7/31/2012

Strategy, strategy

Slumming over at the Army War College site, who do I run into but Mark Grimsley. He has a quote in a compilation which appears here on strategy:
Like politics, strategy is the art of the possible; but few can discern what is possible.
This put me in mind of a Lincoln letter quoted by EC Ocean on his site:
Executive mansion, Washington, 21st July, 1863

My dear General Howard:

Your letter of the 10th is received. I was deeply mortified by the escape of Lee across the Potomac, because the substantial destruction of his army would have ended the war, and because I believed such destruction was perfectly easy—believed that General Meade and his noble army had expended all the skill and toil and blood up to the ripe harvest, and then let the crop go to waste. Perhaps my mortification was heightened because I had always believed—making my belief a hobby possibly—that the main rebel army going north of the Potomac could never return, if well attended to; and because I was so greatly flattered in this belief by the operations at Gettysburg.[...]
This is more of an operational gripe, but it has elements of strategic thinking which explain Lincoln's bizarre military management.

Lincoln erroneously believes (in order):

(1) "[S]ubstantial destruction of his army [ANV] would have ended the war."

(2) Destruction of that army was not only possible but in this circumstance "perfectly easy."

(3) Any incursions into the north would invite total destruction of the ANV "if well attended to."

Outside of the Centennial school of ACW history, all of these views have been discredited in detail.

Thus, Lincoln had forgotten, if he ever knew, that the rolls of Lee's army three weeks after Antietam exceeded the returns submitted before the Maryland invasion. Rather resilient, these Rebel organizations, even after a "bloodiest day" record is set.

Lincoln had no rational explanation for Meade's failure to do the "easy" thing. He had no rational story to tell himself about how or why the Rebels "escaped." It made no sense to him, it admitted of no explanation, which is why it enraged him. The mature executive seeks out reasons and weighs them. I have never known an executive who credited the absurd answer. The immature executive, I imagine, lashes out emotionally, driven by demons he cannot control.

Lincoln could not "discern what is possible." Result: his generals - all of them - suffered throughout the war.

7/30/2012

Issuing orders: Robert E. Lee

His aides' memoirs show us that we wouldn't want to work day-to-day with Robert E. Lee. His military orders show us that we would not want to be his subordinate commanders.

With very little looking, I found a short message that embodies all that is wrong with Lee's style of military orders. Have a look and try to put yourself in Huger's shoes.
HEADQUARTERS VIRGINIA FORCES,
Richmond, Va., May 25, 1861.

General BENJ. HUGER, Comdg. Virginia Forces, Norfolk, Va.:

GENERAL: I wish to call your attention to the condition of Craney Island. It is the first point that will arrest the passage of a vessel to Norfolk; it is the most exposed and the least prepared for defense. I cannot urge upon you too strongly the necessity of putting it in good condition. More troops should be ordered there, and laborers, if practicable. If laborers cannot be obtained, the troops must work at the trenches at that point and all others within your lines of defense. A North Carolina regiment will leave here to-morrow for your post.

Very respectfully, &c.,

R. E. LEE,
General, Commanding
Lee has not said what he perceives the condition of Craney Island to be or what exactly it lacks. He says it is the "least prepared" for defense, which is not at all helpful, and Huger must infer what "least prepared" means. Neither does Huger have any standards for putting things in "good condition," and he is on his own to certify any transformation from "least prepared" to "good condition." Things get fuzzier with the directive "More troops should be ordered there" since no force size has been indicated. No unit types are specified either, the implication being infantry, but it is baffling how infantry in trenches could possibly "arrest the passage of a vessel to Norfolk."

This wouldn't be a Lee order without a gratuitous contingency clause, this one concerning laborers: "if practicable." This is also trademark Lee in its illogical construction. If practicable, use laborers but not soldiers? Why not use both since we are pressed for time here? And if you can't get laborers, your soldiers must get it all done themselves.

A final touch of ambiguity is in Lee's comment about the NC regiment in which he could not be bothered to identify the unit, a piece of coordination his subordinate would have found useful.

A reasonably structured order would have these elements:

1) Here are specific problems I have learned about the defenses of Craney Island.

2) You will take these specific remedial steps and accomplish them by date X.

3) You will report your progress at these intervals.

4) I consider such and so amount of forces to be adequate.

5) You will entrench your command at every defensive position.

6) I am sending you Regiment X by means of transport Y tomorrow with orders to report to you no later than Z.

Lest you think this exceptional, here's another order in the same vein:
HEADQUARTERS VIRGINIA FORCES,
Richmond, Va., May 11, 1861.

Col. Wm. B. TALIAFERRO, Commanding, &c., Gloucester Point, Va.:

It is very important that the battery at Gloucester Point be pushed forward as fast as possible. All the labor necessary for its speedy completion must be devoted to it, and every facility in your power afforded to the engineer engaged in its construction.

Very respectfully, &c.,

R. E. LEE,
Major-General, Commanding.
All the details that make an order an order are missing here: the only thing resembling an order might be the direction for full co-operation with the mysterious, unnamed engineer on site.

Once troops actually land, Lee's orders become odder. Here is a concise telegram from Huger:
NORFOLK, VA., May 27, 1861-11.30 a. m.

Major-General LEE:

Seven steamers, with troops, have been and are now landing men at Newport News. Other steamers, with troops, arrived at Old Point this morning.

BENJ. HUGER.
The commander facing the federal landing needs several pieces of information: (1) What are my orders? (2) Will I be reinforced? (3) What have you heard and what do you know? Lee's reply - and it is the only one to Huger that day in the OR - is worth a quick look:
Brigadier-General HUGER, Commanding, &c., Norfolk, Va.:

SIR: From the facts stated in your telegram received to-day I think it not improbable that the object of the troops which are landing at Newport News may be either to ascend Nansemond River to the town of Suffolk, or, if that river be too well protected for this, to cross James River to Burwell’s Bay, and thence, by land, to Suffolk, or some point of the railroad. The effect of either of these movements will be to cut off your communication with Richmond, and I take the liberty of calling your attention to this, as I know the pressure of the duties now upon you. I would recommend that you telegraph the governor of North Carolina to hasten the movements of those troops which are destined for Norfolk, Va., if they have not already arrived, and to recommend that he dispatch a sufficient force to Suffolk.

I am, general, with respect, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,
General, Commanding.
Lee is using his telegram to speculate on the intentions of the enemy while giving no useful orders or information to Huger. Then there's the kooky little touch of saying "I know the pressures of the duties now upon you," so go ahead and do my job as commander of all Virginia forces by contacting the governor of North Carolina to "hasten the movement of troops."

