The American Civil War

Williamson Murray

in The Practice of Strategy

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608638
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731754 | DOI:
The American Civil War

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Chapter 9 focuses on the relationship between the evolving grand strategy and military strategy in the American Civil War (1861–5). Williamson Murray emphasizes the symbiotic relationship between Abraham Lincoln's grand strategy—aimed at the preservation of the Union with its form of government—and Ulysses S. Grant's ability to execute the military expression of that strategy through effective generalship, selection of capable subordinates, and decisive combat. Murray argues that two main factors explain why it took the North four years to defeat the Southern states. First, the vast size of the theatre of operations posed great logistical challenges. Second, enormous popular enthusiasm for their respective causes led both sides to insist on holding out to the bitter end, despite huge casualties and suffering. Ultimately, Lincoln's grand strategy succeeded because the verdict that ‘the United States is a country’, singular rather than plural, was never seriously challenged again.

Keywords: American Civil War; confederacy; Abraham Lincoln; Ulysses Grant; grand strategy; military strategy; war; history

Chapter.  11585 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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