Comanche Apr 21, 2011 21:13:15 GMT -5
Post by Clair on Apr 21, 2011 21:13:15 GMT -5
Apr 21, 2011 17:02:45 GMT -5 @brittles said:I don't think that there was a widespread intellectual movement in the U S Army as a whole during the 19th Century. Were there some, even more than a few exceptions to this? In all probability - yes.
I believe there are reports that Custer had quite a library with a lot of military history in it. Of course, all West Pointers studied the classics of military Art...Greeks, Romans, and already Napoleon. Napoleon was fresh in everyone's mind during our Civil War campfires.
In the last half of the 1840's the U S Army knew about as much as they needed to about fighting Mexicans. In the first half of the 1860's the same was true about Confederates. Throughout the century the same could be said about the Indians.
I agree, but don't fall in the common trap of believing these men were dummies. They were as smart as we are today, and studied history and Art as much as officers do today. Some could probably draw you every Napoleonic battle in the sand and explain all the units, etc., like I could.
Knew what they needed to know to get the job done, somehow does not give me visions of deep discussions about Napoleonic tactics, or an in depth familiarity with the Great Captains.
You might be surprised.
I think it is fair to say that the United States Army did not come into its own intelectually until the two decade period that followed World War I. Before that it was a constabulary that expanded a time or two to meet the current situation.
I think you greatly underestimate West Pointers.
Now there may have been those campfire discussions, but something tells me the subject matter was something quite different from Murat.
My impression is that Murat and LaSalle were PRIMO topics around cavalry campfires, North and South, every year of the war. They were the "movie stars" of the military at that time. Stuart and Custer modeled themselves after these men, did they not? Where do you think they got the ideas for their get-ups? Certainly not from anything in the American experience, eh? So from where?
I believe it was Grant who commented on this very subject at the close of the Civil War that West Point had insufficently prepared its graduates for the duties of combat officers in the field. By implication he thought that there was too much emphasis on engineering (after all it was an engineering school) and not enough emphasis placed upon leadership and the duties of an officer in combat.
Well sure...we ALWAYS say that...every decade, including today. <g> I was forced to get an engineering degree myself, but I've never been an engineer.
West Point is just a kick start. Every Cadet that has ever graduated since 1802 has had to study all of Napoleon's campaigns that existed up to that date. The ones that are really interested study further on their own. And when they get into the Army, some of them spread that interest to the rest of the officer Corps.
Again, don't fall into the modern habit of hubris...thinking that we are any smarter today, or more dedicated to their Art, than they were in that day. They were brilliant, dedicated professionals. They knew their craft as well as we do today.
That is one of the hardest things for modern students to accept, I've found, especially modern military men. We think we are so much more "professional," and "educated," and "better trained," than they were. I say this is hogwash, no matter what standards you want to use. They were as good, or better, than we are today.