Unreal. Lee is kind of busy for the rest of the day with his correspondence. He writes one pretty crisp order directing a Navy lieutenant to take a company of infantry to a certain point, but otherwise, his orders have the special Lee quality.
Col. J. B. MAGRUDER, Commanding, &c., Yorktown, Va.:

SIR: I have received information, by telegraph, to-day from Norfolk that the Federal troops are landing at Newport News. I deem it proper to inform, you of this, as it may be their intention to move on to Warwick Court-House, and thence, by the road, to Yorktown. Captains Cosby and Hood, of the Confederate Army, have been ordered to report to you for the purpose of instructing the cavalry troop.

I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,
General, Commanding
To Huger, Lee wrote, "I think it not improbable that the object of the troops which are landing at Newport News may be either to ascend Nansemond River to the town of Suffolk, or, if that river be too well protected for this, to cross James River to Burwell’s Bay, and thence, by land, to Suffolk, or some point of the railroad." To Magruder, he writes "it may be their intention to move on to Warwick Court-House, and thence, by the road, to Yorktown." What's going on in his mind?

Meanwhile, he has given neither general coordinating instructions, reporting instructions, objectives, timelines, any of that.

An early Lee order that contains all of the vices that would plunge him into future controversies appears at the end of a message sent on July 11, 1861. Henry Wise is the recipient, weasel words have been emphasized.
I have thought proper to give you the above information that you may be informed of the enemy’s supposed purposes on your right; and should you not find employment for your command in the Kanawha Valley, and think it advisable, you might concert measures with General Garnett for a united attack on the forces of General McClellan.
Garnett would be killed in a battle with McClellan's forces. Ah, McClellan - remember him? He was that department commander who led his troops on the battlefield in Western Virginia while his counterpart wrote flowery letters from an office in Richmond. One was called to Washington to higher duty and the other was sent away to South Carolina, where he continued to write orders like the ones we have seen here.

(For a Virginian who knew how to write an order, see here.)

7/26/2012

Issuing orders: Winfield Scott

Winfield Scott knew something about orders.

Here's what we would have called a "frag[mentary]order" in the Army of the last century. It contains fewer elements than a complete, modern field order.

Here, Patterson asked if he should move his force towards Washington, given the developing situation. This order is complete as shown below (minus the salutation and signature).
July 23, 1861

Your force is not wanted here. It is expected you will hold Harper's Ferry unless threatened by a force well ascertained to be competent to expel you.
Short, direct, no ambiguity. Here's what you will do and here's the exception I will allow to my orders.

Now, let's look at a longer order, a warning order, issued by Scott during the Baltimore crisis. I'm going to "Fisk" it so you can see the value of each element of the order. Those of you who are ex-Army will recognize how Scott, in his thoroughness, is anticipating elements of the future five paragraph field order. This is the full order:
WASHINGTON, May 4, 1861

Major-General PATTERSON, U. S. A., Commanding, &c.:

SIR: I am sorry to learn, unofficially, that your health has not been fully established. A few days of good weather will, I hope, accomplish that desirable object.
This is the only "fluff" in the order and it has a subtext that says "I, the commander, being cognizant of your illness, nevertheless expect you to execute these orders." I take the liberty of imputing a subtext because Scott's orders are consistently fluff-free.
I have ordered the five companies of the Third Infantry, recently from Texas, now at New York, to Perryville to be united there, at Havre de Grace or Elkton, with Sherman’s battery of horse artillery, as you may direct.
These are essential coordinating instructions stating where Patterson's reinforcements are located and that although they are responding to Scott's movement orders, Patterson exercises control over these units.
My wish is that these regulars shall head any movement that may be made, by land or water, from your side upon Baltimore.
Scott has designated the RA elements as vanguard of Patterson's relief force.
The temper of Maryland, which a few days ago seemed to have undergone a very favorable change, is now believed to have suffered a relapse, that makes the movement of the six regular companies alone, by the old mail road from the Susquehanna to Baltimore, as was at first intended, hazardous, if not entirely unsafe, without a large addition of volunteers.
Scott recounts the enemy situation, and the "why" of these orders.
You will therefore hold the battalion of regulars, with the necessary addition of volunteers, ready for the combined movement from the other points (heretofore indicated), which I shall order in a few days upon Baltimore, if the route through the city be not sooner voluntarily opened.
This is the warning element of the order that tells the commander specific orders will follow. This is an order directing preparation for movement. It gives the condition that will trigger follow-on orders.
On your part, I give you the choice to move by land or water; in the latter case, letting Brigadier-General Butler, who has his water craft ready, know the day on which your commander will be ready to meet and consult him in Patapsco Bay.
Scott has given discretion to Patterson but the water choice is strictly conditional on coordination with Butler's force. It gives the location of the water element to be coordinated with, thus enabling the option.
You will also let Lieutenant-Colonel Porter, on the York road, know the probable time your commander may be expected to approach the eastern side of the city, leaving the western for General Butler’s approach. Let Brigadier-General Butler and Lieutenant Colonel Porter, as well as myself, know the morning you may appoint for the movement from your side.
More detailed coordinating instructions here, a Scott trademark. Patterson's relief column must start in the morning but Scott has allowed Patterson to select which morning after he receives his next orders. This choice of start dates is a feature of the orders Scott would issue in his two coordinated offensives of 1861; it can be perceived as a strength or weakness. We have here the conditionality of Scott issuing future movement orders to Patterson based on certain events or developments. We then have the conditionality of Patterson, who should be ready, selecting his jump-off day.

Perhaps this was Scott's nod to flexibility and a way of eliminating any subordinate's "readiness" protests.
I have just ordered Brigadier-General Butler to occupy and support a strong post at the Relay House, on the Patapsco, beginning with a regiment of volunteers. That regiment shall be instructed to take a part in the combined movement.
More excellent coordinating detail from Scott specifying where Butler will be and what the size of the coordinating military unit will be. Recall that this information is given in relation to an option. He is fully empowering Patterson to exercise that option with a minimum of fumbling around.
Exact time must be observed on all sides, to be regulated by prompt intercommunications.
Pure Scott. The "exact time" refers to the future chain-of-time-triggers that will be put into realization after Patterson's jump-off decision, as well as the times relative to the coordinating commands. Prompt "intercommunication" was enforced and lack of communication between coordinate forces cannot here be tolerated, since the commanders were warned. I want to emphasize that in reading the correspondence around Scott's Civil War operations (Baltimore and the two coordinated offensives), there is each day a flurry of coordinating instructions from Scott to the commands and these are - rarity of rarities - parallel communications, not serial. There are serial orders as well but each serial order is accompanied by a further issue of parallel orders. Similarly, Scott's subordinates in these operations are generating high traffic in coordination messages in accordance with his direction to maintain contact.

