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Major Arthur P. Wade, Artillery, USA, graduated from West Point in 1943 and served in Europe during World War II. After an assignment as Assistant Professor of History of Military Art at West Point, he is now on duty with the 1st Infantry Division. Civil War at West Point ARTHUR P. WADE WITH THE APPROACHING CENTENNIAL OF THE OUTBREAK of the Civil War, interestin that greatAmerican conflict increases steadily and quite perceptibly . Hardly a week goes by in which the book review sections of the great metropolition newspapers fail to record the appearance of a new work on some facet of that war; the quality of the productions may vary, but interest in the general subject is unflagging. From best-selling novel to privately-printed pamphlet, each of these works reflects the unique position in our history of the war of 1861-65. After some years in which the emphasis in Civil War writing was almost entirelyon the political, economic, or sociological aspects of the period, the purely military or operational history of the war is coming back into its own with the publication of such fine works as those by Bruce Catton and Kennetii P. Williams. Surely a high point in the resurgence of interest in the operational history of the war was reached with the recent reprinting of Century's famous Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. To date, however, it must be noted that the revival of the military history of the Civil War has not spread to the schools and colleges of die country, even in the South. Whereas fifty years ago college history students could toss off such names as Gordon, Mahone, Reynolds, Ewell, and Granger with facility, and recite chapter-and-verse the reasoning behind Lee's reinforcement of Bragg in September of 1863, the interposition of two world wars has dulled the appreciation of such men and such strategy, so that it is a rare college student today who can identify with certainty any of the great Civil War commanders beyond Grant, Lee, Sherman, Sheridan, and perhaps Jackson. Every college offers courses in its history curriculum which deal with economic, political, and—lately—sociological treatments of the war period, and while this is not to say that no mention is made of 6 ARTHUR P. WADE military operations, such mention usually is only to set the stage, to frame the chronology for other discussion. This condition is not particularly surprising, nor is this author "viewing with alarm." It is simply pointed out that, were a student interested in taking a course in the purely military history of the Civil War, he would in most cases be out of luck. He would be told with some justice that no university could afford to underwrite so specialized a subject, that the undergraduates inparticular are so busy with the required hours leading to their chosen degrees that they have no time for such a restricted course. It may then be of interest to Civil War students to know that there is one school at which every undergraduate takes such a course—the United States Military Academy. The West Point course in military history, or more properly History of Military Art, is not confined to the Civil War, but covers the art of war from the earliest recorded engagements through the recent fighting in Korea. At one time the study of the Civil War filled one-third of the course, but with the additional content posed by two world wars and a police action, the fraction is now nearer one-fifth. Nevertheless the concentration of the Civil War into a much shorter span of teaching has not had a corresponding decrease in interest, either on the part of the cadets or the instructors ; the study of die military operations of 1861-1865 remains probably the high spot of the course on both sides of the lectern. The aim of this article, then, is to describe and discuss the West Point course in the History of Military Art, show briefly how it fits into the overall cadet curriculum, and then focus on the Civil War subcourse. Shortly after World War II there was instituted at West Point...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 5-15
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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