Military leadership in the American Civil War was influenced by professional military education and the hard-earned pragmatism of command experience. While not all leaders had formal military training, the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis created dedicated cadres of professional officers whose understanding of military science had profound effect on the conduct of the American Civil War and whose lasting legacy helped forge the traditions of the modern U.S. officer corps of all service branches.

The Union

Admiral David Porter

Civilian military leaders

President Abraham Lincoln was Commander-in-Chief of the Union armed forces throughout the conflict; after his April 14, 1865 assassination, Vice President Andrew Johnson became the nation's chief executive.[1] Lincoln's first Secretary of War was Simon Cameron; Edwin M. Stanton was confirmed to replace Cameron in January 1862. Thomas A. Scott was Assistant Secretary of War. Gideon Welles was Secretary of the Navy, aided by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus Fox.[2]

Title Name Tenure Notes

Commander-in-Chief

Abraham Lincoln O-77 matte collodion print.jpg Abraham Lincoln March 4, 1861 - April 15, 1865
(1,464 days during the war)
assassinated April 14, 1865; died April 15, 1865
President Andrew Johnson.jpg Andrew Johnson April 15, 1865 - March 4, 1869
(24 days during the war)
Declared the armed conflict to be "virtually" ended on May 9, 1865[3]

Secretary of War

Smn Cameron-SecofWar.jpg Simon Cameron March 5, 1861 - January 14, 1862
(277 days during the war)
resigned January 14, 1862
Edwin McMasters Stanton Secretary of War.jpg Edwin Stanton January 20, 1862 - May 28, 1867
(1,205 days during the war)
previously U.S. Attorney General

Secretary of Navy

Gideon Welles cph.3b20114.jpg Gideon Welles March 7, 1861 - March 4, 1869
(1,488 days during the war)

Regular Army officers

When the war began, the American standing army or "Regular army" consisted of only 1080 commissioned officers and 15,000 enlisted men.[4] Although 142 regular officers became Union generals during the war, most remained "frozen" in their regular units. That stated, most of the major Union wartime commanders had significant previous regular army experience.[5] Over the course of the war, the Commanding General of the United States Army was, in order of service, Winfield Scott, George B. McClellan, Henry Halleck, and finally, Ulysses S. Grant.

Commanding Generals, U.S.A.

No. Name Tenure Notes
1 Winfield Scott by Fredricks, 1862 (cropped).jpg Brevet Lieutenant general Winfield Scott July 5, 1841 - November 1, 1861 retired November 1, 1861
2 GeorgeMcClellan-cropped.jpeg Major General George McClellan November 1, 1861 - March 11, 1862 Commanded the Army of the Potomac in addition to serving as Commanding General. Relieved of duty as Commanding General on March 11, 1862.
3 vacant March 11, 1862 - July 23, 1862 responsibilities of Commanding General fulfilled by President Lincoln
4 Henry Wager Halleck - Brady-Handy.jpg Major General Henry Halleck July 23, 1862 - March 9, 1864 Appointed Chief of Staff of the General Headquarters in Washington DC on March 12, 1864[6]
5 Ulysses Grant 3.jpg General Ulysses S. Grant March 9, 1864 - March 4, 1869 first full rank General in the U.S. Army

Militia and political leaders appointed to Union military leadership

Under the United States Constitution, each state recruited, trained, equipped, and maintained local militia; regimental officers were appointed and promoted by state governors. After states answered Lincoln's April 15, 1861, ninety-day call for 75,000 volunteer soldiers, most Union states' regiments and batteries became known as "Volunteers" to distinguish between state and regular army units. Union brigade-level officers (generals) could receive two different types of Federal commissions: U.S. Army or U.S. Volunteers (ex: Major General, U.S.A. as opposed to Major General, U.S.V.). While most Civil War generals held volunteer or brevet rank, many generals held both types of commission; regular rank was considered superior.[7]

Native American and international officers in Union Army

Reflecting the multi-national makeup of the soldiers engaged, some Union military leaders derived from nations other than the United States.

Union naval leaders

The rapid rise of the United States Navy during the Civil War contributed enormously to the North's ability to effectively blockade ports and Confederate shipping from quite early in the conflict. Handicapped by an aging 90 ship fleet, and despite significant manpower losses to the Confederate Navy after secession, a massive ship construction campaign embracing technological innovations from civil engineer James Buchanan Eads and naval engineers like Benjamin F. Isherwood and John Ericsson, along with four years' daily experience with modern naval conflict put the U. S. Navy onto a path which has led to today's world naval dominance.[8]

Commanding Officer, U.S.N.

