Download America Goes to War: The Civil War and Its Meaning in by Bruce Catton PDF

By Bruce Catton

A desirable learn of the 1st smooth warfare and its influence on American tradition.

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On the contrary, American tradition then tended to glorify the amateur—beginning with George Washington himself. Such military heroes as Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor had had no West Point training. American experience at least seemed to show that perfectly capable military leaders could come straight out of civil life. The processes of warfare were simpler in those days than they are now, and they looked even simpler than they really were. Anyone can see, today, that to handle a modern armored division or a group of long-range bombing planes requires a good deal of highly technical training.

In two important respects the Federal government followed political considerations which ultimately hampered its efficient conduct of the war. The first involved the raising of new regiments. In the beginning the system of assigning recruitment to the activities of ambitious and energetic members of the local communities worked very well. The old 1861 and 1862 regiments contained incomparable human material and, by and large, they were adequately officered. The trouble was that, even when it became ineffective, this system of raising troops was so advantageous politically that the authorities could never quite bring themselves to give it up.

In die final year of die war a recruit camp was usually conducted like a penitentiary. It had to be: it had pretty much the same class of occupants, and they were just about as reluctant to remain. You can read of places where new recruits were commonly made to wear the ball and chain; of men who had enlisted ten or a dozen times, collecting the bounty each time and then deserting at the first opportunity in order to 45 America Goes to War re-enlist somewhere else; of veterans in famous regiments complaining that their ranks were being filled up with outand-out criminals, who would sit around die campfire (as long as diey bothered to remain in camp) and brag about their exploits as safecrackers or cutpurses.

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