly), recognized that because the Arab insurgents in North Africa had a tremendous mobility advantage over the French colonial forces, the classic style of logistics would not be effective there. To increase the mobility of his forces, Bugeaud created highly mobile independent detachments called “flying columns” by lightening greatly the logistical structure of his force. Around 1860 a study of Bugeaud’s (painting below) logistical methods was written by Alexis Godillot.”[ii]

    Thomas Robert Bugeaud, Marshal of France.

    The idea was this. Soldiers in a flying column carried eight days of compressed rations, including desiccated vegetables along with a blanket (no overcoat allowed). “Men were divided into squads of eight, one of whom was to carry a covered cooking kettle, another a large mess tin, another an axe, another a pick, and one a shovel. One man in each company carried the hospital knapsack. Each man carried his share of a shelter tent.” [iii]

    “On march 7, 1863, general headquarters of the Army of the Potomac passed down Special Order no. 85, establishing a board to make recommendations on ‘the practicality and means of carrying an increased amount of rations…over the three days usually carried,’ having in view ‘the marching of troops without encumbrance of extra clothing or shelter tents, the use of desiccated vegetables or flour, and the carrying of fresh beef on the hoof, and the omission, in consequence, of beef or pork from the rations.’” [iv]

    After some experimentation, the board recommended a workable configuration and these were “immediately implemented in preparation for an eight-day march designed to turn Lee out of his positions on the Rappahannock. Each corps, including the cavalry, was made into a flying column on the French model, with some modifications. In addition to the knapsack and haversack with blanket, the soldier carried his should arms, sixty rounds of ammunition, accouterments, and a piece of shelter tent. An extra pair of socks was allowed.” Unlike the French, entrenchment tools were brought up as required by the reserve train. “The soldier carried an average load of forty-five points.” [v]

    According to James J. Schneider, “by 1864 Bugeaud’s method of flying columns formed the core of Federal Army logistical doctrine. This triumph over the old classical system was demonstrated decisively in Grant’s invasions of the South.” [vi]
    ———————
    [i, iii, iv, v] Edward Hagerman, The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), 71-72.
    [ii, vi] James J. Schneider, “VULCAN’S ANVIL: The American Civil War and the Foundations of Operational Art,” June 16, 1992, online, http://cgsc.cdmhost.com/cgi-bin/showfile.exe?CISOROOT=/p4013coll11&CISOPTR=9&filename=10.pdf 
    , accessed May 13, 2008, 44.
    Photo source: Montgomery C. Meigs, Library of Congress, Rep #: LC-DIG-cwpbh-03111.
    Painting of Thomas Robert Bugeaud, Wiki Commons.