Hagerman's the American Civil War Book Review

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Such developments were the product of new types of social organization brought about by the late industrial age. High commands developed new types of organization as individual commanders became less of a factor and teams of staff became more important working together. While still informal, good staff work became more and more important in and of itself.

As Hagerman points out, it was not really von Clausewitz, but Henri Jomini that largely influenced Civil War officers. Jomini was better know in America and was the tactician that American officers wanted to follow. Von Clausewitz would become more widely know only after the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. In the chapter on Jomini, Hagerman notes this "French Connection" fully that "Jomini's writings set the dominant trend in Continental and American strategic thought until German victories in 1870 pushed Karl von Clausewitz's interpreters to the center…"

To sum up, Hagerman attempts to add some very new contributions to how the Civil War and modern military culture are understood. It attempts to bring new approached to the analysis of the theory, doctrines and practices of fortifications and the effects that this had upon the development of trench warfare. A new analytical approach to how field transportation developed and its components of supply and maneuver during the Civil War is also tackled. These observations are combined with the developing tactics and strategy concerning the dominant problem of field command, including the up and coming subject of trench warfare and the efforts of the field commands logistically to support field army mobility.
In the pursuit of knowledge of these technological issues, tactical and strategic themes and organizational theory that dominated America at the time are woven in as well, such as the emergence of an industrial society and its impacts upon U.S. history.

The work is light in its analysis of more ethereal factors, such as the "fog of war." In other words, this euphemistic phrase brings in a number of interwoven intangible factors such as psychology and sociology upon military science. Primarily, the author wanted to illustrate the influence of the evolution of new tactical and strategic ideas influenced by the mid-19th-century American technology. Also, society, geography and ideology enmesh with the objectives of the Civil War armies North and South.

In short, Hagerman should not be read as an overall history of the Civil War. Rather the nexus of technology and doctrine are its primary focus and not other less tangible issues such as those of psychology.


Hagerman, Edward. The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare.

Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1992.

Edward Hagerman, The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern….....

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