You don't see this level of written direction and unit communication in the AoP later on nor on the Confederate side contemporary with Scott. McClellan eliminated much need for unit intercommunication by having his aides move units on the battlefield; Lee issued fire-and-forget orders, one-a-day tops, serially and with major elements of information missing.

Lincoln, I think, was seriously misled by Scott's example into believing he and Stanton could manage operations by long distance. Of course, when they tried, they got the long distance part correct but could not manage the coordination.

Scott concludes,
Send the New Jersey regiments here, and we shall want for the capital seven more.

With high respect, yours, truly,
So Patterson will have to operate without the NJ troops and without seven other regiments, a major planning consideration. Were I Patterson, I might swear at this point.

If Scott had put this at the opening of the message, it would have completely distracted Patterson from the directions Scott wanted him to concentrate on. Instead, Scott had Patterson read through the commander's intent and his orders before he could begin to consider, "How am I going to do this without my NJ troops and seven other regiments?"

Wonderfully done.

These orders were random choices. Go to the OR and read Scott yourselves.

7/24/2012

Issuing and receiving orders

One of the great pleasures of the second volume of Nigel Hamilton's biography of Montgomery are the orders that are reproduced there. They are models of force, clarity, and brevity. Montgomery wrote the very best combat orders, I think.

The army officer spends a great deal of time issuing and receiving orders. They tell volumes about their writer. Those contemporary American generals I served with whom I respect wrote excellent orders (Grange, DuPuy, Starry, perhaps one other).

Unfortunately, in the Army of my day, there were a lot of bad orders circulated for two reasons (beyond incompetence and low standards). First, many regarded the writing of an order to be a burden and dashed through it with minimal effort and attention, aiming to clarify the written word with oral guidance. Second, all of us were immersed in bureaucrat-ese and those young men who had done less reading and writing pre-Army succumbed to what they (tragically) came to believe were normal and natural forms of written expression. Listen to an American general at a press conference even today and you'll see what I mean.

In Civil War orders, too, one finds a lot of "verbiage," deadwood, rote language, and filler*. But you have to fish around in the OR to read orders. That's because Civil War writers hate to reproduce written orders. Must not slow the narrative. Must not tire the pea-brained reader. They only touch on orders if there is some confusion about the commander's intent or a controversy of some sort.

If an order must be presented and reviewed, our writers have the dreadful habit of summarizing the written orders instead of reproducing them. They then end up commenting on their own summaries, an utterly grotesque outcome.

Given the delinquency of our authors**, the reader's dilemma is this. He can read the OR for orders or he can read the narrative for chronology and event flow. He can also read both and try to crosswalk the two with an immense investment of time.

If he reads enough narrative, however, he will begin to notice patterns. The narrative may give up one or two controversies around the commander's intent and orders issued. Over time, reading broadly, he will notice these problems cluster around certain individuals.

May I propose Robert E. Lee is one of those individuals? May I suggest that he wrote the worst orders of the war?

You could say Pope wrote worse orders since Pope's orders did not conform to events, enemy locations or terrain. But if you look at Lee's orders, neither do they in that they tend to be prospective, speculative, normative, and contingent.

Are not all famous Lee vs. [insert CSA general] about nebulous orders and the commander's intent? Wittenberg and Petruzzi made this point about Stuart at Gettysburg in Blame Enough. We've got Jackson in the Seven Days. Longstreet at Gettysburg. Ewell at Gettysburg.

I would like to suggest that Lee's style of written orders did not change from his war-losing western Virginia days. That the bad guidance given Floyd, Garnett, et al, carried over to Granny Lee's South Carolina adventures with Pemberton, and then to the ANV.

Gettysburg buffs are focused on Ewell and that certain hill. Let me quote a commentator on the hill issue:
It's fairly well known that, on the first day of the battle of Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee sent an order to Richard Ewell to "Take that hill, if practicable." Ewell did not take the hill, and it has generally been presumed that he dithered about deciding whether it was practicable or not.
This sets up the problem. The poster then deviates into pop history nonsense:
No written copy of Lee's order exists, for the simple reason that, by that stage of the war, Lee rarely put orders in writing. After the infamous lost cigars incident that preceded Antietam/Sharpsburg, Lee was ever mindful of the fact that written orders could get lost, and that such a circumstance had the potential to lead to disaster, so he generally preferred to give his orders verbally.
I would say instead that oral orders suited Lee's style better. He was addicted to ambiguity and had a huge streak of CYA. As his authority and popularity increased, oral orders became a sick vice that he could fully indulge. But I digress because our poster has something interesting to say:
I had the pleasure of taking a tour with Gettysburg park ranger Troy Harmon recently. According to Troy, Lee's order to Ewell contained not one, but two caveats. Not only did the order say to take the hill "if practicable," it also said to take the hill only if it could be done "without bringing on a general engagement." Shelby Foote's book also indicates that the order directed Ewell "to avoid a general engagement until the arrival of the other divisions of the army."
Another poster responds:
Why semi-order Ewell to take the hill but also counter the order by telling him not to fight for it? That seems to me to be a paradox. I always thought “practicable” meant what it did to A.P. Hill. If your men are in position and able etc., then take the hill. Which they were. And he didn’t.
In the Rashness of That Hour, we learn that before he received this bouquet of contingencies from his commander, Ewell was already sick of Robert E. Lee's style of issuing orders (including written orders, which contrary to folklore, were still being delivered). From Rashness:
Later that same evening on June 30, Rodes and Early joined Ewell for a strategy session. Trimble ... joined the gathering. The primary topic centered around a discussion of the latest dispatches from Lee and A.P. Hill. As Ewell later reported, "At Heidlersburg, I received orders from the general commanding to proceed to Cashtown or Gettysburg as the circumstances might dictate, and a note from A.P. Hill saying he was at Cashtown."

