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Of Duty Well and Faithfully Done

A History of the Regular Army in the Civil War

Clayton R. Newell

Publication Year: 2011

On the eve of the Civil War, the Regular Army of the United States was small, dispersed, untrained for large-scale operations, and woefully unprepared to suppress the rebellion of the secessionist states. Although the Regular Army expanded significantly during the war, reaching nearly sixty-seven thousand men, it was necessary to form an enormous army of state volunteers that overshadowed the Regulars and bore most of the combat burden. Nevertheless, the Regular Army played several critically important roles, notably providing leaders and exemplars for the Volunteers and managing the administration and logistics of the entire Union Army. In this first comprehensive study of the Regular Army in the Civil War, Clayton R. Newell and Charles R. Shrader focus primarily on the organizational history of the Regular Army and how it changed as an institution during the war, to emerge afterward as a reorganized and permanently expanded force. The eminent, award-winning military historian Edward M. Coffman provides a foreword.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Table of Contents

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List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

During the Civil War, several Regular Army officers stationed at West Point discussed the lack of national attention the Regular Army had received for its contribution to the war . . .

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pp. xiii-xvi

The Union Army of the Civil War era was, for all practical purposes, a volunteer organization. As in the Mexican War before and the Spanish-American War after, the . . .

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p. xvii-xvii

We are grateful for the assistance of many people, particularly the staff of the U.S. Army Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. We also wish to thank . . .

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The Regular Army on the Eve of the Civil War

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pp. 1-13

Until well into the twentieth century, the fundamental principle of American military policy was the reliance on militia and Volunteer forces, rather than a large standing army, to . . .

Regular Army Leaders and Personnel

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1. Headquarters of the Army

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pp. 17-38

The combat elements of the small Regular Army of the United States were soon all but forgotten amidst the enormous number of volunteers who rushed to defend the Union, . . .

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2. Regular Army Personnel, 1861–1865

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pp. 39-63

During the Civil War, the Regular Army, which numbered less than 17,000 officers and men on January 1, 1861, expanded significantly but still constituted only a very small fraction of . . .

The Staff Departments

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3. Overview

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pp. 67-84

The Civil War staff departments can be conveniently divided into four major groups. The administrative bureaus included those departments headed by the Adjutant General, . . .

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4. The Administrative Departments

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pp. 85-108

In April 1861 the administration of the U.S. Army was entrusted to the heads of three departments — the adjutant general, the inspector general, and the paymaster general — and . . .

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5. Subsistence Department

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pp. 109-118

During a visit to the Richmond front early in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln told an officer of the Subsistence Department, “Your department we scarcely hear of; it is like a . . .

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6. Ordnance Department

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pp. 119-137

The supply of weapons, ammunition, and related equipment was a significant logistical challenge for both sides in the Civil War, but once again the advantage lay with the North, . . .

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7. Quartermaster’s Department

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pp. 139-162

In the nineteenth century, the Quartermaster’s Department (qmd) fairly claimed the position of primus inter pares.1 Its operations, particularly its transportation operations, supported . . .

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8. Medical Department

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pp. 163-190

The prompt evacuation of the sick and wounded from the battlefield, their effective treatment in field and general hospitals, their comfort and continued care during convalescence . . .

The Army in the Field

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9. Transition to War

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pp. 193-214

In the summer of 1860, Maj. John Sedgwick (USMA 1837) of the 1st Cavalry led four companies from his regiment and two from the 2d Dragoons on an expedition to conduct . . .

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10. The Infantry

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pp. 215-243

The Regular Army had nineteen regiments of infantry during the Civil War. Ten were part of the Army before the war, and nine more were organized in 1861. Significant . . .

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11. The Cavalry

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pp. 245-263

At the beginning of the war, the military leadership of the Union Army had little or no understanding of the potential value of the mounted regiments. Schooled in the European method . . .

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12. The Artillery

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pp. 265-283

When the Civil War began, the Regular Army artillery was far from prepared to fight a large war of maneuver. Thirty batteries were scattered across the West in small, isolated posts, . . .

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13. The Fighting Bureaus

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pp. 285-301

Prior to the Civil War, the Army’s engineer officers were assigned to either the Corps of Engineers or the Corps of Topographical Engineers. Almost all of them were graduates of . . .

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Reflections on the Regular Army in the Civil War

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pp. 303-313

During four years of civil war, the Regular Army of the United States underwent a profound transformation. Its combat elements more than doubled in size and . . .

Appendix: Selected Acts of Congress Pertaining to the Regular Army

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pp. 315-320


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pp. 321-366

Glossary of Acronyms Used in the Text

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p. 367-367

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 369-375


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pp. 377-381

Further Reading

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pp. 382-383

E-ISBN-13: 9780803235007
E-ISBN-10: 0803235003
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803219106
Print-ISBN-10: 0803219105

Page Count: 440
Illustrations: 30 illustrations, 1 map, 44 tables, 3 charts, 1 appendix
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Studies in War, Society, & the Military

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States. Army -- Organization -- History -- 19th century.
  • United States. Army -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
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