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West Points of the Confederacy: Southern Military Schools and the Confederate Army

From: Civil War History
Volume 43, Number 4, December 1997
pp. 310-331 | 10.1353/cwh.1997.0080

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

West Points of the Confederacy:
Southern Military Schools and the Confederate Army
Bruce Allardice

Bruce Allardice, a Civil War historian who resides in Des Plaines, Illinois, is the author of More Generals in Gray (1995).


1. Bruce Catton, This Hallowed Ground (New York: Doubleday, 1956), 109.

2. Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant (1885; reprint, New York: Charles L. Webster, 1894), 201.

3. Thomas L. Snead, "The First Year of The War in Missouri," in Robert Johnson and Clarence Buel, eds., Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, 4 vols. (New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1956), 1:262-77, esp. 269-70.

4. For an overview of the purpose and value of drill, see John Keegan, The Mask of Command (New York: Viking Penguin, 1987), 170-171; Richard McMurry, "Civil War Leaders," in Roman J. Heleniak and Lawrence L. Hewitt, eds., Leadership During the Civil War (Shippensburg, Pa.: White Mane, 1992), 171-85, esp. 173-76; G. F. R. Henderson, Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War, 2 vols. (London: Longmans, Green, 1898), 1:162. Confederate army regulations mandated that an officer be able to maneuver and drill his unit. In 1861 the practical (as opposed to the psychological) value of drill was questioned by many perceptive officers. As early as 1725 a foresighted French critic denounced the "manual drill of arms" as "so much fiddle-faddle, necessary in its way to form the soldier and accustom him to obedience, but otherwise almost useless in action." Chevalier Guignard, L'Ecole de Mars, 2 vols. (Paris, 1725), 1:63. However, even if one side in the Civil War had seen the need for a new and improved system of tactics, the sudden coming of the Civil War and the frantic raising of armies made the development of any new system impossible. As McMurry observes, "In effect, the Union and Confederate armies had to choose between obsolescent tactics and no tactics." McMurray, "Civil War Leaders," 174.

5. Christopher Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason (New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1988), 47-49, provides a brief overview of European military education. Short-lived military academies flourished in France and Germany as early as the late 1500s.

6. Edward S. Holden, ed., The Centennial of the United States Military Academy, 2 vols. (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1904); George Clinton to George Washington, Apr. 17, 1783, Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

7. Washington to Alexander Hamilton, Dec. 12, 1799; notes, Nov. 1793, in John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of Washington, from the Original Manuscript Sources, 39 vols. (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1931-44), 37:473, 33:61; Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, Sept. 7, 1814, in Andrew A. Lipscombe, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 20 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Assoc., 1903), 19:217, 219; James Monroe to Sylvanus Thayer, Nov. 1, 1826, in United States Military Academy Library, West Point, New York; Calhoun to R. M. Johnson, Jan. 15, 1819, in Robert L. Meriwether and W. Edwin Hemphill, eds., Calhoun Papers, 16 vols. (Columbia: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1959-), 5:156, 482. See also Lester A. Webb, "The Origins of Military Schools in the United States, Founded in the Nineteenth Century," (Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina, 1958), for an exhaustive overview of the attitudes of contemporaries on military education.

8. Augustus B. Longstreet, A Voice from the South, Comprising Letters From Georgia to Massachusetts (Baltimore: Western Continent Press, 1847), 58. Longstreet, a renowned academic, was the uncle of Confederate general James Longstreet.

9. Brown to the legislature of Georgia, November 1860, cited in John Hope Franklin, The Militant South (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1956), 158.

10. George White, "The State of Georgia," De Bow's Review 10 (Mar. 1851): 245; Journal of the House of Representatives for the Ninth Session of the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas (Arkadelphia: R. L. Reques, 1853) 26-27; Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Mississippi, at an Adjourned Session Thereof (Jackson: E. Barksdale, 1857), 303; Acts of the Seventh Biennial Session of the General Assembly of Alabama, Commencing Second Monday in November, 1859 (Montgomery: Shorter and...