American Civil War And The Book Review


In fact McClellan insists that notwithstanding all of Grant's capabilities and resources, Grant was not able to maneuver successfully against Lee until "Lee's field transportation gave out" (Hagerman, 66). Hagerman makes many assertions about the Civil War's generals that a reader of his book cannot immediately verify, but must take at face value. Deep in his book, for example, Hagerman claims that General Lee's cavalry battle at Yellow Tavern (May, 1864) "…was the only truly mounted engagement" for Lee's cavalry. These cannot be taken as flaws, however, and even though there are some typographical errors that editors allowed to get into the final published copies, and some of his writing is a little slow and even awkward, all-in-all the narrative is smooth and it reads very well.

He spells out how the federal government (the Union, under Lincoln) experimented with the "flying column concept"; how the government had problems with getting the telegraphic service totally up to speed -- and as to the Confederate problems, he goes into great detail about the less than adequate railroad polices. One can find some questionable assertions in Hagerman's book, like the fact that Stonewall Jackson was nearly perfect in his decisions and in the use of his underlings. A quick glance at other Civil War reports on Jackson sheds light on some of his tactical blunders and his poor communication with his officers.

But in the main, Hagerman spends ample time going through what was learned by the generals during the Civil War, which is one important aspect that adds power to this book. For example, in Chapter 2 (Tactical and Strategic Reorganization) the author points out that many of the warfare strategies that McClellan subscribed to at the start of the Civil War had been used previously in Europe and especially by the French (34). "The staff precedents adopted from the French would...


"But," he goes on, "they didn't" (34).
In fact, McClellan avoided using the "direct assault" techniques that had been used by large armies in Europe. He innovated in that regard, and Hagerman used quotes from McClellan effectively to show the McClellan strategy as one of avoiding massive casualties by "maneuvering rather than by fighting." McClellan insisted, "I will not throw these raw men of mine into the teeth of artillery and entrenchments if it is possible to avoid it. A direct assault would result in a heavy and unnecessary loss of life" (36).

In Conclusion, Hagerman has produced a valuable volume of work that takes the Civil War to new levels of understanding, not just by showing the politics and the social aspects of this bloody war, but by breaking new ground in the analysis of warfare theory, warfare tactical aspects and other previously unpublished strategies that were embraced by leaders on both sides.

Works Cited

Hagerman, Edward. 1992. The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas,

Organization, and Field Command. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Hagerman, Edward. 1992. The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas,

Organization, and Field Command. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

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