Beginning in 1815, the U.S. Army struggled for existence within a society that was not convinced that a standing army was worth the expense. At the same time, many questioned the viability of a professional officer corps, citing the innate ability of the American fighting man as demonstrated in earlier conflicts. Although efforts were undertaken early on to define the role and status of a peacetime army, issues of national defense, domestic security, Indian policy, and internal improvements shaped civil military relations over the next 4 12 decades. While the true position of the citizen-soldier in relation to a standing army had not been clearly defined by 1860, the nation had made giant strides towards full acceptance of the idea that the U.S. Army, a standing force commanded by military professionals, was a national necessity.
Army finds that Union soldiers were able to apply scientific ingenuity and innovation to complex problems in a way that Confederate soldiers simply could not match. Skilled Free State engineers who were trained during the antebellum period benefited from basic educational reforms, the spread of informal educational practices, and a culture that encouraged learning and innovation. During the war, their rapid construction and repair of roads, railways, and bridges allowed Northern troops to pass quickly through the forbidding terrain of the South as retreating and maneuvering Confederates struggled to cut supply lines and stop the Yankees from pressing any advantage.
By presenting detailed case studies from both theaters of the war, Army clearly demonstrates how the soldiers’ education, training, and talents spelled the difference between success and failure, victory and defeat. He also reveals massive logistical operations as critical in determining the war’s outcome.