... the only surviving account of this conference comes from Trimble, who claimed that Ewell "read over the order of Gen'l Lee several times, commenting on its 'indefinite phraseology,' as he expressed it, in very severe terms and asking each one what was meant by 'according to circumstances.'" [Rodes and Early said nothing but Trimble said the commander's intent was that Ewell march to Gettysburg.] [T]his explanation did not satisfy Gen'l Ewell who more than once impatiently remarked, 'Why can't a commanding General have some one of his staff who can write an intelligible order?'"

Indeed. Perhaps Lee could not issue intelligible orders because intelligible orders stem from a clear sense of purpose and Lee is repeatedly operating in a miasma of opportunism, contingency, and chance. Some writers have made that a virtue.

--

* Keep in mind we are talking about orders, not military speeches. See Richard Miller for speeches.

** I do not refer here to Joe Harsh, Tim Reese, or a few others who analyze orders in their work.

7/21/2012

The Rashness of That Hour

The last few posts have had some connection with a very fine work called The Rashness of That Hour.

Its real value is in forcing us to get our heads out of military history - at unit level - and reorient ourselves on the intense, ugly, and continuous politicking at unit level.

The culmination of this story at Gettysburg is a blessing as we tend to see Gettysburg in almost pure military terms. Here we see a unit wracked by the worst kind of politics trying to perform its military duty. It meets with a kind of military force of nature, a maelstrom, and its members react with their standard political response to events.

Those who still think of the Civil War as an exercise in military science should take the time to read this wonderfully researched and presented story.

7/20/2012

Staking out new ground for heritage tourism

Proof that these people are certifiable.

Publishing business: exploring Amazon

When I returned from years abroad in 1983, I pitched my grub stake into a publishing company. I gained a good idea of the “classic” (prehistoric) book sales and distribution system.

In recent years, I have been experimenting with new systems of publishing, self-publishing, and e-books. I have had an especially interesting experience in the last few days that might be worth sharing. This has to do with that crazy quilt of Amazon prices displayed in a previous post.

A couple of weeks ago, I self-published a nonfiction title under a pseudonym using Amazon’s captive POD company “Createspace.” A few days ago, Createspace showed that the first copy had printed and sold.

I went to Amazon’s main product listing page, and there stood my authorized price of $12.95. Under the heading “More Buying Choices,” there were five vendors offering to sell my book “new” and one offering to sell a “used” copy. Prices ranged from a low of $10.XX to $29.XX.

In summary, if I am the publisher, if CreateSpace manufactures per Amazon orders, then where did these vendors get books to sell “used” and “new”? Especially since the known universe holds exactly one copy of this title? (Today, the situation became even more paradoxical. Some 10 copies are selling new and three used.)

This curiosity can be found all across Amazon? What does it mean?

POD author Aaron Shepard has the answer, if you can stand a few twists and turns.

Shepard says Amazon’s Createspace actually outsources much or all of its printing. The printer they use is LightningSource, a company captive to Ingram distribution. The booksellers in the Amazon Marketplace are ordering the nonexistent books they offer through Ingram or LightningSource in response to your order of their “new” and “used” copies for sale. Because the transaction occurs through Amazon, the sale contributes to an overall Amazon sales ranking. Because LightningSource is printing a CreateSpace title, CreateSpace gets paid and that flows through to the author.

In other words, the booksellers have accounts with wholesaler Ingram and pay a wholesale price for the title which they then mark up to sell through Marketplace. (Anyone reading this blog can open an account with Ingram or rival Baker & Taylor. At least that was the case in 1987, last time I looked.)

So when you order my nonexistent book through a Marketplace seller, you are triggering a chain of events whereby the seller places an order with the wholesaler who orders a print job which is then shipped to the seller who must ship it to you. Convoluted!

And now it gets even more fun. I sell the occasional old or unwanted book or DVD in the Marketplace myself. I have two business days to confirm that my order shipped or Amazon downgrades my seller rating. Based on my experience as an occasional Marketplace seller, there is no way these sellers of my book could receive an order notification from Amazon, order their copy wholesale, await manufacturing, receive delivery, and then ship to the buyer within two days. I checked the number of stars on the mystery sellers of my book and they were (ahem) stellar. So they must be lying to the buyer and to Amazon to maintain that rating.

There is another possibility, however, outside of my personal experience. Sellers can opt to have Amazon stock and ship their merchandise. It seems possible that under that arrangement, the order would come in to Amazon, Amazon would request stock from the seller, and the seller would place an order, attesting to that, and this would be sufficient for Amazon to close the ledger on seller obligations in fulfillment. Not sure.

To try to see what happens in this trail of events, I went to Marketplace and ordered a used copy from one seller and a new copy from another seller.

My used vendor acknowledged the sale within the two day limit, indicated the used copy was in “mint” condition, and gave a delivery range of 7/23-8/7. “Your order is on its way and can no longer be changed.” It was never “used” of course, this is a sales stratagem related to the pricing level marked up from the wholesale cost.

My new vendor sent a shipped notice today, two days beyond the allowable window. The discrepancy in ship dates is interesting. The new guy may have actually waited to get book in hand before claiming a successful mailout. His notice gives me a delivery date range of 8/10-8/23.

Both orders were placed on the same day.

My reality, then, reflects one book sold through CreateSpace on Amazon, two through Marketplace. But right now, the CreateSpace account is showing two sales, not three. This could mean a second “organic’ sale has registered while my self-generated sales still work their way through the system. It may also mean that CreateSpace has not yet received the orders, much less shipped the books.

These are the half-baked stories I tell myself to understand the kinks in this weird Amazon pipeline.

There is still the mystery of wildly overpriced listings competing with my own edition. My best hunch there is that this is a publicly established (high) price to validate a false inventory valuation. Short story: tax scam. Wife’s guess: money laundering.

You want shady, we got shady.

Update 8/1/12: One of the orders came in today - from England!

7/17/2012

Puzzle 1 update

We issued Puzzle 1 here and gave the solution here.

The Puzzle 1 answer turns out to be incomplete! From The Rashness of That Hour:
After reporting for duty [to the First US Cavalry] at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, [future general Alfred] Iverson settled quickly into military life. He served with a group of officers destined to become household names during the next decade. Colonel Edwin V. Sumner commanded the regiment, with field officers Lt. Col. Joseph E. Johnston, Maj. William H. Emory, and Maj. John S. Sedgwick. Captain George B. McClellan served as one of the senior captains. The junior officers included future Confederate generals James Ewell Brown Stuart, William S. Walker, George T. "Tige" Anderson, Robert S. Garnett, William N. R. Beale, George H."Maryland" Steuart, James Mclntosh, Robert Ransom, and Lunsford L.Lomax.
Cosmic!

