Book Review: American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare Ideas Organization and Field Command

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American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare -- Edward Hagerman

Edward Hagerman's Bio: The author was born in New Brunswick, Canada, the son of a forest industry executive (father) and a teacher (mother), and he received his Ph.D. In history from Duke University in 1965; currently Hagerman is a professor of History at York University in Toronto; his book has received the Moncado Prize of the American Military Institute in 1980.

The central thesis -- and the important parts of Hagerman's book -- relates largely to the changes in tactical and strategic operations that the Civil War generals and their troops were obliged to adjust to whether they had planned to or not. Clearly, Hagerman asserts, the American soldier was definitely not prepared for the challenges that were to be faced in the Civil War. But because of the quality of the leadership on both sides, adjustments were made and a new era of warfare was launched. Those are the central themes presented in this book.

American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare -- a Review

Edward Hagerman's book covers a wide range of ideas and incidents -- and theories of warfare -- related not just to the Civil War, but also related to the changes in technology and strategy regarding conflict. This is the second major book the author has contributed to the literature, and it is a book that very competently reviews the main aspects of warfare in the 19th century. For readers hoping to learn all about the reasons behind the Civil War, and the entire slavery and state's rights issues, they may be somewhat disappointed. Hagerman's book does not pretend to be an all-encompassing book giving readers a 360-degree view of the why the South and the North launched such a terrible bloody and destructive war. But what Hagerman does present in a very thorough way is an analysis of the tactics, logistics, and technologies of the Civil War. His book carefully and objectively reviews the strategies and actions of Union general George B. McClellan; one of the best ways for a reader to get a good grasp of an epic conflict like the Civil War is to go behind the scenes and witness the thinking and planning of the great generals.

It is obvious that Hagerman believes that McClellan has been underestimated by some history authors. Hageman asserts that McClellan was the very first commander to experience the "friction of mass armies" and the first major field commander to incorporate "industrial technology." On pages 64-65 he points out that McClellan was the "…first Union field commander of a mass army to filter this heritage of organizational theory and doctrine through the 'fog' of the mid-nineteenth-century transition from traditional to modern warfare…"

But McClellan isn't the only general in the Civil War that the author zeros in on; he takes time to assess the work and strategy of Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and William T. Sherman. As for Lee, McClellan shows he is not taking sides -- pro-Union Army -- because he points… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Book Review:

APA Format

American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare Ideas Organization and Field Command.  (2011, August 30).  Retrieved July 20, 2019, from

MLA Format

"American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare Ideas Organization and Field Command."  30 August 2011.  Web.  20 July 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare Ideas Organization and Field Command."  August 30, 2011.  Accessed July 20, 2019.