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Union Combined Operations in the Civil War

Craig Symonds

Publication Year: 2010

Despite a wealth of books on the campaigns of the American Civil War, the subject of combined or joint operations has been largely neglected. This revealing book offers ten case studies of combined Army-Navy operations by Union forces. Presented in chronological order, each essay illuminates an aspect of combined operations during a time of changing technology and doctrine.

The essays cover the war along the "rebel coast," including the operations in the North Carolina Sounds in 1861, the Union thrusts up the York and James rivers during the Peninsular Campaign in 1862 and 1864, and the various Union efforts to seize rebel seaports from the Texas coast to Charleston and Wilmington in 1863-65. Concluding the volume are two essays that evaluate the impact of Union combined operations on subsequent doctrine in both the United States and England.

Contributors: Francis J. Du Coin, John Fisher, Chris E. Fonvielle Jr., Howard J. Fuller, David E. Long, Robert Sheridan, David C. Skaggs, Mark A. Snell, Craig L. Symonds, Edward H. Wiser.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

List of Abbreviations Used in the Notes

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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. 1-9

Despite the number of operational studies on the campaigns of the American Civil War, the subject of combined or joint operations is one that has been largely overlooked. Only one book devotes itself to...

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1. Burnside When He Was Brilliant: Ambrose Burnside and Union Combined Operations in Pamlico Sound

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pp. 10-22

Few names from the Civil War era inspire more loathing and contempt than that of Ambrose Everett Burnside. It is a curious legacy for a man whose prewar contemporaries found him a likeable and collegial fellow...

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2. A Thorn, Not a Dagger: Strategic Implications of Ambrose Burnside’s North Carolina Campaign

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pp. 23-31

Historians have largely overlooked the strategic significance of Burnside’s campaign in the North Carolina Sounds. James M. McPherson does not discuss the New Bern expedition in his excellent and prizewinning...

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3 ‘‘Very Crude Notions on the Subject’’: William B. Franklin’s Amphibious Assault at Eltham’s Landing

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pp. 32-43

Not every combined operation attempted by Union forces during the Peninsula Campaign foundered on the rocks of interservice rivalry. One that proved remarkably successful was the amphibious landing...

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4 The Union Attack at Drewry’s Bluff: An Opportunity Lost

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pp. 44-55

One week after Union forces secured a beachhead at Eltham’s Landing on the York River, Union gunboats assailed Drewry’s Bluff on the James River in the first major confrontation between iron-armored...

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5 Union Combined Operations on the Texas Coast, 1863–64

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pp. 56-73

Abraham Lincoln’s announcement of a blockade of the Southern coast on April 19, 1861, inaugurated the strategy, derisively labeled the ‘‘Anaconda Plan’’ by its critics, to seal off the rebels from the outside world...

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6. Assailing Satan’s Kingdom: Union Combined Operations at Charleston

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pp. 74-86

With the exception of Richmond, no city in the Confederacy was the object of more Federal interest and effort than Charleston, South Carolina, where the first shots of the war had been fired, and which...

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7. Grant Moves South: Combined Operations on the James River, 1864

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pp. 87-95

By the spring of 1864, the Union had experienced so much disappointment with combined operations that instead of allaying suspicion between the services, the overriding sense of distrust was at least as...

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8. Closing Down the Kingdom: Union Combined Operations Against Wilmington

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pp. 96-114

Long before Ulysses S. Grant made his move to the James River, the North Carolina seaport of Wilmington on the Cape Fear River had become the principal port of entry for ships carrying essential supplies to Robert E....

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9. ‘‘The Absence of Decisive Results’’: British Assessments of Union Combined Operations

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pp. 115-134

Well before the Civil War erupted in 1861, military professionals in both Britain and the United States had sought to learn lessons from one another about the changing nature of modern war. The Duke...

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10. Union Combined Operations in the Civil War: Lessons Learned, Lessons Forgotten

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pp. 135-151

The foregoing essays demonstrate that American joint land-sea operations, and in particular amphibious assaults, did not originate in the twentieth century as the U.S. Marine Corps prepared for war in the...


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pp. 152-154


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pp. 155-160

Series Page

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pp. 161-164

E-ISBN-13: 9780823249169
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823232864
Print-ISBN-10: 0823232867

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States. Army -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Combined operations (Military science) -- History -- 19th century.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns.
  • Generals -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
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