7/16/2012

Price war

Those crazy Amazons. What are they up to? (Click to enlarge.)

In praise of slow marching (cont.)

In June, 1863, the North Carolina regiments in Alfred Iverson's brigade began a forced march from near Fredericksburg to the Valley. From The Rashness of That Hour:
After a hard day of marching [June 4], the weary Tar Heel troops went into camp for the night just beyond Spotsylvania Court House along the Po River. They resumed the advance about five o'clock in the morning on June 5. [...] According to Surgeon Marston, Iverson and his men began their trip that day just before dawn in order to avoid the worst of the heat. Even so, the intense temperatures and long hours on the road continued to plague the troops as they proceeded north along the back roads toward Culpeper Court House. The conditions [heat, dust, lack of water] became so bad that many of the soldiers found it impossible to keep up. Blacknall described it as "a most disagreeable march, the heat & dust insuportable." He reported seeing "many of our men falling and some dieing in the road."

By late afternoon, dozens of men who had passed out from the excessive heat and lack of water littered the division's entire line of march. "I saw one poor fellow lying on the side of the road sucking his thumb & foaming at the mouth," wrote an officer from Daniel's Brigade in a letter to his wife. "He perished to death for water. The men are not allowed to stop to get water when they are suffering for it. I understand some three or four more died the same way this man did." He added that "when men have to march until they fall dead it looks hard."

At least one soldier from O'Neal's Brigade blamed these problems on the officers leading the advance to Culpeper Court House. "Gens. Early and Rodes seemed to be ambitious to see who could reach the Court House first, and the consequence was a foot race, which resulted in laming about one third of the men and dropping a good many by the roadside who otherwise would have been able to keep up," he declared in a letter to his hometown newspaper. He insisted that "such conduct on the part of general officers is not only cruel, but detrimental to the service."
Emphasis added. The distance covered in this day's march is given as "nearly" 20 miles. (Previous post here.)

7/15/2012

The Man Who Saved the Union

Hat tip to the reader who alerted me to H.W. Brands stealing the title of a well-known book by Thomas Eckenrode and Bryan Conrad, The Man Who Saved the Union.

Brands appears to be a humming factory of infinite pop history productions, and given what he has done with his title, it would be interesting to give his book a close reading for any "similarities" to previous work. Interesting too to see what Brooks Simpson makes of this.

"Brands calls him [Grant] the last presidential defender of black civil rights for nearly a century." - Library Journal

"His Grant emerges as an immensely appealing figure—though except for a wartime outburst of anti-Semitism, later repented, which the author relates—with a keen mind, stout character, and unpretentious manner." - Publisher's Weekly

Snippets suggest there will be no new ground broken here. What's the point?

7/14/2012

For your consideration

"There was, IMO, much hack work published in the 1960's to get in on the centennial boom." - Brad Meyer

I wish I had put it that simply.

Armies right-sized for their transport networks

Thank you for coming to the annual "Armies right-sized for their transport networks" awards. Drumroll please.

And the nominees for right-sized armies are...

> Scott's Mexico City expedition.

> The British regular army at peak strength in Canada in 1865.

> Beauregard's Army of the Potomac.

> Johnston's Valley army.

> Burnside's NC expedition.

> Richard Taylor's Western Louisiana army.

> Kirby Smith's Department of East Tennessee army.

> [Your choice here.]

Nominated for wrong-sized armies:

> Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.

> Any land-bound edition of the US Army of the Potomac.

> Halleck's combined armies at Corinth.

> Bragg's Army of Mississippi.

> > [Your choice here.]

Mark your ballots.

7/13/2012

Civil War armies too small and too large

Mitch Hagmaier writes:
"If an army is too large for its transport network, what happens?"

I would think that the central Tennessee front - the Army of the Cumberland - would be the most obvious and distinctive example of a theatre in which Northern armies were severely limited by logistical considerations. The armies along the Mississippi, the Army of the Tennessee, and the Army of the Potomac all could rely on uninterruptable riverine lines of logistical supply. Meanwhile, south of the Cumberland line, the Army of the Cumberland had to rely on crazy-inefficient wagon trains, which greatly limited that army's strategic mobility.

The worst operational collapse of the Army of the Cumberland was the campaign that culminated in the Chickamauga debacle. They were caught dispersed, and barely consolidated before the collision of forces. But they *did* consolidate, and the defeat was due to poor tactical command-and-control - Rosecrans acting as all three of his corps commanders instead of trusting them to fight their own corps - more than operational dispersion. But the Army of the Cumberland wasn't "too large for their networks", it was too large to be fought as a single corps.

The problem with positing small, professional divisional-sized armies which can strike free of the big logistical corridors, is that they can't accomplish anything permanent when they get to their targets, which tend to have organic logistical connections with the rest of the network. They're glorified raiding forces, which can only do the flashy but transient damage of a raiding force. Look at Jackson's and Early's plunges into the eastern theater's strategic rear. Glorious, flashy slashing about, but they generally ran out of room to run and either withdrew, having done nothing lasting, or got bloodied by big, dumb forces moving into blocking positions via the rail and water lines. Even at Second Manassas, Jackson would have been destroyed by Pope's flailing about if he hadn't had Lee's mass army racing to consolidate beside and behind him, and make it a victory.

Lastly, consider the first Corinth offensive, with its lack of fighting, and slow, lumbering advance "in touch" by three massed forces against a smaller defending force. This describes your earlier "pools of forces" clustered about logistical LOC. But the end of the campaign, taking the Jominian strategic point, left the attacking force with nothing further to do, except to disperse in search of new goals, and to get the troops away from the medical disaster which was brewing there.

In short, you can't rely solely on small, strategically mobile "professional" armies when the opponent has massed armies and can rely on quick lines of communication. Any sort of attritional contact uses up your professionals, while the "massed" enemy can replace his losses. Early, for instance, with his crack, veteran, near-professionalized Valley army, still was defeated again and again by Sheridan's masses, in a logistically isolated theater like the Valley.

Mitch H.
http://blogfonte.blogspot.com/

Thanks to our foreign visitors

A Croat discussion on von Moltke's reputed Civil War comment about armies chasing each other in the woods (a settled science "fact" for our brilliant Centennial authors) has brought many Croatian visitors to this site. Hey, dobrodošao!
ili nije istina ili je rečeno samo za shermanovo divljanje:
http://cwbn.blogspot.com/2008/11/richard-f.html
More than half of the readers of this blog (actually) are located abroad with Russia, Ukraine, and Germany leading the numbers. It is possible that my father's poetry drives more than a few Russian and Ukrainian numbers my way.