No. Name Tenure Notes
- Commodore Charles Stewart 1841.jpg Flag Officer Charles Stewart March 2, 1859 - 21 December, 1861 Served as "Senior Flag Officer, U.S.N." until his retirement on 21 December 1861; promoted Rear Admiral on the Retired list July 16, 1862
1 Admiral Farragut2.jpg Vice Admiral David Farragut December 21, 1861 - August 14, 1870 Commanded the West Gulf Blockading Squadron in addition to serving as Commanding Officer. Promoted full Admiral on July 25, 1866

The Confederacy

Jefferson Davis
Robert E. Lee
T.J. "Stonewall" Jackson
James Longstreet
Joseph E. Johnston
James Waddell

Civilian military leaders

Jefferson Davis was named provisional president on February 9, 1861, and assumed similar commander-in-chief responsibilities as would Lincoln; on November 6, 1861 Davis was elected President of the Confederate States of America under the Confederate Constitution. Alexander H. Stephens was appointed as Vice President of the Confederate States of America on February 18, 1861, and later assumed identical vice presidential responsibilities as Hannibal Hamlin did. Several men served the Confederacy as Secretary of War, including Leroy Pope Walker, Judah P. Benjamin, George W. Randolph, James Seddon, and John C. Breckinridge. Stephen Mallory was Confederate Secretary of the Navy throughout the conflict.[9]

Former Regular Army officers

In the wake of secession, many regular officers felt they could not betray loyalty to their home state, as a result some 313 of those officers resigned their commission and in many cases took up arms for the Confederate Army. Himself a graduate of West Point and a former regular officer, Confederate President Jefferson Davis highly prized these valuable recruits to the cause and saw that former regular officers were given positions of authority and responsibility.[10]

Militia and political leaders appointed to Confederate military leadership

The land of Davy Crockett and Andrew Jackson, the state military tradition was especially strong in southern states, some of which were until recently frontier areas. Several significant Confederate military leaders emerged from state unit commands.

Native American and international officers in Confederate army

While no foreign power sent troops or commanders directly to assist the Confederate States, some leaders derived from countries other than the United States.

Confederate naval leaders

The Confederate Navy possessed no extensive shipbuilding facilities; instead, it relied on refitting captured ships or purchased warships from Great Britain. The South had abundant navigable inland waterways, but after the Union built a vast fleet of gunboats, they soon dominated the Mississippi, Tennessee, Cumberland, Red and other rivers, rendering those waterways almost useless to the Confederacy. Confederates did seize several Union Navy vessels in harbor after secession and converted a few into ironclads, like the CSS Virginia. Blockade runners were built and operated by British naval interests, although by late in the war the C.S. Navy operated some. A few new vessels were built or purchased in Britain, notably the CSS Shenandoah and the CSS Alabama. These warships acted as raiders, wreaking havoc with commercial shipping. Aggrieved by these losses, in 1871 the U.S. government was awarded damages from Great Britain in the Alabama Claims.[8]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Boatner 483, 437
  2. ^ Boatner 858, 728, 303
  3. ^ "The Belligerent Rights of the Rebels at an End. All Nations Warned Against Harboring Their Privateers. If They Do Their Ships Will be Excluded from Our Ports. Restoration of Law in the State of Virginia. The Machinery of Government to be Put in Motion There". The New York Times. Associated Press. May 10, 1865. Retrieved December 23, 2013.
  4. ^ Boatner 673, 858
  5. ^ Boatner 673
  6. ^ Eicher p.274
  7. ^ Boatner 858, 328
  8. ^ a b Boatner 582
  9. ^ Boatner 225, 170
  10. ^ Boatner 495, 225, 674

References

  • Boatner, Mark Mayo, III. The Civil War Dictionary. New York: McKay, 1959; revised 1988. ISBN 0-8129-1726-X.
  • Eicher, John and David Eicher, Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders, Louisiana State University Press, 1964, ISBN 0-8071-0822-7
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders, Louisiana State University Press, 1959, ISBN 0-8071-0823-5
  • Waugh, John C., The Class of 1846, From West Point to Appomattox: Stonewall Jackson, George McClellan and their Brothers, New York: Warner, 1994. ISBN 0-446-51594-9

Further reading

  • American National Biography (20 vol. 2000; online and paper copies at academic libraries) short biographies by specialists
  • Bledsoe, Andrew S. Citizen-Officers: The Union and Confederate Volunteer Junior Officer Corps in the American Civil War. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0-8071-6070-1.
  • Current, Richard N., et al. eds. Encyclopedia of the Confederacy (1993) (4 Volume set; also 1 vol abridged version) (ISBN 0-13-275991-8)
  • Dictionary of American Biography 30 vol, 1934–1990; short biographies by specialists
  • Faust, Patricia L. (ed.) Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (1986) (ISBN 0-06-181261-7) 2000 short entries
  • Heidler, David Stephen. Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History (2002), 1600 entries in 2700 pages in 5 vol or 1-vol editions
  • Woodworth, Steven E. ed. American Civil War: A Handbook of Literature and Research (1996) (ISBN 0-313-29019-9), 750 pages of historiography and bibliography