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Title: 'Lavish of blood' : the impact of technology on the strategy and tactics of the American Civil War
Author: Alford, R. F. R.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2003
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For the last 50 years, the historiography of the conflict has taken its defining military feature to be the coincidence, and interplay, of what were seen to be recognisably 'modern' strategic and tactical technologies - most important among them the railway and telegraph, and rifled firearms - alongside the persistence of strategic and tactical models which, in the main, were held to conform to variously defined notions of 'traditionally'. The principal exceptions were Sherman's operations in Georgia and the Carolinas, which some commentators viewed as the progenitor of, or the first major pointer to, twentieth-century patterns of 'total' war. In consequence, writing on the interrelationship between technology, strategy and tactics has been preoccupied - invariably to the exclusion of virtually all other concerns - with how far the conflict can be regarded as either the first modern or (as the revisionist case would have it) the last Napoleonic war - or as an amalgam of each. This study bypasses - as far as possible - that increasingly sterile debate, first by setting the war in the wider context of the historic development of Western warfare as a whole, then proceeding via case-by-case examination of each of the principal technologies in question and how far their respective capabilities and limitations affected - in the sense of facilitating and constraining - the formulation and implementation of the belligerents' strategies and tactics. It also seeks to rank, and to question, the importance of technology as a determinant on both the conduct and outcome of the war, and concludes that it was but one of a series of interlocking elements at work in the battle zones in 1861-5. Of these, other factors - political, environmental, logistical and psychological - repeatedly loomed much larger in particular strategic and tactical situations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available