My paltry UK readership competes with China's in terms of page-views, interestingly enough. On many days, Chinese hits swamp British page views.

I have Dutch visitors aplenty but they only hunt up the general who faints - and that's about it.

If I can influence non-Anglophone criticism of American Civil War nonfiction literature, I will be grateful, honored and humbled.

Meanwhile, welcome, friends.

7/12/2012

Patton, the cavalry sword, and more

As a Bernard Montgomery fan and a deep Patton skeptic, I was surprised to find myself charmed by a collection of Patton writings in pdf compiled by the Patton Society. I can't regain access to the compilation, but here is a link to some of the relevant individual files on their site.

If you are a Civil War cavalry buff (hey, Eric!) you have to read this piece. Sword-wise, Patton is anti-cut and pro-thrust. This explains the configuration of the sabre he designed (photo above) which I have seen displayed in some Army museums. He is right for more reasons than he suspects and I may write a post on that (based on my seven years of competitive sabre fencing and two days of horse riding). Picture the cavalry of 1914 sitting in McClellan saddles and carring Patton swords.

Buried somewhere in that site is another article on what makes a really great polo team. If you like polo, dig it out - it's wonderful.

Also buried in that site is a loving memoir of John J. Pershing. My youthful admiration of Pershing cooled lately and I was glad to have Patton remind me how much good there was in "Black Jack."

If you know how to browse, have at it.

7/11/2012

Armies too large for their transport networks

If an army is too large for its transport network, what happens?

It has to disperse (or divide), creating discontinuous fronts.

Units may be out of supporting distance of one another.

Communication is slower, less certain.

The broken-up army experiences multiple, discontinuous states of supply and readiness in each separated segment.

Dispositions are less tactical, more logistical.

The command is in a reactive state.

Initiative has passed to the enemy.

The command must reassemble to act as an army.

The reassembly can be interfered with or fail of its own accord.

"Friction" increases.

The "fog of war" increases.

Were Civil War armies too large for their networks?



7/10/2012

Comic books, TV heroes, Napoleon, and ACW generals

Contemporary with the ACW Centennial, there was an explosion of new comic book titles. In those 10-12 cent cover price days, the more interesting books assembled teams of superheroes with disparate powers and matched these against random super foes.

The (Marvel) Avengers, the movie of which seems to be breaking records, is a good example of massed competencies that have no overlap or intersection. We young readers of these tales would see some evildoer on the cover and this would set the mindwheels turning. The power of the bad guy would be on display, the writers would have designed him-her-it to be a tricky team challenge, and the come-on in buying the book would be the issue, How are these heroes going to defeat this threat?

Within a year of publisher Marvel launching the Avengers in their own book (I wish I had kept my copy), rival DC launched a smaller team with even more ridiculously disconnected abilities, the Doom Patrol. If you imagined a comic-book continuum, on one end was DC's Justice League of America, a fully stocked toolkit with abilities for absolutely any contingency - a well oiled, college frat house (and pity their foes); in the middle there was the Avengers, small enough of a team that the disparities in ability posed serious operational problems and the disparity in temperaments caused more social problems; at the end of the continuum was the three-person, depression-ridden Doom Patrol - they got along well enough but how they got any work done across their gaping, peculiar abilities must have been a writer's nightmare.

We kids reading this stuff in the early to mid 1960s were imbued with the lesson that everyone is a contributor based on unique capabilities. We noted that one hero might be in a supporting role this time and a leading role next time. We noted the presence of wise adults (the professor, Dr. X, Nick Fury) who encouraged and developed their teams. We saw "development arcs" as characters discovered new capabilities and self-awareness.

In television programming that was awash in rugged individuality, the UK's Avengers TV show at the very start of the Centennial portrayed two disparate leads - Dr. David Keel and Mr. John Steed (photo) - as equipped with different personalities and competencies successfully working common problems. American television saw the debut of I Spy (1965) which further developed this obverse capabilities theme. The following year, this dynamic was radically expanded to comic book levels with "Mission Impossible" in which, superhero style, a team with radically different abilities combined to solve problems in which each contributor was needed to make a success. Star Trek launched the same year and introduced the more general idea of a broad talent pool (the crew) overcoming special threats episode-by-episode based on varying talents and varying threats.

At about this time, I discovered a 1934 classic pop history, Napoleon and His Marshals by A.G. Macdonnell. I have not read this work since, but the impression it made on me and on my reading of military history was synched to these comic book and TV currents.

Macdonnell's trick was to paint a portrait of strengths and weaknesses marshal-by marshal.

In the ACW literature of the time, a figure was all strengths or all weaknesses. Moreover, the measure of a commanding general was one size fits all.

Macdonnel's gimmick as a pop historian was to take strengths and weaknesses and apply these to the employment history of the marshal in question. In his friendly analysis, more often than not Napoleon did an excellent job of matching strengths where needed (although there was the occasional failure). The reader was left after each sketch with the feeling, "Napoleon was lucky to have this guy," no matter how weak the resume.

For the comic book reader, then, Napoleon was the wise professor observing and guiding his mutants and freaks to success, self confidence, and maximum potential. He was accomplishing missions with combinations of personalities. Napoleon was a contributor, an organizer, a mentor, a sponsor, a trainer, a guiding light for a unique combination of talents. He was a genius who had lots of help that he organized himself.

Meanwhile, in the contemporary issues of American Heritage magazine, I saw the Lincoln character drawn by prizewinning authors blindly and ignorantly pounding square pegs into round holes and then casting the breakage aside with villainous indifference. Civil War history, as practiced by its leading lights in the 1960s, profoundly revolted me and I spent the next two decades deep in European history.

At the start of my adulthood, comics left behind, I was compelled to read Civil War history again as a course requirement. I developed Macdonnell-inspired sympathy not only for McClellan, whose merits were so obvious, but also for Fremont and other "failed generals," each of whom showed special qualities and each of whom was laid on a procrustean bed by Centennial authors who made their imaginary Grant an imaginary standard for whom they could accept no substitute. They gutted the ensemble potential of the old Mission Impossible TV show for a Tom Cruise movie version of no mission impossible for that one right man for the job.

Heavily laden with a long train commute in my middle age, I delved into ACW history as an outsider and became outraged at what I saw in "the standard texts." This blog remains an outlet for that old outrage, a feeling that persists even 20 years later. Part of that rage is based on the disparity in standards with the European history I had read, part of it on the Centennial obsession with a single standard for generalship.

So my point of view has a standards part but also a residue of childish emotion.

Genius - talent - ability comes in many forms. I still believe that. A great leader uses this. Lesser effort yields tragedy. This nation got tragedy.

I tend to blame The Professor. Centennialists universally blame the generals who themselves failed to be that predefined single superhero with all the powers needed to master every challenge.

--
p.s. Some readers may think Napoleon and His Marshals sounds suspiciously like Lee and His Generals but Macdonnell precedes Freeman. Freeman is derivative. Macdonnell offers concise character summaries laid over resume bullet points. Freeman's portraits are nuanced, overlong, narrative-driven and lack the cartoonishly summary feel of Macdonnell. In other words, transitioning Macdonnell's pop history structure into serious history fails. Where Macdonnell succeeds is in the narrative force of his literary reductionism.

p.p.s. This post was inspired by Eric Wittenberg's personal reassessment of Custer.

p.p.p.s. There is a case to be made of Lincoln as the good comic book Professor, shuffling his heroes around from command to command. Generally, however, he is acting serially and expediently.

7/09/2012

Civil War railroading and mass armies

In his 1932 memorandum, "The Probable Characteristics of the Next War and the Organization, Tactics, and Equipment Necessary to Meet Them," George Patton made some observations that intersect with our Civil War railroading post of yesterday.

See if you can make the connections.

Patton [excerpts]:
Movement and supply [of mass armies] depend almost entirely on the character and adequacy of the road net. [Argues the obverse for professional armies which have inherently greater mobility.]

The density of improved roads and railroads is much greater in western Europe than in any other portion of the earth. As compared with our highly developed northeastern [USA] area the ratio stands as three to one in favor of Europe.

To maintain the forces employed in western Europe [in WWI] the roads in the zone of the armies were used to their maximum.

Since, then, Europe saw the maximum density of forces capable of being supplied it is evident that since in all other parts of the world conditions are worse, smaller forces will have to be used.

Our General Mobilization Plan [in 1932] contemplates forces of a size only usable in Europe.
Let me introduce Winfield Scott into this picture. As if modeling the Mexican War, Scott asked for an army of 42,000 professionals to put down the rebellion, with an equal number of volunteers. Scott envisioned a Patton-like war of professionals augmented by primitive auxiliaries. Lincoln obliged in this but was overwhelmed by a larger response from the states, thereby plunging operational necessity into Patton country: adequacy of the road net, forces of a size only usable in Europe.

Our old friend Col. John M. Palmer saw Scott as the villain and Lincoln as the accessory: "President Lincoln accepted the official [Scott] proposal and carried it into effect at once. We should not blame him for this error in judgement," he adds helpfully. (This may have been one more nail in the coffin of Scott's influence, IMHO.)

As a "Nation in Arms" gathers in "pools" at its railheads (per Christopher Gabel), Scott's operational concepts are upended; Patton's barely mobile mass armies emerge to crawl over such landscape as is not near rail centers; and McClellan's prescient water- and railcentric plans of 1861 become the mass army consolation prize superseding the irretrievable Scott/Patton professional solution to winning the war.

We have here also the possible emergence of a new meme: that the concentration of volunteer formations into jumbo-sized Civil War armies exceeded their utility by binding their mobility. More on this to come.

7/08/2012

The recent historiography of Civil War railroading

Brooks Simpson writes in The Civil War in the East (p12) that
In turn, the Confederates would always find their right flank vulnerable to waterborne movement; they would have a much better chance of turning back a drive into central Virginia that that depended on the rail lines for supply. [...] The best way to get at the Confederate capital was from the rear, either via the James River or by isolating it by severing rail lines southwards.
Note the equivalence between railroad and supply. This is part of a general shift in emphasis from troop transport to logistics in Civil War literature. With a few notable exceptions, like Edward Hagerman, in the 1980s and 1990s the better authors seemed enchanted by the strategic mobility aspect to the near total exclusion of the supply question: see for example Jones, Hattaway et al, and Rowena Reed. “Near total” is no exaggeration. The occasional nod to the supply function of railroads could not be more general (less rigorous, less analytical) and the railroad-as-supplier was, to reprise Hitchcock’s term, a “maguffin” - a contrivance that only serves to advance the plot.

Sometimes this maguffin took human shape in the person of Hermann Haupt. In the secondary literature, the Haupt “character” was always busy with engineering and administrative problems. In terms of ACW historiography, Haupt’s plot function was to overcome various challenges in order to enable battles (and thereby war-winning). In his own book, Haupt, a civil engineer, does not delve much more deeply into supply matters than this example: “At Monocacy I found about 200 loaded cars on the sidings, some of which had been standing nearly a week.” Enter the problem solver.

In 1997, the Army’s Combat Studies Institute published a paper* by Christopher R. Gabel, “Railroad Generaliship: Foundations of Civil War Strategy.” Any time spent with these 25-pages will be richly rewarded.
Obviously, a railroad train could carry more tons of cargo than a mule-drawn wagon, but this alone did not confer any logistical advantage, for one could make up the ... tonnage simply by adding more mules and wagons. The steam locomotive’s advantage resided in the fact that it could haul more supplies farther on a given amount of fuel...[emphasis in original]. ... six mules drawing a wagon carrying 1.5 tons of supplies could travel approximately 333 miles on one ton of fuel. [...] ... a Civil War-era freight locomotive could travel only 35 miles or so on a ton of fuel, but it’s payload could be as high as 150 tons, yielding 5,250 ton-miles per ton of fuel consumed.
He rates the six-mule wagon at 500 ton-miles per ton of fuel vs 5,250 for a 15-car train. (For those who are thinking “no fair,” 15 wagons would equal 15 cars: yes, but you are now talking 90 mules and 15 tons of fuel vs the locomotive’s one ton of fuel.)

Let me touch on a few more of the analytic highlights:
“Supplies hauled by rail were more likely to reach the troops in usable shape, owing both to the speed of delivery and to the shelter afforded by enclosed rail cars.”

“...the railroad increased enormously the geographical scale of military operations. An army supplied by railroad could operate effectively even when hundreds of miles from its main base of supply [...] enabling armies to conduct campaigns that would have been unthinkable with wagon-haul logistics. Railroads also permitted armies to become larger. In previous North American wars, armies of 30,000 taxed the limits of wagon-haul logistics and local requisition. ”

“... William T. Sherman waged an offensive campaign with an army of 100,000 men and 35,000 animals ... His supply line consisted of a single-track railroad extending 473 miles from Atlanta to his main supply base at Louisville. Sherman estimated that this rail line did the work of 36,800 wagons and 220,800 mules!”

“[Steam power ] seems also to have contributed to the prolongation of the Civil War by making it more difficult to wage decisive campaigns.” [Refers to railroads negating the advantage of interior lines.]

“Paradoxically, at the level of the individual field armies, railroads actually restricted maneuver.[**] Field armies tended to bunch up around their railheads. [...] Up to the railhead, supplies and reinforcements traveled on the industrial-age railroad. Beyond the railhead, transportation depended on muscle power. In other words, it was often easier to move troops and supplies hundreds of miles from the home front to the railhead than it was to move even a few miles beyond it. Like water in a dam, armies gathered in large, nearly unassailable masses around their railheads.”
To put this another way, beyond the ACW railhead looms the logistics of the War of 1812. Gabel gives this example: “By 1863, the Aquia Creek line averaged about 800 tons of supplies (eighty railroad cars) per day... To advance beyond Falmouth meant that the army would have to resort to wagon-haul by 400 to 800 wagons per day.” Gabel shows a bar chart with daily railroad deliveries to Falmouth: over 400 tons of forage, over 200 of commissary stores, almost 100 in quartermaster stores, and about 50 of mail and passengers. Rairoad supplies and ammo hover around 10 tons.

Two more points from Gabel:
“When defeated, an army supplied by rail often could be reinforced before the victor, traveling on muscle power, could exploit his success.”

“The general reliance on rail lines of communication, moreover, tended to channel offensive operations along clearly defined axes of advance.”
And finally, offensives of of rail lines could never be more than raids, since the offensive force could not be supplied adequately in forward positions.

For some readers, this may be ho-hum. Our understanding of railways in the ACW has advanced this far. For others, some of this material may be eye-opening.
Here is a roundup of some relevant titles for further reading.

Vital Rails by H. David Stone Jr. - This history of the Charleston & Savannah RR in the ACW is interesting in its depiction of the Lee/Pemberton team learning to become “railroad generals” in fighting Adm. Samuel DuPont and Gen. Tim Sherman. We have Lee in his “granny” phase directing an inflexible and determined field commander (Pemberton) reprising the kind of generalship that failed so dismally against McClellan in (West) Virginia. Their interactions with the railroad are fascinating and a microcosm of the South’s private railroads supporting a war effort through negotiated rates, limited availability, and set timetables.

The Railroads of the Confederacy by Robert C. Black III is a chatty tome with topical chapters drawn a little too broadly for my taste. What it lacks in analysis it supplies in odd details, although these have to be gathered like acorns. The map, “Principal Interstate Railroad Links,” is interesting. Another map, “Railroad Approaches to Manassas Junction” is similarly worth a few minutes study as is the table of Southern passenger schedules in 1860. The author reaches for color and interest and succeeds.

Victory Rode the Rails by George Edgar Turner is a well known title in this field. As good as this 1992 book is, as essential (even), I blame author Turner for some of the railroad misdirection that followed. The research here is superb on whatever specifically interests Turner. The Cameron stuff is not to be missed and the lowdown on Thomas Scott is very low down indeed. There is so much here that needs its own post. However, there is very little logistics or supply. This is a compilation of engineering, administrative, and military incidents (with a healthy dash of troop movements). Victory, I think, blazed a false trail for a lot of lazy, derivative authors. Nevertheless, it is not cited nearly enough and it shines a fascinating light on the Lincoln Administration, its dealings and foibles, as well as the field commands and their various issues.

The American Civil war and the Origins of Modern Warfare by Edward Hagerman remains a classic. This man’s balanced appetite for details and analysis is rarely matched in the field. His discussion of the controversy over the ratio of wagons to men under Hooker is eye-opening. Likewise, his analysis of the Grant/Meade waterborne supply system in 1864/65 bears heavily on related tactical developments. The book covers too much technical ground to be specific to railroads, but Hagerman fixes his eye on the logistics element in each major campaign.

Civil War Command and Strategy by Archer Jones shows Jones as fully aware of the logistical dimensions of ACW railroading but the topic does not feature much compared to troop movements. A typical Jones insight is that with a drawn battle at Sharpsburg, McClellan was nearly on top of his railhead while Lee was at the end of a wagon-forage line of communication. McClellan’s position was therefore much stronger. Similarly fresh analysis: railroads were less important in the Franco-Prussian War which had countrysides that could better support foraging. The ACW’s exhausted terrain made field armies more dependent on rail supply. You shouldn’t need a railroad interest to dig into this work.

Combined Operations in the Civil War by Rowena Reed. The is the only work I have seen that details (with map!) McClellan’s railroad-based plan for defeating the Confederacy. Where riverine operations might follow waterways to their limits, McClellan would follow rail lines to their limits, which is what in fact happened anyway after GBM left the scene. There is more water than rail line in this work but it remains the essential analysis of water-based operations, with more detail on the struggle between Lee/Pemberton and DuPont/Tim Sherman. Reed’s views are pungently stated and will delight a few while offending most ACW readers.

Rails to Oblivion by Christopher Gabel. In another Army paper, Gabel argues that “Southern railroads were in fact sufficient to win the war ... or a war.” See especially his map of Richmond with six RR termini and no interchange. He develops the known meme of CSA mismanagement of the railroad asset but adds more clarity, more facts, and sharp insights. Free download.

Stealing the General by Russell S. Bonds has little grand strategy but the grounds-eye view of Southern railroad depots, low-level management, and certain grass-roots minutiae is intriguing.

Some books I have not read:
The Iron Way: Railroads, the Civil War, and the Making of Modern America - Looks sociological, promises new sources.

The Northern Railroads in the Civil War, 1861-1865 - Shows its 1999 vintage thusly: “Not only did the railroads materially help the north to victory through movement of troops and materiel...” Argues that the war affected later RR organization and business methods.

Railroads in the Civil War: The Impact of Management on Victory and Defeat - Dates from 2004 and is all about two troop movements.

--

* Wig-Wags noticed it in more recent times.

** See especially Rowena Reed’s analysis of McClellan’s 11/61 plan for winning the war: it is a continental “Anaconda.”